Five great places to visit on your staycation

WITH the post-lockdown emphasis on staycation, for a small country, we are really spoilt for choice, some of the most iconic sights and incredible landscapes in the world can be found right here!
Ireland is full of natural wonders, friendly locals and is rich in culture and history. Experience the best holiday destinations in Ireland and check out online website The Travel Department’s selection of the top places to visit in the first of a two-part series

1. Explore The Aran Islands
One of the top day trips from Galway and the best place to immerse yourself in the Irish language is possibly the Aran Islands, where Gaeilge is the mother tongue of many locals. There are three islands that make up The Aran Islands, Inis Oirr, Inis Meain and Inis Mór. We recommend taking a guided day trip from Galway to Inis Mor, the biggest of The Aran Islands. Make sure to go to Dun Aengus fort, which is perched on the dramatic cliffside and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean; it’s one of many prehistoric sites to visit in Ireland. And if you’re feeling energetic you can explore Inis Mór by hiring a bike!

2. Walk the beaches of Donegal
Donegal has a long and spectacular coastline full of beautiful beaches, some of which often make top ten lists of the best in the world. If you’re looking to go beyond the beaches, we suggest staying in Letterkenny as part of your trip to Donegal; it’s a great gateway to see the ‘Forgotten County’ of Ireland!

3. Experience the Ring of Kerry
The best way to see ‘The Kingdom’ in all its glory is to do the Ring of Kerry. On this tourist trail you’ll take in mountains, coastlines, lakes and pass through charming villages. Although you can do this famous circuit yourself, we feel the best option is to do a guided Ring of Kerry tour, so you can let someone else do all the driving. All you need to is sit back, relax and take in the best sights in Kerry.

4. Learn about Irish Kings at the Rock of Cashel
One of the best archaeological sites in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel is an ancient fortress and it’s where the iconic Brian Boru was crowned High King in 990; the only king to unite all of Ireland under his rule. It’s also known as ‘St. Patrick’s Rock’ as the legend goes that Saint Patrick arrived in Cashel in 432 AD and baptised King Aegegus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler.

5. Trek Croagh Patrick
If you’re thinking about a getaway to County Mayo, then you must see or hike Croagh Patrick, one of the top natural sights to see in Ireland. Locals call it ‘The Reek’ and it has been a destination for pilgrims for thousands of years; it’s no wonder it’s considered to be the ‘Holiest Mountain’ in Ireland. You don’t need to climb to the very top to appreciate its beauty; you can get magnificent views of the Mayo countryside and Clew Bay from any stage on the way up.

* We will have five more places to explore in our next edition

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