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Ireland Travel: Top 5 Tourist Trails to Visit in 2017


1.   Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Clare History Feel the salty sea breeze blow through your hair as you stand atop these majestic cliffs, gazing at the Atlantic Sea as the waves crash far beneath you. The human history of these dramatic seaside outcroppings dates back at least two thousands years to a 1st Century BC fort that once stood here. The old Irish word “Mothar” means “Ruined Fort.” The cliffs themselves are 319 million years old, carved by ancient river channels. Why Go Located only about 90 minutes south of Galway, they are a great travel day trip in pleasant and green County Clare. The panoramic vista of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding landscape is breathtaking. Must Dos ●      Check out the visitor’s center which was built into the hillside, so that you can enjoy the site without any intrusive buildings spoiling the view. ●      Take the scenic walking path that branches out in two directions across the top of the cliffs. ●      Hike from the visitor’s center to the Hag’s Head, a stunning old stone tower from the Napoleonic Wars. The walk from the visitor’s center will take about 1-2 hours. ●      Climb O’Brien’s Tower, which is the highest point of the cliffs and offers stunning views. Trail Details Terrain: Walkways and cliffside trails Estimated Time to complete: 15 minutes for viewing platform, 1-2 hours for Hag’s Head walk. Fitness Level: Low-Moderate Services Nearby: The visitor centre has a cafe, picnic tables and toilets. What to Pack: ●      Camera ●      Binoculars ●      Rainproof Jacket ●      Hiking Shoes ●      Travel Guide ●      Umbrellas are not recommended - due to the strong winds Best Time to Visit: The best time of year to see the colonies of Atlantic Puffins is during late March. The best time of day to visit is just before sunset, when the cliffs will be bathed in lovely golden light. Prices & Opening Times: €6.00 for Adults €4.50 for Students and Seniors Children Under 16 Free November-February: 9am - 5pm March-April/October: 9am - 6pm May-June/September: 9am - 7pm July-August: 9am - 9pm TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5     2.   National Botanic Gardens, Dublin Creative Commons Image (Source) History The National Botanic Gardens, known for their exquisitely restored glasshouses, are located in Glasnevin, County Dublin.          These quiet, shady gardens were once home to the estate of the poet Thomas Tickell and are now  are home to over 300 endangered species from around the world, including six that are already extinct in the wild. Like a Noah’s Ark of plants, these gardens play a very important role in preserving endangered fauna for future generations. Why Go A pleasant and informative walk, you can take a botanic world tour and visit the flora of several different climatic regions in one day. Also, the botanic gardens hosts several practical workshops throughout the year where you can learn to achieve best results in your own gardens. Must Dos ●      Enjoy one of the free guided tours that take place every Sunday at 12pm and 2:30pm. ●      Visit the elegant glasshouses, including the Great Palm House and the Turner Curvilinear Range. Trail Details Terrain: Landscaped paths through gardens Estimated Time to complete: You can spend as much or as little time as you like Fitness Level: Low Services Nearby: There is a restaurant at the gardens and nearby there is also the Andersons Food Hall and Cafe. What to Pack: ●      Camera ●      Comfortable Walking Shoes ●      Travel Guide ●      Allergy Medication if you are allergic to pollen The gardens are a scientific collection and therefore dogs, bicycles, picnics, ball games, fishing or musical instruments are not allowed. Best Time to Visit: Visit in the springtime when the fragrant and beautiful flowers will be in bloom. In late spring or early summer you may see ducklings in the water and in August or September the rose garden will be in bloom. Visit as early in the morning as possible, to beat the crowds. Prices & Opening Times: Admission is free Open every day besides Christmas Day Monday to Friday 9am-4:30pm (October-February) 9am-5pm (March-October) Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 10am-6pm TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5     3.   Blarney Castle, Cork History Blarney Castle was constructed nearly six hundred years ago by Cormac MacCarthy, one of the greatest chieftains in Ireland’s history. It is home to the legendary Blarney Stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence to anyone who kisses it. Why Go Kissing the Blarney Stone is a must-do - a ritual that you will share with literary giants, world statesmen and celebrities including Mick Jagger, Winston Churchill and Laurel and Hardy. Lean backwards and hold onto the iron railing as you kiss the stone in order to receive the “gift of the gab.” Then, take a stroll through the lovely Blarney Castle Gardens and Rock Close. Must Dos ●      Hang upside down and kiss the Blarney Stone. ●      Walk to Fern Garden deep in the woods, which feels like a tropical jungle. ●      Visit Poison Garden, an intriguing collection of dangerous and deadly plants such as wolfsbane, deadly nightshade and poison ivy. ●      Check out Rock Close, a beautiful spot where oak and yew trees surround an ancient druidic settlement. ●      Venture underneath the castle to find a labyrinth of underground chambers and passages. Trail Details Terrain: Gentle wooded paths Estimated Time to complete: You could spend a couple of hours here, there’s plenty to explore Fitness Level: Medium (Climbing the 100 steps to the Blarney Stone can be challenging) Services Nearby: There is a pub called Christy’s near the castle where you can enjoy a pint of Guinness after kissing the stone. (Perhaps the drink will also help with the gift of the gab?) What to Pack: ●      Comfortable walking shoes (the stone steps are narrow and winding, avoid high heels.) ●      Camera ●      Rain Jacket Best Time to Visit: Visit during the spring or fall, the weather will still be pleasant but there will be fewer crowds and less of a queue for kissing the stone. It’s also best to arrive early to beat the crowds. Prices & Opening Times: €13 for Adults €11 for Students and Seniors Save money with a family pass - 2 adults and 2 children for €31.00 Monday to Saturday November-January: 9am-5pm March-April & October: 9am-6pm May & September: 9am-6:30 June-August: 9am-7pm Sundays and Bank Holidays November-February: 9am-5pm March-October: 9am-6pm TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5     4.   Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Clare History Bunratty Castle is the most well-preserved authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. Built in 1425 and restored in the 1950s, it’s interior is decorated with tapestries, furnishings and gorgeous works of art. The castle stands majestically within peaceful grounds, surrounded by lovely landscaped gardens. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Folk Park, which is a trip back in time to an Ireland of the past - with thatched roofs, stone farm cottages and chickens roaming around. Guided tours are available, led by actors in period costume who have immersed themselves completely in the role. Why Go This historic site really gives you the opportunity to peer back through time and discover what life was like for those who lived in medieval Ireland. Must Dos ●      Go back in time at the Bunratty Folk Park and visit the doctor's house, post office, school and hardware shop. ●      Stroll through the Bunratty Walled Garden, one of the loveliest gardens in Ireland. ●      Take part in one of the lavish medieval banquets held throughout the year at the castle. Trail Details Terrain: Easy flat trails Estimated Time to complete: 1-2 hours Fitness Level: Low Services Nearby: There are bathrooms, a gift shop and a tea-room that serves scones, tea and other treats. What to Pack: ●      Sturdy walking shoes. ●      Rain jacket. ●      Camera. Best Time to Visit: Visit during the spring and summer for the best weather and go early in the morning to beat the crowds. Prices & Opening Times: €15 Adults €9 for Children and Students November-March: 9:30am-5:30pm April, May, September, October: 9am-5:40pm June-August: 9am-6pm Closed on December 24th, 25th and 26th and on Good Friday TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5     5.   Rock of Cashel | Tipperary History The ruins of a great Celtic Cathedral in County Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel was originally the residence of the kings of Munster. In 1101 King Muirchertach Ua Briain donated this fortress to the Church and it now houses a truly remarkable collection of Celtic Art. Why Go Whether you are interested in the history of Ireland, or just looking for a pleasant day out in a beautiful castle with breathtaking views - the Rock of Cashel won’t disappoint. Must Dos ●      See the impressive Hall of the Vicars Choral, which was constructed in the 15th century. ●      Admire the Romanesque wall paintings, which date back to 1134 and depict scenes such as the Nativity. ●      Check out the impressive 13th century Gothic Cathedral. ●      Climb to the top of the castle to admire the stunning views. Trail Details Terrain: Slightly rocky and uneven Estimated Time to complete: 2-3 hours Fitness Level: Medium - the climb to the top of the castle can be challenging Services Nearby: There are public toilets and an audio-visual show depicting the history of the castle onsite. There is also a restaurant called the Rock House just a few minutes walk away. What to Pack: ●      Camera ●      Walking Shoes ●      Rain Jacket Best Time to Visit: Visit as early in the morning as possible, so that you can avoid the crowds. Prices & Opening Times: €7.00 for Adults €5.00 for Seniors €3.00 for Students Mid-June - mid-September: 9am-7:30pm Mid-September to mid-March: 9am-4:45pm Mid-March to mid-June: 9am-5:30pm TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5