There’s a vast swath of things to do in the Emerald Isle that few other destinations can match. Traditional music played in century-old meeting places? Crumbling castles that sit above rolling swathes of bright green grass? Thatched cottages surrounded by fluffy sheep? Check, check and check.
In addition, Ireland’s got the best of modern life to offer too. Dublin is a cosmopolitan city with world-class shopping and a restaurant scene that’s getting better with each passing day. Its small alleys are home to chic cafes and boutiques, and the bustling streets offer fantastic museums and rows of beautiful Georgian houses. Stroll along the banks of the Liffey River in the footsteps of James Joyce, and wander the cobblestones of Trinity College before stopping in for a look at the Book of Kells.
Further south, Cork is a warm and welcoming city too, and less visited than Dublin. Galway, a tiny student town, has a thriving music scene and all the charm of the west of Ireland, and the walking paths that curve through Kerry are paradise for anyone who has ever seen a postcard of Ireland and fallen in love.
While the weather in Ireland leaves something to be desired, the silver lining is the long summer nights, when the sun doesn’t set until a few hours before midnight and people stay out late making the most of the light. In the winter, bundle up and bring a raincoat, and enjoy the added advantage of fewer tourists.
Ireland’s appeal comes down, in large part, to its people: warm, quick to laugh and with self-deprecating wit, they’ll be the thing you remember most strongly from your visit.