• The only Irish Guide you will need - 6 days under £250

    Hey-o! Last fall, I spent a week in Ireland and Northern Ireland and it was breathtakingly beautiful. Okay... I know we say this a lot but Ireland (and Northern Ireland) is beautiful. It doesn't hurt that its an island so the landscapes along the coast is something YOU CANNOT MISS.
    We flew out from London in September and snagged tickets for less than £25 return! Don't get me started on my love for Ryanair (cheap flights, flexible weight for carry-ons and free bag checks at gate). That said, you kinda get what you're paying for (it is a budget airline after all).

    We picked up a Citroen from Budget and the car rentals too were pretty reasonable - less than £25/day. 


    Our plan was simple, we would start in Belfast, Northern Ireland, drive around the Northern Ireland coast, then down to Galway for the Cliffs of Moher, make a last stop in Dublin, before making the 2 hour drive back up to Belfast. This meant 2 nights each in Belfast, Galway and Dublin. 


    I think there are guides out there that might show you how to do this without a car, but for the price and convenience, driving is HIGHLY recommended!

    The Irish countryside~

    That said, there are tons of places more to see in Ireland that we won't cover - the Ring of Kerry, Loop Head, Killarney National Park, Malin Head etc. You can see my full list of saved places here!

    Read on for the places you absolutely CANNOT miss, and yes, I'll throw in a few tips along the way.

    Northern Ireland 

    Dunluce Castle
    Cost: Free!
    Hours: Daily 1000 – 1700 (last entry strictly 1630)

    If you love medieval ruins, this castle is definitely the one for you! I think what makes it spectacular is the coastal views of the cliff edges around the castle. We happened to visit during one of the European Heritage Open Days in 2018, which means free entry!

    Beautiful castle with the backdrop of the Irish coast




     Happy travels = happy family!

    Giant's Causeway
    Cost: Free!
    Hours: Dawn to Dusk

    This was one of the must see in Northern Ireland. Gosh we saw so many beautiful shots taken here and we had high expectations. It's really magnificent.

    Okay major tip here - you do not need to pay to enter the Giant's Causeway. What we noticed when we arrived, there were prices shown for tickets @ £11.50/adult. This only grants you entrance into the Tourist Visitor Center which had food stalls, souvenir shops, a short film on the Giant's Causeway etc. You do not need to enter the Visitor Center to enter the Giant's Causeway.

    If you get a ticket to the visitor center, you can park freely at the Giant's Causeway car park, otherwise you have the option of parking slightly further away and taking shuttle buses to the Giant's Causeway. There were many cars parked along the street side as well, though I doubt they were parking legally.

    "At the heart of one of Europe's most magnificent coastlines its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue."  - Giants Causeway Official Guide 

    So legend has it the hexagonal columns stacked on the coast like puzzle pieces was a path for the footsteps of a giant. 




    It is a bit of a hike down to the basalt columns from the entrance to the causeway, and there are a couple of trails to get to the best vantage points. Budget to spend a couple of hours at least, more if you wish to explore the entire area and tackle the more demanding trails. There are shuttle buses that can ferry you from the Tourist center to the basalt columns as well for £1 one way.

    The breeze (or blast rather) of the Atlantic Ocean

    Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
    Cost: Free to hike the surrounding hills and access the view points; £7/adult to cross the bridge
    Hours: 0930 - 1700 (hours vary); hike along the coastline from dawn to dusk


    It is a bit of a hike to get to, about an hour one way, excluding the bridge walk

    Don't forget to enjoy the views along the way!



    Look at the hoards of tourists behind me

    Ireland

    Malahide Castle
    Cost: €9 student; €12.50 adult
    Hours: Daily 0930 - 1730

    So having been to the medieval Dunluce castle which were ruins, as beautiful as they were, the Malahide Castle and its grounds were a different experience.

    Can you imagine living here?

    The inside of the castle was reconstructed in ways that showcased the rich history of Ireland and the Talbot family who built and owned the castle. The all-inclusive tour of the Malahide castle shed a lot of light on the politics and history of Ireland in a way that Google can never deliver.




    Did you know back then, the entire family would share a weekly bath in this copper tub. First the head of the household, then the mother, the kids (from eldest to youngest). That's supposedly how the phrase don't throw the baby out with the bath water originated from!

    A great rest stop to stretch your legs on the drive from Belfast to Galway. Highly recommend!

    Cliffs of Moher
    Cost: €5 student; €8 adult
    Hours: 0800 – 1900

    If Giant's Causeway was the highlight of Northern Ireland, one of the top rated attraction in Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher. You MUST have seen pictures of the cliffs floating around social media. It is indeed a sight to behold. Absolutely worth venturing to the Western coast of Ireland.

    Sometimes I really just can't understand the laws of nature that create such landscapes.


    Similar to the Giant's Causeway, you do not need to pay to visit the cliffs unless you're driving. In which case, your entrance to the visitor center is chargeable at the same rate (although I don't recall anybody checking tickets at the visitor center). 

    Fair bit of stairs but nothing too strenuous.


    Tip: I think due to the West face of the cliffs, afternoon/evening may be the best time for photos. That said, check the weather before hand! We had cloudy skies, and it started to rain as we were leaving, but at least visibility was pretty decent! Still magnificent.

    Kilmainham Gaol
    Cost: €4 student; €8 adult
    Hours: 0900 – 1800 (hours vary)

    If you've been following us long enough, or if you know me well, you know I LOVE JAILS/PRISONS. We LOVE tours of jails or abandoned prisons. Did we tell you about the time we tried to enter a fully functioning prison in Lithuania? Okay never mind, that's a story for another time.


    Minimal restoration works were done on this part of the prison.

    Anyway this jail tour in Dublin was amazing, rich in political history. Before this tour, I never fully understood the Irish Revolution nor the Irish War of Independence. Political prisoners and rebels were held in this prison, all because they had opposing views to what was convention. Of course the jail held other prisoners, women and children, some of whom felt the conditions in the jail favourable to the cold and famine they would be subject to outside. Extremely educational and insightful tour, I really loved it!

    The "new" wing of the jail


    Oh! Don't forget to purchase tickets online at least a day in advance, more if you're not flexible on the tour timings; it is a highly sought after attraction.

    Howth Summit
    Cost: Free! (Definitely our favourite word)
    Hours: All day every day

    If you're itching for a hike in the city of Dublin, head to the Howth village. Accessible via car, you can park at the Howth Summit car park and hike along the cliff path. Expect to spend anywhere between 15 minutes for a quick picture and a stroll, up to three hours to hike the entire cliff trail.




    Highly recommend an evening hike!

     Soak in the views of the Irish Sea

    Guinness Storehouse
    Cost: €18.50
    Hours: 0930 - 1900 (hours vary)

    I think this needs no introduction. A must-see in Dublin. Amazing experience if you love beer, or actually even if you don't. The tour is self guided, so you can go as fast or spend as much time as you like. There's a ton to see though. We spent a good 4 to 5 hours here at the Guinness Storehouse. The tour covers everything from barley to barrel. Not overly scientific, yet extremely educational if you ever wondered about how Guinness perfects it stout.

    Every exhibit is so well thought out.

    At the Guinness Academy they teach you the right way (yes there's a wrong way) of serving a pint of Guinness. Every ticket comes with a free pint by the way!

    Enjoy a cold beer at the bar overlooking the entire city of Dublin!

    I don't want to give too much away, but you have to make a trip to the Guinness Storehouse if you're in Dublin!

    Carlingford Marina
    Cost: approx €95/night
    Hours: 0930 - 1900 (hours vary)

    Now this last item on the list made it on here simply because of our amazing experience at our AirBnB in the Carlingford Marina. We felt like it was a truly luxurious stay, never mind that this came as a last resort after a horrible AirBnB host experience in Dublin. All I can say is - always go with hosts with reviews. That said, AirBnB was real professional and handled the situation very fairly.
    Anyway back to Carlingford Marina, while situated about an hour and 20 minutes from Dublin city center, the Carlingford Marina is enroute to Belfast, where we were heading. While we did not have much time to enjoy the town itself, Carlingford seemed like a sleepy coastal town outside the main city, very serene and peaceful. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. The hosts were extremely graceful, polite and helpful in ensuring everything was well taken care of.

    I could wake up to this everyday!





    The apartment we booked could comfortably sleep 5, with views overlooking the marina!


    View all the listings at the Carlingford marina on AirBnB.

    The Irish landscapes just keep giving and giving. There's just so much to do and see in Ireland, I definitely need to make a trip back. For now, this is what we've got, let us know in the comments below if anything else should make this list!

    For our full itinerary, click here!

    Ciao for now!
    xx
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