How to spend a weekend in Ireland
This small island in Western Europe has plenty to offer – probably why so many visitors don’t just stop at one trip. There’s history in every corner – from pre-historic settlements to grand medieval castles. But it’s not just the man-made structures that make Ireland so desirable – the countryside is enough to make your jaw drop. Rolling green hills, tempestuous waves crashing against epic cliffs, and picturesque scenery are never far away. And get ready for a warm welcome too – Ireland is one of the world’s friendliest nations.
Still not convinced? In this post, we’ll take a look at the best ways to spend the weekend in Ireland. Hopefully, it’ll help you to plan your trip and really make the most of your time on the Emerald Isle. Let’s check them out!
See where giants crossed from Ireland to Scotland
The UNESCO World Heritage site the Giant’s Causeway is shrouded in legend and folklore. While the stories are no doubt interesting, it’s just as impressive to know that this unique feature date back around 60 million years!
While a 6- or 8-day walking tour is the perfect way to see not only Giant’s Causeway but more of Northern Ireland’s most stunning attractions, that’s a bit much if you’re pressed for time
However, a weekend break using Belfast as your base means you can easily head out to the Giant’s Causeway on a day trip.
Walk the Wild Atlantic Way
One of the most famous and awe-inspiring hiking trails in Ireland is the Wild Atlantic Way. In fact, the 2,500km trek is the longest defined coastal route in the world. Obviously, it’s not realistic to see this in one weekend. But pick out some of the highlights and head to those! One such is the Cliffs of Moher – these dramatic cliffs are the most visited attraction in Ireland – shielding the country from fearsome Atlantic winds.
Other stops include Cobh, the Titanic’s last stop before its fateful journey on to New York. Take in the pastel covered houses and enjoy a hearty Irish meal in a pub or restaurant. Of course, there are so many more spots to fall in love with on the trail, which runs from Donegal to Cork.
See the monastic settlement of Glendalough
Coming away from the coast, Ireland has some magnificent attractions inland too. One of the best known and most important is Glendalough. Found in Wicklow, also known as the Garden of Ireland, this monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Hidden away in the Wicklow National Park, Glendalough is located in a beautiful valley. It’s on both the Wicklow Way and St Kevin’s Way walking trails. These are a great way to get a snapshot of rural Ireland over a weekend!
Head to the beach for a spot of SUP
We’d already mentioned that the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined coastal route in the world. And it’s only natural that along with it, there are some awesome spots for surfing. Strandhill and Enniscrone in County Sligo are great if you’re a beginner, while experienced surfers will love Inch Strand in County Kerry – home to one of the longest waves in Europe.
With so many beaches on the west coast of Ireland having small waves, it’s also an opportunity to try to stand up paddleboarding. Complete beginners will find the ease of transporting and inflatable paddle boards the most convenient way to enjoy this awesome sport!
Get to know the capital city, Dublin
No trip to Ireland is complete without visiting the capital of Dublin. Nowhere is Irish hospitality more apparent, with a wealth of bars and restaurants to choose from and sample a delicious Irish stew and soda bread – washed down with a pint of Guinness, of course. A night out in the Temple Bar district will introduce you to ceilidh bands and good times.
Dublin isn’t all about eating and drinking though – it’s home to some of Ireland’s most famous attractions. Don’t miss Dublin Castle, the 12th century Christ Church Cathedral, and Kilmainham Gaol.
Immerse yourself in Galway’s music scene
If you like the sound of Dublin’s Temple Bar and the ceilidh music, just wait till you find out about Galway City. The brightly painted pubs almost always offer live music within its medieval town walls. It has seen a boom in travel since Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ song, so why not see if you’ll fall in love there too?!
Visit a castle!
Last but not least, it’s great to learn more about Ireland’s rich (and occasionally bloody) history on a trip to the Emerald Isle. Across the country, there are many castles. Some are designated visitor attractions, some are ruins, and some have even been converted into five-star hotels.
In a weekend trip, you will barely scratch the surface of Irish history. But that won’t stop you from visiting one or two of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring castles. These include the Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, and Blarney Castle. Make sure to kiss the Blarney stone for good luck at the latter!
Final Thoughts on How to spend a weekend in Ireland
You’ll want to book your trip as soon as possible. Walking holidays are great fun but if you’re nervous about getting lost or don’t want to do it on your own, check out Footfalls Walking Holidays. We can tailor everything you want to see on your holiday, so you won’t have any trouble making the most of your time in Ireland. Hopefully, you’ll have an incredible trip and it’ll be the first of many to the Emerald Isle!