Quite often the mention of Ireland prompts images of pints, pubs, and a few clever yarns. Yet there is so much more to the small nation, making it one of Europe’s most interesting travel destinations. Rest assured, any visit to the Emerald Isle will warrant taking in a bit of the exuberant nightlife of Cork, Dublin’s renowned museums, and even the infectious live music of Lisdoonvarna, but balancing out the vibrancy of the cities, Ireland also boasts some of the most diverse, scenic locations in the world.
Resting in West Ireland, inland from the Connemara coast, the Burren or “Great Rock” is a craggy, karst landscape that ranges roughly 150 square miles. Its stark geography and unique climate consistently draws and amazes travelers year-round. Operating almost independently from the rest of the country, the Burren’s temperatures remain relatively static, ranging from 42°-60° Fahrenheit. The result of the mild weather is an abundance of unusual flora and fauna, and the region houses many species that exist only in this small portion of Ireland.
The Aran Islands, in Galway Bay have a similar landscape to that of the Burren. Consisting of three islands, Inishmore, Inishman, and Inisheer, the islands are home to many of Ireland’s famed coastal cliffs. A great place to explore by bike, the Aran Islands are known for their scenery, as well as their sense of community. Locals here, as with most parts of Ireland, are famous for their good humor, and generally welcome a chat with a visitor.
Moving South, in the westernmost bit of Ireland, is the Dingle Peninsula. Truly a location that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, the coasts of Dingle are some of Ireland’s most dramatic. Along this peaceful peninsula, gentle green hills will drop off to rocky cliffs, and azure waters of the Atlantic crash along rock and sandy inlets. The landscape invites active exploration, and a walk along the coast of Glenbeigh offers a perfect vantage to take in Dingle’s vistas.
Just east of the Dingle Peninsula, lay the falls, lakes, forests and mountains of Killarney National Park. Home to Ireland’s largest mountains and most densely wooded forests, the Killarney National Park offers travelers a multitude of outdoor activities from walking to bicycling and boating, just outside the town of Killarney. Ireland’s first national park, now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is also the natural habitat for the native, Red Deer. Though spotting a deer isn’t guaranteed, any visitor is sure to enjoy exploring the natural beauty of Killarney National Park.
At VBT, our Ireland Bike Tours and our Walking Tours of Ireland are a great way to experience the jubilance of Irish culture and the breath-taking scenery of one of Europe’s top destinations all in one vacation. Join us, and enjoy all that Ireland has to offer.