|Destination||Reasons to Go|
|Dublin||St Valentine's relics, historic buildings, scenic surroundings, excellent nightlife|
|Wicklow Mountains||Beautiful gardens, wild scenery, lonely hikes|
|County Cork||Kissing the Blarney Stone, boat trips to magical islands|
|County Kerry||Killarney National Park & horse-drawn cart rides, Carrauntoohil, traditional music, Blasket Islands|
|Galway & Western Ireland||Buying a traditional Irish ring, Connemara, Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands|
|Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland||Giant's Causeway, remote beaches, great hiking and kayaking|
Ireland seems small at first glance compared to most other countries in Europe, and tiny in comparison to North America. Yet the country is attraction-rich−scarcely a mile goes by without offering something fascinating to stop and look at−and roads are often slow-going, meaning this is not an easy country to rush through. Besides, if you rush round, you miss out on that cornerstone of Irish culture, the habitual pastime of passing the time of day with a long chat! Yet with just a few days at your disposal you can nevertheless see a reasonable amount of the country. Dublin is central enough to be easily combined with either north, east, south or west coasts, or a mixture of these. However, if you wish to combine Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast and the southwestern peninsulas of Cork and Kerry in one trip, allow at least a week. These itineraries can help you further plan your perfect trip to Ireland:
- Ultimate Road Trip: Dublin, Cork, Killarney & Galway - 5 Days
- Dublin City & Wicklow Way Walk - 6 Days, featuring the capital and the mountainous countryside of Eastern Ireland
- Hiking Ireland's Wild Atlantic Coast - 9 Days, featuring the countryside of County Kerry and County Clare.
- Exploring Dublin & the Northern Coastline - 10 Days
Discover Shrines to Love or Take Scenic Strolls in Dublin
Ireland's capital city Dublin is devastatingly charming, kissed by the rolling Irish Sea on one side and by the wild Wicklow Mountains on the other. Splendid historic buildings, enticing traditional pubs, attractive green spaces and an air of effortless sophistication all help create a special environment for spending a vacation with your significant other. Even the public transport system is tinged with romance: the DART shares its name with the arrows Roman God Cupid fired to fill people and deities alike with uncontrollable desire!
There is scarcely a more authentic place to begin any honeymoon than at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, where the relics of the patron saint of love St Valentine, exhumed from Rome, now lie buried. Having seen the saint's shrine, wander via the exquisite St Stephen's Green and Iveagh Gardens, perhaps pausing for a drink to people-watch, to one of Ireland's most touching tributes to love. Love Lane is an entire thoroughfare brightened by love art and love messages, and is part of a wider project aimed at adding vibrancy to Dublin's darker streets. Be sure to take time together to look round the handsome Trinity College, where you can gaze in wonder at one of the world's earliest and loveliest texts, the Book of Kells. And if a drink gets the two of you in the mood for love, you are in the right place. One of the world's most-loved beers, Guinness, and popular Irish whiskey Jameson's are produced in Dublin, and both the Guinness Storehouse Brewery and Jameson's Distillery are brilliant places to learn about and sample the respective tipples. At the distillery, you could even take part in an Irish whiskey tasting together! Or you could just take your loved one for a drink at one (or more) of the best and liveliest pubs in Europe, such as historic Kehoes Heritage Pub or The Brazen Head, the city's oldest tavern. Ireland's capital is of course a brilliant place for live traditional Irish folk music, with The Temple Bar considered one of the best venues.
But Dublin's appeal runs far beyond the city center. Take your spouse for a leisurely romantic walk at pretty Dún Laoghaire Pier or around the clifftops of Howth Head. And whilst few first-time visitors are aware of them, Dublin has several islands you can visit on boat trips, like the Skerries Islands: ideal for getting away from the city for some peaceful hours together.
Explore Enchanting Gardens, Lakes and Peaks in the Wicklow Mountains
As wild and empty as Dublin is cosmopolitan, the Wicklow Mountains immediately to the capital's south make the perfect contrast, and offer an easily accessible taste of Ireland's magical rural scenery. The Powerscourt Estate will be sure to wow you and your spouse. Just outside Dublin, its setting is nonetheless within glorious countryside, at the divide between the bare peaks and the gentle, wooded land beneath. Powerscourt Gardens regularly top lists of the world's finest formal gardens, where landscaped grounds unfold out onto the longer hike to Ireland's highest falls, Powerscourt Waterfall. For those incurable romantics in their element in remoter environments, there is the hike up to naturally heart-shaped lake Lough Ouler and the serene monastic site of Glendalough with its nearby lakeside walks up through a glacial valley that will take your breath away. The very best of the Wicklow Mountains is combined into the 82-mi (132-km) Wicklow Way multi-day walk.
Kiss the Stone of Eloquence or Kayak by Moonlight in County Cork
One secret to everlasting love is the ability to talk to each other. To attain what the Irish call 'the gift of the gab' (the ability to talk in a way which makes others want to listen) your destination should most definitely be the delightful 15th-century ruins of Blarney Castle near Cork. Here, according to tradition, you must lean backward over a parapet and whilst upside-down smooch the a stone embedded in the battlements, the Blarney Stone. This will give you the gift of eloquence!
You may prefer to spark your love in a less vertiginous way. For this, the brightly-painted of Kinsale, south of Cork, is the ideal backdrop. Wander the pretty streets, eat seafood in one of the highly-regarded restaurants, walk to one of the striking forts flanking the estuary or take off on a boat trip. In fact, water-based activities make up some of the region's most romantic experiences. Slide into the waters of lovely Lough Hyne for a moonlit kayak together, or escape by boat to balmy islands like Cape Clear (from Baltimore or Schull).
Ride by Horse-drawn Carriage or Roam Rugged Scenery in County Kerry
No region is more synonymous with the rugged west coast of Ireland than Kerry. Here, three of the country's most picturesque peninsulas, Beara, Kerry and Dingle, await. Each has a multi-day walk, the Beara Way, the Kerry Way and the Dingle Way, following their remote and unspoilt shorelines. Each offers numerous chances to find your own private piece of pretty coast together, too. A popular starting point for explorations is lively Killarney, with a fantastic live music scene as well as the scenic Killarney National Park spreading away at the edge of town. This is a captivating place to take a boat trip on Lough Learne or Muckross Lake. You could also try a horse-drawn cart ride, known as a jaunting car ride, which can be combined with a visit to the 15th-century lakeside Ross Castle or even with a grand afternoon tea. All the while, the poignant mountains of MacGillycuddy's Reeks loom in the background. This Kerry Peninsula mountain range contains Ireland's highest peak, Carrauntoohil, which you can climb together if you fancy an outdoors-themed honeymoon. Between Killarney and Carrauntoohil, at the dramatic Gap of Dunloe, a bridge known as the Wishing Bridge is said to grant the wishes of all who cross it...
From Killarney, it is easy to begin a road trip around either the Kerry or Dingle Peninsulas, but there is something especially relaxed and romantic about the Dingle Peninsula. Dingle is a paradisiacal little town where you can enchant your partner with more beautiful traditional live music at a spot like John Benny's or take a boat trip along the stunning surrounding coast. But to truly lose yourself with your loved one, journey to the uninhabited Blasket Islands where you can camp overnight with nothing but the seabirds to disturb you on the westernmost edge of Europe.
Strengthen Your Bond with Traditional Rings and Wild Walks in Galway & Western Ireland
You may already be married, but Galway, Ireland's capital of symbolic ring-making, might tempt you to splurge on another ring to impress your spouse. The city's Claddagh Quay is the place where Ireland's famous Claddagh rings are traditionally wrought, and your will find several craftspeople in the area making these beautiful pieces of jewelry. These rings feature hands, which represent friendship, a heart, which signifies love, and a crown, symbolizing loyalty. Galway is a spirited ocean-side city centered on one of Ireland's loveliest cathedrals, and also has an annual festival dedicated to that renowned aphrodisiac, the oyster! Its thrumming nightlife scene includes venues like elegant Hyde Bar, claiming Ireland's best gin selection and mixing up some sensational cocktails.
Heading west from Galway, you hit the craggy wilderness of Connemara, one of Ireland's most striking outdoor playgrounds. Journey to the end of this mountainous peninsula and you come to one of the most romantic (if most unusual) thing of all: the Connemara Seaweed Baths. Soaking in a tub full of nutrition-packed seaweed is a common therapy in Ireland, but these baths offer the chance to bathe in the stuff side-by-side, and in saltwater, which has additional health benefits besides. Meanwhile, a 45-minute drive north brings you to the nation's most romantic overnight stay, the refined 800 year-old fortress and estate of Ashford Castle Hotel. You can stay, luxuriate in the spa, take a boat trip and even curl up together in the property's exclusive cinema. Moving south from Galway into County Clare, meanwhile, there is Lisdoonvarna, famous for its live music and matchmaking festival, and Ireland's iconic clifftop beauty spot, the Cliffs of Moher, with nothing but ocean between it and the US. And if you make it to Doolin you can take a boat trip to the otherworldly Aran Islands, known for their fascinating ancient history, handicrafts and remoteness, and a memorable location to end your honeymoon.
Embrace the Savage Beauty of the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland
The Causeway Coast encompasses all of the lonesome and broken Antrim coastline in the northeast of Ireland. But its focal point is the Giant's Causeway, a rocky shoreline expanse of some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns often referred to as one of Europe's most spectacular natural sights. This should be the starting point for your Northern Ireland honeymoon. Having explored this wonder and obtained the ultimate 'couple' shot, it will be time for you both to escape the crowds and find the best spot along this astounding seaboard for the time alone together that your honeymoon deserves.
This could be the Mussenden Temple, a clifftop temple perched above a stretch of gorgeous sandy beach at Castlerock (the domed building was commissioned by Bishop Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, in honor of his niece for whom he had more than a passing affection). This could be the heart-in-mouth Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a walkway precariously connecting the mainland with a rocky island high above the crashing ocean near`Ballintoy. This could also be a stroll along one of the region's isolated beaches, like the dune-backed Whitepark Bay near Dunseverick. Or you could sweep your partner off their feet entirely and into a kayak for a self-guided paddling adventure to witness the coast and its impressive geology at its most magnificent: from the sea.