‘Take a deep breath in…really deep…go on, suck that air right up’. From the bottom of my belly I sharply inhaled the atmosphere deep into my lungs. ‘Don’t let that air go!’ My fingers tightly held the icy, swirling nectar before me with anticipation. ‘OK now gulp it down. No sipping. Take a big swig!’ I lifted the golden waves to my lips and invited nature to take over. The dark storm rushed through my senses and smoothly cascaded downwards. ‘OK breathe out through your nose, you can let it all go ‘. As my nostrils flared out, the full pleasure of the legendary ‘black stuff’ rushed in.
‘Wow! This is what Guinness is actually meant to taste like!’ ‘Aye. Welcome to Ireland’ exclaimed the bartender.
The Best Places To Visit In Ireland In 8 Days
I’ve just returned from a 7 Day All Ireland Rocker trip with Shamrocker Adventures in Dublin. They showed me some of the best places to visit in Ireland and kicking it all off with a pint of Guinness in hand was the right way to go!
I’ve experienced breathtaking countryside, intimate traditional music, stories of happiness and woe, several bowls of Irish stew, endless sights of abandoned castles, the power of an Irish coffee and the thrill of a chaotic wet coastline.
I’ve lost myself in Game Of Thrones’ set locations, reflected on the troubles in Northern Ireland, kissed the Blarney Stone and come home with a true love for all things Irish. Here’s what happened on my trip with Shamrocker Adventures and what you can expect if you go along with them too!
Give yourself a day before the tour starts to explore Dublin and introduce yourself to Ireland! You can easily get here by boat, bus or plane and get to the city from the airport with Blacklane. I stayed at the Four Courts Hostel as its reception is also where Shamrocker Adventures’ tours depart. It’s comfy, good value and perfect for those who want to roll out of bed and go! There’s a good chance you’ll be drinking whilst you’re here so make sure you get some great Dublin food in you just like my friends 2 Food Trippers did!
The Best Places To Stay In Dublin To Start Your Journey
1.Guinness Store House
One of the best places to visit in Ireland is right here. The whole experience is flawless from start to finish. The old brewery’s architecture is impressive, the activities are a joy to take part in, there’s live music, endless Guinness facts and making it to the top floor to drink a pint whilst looking out over Dublin is unforgettable.
I’m not exaggerating…this was one of the best travel days I’ve ever had (!) Book ahead for the Guinness Storehouse and be merry! St James Gate, Dublin 8 / Open 9am to 6pm / Tickets start from €16
Guinness not your thing? I recommend heading to The Old Jameson Distillery instead for a heavy dose of whiskey. Regardless of which alcohol adventure you choose, make sure to save yourself for the Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland’s old jail. It’s an essential place to visit to understand Ireland’s independence from the English.
2.Dublin Street Art
Shamrocker Adventures All Ireland Rocker 7 Day Trip
If you have limited time, want to make friends, have good pre-arranged accommodation, not have to worry about expensive car hire costs and want to get to the best places to visit in Ireland that the locals know about, Shamrocker Adventures is for you.
They’re all local and want to share their Irish culture and history with you whilst showing you the best places to visit in Ireland. They have lots of different tours but I went all out on their 7 Day All Ireland Rocker Trip. Here’s the deets!
Day 1: Dublin To Belfast Then Ballintoy
3.Belfast Peace Walls
Let’s get historical and political. In 1922, Ireland split in two after 26 counties wanted to be independent from Britain and the other 6 wanted to remain in the UK. We have Northern Ireland on one side and the Republic Of Ireland on the other.
Protestant Side of Shankill Road Peace Wall
The split led to decades of violence in Northern Ireland, particularly in Belfast. Republicans who are mainly Catholic believe both parts of Ireland should be united. Loyalists, on the other hand, who are mainly Protestant, believe Northern Ireland should remain a part of the UK. Living side by side and having very different views on how things should be, led to serious fighting between the two and the implementation of 99 ‘peace walls’ to keep the rivals separated.
Protestant side of Shankill Road Peace Wall
On the other side of the ‘peace wall’, the Catholic side
These walls are still standing, separating Protestant and Catholic communities. The fear of violence and bombings is mostly gone, due to the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1988 but tensions are still running high. Although some gates between the communities are beginning to be opened, whether these walls will come down soon is uncertain.
After taking a Black Cab Tour of these areas and peace walls, I quickly hopped off to see the birthplace of the Titanic. With Shamrocker Adventures, you won’t have time to do the Titanic fully if you see the murals, so choose what you want to see most.
5. Pass Through The Dark Hedges To King’s Landing
Imagine yourself on the way to King’s Landing as you venture through this stunning 350 year old beech tree tunnel. The Games Of Thrones producers love Ireland and have used many spots here for their scenes.
6.The Iron Islands In Ballintoy
One of the best places to visit in Ireland in my opinion! Home to Game Of Throne’s Iron Islands, let the sea salt mess your hair up and convince you how beautiful Ireland really is! Make sure to do the coastal walk to the rope bridge. Top Tip: For dinner, order the Guinness Steak Pie that Shamrocker suggests: super yummy!
Day 2: Ballintoy To Derry
With its thousands of hexagonal columns it’s up to you to decide whether a giant has done it or geology. I vote giant.
Like Belfast, Derry has also been through very difficult times and is where the tragic Bloody Sunday happened. Unlike Belfast who appear to be looking backwards, Derry is looking to the future and their Peace Bridge, unifying the Catholic and Protestant areas, is a strong example of their efforts to maintain peace.
Day 3: Derry To Galway
9.Wild And Rugged Connemara
10.Live Irish Music Pubs In Galway
I advise you to go out every night and soak up as much of the live music as possible in Ireland! There was never a bad song played whilst I was there but Galway in particular struck a chord with me for its small, intimate pubs and local musicians.
Day 4: Inis Mor
With a population of around 840 people, where Gaelic is the primary language, this charming island will transport you back to the simple life!
11.Inis Mor Bike Hire Shop
For 10 euros, you can hire a bike for 24 hours and whizz through the open roads at your own leisure!
12.Father Ted’s Craggy Island On Inis Mor
Americans and Australians, you probably have no idea who the hell Father Ted is. If this is the case, I demand you watch an episode immediately. Best.Irish.Comedy.Ever. I lost it when I found this caravan on the island – many scenes were firmed for the TV series here. Watch it!
Fancy standing on the edge of a cliff looking out to the Atlantic Ocean next to a prehistoric fortress dating back to 1000BC? Check!
Day 5: Galway To Ennis
Resembling a space voyage to the moon, this lunar landscape is an enjoyable alien experience. As we’re working our way down the West Coast of Ireland now, the coast is right here too!
16.The Cliffs Of Moher
Princess Bride fans brace yourselves. The scene of the giant hauling himself up and the rest of them on that ridiculously long rope was filmed here at The ‘Cliffs Of Insanity!’ Definitely one of the best places to visit in Ireland.
Day 6: Ennis To Kilarney
17.Murphy’s Ice Cream In Dingle
Yep, an ice cream shop is making the cut because it’s that good! Dingle is also where Fungie the dolphin lives. You can take a boat out to see him where he hasn’t failed to say hello to visitors once yet! That’s one friendly dolphin!
Ireland is actually a great spot for some surfing! We didn’t have time for that (which I’m sure most of the crew were grateful for) because it’s bloody cold down there. Legend has it that if you pop your feet into the water, the sea takes a little part of your soul away. Good job none of us dived in eh!
20: The Most Western Point In Europe
The Dingle Peninsula is riveting to say the least and standing on the most Western point of Ireland and Europe isn’t too shabby either!
21.Killarney National Park
Do not miss this! Pay the extra euros and make sure to ride a horse and carriage around Killarney National Park. You’ll be hanging out with a real local in 26000 acres of bliss!
Day 7: Killarney Back To Dublin
22. The Blarney Stone At Blarney Castle
The last day leaves you with a very special gift. The gift of the gab! You’ll get the chance to throw your head back and kiss the Blarney Stone all the way up at the top of Blarney Castle. It’s actually a little scary to do it but hopefully the effort pays off!
Should I See Ireland With Shamrocker Adventures?
Shamrocker Adventures kindly invited me to experience the best places to visit in Ireland with them. Here is what I honestly think of my experience with them!
If you want local information, the comfort of not having to drive yourself or worry too much about arrangements, meet people, get the most out of Ireland for the time you have and get to places easily, Shamrocker Adventures is for you. They were kind, active and have clearly put a lot of thought into the itinerary.
You’re going to be travelling with other people who may not understand the meaning of time. Waiting for people who are late can be a downfall. If you get behind schedule, you’re going to be rushed and short stops may not be your cup of tea. You may change guides throughout the trip and one may be better than the other.
Do I recommend them? Absolutely! If you’re looking for a tour to take you around the best places to visit in Ireland, Shamrocker Adventures are it!
What are your best places to visit in Ireland? Comment below!
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