‘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 this legendary pint of Guinness rushed in.
‘Wow! This is what Guinness is actually meant to taste like!’ I said. ‘Aye. Welcome to Ireland’ exclaimed the bartender.
The 22 Best Places To Visit In Ireland In 1 Week
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
The best things to do in Dublin
Guinness Store House
One of the best places to visit in Dublin is the Guinness Store House. 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 to skip the line and be merry!
St James Gate, Dublin 8. Open 9am to 6pm
The Old Jameson Distillery
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.
Dublin Street Art
For those of you who read Teacake Travels regularly, you’ll know that I love Street Art! There really are some great pieces to capture around the Temple Bar area. Grab your camera and see what you can discover!
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 and then on to Ballintoy!
Belfast Peace Walls
The first thing we did was discover so much more about the political conflict. 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.
This 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.
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 if you do decide to travel with them!
Game of Thrones
The Games Of Thrones producers love Ireland and have used many spots here for their scenes. You will be able to see plenty on your week long Ireland adventure!
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! From Belfast, you will find yourself right here at The Dark Hedges.
The Iron Islands In Ballintoy
Travel a little bit further and you’ll find yourself in 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 and for dinner, order a Guinness Steak Pie in the local pub!
Giant’s Causeway’s interlocking stones are amazing and really quite unique! Thanks to a volcanic eruption, this spot is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland; and rightly so. It’s a ton of fun to walk along the top first, for epic views.
I then recommend working your way back along the bottom, to discover those giant steps.
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.
Walking around here on a tour and being able to hear the history, and the stories behind the street art, is really quite a rollercoaster of emotions. To understand the history and culture however, it is a must-do.
On day 3, you’ll be working your way from Derry to Galay! But first, take a stop off at the wild and rugged Connemara.
If you really want some good old Irish culture, this is a great place to be as this is where it is actively encouraged for the Irish language to be spoken as much as possible; this area also used to be its own sovereign kingdom! It’s simply beautiful.
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 will bring you to 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!
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 wahey!
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. It’s the best Irish comedy eeeeeeever. I lost it when I found this caravan on the island – many scenes were filmed for the TV series right 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!
On Day 5, you’ll be heading from Galway to Ennis. A perfect place to stop off on, along the way, is The Burren. 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!
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.
Murphy’s Ice Cream In Dingle
Day 6 will have you travelling from Ennis to Kilarney. But first things first, we need some ice cream right?!
Yep, an ice cream shop is making the cut in this Ireland itinerary 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 I was with, 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!
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!
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!
The Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle
Day 7 is travelling back to Dublin from Killarney, but we’ve got time to fit in one of Ireland’s most infamous sights and activities – kissing that Blarney Stone! Yep: 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!