Imagine getting lost in a sea of green, a land of contrasting rolling hills and striking cliffs, where fairy tale castles perch on the highest peaks in the distance. Imagine spending your days exploring dramatic coastline and countryside, and ending your nights in cozy pubs, pint in hand, jamming to live music that almost always involves a banjo and fiddle. From breathtaking greenery to the tastiest brews, there are travel adventures in Ireland for every stripe and spot. So grab your hiking boots (and maybe a raincoat) and head to the Emerald Isle to join the craic (fun)!
Ireland is divided into two parts: the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which considers itself part of the United Kingdom. Located in the North Atlantic, this ruggedly beautiful country is the third largest island in Europe, with a total of 6.4 million people. While the locals are friendly everywhere you go, each city offers a different adventure in Ireland to taste.
When most people think of Ireland, they imagine the country’s capital and largest city: Dublin. As you wander the streets, you’ll find medieval architecture that reflects Viking roots, free museums and art galleries, and pubs on every street corner. As you surround yourself with friendly locals, you’ll fall into the old “Dublin mindset,” which means taking life a little less seriously! The city has a complex relationship with alcohol, and there is no lying that some of your greatest adventures in this big city will take place behind the doors of Dublin’s pubs. Learn how to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Brewery, or search for leprechauns to join you in a tabletop jig!
Galway offers a more contemporary vibe and is often considered the cultural capital of Ireland. This charming coastal city attracts hipsters with its bright, bohemian pubs, live folk music, and street performers. You’ll feel the rich history seeping through as you wander through medieval shops that sell handcrafted Claddagh rings and second-hand books. Adventurers can hike to the Clare Peninsula or day trip to the Cliffs of Moher. You can peer over the edge of these 700-foot tall cliffs for an adrenaline fix, or even repel down into the rocky waters below, then end the day feasting on mouth-watering oysters fresh from Galway Bay.
Cork is Ireland’s “rebel city,” with a youthful, liberal energy that attracts adventurers from across the globe. Set in the River Lee, Cork is surrounded by bridges and waterways. Wander along the river or down the grand Georgian avenues, and explore artisan coffee shops or snug pubs in this compact city. And don’t forget to visit Blarney Castle during your adventures in Ireland — you can kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck on your travels!
Adventure Travel in Ireland
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, looking to get your fix while exploring Ireland’s striking landscapes, or you’re a beer lover on a quest to get in touch with your “Irish roots,” an adventure abroad in Ireland will not disappoint!
The Irish pubs might be grand, but the scenery is even grander. Don’t be afraid to jump into nature during your days on adventure programs in Ireland. Take advantage of the great outdoors, and get your adrenaline pumping as you explore cliffs, coasts, and endless rolling green hills. Hike through fields of clovers in the south, ride horses into the mountains, or hit the coasts for surfing, sea kayaking, or coasteering. Even if extreme sports aren’t your thing, you’ll be in awe just taking in the magnificent views of some of the greenest islands scattered in crystal blue waters.
Consider joining one of the many Irish tours for your adventure abroad. Explore Ireland’s hippest cities, along with many others throughout Europe. Begin at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin, where you’ll wear green, fill up on Guinness and Irish whiskey, and dance through the streets with fellow Irishmen. Next, visit Glendalough where you’ll see the sites from famous movies like Braveheart and P.S., I Love You, or visit a falconry school. No matter your flavor for Ireland travel tours, you’ll be sure to experience the best of the Atlantic island and make heaps of friends.
Perhaps the best way to truly make the most of your adventure abroad in Ireland is by backpacking. Travelers can spend up to a year in this magical country, working alongside locals and exploring all of the island’s best cities, scenery, pubs, and beers. Head over in the summer and autumn months (April to October) and soak up the sunshine and beautiful colors before the cold rain sets in. But even in the cold, rainy winters, you’ll find yourself surrounded by green, with plenty of cafés to shelter you as you wait out a storm next to a roaring fire, hot whiskey in hand.
Costs & Affordability
As with any adventure abroad, the costs of travel programs in Ireland vary widely depending on your travel plans and the length of the program you choose. Flights and program fees can get expensive, and the cost of living is generally high throughout Europe, but there are always ways to save and get the most for your money when adventuring in Ireland.
Most adventure travel programs in Ireland include fees for activities, accommodation, and even food. Once on the ground in the land of backpackers, there are always deals to be discovered. Feast at a local pub on Gaelic steak (marinated in whiskey) and potatoes for 10€, and grab a pint to wash it down for only 4€. Use your DART card for easy public transport that costs only 2.50€ per ride. Shop at local dollar stores or value grocery stores, take advantage of free outdoor activities, and skip the drinks if you’re especially tight on money.
If you are still worried about funding your travel tours in Ireland, there are other options! Make a budget at home to save for your trip, apply for a scholarship, or try fundraising to get you there. If all else fails, you can always get a job when you arrive. What better way to get to know this fairy-tale land than working alongside the locals!
Accommodation & Visas
Whether you’re an avid backpacker, hoping to rest your head in a different city every weekend, or you want to settle in like a local, you’re sure to find a place that feels like home somewhere in Ireland. Adventure programs on this European island offer a variety of accommodations to suit any travelers’ needs.
For a truly immersive experience, try a home stay. Living with a local family could be an adventure all on its own. Your family may teach you the rules of Gaelic football (a combination of field hockey and baseball), share their recipes for Dublin Coddle (a pork and potato dish), and you’ll always have a cozy place to come home to each night. If you are more of an independent type, try renting your own flat, or sharing with others. Meet fellow backpackers in local hostels, spend the night under the stars in a sleeping bag, or live the life of a king and treat yourself to a night in a castle.
Most travelers can obtain a tourist visa for Ireland if their stay is less than 90 days. However, the best option if you plan to stay longer and you aren’t from the European Union is to travel on a working holiday visa. On a working holiday, travelers can work, travel, and live abroad for up to one year. For more information on the process, visit GoAbroad’s Irish Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Ireland’s endless greenery would be impossible without the rain. The Irish weather can certainly be a downer at times, and frequent rain showers can put a damper in your travel plans, especially if your adventures are outdoors. But with unexpected downpours comes more pub time! Duck into one of the thousands of bars to warm up, meet friends, and taste some classic Irish culture!
For those travelers who want to truly unplug and unwind, look no further. Irish culture is extremely laidback. Locals are not time very time conscious, and they take life a little less seriously. Although it can take a few days to adjust to the lifestyle, you’ll find your mind at ease in no time!
Ireland adventures will consist of three things: the great outdoors, tasty beverages, and good people. Whether you’re searching for an adrenaline fix or a wild night out, you’ll find it all in Ireland, and better yet – you’ll find it in good company. So put your reservations aside and get ready to have a whale of a time!