My friend Hayley and I went to Ireland as part of a 3-week trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland from mid-May to early June. The Ireland portion was the last week of the trip, and after a week of the cold and wet Scottish weather (though we weren’t complaining because it was still beautiful), we thought Ireland would be more of the same.
But we must have hit a stroke of luck, because when we started our trip in Dublin, the sun was shining and the temperature was warm enough that we were happily wearing shorts and dresses the whole time. The weather stayed this like basically the whole time we were here, and the activities we chose to do weren’t things you would typically think of doing in Ireland. In fact, the whole week ended up being more like a tropical vacation!
We arrived in Dublin by plane in the late morning on a Wednesday. We left our bags at the airport so we could get in a full day of seeing the city. We bought a 3-day bus pass just outside the airport from someone working for the bus company. It covered the hop on hop off bus throughout Dublin, as well as any of the local buses. It was a great buy, as we learned so much about the city and basically got to see all of the sights. And, because there was such great weather, we got to sit in the 2nd floor open seats with the sun shining on us.
On Friday evening we drove down to the small town of Lehinch. It’s very close to the cliffs of Moher, and an easy weekend trip from Dublin. And as we found out from a local, it’s a great spot for surfing. Yes, that’s right! Surfing in Ireland. So on Saturday morning, we got in a good, hearty Irish breakfast, and headed out to catch some waves (or more like fall in the ocean a lot).
We did a group lesson with Lehinch Surf School, which included the surf board and wet suit rental. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, while this week in Ireland was almost like a tropical vacation, the ocean here definitely was NOT tropical waters. A wet suit is required to get in the water without being extremely cold. But once we were in and surfing (or attempting to surf) you really didn’t notice the cold water.
The waves aren’t huge here, but they’re just enough to allow you to stand up and surf. And they’re especially perfect for beginners. After our 2-hour lesson, I think everyone in the group had managed to stand up at least once.
Cliffs of Moher
After the lesson, we cleaned up at the hostel and then went out to see the cliffs of Moher. We were with a friend of mine from the Dublin area, and she was able to take us to a trail that goes along the cliffs that isn’t the main entrance most people go to. We got to see some beautiful views along the trail, as you can see below!
After a little bit of driving around and exploring the area, we went back to the hostel. The next morning, we went back to surfing for a couple hours before my friend had to drive back to Dublin. She dropped us off at a bus station that would take us to Killarney. We weren’t old enough to rent a car in Ireland at the time, but if you are old enough, renting a car makes travel in Ireland SO much easier. Relying on public transport caused us to cancel some of our plans and hotel reservations, as they were just too far away.
Ring of Kerry (Killarney and Dingle)
From Killarney, we took a day tour around the Ring of Kerry, which has some absolutely beautiful sights. The tour also included a stop at a sheep farm, where the owner showed us his sheep dogs and how he has trained them. It was actually really cool and I highly enjoyed it.
After this day trip, we took a bus to Dingle. Since we didn’t have a car, we made sure to stay at a place that was close to town so that we could walk everywhere. We started off our first full day in Dingle with a boat ride from Dingle Pier to see the local dolphin, Fungie. And we were in luck! The captain of the boat knew exactly where to go to find Fungie, and he popped up to play along our boat after just a few moments.
Then in the afternoon we headed to Dingle Horse Riding, who picked us up at our hotel and also dropped us off, which was great! We did the 2-hour beach and mountain ride. We got to see some beautiful views and learn more about the area from our guide. The beach ride was perfect for beginners. Our group split when it came time for the mountain ride, and since all of us had previous riding experience, we got to canter at certain points in the trail.
Unfortunately, Dingle was the last stop on our tour of Ireland, and after a magical day of horse riding on the beach and seeing a dolphin, we took a train back to Dublin out of Killarney. If you have more time during your trip, we suggest doing a day tour out of Dublin before heading back home!
Our one week itinerary for the Scotland portion of this trip can be found here, and our itinerary for England will be coming soon!