Ireland is a unique destination. It has wide-open natural landscapes, culture-filled and history-rich cities, and welcomingly quaint small towns. Sitting near England and the European mainland, it is easily reached and is a great place for Europeans to spend a weekend break. Since Ireland has strong ties with the US, people from the other side of the Atlantic often choose to take their weekend vacations on the Emerald Isle. There are a number of attractive options for people who want to spend a few days in Ireland. Though you need a few weeks to truly explore this land in depth, Ireland has a number of attractive options for weekend-ling visits.

Here are some ideas for great weekend breaks in Ireland.

See modern and historic Dublin

Church in Dublin

Photo: Zach Dischner / Flickr

Dublin, Ireland’s capital and largest city, is a busting metropolis that has experienced a lot of growth recently. New shops, restaurants and bars are part of the Dublin landscape, though historic buildings, including castles, are also found within the city limits. Some people come to this city to see the aged pubs that were once the haunts of Ireland’s most famous artists and intellectuals. People in Ireland for a weekend break can spend one day exploring the city’s historic sites and one day touring the more modern attractions of Dublin.

Travel the Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Photo: alex ranaldi / Flickr

Dublin is Ireland’s undisputed tourism headliner. However, the Ring of Kerry is almost equally popular. This is a route through the Irish countryside in the southern corner of the island that features amazing views of both interior and seaside landscapes. The 120 mile “ring” is perfect for weekend travelers, who can spend their time seeing the region by car or traversing it in one of the many tour buses that carry visitors to the best scenery in the region. There are a number of small towns along the route where tourists can spend the night.

Explore charming Galway and West Ireland


Photo: phalinn / Flickr

Galway, on the west-central coast of Ireland, is a great destination for people who want to experience a rich blend of Irish history, nature and tradition. Though it is Ireland’s fifth largest city, Galway has a laid back, small town-like vibe. Eyre Square, in the center of the city’s historic district, is filled with shops and cafes that give visitors an authentic taste of Irish atmosphere. Galway visitors can spend one of their weekend days exploring the country’s scenic west coast. In fact, many tourists use Galway as a base for visiting the surrounding countryside. Galway is easy to get to, with Shannon Airport, which sees a number of international flights, connected to the town by regular shuttle bus service.

Visit and stay in the castles of Ireland

Dunluce Castle

Photo: _ gee _ / Flickr

Ireland is a land of deep history. Structure that date back hundreds (and even thousands) of years are found all around the country. It is impossible to see all the castles of Ireland in a weekend, but people in search of a weekend break should be able to see a number of castles in as specific region. Some specialty tours even offer weekend-long trips to different castles by bus. The ultimate castle-themed weekend break in Ireland would have to involve staying in one of the country’s historic castles overnight. Areas like Galway, Limerick and County Mayo all have castles or historic manor homes that have accommodations for visitors.

Beer-themed weekends

Guiness Storehouse

Photo: Nico Kaiser / Flickr

Ireland is probably best known around the world for its high quality beers and spirits. The Guinness Brewery is located in central Dublin, as is the Jameson Distillery. A number of smaller breweries also operate in the country. For some people, a weekend vacation can include a trip to see how some of these drinks are made. For others, a weekend in any Irish city or town is not complete without a trip to the local pub for a pint of good Irish beer in a warm and welcoming setting. While there is certainly more to Ireland that its pubs, drinking with locals can be a quintessential part of a weekend break in Ireland.

Have you spend time on the Emerald Isle? Tell us your ideas for a great weekend break in Ireland.

Josh Lew
Josh Lew
Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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