Top Five Experiences in the Emerald Isle
With more than 10% of Australians believed to have Irish ancestry, it’s no surprise that the Emerald Isle is a popular travel destination. In fact, Tourism Ireland has recently revealed that the region has seen a 53% increase in visitors from Australia and New Zealand in the past four years.
So is it the Game of Thrones affect, a thirst for Guinness that can’t be quenched or other experiences that are drawing in the numbers?
Matthew Cameron-Smith, Managing Director of the leading guided holiday company, Trafalgar, says:
“It’s definitely not surprising that more Australians are choosing Ireland as their holiday destination. While many still want to take in Ireland’s iconic sights and experiences – visiting the Guinness Factory, seeing the Giant’s Causeway, kissing the Blarney Stone – they want to combine these with truly authentic experiences and meaningful interactions with locals.”
Here are Matthew’s Top Five Experiences in the Emerald Isle:
1) Stay in a Celtic castle
There aren’t many people who can claim they’ve stayed in a royal residence. But with approximately 1000 castles dotted throughout Ireland and no royalty left to reign, this incredible experience is now within reach. A number of mediaeval castles across Ireland have been converted into hotels. Most recently is Ashford Castle, a magnificent property set on 350 acres on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib. Following extensive refurbishment, rooms have been restored to their regal best. Fine dining, luxurious spa options and activities such as falconry and equestrian on offer all add to Ashford’s royal opulence. Live like a King and Queen on Trafalgar’s Iconic Ireland and Ashford Castle (below) 10-day guided holiday priced from $2795 per person – twin share and experience a complete circle of Ireland including its fairytale castle stay.
2) Travel the Wild Atlantic Way
Without a doubt, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s rugged west coast spanning 1500 miles and seven counties is becoming one of the region’s most sought after experience. Waves crashing upon rocks, rolling green countryside, the remnants of stone villages; this is the real deal Ireland. You’ll definitely want to let someone else do the driving so you don’t miss a second of the scenery. On Trafalgar’s new Enchanting Emerald Isle guided holiday you’ll have the chance to join a Local Specialist for a leisurely guided hike around Torc Waterfall taking you along the lakeshore and past the farmlands of the 19th century Muckross Estate.
3) Fresh foodie experiences
Ireland has never made it high on the list of getaways for gastronomes. Yet the countryside’s rich soil and regular rain makes for fertile growing conditions, producing an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Trafalgar offers guests the opportunity to forage for fresh produce on the wild beaches of the Atlantic Edge with a local horticultural tutor, followed by a delicious meal prepared from the food that they’ve scavenged. Situated overlooking Liscannor Bay, this authentic Be My Guest will change the way you think about Irish cuisine. This foodie adventure is available on the Best of Ireland 10-day guided holidays priced from $2295 per person – twin share.
4) Newgrange for winter solstice
While on first inspection it appears to be a grass covered mound, underneath Newgrange is one of the most impressive passage tomb. Older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge it is estimated to date back to 3200 BC. Once a year, the winter solstice sun, reaches the floor of the chamber, illuminating the tomb in what is one of the most spectacular light shows on earth. This experience is so highly coveted that would-be attendees must enter a ballot many months in advance. This year, over 30,000 applications were submitted.
5) Belfast from the back of a black cab
A lot has been written about Belfast’s troubled past, but there is no better way to truly understand what this time was like than by visiting significant sites and hearing the stories straight from someone who lived through it. Trafalgar offers its guest the unique experience of exploring the city from back of a Belfast Black Cab with a local specialist who gives an insight into the troubles through the decades and exposes the hidden messages weaved in the murals that pepper the city’s walls, see below. Join a ‘Black Cabbie’ on the Irish Experience 11-day guided holiday priced from $2595 per person – twin share.
To find out more about unique and authentic experiences in Ireland with Trafalgar visit www.trafalgar.com