With such a variety of things to see and do in Ireland don't settle on just one city experience. Why not add a touch of magic to your holiday and check out these incredible Irish cities?
Super-cool Belfast has a big heart and is one of Europe’s true renaissance cities. A trip to Belfast and the awe-inspiring
Titanic Belfast exhibition promises a day to remember. Nine interactive galleries allow you to immerse yourself in the ship’s construction yards, float through ghostly footage of dives to the wreckage and debunk myths about the Titanic’s tragic end in 1912. For a more modern city experience, the customizable Black Cab Tour is one of the best ways to appreciate all that the city has on offer. Wander the streets and you’ll see historic buildings that have been spruced up, European-style café bars, independent boutiques and a rich cultural life that expresses itself in galleries, theatres and a host of year-round festivals.
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Dublin at Sunset
Repeatedly voted Europe’s friendliest city, Dublin is the perfect place to dip your toe in Irish culture. Dublin’s a great city to explore on foot. From the gracious city parks of Merrion Square and Iveagh Gardens, to the grand Georgian architecture and alfresco café culture of South William and Drury Streets, there’s a lot to divert your attention. At its heart, Dublin is a Viking city. Find out where it all started with a walk around medieval Dublin – this intimate knot of small alleys and broad streets south of the Liffey is where you’ll find Dublin Castle and Chester Beatty Library. Just a short stroll from the main shopping area is Trinity College, home of the wonder of ancient Ireland, the
Book of Kells.
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Cork – located on the stunning southwest coast – has a big personality and takes huge pride in its cultural history. If the weather is fine, stroll down the ancient
Cornmarket Street from the city center and across the River Lee, where you will find a district packed with grand Georgian parades, cramped 17th-century alleys and modern masterpieces such as, the opera house. This is where the city's most entertaining quarters lie: webs of narrow streets crammed with cafes, restaurants and shops. Just outside the city you will find a pocket of pretty sea side towns, deserted beaches, jutting peninsulas and island frontiers.
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Street Performer, Galway
To the west, perched in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way, is Galway. You’ll feel Ireland’s cultural heart beating strongly here in the nation’s diverse and bohemian City of Tribes. Galway perfectly balances the traditional with the new: a skip away from the historic
Spanish Arch and Museum, you’ll catch a show at the legendary Druid Theatre – and you might even run into a mind-boggling street performance along the way. It’s also the place to be for festivals, with the famous Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival an absolute treat for those seeking a true taste of Ireland.
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When in Northern Ireland’s capital city, it would be simply madness not to venture into
St George’s Market – this is roaring, bustling Belfast at its best, with sizzling black pudding salads, gravy-soaked Irish stew and the signature Ulster Fry awaiting the hungry visitor. Another tasty way to get to know the city is via the Belfast Bred Walking Tour, where anyone feeling a nip in the air is sure to be warmed by the Mourne Seafood Bar’s salt and chilli squid, or the volcanic rock-seared steak at McHugh’s. Dublin
Ireland’s foodie scene has risen to the limelight in the last few years and Dublin has been blazing the trail. The greatest local and international favorites can be found at
Fallon and Byrne, which stocks tasty bites from pumpkin pasta to creamy mille feuilles – perfect for intrepid explorers on the go, or for those who want to sit in. For something a little more indulgent, you’ll find a real treat and possibly the finest steak dinner in the city at Shanahan’s on the Green. The real Irish experience, however, could also lie at the end of a day’s sightseeing, in the depths of a steaming-hot, vinegar-drowned bag of Leo Burdock’s fish and chips.
St George's Market, Belfast
Offering every culinary delight from artisanal meat and spices to local cheese and chocolate, Cork’s
English Market is a feast for the senses; it’s no wonder chef Rick Stein calls it “the best covered market in the UK and Ireland”. Each visitor receives the same warm welcome as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who fell for the classic Cork banter of fishmonger Pat O’Connell during her historic 2011 visit. Thirty minutes away is Kinsale’s award-winning Fishy Fishy Café; you’ll dream about their fragrant salmon and spring onion tempura for days. Galway
Last but certainly not least for those of you on the foodie crew is Galway. Kick-start your day here with the caffeinated punch of freshly ground coffee and tasty pastry at Goya’s Bakery and Café, before trying one of the four Gourmet Tart Company outlets dotted around the city for lunch. The award-winning sweet and savory tarts of this family-owned business are made with artisanal produce and really are something special. For a quirky evening meal, Ard Bia at Nimmos is a little different; its diverse menu of Irish, Middle Eastern and New Zealand dishes is sure to get your taste-buds tingling.