1. There’s nowhere else like it
Ireland is one in a million. We don’t just call our coasts ‘the coast’, we call them the Wild Atlantic Way and the Giant’s Causeway. Peninsulas are flecked with monastic islands and some of the highest sea cliffs on the continent. Castles are everywhere – Trim, Dunluce, Cashel, Blarney, Bunratty – just take your pick. Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature and Belfast built the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark – Titanic.
2. Access is easy (and affordable)
Getting to Ireland has never been easier. Or cheaper. Thanks to a profusion of low cost airlines (including Ryanair and Aer Lingus) you can fly from any European city for the price of a train journey (sometimes less). And we’re not short on airports. Kerry, Shannon and Knock serve the west. Cork and Waterford airports have the south sorted; in the east there’s Dublin Airport while Donegal, Derry-Londonderry and Belfast’s two airports cover the north.
3. The folks are officially friendly
The people in Ireland have cracked the ‘being friendly’ conundrum in style. In August 2013, Condé Nast Traveler voted three of Ireland’s cities (Kilkenny, Dublin and Cork) in the world’s 20 friendliest. As if that wasn’t enough, a Trip Advisor Poll voted Dublin Europe’s friendliest city. For a bit of local insight plus a free coffee or a pint, Dublin’s City of a Thousand Welcomes is an initiative with heart.
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4. Cities have character…
Ireland’s cities are small in size but big in character. Dublin is a Viking-founded literary city where Joyce, Wilde, Beckett et al called home; Belfast is Titanic’s hometown and the gateway to the Giant’s Causeway; Galway is a west coast boutique beauty; Derry-Londonderry is a walled wonder; Cork is a foodie fantasy and Waterford is arguably Europe’s crystal capital.
5. …and the countryside is always close
One of Ireland’s big bonuses is how compact it is. One minute you’re tucking into an Irish stew in Dublin city, the next you’re hiking in Wicklow’s mountains. In Belfast you can fit in a visit to Titanic Belfast and walk the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in half a day. Galway’s cute cobbled heart is your gateway to the rugged beauty of Connemara, while in Cork, you can pack a picnic in the English Market and be winding through the Beara Peninsula by lunchtime.
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