Lonely Planet has just published the 12th edition of its Irish guide. Here are its Top 21 things to do in Ireland.
Six Irish attractions have made it onto a 2015 list of the world’s top 500 must-see sights of all time, compiled by guidebook publisher Lonely Planet.
The listings, which also included Grand Canyon National Park and Machu Picchu (see top 20 below), are from the publisher’s new book “Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist.” It was compiled by the company’s travel experts and authors on the ground who rated the world’s best mega-sights and hidden gems.
The Irish sites included in the listing include:
Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim (#103)
The Giant’s Causeway is 40,000 interlocking basalt columns stretching out into the sea. They are the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 meters (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 meters (92 ft) thick in places.
Bru na Bóinne, County Meath (#224)
Brú na Bóinne is the largest and one of the most important complex of Megalithic sites in Europe, dating to the Neolithic period. The complex is situated around a wide bend in the River Boyne.
It’s most well-known large passage tombs are Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, built some 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age. There are about 90 additional monuments recorded in the area.
Read more: Travel through the mysteries of the ancient Boyne Valley (PHOTOS)
The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare (#378)
The Cliffs of Moher, located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, rise to their highest point of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower.
From the cliffs visitors can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain ranges to the north in County Galway, and Loop Head to the south. The cliffs rank amongst the top visited tourist sites in Ireland, and receive almost one million visitors a year.
Titanic Belfast (#424)
The Titanic Belfast is a visitor attraction and monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city’s Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built.
The museum tells the stories of the ill-fated Titanic, which hit an iceberg and sank during her maiden voyage in 1912, and her sister ships RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic. The building contains more than 12,000 square meters (130,000 sq ft) of floor space, most of which is occupied by a series of galleries, private function rooms and community facilities.
Trinity College, Dublin city (#468)
Trinity College Dublin,is a research university right in the heart of the city center. It was founded in 1592 as the “mother” of a new university, modeled after the collegiate universities of Oxford and of Cambridge. It is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland, as well as Ireland’s oldest university.
The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary (#497)
A spectacular group of Medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale including the 12th century round tower, high cross and Romanesque chapel, 13th century Gothic cathedral, 15th century castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral.
Speaking about the Lonely Planet listings, Fáilte Ireland Head of Communications, Alex Connolly said “The Irish sights which made it onto the list reflect the range of attractions Ireland has to offer and demonstrate that for a small country, Ireland is certainly punching above its weight internationally.
“The Lonely Planet is one of the premier sources of information for people all across the world when researching a holiday and lists like these quite literally put Ireland on the map and in the mind’s eye of thousands of potential visitors.”
Ireland was listed among some seriously impressive tourist attractions around the world.
Here’s the top 20 from the Lonely Planet travel list:
1. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
4. Great Wall of China, China
5. Taj Mahal, India
6. Grand Canyon National Park, USA
7. Colosseum, Italy
8. Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina
9. Alhambra, Spain
10. Aya Sofya, Turkey
11. Fez Medina, Morocco
12. Twelve Apostles, Australia
13. Petra, Jordan
14. Tikal, Guatemala
15. British Museum, England
16. Sagrada Familia, Spain
17. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
18. Santorini, Greece
19. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
20. Museum of Old & New Art, Australia.
Dublin has been named one of the top cities in the world to visit in 2016 by travel bible, Lonely Planet.
The accolade comes in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016, an annual collection of the hottest trends, destinations and experiences for the year ahead.
The bestselling yearbook, which last year named Ireland as a Top 10 country to visit in 2015, highlights the top countries, cities and regions to visit next year.
“The diaspora has turned inside out and Dublin is now a truly cosmopolitan capital, with an influx of people, energy and ideas infusing the ever-beguiling, multi-layered city with fresh flavours and kaleidoscopic colours,” Lonely Planet says.
Dublin has a huge amount to offer any traveller, it adds.
“Meet the perfect stranger through the Little Museum’s brilliant City of a Thousand Welcome’s initiative, where an ordinary Dubliner will tell you about their home town over a free drink in a local pub.
“Follow the Independence Trail around key sites where nation-forming events took place… Plunge into the Irish Sea at the Forty Foot in Sandycove, or nurse a deep dark pint fireside in Mulligan’s on Poolbeg St., where the atmosphere is as potent as the stout.”
The news comes just over a week after Dublin was rebranded as more than just a “party town” in an effort to secure its long-term future as a tourism destination.
A new brand and logo – ‘Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air’ – were unveiled as key elements in a €1 million reboot of the capital’s “dusty” image this month.
Lonely planet also mentions the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising as a particularly good reason to visit Dublin in 2016.
“Dublin should be on every traveller’s must-see list,” said Lonely Planet spokesperson, Noirín Hegarty. “It’s pulsing with vibrancy, optimism and creativity.”
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe said the accolade would “propel Dublin even further”, while Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said it would “surely help to inspire travellers everywhere to put Dublin and the island of Ireland on their holiday wish-list for 2016.”
Earlie this year, Dublin was voted the world’s second-friendliest city by readers of Conde Nast Travel magazine, another hugely influential travel publication.
The city is the “new Barcelona, without the sunstroke”, one reader said.
See more on lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel.
Six destinations on the island of Ireland have been named on a global must-see list for tourists.
Alongside some of the world’s most prestigious heritage sites, Lonely Planet has ranked a handful of destinations in the Republic and Northern Ireland as part of its guide to 500 places to go.
The highest ranking destination was the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim which came in at 103.
Others on the list were Bru na Boinne, the prehistoric monument and passage tombs at Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, Co Meath, at number 224 and the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare at 378.
Titanic Belfast, the visitor centre which has only been open for three years, also made it on to the list of must-dos at number 424.
The final two on the guide were Trinity College Dublin, home to the Book of Kells, and the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary.
Lonely Planet’s travel experts and writers drew up a list of the top rated sites in the world in an effort to name the best 500 places to visit.
Four came from the Republic, two from Northern Ireland and 32 from the UK, including the British Museum in London, the Lake District, Snowdonia in Wales and Edinburgh Castle.
The number one spot in the list was taken by Cambodia’s Temples of Angkor which is regarded as one of the world’s most important archaeological sites.
Much of the list was dominated by places on Unesco’s World Heritage Sites.
Hikes, Vistas and Seafood, All for a Song
For its vertical limestone cliffs and unspoiled sea views, Ireland’s dramatic western coastline may get top billing. But visitors to Dublin hoping to catch a glimpse of the rugged beauty of the Emerald Isle needn’t spend extra hours and expense traveling west. For little more than the cost of a pint, they can hop on Dublin Area Rapid Transit, or DART, the city’s electric rail network that winds roughly 30 miles along the eastern coastline, for convenient under-an-hour escapes. The following day trips — whose draws include staggeringly scenic sea cliffs that are destinations in their own right, a James Joyce museum and, no surprise, excellent seafood and beer — promise memorable, and frugal, additions to any Dublin vacation. (Factor in maximum prices for “the Dort,” the Dublin Bus, and the Luas light rail tram system — at 10 euros a day, $12.20 at $1.22 to the euro, or 40 euros a week — and travel costs become even cheaper.) And while wintertime daily highs average in the mid-40s, confining swimming to only the hardiest souls, with views like these, who needs a dip in the ocean?
About 30 minutes by DART from central Dublin (6 euros for a round-trip ticket, or 4.82 euros when purchased with a prepaid Leap card), the village of Sandycove has one pub, one bistro and little more than a handful of other storefronts. Its main lure is the sea, most notably at the Forty Foot, a (free) bathing spot set among a promontory of rocky outcroppings, with its “Gentlemens Bathing Place” metal sign still intact, though no longer enforced. It is popular year-round — especially on Christmas Day, when hundreds of swimmers line up along its stone steps to plunge into the icy waters in what has become an annual tradition.
On the chilly autumn afternoon I visited, I watched a steady stream of seasoned bathers peel off their jackets and sweaters to bathe in the frigid sea, among them Caineach Brady, a 67-year-old Dublin priest who said he swims two to three times a week at the Forty Foot through winter. “It’s absolutely wonderful, the sea against skin,” Father Brady said. I got my feet wet, but demurred at the thought of a full dip, and instead soaked in views of the sea and the sprightly swimmers.
Sandycove’s other main attraction, just beyond the Forty Foot, is the stone Martello tower where James Joyce had stayed for six fateful nights when he was 22, and provided the setting for the opening scene of “Ulysses.” After a six-month renovation, the James Joyce Tower and Museum (free admission) reopened in April. I pored over a small, captivating collection on the first floor that contained various first editions and other rare books that included a 1935 printing of “Ulysses” with illustrations by Henri Matisse, and a hodgepodge assortment of Joyce’s possessions: a guitar, a leather cabin trunk, a checkered tie he gave to Samuel Beckett, and his last cane.
But it was when I left the first floor that things got more intimate. I climbed my way up an extremely narrow, winding set of very short stone steps — each was about half the length of my foot — and found myself in a re-creation of the “gloomy domed livingroom” Joyce had described in “Ulysses,” with an iron-framed single bed covered with a tattered blanket pushed up against one wall, and a hammock slung across a corner nearby. Up another set of tightly wound steps, and I was on the circular rooftop of the 40-foot tower, with superb views of the endless expanse of Dublin Bay.
“The snotgreen sea” was how the “Ulysses” character Buck Mulligan described it, but as I stood where he made his pronouncement, I couldn’t help but think that description was ungenerous. With waves crashing onto the sharp-edged gray rocks below, sea gulls squawking plaintively above and the heady smell of salt in the air, the turquoise-gray water before me felt meditative, mystical and potent.
Five stops south of Sandycove on the DART, and about 40 minutes from central Dublin (6.65 euros for a round-trip ticket, or 5.74 euros prepaid) lies the town of Bray, which in the mid-19th century had been one of the country’s largest seaside resorts. During a visit in late October, I found its beachfront — whose sandy stretch gives way to a wide swathe of gorgeously smooth, oval stone — calming and restorative, dotted with just the occasional kite flyer and dog walker, as well as another brave swimmer.
But I found real tranquillity when I ambled along the roughly four-mile Cliff Walk, a stunning coastline path hugging the side of the nearly 800-foot-high Bray Head that squashed my long-held belief that the more challenging a hike, the greater the payoff. The Cliff Walk has a gentle incline (less than 400 feet from bottom to top), picnic tables and benches generously scattered about for frequent rest breaks, and beautiful low stone walls and wire cliff railings in place for much of the path. In return, it affords views of strikingly scenic slate cliffs and Dublin Bay’s thousand shades of blue while winding past stretches of shoulder-height fern and patches of flowering yellow gorse. Out there, I found colors so sharp and vivid, it was as if they had been passed through a saturation filter.
The walk ends in the quaint town of Greystones, whose DART station marks the southern extent of the train line. I popped on a waiting train back to Bray (3.15 euros for a one-way ticket, or 2.41 euros prepaid) where I rested my legs and ordered a crisp flatbread loaded with shrimp, sweet red peppers and caramelized onion (9 euros) at the year-and-a-half-old Platform Pizza Bar, easily the most stylish — and eye-catching — restaurant in town, housed in what resembles a slate-gray shipping container across from Bray’s mile-long beachfront promenade.
Revitalized, I went off to explore the town’s beer scene, starting first at the Porterhouse Bray, the original brewpub that belongs to one of Ireland’s earliest and largest microbreweries, which now has pubs in Dublin, London and New York. I parked myself in front of a roaring fireplace and sampled its super smooth Plain Porter (4.50 euros) followed by its Oyster Stout (4.50 euros), a spicy, bitter beer that takes its name from the fresh oysters used during preparation. Both came dark, cold and with luxuriously creamy heads.
I whiled away the rest of the evening at the nearly 150-year-old Harbour Bar, voted the “best bar in the world” in 2010 by Lonely Planet. It was also a haunt of Peter O’Toole, who gave it a giant moosehead decades before taxidermy-lined drinking dens came into (and went out of) vogue. It’s now a warren of cozy rooms brimming with bric-a-brac large and small — framed nautical knots, an Underwood typewriter, a rowboat — serving an excellent selection of beers like the beautifully nuanced amber ale from Wicklow Wolf (5.30 euros), a brewery just a five-minute walk away.
About 30 minutes on the DART from central Dublin (6 euros for a round-trip ticket, or 4.82 euros prepaid), Howth has a distinctly different mood from Bray: there’s a sandy beach, but it’s not visible from the center of town, unlike the working harbor. And compared with Bray’s Cliff Walk, the Howth Head walk, whose shortest loop runs 3.7 miles around the Howth Peninsula that juts into the Irish Sea, feels less cosseted and more raw.
In late October, when I attempted the walk, I wavered between feeling exhilarated and nerve-racked when the path wound dizzyingly close to the edge of the steep sea cliffs with their precipitous drops and noticeable absence of safety railings. (The misting rain didn’t help either, nor did the abundant “Dangerous Cliffs” signs.)
But I continued on, and I’m glad I did. I passed fields of purple heather and brushed up against bright-green moss-covered stones. And when I approached the summit, I had to agree with H.G. Wells’s description in his 1918 novel “Joan and Peter” of the view from Howth Head as “one of the most beautiful views in the world.” Cliffs now seemed to drop gently into the sea, enveloped in cascading blankets of tawny-colored heathland before the white Baily Lighthouse, which stood at the peninsula’s tip. Shafts of light cut through the clouds, and across Dublin Bay, I made out the looming shapes of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains.
Elated by the view, I headed back to town, where I angled for a seat at Crabby Jo’s, a popular restaurant attached to the Wrights of Howth fish market, more than a century old. As I warmed myself with a bowl of seafood chowder (5.95 euros), I became convinced all chowders would benefit from the addition of smoked haddock, whose rich, salty flavor permeated the creamy version at Crabby Jo’s. I also ordered the open crab sandwich, two lumps of fresh-tasting Kilmore Quay crab tossed with diced apple and celery on a bed of arugula and shallots on dense, crumbly brown bread (9.95 euros).
On a warmer trip, picnic options along the edge of the water abound, including piping-hot fried hake with chips from Beshoff Bros. (8.95 euros), and a messier alternative in whole smoked mackerel with a loaf of bread from Nicky’s Plaice (5 euros, fish priced by weight), a no-frills fish market near the end of the Western Pier. But I was just as happy to be enjoying a nourishing meal in a spot perfect for a wintry Dublin getaway.
Ireland in Top Destinations for Travel in 2015
It’s official! Lonely Planet has named Ireland as one of the Top 10 countries to visit in 2015. And who would argue with them? diverse landscapes are stunning, cities bustling and attractions unique and abundant.
WILD ATLANTIC WAY
It’s a rival to California’s Pacific Coast Highway and Australia’s Great Ocean Road
The people themselves are inevitably at the heart of the best the country has to offer
Ireland’s traditions are firmly intact and the cosmopolitan people are as welcoming as their forebears were known to be
Fireworks, gigs and parades for the kids
Scotland has been named one of the top countries in the world to visit in 2014 by travel guide Lonely Planet. It was voted third best country to head to, behind Brazil which took the top spot and Antarctica which came second. Lonely Planet said Scotland’s “jam-packed schedule of world-class events” made it “the place to be” in 2014. The Commonwealth Games take place in Glasgow next summer. The Ryder Cup will be held at Gleneagles and next year is also Scotland’s Year of Homecoming. The book also cited Highland Games and the Edinburgh festivals as events that will draw travellers to Scotland next year, and it said the country’s cities were well worth a visit. The guide described Edinburgh as “the most gothic city outside Transylvania” and encouraged travellers to “take the high road to Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and Cairngorms National Park and fall in love with the landscape that inspired poet Robert Burns”