The emerald isle’s title is well earned. It’s green as can be and the people are absolute gems.
Sites Visited: Galway & The Aran Islands (2 days), The Burren & Cliffs of Moher (2 days), & Dublin (2 days).
Favorite Things: Friendly folk, Guinness that actually tastes good, luck of the Irish, moo moos (cows), and legit the best potatoes we’ve ever had.
Things to know: If you are like us and afraid to drive on the left side of the road, getting around can be tricky, particularly in country areas like The Burren. We took a day tour bus from Galway down to the Cliffs of Moher and asked them to drop us off there (we stopped at a lovely castle along the way). We then had a cab take us from the Cliffs to the Wild Honey Inn. We depended on cabs for the two days we spent in The Burren area, which was worth it just to meet the friendliest cab driver ever (John or his wife picked us up every time we called).
Galway Accommodations: We stayed at The Nest Boutique Hostel. So yes we did stay in a hostel, but we did not share a room or bathroom. The owners clearly made an effort to make the place warm and quirky. It’s a bit of a walk to city center (25 min), which is fine if it’s nice, but when the rain comes (and it always does) you’ll end up paying for cabs.
McCambridge’s – Downstairs is a market store if you want to pack a picnic. Upstairs is a sit down restaurant with lots of yummy healthy options.
Kai Cafe – Gorgeous interior in an old stone Irish building. The first of several really excellent meals we had. The Irish took us by culinary surprise. The Universal is a cute bar to grab a drink from before or after.
Tigh Neachtain – A classic Irish pub (livelier than the English), established in the late 1800s, this is a good spot to hear live music.
Walk around Galway, it’s a small city, pop in and out of pubs and enjoy the live music that Galway is famous for.
The Aran Islands – Take a day trip from Galway out to these stunning islands. The cliffs, Dun Aonghasa, will take you’re breath away, especially if you’re crazy like me and stick your head out over the edge. (First two and last two photos in this series taken by Katie and Casey McGinn, two excellent people we befriended on our trip, who share our love of Sister Act 2).
The Burren & The Cliffs of Moher Accommodations: We stayed at The Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna, which is by far one of the most charming inns I have ever stayed in. Keep in mind the town is tiny and the nearest ATM is a 30 minute drive (each way).
The Burren Eats/Drinks:
The Wild Honey Inn itself has a restaurant, which is as rustic and charming as the rest of the inn, and also served us the best meal we’ve had thus far in Europe. I got some sort of terrine with foie starter that was better than any foie I had in Paris. Laura’s steak was the best steak either of us has ever had, my lamb melted in my mouth, and the potatoes were crack potatoes. This was a splurge, but 100% worth it.
The Burren Storehouse – Right down the street from Wild Honey, this place has two restaurants under one roof. One is Pizza, which smelled great, and the other is food from the Burren Smokehouse, where they smoke fish. I was in smoked fish heaven.
Hazel Mountain Chocolate – We sadly missed this, but I have since been told that it is fabulous and not too be missed. Too bad for us.
The Burren See/Do:
Hike – The Burren is known for its unique landscape and botany. If you’re into plants you can read up on that. There are several hiking trails that the folks at Wild Honey, or John the cab driver (there’s only a few drivers in town, so just ask around for him) can recommend. If you get a clear day, walk where you can see the ocean. Otherwise there are some trails inland that we didn’t get to, but are more specific to The Burren landscape. You will see all the moo moos which made Laura very happy (and then she had steak for dinner).
The Doolin Cave – We happened to end our hike right by The Doolin Cave, so we figured why not. Turned out to be totally awesome. It has one of the worlds 3 largest stalactites and looks like a giant squid. The property is also lovely and they have goats that like to climb on the roof.
Doolin – Get John the cab driver to pick you up from the cave and take you into Doolin. We lucked on an Irish Folk Music festival, but even without that the pubs will be poppin’ by 5:00 and the town is darling. If you want any wool products, this is the place and the price to get them at. I got a sheepskin rug for 60 Euros. I think they charge more for the fake ones at Ikea. And Laura met a donkey!
The Cliffs of Moher – Any Princess Bride fan should not miss the Cliffs of Moher. Yes this is where they filmed the scene where the ship pulls up and Andre the giant starts to scale the cliffs holding Princes Buttercup. Even taller than the cliffs on the Aran Island, do not stick your head out over the edge on these giants.
Dublin – Sadly Dublin, for us, did not hold up to the rest of Ireland. We may have enjoyed it more if we didn’t already live in the pub land that is London. One day and night is certainly enough. We had some yummy food at Brother Hubbard, and some solid BBQ at Pitt Bros, as well as some Margarita Monday (2 for 1) action at 777. There’s some decent vintage shops around the Temple area, and it’s fun to have some Irish Whiskey at Temple Bar (it’s been around since the 1600s). The tour of The Guinness Storehouse is worth doing, and the bar at the top gives you a nice view of the city.