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There are tonnes of great staycation ideas in Ireland. I spent the past couple of years, especially 2017, exploring what’s basically on my own doorstep. I spent time in Antrim, Donegal, Sligo, Wicklow, Wexford, Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Clare and Fermanagh. I basically broke out my Marco Polo Spiral Guide to Ireland, got some inspiration and then headed off to explore.
It reminded me that Ireland has SO much to offer. There’s adventure, luxury, great food, incredible landscapes and plenty of places to grab a drink. I think, sometimes, that I take this country for granted because I’ve been here for most of my life. SO, let’s talk Irish staycations, they might just surprise you!
Top Staycation Spots in Ireland
Lough Eske – Donegal
Donegal is the county containing the most Northerly point in all of Ireland. It’s remote, rugged and absolutely beautiful. There’s great spots for surfing, hiking and pretty much any kind of adventure. I HIGHLY recommend a staycation in Lough Eske, Donegal if you’re looking for a bit of luxury.
I visited in 2017 and it was amazing. There are two main hotels on the lake, Lough Eske Castle (5*) & Harvey’s Point Hotel (4*). I stayed in Harvey’s Point and my room was for fit for a queen. Luxury was definitely the order of the day. Donegal town is only 10 minutes drive away so if you get sick of the stunning countryside (unlikely) you can head into town.
Killarney – Kerry
A few months ago I spent a couple of days down in Killarney. Kerry is one of my favourite counties in all of Ireland. There’s SO much to do and see there, including the Skellig islands made incredibly famous by Star Wars. Killarney makes a great base for exploring Kerry as it’s right beside the Killarney national park, Dingle is only around an hour drive away and it’s on the loop of the Ring of Kerry.
I stayed in the Gleneagle Hotel by the convention centre as I was attending a conference. However, there are tonnes of accommodation options in Killarney (check them all out here). ALSO, they have a Lord of the Rings themed bar called The Shire, which will keep any JRR Tolkien fan happy. The Shire also has rooms you can stay in AND serves delicious burgers (try the falafel burger).
Galway is the nation’s favourite destination for a staycation. We LOVE Galway! And with good reason. Galway is a lively, arty city full of things to do and see. I highly recommend staying on a house boat in the harbour. It’s a unique way to take in the city. Definitely take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. I only did this for the first time in 2017 and it was amazing.
I was afraid the cliffs would be teaming with tourists, but it was actually grand. It didn’t feel tacky. Definitely worth doing! If you want more of a luxury spa break then you can always try the 5* G Hotel . Foodwise, seafood is the thing to eat in Galway, BUT if you’re a pizza person you absolutely must grab a slice at Pizza & Pasta Napoli. It’s divine! Anyway, I could talk about Galway forever. I need to go back!
Rathaspeck – Wexford
Ok, this is not the usual spot by the sea in Wexford. There are certainly plenty of those. But one of the most spectacular staycation spots in Ireland is the “Doll’s House” in Rathaspeck. This brightly coloured gate house looks like it could be made out of candy.
On the inside it looks like something that should have its own spread in an interior design magazine. I remember stopping to take photos of it before they started renting it out. I was so in love with it. The Doll’s House is only a 10 minute drive to Wexford town, a 20 minute drive to Curracloe beach and a 15 minute drive to Rosslare. Again, I could write pages about Wexford, so I’m going to wrap it up now.
Belfast – Antrim/Down (a bit)
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and is only 2 hours drive from Dublin (or you can easily get the train). Pretty much all of Northern Ireland is a foodie’s dreamland, and Belfast is no exception. Coppi is my favourite. They have some incredible vegetarian options.
I stayed in the Europa when I was up there last month. I highly recommend it because of its history, location and food. There is SO much to do in Belfast. The Titanic museum is one of the most interesting and interactive museums I’ve ever been to.
If you’re interested in the history of Belfast I HIGHLY recommend the Belfast Political Walking Tour. It’s a tour through the protestant and catholic areas of the city led by ex political prisoners explaining their side of “The Troubles”. It’s extremely interesting and very raw/authentic.
Causeway Coast & Glens – Antrim
This is seriously one of my favourite parts of Ireland and is definitely my favourite part of Northern Ireland. Splash out on a stay in the beautiful Bushmills Inn. Make sure to visit the Bushmills distillery, the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle.
If you’re a foodie you’ll be spoiled for choice. The French Rooms in Bushmills is decorated in a cute kitchy style and serves french-inspired food. My family loved it. If you’re there on the second Saturday of the month check out the Causeway Speciality Market in Coleraine. You’ll find some absolutely delicious produce there to bring home.
If you’re not sure what you like then I highly recommend a food tour with Irish Feast, they’re starting a Bushmills food tour in March. And, of course, there’s a tonne of GOT things to do too.
I hope that I’ve inspired you to explore our beautiful island a bit more in 2018. This list is only a handful of the incredible staycation ideas to try in Ireland, there are SO MANY more out there. Let me know if you’ve done an Irish staycation before and what you thought. I’m already planning my staycations in Ireland for this year! If you have any tips/recommendations I’d love to hear them in the comments section 🙂 Or, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Always happy to hear from you guys.