Most people travel to Ireland because of the incredible landscape - especially on the western coast, the country is less crowded and there is less traffic. In exchange therefore you get calmness and a lot of sheep. I have been looking forward to see the Green Island with its the lush green landscape and wasn't disappointed.
But from time to time, a bit more action is well appreciated. So I also very much enjoyed my time in all these lovely Irish towns and cities. Especially the old towns or parts of a city with these small and colorful houses, where it feels like at least behind every second door is a pub.
So here are the 5 most picturesque cities in Ireland for me.
Killarney is situated in the middle of the county Kerry. Most of the sights are not directly in the town but in the area surrounding it like Ring of Kerry, Gap of Dunloe or Dingle Peninsula. But Killarney itself with its 13.500 citizens is worth a visit.
The city center is exactly like you would expect it, packed with restaurants, pubs and souvenir shops. Due to the already mentioned sights around Killarney the town is always busy with tourists and there’s always a lot of party going on. Pubs therefore are full quite quickly in the evenings and it is better to occupy a table before 9 PM.
Just outside the city is Killarney National park with the three largest lakes of the county Kerry. Here you can go fishing or canoeing or just wander around in the woods.
Cork is with only 120.000 citizens the second largest city of Ireland. When it comes to atmosphere one might get the idea that Cork is even the capital (especially the residents themselves love this idea).
The shopping promenade is a bit more convenient than Grafton Street in Dublin and there are nice alleys along the river Lee. From the main street in the city center are a lot of really cool small roads branching off with old pubs, stores and street musicians playing folk and other music. A nice contrast to the really modern, bright main street.
In the town center there’s also a beautiful market hall in a building from the 18th century, the so called English Market. Here you can get fresh food produce and Irish and international specialties. –Btw. there is even a museum about one of the Irish specialties, namely butter.
Like I already said in our post about Dublin the capital didn’t make the first place. However, Dublin really is a city where you feel comfortable quite quickly and were you definitely should stay a few days.
Trinity College with the Old Library and Temple Bar district are two of the highlights here and there are many other lovely churches and museums around. And of course Dublin is the home of Arthur Guinness, who founded the Guinness brewery in 1759 at St. James Gate.
Today the beer is still brewed here and in the old new brewery building is the museum “Guinness Storehouse” located. For a capital Dublin is relatively small, what is awesome if you prefer going everywhere by foot over taking the underground or other public transportation.
Kilkenny is one of the oldest towns of Ireland. The medieval city core is mainly sustained and in the middle of it all is the Castle of Butlers. I was so lucky to have a hotel room with direct view on the castle and the river.
The old town is comparatively big and the old shopping mall and the residential houses, pubs and bridges and the town hall are in very good shape and if you are into old buildings Kilkenny is the place to be. And if you need a break you can take a stroll along the river Nore.
An absolutely adorable pub in Kilkenny is the Kyteler’s Inn, you feel like you are in a knight’s hall with stone walls and colored window glasses and you get tasty food together with the mandatory pint of Guinness.
Galway is situated directly at the ocean. And Galway, like Kilkenny, is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and is a former fishing village – that’s the reason why today there are still so many seafood restaurants and Fish & Chips stalls. I even had the chance to try Fish n Chips made from ray. –And guess what, once I finally found out which part of it should be eaten it was damn tasty.
About a quarter of the Galway residents are students, what gives the town the typical atmosphere of an university city. When the weather is good there are people along the coast and both sides of the river Corrib sitting and lying around enjoying themselves and their free time.
So it is no miracle that the most amazing pub I have seen during our travels through Ireland was in Galway: The Quays. From the outside the pub looks a bit plain but as soon as you’re stepping inside you feel like in another world.
Parts of furniture are from an old French church and they play live music all day long. When you travel to Ireland you can not miss this pub. You definitely have to go to Galway and spend an evening in The Quays!!