Ireland isn’t just a destination, it’s a feeling. It can simultaneously fill you with cheer, tug at your heartstrings and inspire adventure.
And although Ireland’s most famous cities, landmarks and attractions will certainly fill all your emotional needs, it pays to explore in search of hidden gems.
Because in truth, even just a few steps off the beaten track promises to enrich your soul beyond your wildest Irish dreams.
Here are just a handful of hidden gems that are awaiting your discovery on the island of Ireland.
EXPERIENCE WARM AND FRIENDLY WESTPORT
Old fashioned Irish cheer welcomes you into the tiny west coast town of Westport and follows you along its quaint cobblestone lanes, around its moody harbourside, and certainly into one of its many charming pubs.
Sometimes referred to as one of the friendliest towns in Ireland, the good vibes here are equally, dare we say, surpassed, by its strong food culture, excellent music and history. Did you know that Westport House is owned by the descendants of a famous pirate queen? Yep!
Hop on a bike and pedal along an abandoned rail line
If you’ve made the right decision and added Westport to your itinerary, why not jump on a bike and cycle the Great Western Greenway in County Mayo, which follows the route of the old Westport to Achill Island rail line along the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way?
Only 42-kilometres-long and off the beaten track, there’s more than enough time to complete it in a day whilst still allowing you to stop and admire the dramatic landscapes, quaint villages and verdant, rolling pastures on the way. Never has a cycling route looked this good!
Visit the final resting place of a tragic love affair
Built in honour of all things luxurious and opulent, no expense was spared in the construction of Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, a quintessential Irish castle, featuring 33 bedrooms, a magnificent staircase and a stunning ballroom.
It was the home of successful financer Mitchell Henry, his wife Margaret Vaughan, and their children, until 1875, when, tragically, Margaret died on a visit to Egypt.
Devastated and heartbroken, Mitchell vowed to spend as little time as possible on their estate (it reminded him too much of her) but not before building her a neo-Gothic Church as her final resting place.
To this day, the church—and the castle itself—remains one of the most elegant examples of architecture in Ireland, and remains a true undiscovered gem.
Discover another world along an epic cliff path in Northern Ireland
It’s an amazing opportunity to skirt Ireland’s coastline whilst walking along paths built into cliffs and over bridges originally designed by railway engineer Berkeley Deane Wise back in 1902.
Offering you the chance to spot native wildlife, photograph amazing coastal scenery, and get as close to the spectacular coastline without actually taking a dip, this is one gem worth walking for.
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- READ: IRISH CHARM: Ireland is in a “golden age” for tourism right now
Which secret spot would you like to discover?
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