Staycations in Ireland
Is there somewhere that you have always wanted to visit in Ireland or in Northern Ireland, but never quite got around to it? For those of you living in Ireland, there has never been a better time for an Irish staycation to explore what lies on your own doorstep. There are so many sights, attractions and activities to do and see which will give you a new perspective on the country.
For anyone who does not live in Ireland, these staycation ideas will be great travel inspiration for planning your own Ireland vacations!
Top Staycation Places Ireland
The country of Ireland is full of beautiful, utterly unique landscapes, hidden gems to be explored, as well as cultural and historical attractions that will delight and amaze you.
In this article we have outlined 5 of the best staycations Ireland has to offer. Be sure to add them to your bucket list. Whether you want to plan a family staycation, a relaxing getaway break, visit somewhere new or that you haven’t been to in a while, search no further, there will be something for you in this article.
Ideally, plan 2-3 days when you visit staycation spots so that you can really explore the vicinity at your leisure. Keep an eye out for special offers on accommodation out of the main tourist season if you are looking for a cheep staycation.
Staycation Dublin – Experience a Different Side of the City
Dublin is a city with top class attractions to rival any other capital city, as well as many hidden gems. For a three day Dublin staycation, you could try to visit some of Dublin’s main sights and attractions ranging from the Guinness Storehouse to Temple Bar to get a feel for what the city has to offer. For an alternative view of Dublin and a glimpse inside some of its most interesting less well known, secret spots read our post here.
There are plenty of unusual things to do in Dublin, many of which Dubliners themselves have not yet done. Here are a few more ideas that are well worth checking out as part of a staycation in Dublin.
The streets of the Irish Captial have come alive with different forms of street art in recent years. For ideas about where to catch the best murals in Dublin City, suggested walking tours and information about the artists behind the images, visit the Dublin Walls website.
A stroll around the Phoenix Park is a great family friendly experience at any time of the year. Catching a glimpse of the wild fallow deer that live in the park makes the experience even better.
Another thing to do for all of the family in the Phoenix Park is to visit the official residence of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin.
Tours of the state rooms take place on Saturdays and are open to the public free of charge. For exact details of times and news updates, check the official website. There is no option to book in advance and don’t forget to bring photographic identification with you when you visit! (A virtual tour of the residence is also available online.)
If the weather is nice, why not explore a little wilderness a short distance from the city center. Ireland’s Eye is a small, uninhabited island with a striking Martello Tower and is just a short boat ride from Howth.
It is a great place for a picnic with a difference and it is possible to go swimming on the long, sandy beach. This island is home to large seabird colonies of razorbills, gannets, fulmars and gulls. Keep an eye out for many grey seals that frequent the area as well.
Sligo – Explore Yeats County
Sligo is perhaps often overlooked as one of Ireland’s best counties, but it is in fact a fantastic location along the Wild Atlantic Way with something for all of the family.
A Sligo holiday wouldn’t be complete without long walks on beautiful with rugged windswept beaches, stunning scenery (check out the hit series Normal People to see some of the best that this county has to offer), great outdoor activities. The county also has an exceptionally rich history, including shipwrecks of the Spanish Armada.
Sligo can lay claim to Benbulben (sometimes spelled, Benbulbin or Ben Bulben) one of the most iconic of all Irish mountains. This table top limestone and shale mountain was created through the process of erosion and glaciation and stands out on the landscape. It is easily identified as one of the Landmarks of Ireland. For some great views of Ben Bulben, you could check out the Benbulben Forest Walk.
If more idyllic scenery is what you are after, then head to Glencar Lough (or Glencar Lake) and specifically Glencar Waterfall (which is technically over the county border in Leitrim). Even today it is easy to see how magical this special location is. William Butler Yeats was certainly very taken by this spot which inspired one of his early poems “The Stolen Child”.
County Sligo provided a wealth of inspiration for Yeats, who came to think of the county as his childhood home. It is hardly surprising then that this county featured in many of his works, including “Under Ben Bulben”, and “The Lake Isle of Inishfree” in Lough Gill.
Today it is possible to visit his grave in the church graveyard at Drumcliff, which lies at the foot of Benbulben.
To learn more about Yeats, you can stop by the Yeats Building in Sligo Town, where you will find the Yeats Exhibition and the Hyde Bridge Art Gallery. The Yeats Summer School and Winter School also take place at this location.
Another great attraction that might not be on everyone’s radar is Lissadell House and Gardens. This estate was once home to Constance Markievicz and her sister Eva Gore-Booth and has quite significant historical and cultural connections. It was also a place favoured by Yeats, who was friendly with the family and stayed in the house in 1892 and 1893.
It is also good to try something completely new when the opportunity arises. If you feel like a bit of indulgence, why not try something a bit more unusual and take a seaweed bath in the famous Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths in Enniscrone.
The Edwardian bath house first opened its doors in 1912 and to this day you can still experience the period decor, which adds a wonderful charm to the entire therapeutic indulgence!
Castle Hotel Stay – Treat Yourself to a Retreat
Every now and then, it can get good to get away from all of the hustle and bustle of daily life and experience some utter luxury! A short staycation is the ideal way to do this and Ireland has some enviable options. How many of you have actually stayed in an Irish castle?
There are some fantastic castles in Ireland to stay in that offer guests pure luxury in remarkable settings and provide all of the tranquility and wellness needed to feel revitalised. There has never been a better time than the present!
Here are some of the best castles to stay in Ireland. Each one of these top star hotels offers something very unique.
Ashford Castle, County Mayo is without a doubt one of the best castle hotels in Ireland and it is not difficult to see why. With a history stretching back more than 800 years, this top castle hotel destination provides its guest with a fairytale experience complete with ample amounts of elegance and grandeur and activities!
The wide ranging wellness and spa possibilities will ensure that you feel utterly pampered during your stay!
Tucked away in the beautiful setting of Lough Eske near the Blue Stack Mountains in County Donegal is Lough Eske Castle. This five star hotel offers several different accommodation options including Garden Suites and a Lake Lodge. Experience the wonderful spa and wellness area to refresh both body and mind.
If you want to mix luxury and activities then Ballynahinch Castle Hotel in County Galway is an ideal staycation spot. There is ample space to wander the grounds of the estate itself, not to mention explore the nearby 12 Bens Mountain range. Proximity to Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden, Connemara National Park and the scenic Sky Road drive make this a very special location.
Galway – An Ideal Stop on the Wild Atlantic Way
The City of the Tribes is a highly recommendable destination all year round and a place we love to return to over and over again. The wide variety of attractions and activities in Galway and its surroundings make it an ideal staycation spot.
Galway is the only city along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal drive and it is the perfect place to stay for a few nights.
The vibrant street art, lively atmosphere both day and night and great Irish restaurants make Galway City one of Ireland’s most well loved cities for both tourists and Irish alike.
It is a fabulous place to wander, with the likes of Eyre Square, Spanish Arch and with the charming streets of the Latin Quarter being some of the best known and loved locations.
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop on Middle Street is a shop that can’t be missed if you are looking for a good read while in the city. This treasure trove is a real book lovers paradise, where you can easily browse for hours. Supporting small local businesses like this one help to continue to give Galway a particularly special flair.
Don’t forget to take a walk out along the Salthill Promenade to get some unrivalled views of Galway Bay and perhaps see a Galway Hooker or two. If you are brave enough, bring your swim gear along and take a jump from the Blackrock diveboard!
The city itself is a great location to base yourself for exploring the west coast of Ireland as many of Ireland’s greatest attractions are easily within reach as part of a day trip including The Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, Kylemore Abbey and Walled Garden, Connemara National Park and Dunguaire Castle.
Ring of Kerry Road Trip – With a difference
If you are looking for a staycation Kerry can offer some of the best staycations in Ireland. There are many superb spots along the Ring of Kerry drive for example that are really worth visiting, with a few more hidden gems that should be explored and experienced.
The road trip can be completed in a day, but if you want to make the most of it without rushing through, plan 2-3 days to really enjoy the many great stops along the way.
It is usually best to start the Ring of Kerry trip from Killarney. This bustling town is a great base to explore the nearby Gap of Dunloe, Torc Waterfall, Muckross House and Gardens and Ross Castle on the Lakes of Killarney.
Further along the Ring of Kerry is Rossbeigh beach. This is a lovely spot for a long beach walk and a picnic if the weather is right.
Valentia Island is often bypassed en route, but has its own special charms including the tetrapod footprints dating back 350 and 370 million years ago and the Valentia Habour where the first Transatlantic telegraph cable was laid.
From Portmagee it is possible to get a ferry to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skellig Michael. This remarkable island about 12 km off the Kerry coast is an exceptionally well preserved monastic site and important wildlife sanctuary. It also gained a recent rise in fame due to being used as a Star Wars filming location.
Look no further than the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve if you want exceptional opportunities to view the stars. The superb clarity of the night sky on the Iveragh Peninsula due to the minimal light pollution in the area has been recognised internationally.
Ireland has many stunning cliffs, not just the Cliffs of Moher and Slieve League. The Kerry Cliffs are less well known, but are definitely worth checking out. Located a short distance outside of Portmagee, these 300 meter high cliffs are a rugged, breathtaking sight, with considerably less tourists than at the Cliffs of Moher.
A short drive away is the Skellig Chocolate Factory and cafe. Adults and kids are in for a treat and chocolate lovers should definitely schedule a stop here!
This local enterprise offers gourmet chocolate with a wide range of interesting flavoured bars (sea salt chocolate, Irish honey chocolate and lime and black pepper), as well as tasty truffles (Teeling Irish Whiskey Crème Truffles). Visitors are invited to a free tasting which was a lovely added bonus for us!
The seaside town of Waterville is a charming spot along the route that also appealed to Charlie Chapin. You might be surprised to see his statue on the waterfront. It also hosts the annual Charlie Chapin festival in August, which attracts visitors from far and wide.
After driving through Molls Gap and enjoying the scenic views of Killarney National Park, a special experience awaits those who visit Kissane Sheep Dog Demonstrations. This family run farm provides daily sheep dog demonstrations. Depending on the time of the year that you visit you might also be able to see sheep shearing demonstrations and of course in spring there will be lots of lambs!
Don’t forget to check out Ladies View on your way back into Killarney Town.
More Best Staycation Ireland Ideas
If you are looking for some other great suggestions for your staycation in Ireland, read our post on the Best Landmarks in Ireland for some inspiration.
Planning to spend some time around Cork? Then read our Day Trips from Cork post to get some good ideas about where to visit.