Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re completely overcome with happiness and just in awe and admiration of the world around you? That was me this entire weekend.
Besides Guinness and potatoes, I have to admit I knew very little about Ireland before arriving. After this weekend, I cannot be a bigger tourism advocate of this beautiful country I’ve been fortunate to call home for the past few months.
On a whim, we decided to book a 3 day tour up to the western coast of Ireland, hitting the famous Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, Connemara National Park, and the charming coastal city of Galway. Usually, I try to stay away from organized tours and opt for exploring by ourselves but sometimes, tours just work out cheaper, easier, and more informative! Irish Experience Tours certainly made this weekend a memorable one. If you’re a student, I would check them out because they usually have great student deals and offers and its always good craic.
Most of you have probably heard of and seen photos of the Cliffs of Moher – the jaw dropping cliffs that soar 700ft high out of the Atlantic Ocean. The feeling of standing on the edge of those cliffs is truly indescribable but hopefully my photos will help. For all the mothers reading this, the cliffs would probably be your worst nightmare. I was shocked that there wasn’t a single fence along the path which at times was just inches from the edge. But hey, it made for good insta photos! (cause that’s what matters at the end of the day, right?) I remember slipping a few times on the wet mud from the rain and my heart skipped a little each time. All part of the adventure!
Up bright and early the next day, we were off to the Aran Islands. The thing about being right off the Atlantic Ocean is that weather forecasts don’t mean anything here. Clouds and rain will roll in to the coast in a matter of seconds and roll out as as fast as they came in, that it did! Driving to the ferry and right up until reaching the islands, I’m not kidding, the fog was so bad I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me. The moment we disembarked the ferry though, cue the blue skies and sun!
On any of my travels, there is a 99.9% chance you will find me with a bike. It’s sort of become a ritual at any new place I visit and personally, my best days have been the ones where its just been me, my bike, and my map. My day at the Aran Islands was no different. We picked up sandwiches at the local grocery store, stuffed it into our backpacks, and proceeded to bike along the coastline to the beach where we picnicked to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore against a beautiful coastal backdrop. Am I describing it well enough? Probably not, because that day was probably my favorite day in Ireland so far. Renting a bike for the day only costs €8 and is honestly the best way to explore the islands. We ended our exhausting day in the most Irish way possible – sipping on a pint at a beach bar being entertained by a group of very drunk middle aged Irish men singing and dancing to the sounds of a guitar.
The next day, the action continued into Connemara National Park. The scenery was simply gorgeous, like Microsoft screensaver gorgeous. The drive took my breath away and we were literally stopping every five minutes to get out and snap a few photos. We had enough time to do a small hike up a hill that got us high enough to soak in the panoramic views of the park but after that, it was an exhausting almost 5 hour drive back to Cork!
This weekend was truly action packed and we did not get as much time in actual Galway city as we would’ve hoped but whatever time we did spend there was fab. Galway is similar to Cork in many ways with its quaint streets, harbor, and ever present street musicians. It’s a lovely city with great pubs to explore and an even better music scene! Definitely recommend a visit.