The South of Ireland is home to some of the country’s most dramatic scenery. Explore the craggy hillsides of the Wild Atlantic Way, quaint villages in Country Clare and mountain-views from Killarney National Park. Then settle down in region’s grand hotels. We’ve rounded up the best places to visit if you’re looking for an adventure in this wild corner of the world.
Quinlan and Cooke Boutique Townhouse
Courtesy of Quinlan and Cooke Boutique Townhouse / Expedia
Located along the rugged Wild Atlantic Way, Quinlan & Cooke Boutique Townhouse is the perfect boutique bolthole to shelter you from the elements. After walks along blustery beaches, the rooms offer a warming oasis with roll-top baths, snug blankets and Nespresso machines. You’ll even wake up to a basket of freshly baked goods at your door. Don’t miss the in-house seafood restaurant, which serves comforting dishes like steamed local mussels and fish stew bubbling with an aromatic saffron and coconut broth.
Valentia Harbour Sea Safari and Beginish Island Tour
This incredible two-hour tour will get you up close and personal with the magnificent landscapes of the Wild Atlantic Way. After boarding a custom-built sea safari boat, you’ll be whisked through Valentia Harbour as your guide runs you through its fascinating history, including the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable that was laid between the harbour and Canada in 1866. You’ll then travel back to the Viking era as you move on to Beginish Island, learning about the impact of the invasion on the area. Keep an eye out for seals as you travel past a 15th-century fort on your way back to the mainland.
Sitting right on the ocean, Eccles Hotel is the kind of place where you’ll wake up to the sound of seagulls and fall asleep to the lapping of the waves. The ultimate relaxing retreat, you’d be remiss not to dabble in the amazing spa during your stay, even if only to soak in the outdoor onsen-style hot tubs with their incredible views over the water. Food comes from head chef Eddie Attwell, whose strong focus on foraging and locally sourced ingredients results in dishes like butter poached hake and pork belly with Clonakilty black pudding.
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Killarney National Park Tour
Embrace a slower pace of life on this tour, where you’ll be transported around Killarney National Park on a carriage pulled by an Irish Gypsy Vanner Horse. Travelling along routes that aren’t accessible by car, this private tour will take you to corners of the park that not many get to see. Take in the breathtaking views over the mountains and lakes of Killarney, spotting the resident deer as you go. You’ll also stop at the Ross Castle, where you’ll have the chance to explore the grounds and take in this incredible 15th-century structure.
Set on more than six acres (2.5ha) of verdant gardens with views over the Slieve Mish Mountains and Tralee Bay, Ballyroe Heights Hotel truly feels wonderfully hidden away from the rest of the world. Rooms are warm and homely, with chestnut wood panelling and earth-toned textiles, while the views over the surrounding countryside are a delight to wake up to. The Wild Atlantic Way is on your doorstep and the town of Tralee (the capital of County Kerry) is just a short drive away, so you’re perfectly positioned for exploring the surrounding area. Just be sure to layer up for the unreliable Irish weather.
Ennis is a charming medieval village in Ireland’s Country Clare, well known for its traditional Irish music scene. On this tour, you’ll get to explore its winding streets and medieval architecture with a well-informed guide, who will regale you with fascinating stories and legends. Hear about the famines, rebellions and riots that shaped this town, then visit notable sights such as the Daniel O’Connell Monument and Old Abbey.
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These recommendations were updated on July 17, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.