Ireland is a road trippers’ playground. With its rolling hills, old European castles, and rugged coastlines, Ireland looks like an imaginary place right out of a fairytale. While visiting big towns and driving down the Wild Atlantic Way, you can also find small towns that have unique Irish charm! Here are a few examples (among many!):
The Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry is part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, one of the wildest, most enchanting, and culturally rich coastal touring routes in the world. It’s also the westernmost point of Ireland, and, arguably, Europe. This peninsula is dominated by a range of mountains, including the country’s highest peak. Its geographic uniqueness isn’t the only reason why Dingle is so special. The west end of the peninsula is a Gaeltacht, where the government protects its old Irish ways. Gaeltacht means a place where only the Irish language is spoken. Not just the language is preserved here, but traditional Irish culture and its rich musical traditions, cuisine, and way of living, are too. Peak season falls in August, when the Dingle Races draw crowds from throughout the area to watch the horses run every other weekend.
The ancient name for Carlingford is Cuan Aighneach, which translates as “Haven of the People with the Perfect Reputation”. It is a coastal town in northern County Louth, Ireland’s smallest county, and is easily the most picturesque town there. Located halfway between the capital cities of Belfast and Dublin, visitors will encounter a hub of heritage, folklore, and activities.
Carlingford is rich in history from famed Celtic Legends to Knights and Kings of yore. The Irish folk hero Cúchulainn, for one, is said to have single-handedly defeated the armies of Ulster in an epic battle waged in the surrounding hills. Today the original medieval street patterns are still intact, at the edge of glassy Carlingford Lough, and a stern 13th-century castle presides over the townscape.
A beautiful and historic village on the river Nore in County Kilkenny, Inistioge is one of the most photographed (and filmed) places in Ireland. The major attraction for visitors on the banks of the river, is a 10-span bridge that dates from the 18th century. The bridge curves through endless green hills and sprawling woodland. The gardens of the Woodstock estate were recently restored. There are lots of things to do around the area other than walking and hiking along the river.
About 25km south of Cork City, the historic port and fishing town, Kinsale, has been drawing a crowd for centuries as a center of commerce, trade, and fishing. Located amongst hills, coastlines, and narrow streets, its charm has changed little over the centuries. It is one of the most historic locations in Ireland. The Battle of Kinsale which took place in 1601 was a turning point in Irish history. There’s a tourist trail to follow the significant locations. Enjoy the area by walking along the Scily Way and over to the Old Head of Kinsale, exploring the narrow streets, visiting local shops, and visiting one of many fine restaurants.
It’s not hard to find picturesque towns in Ireland, and Kenmare is definitely one of them. Settled in the heart of Kenmare Bay, this town is a great location to explore the South West of Ireland, and embark on the famous Ring of Kerry trail. The Ring of Kerry is one of the most famous tourist trails in the world that follows the coastlines of the Iveragh Peninsula. This 17th-century town has been designated Kerry’s first Heritage Town, because of its historical and cultural charm. Kenmare is also attached to the Killarney National Park to the north.
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