Áine Kenny gives us the lowdown on our little country.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate our own country. Ireland can be quite picturesque, especially when the weather is good! City breaks are a student favourite; they are cheap, easy to organise around college timetables and are perfect if you just need a break from academic study. I recommend four places in Ireland for a city break for students- they will suit you if you are a bit strapped for cash or aren’t too fond of flying.
Galway city is like a sweet, quaint town. The cobblestoned pavements are filled with street performers and trad bands, often making it difficult to get through Shop Street! While hotels in the city centre can be quite pricey, you can get good deals on Air BnB or with hotels on the outskirts. Hotels on the Headford Road are quite cheap but this is because of bad traffic leading into the city centre, so be prepared to walk. There are also hostels like Kinlay and Barnacles for groups of people. Try as many restaurants as you can because Galway is a real foodie place. The pubs are great too, with a lot of them having live music. Make sure to walk out to Salthill to see the beach- the walk from Spanish Arch to the Prom is bracing but beautiful in a wild way. Make sure to kick the wall when you complete your journey!
Lahinch is a small seaside town in Co. Clare, which is a personal favourite of mine. If you are into surfing, this is the spot to be with many surf schools offering lessons and renting out boards. The pubs are good, as is the local seafood. There are beautiful walks along the cliffs at Spanish Point and White Strand. The Burren Perfumery also isn’t too far away, so if you like nature and flowers I would highly recommend a trip here. There are many lovely BnBs around Lahinch so I would recommend them over a hotel. If you are looking for a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Clare is a beautiful place to go to.
Derry is a very historical city, with its 17th century walls being one of the best examples of a walled city in Europe. I recommend doing the walking tour of the walled city and you can see many Nationalist and Loyalist murals in residential areas from over the tops of the stone fortress. There are also many museums and visitor centres concerning the Troubles if you want to learn a bit of history. Derry is also great for shopping too, you will be shocked at the mark up on the prices of clothes in the South! Shop around for best hotel and BnB prices by using Trivago or Groupon.
Many people go to Dublin, and they only go shopping and end the night in Coppers. Dublin actually has a lot more to offer than clothes and drink, try visiting the numerous art galleries and museums, many of which are completely free! My personal favourite is the National Gallery of Ireland. Kilmainham Gaol and Glasnevin are well worth a visit if you are a history buff but just double check about booking them in advance - they can cost. Take a walk around St. Stephen’s Green and admire the statues of famous Irish people. Phoenix Park is a bit of a trek but it is one of the nicest urban parks in Europe and very peaceful. Accommodation in Dublin can be pricey, I recommend Air BnB or booking a hostel as a group, but just make sure there are no sporting events like GAA or rugby finals on the weekend you go, otherwise the cost will go through the roof.
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