Wednesday 20 February 2019

Ireland's Top 10 home holiday destinations revealed - 'They do tourism right'

Winner: Kerry

Climbing in Kerry's Reeks District. Photo: KerryClimbing.ie
Climbing in Kerry's Reeks District. Photo: KerryClimbing.ie
Torc Waterfall, Co Kerry
Caragh Lake, Co Kerry. Photo: ReeksDistrict.com
Climbing in Kerry's Reeks District. Photo: KerryClimbing.ie

Reader Travel Awards

"They do tourism right," you said.

It's hard to argue with that. "Every view is a framed picture," readers told us, noting the Kingdom's "fjord-like coastline" and breathtaking range of natural wonders, from the Skelligs to Slea Head, from killer beaches to Killarney National Park.

"If Kerry had six uninterrupted weeks of sunshine, it would be world famous," you said. "The people, the beaches, the islands, the views, the stars, the wildlife, the food and the pubs... it has everything."

And a little extra, too.

Lots of readers listed Kerry's unrivalled array of activities, from surfing and scenic drives to its Dark Sky Reserve. Kerry has "the friendliest people to welcome you," you added, "great pubs and restaurants along the way", and a "cosmopolitan" tone to its food, eateries, atmosphere and craic.

Nostalgia was important too, with many evoking "childhood memories" and family holidays now being recreated with new generations.

Kerry sounds like an obvious pick, but our judges noted that the county refuses to rest on its laurels. It wrote the rule book for Irish tourism, but it also continues to innovate - be it via thriving food scenes in Dingle and Kenmare, off-season festivals like Other Voices, or re-brands like the 'Reeks District' (pictured top) - named by Rough Guides as one of the best places in the world to visit this year.

Good old-school Kerry confidence never really seeps into complacency, we reckon - and it's worth noting that Killarney, Dingle and Kenmare all ranked in your Top 20 home holiday destinations in their own right. You also singled out its islands and "bustling towns" like Listowel and Tralee.

Torc Waterfall, Co Kerry
Torc Waterfall, Co Kerry

"Outstanding natural beauty, hauntingly so in places... and yet the people and towns are oddly cosmopolitan, with the range of food influences and ease with different people so lovely... the best of the local and the global are on offer here."

"We visit nearly every year. Never looks the same, never changes, never get tired of it," you said. You noted "hospitality at its best" and "the particular calming Irish feeling that comes over you" on a holiday here. "There is something magical about the place that makes everyone happy with life."

"It's like being away, but not."

Top 10 Home Holiday Destinations

1. Kerry

"What Ireland is all about... an Irish welcome with top-class scenery and food."

2. Galway

"The beaches, the scenery, the sexy accents, the wee pubs and the ceol agus craic!"

3. Cork

"Homely and welcoming foodie heaven... Pure beauty... Costa del Cork is paradise!"

4. Wexford

"Culture, friendly and beside the sea... not as busy as the west coast... if you don't know, you're missing it."

5. Donegal

"Best beaches, unspoiled countryside and an abundance of sincere hospitality and charm... the accent and scenery are beautiful things."

6. Westport

"A small town with a big heart... everything needed for a weekend away."

7. Clare

"Beautiful, peaceful... fantastic beaches, great craic with the local people."

8. Dublin

"Cosmopolitan, diverse city... so much to do and never short of ambience."

9. Kilkenny

"A medieval marvel that is brimming full of culture, art, music food and sport... plus it's only 45 minutes to the nearest beach!"

10. Waterford

"Ireland's most underrated city... Winterval and Waterford Greenway, great people, amazing food culture and fantastic festival vibes!"

NB: The Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2019 are sponsored by Iarnród Eireann. Read the full list of winners here.

Read more:

The Irish Bucket List: 30 things to do in Ireland before you die 

Irish Independent

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