Holidays are for relaxing, spending time with loved ones and enjoying some of the finer things in life, such as food, sights, culture and more. With all these things available in abundance across the Emerald Isle, why not skip the airport queues and plan your perfect staycation in 2019 instead.
The island has so much to offer, from the sandy beaches that stretch along our coasts, to the array of master chefs and culinary artists, to the history that every county in Ireland is steeped in.
So, whether you are planning a romantic weekend away, want to take the family on an adventure or simply feel like taking a break from office life, a staycation could be everything you are looking for.
Here are some of our top staycation destinations to consider this year.
Nestled deep in Co Kerry, Killarney is an outdoor paradise. Its rich landscape, endless activities for you to try, and wide selection of food and drink options makes it one of the top places for a staycation this year.
Outdoor activities include golf, kayaking, mountain walks, horse riding and trail running, to name a few. For the adrenaline junkies out there, why not try rock climbing and abseiling in one of Killarney's most remarkable and iconic destinations, the Gap of Dunloe.
When the time comes to kick back and relax, you can rest assured that you will have lots of options. From outlet shopping to traditional Irish stores, you can easily spend hours browsing the stores for that perfect memento from your staycation. Or why not relax and recharge by booking in to one of luxury spas in the locality?
Killarney has many great restaurants and cafes to try while you are visiting. ‘Cellar One at The Ross’, in the town centre, is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious meal and maybe a cocktail or two! For something a little different, be sure to check out ‘Rozzer’s Restaurant’. Situated a short distance from the town, this beautiful country style house has a reputation for great quality food and a wonderful atmosphere.
Just 50 minutes by train from Dublin, this central midland town has a lot to offer its visitors. The once sleepy Main Street is now bustling with restaurants and lively bars. From Tapas to Thai, there is something for all taste buds. For great food and décor that has a quirky 1920s feel, check out ‘Lilly’s Bar’. It’s the perfect place to get cosy for an evening and relax.
Why not catch a live show at the Dunamaise Arts Centre and Theatre, where many of Ireland’s great actors have thread the boards over the years? Or, for those who enjoy treasure hunting, be sure to call in to The Store Yard. This huge industrial style building has been converted into an antique-lovers dream. Take a couple of hours to wander through the centuries. You might be surprised at what you find along the way.
You can also get your daily dose of fresh air by venturing out to the nearby Emo Court during your stay. Take a walk in the woods followed by some afternoon tea in the CaToCa Emo Tea Rooms.
Making Portlaoise the base for your staycation means you are only a short train journey away from lots of other great places. For example, the town is perfectly located for a day trip to Kildare Village, where you can treat yourself to some retail therapy and enjoy some of the exciting culinary pop ups on offer.
Famous throughout the world for being a bubbling cultural hub in Ireland, Galway is on every tourist’s bucket list, and it is easy to see why. It is a city that you simply cannot miss out on when travelling around the country. From its history and architecture to the wide range of summer festivals, there is something for everyone and, with the train bringing you right to the doorstep of Eyre Square, you have the whole city at your fingertips.
Fancy eating a meal made by the ‘Best Chef in Ireland’ (as voted by the Irish Restaurant Awards in 2016)? Then head to ‘Loam’, just off Eyre Square. This Michelin-starred restaurant promises to bring the magic of the west of Ireland to life through its impeccable food.
Tea and coffee lovers can enjoy a lazy afternoon in the ‘The Secret Garden Galway’, where board games are plentiful and getting lost in a good book is encouraged.
Shop Street is where high street fashion meets jaw-dropping performances by local street artists. You cannot visit Galway without being entertained by some of the talent on offer – once the spot where a young Ed Sheeran tried his hand at busking, you never know who you might see there next.
With its relaxed vibe and wild landscape, Sligo has kept poetry, art and music very much a part of its identity throughout the years. Home to one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets, W.B. Yeats, it is no wonder that he took much of his inspiration from his native county.
A walk along the river bank will leave you not only admiring the scenery in the centre of the town but will also have you spoilt for choice when it come to places to eat. ‘Hooked’, with its impressive and locally inspired menu, is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat. Or, just across the river, the ‘Sweet Beat Café’ offers a beautiful selection of healthy and vegan meals.
A short distance from Sligo town is the coastal village of Strandhill. The area boasts a stunning beach, seaweed baths and several cosy pubs and restaurants. It is the perfect getaway spot and with local buses running to and from Sligo town every day, you can easily make it a stop along your staycation.
The iconic Sligo mountain Benbulben is a must see for any outdoor adventurers. Hike to the top and enjoy one of Ireland’s most breathtaking views. Or, for a lighter activity, try the walking trail in the forest at the foot of the mountain, where wildlife watching is a must.
Get your staycation off to the best possible start by taking the train, with great fares available to all of the above destinations. Get there in comfort, make the most of your time and choose the best way to see more of what Ireland has to offer.
Wherever you decide to venture this year, rediscover the joy of the train with great fares for all on the Iarnród Éireann website.