Top 5 Experiences in the Emerald Isle

Ireland has seen a great increase in visitors from Australia and New Zealand in the past four years. Here we look at the top 5 truly authentic experiences that are a must on your travel bucketlist!

With over 10% of Australians believed to have Irish ancestry, it's no surprise that the Emerald Isle is a popular travel destination. While Australians still want to take in Ireland's iconic sights, they also want to combine these with truly authentic experiences and meaningful interactions with locals. Managing Director of Trafalgar, Matthew Cameron-Smith, outlines the top 5 truly authentic experiences that are a must.

1. Stay in a Celtic castle

There aren’t many people who can claim they’ve stayed in a royal residence. But with approximately 1,000 castles dotted throughout Ireland and no royalty left to reign, this incredible experience is now within reach. A number of medieval castles across Ireland have been converted into hotels. Most recently is Ashford Castle, a magnificent property set on 350 acres on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib. Following extensive refurbishment, rooms have been restored to their regal best. Fine dining, luxurious spa options and activities such as falconry and equestrian on offer all add to Ashford’s royal opulence.

2. Travel the Wild Atlantic Way

Without a doubt, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s rugged west coast spanning 1500 miles and seven counties is becoming one of the region’s most sought after experience. Waves crashing upon rocks, rolling green countryside, the remnants of stone villages; this is the real deal Ireland. You’ll definitely want to let someone else do the driving so you don’t miss a second of the scenery.

3. Fresh foodie experiences

Ireland has never made it high on the list of getaways for gastronomes. Yet the countryside’s rich soil and regular rain makes for fertile growing conditions, producing an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Trafalgar offers guests the opportunity to forage for fresh produce on the wild beaches of the Atlantic Edge with a local horticultural tutor, followed by a delicious meal prepared from the food that they’ve collected. It will change the way you think about Irish cuisine.

4. Newgrange for winter solstice

While on first inspection it appears to be a grass covered mound, underneath Newgrange is one of the most impressive passage tombs. Older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge it is estimated to date back to 3200 BC. Once a year, the winter solstice sun, reaches the floor of the chamber, illuminating the tomb in what is one of the most spectacular light shows on earth. This experience is so highly coveted that would-be attendees must enter a ballot many months in advance. This year, over 30,000 applications were submitted.

5. Belfast from the back of a black cab

A lot has been written about Belfast’s troubled past, but there is no better way to truly understand what this time was like than by visiting significant sites and hearing the stories straight from someone who lived through it. Trafalgar offers its guest the unique experience of exploring the city from the back of a Belfast Black Cab with a local insider who gives an insight into the troubles through the decades and exposes the hidden messages weaved in the murals that pepper the city’s walls.

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