Daily Mail


It’s a world of wonder – and it’s right next door


DO YOU dream of walking on the golden sands of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches? Or do your holiday dreams involve a waterfall worthy of Jurassic Park and the jungles of Costa Rica?

Do you prefer epic, ancient castles or cutting-edge contempora­ry art galleries? Would you like to spend an evening listening to singers and poets in a tiny, city centre pub? Or relaxing in a restaurant run by an award-winning, world-beating chef?

All this and more is on offer in Ireland, the holiday ‘secret’ that’s so close (and so easy to get to) that we tend to overlook it.

Simply crossing the Irish Sea is enough to bring on the holiday mood. Fresh air on a ferry makes you feel you’ve travelled. But instead of jet lag and language barriers we get warm welcomes and an array of extraordin­ary sights, experience­s, tastes and treasures.

Beautiful beaches are often the biggest surprise for first-time visitors. Portsalon Beach in Donegal has been voted one of the most stunning in the world. But in Ireland it’s not alone. White sands, silver sands and golden sands are found on most coasts.

Search for seashells, scour the waves for shipwrecks from the Spanish Armada and look for puffins, dolphins and whales as you eat ice-cream from local dairies. Or take tea in an old-fashioned café and watch the sunset over picture-perfect dunes.

Away from the coast, Ireland continues to delight.

The 50-foot Glencar Waterfall was loved by local hero W B Yeats and is at the end of a stunning woodland walk. The Norman castle and medieval streets of Limerick defy expectatio­n with their lively cultural scene, and rabbit warren of art galleries and craft stores.

There’s the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skellig Michael, a misty, sixth-century monastic settlement that appeared in recent Star Wars films.

There’s cosmopolit­an Cork, full of artisan food markets, arts centres and an opera house.

Wonderful Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, with a Viking Triangle at its heart. In gorgeous Galway every view is epic and its Oyster Festival brings fans from around the world.

Irish whiskey is the other taste on many lips and distillery tours are now complement­ed by alternativ­e craft beer and Irish gin tours.

Then there are Ireland’s lighthouse­s, its windmills, its history and ghost tours, its seaweed baths in sleek new spas – the list goes on.

With so many surprises, the only problem is knowing what to fit in and where to go. And that’s where the new generation of luxurious coach-based holidays can help.

Climb aboard and all your arrangemen­ts will be taken care of. With hugely experience­d operators such as Shearings, Leger, Alfa Travel, National Holidays and more, travel experts have mapped out perfect routes and itinerarie­s. They ensure you’re always in the right place at the right time – whether it’s to visit an Irish country garden, take a cruise on Lough Leane or explore the best places to eat in Dublin.

Reclining seats, air-conditioni­ng and friendly drivers make travel a joy. You’ll stay in the pick of Ireland’s hotels and can enjoy dinner with like-minded fellow travellers every night, or set off exploring on your own. On a modern-day, coach-based holiday the choice is yours.

Better still, there’s no hassle at either end of your holiday. Coach firms tend to have boarding points across the UK (or even door-to-door home-collect services). Stretch your legs on the ferry, then settle back and watch the wonderful Irish world pass by as you leave the harbour.

Now that fully vaccinated Brits can return from Ireland without having to quarantine, coach firms are seeing bookings rise fast. Many have launched new itinerarie­s – so if you’ve not looked at the lists lately, you could get a pleasant surprise when you see the latest options.

Low prices are another spot of good news. The six-day ‘Killarney and Ring of Kerry’ tour with Shearings gives you four nights in the ‘Jewel of Ireland’ and one in Dublin. It offers stunning views of the Atlantic Coast and takes in the Dingle Peninsula, where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. It’s on offer in late 2021 and into 2022 from just £469pp and is one of dozens of holiday options.

So don’t dismiss the treasure next door for your next holiday. Ireland could be the answer to your travel dreams – and a coach-based holiday lets you see it all in style.

>> Quarantine restrictio­ns in the UK and abroad are liable to change – always check Government and local advice before and during your holiday <<

 ??  ?? IRISH PLEASURES: Portsalon Beach, County Donegal, above: Teelings Whiskey Distillery, Dublin, below left; Carlingfor­d Oyster Festival, below
IRISH PLEASURES: Portsalon Beach, County Donegal, above: Teelings Whiskey Distillery, Dublin, below left; Carlingfor­d Oyster Festival, below
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom