Ireland’s countryside had long called out to Tim and me — the rolling hills, hundreds of fluffy sheep, rugged coastlines, how we both have family from somewhere here from way back when — so we knew when visiting Europe and the UK we had to take time out of the rush of Ireland’s city centres and escape into its lush hillsides.
We decided to base ourselves in Dublin at this hostel, which ended up working out perfectly because said hostel was right around the corner from the office of the tour company we used to explore northern and western Ireland: Paddywagon Tours. I cannot emphasize how wonderful an experience Paddywagon made our day trips; our driver on the day I’m talking about in this post, Val, was especially incredible — definitely ask for him to be your guide if booking with Paddywagon!
Our first day trip happened at the end of last April, so things weren’t too cold or too warm outside, just kind of perfect if you didn’t mind bundling up a little. The main points of interest on our day were Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Giant’s Causeway, but along the way we also visited the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle and the city of Belfast. See the entire itinerary for the tour we did here.
Driving out of Dublin into Northern Ireland was bright green and yellow, and filled with sheep. I’d never seen so much green before! Our first stop, the Dark Hedges, somewhat disappointed me — the number of tourists totally took away from their grandeur. However, what came next was my favourite place we’d see in Ireland: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim area. We had plenty of time to walk the rugged path leading to the bridge, and were able to indulge in an authentic Irish pub lunch afterwards. (Guinness everything HELLO.) The day we did this tour also happened to be completely cloud free — a rarity, according to Val. We even could see Scotland (yes, Scotland!) it was so clear out. We felt incredibly fortunate that the weather odds were in our favour because the intense colours and long-distance sights from the bridge really made an impact and solidified our love for the country.
Next up, after our lunch and driving through more coast-side roads, was Giant’s Causeway. These unique rock formations have plenty of legend surrounding their history, which Val illustrated in ways that made me cry I laughed so hard, and they are one of the strangest but most beautiful things I may ever see. The crashing waves against these cylindrical-shaped rocks, with towering bright green hills behind them made me want to set up camp and miss getting back on the tour bus. Again, the lucky weather we struck helped us love being on the ocean that much more while frolicking around Giant’s Causway.
Upon our long drive back to Dublin we also made a quick photo stop at Dunluce Castle, and spent about 45 minutes exploring Belfast (aka getting our fill at the closest McDonald’s we could find). The drive back to Dublin consisted of more incredible views, and I was eager for our next daytrip we’d booked with Paddywagon, which I’ll talk more about in a later post.
Have you ever been to Ireland or wanted to visit? Gotten lost in the beauty of its countryside? I’d love to hear more in the comments!