Ireland is a country of contrasts- it has both brains and beauty. Of course, it is well known for its green landscapes and beautiful villages, where life remains much as it did hundreds of years ago- but there are cities like Dublin and Cork that can compete with major cities of the world.

The locals are friendly in Ireland, and most are well-read and talkative- they’ll be happy to discuss almost anything over a pint. Ireland has a rich art history, but the outdoors is what most people come for- the country has many ruins and almost prehistoric monuments (think of the tombs in the Boyne Valley). It does rain quite a bit in Ireland, but you can duck out of the inclement weather into any one of a number of old fashioned little pubs. Who knows, you may happen upon a sort of impromptu fiddlers and dancers jam session. At the very least, you’ll leave with a few pints of ale and a great chat.

Dublin is Ireland’s capital, and it is the envy of most of Europe. The city of today is full of shops, pubs, and enough fast paced nightlife to satisfy almost anyone. Its culture is storied and wonderful, and although its economy, like so many others, has taken a hit, Ireland is a country that looks only to the future.

Stop by the Guinness Brewery for a tour and taste of the famous brew. Dublin’s Heuston station is conveniently located just five minutes from the Brewery. This is ideal, since you won’t want to drive after your visit. From here, reach all points south and west of the city, including more cities of green, myth and glass.

Get to Gal-way, birthplace of the Claddagh ring, in less than three hours. Waterford, home to the world-famous crystal factory is clearly in your sights in just over two hours. Near Cork, you can’t go home without kissing the Blarney Stone at the castle of the same name. With a little maneuvering (you’ll need to lean out of the castle wall and scale down a bit), the myth goes that upon planting a wet one, you’ll be blessed with a magical eloquence. Whether a bunch of blarney, well, that’s up to you.
Back on the train, peer out your window in search of rainbows and fields of shamrocks. And realize that all of Ireland is a traveler’s pot of gold.

It doesn’t matter if you like to hike through the countryside or shop in a bustling marketplace- Ireland will provide you with the vacation of a lifetime.

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