Coastal landscape in Ireland
Ireland may not be geographically large, but its abundance of places to visit make it a fantastic destination. The isle of Ireland consists of two countries: the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (which is part of Great Britain). Eurail passes are valid in both countries. Tour ancient castles, experience Irish culture, sip a Guinness at an authentic pub, see some of the most spectacular coastal areas in Europe – it’s all part of your Ireland train travel adventure.
The home of Guinness
This vibrant, multicultural mecca has an ancient soul, but a youthful attitude. After a day of sightseeing, including Trinity College & Book of Kells, the National Gallery and the Dublin Writer’s Museum, be sure you save some energy to tour the Guinness Storehouse and party the night away in the Temple Bar District. In Ireland, the Guinness flows like water, and visitors should at least indulge in a pint or two. View more things to do in Dublin.
The Pearse Street Train Station sets you off right on the edge of the Trinity College campus.
A city moving forward
Likely most known for its violent and troubled past, Belfast today is a bright, optimistic, and forward-moving city. Boasting an excellent nightlife and fantastic food, Northern Ireland’s capital shouldn’t be missed. The past is not forgotten, however, and memorials like the Peace Wall abound. Check out the revamped Ulster Museum and the magnificent City Hall. View more things to do in Belfast.
Belfast Central Station is adjacent to Waterfront Hall and St. George’s Market, about 10 minutes from the city center.
Uncork the real Ireland
Many residents consider Cork (Corcaigh) to be the true capital of Ireland. And with good reason. The city has a modern, vibrant and progressive feel, and a colorful history. Home to Murphy's Stout and host to the famous Guinness Jazz Festival in October, Cork is also the city closest to Blarney (An Bhlarna), location of the famous castle and even more famous Blarney Stone. An absolute must-see on your Irish rail adventure.
From Cork Kent Station, it’s a 15-minute taxi ride to Blarney.
Perfect blend of old and new
Known as the ‘cultural heart’ of the Republic, Galway is home to an exciting blend of ancient architecture and modern fun. Stroll the medieval cobblestone streets and enter the ultra-modern clubs, restaurants and bars. The best people-watching can be done at Eyre Square and popular Kennedy Park. For a touch of culture, try Lynch’s Castle. Galway is also your entryway to the Aran Islands, if the mood takes you.
Galway Station is directly across from Eyre Square and Kennedy Park.
The karst landscape of The Burren, and the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher are the reason a million visitors per year come to County Clare. The cliffs are breathtaking – and well worth a day of exploring. Hike around, or take a spectacular ferry ride and admire the dramatic cliff-face from below. While in County Clare, check out Bunratty Castle, a 15th century wonder, and Folk Park a 26-acre wonderland.
The fastest way to County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher is by bus or taxi.
Praised for its outstanding natural beauty, the North Coast ‘s spectacular rock formation contains 40,000 interlocking basalt columns – the result of an volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Be sure to look out for the bizarre chimney stacks and the Giant’s Boot, while breathing in the fresh sea air. Runkerry Head provides an extraordinary two-mile walk.
The Causeway Coast can be reached by bus from Portrush and Coleraine train stations.
When to go
Thanks to a very mild climate, Ireland is a great destination all year round.
In the summer, you can expect temperatures ranging from 60ºF (15ºC) to 70ºF (20ºC).
It’s typically very mild in spring and fall, with an average temperature of 50ºF (10ºC), although rainfall may be slightly heavier at that time.
Winters are rarely very harsh – with temperatures around 40ºF (5ºC). It’s rare to see any significant snowfall, but the Emerald Island does see more than its fair share of rain throughout the year.
Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
- October 25-29, 2013
This annual jazz festival has been running in Cork since 1978 and is Ireland’s biggest event for this music genre and attracts jazz fans from all corners of the globe.
The jazz festival is held in venues across the city, which is a 15-minute walk from Cork's Kent train station.
Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival
- January 4-27, 2013
Belfast comes alive with music, art, comedy and theatrical performances during this city-wide festival.
Belfast’s public transport network will take you all over the city.
St. Patrick’s Day
- March 17, 2013
On the day when ‘everyone is Irish’, there’s no better place to be than on the Emerald Island. Although the biggest celebration is in Dublin, you’ll also find parades and events in Cork, Belfast and other cities.
Festivities take place all over the Irish cities. Take a train to the city of your preference and stroll down the streets!
Week of Welcomes
- August 26-30, 2013
Galway and the surrounding areas embrace their heritage for a fun-filled week each summer. Learn about Irish history and culture, visit some of the famed landmarks, and participate in traditional games and activities.
Galway is a 2.5-hr train journey away from Dublin. From there you can reach surrounding venues by bus.
Galway Arts Festival
- July 15-28, 2013
Galway keeps the party going with this energetic and multi-faceted festival. Celebrate dance, performing arts and visual arts in true Irish style.
Galway is a 2.5 hr train ride away from Dublin. You’ll find all festival locations in walking distance of Galway’s main train station.
Autumn Cultural Breaks
- October 21 - November 5, 2013
Combine 3 festivals for the most exciting autumn break adventure anywhere. The Dublin Theatre Festival pays homage to film, theater and music. The Belfast Festival is a celebration of music, art and film. The Wexford Opera Festival gives this art form the attention and honor it deserves.
Dublin, Belfast and Wexford can all be reached by train. All festival venues are in walking distance of the main train stations.