10 top photo ops #Ireland by Instagram

2013-11-28 11:00

Postcard-perfect landscapes, quaint castles, vibrant streets... Ireland is an instagrammer’s dream. Charl Edwards took thousands of pictures from south to north. Here are some of the best spots he found.

1. Dublin

This is one of the greenest cities, with parks on almost every corner. And the Irish capital is a hipster’s paradise – full of bars, beards and bicycles. The streets buzz till late at night. In summer, people stroll in the parks until midnight.

Highlights: The vibey Temple Bar district; the colourful Georgian doors of Dublin; the ancient Book of Kells at Trinity College Library; Lolly and Cooks café; The Little Museum of Dublin; Gallagher’s Boxty House restaurant; the Guinness brewery.

Tip Lace up your walking shoes and explore the city along the banks of the River Liffey.

2. Irish National Stud Farm

This spot, tucked away in the County Kildare countryside, is simply spectacular. And a little surreal. One moment you’re surrounded by sheep and race horses; the next by larger-than-life bonsai trees shaped like dragons.

Highlight: The Japanese-themed garden. Tip It’s the perfect place to find your inner zen after the busyness of Dublin.

3. Galway

Oh Galway! Often referred to as Ireland’s capital of culture, the city boasts the friendliest smiles and the merriest sounds.

Highlights: A swim with the locals in the ice-cold Atlantic; McNonagh’s – Ireland’s oldest, most famous fish-and-chips shop.

(We tried the whole menu, as should you.) Trad on the Prom, a new production from the creators of Riverdance, boasts world dancing and singing champions. Tip Explore the live performances in the pubs scattered around the city.

4. Kylemore Abbey

The spectacular castle in the breathtaking Connemara region once belonged to Irish aristocracy but is now inhabited by Catholic nuns.

Highlights: A long walk around the wooded estate; encountering the walled secret garden; a magic moment in the estate chapel. Tip Try to spend a full day here. Don’t rush around like a mad man trying to see it all (like I did). There’s just too much to see and snap.

5. Mount Falcon Estate

Home to Tiger Woods and Bono during golf season, this country hotel in County Mayo could see you rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s finest. Unfortunately, Bono and Tiger weren’t in...

Highlights: A whiskey in front of any of the dozen fireplaces scattered around the hotel; waking up at 5am to go fly-fishing with owner Alan Maloney and a bunch of wild horses; the 1 000-year-old burial grounds at the back of the estate.

Tip Sample the black pudding at The Kitchen, voted one of Ireland’s top restaurants in 2013.

6. Glenveagh National Park

This is just one of the many less-familiar sites in Ireland and it’s well worth the long drive. At the end of the National Park, you’ll find the old fairytale castle, once home to a Harvard-educated fine arts professor and a holiday stopover for the likes of Grace Kelly and Greta Garbo. (Gaga has yet to make an appearance.)

Highlights: Exploring the beautiful rooms (which could prove problematic for kleptomaniacs!); enjoying the rim-flow pool (my travel companions still have no idea why I stepped onto the bus with dripping-wet hair...) Tip Always keep a towel in your backpack – just in case.

7. Londonderry (Derry)

This Northern Ireland destination was named the UK City of Culture for 2013.

Highlight: A visit to the photo exhibition ‘Picturing Derry’ gives a glimpse into the region’s political past. Chilling works, especially by famed Irish artist Sean Hillen, look back on ‘The Troubles’. Tip Charge your phone or camera before a walking tour of the city.

8. Giant’s Causeway

This natural wonder, on the famous Causeway Coastal Route on Northern Ireland’s most northern tip, is rated one of the world’s top scenic road trips.

Highlights: Bushmills Inn, one of Ireland’s most luxurious boutique hotels (pricey, but worth every penny); exploring the shoreline; and if you’re into golf, this is where you want to tee off. Tip Don’t rush through this part. It’s Ireland’s version of our Garden Route, so you’ll want to take it easy.

9. Mount Stewart House

Situated on the outskirts of Belfast, this stately home has been in the same family for centuries. The furniture and art collections are awe-inspiring. Two-thirds of the home are opened to the public during the summer months, while the family enjoys the rest. If you’re a Downton Abbey fanatic, make this stop.

Highlights: Wandering up and down the secret hallways. Tip Take time for the gardens, and a picnic at the lake.

10. Titanic Belfast

This city is home to the newly launched Titanic museum. Featuring epic rides and state-of-the-art technology, this is like experiencing Titanic in 4D. The architecture alone is worth the visit.

Highlights: Watching a movie or tennis match on a big screen in Belfast City Hall’s park nearby. Tip Make the most of the late shopping hours. This is where I bought my last-minute four-leaf clover memorabilia... is home to the newly launched Titanic museum. Featuring epic rides and state-of-the-art technology, this is like experiencing Titanic in 4D. The architecture alone is worth the visit. Highlights Watching a movie or tennis match on a big screen in Belfast City Hall’s park nearby. Tip Make the most of the late shopping hours. This is where I bought my last-minute four-leaf clover memorabilia... Why Instagram your trip?

The largest-growing app, having passed Twitter in popularity, it provides a fun and novel way of recording your journey and sharing it with your friends and followers.

How? Download Instagram for your smartphone from the Apple App or Google play stores.

» Get your copy of iMag in City Press on Sundays

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