March 16, 2015 | By Melissa Manzo |
There is something almost mystical about Ireland’s landscapes. From giant cliffs and stunning coastlines, to isolated villages and castles, the Emerald Isle offers plenty of enchanting scenery. Here are 8 amazing landscapes you must feast your eyes on in Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher
To say that the Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking is a complete understatement. This landscape is so awe-inspiring that it has served as the backdrop to several Hollywood movies, including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and The Princess Bride. From here, you can see as far as the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as Connemara.
Driving through the coastal roads of Connemara on the Wild Atlantic Way is full of pleasant surprises. Hidden beaches, small bays and secret coves mesmerize along the way. After all, the word “Connemara” is Irish for “Inlets of the Sea”. The majestic Twelve Bens mountain range is another focal point, as are the sheep that you can spot grazing around the surrounding rolling green hills.
The Giant’s Causeway
Located in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, The Giant’s Causeway is a series of hexagonal basalt rocks that formed 50 to 60 million years ago as the result of a volcanic eruption. Due to The Causeway’s resemblance to a set of stepping stones, legend has it that they were used by giant Fionn mac Cumhaill to cross over into Scotland for a battle with a rival giant.
If you’re a fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones, then the seaside village of Cushendun may look familiar to you for the nearby Cushendun Caves where Melisandre gave birth. Other highlights of the area include the village’s seaside paths, its quiet beach, and Loughareema, also known as the Vanishing Lake due to the fact that it’s actually a chalk sinkhole that sporadically fills up with water and then drains.
Slieve League Cliffs
Though the Cliffs of Moher garner more attention, the Slieve League (Grey Mountain) Cliffs in County Donegal are just as spectacular, if not more so. At 600 metres (1,968 feet), they are Ireland’s highest seaside cliffs and among the highest in Europe. From the top of the cliffs, look down to see the so-called Giant’s Desk and Chair, a rock formation shaped like its appropriate nickname. Imagine a giant jotting down his homework and continue on your way.
The Burren means “great rock” in Irish to describe an epic landscape of limestones, sandstones, mudstones and siltstones. Stretching from the Atlantic coast to County Galway, this unique spot was formed by a geological cataclysm millions of years ago and is now crossed by wild, walking paths perfect to take in the fantastic flora, fauna and geology. In spring, the arid setting comes alive with an assortment of colourful wildflowers.
Running from the town of Kinsale to the tip of the Beara Peninsula, West Cork is an area known for its rugged beauty, beckoning you to deserted beaches and pretty towns. Must-see highlights include the Old Head of Kinsale, a large headland that juts into the wild Atlantic and features the ruins of a fort, a lighthouse and one of the most stunning golf courses in the world.
Donegal’s surf spots
Surfing in Ireland? You better believe it. County Donegal is home to Ireland’s most beautiful beaches where surfers brave the cold of the Atlantic to surf its wild waters. Break waves in Bundoran, Ireland’s surf capital which even hosts a summer surf festival every summer. Make sure to see the shores of Ballymastocker Bay, a stunning and secluded strip of golden sand.