Ireland is a hot destination this year. If you plan to take the family on an Irish adventure, here are six attractions to explore and sites to see while you’re in the country.
This is one of the top attractions in all of Ireland, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid this picturesque view when you’re traveling as a group. Brave the occasional crowds and take the hike from the visitor’s center to the cliffs for amazing photo opportunities (you might even be able to snap something Christmas card-worthy!). Just take a look at the weather before you go. Strong wind bursts can be frightening to the smallest travelers in your group.
A perfect visit in fair weather, Ardgillan Castle features lovely rose gardens, a maze garden and playgrounds with ocean views. Everyone will love getting a little fresh air here, regardless of age. Plus, the grounds are pet-friendly and there’s even a dog cafe, in case you’re traveling with your four-legged family members.
The Titanic Experience in Cobh recognizes the city’s history as one of the last ports of call for the ill-fated ship. See where she would have anchored and learn about those passengers that would have been traveling not luxuriously, enjoying all the ship’s fine amenities and high-class experiences, but rather in the belly of the ship, unwittingly looking forward to a new life in America.
The Giant’s Causeway is a whimsical visit for any traveler. The octagonal stones are stuff of legend and getting to the miles of covered coastline can include scenic drives full of opportunities to stop for more photos. Once you arrive, kids can climb all over the rocks with ease, a natural playground for their own exploration.
If your trip to Ireland will only take you to Dublin, then Phoenix Park is an absolute can’t-miss. This huge public space is filled with wildlife and deer, hiking and running paths, biking paths, playgrounds, gardens and cafés. This is also where you’ll find Dublin Zoo.
This is the oldest working lighthouse in the entire world. The Ring of Hook region is less touristy, which makes it a good choice if you want to avoid crowds and see the sites at a more leisurely pace.
The wonderful thing about Italy, which evolved from a land of many kingdoms to a unified country in the 19th century, is its buildings have transformed into boutique hotels with fascinating past lives that guests can still explore and appreciate. Whether former farm houses, monasteries, castles or full-on estates, the stays not only provide atmospheric lodging and wonderfully executed regional food, but a means to immerse oneself into a different way of life — be it one of royalty or a simple existence living off the land.
As a fan of train travel, I often choose a ride on rails over a drive or flight, especially in Europe, where I always relish the high-speed trains. In Tokyo, I once appreciated a speedy, efficient and easy-to-understand experience; but, speed isn’t the only appealing aspect of train travel. From Venice to London, on the Venice Simplon Orient Express, we traveled through the coastal cliffs of the Cinque Terra and dined in formal opulence; from Whistler to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer, we sipped tea while viewing the spectacular scenery.
While considering dreamy destinations for a romantic rendezvous, Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo immediately came to mind. I convinced my late husband, Bob, to take me there after a solo trip to Monaco (via helicopter from Nice-Cote d’Azur) on my first trip to the South of France. Our stays together left such an indelibly delicious memory that I’ve returned multiple times, including in 2018 and 2019. It’s a venue I recommend at any time, especially Valentine’s Day.