As seen in USA TODAY College:
5 interesting cities to visit in Ireland
By McKenzie Powell, Ohio University August 10, 2015 10:11 am
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]ogether, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland create a tiny island bursting with picturesque sceneries, undeniably kind citizens and a thrilling nightlife.
While it is impossible to narrow down all of the destinations worth visiting in Ireland, there are a few you should keep in mind. If you’re planning a holiday here (as the Irish would say), you won’t want to miss out on a visit to each of the following five cities.
Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, has a very interesting history and currently stands as a progressive, bustling metropolis with endless options for arts, entertainment, shopping and the like.
Tourists can visit the National Museum of Ireland to discover more about the Vikings’ settlement in Dublin or take a tour of Trinity College and see Ireland’s largest library, the Trinity College Library.
Dublin also has never-ending options for pubs and restaurants, with some street performers and markets sprinkled throughout. Tour buses are available throughout the city, as well as a cheap and useful train system that can take you to attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Old Jameson Distillery and the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Belfast is located in Northern Ireland and is currently serving as Northern Ireland’s capital city. Like many other cities in Northern Ireland, Belfast was a part of The Troubles, a thirty-year conflict between the unionist/Protestants and the nationalist/Catholics over Northern Ireland’s identity and belonging.
“There are two main communities with different versions of the troubles,” says Gerry Lynn, a customer services assistant who gives informational tours about The Troubles in Derry for the Tower Museum. “It has a character of its own and is well worth a visit.”
Because of Belfast’s intense past, much of the city’s history still lingers through murals and various landmarks. Like Dublin, many buses are available for tours around the city, as well as the Belfast Famous Black Cab Tour, which specifically focuses on The Troubles in Belfast.
Belfast is well known for Titanic Belfast, a museum-like experience that explains the Titanic’s story, beginning with the boat’s construction in Belfast, and is also home to television series Game of Thrones. Visitors might also enjoy walking through the Botanic Gardens, spending an afternoon in the Ulster Museum and photographing the Belfast Cathedral.
Located on the western coast of Ireland, Galway is an adorable city with diverse cultural influences and a flourishing shopping, restaurant and bar scene. The city, which was originally a tiny fishing village, is also home to several beaches along Galway Bay.
Galway hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Galway Film Fleadh and the Galway Arts Festival which both occur during the summer months. Visitors can also walk to see St. Nicholas’ Church, the exciting Galway Market complete with fresh produce and artisan crafts, and the historical Spanish Arch that previously served as a bastion for the city.
Galway is also very close to other gorgeous sites like the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara and the Aran Islands. Day tours are readily available from Galway to all three locations.
Derry, or Londonderry, is another city in Northern Ireland that underwent The Troubles and experienced a difficult history of division between Protestants and Catholics.
“From the sixth to the 16th century, it was the cradle of Christianity. It was the last walled city in Europe to be built; we have had the longest siege in British history,” Lynn says.
Tourists can visit a bundle of attractions that tell of Derry’s trying past, including The Tower Museum, which has a permanent exhibit detailing the entire history of Derry, the Peace Bridge, a bridge that connects the two previously divided parts of the city and, of course, this historic City Walls.
Derry has many other sights to see, as well, including the murals near the bogside, St. Columb’s Cathedral, and the beautiful Guildhall building, which contains spectacular stained glass.
5. Tory Island
If you need a quick, peaceful getaway, Tory Island will more than likely have just what you need. Although the island is extremely tiny, it holds at least a days worth of activities and sightseeing to keep you busy, including guides discussing Tory’s myths and legends, a scenic walk to the island’s lighthouse and a downright stunning visit to the island’s cliffs.
When you aren’t exploring Tory, there are many areas throughout the island to just relax and enjoy the view – whether you’d prefer grass, the beach or the cliffs – and you just might even catch sight of a seal or some puffins. The King of Tory is quite often present, as well, and is known for greeting visitors right off the boat.