When you fall in love with a country you begin to yearn for more than the top tourist attractions. But how do you live like a local and discover the best kept local secrets when you’re only passing through? You ask them! From the up and coming Irish foodie scene, to picturesque beaches and incredible hikes, Ireland is one of the best places to take a wander down a lesser-known path, so here are a bunch of must-dos as told by Irish locals.
1. Eat fish and chips in Howth
The adorable fishing village of Howth has some lovely coast walks and even lovelier seafood takeaways. Grab some fish and chips and enjoy the sounds of the sea.
2. Explore Kildare's gorgeous gardens
Kildare boasts many lush, green gardens. Locals recommend exploring Irish National Stud & Gardens, a breeding facility for thoroughbred horses that has beautiful grounds inspired by Japanese gardens.
3. Take a foodie tour of Dublin
Popular local spots in Dublin include Fade Street Social for tapas, O’Donoghue’s Pub for a truly Irish experience, Vintage Cocktail Club for drinks, and outside of town, Johnnie Fox’s Pub for music, dinner and a free shuttle there and back!
4. Tuck into real Irish ice cream and whiskey in Dingle
When in Dingle, try Murphy’s ice cream, which is made with milk from local Kerry cattle. Then taste a tipple of whiskey from the artisan Dingle distillery.
5. Attend the biggest matchmaking festival in Europe
If you’re lucky enough to be in Lisdoonvarna on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way during the month of September you can attend the annual Matchmaking Festival. It’s Europe’s biggest singles event and has been running for over 160 years! Even locals think it’s fun to watch and have a bit of a chat with hopeful romantics.
6. Hike in the Wicklow Mountains
There are many hiking trails in the scenic Wicklow Mountains that lead to viewpoints like Sally Gap, Lough Tay or Powerscourt Waterfall. If you have enough time in Ireland, put a day aside to head to the countryside and explore this locally-loved area. The view from Lough Tay, also known as Guinness Lake, especially is lauded as one of the prettiest views in Ireland.
7. Surf on Inchydoney Beach
Bet you didn’t think you could surf in Ireland? This popular beach in West Cork is surfing friendly, and even if you’re not game for a dip, it’s a great spot to just chill and watch the sunset.
8. Eat local and healthy in Cork
Cork has plenty of hidden foodie gems! Locals recommend The Farmgate Restaurant in the English Market for meals that use fresh, locally sourced produce, and The Quay Co-Op restaurant that can cater to any dietary requirements and makes tasty vegan and vegetarian meals for a reasonable price.
9. Get to the heart of live music in Galway
Head to Róisín Dubh in Galway for alternative music, traditional Irish music and awesome shows. Locals love this place and it’s considered one of the best venues in all of Ireland. It’s no wonder, that Galway is 2020’s European Capital of Culture!
10. See the tiny church by the lake
Gougane Barra is one of those blink and you’ll miss it places, but the tiny church on the edge of the lake is beyond cute. The hotel nearby has good food and sometimes hosts plays and small concerts in the summer.
11. Walk the Cunnigar Peninsula
Tourists never seem to come here but locals love their 2km long sandy peninsula for it’s untouched beauty. Cunnigar Peninsula offers walks and even a spot to wild camp if you’re willing to carry all your gear across.