The hollow above my lip was beginning to collect sweat, my heart was racing and it felt like the path was never ending. However, our mad dash rewarded us with making our connection in London. Yup, the first 15 hours of our trip didn’t start of quite the way we planned, but it sure kicked off our active vacation!
In Denver we climbed aboard, settled in to our long haul flight seats and both nodded off on the tarmac, only to awake hours later and find the plane was in the same spot. Wah wah.
Luckily we made the second flight and a few days later, so did David’s luggage. :)When I initially started looking in to our Ireland trip, I was told there weren’t a lot of options for active tours…which is total B.S. Ireland can make for a phenomenal active getaway and without needing to drive on the opposite side of the road causing heart failure.
Of course you’ll find yourself putting in a lot of steps in nearly any European city as you explore, but there’s so much more than that to Ireland. We didn’t even get to scratch the surface of great things to do, but I’ve focused on our favorite things…hiking, biking, all the sites!
Biking in Killarney
For many people, Killarney is a quick stop on a bus tour around the Ring of Kerry. Which is a great way to see some hot spots, but for an even better vacation grab a bed and breakfast for the night, then rent a bike for just 15 Euros the next day.
(Great news you can really do this is ANY of the little towns and villages, this will give you an example of what you might see.)Tip 1: You have to go to Lyne’s, which is right next to a little gas station and seems odd because he’s not a regular business store front. But you know what, we didn’t have enough Euros on us and he didn’t care! Sent us on our way without signing a thing and just asked us to come back by 6 with the bikes and pay him!Killarney immediately strikes you as a cute town with the colorful shops and a bustling atmosphere, but tackling it on bike gave me a whole different perspective. There was so much more to see!
- Muckross House Gardens – I didn’t know there was so much color in Ireland beyond the green! And the trees here were straight out of Avatar! We could have walked the trails here alone for hours.
- Ross Castle – A great chance to see some ruins without being overrun by folks off a large bus tour. The area around the castle also has tons of trails giving you great water views
- Killarney National Park – A great paved path goes all the way round the lake with lots of places to stop for a little hike or some great photos.
- Torc Waterfall – At the end of the bike around the lake, you can stop to see this beautiful waterfall
- Killarney Gardens – The formal gardens are just breathtaking and in the spring they have a long row of cherry trees
Tip 2: On all these adventures, bring a backpack which you can use to take layers on and off, carry water and most importantly SNACKS.
David and I have a ridiculous, but money saving plan of taking an apple and a roll from breakfast, which ends up being our lunch on these adventures. We aren’t used to such a big breakfast, so heading out by 9 AM that lasts us until we head to dinner around 5 or 6.A number of bikers will do the entire Ring of Kerry which is a bout 120KM and would be amazing…except that it’s a very narrow road and I’d spend most of my time convinced one of the hundreds of tour buses was going to kill me.
None the less, out on the Ring you’ll get to stop and see amazing things like a guy using his dogs from miles away to herd sheep! Turns out the reason they all have spray paint is because everything there is free range. Your sheep could end up miles away and you need an easy way to spot them so you aren’t herding home another farmers little lambs.
Hiking in the Country and City
It’s no surprise that on vacation, I’ll slip out early in the morning to explore the area on a run. I love that everything is quite. Normally busy spots are empty. I can truly see what makes a place so special and create a lasting memory. But that’s not the only way to see Ireland!
In fact, we were surprised once we arrived to find out there were a number of options in the town and right in Dublin for getting in some great hiking. There are the big well known spots you can see, but plenty of others that will allow you to see places others never even realize Ireland has.Hiking ideas to get you started:
- Howth Island is a train ride from Dublin has over 37 miles of trails
- Lots of multi-day walking tours are available – you walk, they take your luggage to the next lovely hotel
- Torc Waterfall in Killarney had multiple loops offering hikes lasting up to 3 hours from easy to intense
- Doolin to Cliffs of Moher – This is largely what I did during the relay race to Kinvara a few years ago and it’s a must!! You’ll truly experience the countryside with it’s stone walls, green fields and the dramatic cliffs.
I got a lot of questions on my peach pullover, which was PERFECTION for not being too warm, but cutting the wind. It’s the Under Armour 1/2 zip.
Walk Everywhere You Can
Of course once you reach Dublin, you can hop on a train or a tram, but you just miss so much by traveling that way! In fact, we opted to get tickets for the hop on hop off bus tour one day to give us some ideas and still found that we had walked nearly 11 miles.
That was of course the day before the race, so not my brightest idea, but totally worth it!
Plus as you walk through the small towns you can full see why they host a “Tidy Town” competition! From the perfectly painted store fronts, to the overflowing hanging baskets of flowers and seriously CLEAN sidewalks considering all the tourists.
Of course, walking also means you can strut your stuff in front of all the cool sites for some photos that you couldn’t get from a car. Clearly my modeling career is about to take off, ha!! I do have to mention that I wore my Under Armour lifestyle shoes for the entire trip and they were a great way to have a little comfort without being quite as dressed down as I usually am in running shoes.
Grab Your Dancing Shoes
If you’ve ever had a chance to see a Celtic dance (yes Lord of the Rings) then you know it’s a killer workout and looks like a crazy amount of fun. Which is why of course for your active vacation, there’s no need to just sit idly in the audience when you can be part of the fun!
Lots of places offer multi-week classes, but for those on vacation, checkout The Irish Dance party, for just 20 Euros you’ll come home with a new jig in your step…or a broken toe, really who knows.We unfortunately did not do this based on A the race and B my knee…but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing some jigs in our hotel room.
Of course if you find yourself exhausted from all the miles on foot, you can take a “jaunting car” for a ride as well. You’ll still have a chance to breathe in the fresh air, see the area and not a moment will be obscured by a window or traffic.Wherever the journey takes you honestly, I hope Ireland surprises you as it did me with it’s gorgeous colors!
Do you like active vacations?
Have you ever been to Ireland?
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