When traveling to new places, we all know some of the main attractions that we want to visit while there, but outside of those main attractions are some hidden gems that people often miss. During my semester studying abroad in Dublin, I got to travel all over Ireland and want to share three of my favorite places that I got to see that most people wouldn’t think of visiting while in Ireland.
Kinsale, County Cork
Just a short couple weeks into my program, my group wanted to get out of Dublin and see a different part of Ireland, so we planned a trip to Cork down in the south. Upon arriving, we learned that our Airbnb was actually quite out of the way from the main city center of Cork, which led us to discover the village of Kinsale. Kinsale is this gorgeous little coastal town that has so much to offer. One of my favorite memories from studying abroad was bonding with my group while sitting on a cliff after hiking up to an old 17th century fort overlooking the shore, watching the sunset and just taking in every moment. From the gorgeous harbors, friendly locals, amazing live music, to-die-for fish and chips, and watching the sunset overlooking an old 17th century, Kinsale is definitely a must-see in Ireland.
Bundoran, County Donegal
Growing up I have always wanted to learn to surf -- but never in a million years did I think I would learn during my semester in Dublin. CEA Dublin planned a surfing trip in Bundoran, Ireland, for all the students during one of our last weekends of the semester. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on this trip, but it was incredible. We got to learn to surf with this little local company called Turf n Surf Tours. They took us out to a secluded beach and taught us how to surf. Although the beaches are great for surfing in Bundoran, they also make for some picturesque scenery. You can go for a nice long walk along the shore and explore different caves when the tide is low enough. If you are lucky enough to catch some of the caves during really low tide, you can even find an array of some unique sea glass. If you're someone who likes to try something new and go on unique adventures, Bundoran is a great place for you. Though the town may be tiny, they sure know how to keep tourists busy with their mini boardwalk, breathtaking views, hunting for sea glass, and of course surfing with the locals and ending the day with a nice pint at their traditional Irish pubs.
Aran Islands, County Galway
Almost everyone has heard of the grand Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, but most people haven’t heard about the three rocky isles that make up the Aran Islands. If you want to get out and about and get moving, the Aran Islands can get you doing just that. On the biggest island of the three, you can rent bikes for the day to bike around the island. During your bike ride, you can stop for a short hike up to Dun Aonghasa Fort that will lead you to the top of 330-foot-high cliffs overlooking the ocean. After you have hiked your way up to the top and crawled to the edge of the cliffs to look over, you can stop at the little café at the bottom for the most amazing Irish stew. In case you get lonely while biking around, you can always stop at any point to make some new friends and have a little conversation with the local cows, horses and donkeys.
Ireland has so many gorgeous places to explore, but sometimes you need to step outside of the normal tourist areas to find some really special places.
Anna Galindo is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, during the Spring 2019 semester. She is currently a student at Colorado State University.
Anna Galindo is the Spring 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Dublin, Ireland, and is currently studying at Colorado State University.