The end of December/beginning of January is not exactly the time of year that tourists are rushing to go on holiday to Ireland, but with a positive attitude and a few extra layers of clothing, this trip was even more enjoyable than our previous one! That’s probably because we had my sister Lauren as our expert guide for the trip. Now that she’s engaged to a wonderful guy from Ireland (that we all adore) and finally got her visa, she’s able to live full-time there instead of rotating every few months. So we were excited to celebrate by ringing in the New Year with the engaged couple in their home country. My sister and I have a lot in common, especially our love for exploring and travel. So when we showed up in Ireland, we were whisked away and off to one of her favorite spots. I’ve put together a list of the most notable places that we visited during this trip.
The last time we were in Ireland, we binged on fish and chips for practically every meal. This trip, my sister took us to all of her most loved spots, which included tucked away cafes and even a dinner in an old church. Some of our absolute favorites from the trip were Strandfield, Sweet Pea Cafe, The Church, Blend and Batch in Banbridge and the Grilled Cheese Truck near Giant’s Causeway.
Murlough National Nature Reserve- Not many people choose to go to the beach the morning after it snows, but when the sky is clear, you take advantage of it even if it’s windy and very cold. Lauren assured us this beach in particular was worth the trip, luckily the entrance to the beach was protected by the most beautiful grass covered sand dunes. From the beach we could see snow capped mountains and we couldn’t help but be reminded of Iceland.
Mourne Mountains- Our adventure around the Mourne Mountains was completely unplanned, a pull off to the side of the road led us to decide to keep exploring the area. We then found ourselves on a scenic route which we just kept following.
Slieve Gullion- Since I was a kid, I’ve always had a love for fairies. One of my favorite movies growing up was called Fairytale: A True Story. So when my sister had told me about a magical fairy forest she had visited, I triple checked with her to make sure it was added to the itinerary. I was living my 8 year old dreams the whole morning!
We spent NYE and New Years Day in Dublin, first heading to dinner at Trocadero, followed by drinks and dancing (and fireworks!) at Roberta’s. We had the time of our lives and ended the night with pizza at 2am.
Sunset at Flaggstaff- We took in our first sunset of the new year up at this location right after we got back home from Dublin. One of Lauren’s favorite local spots that has a beautiful 360 degree view.
Roadtrip on The North Coast- We spent a day driving the north coast of Ireland stopping in at some of Lauren’s favorite spots and discovering new ones. It’s a wonderful area of the world and highly recommended that you add it to any trip to Ireland.
Downhill Beach- We woke up early determined to make it here for sunrise and it was worth the 2.5 hour trip to catch it! We were the only people out on the beach that early and enjoyed having it all to ourselves.
Mussenden Temple- Possibly the highlight of our trip was exploring this Temple built in 1785. It was actually built as a library, not a bad spot to read a book, though the view could be a little distracting! We got caught in a crazy rainstorm, but it made the whole experience even more fun!
Portrush- My sister was excited to show us around the darling seaside town and take us to an incredible antique store that has some really amazing jewelry.
Dunluce Castle- Medieval castle ruins off the side of the road looking out over the coast. A picturesque and scenic spot that looks straight out of a movie.