With plenty of bank holidays to enjoy this May, there is no better time to book a long weekend away.
Just a short hop away, the island of Ireland is filled with an abundance of beautifully rugged scenery, friendly vibrant towns, characterful bolt holes and a thriving culinary scene, ideal for a long-weekend visit. The Common Travel Area means there is no need to have a visa, no need to stand in long airport queues, and depending on the airline, often no need to bring a passport*, offering visitors a hassle-free trip. Visitors looking for a long weekend can start exploring straight away, and we have rounded up a selection of the best places to explore in Ireland this May.
For a city break, Belfast, Northern Ireland
City breaks are ideal for a year-round short getaway and this year, there are plenty of new activities to discover in the city of Belfast. Recently, Titanic Belfast has undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment and has now re-opened for visitors to explore. The nearby Titanic Distillers, set to open on 28th April, is the city’s first working whiskey distillery in almost 90 years, and is a must-visit when exploring the city. After traversing the city, with the bonus of an extra day for the bank holiday, visitors could also take a trip to visit the Giant’s Causeway.
Where to stay
Harrison Chambers of Distinction
Located in the Queen’s Quarter in Belfast, The Harrison Chambers of Distinction dates back to 1979, and today the former Victorian merchants’ residences have been restored into luxury apartments. Each chamber has been carefully curated in a quirky Victorian fashion, and every one of the 16 rooms celebrates a different creative legend with links to Belfast, creating an individual celebration of the city.
HOW: Harrison Chambers of Distinction offers rooms priced from £123 per night. For more information and to book, please visit www.chambersofdistinction.com
For getting out on the water – County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Just an hour-and-a-half from Belfast, travellers can find themselves deep in the heart of Northern Ireland surrounded by the beautiful Lakelands of County Fermanagh. Paddle past 17th-century ruins with Blue Green Yonder and kayak through the inky waters of Lough Macnean, following the paths that Vikings would have taken through the water centuries ago. Alternatively, underneath the vibrant green hills of Cuilcagh Mountain lies a winding network of caves. The Marble Arch Caves, the most active river cave in Ireland, is a must-visit to wander through the labyrinth, observing delicate cave formations in this untouched subterranean world. In just three days travellers will have felt true escapism from home.
Where to stay
Situated in Enniskillen Town, this intimate four-star hotel is filled with unique character. A fifteen-minute walk to Enniskillen Castle, the boutique hotel is the perfect base to explore the Lakelands and beyond. With relaxed and comfortable bedrooms, the hotel is also home to a delicious restaurant and whiskey bar.
HOW: Enniskillen Hotel offers rooms priced from £110 per night. For more information and to book, please visit www.enniskillenhotel.com
For a wild weekend outdoors – County Donegal, Republic of Ireland
With Aer Lingus’ new daily flight route between Heathrow and Knock, which launched on 26 March 2023, the west coast of Ireland is now even easier to reach as a long-weekend break. Donegal is home to beaches that are world-renowned for great surfing. Stretching 2km from Bundoran Town, Tullan Strand is Ireland’s very own surfer’s paradise. Pull on a wetsuit and take to the waves on a surfboard with Bundoran Surf Co, paddling out into the cold Atlantic Ocean for a beginner’s lesson, or for those more seasoned surfers, a fun day out on the water. For those who prefer to stay on land, Wild Alpaca Way provides a unique experience during a guided walk with alpacas, boasting views out across Five Finger Stand and Malin Head. Wild Ireland, of recent Netflix fame, is also a great option for animal lovers. Located within an ancient celtic rainforest, Wild Ireland offers a sanctuary to many animals which would have been exploited to the point of extinction in Ireland.
Where to stay
Railway Crossing Cottage
For those looking for the ultimate bank holiday detox, this 19th-century cottage is a wifi free zone. On the outskirts of Donegal Town, this Irish Landmark property allows guests to step back in time without missing out on modern day comforts. Originally constructed in 1893, the Railway Crossing Cottage has been authentically restored, with beautiful gardens having grown around the once bustling railway tracks running through the land outside the quaint cottage.
HOW: Irish landmark Trust offers the Railway Crossing Cottage from £335 for a two night stay. For more information and to book, please visit irishlandmark.com
For magical legends and history – County Tipperary, Republic of Ireland
The breathtaking landscapes of the landlocked County Tipperary are filled with magical castle ruins, historic towns, and rolling countryside. Those exploring County Tipperary must take a visit to the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most iconic locations, and today the ruins of a 13th Century Gothic Cathedral. Of the same era, Cahir Castle standing proudly on an island in the River Suir is one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles, and a gem of Tipperary. Visitors can spend a long weekend in Tipperary traversing the magical ruins that are waiting to be explored.
Where to stay
Abbey Court Hotel
This independently-owned hotel in the historic town of Nenagh is the ideal place to relax after days of exploring. From the doorstep of the hotel guests can enjoy a leisurely stroll along Lough Derg Way before getting out to enjoy more of beautiful Tipperary.
HOW: Abbey Court Hotel offers rooms priced from £113 per night. For more information and to book, please visit www.abbeycourt.ie
For set-jetting – Northern Ireland
Rather than spending the long weekend on the sofa watching films, why not explore some of the beautiful natural film-backdrops in person. There has been no shortage of fantastic big screen movies filmed against Northern Ireland’s rugged backdrop. From Game of Thrones to the brand new Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, set-jetting fans and movie buffs can take advantage of the long weekend, by hiring a car and visiting all the filming hot spots. Visit Ballintoy along the Causeway Coast to tick off a location used in both movies. Visitors will recognise the area as The Iron Island from Game of Thrones fame, and fantasy fans will spot Ballintoy’s likeness to Dungeons and Dragons’ Underdark. Another famous spot, Tollymore Forest in Newcastle, became the first state forest park in Northern Ireland. With its spooky atmosphere, viewers will be able to recognise Game of Thrones’ Wolfswood, as well as scenes from Dungeons and Dragons.
Where to stay
Further Space at Thornfield Farm
Ideal for set-jetters, Further Space’s Thornfield Farm location offers glamping pods a stone’s throw away from the Dark Hedges and other on-screen locations. Take time out with family or friends to reconnect in nature with a stay in a fully furnished glamping pod, packed with home comforts.
HOW: Further Space offers glamping pods at Thornfield Farm for £510 for a minimum of three night stay. For more information and to book, please visit www.further.space
Notes to editors:
*Thanks to the Common Travel Area, established in 1923, British visitors can travel freely to Ireland without restriction. In most cases you can even just use your driving license instead of a passport for travel (however, please note some air or sea carriers may require passports as photo ID, so always check with your travel provider).
For more information on the island of Ireland, please visit ireland.com
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