You probably all know by now that this month I voyaged to Ireland with Air Transat and 5 incredible ladies, due to my extensive amount of Instastories (if you missed them, don’t worry they are saved in my highlights @filipajackson). I didn’t really get a chance with the 15 sec clips to give you all the ins and outs of our travels, so I am so excited to share this post with you. Now bare with me, there is a lot coming your way… we did quite a bit, so sit back relax grab a tea or maybe a Guinness because this will be the most detailed Ireland experience you will ever come across.
You guys all know how much I love Air Transat, ever since using them to plan and book our destination wedding in 2016 I have been hooked. Their reliability, comfort and affordability keeps me coming back for more. But as much as I love Air Transat, I had NO clue that they also provide all-inclusive trips across the pond! They offer so many incredible packages to make your Ireland dreams come true. From straight packages to Dublin to multi-city adventures (including flights, accommodations, meals and extras) and guided tours allowing you to see all the beauty Ireland has to offer, without the pain in your butt.
This trip started off with some extreme class. Normally when I fly Air Transat I opt for the Option Plus, due to their amazing list of benefits, but this time we decided to ball out a little. For just a bit more we flew Club Class, which features…
- Club Class only check in area (this was a huge plus as the evening we flew the airport was like a concert! It was packed, I was through check-in in just 5mins!!! That’s a record)
- Priority security at select locations
- Carry on and 2 checked bags!!! (Perfect for any of you hoarders out there… haha)
- Priority baggage handling (My baby got the VIP treatment too!!)
- On board Club Class area (When getting on the plane I turned left!! First class here I come. There were only 12 plush reclinable seats in this area, with humungous personal entertainment systems)
- Welcome cocktail (Once in our seats we all got a bit of bubbly, it was a perfect way to start this trip)
- Comfort Kit (Including; blanket, neck pillow, sleep mask, lotions, headphones, socks and most importantly for me… toothbrush and paste because of course I totally forgot mine!)
- Complimentary snacks and beverages (You will not go hungry on this plane)
- Club class meals (Oooo this food is good, and that’s coming from someone that brings their own pack lunch even when flying first class! For this flight we were treated to a dinner of butternut squash soup with a meat and cheese tray, and for breakfast a yogurt parfait fit for a Queen… how did they know lol)
Totally worth the extra especially on a long haul overnight flight like this one. We were able to get the rest we needed and woke up refreshed and ready to go. To learn more about Air Transat’s Ireland offerings click HERE.
Although we landed in Dublin, just a short scenic 2 hour hop away is Belfast. This is where we started our Ireland adventure. Our tour guide for our Northern Ireland journey was Dee, oh what a treat she was… She was everything I expected and more. She was energetic, spunky, had an incredible accent that I could barely understand. But anyway crush talk over, this isn’t about Dee this is about the land she’s from.
We had the pleasure of spending our two nights in Belfast at the recently opened (2016) Bullitt hotel, in the heart of Belfast’s bustling city. The Bullitt is an incredibly friendly hotel. The staff were always there to help with a smile on their face. Stylish… the lobby of this hotel was impeccable, and no nonsense hotel. They pride themselves on this fact, offering 3 different room types, the dinky, comfy, and roomy. I stayed in the dinky which was perfect size for a solo traveller like myself, with everything that I need. But I think the coolest thing about this hotel is the breakfast. Included in your room price is a breakfast bag. Put the paper bag located in your room onto the outdoor handle and in the morning open your door to find a packed breakfast juice, fruit and yogurt… it’s magical!
One thing that blew me away with Ireland was the incredible amount of food we ate, and I don’t mean potato and cabbage… I don’t think I ever even ate that. What I mean is good, creative food. Belfast has an exceptional amount of food. Luckily we were able to enjoy all of what they have to offer on a food tour of the city with the incredible Sarah of Taste & Tour.
She spoiled us with…
- Hot chocolate and brownies from CoCouture
- Cheese and meats from Stewarts supermarket, where we also got to meet the fabulously passionate owner
- Fresh seafood from Mourne Seafood bar, which also offers an amazing cooking class
- Gin tasting at Muriel’s Cafe bar, I found a new sense of love for the liquor, it was also a LOT OF FUN!
- Italian delights at Coppi, we ate our weight in pizzas and pastas
- Nightcap at Belfast’s oldest building, The Dirty Onion
If that wasn’t enough, we got the chance to check out Curated Kitchen, the passionate and talented founder Alan Cahoon cooked us a vary of incredibly scrumptious goodies. This for me is a must eat in Belfast, with their ever changing menu every time you visit there will be something new on offer.
There is so much to do in Belfast, from shopping to eating to art tours… the list goes on and on. But here are just a few of my fav things to do in the city…
Oh boy did I enjoy this. As weird as it sounds, I am a sucker for anything to do with the Titanic… I am kind of obsessed. So when I found out we were going to the Titanic Museum that’s sat on the exact location where the Titanic was built I squealed with delight. Give yourself enough time though because there is a lot of amazing interactive things to do… and when your done pop across the road for lunch at the Titanic hotel, you can actually dine and wine in the exact room the drawings of Titanic were created… it’s also insanely gorgeous.
- Street Art Tour
You may or may not know that Belfast is known for its street art, we got to check it all out with Seed Head Arts. It was funny we walked around the same area we had before, not even noticing that the walls were covered in incredible works. We even got to see a piece being done live at the Harp Bar by Andy Council, you got to check out the final product.
If like me, you like to take pretty pictures, the campus of Queen’s University is a must. With Hogwarts style rooms and immaculate grounds your sure to find a spot. Just like the Queen’s University, around the corner is the Botanical Gardens, another place to take amazing images or just have sniff of some pretty flowers.
There is a lot to learn and see here, from the history of Ireland to a mummy named Takabuti… and it’s all free! I could have spent the entire day here. It really was exceptional. There is even something for you Game Of Thrones fans… but that’s all I’m saying.
Ok don’t kill me with the title here, I know that each place I will be talking about below has it’s own city however I just have too much to say and with it all being in the same area it’s just a lot easier to do so. Ok.
BallyGally Castle… ok ok I know you all saw my instastories with this one, because you all laughed at me about the ghost. Yes this hotel is known for it’s ghost Madame Nixon… and no she didn’t haunt anyone, although some of us tried to bring her out *insert eyeroll haha. BallyGally Castle is beautiful, after a beautiful evening of again… incredible food at their resident restaurant I woke to views of the sea… I even crept out at 5:30am for a solo beach walk… it was so perfect.
The French Rooms… you should have seen our faces when our food arrived. We were EACH treated to a wooden tray of cured meats, cheeses and breads… I however had the vegetarian version that consisted of the same thing just instead of meat I got a humus… Mmmm. To top it all off, we enjoyed an overflowing cake stand of desserts.
Oh gosh there is so much to do in Northern Ireland, whether you are outdoorsy or not you won’t want to miss a thing.
Probably one of the most Instagrammable places due to the fact that Game Of Thrones filmed here… yes some of us actually wore robes and rein-acted scenes (I think people thought they were commissioned entertainment, they were pretty good haha). The Dark Hedges is a street of low hanging trees, it’s super beautiful. But pro tip… arrive early as this place gathers a crowd, also just remember this is still a street for locals so cars will be going up and down. Just make sure you stay out of their way.
On the list of one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen is Carrick-A-Rede. Surrounded by sea and rolling hills everywhere you look you are in awe. But you must cross the rope bridge… although it’s a little high it’s such a short bridge and on the other side is heaven… the views are breathtaking. To be honest I only got a few snaps here. I totally forgot… I was taken in by the beauty and spent my time looking out, taking a moment for myself.
Legend says the Causeway was built by giant Fionn so that he could meet Scottish giant Benandonner. However, Fionn chickens out and hides from Benandonner by pretending to be a baby when he sees the huge size of him. Seeing Fionn as a baby Benandooner gets spooked thinking his father must be much bigger. He consequently runs away destroying the Causeway as he goes… haha. Others say the Causeway was created by volcanic activity, either way it’s a pretty spectacular sight to see.
Finally we have made it to the Republic of Ireland… get rid of your pounds here, this is where your euros will come in handy. The city of Galway is bustling, full of life… and shopping!!! Hehehe Primark here I come (or Penny as the locals call it).
House hotel, this place is FUNKY!! The lobby is like a crayon box, full of life and colour, it’s also located exactly where you want to be… in the middle of the city. The rooms are small but comfortable… I got such a great nights sleep here.
Glenlo Abbey, this hotel is PURE CLASS! Built as a private home in 1740 this sprawling property features immaculate glamorous rooms, marble bathrooms, and beautiful grounds… there is even a golf course! But I think the coolest thing for me was the fact that there was a carriage from the Orient Express on the grounds (more info below)!
Ard Bia is a MUST!! From the outside it looks like another pub… it’s really not! Sat on the edge of the River Corrib is the most cozy, quaint and spectacularly delicious restaurant I have ever had the pleasure of trying. They offer a daily menu of local fresh ingredients… I got a risotto that was mouthwatering.
The Roadside Tavern. Ok so this place isn’t exactly in Galway but is in the direction of the Cliffs Of Moher (Lisdoonvarna to be exact)… stop in this tiny little town for some delicious pub grub. They also have a onsite brewery… which features a delicious Amber made with herbs instead of hops! There is also under the same ownership, Burren smokehouse where you can get fresh salmon… like literally I have never had smoked salmon so delish.
Pullman Restaurant. Oh boy was this a cool experience. You know I mentioned above that on the Glenlo Abbey grounds was a carriage from the Orient Express… well this was a restaurant. This was a dining experience set for royalty, I seriously felt like I was riding the Orient. One of the most interesting facts about this is that this carriage carried the remains of Sir Winston Churchill during his funeral.
16th Century castle on the shore of the Galway Bay, open to tourists you can actually explore the castle in all its glory… it’s seriously stunning. For me my fav part was sitting on the wall just outside of the castle grounds, I spent some time here just watching the water move around the building.
This was probably what I was most excited to do during this trip, and it surely didn’t disappoint. The views were unbeatable… I even saw Puffins!! Can you imagine… stunning views and puffins! It was an absolute dream. But just a couple of things… 1. make sure you wear comfy shoes there is a lot of walking to do 2. be careful… there is no one going to catch you here… safety is up to you, so just be aware.
Thank you to Vagabond and our incredible guide Darran for 1. putting up with our girl chat for 2 days haha and 2. showing us some of the most amazing sights. A tour guide is super valuable, you can be driving along the road in the middle of the countryside and there is something to know and learn.
No trip to Ireland is complete without heading to Dublin, that would be like going to the UK without going to London (something I recommend doing, but for this point let’s just go with it). Dublin was everything I expected and more… more being it is a lot larger than I was imagining, and expected being the great sense of Irish culture.
The Alex Hotel is where you want to be. The location doesn’t get any better and the decor…. wow! Every single part of it screams for you take a Instagram picture. As soon as you walk in you are greeted to style and class, and don’t even get me started on the room!! I wanted to move in haha… in fact I still want to move in. It was a superb mix of vintage and modern… a bit like Dublin itself.
1837 Bar & Brasserie. Located in the Guinness Brewery (I’ll get back to that later), is a must eat. To be honest I am not a big fan of beer… Guinness being high on that list, but that didn’t mean I had to miss out on all the fun. The great thing about 1837 is a lot of their menus food items include the ebony nectar (Guinness for you uncultured peeps… jk I totally had to google nicknames for Guinness). I chowed down on a delicious stacked high plate of chips (fries) in Guinness cheese… Mmmm.
Love Supreme, although I can’t technically recommend the food at this establishment as we didn’t actually get any (I was still stuffed from all our Guinness treats) they do offer a great selection of teas and coffees all wrapped up in the most welcoming cozy cafe. Also shoutout to the staff for being an absolute dream and not looking down their noses as we took a million photos.
L’Ecrivain Resturant, this award winning Michelin star restaurant was as drool worthy as it sounds. Seriously if they counted the amount of people that drool over their incredible food they would have a looooot more awards. Although small plates, the flavours of the food are sure to fill your belly. I don’t think I’ve eaten things quite so delicious.
Bewley’s Oriental Cafe. Oh what a treat is was to get to visit this iconic Dublin tea room. 1. It’s so beautiful and ornate 2. It’s been around since the 1840s and deserves a standing applause 3. It serves the most incredible looking and equally as delicious treats I’ve ever had the privilege of trying.
Peruke & Periwig… you might remember this one from my Instastories as we all squealed with delight when we got taken up to the 4th floor of this stunning watering house, to a tiny little room fit for a Queen (geez who keeps telling them I’m coming haha). The cocktails were all as delicious as their quirky names and the staff were all incredibly handsome… Shh don’t tell Sameer.
Farm restaurant, this is where we spent our last dinner together *insert extreme crying face. It was a perfect way to end the night, with all of us leaving happy and full after enjoying a feast of fresh, local and organic dinners. Also side note but shout out to the staff that were just the nicest people.
Of course I have to start this passage off with the most iconic thing to do in Dublin. Before going I was a little apprehensive (woohoo big word), as I said before I am not a big beer and defo not a big Guinness fan. I thought the entire tour would be wasted on me… boy was I wrong. This is such a fun and interactive day out, beer fan or not. Heck by the end of it I was such a fan that I even poured my own beer… which I did very well if I may say so (I even got a certificate!!). I also learned the real way to drink a Guinness…
- Sláinte (Cheers)
- Breathe in
- Take a big gulp
- Breathe out
Not going to lie, it tastes quite nice doing it this way.
- City Tour
We got the chance to do this with the fabulously fashionable Orlaith of makingspace.ie. She was such a great person to show us around, local to the city of Dublin she was incredibly informative. Showing us places that we wouldn’t have dreamt of going in without her such as Tropical Popical. I think all of us ladies fell in love with this fun and quirky nail salon, one reason being the fun and funky decor but another being the incredible lady behind the brand Andrea Horan a daytime boss ass lady and a nighttime drag queen, this woman was the most inspiration people I have ever met… heck just go get your nails done you’ll know what I mean.
Ok I’m not going to lie here, to be honest I had no clue what the heck the Book Of Kells was… I was just blown away with the STUNNING location in which housed the book. It wasn’t until I got back to the hotel room that I secretly googled what I had just experienced. So my recommendation is to do your research before as it’s going to blow you away.
THIS PLACE IS A MUST! If you want the most sterotypical Irish night out then this is your one stop shop… Guinness on tap ✓ over flowing amount of semi drunk people ✓ sticky floors ✓ Irish band playing nothing you know and jamming out on a Irish whistle ✓ …. gosh this place is amazing!!
Oh man!!! This is it! My incredibly long ultimate guide to Ireland. Is it weird that I kind of want to keep writing? I don’t want this story to be over… I want to go back! Heck maybe I will, there is still so much to see and do, Ireland is like Mary Poppins magical bag… it’s never ending and you don’t want it to stop. Huge thank you to Air Transat for making what would be a headache of a trip the complete opposite…, it was easy, carefree and most importantly FUN!
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This post was sponsored by Air Transat. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.