Car Hire in Ireland: 5 Places to Go in Winter
If you rent a car in Ireland in November, you’re not here for the sun. That said, there’s much to like about a winter break in Ireland. Cosy firesides, deserted beaches, glowing pubs, and warming winter food all make this a great time of year to recharge your batteries in Ireland. Here’s where we’d go:
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you already know County Down a lot better than you might think. Just 34km from Belfast, 18th-century Castle Ward in Downpatrick is the real-life version of House Stark, the icy fortress of Winterfell. Not too far away, you’ll find the thickly wooded depths and quirky follies of Tollymore Forest Park, whose eerie alter ego is Game of Throne’s Haunted Forest. Drive your rental car to the coast and the crumbling splendour of Ballintoy harbour, where you’ll see the uncanny likeness to the Iron Islands. Even the Mourne Mountains get a walk-on role (as the grasslands of Vaes Dothrak), and nearby County Antrim’s celebrated Dark Hedges get a turn as the bandit-beset King’s Road.
Killarney, Co. Kerry
Nowhere does national park like Killarney in County Kerry. Set in the southwestern corner of Ireland, Killarney National Park offers more than 10,5000 hectares of state-owned forests, mountains, and wilderness for you to explore. Winter is a wonderful time to roam the uncrowded trails and walks, from low level parkland strolls around glittering lakes to more strenuous treks among Ireland’s highest mountains.
If all that sounds like too much hard work, don’t forget that the tourist mecca of Killarney town is unmatched when it comes to luxury accommodation, so take your pick of B&Bs and hotels, such as the boutique Ross Hotel in the town centre.
November is when the world’s leading lights in the fields of economics and the media mix it up with some of the smartest stand-up comedians to bring the world Kilkenomics, Ireland’s only economics festival. You’ll never be short of reasons to visit Kilkenny, with its fine medieval architecture and wealth of lively pubs, but this festival gives you one more.
Dubbed “Davos with jokes,” Kilkenomics is serious fun.The comics grill the economists on such pressing issues as the future for the economy, the prospects for Ireland after the bailout, and the state of the world’s financial affairs.
It’s hard to think of a more Irish city than Galway: This walled seaside town is fired by a lively traditional culture and a vibrant Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking. The city fairly hums with the energy of the university at its heart and a calendar of festivals and events that offers something exciting for even the fussiest visitor.
One of these events is the Tulca Festival of Visual Arts, taking place in November. Established in 2002, Tulca showcases fascinating work from visual artists all over the globe. Head out of the city for the Connemara Four Seasons Walking Festival. The autumn installment features walks of Omey Island, Connemara National Park, Errisbeg, and Inishnee. Connemara encompasses a wild interior of lonely bogs, atmospheric valleys, and gleaming lakes, studded with magical villages like Roundstone and Lennane, anchored by the Maumturk Mountains and Twelve Bens at its heart.
Hiring a car in Dublin at any time of year is a good idea, but November is a particularly endearing month to visit: The crowds of visitors have thinned considerably, the famous pubs glow with a welcome you just can’t ignore, festivals and performances continue to pack the schedule, and the austere grace of the Georgian streets is merely highlighted by the chill winter light.
Wrap up warm and wind your way down the cobbled streets of Temple Bar, where bars, cafés, art galleries and architectural innovations somehow fit perfectly with traditional streetscapes. Visit the art-house Irish Film Institute, the Gallery of Photography and the Project Arts Centre, before retiring to the cosy Kehoes for the perfect pint.