Second Cities: Destinations to add onto a trip to Dublin
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Welcome to TPG‘s series, Second Cities. The series is designed to help you find smaller or less-popular-but-equally-amazing places to visit no more than a few hours by air or land from your original destination so you can maximize your itinerary.
Dublin is full of craic (fun), as the locals might say. It blends Irish heritage and history with a bit of decadence on the side. By day, you can check out attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle and Trinity College. At night, you can listen to traditional Irish music in The Temple Bar area while downing a pint of Guinness or two into the wee hours. No wonder tourists flock to Ireland’s capital all year long.
But Ireland is more than just Dublin. There is an array of smaller cities and towns around the Emerald Isle that are full of just as much culture, pints and craic. Here are three destinations that showcase all that Ireland has to offer.
Cobh is a chapter in the history of the doomed ocean liner, RMS Titanic. A major trans-Atlantic port known as Queenstown in the early 20th century, Cobh was the last port of call before the Titanic set out across the Atlantic on her maiden voyage. But Cobh is also an enchanting port town with picturesque rows of colourful homes along the harbour and a vivid history.
Getting there: Flying around Ireland is expensive, so the train or bus is the best way to get from Dublin to Cobh. A train from Hueston station to Cork will take a little over two hours. Once you reach Cork, it will take about 30 minutes to get to Cobh by bus.
Where to stay: The centrally located Commodore Hotel opened in 1854 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s first visit to Ireland. The roof garden is the best spot for a breathtaking view of St. Colman’s Cathedral and Cork Harbor.
What to see and do: Since Cobh is heavily associated with the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic, a trip to Titanic Experience is a must. Then pop over to the glorious St. Colman’s Cathedral known for its tower carillon of 49 bells. Although it may be small, the Cobh Museum is full of exhibitions of maritime and emigration history (the town was the departure point for 2.5 million Irish citizens who came to North America from 1848 to 1850) as well as the last written record for the Titanic.
Meaning “tide head,” Kinsale is a beautiful former fishing port and ideal for dolphin and whale-watching trips. But Kinsale is also the culinary capital of Cork.
How to get there: Fifteen trains operate daily to and from Dublin to Cork Kent Station in about two and a half hours. Once in town, take a 20-minute trip on the 226 Bus to Kinsale.
Where to stay: Kinsale’s oldest lodgings, Actons Hotel is a mix of old-school charms with luxurious amenities such as a bar, restaurant, gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room.
What to do: Kinsale is a food paradise with an array of local producers and amazing restaurants. It’s hard to recommend just one, but seafood should be on your menu wherever you stop. Make a reservation at the Michelin-award-winning restaurant Fishy Fishy to sample the local catch in a fine-dining setting. After all that eating, stroll along The Old Head of Kinsale, a 30-minute walking route that loops around striking scenery that includes a 17th-century lighthouse and ancient ruins along the coast.
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city dating back to when the Vikings invaded the Emerald Isle. But the city’s real claim to fame is that it’s the home of the world-renowned Waterford Crystal.
How to get there: The Dublin/Waterford train line serves Waterford-Plunkett Station and will get you into town in under two hours.
Where to stay: The Fitzwilton Hotel Waterford is an opulent hotel in the centre of town; all the tourist attractions are a short walk away. Or if you’re feeling fancy, book a stay at Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort, a beautiful ancient castle with a 500-year history.
What to do: Take a guided tour of the museum at the House of Waterford Crystal and get schooled on the process of crystal-making. Then pop into the gift shops for souvenirs. History buffs can climb the stairs of Reginald’s Tower, a 13th-century tower that was used to defend the city from attack.
Featured photo of the Temple Bar district of Dublin by Holger Leue/Getty Images.