To continue on talking about my best travel experiences in Europe, I want to talk about my trip to Ireland with EF College Break. I journeyed to Ireland back in 2016 when the company was still known as EF College Break. I did a quick search and discovered they have changed their name to EF Ultimate Break. But despite the name change, they are still offering the same Grand Tour of Ireland, which I would recommend to anyone looking to try solo travel, but who is too nervous to try going fully alone.
Disclaimer: Do you want to see the world and share stories about your travel experiences abroad? Now is the perfect time to earn your TEFL certificate! Making a purchase through the links on the page will result in me earning a small commission of the sale. Thank you for trusting me to help you teach English and achieve your travel dreams!
Why I Chose EF College Break
I chose to travel with EF College Break for quite a few reasons. I was really itching to travel. It had been nearly four years since my trip to Germany, and I hadn’t been on a plane or abroad since. I was dying to go somewhere new. No one really had to money or desire to go with me. So I started searching affordable travel options. When I discovered EF, it seemed too good to be true.
The company specifically focuses on affordable travel for young people. After reading more, I discovered that most people who travel with EF do so alone. Aside from my flights, I would spend the rest of my trip with others. I liked the idea of going alone and making friends once I arrived. The trip itinerary was also a selling point. Each day was planned, but free time was built in and you could take optional excursions. I ended up doing four additional excursions: a trip to the Wicklow Mountains National Park, The Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a ghost tour in Killarney, and a trip to the Aran Islands.
My Best Experiences in Ireland with EF College Break
While I did so much in Ireland over the course of my trip, there are moments from the trip that still stick out in my mind. Most of the things I remember clearly are the excursions and the moments I shared with people I met. I could probably think of even more, but the memories that stand out the most in my mind are the ones I have chosen to share today.
Guinness Storehouse and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
It wouldn’t be a trip to Dublin without going to the Guinness Storehouse and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Our first afternoon in Ireland was pretty free, and myself and some others decided to walk around. We stumbled upon the Cathedral and admired it from outside, knowing we would tour the Cathedral during our Dublin stay.
When we toured the church, there as so much to see and I learned a lot about the history of Saint Patrick and the church itself. One thing I hadn’t realized was that the church is a protestant church, not a Catholic church. I truly had no idea!
Another major spot we visited in Ireland was the Guinness Storehouse. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Guinness when I went to Ireland, I still really wanted to see the Storehouse. We learned all about the history of Guinness, learned how to pour one, and were able to have a free pint on the floor overlooking the city. It was definitely an awesome way to spend a few hours in Dublin.
Going to the Pubs in Killarney
After leaving Dublin, we headed to the town of Killarney which is along the Ring of Kerry. I loved Killarney. Our first night there, we decided to visit some pubs. We started at a Lord of the Rings themed pub, but it was pretty dead, so we left and found somewhere more lively.
Back toward the center of town, we found a pub that was full of people and live music blasting out of the speakers. Of course we had to go inside! It ended up being the best decision of the night. We danced, drank Orchard Thieves Cider, and mingled with the locals. We spent so much of the night dancing to live music, and one thing I remember from that summer is that the song “Wagon Wheel” was EVERYWHERE. One man was excitedly telling us how much he hated the song and accidentally smashed the rim of my pint, sending glass chunks into my drink. Don’t worry, he bought me a new one!
Killarney Ghost Tour
The Killarney Ghost Tour is completely out of character for me. I am afraid of absolutely everything, and had no intention of going on a ghost tour. But the friends I made convinced me I should go. After all, there were still a few open seats on the bus!
So I caved, shelled out the money, and went on a ghost tour. We were told various stories of Irish ghost lore in Killarney, including the story of a young girl you could see near the lake. Walking toward the lake in the dark was disconcerting, but there were enough people around that I wasn’t too afraid.
After that, we went to an old, haunted abbey. We moved through the abbey with very little light, finally stopping in the room claimed to be most haunted. We stood in silence in the pitch black. Some people in the group claimed to feel something, but I fortunately felt nothing.
I’m sure there were times on this tour that I felt incredibly afraid, but I am thankful that looking back I only have good memories of the ghost tour.
The Cliffs of Moher
If there is one place everyone should visit in Ireland it is the Cliffs of Moher. The high, jagged cliffs are covered in vivid green and overlook an incredibly blue ocean. I am so lucky that my visit to the cliffs was sunny, since it did rain quite a lot while I was in Ireland.
The weather was perfect for hiking along the cliffs. Every single view was breathtaking. We climbed along, feeling the wind on our faces and looking out over the endless ocean. Along the cliffs were fenced in pastures speckled with cows and sheep. Despite being a huge tourist site, the cliffs weren’t too crowded and felt authentic.
The Aran Islands
The final few nights of my trip took place in Galway. While there, I decided to go to the fishing villages in the Aran Islands. So early in the morning I boarded a ferry with others in my group and we set out for the islands.
The islands boasted more beautiful cliffs, charming houses, and pretty beaches. As we toured around the island, we got to see both locals and tourists. Some people were riding around the island on their bikes, enjoying the cool, misty morning.
One thing I wanted to bring back from Ireland was some Irish wool, and I chose to buy this in the Aran Islands. Shops sold beautiful knit sweaters in an assortment of colors. The sweater I bought in Ireland lasted me several years, but shrunk over time. Ultimately, passed it onto someone else.
Have you been to Ireland? What are your favorite memories from the Emerald Isle?
While you’re here, purchase a copy of my short stories, Remembrances, for only $5 here!
Like this post? Subscribe to my blog so you never miss a post about traveling, life as an expat, books, and more!