10 Breathtaking Travel Destinations – England and Ireland

There are many places in the world that are considered beautiful. Some are desirable for their untamed, wild landscapes while others, like big cities, are destinations people come back to again and again for the well-known tourist attractions. Whatever entices you to travel, consider ten of my absolute favorite places in the world:

Historical

Medieval city, York, England – Outside of London, this might be one of my favorite cities in the whole world. York is the city that New York got its name from, but in my eyes it far surpasses New York. It’s a medieval city with an original wall surrounding the center of town (the wall was built in Roman times and the city has expanded ever since while sections of the wall remain). It has an impressive cathedral (York Minster) and lots of twisting and turning walking streets with shops and cafes. And if you’re lucky, you just might run into a cyberman while you’re there!

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Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland – The castle, home to the famous Blarney Stone, was built the first time around 1200 A.D. and was rebuilt about two times after that. The Victorians were the first to start treating the castle and stone as a tourist destination. My parents and I were lucky enough to visit Blarney Castle in the late afternoon when the sun was setting through the trees and the temperature was a perfect breezy warm. The weather could not have been more perfect that day in the south of Ireland. We kissed the Blarney Stone (after climbing about 4 flights of claustraphobic-inducing stairs) and walked through the poison garden and the surrounding grounds. It was the best example of an idyllic day.

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Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland – What I found so amazing about Trinity College was the seamless combination of old and new, historical and modern. It’s home to the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript about the Four Gospels created around 800 A.D. (WOW), and the Old Library, which houses dozens of busts of famous Irish people and artifacts hundreds of years old (stepping into that room is like stepping into the past!).

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Nature and Scenic Views

Brú na Bóinne, County Meath, Ireland – It doesn’t matter if the weather is fine or nasty, the views from Brú na Bóinne are absolutely magical. Located in the Boyne valley, these prehistoric monuments were actually burial tombs (sort of like the Egyptian pyramids). The biggest is called Newgrange, and during the winter solstace you can pass through the very skinny walkway to the chamber at the center and see the light come through the passage and light up the room (if you go any other time of year, they do a simulation so you can get the same effect).

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Stourhead Gardens, Wiltshire, England – No one does gardens like the English. This particular garden is breathtakingly beautiful with lots of secluded walks around it’s picturesque lake. And if you go far enough in, you may see a familiar structure used in one very famous proposal scene.

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The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland – Another famous site seen in a film, the Cliffs of Moher (you may recognize them as the Cliffs of Insanity) are located off the west coast of Ireland and are stunning and terrifying. You can get pretty close to the edge and see down the several hundred foot drop into the wild, crashing waves. The view is so amazing (even if it’s drizzly and foggy like when we were there) and it feels like you’re on the set of a Epic t.v. show as the wind blows through your hair.

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The Moors, Haworth, England – I walked the moors on a cold, windy day in late september. I couldn’t have asked for a better day to be there–not because the weather was nice (because it definitely wasn’t) but because that sort of weather is exactly how I’ve always pictures the weather on the moors in every Bronte novel I’ve ever read. There’s something wild but peaceful about the hills and tall grasses in this little corner of England. And if you’re there, you have to stop at the Bronte parsonage. Because why not?

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City Life

London, England – I’m going to come right out and say it: London is the coolest city in the world. By far. Forget New York, that place is a dive. London is AMAZING. It’s got history, modern architecture, museums galore, theater, monuments, cool restaurants…there’s so much to do, you would need a month to see everything. I was only there a week and saw as much as I could, and barely made a dent! But I did get to explore the Victoria and Albert Museum, fest my eyes on the crown jewels in the Tower of London, ride a river barge down the Thames, stroll through Hyde Park, get lost in Picadilly Circus….honestly, everything there is so amazing and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Dublin, Ireland – Dublin was the first foreign city I ever stepped foot in—and I did it completely alone. I was terrified at the prospect of changing the $150 in my pocket for euros, learning how to use not only public transportation, but foreign public transportation. I walked the streets after exchanging my money at the hostel (for a terrible rate) as the sun was rising, so I saw a sleepy Dublin as its inhabitants started making their way to work. I’ve since been back and have seen Dublin at all hours of the day. It’s a fun, bustling, cultural city with friendly people and good pubs.

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Galway, Ireland – Galway was the best city we saw in Ireland. It’s a college town on the west coast, and it’s quaint and interesting and diverse and just plain cool! It’s the home of the claddagh ring (which is where I bought mine). You can walk along the edge of the sea by a canal that almost runs into the city center and the blue water/crazy waves are just awesome to watch. I had such a good day there that I barely took any pictures because I was just having too much of a good time!

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So what do you think of my list? Did I leave out any cool places you’ve seen? Let me know in the comments!

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