From nifty flights with stunning views to spiritual journeys in the Irish countryside, check this out.

Ten things to do in Ireland on a budget in 2014


From nifty flights with stunning views to spiritual journeys in the Irish countryside, check this out.

You can even stop off and have lunch in the Bushmill’s Inn, visit the distillery and get picked up later.

Cutting Edge Helicopters also do shorter 30 minute trips up and over Lough Foyle and Binevenagh Head or out and around Inishowen Peninsula with its miles of sandy beaches and hidden coves for just £99.

But if either of those are too expensive or you have no head for heights for you might consider a cheaper alternative which is the scenic train ride which hugs the coastline from Derry to Coleraine passing by Benone Strand and around Binevenagh Head with onward bus connection to the Giant’s Causeway for just £15 midweek (or £11 on Sunday), which includes unlimited travel for the day. This means you can hop on and hop off for sightseeing, a swim or lunch. This train line was described by Michael Palin, who knows about these things, as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world.

5. The Inishowen 100 scenic route.

The Inishowen 100 runs around the perimeter of Inishowen Peninsula, in Donegal, boasting more views per square mile than most of Ireland (and that’s saying something)!

In fact, you can see the sea from just about everywhere on Inishowen. You can drive out from Derry and go up the west coast via Buncrana or take the ferry across Lough Foyle from Magilligan Point, which runs every hour throughout the summer with a handy roll on, roll off service and go up the East coast.

There’s is a nice pub called The Point which serves good food and pints (sure you can always catch the next ferry). Whatever you do, don’t miss taking a detour to see Kinnego Bay, where the Spanish Armada ship the Trinidad Valencera sank in 1588. It was only discovered some 400 years later by Derry sub-aqua club. You can see what they found in the Tower Museum in Derry.

Drive on out to Malin Head and over to the Isle of Doagh past Five Fingers Strand to visit the fantastic Famine Village, which tells it like the old people told it to them. Keep an eye out for the eagles at Mamore Gap on the way over to Dunree Fort overlooking Fanad Head on the opposite side of Lough Swilly. Finish up by watching the sunset at Grianan an Ailleach, an ancient 3 ringed stone fort high on the hillside at Burt on the way back to Derry.

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Photo: Susan Byron / Ireland's Hidden Gems.

6. The Beara Penisula.

Visit the Beara Peninsula, County Cork at the other end of the country from Malin Head. The Beara Peninsula is sandwiched between the Iveragh Peninsula (Ring of Kerry) Sheep’s Head, and West Cork.

Beara is like rural Ireland was 20 or 30 years ago, totally tranquil and unspoiled. The tour buses don’t go there, in fact it is highly unlikely that you will meet any other hire cars on the roads out and around, Ardgroom, Eyeries and Aillihies, Castletownbere and Adrigole. That’s probably just as well as you will be stopping every two minutes to take, yet another, picture postcard photograph.

Perhaps I am blowing the lid on Ireland’s best kept secret, but credit where credit is due.  Beara is completely forgotten about with the competition for scenery from West Cork, the Ring of Kerry, and Dingle. With a foot in both counties the border runs along the top of the Healy Pass another jaw-droppingly beautiful drive above (literally) and beyond many other road trips in Ireland, you will love it.

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Photo: Susan Byron / Ireland's Hidden Gems.

7. Lose yourself in Fermanagh Lakelands.

County Fermanagh this is another small corner of Northern Ireland that seems to have been completely forgotten about, apart from a short blaze of International media glory last June when the world leaders gathered in Enniskillen for the G8 summit.

I feel like telling the whole world and nobody about it, as it truly is a hidden gem. Lush, green rolling pastures, it is very sparsely populated outside of the towns and villages, give way to shimmering lakes of all sizes including the enormous Upper and Lower Lough Erne. The roads are silky smooth and devoid of traffic and tour buses, even the shortest route (all new to me) is scenic and totally charming, although the jewel in the crown has to be Maghoo Cliffs for its view of the lakes and forests. And there certainly isn’t another county in Ireland that I can think of that has such a diversity of things to do and see, including the Marble Arch Caves, Belleek Pottery, and Castle Coole (without doubt the finest stately home in all of Ireland) and Boa Island with it 2000 year old Janus Stone, all within handy driving range of the main town of Enniskillen with its landmark castle which straddles upper and lower Lough Erne.


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