The Irish way, especially on St. Patrick's Day, is wearing green, displaying shamrocks, downing a pint of Guinness or joining the global parades as landmarks like the Empire State Building, London Eye, Niagara Falls and Burj Al Arab take a green hue. But there's nothing like getting lost in landscapes that breathe with ancient histories and romantic legends. Or toasting to good times in the local pub while feet-tapping to folk music. Here are ways to get the authentic Irish experience straight from the Emerald Isle itself.
Travel the width of Ireland
Easily done with a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin. Pass three of Ireland's four provinces and enjoy a combination of castles, farmlands and wild remote limestone regions before arriving at the famous cliffs. Get a nice Irish welcome in the village of Doolin where folk music fills the local pubs seven nights a week. Continue onto the Burren, one of Ireland's greatest National Parks
Learn to speak Irish
It's handy to know a few Irish words on the way to Connemara (from Dublin or Galway) because the district belongs to the Gaeltacht region where Irish is the first language. Stop by one of Ireland's most distinct buildings, the Kylemore Abbey, nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain on the northern shore of Pollacappul Lake (or Lough as they say it). Afterwards, travelers can visit Ireland's only fjord, Killary Harbour.
Find the source of the Claddagh Ring
The symbolic ring of two hands holding a crowned heart can be traced back to the village of Claddagh. Make a point to stop here when in Galway, along with the Galway Cathedral, seaside Salthill, the much sung about Galway Bay and more. Fun fact, Galway is also known as Ireland's Cultural Heart, the best place to immerse in Irish arts, music and literature.
Spend a day in the Garden of Ireland
That is, the Irish countryside. Drive to the heart of the Wicklow's hilly region and find the impressive Powerscourt Estate and the monastic settlement of Glendalough. Settle down in the village of Laragh before heading back to Dublin.
Explore Celtic myths and legends
No trip to Ireland is complete without visiting the Boyne Valley, home of ancient burial grounds, battlefields of great kings and land of Celtic myths and legends. Continue the historical route by visiting the ruins of Monasterboice, where Ireland's famous high crosses can be found.
Get an eye-opener on Irish history
Cross the United Kingdom for Belfast. Head to the shipyard where the Titanic was built and understand Northern Ireland's cross-community relations in the Republican museum. Pause by the peace wall before visiting the homes of nationalist and loyalist families.
Immerse in Irish customs
Because it's so farflung, the Dingle Peninsula (commonly called Corca Dhuibhne) is able to preserve Irish customs and traditions. The peninsula boasts dramatic mountain and coastal views plus rich prehistoric and medieval sites.
The Iveragh Peninsula, site of the Ring of Kerry, also doesn't lack for coastal scenery, rugged countryside views and folklore which inspired Irish poets and writers.
Make the rounds in Dublin
From national institutions (the Guinness Storehouse and St. Patrick's Cathedral) to cultural sites (Pubs and even a Leprechaun Museum) Dublin has it all. The City Hall also gives out free walking tours.