Dramatic cliffs and ruined castles. Forests infused with magic and myths. Cozy cottages with roaring turf fires. Ireland is an incredibly romantic place.
What makes a location romantic? It must be beautiful, but a bit wild. A sense of history or timelessness is important, but it can’t be overrun with tourists. The Eiffel Tower is gorgeous, but there is nothing romantic about standing in a line in a busy city to see it up close. When you imagine yourself and your beloved on a beach, you probably do not imagine a couple of kids fighting over whether to knock over a sand castle or a group of shrieking teens playing volleyball nearby. A truly romantic spot is a bit isolated from the rest of world, so you and your other half feel you are in your own little world.
No matter where you are in Ireland, you are probably close to some secluded little hideaway offering a romantic escape whether it is a tiny park in a big city or a rambling forest with the perfect spot for a picnic for two. Listing them all would take a book, but here are a few of the most romantic settings in Ireland that make perfect places for a proposal, a honeymoon or a couple’s retreat.
Location, Location, Location
- Most Romantic City: Galway – Not only does Galway City include beautiful views over Galway Bay, twisting streets, romantic restaurants and an abundant sense of history, it also includes the area that gave the famous Claddagh design its name.
- Most Romantic Ruins: Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim – Perched on a dramatic outcrop of rock, this gem might seem familiar to Game of Thrones fans as it appears on the show. It’s also the setting for a real life romance. After refusing to marry the man her father Lord Dunluce chose, Maeve escaped to the Mermaid Cave below the castle and attempted to flee with her true love – but their boat was smashed against the cliffs by stormy waves.
Most Romantic Island: Inishmaan – Smaller than Inishmore, larger than Inisheer, Inishmaan is the quietest of the Aran Islands, so it ranks high on the sense of timelessness and isolation. But it also has an award winning restaurant and sites including Dún Chonchúir, the Church of Mary Immaculate and the restored cottage retreat of Johnathon Millington Synge.
Most Romantic Village: Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – The competition for this is fierce, but Enniskerry is a gorgeous little triangle shaped village just outside the gates of the beautiful Powerscourt Estate and near Powerscourt Waterfall. Between the charming clock tower at the center of the village and the delicious views of the Sugarloaf Mountain, this is definitely a magical, romantic place.
- Most Romantic Picnic Spot: Belvedere House and Gardens, Co. Westmeath – Don’t be fooled by the parade of events happening here, you can always find a quiet place to spread your picnic blanket for a sumptuous snack in splendid surroundings. Watch swans glide past as the waves of Lough Ennel lap softly, hide away on the lawns of the house or admire the follies and gardens.
- Most Romantic Walk: Glenshelane Forest, Co. Waterford – When you really, really want to get away from it all, nothing is more magical than some time walking in the forest with the sun filtering through the leaves above you, especially in Glenshelane where you’ll find ancient oaks, bridges and – in the right season – glorious bluebells.
Whether you’re looking for an ideal honeymoon destination or a perfect place to pop the question, if you can enjoy unpredictable, damp weather, you’re spoiled for choice in Ireland.