Ireland, as you might have heard, is a nation of poets, playwrights and incurable romantics. There might be more love stories, songs and poems written per capita in Ireland than in anywhere else in the world.
So, where did they get their inspiration? And how can you capture a little of that magic on a short trip?
Here’s our guide to romantic city breaks around this captivating country…
Romantic Getaways in Dublin
Dublin is a terrific city for lovers. It’s small for a capital, packed with good hotels, nice restaurants and elegant Georgian architecture. And there are countless little pockets perfect for spending time with your partner, from cosy pub snugs to city parks to beaches and villages.
If you’re in the mood for a stroll, the Iveagh Gardens and Stephen’s Green in the city centre are charming little parks, nicely secluded from the noise and pace of the city surrounding them.
For a romantic meal, either of the Chez Max French restaurants are authentic bistros made for long evenings of wine and intimate conversation. There are branches on Baggot Street and in the shadow of Dublin Castle (near Kevin Street).
Speaking of Dublin Castle, the grounds are worth exploring with a guided tour. And the Chester Beatty Library, brimming with incredible art and artefacts from all over the world, is on the same grounds.
Another good spot for a meal is Mulligans, which is a five-minute walk from hotels in Smithfield. Mulligan’s is a gastropub, with restaurant-quality food and a beguiling, rustic bar. Their food is hearty and delicious; and they have one of the best whiskey and beer menus in Dublin.
Smithfield is also the site of Dublin’s best cinema, The Light House, which shows arthouse, mainstream and retro fare and has a full bar.
A little further afield, Phoenix Park, just north of the city is the biggest walled park in Europe. There, you will see deer roaming free and acres of untouched fields. Farmleigh, within the park, houses a canal-side café, the diplomatic building Farmleigh House and flower gardens.
If you want to take in sea air with your romantic stroll, try Dollymount Strand, Howth or Malahide Castle.
Romantic Breaks in Galway City
Galway is a vibrant, exciting and creative city. One of Ireland’s best-known symbols of love, the Claddagh Ring, hails from Galway. Its centrepiece, of two hands holding a heart, is known throughout the world.
In the city itself, walking down Shop Street will bring you to the bars and buskers the city is famous for. We’d recommend you grab a gelato in the famous Gino’s to make this walk a little sweeter.
The beautiful beach of Salthill is ideal for a romantic stroll. If you’re there in summer, take a ride on the mighty Ferris Wheel.
Coole Park is a gorgeous part of the world in its own right, but visitors especially like to find the Autograph tree, where some of the country’s finest writers and poets have made their mark. See if you can spot the handiwork of George Bernard Shaw, Sean O’Casey or one of the finest romantic poets, WB Yeats.
Kinvara, a short drive from the city, has incredible waterside views and quite possibly the most beautiful sunset you will ever lay eyes on.
Romantic Breaks in Limerick
King John’s Castle, in the heart of Limerick, has been lovingly restored in recent years, and the magnificent building and grounds are open to the public. Marvel at the history and architecture, and then take to the viewing tower to take in the city from above. This place is especially magical at night.
For a different kind of stroll, the enchanting Curraghchase Forest Park is a wonderful spot for couples to while away an afternoon.
Just as scenic, but more grandiose, Lough Gur dates back 6,000 years, and is the site of a vast lake, its resident swans and a charming visitors’ centre. It’s a popular daytime spot for walking, but is just as spectacular at night, as a blanket of stars is reflected in the water.
Combining modern trends with local history, the famous Milk Market feels like a modern farmer’s market but has been running since 1852. Pick up a fashion bargain, a tasty snack, or just wander and browse through this iconic corner of the city.
For a quiet drink in an intimate setting, look no further than the Copper Room. This lovely, low-lit bar has a grand selection of wines and ports, and they search sumptuous cheeses and meats to go with them.
If you’re looking for a romantic day trip with a difference, you can take to the River Shannon on a boat trip from Killaloe. This charming little town is in East Clare, Limerick’s nearest neighbour.
Cork City for Couples
There’s a range of romantic activities or places to stay in Cork. Like much of Ireland, it’s a scenic city and rich in culture and especially history.
One quirky but memorable date is a visit to Saint Anne’s Church, where you can see the Shandon Bells and Tower. It’s a steep climb (132 steps) but the view is worth the effort. And yes, the bells are still in operation…and you can ring them!
Cork is at the edge of the Atlantic, so there are plenty of bracing, stunning sea walks to choose from. The Ballycotton Cliff walk is especially breath-taking, as you look down and beyond at the vast ocean on one side and lovely countryside on the other.
Speaking of ocean views, if you want to enjoy the Atlantic without getting the cold air, Bunnyconnelan restaurant might be for you. Described as “the cottage by the sea”, this popular restaurant combines sea views with a mouth-watering menu.
Not content with providing the best sea views you could ask for; Cork also has one of Ireland’s premier stargazing spots. Blackrock Castle Observatory is a stunning castle that also holds a public place to observe the heavens. Explore the universe on a cinema-size screen, enjoy the tours and exhibits, and learn about the castle ground’s long history.
Romantic Weekend Breaks Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland, a scenic, romantic place, has more sweeping views and elegant places than you could ask for.
The Giant’s Causeway in Antrim is a natural wonder, with its stacks of hexagonal blocks and a fun folk yarn to go with it. It’s also a handsome environment, with hills and seas and fresh air to match.
In Belfast, the Botanic Gardens are ideal for a quiet date, as you wander among exotic and local flowers. The greenhouse is especially attractive, with its art deco style and wide range of colourful flora.
Tragedy, history and romance meet at the Titanic Museum, where you’ll learn about the doomed ship that set sail from Belfast.