As well as being hip, vibrant and cosmopolitan, Ireland’s 11 urban hubs are perfectly formed – not too big to be overwhelming, and not so small that you can see it all in a day!
Ireland has two capital cities.
The capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is one of Europe’s coolest capital cities. The city pulsates with energy thanks to its excellent restaurants, chic boutiques, legendary pubs, beautiful art galleries, verdant urban parks, elegant architecture, fascinating and turbulent history, plus its unique scenic location perched at the edge of the Irish Sea. Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, meanwhile, is legendary for its excellent nightlife – this is one city that knows how to have a good time. But beyond the pubs, bars and nightclubs, Belfast is also one of Europe’s most exciting city break destinations with critically acclaimed restaurants, smart boutique hotels and top shopping.
History, heritage and gourmet food mark the three fascinating cities of the South and Southeast.
. Affectionately known as the “People’s Republic of Cork”, Ireland’s southern gem enjoys a vastly different flavour to Dublin. Cork is a free-spirited spot with a rich cultural heritage, reflected in its position as the 2005 European Capital of Culture. And with a top gourmet reputation, excellent shops, fabulous food markets and chic bars, the city is a winner for a city break. The heritage cities of Kilkenny and Waterford are also steeped in history. With a rich medieval flavour, a world-renowned comedy festival and seriously good pubs, Kilkenny City is definitely worth the trip; while the ancient Viking city of Waterford continues to wow the world with its incredible crystal, Light Opera Festival and delightful places to eat, drink and generally be merry.
The wild West’s two fabulous cities are brimming with atmosphere.
Galway city is not only one of the prettiest in Ireland, it’s also one of the most social. With a laid-back bohemian vibe, and an utterly unique atmosphere, this urban beauty in the west of Ireland wins out with its combination of wonderful pubs, fabulous scenery, excellent festivals and fabulous seafood restaurants. The Vikings also had a hand in the heritage of Ireland’s third largest city, Limerick. As well as the city’s atmospheric medieval quarter, the wonderful King John’s Castle and the Limerick Museum, Limerick is also famous for the excellent Hunt Museum, home to Ireland’s largest private collection of art and antiquities.
Northern Ireland boasts four incredible cities outside of its capital, Belfast.
You just have to take a trip to wonderful Londonderry and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the only completely walled city in the UK to understand its enduring appeal. From the award-winning Tower Museum to the excellent restaurants, lively pubs, great shops and scenic views across the River Foyle, Londonderry is simply breathtaking. Armagh is the ancient capital of Ulster and is also widely regarded as the City of St Patrick, with heritage sites reflecting over 6,500 years of the island’s history. Newry has a distinguished history, with a fine selection of both civic and religious buildings. But the real joy of this city is how easy it is to work your way from urban delights to exhilarating outdoor activities nestled on the doorstep of the city limits. And Lisburn, the newest of them all, was awarded city status in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. A picturesque city, it has a natural beauty thanks in no small way to the meandering Lagan Valley and its elegant heritage sights.