10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Ireland Right Now!

Known as the Emerald Isle on account of it’s lush green landscape, visitors have flocked to Ireland for centuries. Drawn by it’s friendly people, rugged coastlines and stacks of history (not to mention the drinking, dancing and other festivities), there is something for everyone on this tiny Island. Not convinced yet? Read our Top 10 Reasons to Visit Ireland Right Now and start planning your Irish Adventure!

10 Reasons to Visit Ireland Right Now

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1. Beautiful Landscapes + Incredible Places to See

Dark Hedges IrelandFrom natural wonders such as the Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway, The Blarney Stone, Ring of Kerry and The Dark Hedges (as made famous by Game of Thrones) to the vibrant cities of Dublin, Galway and Cork, Ireland has so many incredible things to see and do, it would be hard to know where to start!

RELATED: With all the incredible landscapes on offer you’re going to want to make sure you have a great camera to capture them all. Take a peek at our recommendations for the Best Cameras for Travel and let us help you find your new best friend!

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2. Amazing Outdoor Adventures

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge BallycastleOutdoor enthusiasts adore Ireland, and for good reason! There’s the Wicklow Mountains, Croaghaun Mountain on Achill Island (the third highest sea cliff in Europe) – and Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s tallest peak. It a haven for hikers, cyclists and – surprising to some – surfers offering up some of the best waves on the entire planet. National Geographic named Bundoran as one of the world’s top 20 surf towns, and County Sligo annually attracts pro big wave surfers from across the globe.

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3. You Can Stay in a Castle (& it won’t cost a fortune!)

Castle in IrelandPretend you a part of ye olde world noble family with a stay at one of 340(!) ancient castle complexes dotted around Ireland. From the Lough Cutra Castle in Galway (that has hosted Prince Charles) – and can be rented from €3,500 per night, to the much more affordable miniature medieval castle at Anne’s Grove. Whilst it doesn’t have a huge banquet hall it still has some of the usual castle features such as impressive grounds and a sitting room with an open fire and wood burning stove at it’s center – which can be stayed in for as little as €305 a weekend.

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4. Ireland is Packed With History

Long Room at Trinity College Ireland

Long Room at Trinity College

The evidence of humans living in Ireland can be traced back as far as around 10,500 BC, and the country has some spectacular prehistoric sites to visit. The most notable of these include The Bru Na Boinne tombs in County Meath which predate both the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge(!) and with an ancient mix of Viking, Celtic and more recently a somewhat chequered history of Protestant and Catholic clashes, it offers a heady mix which would satisfy any history buff.
And it’s not just it’s physical history that draws visitors – it’s literary legacy is equally impressive. CS Lewis, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett are all children of Ireland and Dublin itself is a UNESCO City of Literature with Trinity College’s Long Room a site of pilgrimage for most visitors to the Island.

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5. Festivals, Music and Dancing

Festival in IrelandMusic has always played a key part in Irish society and you’d have to walk around with your eyes and ears closed to not experience at least one song and dance whilst you are in the country.  Traditional music and dance is a living, thriving tradition carried forward by local musicians who are creating the folklore for future generations with every note played.

Additionally, and not withstanding St Patrick’s Day, Ireland is host to many cultural festivals throughout the year with Galway being the venerable hub hosting not only the Galway International Arts Festival but 15 other festivals throughout the year which are just a few reasons why the vibrant city has been named European Capital of Culture 2020.

LIKE FESTIVALS?  You’ll love our post about the 35 Best Festivals and Cultural Events in the World!

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6. Some of the Best Road Trips on the Planet

Road Trip in IrelandIf you love a road trip – you’ll love Ireland. It’s like the country was built for epic car rides.
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches 2,600km/1,500 miles along the west coast from County Donegal to County Cork and takes visitors via Connemara, The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher (plus some other iconic places!)
Then there’s the Causeway Coastal Route which many take to check out the Giant’s Causeway complete with 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which sits suspended above jagged rocks and has become a beacon for Instagrammers!
But there are not the only road trips – there’s also the Ring of Kerry, Comeragh Mountains via the Cashel & Vee Pass and Boyne Valley Scenic Route. Read all about these and more epic Irish road trips here.

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7. The Food Scene is Evolving

Wild Atlantic Salmon in IrelandIrish cuisine has been known for years for it’s stodge: think boiled bacon and cabbage, potato dumplings and stew; but over the past few years it has become so much more than soda bread, farmhouse cheese and colcannon (cabbage with kale and potatoes if you didn’t know!) A new wave of chefs are making the most of its seafood bounty with Wild Atlantic salmon, oysters, scallops and swordfish on the menu, and to capitalize on that each September Galway hosts an International Oyster and Seafood festival. Want to know what are the must-try dishes whilst you are in Ireland? This post has all the answers.

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8. You Can Retrace Your Irish Roots (if you have any!)

Giant's Causeway IrelandAnd the chances are that you do. If you are from the USA, Canada, Australia or any other far-flung shore once part of the British Empire, there is a high possibility that at least one of your ancestors used to reside on the Emerald Isle. Tracing your roots has become quite popular in recent year with online services such as Ancestry.com, but if you want a real up-close-and-personal-feet-on-the-ground kind of heritage exploration, CIE Tours can help you get to the heart of any question you might have.

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9. It has some of the Oldest Pubs in the World

The Temple Bar IrelandFrom the Brazen Head Pub (est. 1198 – 816 years ago!) to the Temple Bar, Ireland has some of the oldest and most iconic drinking establishments in the world. For a country that ranks 3rd in the world in the beer drinking stakes, right after the Czech Republic and Germany, it is not surprising that the humble pub has played and continues to play a major role in society. The national drink is officially Guinness Stout, and there are various Irish whiskeys and craft beers that remain crowd favorites. But whatever your tipple, you’ll never be far from a bar where you can enjoy the live music and wonderful atmosphere that is stereotypical of an Irish pub.

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10. The People Are Super Friendly

When we visit another country, it’s important to feel welcome, and the Irish people are probably the most cheerful, welcoming and helpful people you’ll ever meet. (Conde Nast even named it the 5th most friendly city in the world!) Go, and see for yourself.

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So there you have it – hopefully we’ve given you enough travel inspiration & travel tips to help encourage you to plan your trip to Ireland.
Don’t forget to let me know you’re own highlights once you’re back!

Oh, and if you enjoyed reading this post please share on Facebook, tweet or pin – I’d really appreciate it! Click the P in the share bar for a full size image!

10 Reasons to Visit Ireland

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Hi There! Thanks for reading our travel guide to 10 Reasons To Visit Ireland Right Now. I just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something after clicking a link, I may get a small commission – which is at absolutely no cost to you. If you enjoyed this article and are going to be searching for some of the things I mention anyway, I would love it if you could click through from the links above & thank you in advance! Read my full Disclosure here. Thank you for reading the MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld Travel Blog.

The Largest Deserts in the World – and How to Explore Them!

Deserts are fascinating places. Covering vast stretches of barren landscape where very little rain falls (the official definition of a desert is a place which received less than 250 mm of rain per year) – it is the resulting dry and arid environment which makes living conditions extremely inhospitable for humans, plants and animals. But it’s human nature to want to know more – to explore, to experience. And this post is going to help you accomplish just that. From listing the 10 largest deserts in the world to the various tours, treks and adventures that can get you to the heart of each one. The toughest decision – which one to tick off the list first!

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1.Antarctic Desert

Antarctic DesertLocation: South Pole
Area: Covers 14,244,935km² (5,500,000 square miles)
OK, so the Antarctic is not what most people think of when someone says the word ‘desert’, but it is classed as such because the region receives as little as 50mm of rain per year (more rain actually falls in the Sahara!) – and mostly in the form of snow. Penguins her outnumber people by the hundreds of thousands but more and more people are exploring this incredible desert landscape each year in the form of Antarctic Cruises. Get ready to tackle what is considered the most inhospitable part of the planet & the largest desert in the world where you come face to face with whales, penguins, seals and possibly a couple of the 1000 residents that call this desert home – but remember to wrap up warm, *cold* doesn’t even begin to describe the temperatures here!

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2. Arctic Desert

Arctic DesertLocation: North Pole
Area: Covers 13,985,936km² (5,400,000 square miles)
And at the opposite end of the planet to the Antarctic, we find the second polar desert on the list: the Arctic Desert. It is again classified as such by the little precipitation experienced here, but the Arctic Desert is unique in that it includes an ocean in the middle of it and includes several islands such as Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Islands and Severnaya Zemlya which are above 75 degrees north latitude. Another distinctive feature of the desert is that it is home to the Inuit (aka Eskimo) people  who have adapted to the harsh conditions over thousands of years and 700 plant species and around 120 animal species including arctic foxes, polar bears, wolves, squirrels, arctic hares, voles, lemmings, caribou, seals, walruses, and whales. Go and experience the Arctic yourself on these cruise and exploration tours.

RELATED: Thinking about taking a group tour but don’t know who to book with? Our guide to the Best Tour Operators will help you decide.

3. Sahara Desert

Sahara DesertLocation: Northern Africa
Area: Covers 9,064,958 square km (3,500,000 square miles)
Now that’s a desert. The Sahara is largest hot desert in the world and it’s size is comparable to the area of China or the United States(!)
It is estimated that over 2 million people (living in either nomadic and permanent communities) call the Sahara home, alongside some 70 species of mammals, 90 species of resident birds, 100 species of reptiles, and numerous species of arthropods – and it is a part of the world that has fascinated and enthralled visitors for millennia. Today’s explorers do so – for the most part – by camel safari or 4×4 desert safari, or a combination of the two; with the most popular departure points being in Morocco.

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4. Arabian Desert

Arabian DesertLocation: Middle East (Arabian Peninsula including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Iraq & Yemen)
Area: Covers 2,330,989km² (900,000 sq mi)
The Arabian Desert is actually composed of three individually named deserts – kind of a 3 for 1 deal!  The largest of which is the Rub’al-Khali Desert (also known as the Empty Quarter as it is the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world) which is located towards the south of the peninsula and is connected to the central Ad-Dhana Desert which then links to the northern An-Nafud Desert.
For avid explorers, Oman is the perfect gateway to explore the Arabian Desert, with tours running by coach, jeep, 4×4 and the opportunity to meet the Bedouin People  and even stay in a Bedouin Camp.  Start planning your Arabian Adventure here.

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5. Gobi Desert – the 5th largest desert in the world

Gobi DesertLocation: Asia (The desert is located in northern China and southern Mongolia)
Area: Covers 1,294,994km² (500,000 square miles)
The desert takes it’s name from the Mongolian word Gobi, meaning “waterless place” and is known for its dunes, mountains and rare animals such as snow leopards and Bactrian camels. Another first for this list is that in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, the Khongoryn Els sand dunes are said to sing when the wind blows and in contrast to the dry sand,  the park also features the deep ice field at Yolyn Am canyon.
Tours of the region are focused in Mongolia and offer visitors the opportunity to stay in a traditional Mongolian Yurt, camp underneath the stars and ride ATVs through the dunes – just to name a few activities. Considered the perfect destination for adventurous travelers who want to get off the beaten path, start planning your Gobi Desert Tour here.

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6. Kalahari Desert

Kalahari DesertLocation: Africa (Botswana & Namibia and parts of northern South Africa)
Area: Covers 932,395km² (360,000 square miles)
Semi-dry and arid, the Kalahari Desert is actually not a desert by strict standards because it receives too much rainfall (5-10 inches per year) however it remains on this list (and every other list of the largest deserts in the world) because when the rain does fall, it filters rapidly through the sand and leaves nothing on the surface. This results in the parched landscape typical of a desert.
Africa is an incredible place to explore, both via an organized tour or independently and although I didn’t make it to the Kalahari Desert on my last Southern Africa safari, I will definitely be including it on my next visit to the continent.

RELATED – Africa is my favorite continent but if you’re not convinced the Kalahari is the destination for you take a peek at The Best Places to Visit in Africa for inspiration.

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7. Great Victoria Desert

Great Victoria DesertLocation: Across parts of South and Western Australia close to the middle of the country.
Area: Covers 647,000km² (220,000 square miles)
Bordering what is known as the Red Center in Australia – so-called because of the colour of the land (in case you hadn’t guessed), it attracts 4-wheel drive enthusiast from around the world who are up for the challenge of traversing this incredible part of Australia. But it’s not open to just anyone – and you need permission via a special permit to drive here. However, unlike some of the deserts on this list, the Great Victoria Desert is not completely arid and actually supports 15 bird species, 95 reptile species and various plants and shrubs – but there are major water conservation works going on in the area and throughout the red center to make this so.
The Great Victoria Desert borders several other deserts in Australia including the Gibson desert and Little Sandy desert in the northwest with the Nullabor Plain to the south, all of which offer different opportunities for exploration to help you get your desert fix!

RELATED:  Exploring the Great Victoria Desert is just one of the many incredible adventures available in Australia – click here to find out all about them!

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8. Patagonian Desert

Patagonian DesertLocation: South America (Argentina & Chile)
Area: Covers 673,000km² (260,000 square miles)
A desert of many names, the Patagonian Desert is also known as Patagonia Desert, Patagonian Steppe, or Magellanic Steppe it covers practically all of southern Argentina. Contrasting landscapes include the Andes mountains in the west and in the south, and plateaus and low plains to the east, it attracts hikers, independent travelers and adventure seekers from all over the world with many tour companies offering flexi itineraries and hop-on hop-off bus routes to let you explore at your own pace.

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9. Syrian Desert

Syrian DesertLocation: Middle East/Central Asia (south-eastern Syria, northeastern Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia, and western Iraq – and borders the Arabian Desert (above)
Area: Covers 520,000km² (200,000 square miles)
Also known as Al-Hamad, the Syrian desert is a combination of a true desert and a steppe which is flat but very rocky. It is home to several nomadic tribes and breeders of Arabian horses and has been exploited for oil since the 1970s.
Located in an oasis in the middle of the Syrian Desert 215 kilometres northeast of Damascus and 180 kilometres southwest of the Euphrates River lies is the ancient Semitic city of Palmyra, the ruins of which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unfortunately, this is one desert destination that is off limits to travelers due to the ongoing conflict in the region. It is yet to be seen whether the ancient city of Palmyra will survive the violence of civil war.

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10. Great Basin Desert

Great Basin DesertLocation: North America (Nevada, California, Oregon and Idaho)
Area: Covers 492,100 square kilometers (190,000 square miles)
Classed as a ‘cold’ desert due to it’s high elevation and northern latitude, the Great Basin Desert is bordered by the Sierra Nevada Range on the west and the Rocky Mountains on the east, the Colorado Plateau to the north and the Mojave and Sonoran deserts to the south, and is the only north American desert on our list.
The vegetation in the Great Basin is low and homogeneous, often with a single dominant species of bush or shrub for mile.
Exploration is easy here, with accessible roads, hiking trails, caves and opportunities for star gazing available for free for everyone (or small entry fee for the caves).

 

There you have it folks – that’s a run down of the top Ten Largest Deserts of the World. I hope we have ignited a sense of wanderlust and encouraged you to get out and explore  – and if so, don’t forget to let me know which desert is first on your list in the comments below!

And if you liked this article, please tweet, pin or share on Facebook – any and all shares are very much appreciated!

 Largest Deserts in the World

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Hi There! Thanks for reading my guide to Largest Deserts in the World -and How To Explore Them! I just wanted to let you know that this travel guide contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something after clicking a link, I may get a small commission – which is at absolutely no cost to you. If you enjoyed this article and are going to be searching for some of the things I mention anyway, I would love it if you could click through from the links above & thank you in advance! Read my full Disclosure here.

18 Off the Beaten Path Places to Visit in 2018

It’s that time of year again folks! The New Year means lots of inspirational travel posts to kick start your wanderlust. And I’m sure by now you’ve seen your fair share of the ‘best places to visit in 2018’ articles. You know the ones, packed full of destination that everyone visits and are firmly on the tourist trail. (Check out these ones from Time, CNTraveler & Travel+Leisure for more of that!). But this one is different. There is a great big wide world out there with hundreds of amazing places to visit that nobody really hears about and so we’ve decided to round up the best of them in our guide to the top 18 Off the Beaten Path Places to Visit in 2018.

Off the beaten path places to visit in 2018

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The Best Ski Resorts in the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan & Beyond!

It’s that time of year again folks! Winter season is nearly upon us which means there is no better time to start planning your next ski trip! And we’re here to help you find the perfect resort – whatever your location and whatever your skill level! We’ve listed the best ski resorts in every major ski hub in the Northern Hemisphere including the USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Austria, Japan (and more!) along with the ultimate resort guide for each. Each resort summary includes the size of each ski area, breakdown of runs designated green, blue, red and black, the best lift pass deals and suggestions for ski hire companies in resort plus the best place to stay and any noteworthy features we could find!

It sounds like a lot – and it is – but we like to think it’s a pretty good resort finder and winter wonderland ski guide which will help you narrow down, plan and book your next ski vacation in no time at all. And before you go – we’ve got a ski trip packing list (with free PDF checklist!) to get you all ready to go.

The Best Ski Resorts to Ski This Winter

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The Best Places to Visit in Indonesia! (inc. a map & photos!)

If you are wondering where are the best places to visit in Indonesia, then you are on the right page! Made up of over 17,000 volcanic islands, Indonesia is the tropical paradise that has something for everyone. The island of Bali has long drawn crowds from all other the world who come for the iconic rice paddies, beautiful beaches, yoga retreats, surf schools and coral reefs, but don’t you go thinking that this is all Indonesia has to offer! Beyond Bali in the rest of the country there are lots of amazing sights and cultural experiences just waiting to be explored. From the mountains of Bromo and Rijani, to the beaches of the Gili Islands and Lombok, the temples of Yogyakarta and Pramanban, the natural wonder of Komodo and the scuba diving paradise of Raja Ampat (just to name a few!) Read on to discover all about these incredible places to visit – but be warned – your Indonesia Bucket List is about to get super long!

What to do in Indonesia

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