Best Irish holidays 2024 | olivemagazine


Best Irish holidays for food lovers

Cork

Cork is one of Ireland’s foodie hotspots. Get lost in the famous English Market, a covered warren of brilliant Irish food and drink producers. Café Paradiso has been open since 1993 serving refined but adventurous vegetarian food on a six-course testing menu. For drinks, head to Cask for expertly crafted cocktails or Arthur Mayne’s for interesting wine and craft beer lists in quirky surroundings. Further out in the County Cork countryside, Toon’s Bridge Dairy is a remarkable cheese producer making mozzarella, burrata, scamorza and more – you can find the produce at the English Market as well as its own pizzeria from April onwards.

Where to stay in Cork: A luxury riverside hotel, River Lee Hotel is a warm and friendly space, flooded with light from windows that frame the entire building. The river-facing rooms are particularly pretty with views extending up past the Victorian buildings opposite to the rolling hills beyond. Bathrooms are fitted with baths and walk-in showers, and the large comfy beds have cosy duck down duvets. The Grill Room restaurant serves a classic hearty menu with Irish fish and meat taking centre stage, while the smart bar serves well-crafted cocktails. Breakfast is a lavish spread, with a huge buffet selection (including homemade soda bread and banana bread) and luxurious hot breakfast menu to choose from.

Doubles from £205 per night, check availability at doylecollection.com, booking.com or expedia.co.uk.

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Bar at River Lee Hotel Cork with bright blue leather banquettes and a glamorous art deco bar behind

Dublin

You won’t be short of things to do on a city break in Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. The compact city centre, divided in two by the River Liffey, is easily walkable when exploring, with the broader city made up of villages. A visit to the Jameson Distillery is a must for whiskey lovers, while beer fans should visit the Rascals Brewing taproom, which also serves great pizza. Bread-making is a treasured art form in Ireland and Dublin’s organic bakery, Bread 41, has caught the attention of bakers across the world due to its excellent sourdough, with grains milled in-house and unique sourdough loaves spruced up with local cheeses, new-season Carola potatoes and garlic. If you’re visiting for a long weekend, Bastible serves Sunday roasts (as well as fabulous midweek tasting menus) in an innovative way with tasting dishes to share.

Where to stay in Dublin: Stay in the heart of the action at The Dylan Hotel, just 750m from the live music, bars and restaurants of Grafton Street. Dublin’s only five-star boutique hotel, it has contemporary décor throughout and a luxurious modern feel. Enjoy a full Irish breakfast in The Eddison, the hotel restaurant, and sip cocktails in the Ruby Room bar.

Doubles from £183 per night, check availability at dylan.ie, mrandmrssmith.com or booking.com.

Jameson Distillery

Galway

Discover bohemian Galway City on Ireland’s wild west coast, as well as the wider Galway county beyond. For a Michelin-starred experience, Aniar (Gaelic for ‘from the west’) is named because its dishes are inspired solely by County Galway’s fields and its rugged Atlantic coast; imported lemons and black pepper are out, vinegars and seaweed-based ‘spices’ crafted in house are in. To extend flavours and seasons, chefs draw on age-old traditions of salting, fermenting and pickling. For location, Ard Bia at Nimmos, near the city’s historic Spanish Arch and rainbow-hued Long Walk, wins out – visit for brunch or dinner. On Saturdays, foodie folk flock to Galway’s quaint street market for The Bean Tree’s madras curries, Greenfeast’s Irish vegetable-packed Vietnamese bánh mì, and BoyChik’s freshly made donuts.

Where to stay in Galway: Base your trip at The Stop in the creative West End neighbourhood of Galway City, five minutes walk from the centre of the city and half a mile from the coast, giving you the best of both worlds. Rooms have bright minimalist design (with family rooms available) and the buffet breakfast focussed on local produce and home baking is a highlight.

Doubles from £148 per night, check availability at thestopgalway.com or booking.com.

A line of houses on the edge of the water

Belfast

Tick the capital city of Northern Ireland off your wishlist with a visit to Belfast. Start by browsing St George’s Market, an indoor treasure trove of arts and crafts, as well as produce stalls selling everything from specialist Irish cheeses to freshly landed oysters and rare-breed meat and game. There’s also a huge variety of food stalls for lunch – try the Cuban Sandwich Factory’s Pollo Barbacoa, a hot grilled sandwich stuffed with marinated chicken, salsa, cheese and chilli sauce. On weekends there’s live music in the communal table area to listen to as you eat. Neighbourhood favourite Il Pirata serves rustic Italian food, or for a meal at the other end of the spectrum, book dinner at Michelin-starred Ox for a meal with a river view. Learn some Irish cookery skills of your own with a class at the Belfast Cookery School.

Where to stay in Belfast: Expect panoramic views and Northern Ireland’s highest rooftop bar when staying at The Grand Central, a large, luxury hotel in the heart of Belfast’s Linen Quarter. Despite the grandeur and scale of 300 rooms, there is still plenty of cosy Irish charm. Rooms are spacious, calm and luxuriously furnished with king-size King Koil Cloud beds, smart white linen and thick, noise-cancelling carpets. The bathrooms are particularly swish with double sinks, freestanding baths, walk-in rainfall showers and toiletries by ESPA. The 23rd floor rooftop Observatory Bar is a must-visit to take in the views, before or after dinner – it’s a trendy spot for Belfasters and has cocktails named after local landmarks.

Doubles from £155 per night, check availability at grandcentralhotelbelfast.com, booking.com or expedia.co.uk.

Belfast Grand Central Hotel tasting menu

County Waterford

Spend a foodie weekend in County Waterford. If visiting in September, the streets come alive with stalls for Waterford’s harvest festival: restaurants put on produce-led supper clubs, and tents host demos from foodies. Stop off at Seagull Bakery in nearby Tramore for a taste of Sarah Richard’s sweet treats – sticky vanilla buns, spiced apple danishes and cinnamon swirls with glossy caramel coating. Work off the pastries on one of The Sea Gardener’s guided coastal walks, foraging for seaweed and learning how to cook with it on beaches.

Where to stay in County Waterford: Tannery Townhouse in Dungarvan is a boutique hotel, cookery school and restaurant. Sleep in one of the 14 simple, elegant bedrooms and wake up for full Irish breakfasts in the morning. Spend a day in the cookery school during your stay, and have dinner just round the corner and enjoy the changing seasonal menu.

Doubles from £154, check availability at tannery.ie or booking.com.


Portrush

One of Northern Ireland’s most popular resorts, the seaside town of Portrush (pictured above) has three sandy beaches to explore and a pretty pier. It sits on the Causeway Coastal Route so is a great place to stop off, with plenty of foodie spots making it worth the visit. Stroll down the pier and pick up a coffee at Babushka (don’t miss its sweet treats to snack on, too). Local produce is showcased at Ocho Tapas, in nearby Coleraine, with an Iberian-inspired menu using Irish produce. Seafood is a highlight, from mussels to hot-smoked trout, but there are plenty of interesting vegetarian dishes, too. Spend the evening in The Harbour Bar, a historic pub where you can enjoy classic Guinness, a selection of Irish gins and live music performances.

Where to stay in Portush: Blackrock House is a smart townhouse converted into a luxurious B&B. Be greeted by welcome drinks and whiskey cake, or take in the views from the balcony overlooking West Bay with a tipple from the whiskey honesty bar. There are four rooms with king-size beds, compact en suites and plenty of extra touches to make the rooms memorable – think homemade fudge, hot water bottles and binoculars for taking in the views. Enjoy a traditional fry-up breakfast in the front room, or alternatively take a loaded breakfast bap (filled with poached eggs, bacon and caramelised onion relish) down to the beach.

Doubles from £160 per night, check availability at blackrockbandbportrush.com.

A seafood lobster platter

Dingle

Explore the colourful shops, zigagging streets and bustling harbour of Dingle and its sparkling bay. The food scene is so strong there is an annual Dingle Food Festival every October, but you’ll be spoilt for choice all year round. On sunny days, pick up local speciality seaweed-speckled cheese from The Little Cheese Shop for a picnic and enjoy homemade Dingle sea salt ice cream from Murphy’s. On blustery days, stay cosy with a bowl of creamy chowder from Out of the Blue. Drinks enthusiasts will enjoy the craft beers and live music at O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub, or visit Dingle Distillery for a tour and chance to try the locally produced gin.

Where to stay in Dingle: Stay at family-run B&B Castlewood House, just a five-minute walk from the centre of town with rooms overlooking the sparkling bay. Breakfast is a highlight: alongside a buffet including homemade compôtes and bread and butter pudding, owners Brian and Helen cook traditional Irish dishes such as kippers with scrambled eggs or decadent whiskey-laced porridge. Make sure you leave room during your stay for afternoon tea served in the front room.

Doubles from £130 per night, check availability at castlewooddingle.com.

Cheese for sale in Dingle, County Kerry
Dingle

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