Photo credit: Rebekah S., IES Abroad
Exploring a new country, participating in fun excursions, and engaging with new people are the most rewarding aspects of studying abroad. But, the global pandemic has undoubtedly affected the types of activities you can do.
In Ireland, however, with its modern approach to city life and appreciation for both nature and the past, you can still create your own craic (fun and entertainment). There are tons of activities and adventures to do alone or with a new friend as you practice pandemic safety protocols like wearing a mask, social distancing, and avoiding large crowds, and learn about Ireland's extensive history and deep culture. If you're hoping to study abroad in Ireland despite the pandemic, there are still plenty of fun activities to enjoy.
Before jumping into the list, let's cover a few last details: yes, you can still study abroad in Ireland this year. Ireland is open to students and study abroad programs are still offering incredible opportunities to learn and live on the Irish isle. You'll need to navigate new procedures with getting a student visa, plus health and safety regulations -- but if you're willing to put in the work, you can have an incredible study abroad experience in Ireland in 2021 and beyond.
Oh, and one more thing: if you need extra help making Ireland affordable this year, check out our scholarship to study abroad in Ireland! You could win a full-tuition waiver, stipend, and even flights. Click here to start your application before the deadline on December 6th, 2020.
1. See The Book of Kells at Trinity College
The Book of Kells, one of Ireland's greatest treasures, is a must-see. Trinity College houses the 9th century, handcrafted manuscript in The Long Room, along with 250,000 of Ireland's most precious and ancient texts. Fortunately, you do not need to be enrolled as a Trinity student to marvel at this Medieval work of art, though you should check to see if there are any policies or reservation systems you need to use.
2. Step Back in Time in Glendalough's Monastic City
Marvel at the Monastic sites in Ireland's Ancient East, including the round tower, The Cathedral, The Gateway, and the Church, dating back to the 12th century. Take your pick of nine marked routes on your walk through Glendalough, and be sure to rest at the peaceful Glendalough Upper Lake, not far from the Monastic settlement.
Best of all, the Monastic City is outdoors, making it easier to explore with plenty of social distance from others visiting around the same time.
3. Take a Self-Guided Literary Walking Tour of Dublin
Photo credit: Carmen C., UCD
Ireland is known for its literary heritage, and Dublin is one of the great cities if you want to learn more about famous Irish writers and even walk in their footsteps. To do a self-guided literary walking tour in Dublin, here are some of the places you can visit:
- Stop by the James Joyce Statue on North Earl Street
- Take a picture at No. 7 Eccles Street door (the original door at Leopold and Molly Bloom's address in Joyce's Ulysses)
- Visit Trinity College (the alma mater of Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde)
End the day by reading your favorite Irish writer at a socially distanced picnic on St. Stephen's Green, a perfect day for literary fans!
4. Discover Dublin's Medieval Walls
Did you know, like many other cities that date back for centuries, Dublin was a medieval city that was once surrounded by fortified walls? To discover them for yourself, take an outdoor tour with Dublin Decoded and learn the history of Dublin's physical space.
The tour company will provide a sterilized audio receiver and earpiece, and you'll be able to walk at your own pace and socially distance yourself. Groups are limited to no more than 15 guests, to help keep you from getting too close to others.
5. Visit Kilkenny Castle
This one’s for you historical architecture lovers! Re-Opened with a reduced capacity, you can witness 800 years of history at Kilkenny's Castle while practicing social distancing. Peruse the castle's medieval foundation from the 13th century, the first floor and the second floor before retreating into the castle's park and gardens.
6. Explore the National Botanic Gardens
Take a break from Dublin's city life and breathe in the beauty of the National Botanic Gardens. With daily guided tours, limited to 6 guests, you can learn about the history and significance of the public garden that opened in the year 1800, right in the thick of its lush and diverse foliage.
7. Cycle along the Waterford Greenway
Photo credit: Abbey P., Cow House Studio
If you like to get a bit more exercise for your mental health while socially distancing, consider hopping on two wheels. Rent a bike and cycle on an old railway line along the River Suir, across a host of bridges, and through a tunnel, as you travel the scenic Waterford Greenway. Ride slow and enjoy the changing views along the longest off-road route in the Emerald Isle!
8. Walk through Rinville Park
If you’re studying abroad in Galway, this one’s for you! Galway and the surrounding area is known for its natural beauty, so make sure to enjoy it. Relax and unwind in Rinville Park and take in its beautiful flora, fauna, and views of Galway City, or bring out your inner child on the playground surrounded by garden walls.
9. Enjoy Outdoor Seating
Across Ireland, there are hundreds of restaurants and bars offering outdoor seating. Grab a bite and a pint of Guinness alone or with a friend. Here are some spots to inspire you if you're studying abroad in Dublin:
- Located in Dublin city center, the Harcourt Bar boasts a modern, classy interior with a lush garden lounge outside. The spacious garden is perfect for a quick break from city life, without ever leaving Dublin.
- Irish Potato Cake is a quaint shop with great coffee, food, and of course, beer. The eatery is just a short walk from Ha'Penny Bridge, and with a few tables nestled against the storefront, it is the perfect place to people-watch while eating. Students can also enjoy a lunch discount!
- Located right off of Grafton Street, Mary's Bar interestingly doubles as a hardware store. The quirky establishment, lit with red neon signs, sits where the historic Wicklow Hotel once stood, and with outdoor seating, you can enjoy a drink from the bar and a burger from WowBurger, almost hidden in Mary's basement.
If you plan on eating outdoors, be sure to wear lots of layers, especially in Ireland's colder months, and always check the forecast for rain!
Loads of socially distanced and pandemic-approved craic await you while studying abroad in Ireland! Stay updated with the COVID phases of your city, as openings and closures will vary by location. As restrictions lift, more adventures and excursions will be open to the public, such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Guinness Storehouse, museums, and of course, more pubs, like the iconic Temple Bar.