Remember a time when it was possible to go on holiday without worrying about antigen tests or PCRs?

While travel has changed irreversibly, there is one place in Europe you can now visit without the need to worry about getting stuck in an expensive government hotel or having more sticks poked up your nose.


Today (July 19), the Republic of Ireland opens to fully-vaccinated British visitors with no quarantine or Covid tests in either direction. In celebration of a return to a time when travel was a breeze, here are five essential places to visit in the Emerald Isle this summer…

1. Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare


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Rain, shine, wind or fog, these steep-rising cliffs always deliver drama. Stretching for 8 kilometres along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland, they soar for up to 214 metres – more than twice the height of Big Ben. The name Moher – taken from Mothar – means ‘the ruin of a fort’ in Gaelic – a reference to a fortress destroyed here during the Napoleonic Wars.

2. Achill Island, Co. Mayo


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Famous for its tall cliffs and beautiful beaches, this west coast region was a cherished haunt for writer Graham Greene. A golden horseshoe lapped by turquoise water, Keem Bay verges on being postcard perfect. Scuba dive for a chance to see basking sharks or admire the rough-hewn coastline on a cliff-top walk.

3. Glendalough, Co. Wicklow


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Easily accessible in a day trip from Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains National Park beats fierce competition to be one of the most scenic spots on the Emerald Isle. At its heart lies a 6th century monastic settlement, set in a glacial valley. Aside from being an important pilgrimage site, the well preserved granite ruins are a place to let imaginations run free.

4. Hook Lighthouse, Wexford


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Beacons for safety along rough coastlines, lighthouses look pretty cool too. Set at the edge of the Hook Peninsula, watching over the Celtic Sea, the oldest operational lighthouse in the world has roots dating back 800 years. A new Sunset Tour Experience allows members of the public to tour the building and eat local seafood while taking in panoramic views of the southeast coast. Visit

5. The Burren, Co. Clare


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More than 70% of Ireland’s flower species can be found in this area of environmental importance – quite a surprise given its rugged, lunar-like landscape. Following an ancient tradition known as ‘winterage’, cattle graze here in the winter to remove tough grass and allow flowers to grow. Find fossils embedded in ancient rocks and caves tucked into crevices.

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