Ireland is the birthplace of black pudding, U2, and hurling. The Emerald Isle is also home to thousands of cozy pubs where storytelling is an even bigger pastime than sipping Guinness. And while contemplating over a pint inside an old country pub may be a spiritual experience, there are plenty of other adventures to be had. A flight to Dublin from New York takes only about 6 ½ hours, but you’ll be transported into a rain-brushed landscape of craggy coastlines and vibrant green hillsides practically screaming for you to rock climb, kayak, hike, and more. Check out these manly activities for the best of Irish city and country getaways.
CITY ESCAPE: Dublin
Dublin is a walkable city with plenty of things to do, yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Brimming with history—and about 1000 pubs—the place also has a deeply poetic side with a soulful literary and music scene.
Sleep like a man at… The Merrion
The Duke of Wellington’s birthplace has been transformed into a five-star hotel. This place looks like somewhere James Bond would stay: There’s masculine drawing rooms where you can read the morning paper by a crackling fire and the brick-walled Cellar Bar located inside an 18th-century wine vault where you can nurse your whiskey. Located opposite the government buildings and right in the city center, The Merrion is only a few blocks away from hotspots like St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, and Grafton Street.
Eat like a man at… Restaurant Patrick Guibaud
If you’re a foodie, this Michelin-star restaurant is the place to eat in Dublin. The white linens and attentive staff contribute to the gourmet experience just as much as eating the contemporary Irish meals with a French twist (think: pan roast duck foie gras). Know that dinner for two here will easily cost you a few hundred dollars. For those on a budget or looking for more casual pub grub, head to James Joyce’s old hangout at Davy Byrnes Pub, just off of Grafton Street, for shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, or Irish stew.
Sightsee like a man…While hitting landmarks such as the Guinness Storehouse to taste an authentic pint or Whelan’s intimate performance space to listen to soul-searching musicians are practically rites of passage when visiting Dublin, be sure to add the prison museum to your must-do list. Known as Kilmainham Gaol, tours of the grey building give gruesome insights into Ireland’s path to independence, including eerie looks into hundreds-of-year old jail cells and execution rooms. It’s included as one of the stops on Dublin Bus Tour, which is a fun (albeit touristy) way to get a sampler of the city’s top attractions.
COUNTRY ESCAPE: County Mayo and Connemara
Rent a car and drive west to the traditional Irish village of Cong in County Mayo. The population hovers around 150 and the place feels like time stands still. While you’re here, get your fill of adventure activities by visiting the nearby wild landscape of Connemara, with its dolphin-filled fjords and jagged cliffs.
Sleep like a man at…Ashford Castle
The lush green grounds of Ashford Castle borders Lough Corrib (Ireland’s second largest lake). The castle features 83 guest rooms, and Pierce Brosnan got married here. Built in 1228, it was the country estate of the Guinness family until it was converted into a hotel in 1939. Listen to classical Irish ballads in the Dungeon Bar and go easy on your room’s complimentary brandy.
Eat like a man at…The George V Dining Room
Dinner inside the castle at the George V is a classy affair with jackets required for men, but they serve enough meat to satisfy even the most hungry carnivore. The delicious modern Irish and international dishes are locally sourced, using oysters from Galway Bay and lamb from farms in County Mayo. To get a taste of local pub life and hearty meal, walk five minutes into town to visit the Crowe’s Nest for fish and chips, or simply to enjoy a pint of Guinness while listening to live music.
Sightsee like a man… You could make use of the complimentary 9-hole golf course on the castle grounds, but you might want to spend your time trying traditional country sports such as falconry (think: hunting animals with birds instead of guns or arrows). Ashford is actually home to Ireland’s first school of falconry, and you’ll get an adrenaline rush by signing up to carry these powerful birds of prey on your arms and venture into the woods for a simulated hunt. If you want to fit in some fitness in the great outdoors, head to the nearby Killary Adventure Company to canoe, sea kayak, sail, rock climb, gorge hike, windsurf, and more.