By Alli Berry

Tourism is a flourishing industry in Ireland. If you visit in the summer, you may find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated by the massive tour groups at the most famous tourist destinations. If you are looking for a real getaway, it is worth renting a car and venturing out into the Irish countryside. You won’t regret it. This article features two amazing Irish cities that you won’t be able to read about in your guidebooks, but are absolutely worth a visit.

Annestown

Annestown is a tiny village on the southern coast located in County Waterford between Dungarvan and Tramore. The town features approximately 25 cottages and houses and some breathtaking coastal views. Situated in Annestown is the Copper Coast Geopark, which was declared a UNESCO global geopark in 2004. With ample hiking, biking, and surfing opportunities, Annestown is the perfect getaway location for those who want to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’d rather explore by car, drive along R675 from Annestown to Bonmahon and see the stunning beaches and coastal cliffs. Be sure to stop at Knockmahon to walk around the old copper mine. Take a dip at Boat Strand, which is a safe and impressive little harbor.

Although Annestown does not have any pubs or restaurants, there are many options just beyond Annestown for food and entertainment. The Copper Hen is a popular restaurant in nearby Fenor, a town that also features road bowling on Sunday nights. There are also many restaurants, pubs, and places to stay in Tramore and Dunmore East, which are a short jaunt down the coastal road.

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Should you desire more nightlife, there are a couple larger cities in the vicinity. Waterford City is a 30-minute drive away, which features countless pubs, restaurants, and tourist attractions. If you are looking to see Cork or Blarney, the coastal route there from Annestown takes about 2 hours. You’ll pass through unique coastal towns like Dungarvan and have lots of opportunities to pull over and take scenic pictures from the road.

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Thomastown

Thomastown is situated about 50 minutes north of Annestown in County Kilkenny. With a population of just over 2,000 people, Thomastown provides the perfect rural getaway with its rolling hills and gorgeous countryside. Thomastown has its own restaurants, pubs, grocery stores, and coffee shops, so you do not have to venture far should you seek nightlife or entertainment.

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There are a number of cultural and outdoor activities available to you in Thomastown and the surrounding areas. Learn about glass blowing at Jerpoint Glass or shop for art at Karen Morgan’s pottery shop and Brid Lyons’ Clay Creations. Relax and go fishing at on the River Nore in Jerpoint Park, which is known for its brown trout and wild salmon. The ruins of 12th century Jerpoint Abbey are quite stunning and worth a visit as well. If you are a fan of the movie Circle of Friends, don’t miss nearby town Inistoge where it was filmed. While you are there, visit the Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum for some amazing views and top by the Circle of Friends Cafe on your way out of town.

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If you are interested in staying in Thomastown, consider the Jerpoint Apartment. It has a beautiful backyard facing the countryside and lovely hosts who will give you exceptional Irish hospitality.

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Alli Berry has spent the last decade hiking through New Zealand, teaching English in Japan, and touring around Asia, Oceania, and Europe. She follows the motto, “live in a small house and travel often.” Alli works as a freelance copywriter and wrote this article on behalf of Airport Parking Guides.