Homestay is all about offering a direct connect with the locals within the country you wish to visit.
Ireland isn’t the sort of place you travel to because of the weather. Its the sort of place you travel to because of the local people.
That’s what first attracted me to try out a local Homestay in Wicklow, just an hour out from the city of Dublin.
This isn’t a simple case of handing over the keys either, Homestay is all about adding value to your experience, allowing you to step into a locals shoes and discover what’s on their doorstep.
This is my type of travel, it’s never about the destination itself, its about the interesting people you meet along the way.
Sometimes this alone can be a tricky endeavour to arrange.
That’s why I’m a big fan of such services as Homestay, that help connect the puzzle pieces to create a unique Homestay experience.
I wanted to try them out and had been to Dublin many of times and I wanted to experience something different.
That’s what first attracted me to exploring the coastal towns of Dublin that can be easily connected with the Dublin Dart train.
On close inspection, this is what brought me to Wicklow a county close to Dublin and nestled in between the Irish coast and The mountainous Wicklow national park.
Here is my review of how I got on with my unique Irish Homestay in Wicklow. Hope you enjoy the read!
How to travel from London Euston to Dublin, Ireland.
I’ve got two words for you: Sail & Rail.
If you fancy a last minute trip from London and quickly discovered that all the budget airlines aren’t so budget any more, did you know that you can book a ticket pretty much the day before starting from £40 one way?
The journey is around 7 hours, and departs from Euston train station.
From here you grab a Virgin train out to Holyhead and then the Irish Ferry over to Dublin port. Easy!
Last minute spontaneous travel planning can pay off sometimes.
Travelling outside and around the region of Dublin
Dublin is a fantastic city to explore, especially the Irish pub scene, its world famous and you have to do a mini pub crawl, and a bit of sight seeing if you’ve never been to Dublin before.
If like me, you’ve been a few times and fancy something a little different, then Bray and Wicklow are located close by. You can easily arrange a visit as Bray is only an hour away from Dublin city centre.
If you want to see more of Ireland, you don’t have to travel far out of Dublin, in fact Irelands coast and Dublin city centre is interlinked together by the Dart train line.
You can get out to Bray for around €5 from the city of Dublin and from here your adventure can begin.
This is what first attracted me to use homestay, I had heard about Dublins close by coastal towns and fancied locating a local close by to stay with.
Getting out of Dublin into Wicklow
I enjoyed getting out of Dublin and exploring another side to Ireland I’ve yet to discover.
Travel is all about the people you meet and having that direct connection with a local, stay with them in their cosy home and feel comfortable in a homely environment is a unique way to experience a country and spend your holiday.
My HomeStay experience in Ireland with my host Cathy, from Wicklow.
It’s always a surreal experience, waiting in a garden centre car park for your host to pick you up.
It’s all about first impressions and you never know who will pick you up. But that’s way more exciting than a standard hotel stay any day.
Then along came Cathy, a bubbly Irish character, full of life and ready for an adventure.
She instantly spotted my Blujays hat straight away and we talked about her recent visit to Toronto, where her daughter is living at the moment.
We were off to a good start already.
Cathy is a full time fitness and lifestyle coach and offers boot camp style training to many of the locals in the area and pretty much knows the region like the back of her hand.
Cathy recently started to accept guests into her home located in the country of Wicklow after her children moved out of the big cities and she fancied filling the house from time to time with international guests.
Cathy has a lovely home located in the heart of Wicklow called the Sugarloaf Mist.
As Cathy has a flexible appointment based schedule, if she can find the time she will show you her side of Ireland or at least come up with some awesome suggestions on what to do.
She offers a cosy room for guests to stay in and makes you feel right at home straight away by offering you loads of cups of tea.
Cathy also has a large garden for you to relax in and enjoy. Shes grows all her own fruit and veg in the garden too.
Cathy also offers cycling tours along the coastal paths in her free time for visitors as well as hosting cooking classes in her kitchen where she prepares meals freshly grown from her garden.
First thing in the morning Cathy offered me eggs recently hatched from her Hens for breakfast with a Raspberry smoothie freshly picked from the garden that morning. You simply can’t get that from a hotel that’s for sure!
A great way to start your day the local way, Cathy will make sure that her guests eat healthily from her garden and makes it part of her home stay experience.
What we got up to around Wicklow, Ireland
Climbing to the top of the Sugar loaf mountain.
Cathy had to go off for an appointment, but she set me the challenge to check out sugar loaf mountain which has been just up the road from her house.
You can’t miss it to be honest, Sugar loaf mountain pops out from the side road and is an easy climb for a few hours.
Stunning views over the valleys from the top and best of all, located at the bottom of Sugar loaf mountain is Plucks pub which does a cracking fish and chips with a pint of Guinness.
Rocking up to a local Irish bar, was like something out of a movie. Funny enough, this is always one of my bucket list experiences, to visit an Irish pub.
As we walked in it was like a western movie where everyone stops talking and looks at the entrance to discover which regular was joining in with the crowd this time.
The only difference with Ireland is if a new face appears, smiles erupt all around, some welcoming Irish conversation appears with a greeted sense of curiosity.
“Where ya from, you’re not from these parts, welcome to to Wicklow! Join us at the bar!”
Irish hospitality at its best can be found in any local pub across the land.
Outside of Dublin you turn into a little mini celebrity for 15 minutes and it’s great fun.
I did laugh how the conversation quickly turned to Pokemon, the old boys at the bar were having a lot of fun with the new craze and informed me a Diglett normally pops up around these parts and to keep an eye out.
Got to love Ireland!
A visit to Bray
Bray is a popular seaside town due to its close proximity and well connected train routes to Dublin.
Hang out here and grab a pint at the harbour bar for its unique Irish pub experience. The pub itself may look small from the outside, but walking around you will discover around 6 different drinking rooms, it was voted as the best pub in the world according to Lonely Planet.
If you have some time a walk up to the Bray head Summit will take you a couple of hours and offer stunning views across the coast.
Greystones is also located along the Dart route to Dublin.
Here you will find another coastal town which has a stunning seafront worth checking out.
Many locals brave a swim here first thing in the morning to start the day off with.
If a coffee is more your thing, be sure to check out the Happy Pear cafe which offers healthy organic food from two local brothers who have turned into local celebrities on Snapchat (Thehappypear).
If you fancy walking to Bray from Greystones, you can follow the Cliff path along the Bray head close to where the Dart train goes. The journey will take you 2 hours to walk and is roughly 6KM long.
Wicklow National park
Cathy loves to take her dogs out for a walk in the evening and if your lucky she will take you along with her to explore the Wicklow national park.
If you’re in this part of town, you simply can’t miss these stunning views, its breath taking.
It’s not a difficult hike either and a great spot to enjoy a sunset.
The area has a lot of history too, you can check out the old graveyard which has ancient burial spots dating back hundreds of years.
Lots to see and explore around this area of Ireland.
Another spot in the area to explore is the Powerscourt waterfall which is located on private land and will set you back €6 to enter.
However, all the locals know that you can hike to the top and see the waterfall for free as the a rambling route called the Wicklow way has a path that goes around it.
Either way its an awesome waterfall to see, and you should totally go and check it out if you happen to be around this area. I’ve heard the waterfall changes every season, it’s all year round attraction.
Homestay is global as well as local
Forget the guidebooks! With Homestay you simply don’t need one, step into the life of a local and experience a new destination in a different way, a more local way for sure.
And it’s not just Ireland too, you can stay with a Homestay host in many different locations around the world.
I look forward to experiencing Homestay in another country and with another culture and another host, it simply was a fantastic way to experience a trip.
I hope you enjoyed this review post and looking forward to hearing about your future trips with Homestay.
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Thank you for reading my blog post about my Homestay in Ireland, I hope you found it useful.
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