Alan Partridge once remarked to two Irish network executives that he "always wanted to travel to Ireland".

His statement was met with derision from his guests who explained that it annoys them that people tend to use that sentence when they could simply hop on a budget airline and visit the Emerald Isle. In many ways the executives were right, Ireland is only a short distance over the sea and yet a lot of people in the UK have still to visit the nation.

Those that do take a trip to Ireland will be able to see the magnificent scenery that the nation offers. There is also no better way to see the majestic hills and countryside than by train and it is even featuring in the latest series of Michael Portillo's Great Railway Journeys programme.

So here are a few routes that are an absolute must when visiting the country.

Dublin to Belfast

Connecting both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this mainline should be high on the agenda for anyone travelling to the country. After leaving the Republic capital the train snakes through the majestic rural Irish countryside to the north.

One of the crowning glories of this line is the viaduct which crosses over the Malahide estuary giving stunning views over the area.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stunning architecture as there a pair of other viaducts, with one heading over the River Boyne at Drogheda and the 18-arch masterpiece that is the Craigmore Viaduct.

Rathmore to Farranfore

This route stops off at the beautiful just a stone's throw from the Killarney National Park, situated just outside of Killarney.

Michael Portillo showcases this majestic piece of rural Ireland in the first episode of his Great Railway Journeys and who could blame him? The park should be on every tourist's to-do list and will be a trip that people will never forget.

The national park is home to a spot on the Ring of Kerry which is named after a group of Queen Victoria's Ladies in Waiting and is called Ladies View.

Howth to Greystones

Dublin is a magnificent city to visit, there is no doubt about it and this route can show off its stunning harbour. The line, patrolled by Dublin's Dart trains, can almost act as a mobile viewing platform offering the very best of what the Irish capital has to offer.

It sweeps past Dublin Bay, the impressive Aviva Stadium and makes it way to Killiney Bay, hugging the coastline along the Irish Sea.

This route is an excellent way of seeing the country's most famous city but make sure you catch it at the right time as rush hour can see the trains becoming cramped and uncomfortable.

Cork to Cobh

Cork is a delightful part of the Emerald Isle and this route to the nearby Cobh provides passengers with some breathtaking views. The line crosses over the Belvelly Channel as well as calling at places such as Little Island, Fota Wildlife Park and Carrigaloe.

At the final destination passengers are met with a beautiful redbrick railway station which forms the entrance to the delightful port town.

For the history buffs among the party, Cobh is famous for being the last port of call of the RMS Titanic before it made its ill-fated voyage across the Atlantic in 1912.