30 Best Things to Do in Ireland for an Unforgettable Trip

Planning a trip to Ireland and wondering what to do? From ancient ruins and scenic drives to bustling cities and quiet villages, Ireland offers a diverse array of experiences. Northern Ireland’s history and UNESCO sites like the Giant’s Causeway add richness to your visit.

Planning a trip to Ireland and wondering what to do? From ancient ruins and scenic drives to bustling cities and quiet villages, Ireland offers a diverse array of experiences. Northern Ireland’s history and UNESCO sites like the Giant’s Causeway add richness to your visit.

Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or someone looking to soak in the vibrant local culture, there’s something for everyone.

Imagine wandering through ancient ruins, driving along scenic routes with breathtaking views, or exploring bustling cities like Dublin. Picture yourself in quiet villages with traditional Irish hospitality.

From the iconic Cliffs of Moher to the serene beauty of Killarney National Park, Ireland’s natural wonders are sure to leave you in awe. The country’s rich cultural heritage is on display in its museums, galleries, and historic sites, while its lively pubs and music festivals offer a taste of the local flavor.

Whether you’re exploring the Wild Atlantic Way, visiting the ancient passage tombs at Newgrange, or enjoying a pint of Guinness in a cozy pub, Ireland promises an unforgettable experience.

So pack your bags and get ready to embark on a journey through one of the most enchanting destinations in the world. With this guide, you’ll discover rich irish history and the best things to do in Ireland.

Key Takeaways

  • Dublin is a cultural treasure trove, with historic sites like Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse, offering both literary and drinking heritage experiences.
  • The Ring of Kerry offers a scenic drive through rugged mountains and shimmering lakes, featuring highlights like Killarney National Park and the mystical Skellig Michael.
  • The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s most-visited natural wonder, offer breathtaking views and immersive experiences through an eco-friendly visitor center and boat tours.
  • Northern Ireland’s unique historical and cultural aspects include its complex history related to The Troubles and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Giant’s Causeway.

Introduction

Imagine standing atop the Cliffs of Moher, the Atlantic wind whispering tales of ages past, or wandering through the hushed halls of an ancient monastery in Glendalough, each stone echoing with a thousand stories. Ireland’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a destination that’s widely recognized as a must-visit.

To visit Ireland is not just a trip; it’s a new testament to travel, an experience that will stay etched in your memory like the ancient runes on a Celtic cross. When visiting Ireland, you’ll truly understand the magic of this enchanting land.

Let this guide be your compass to the 30 best things to do in Ireland, ensuring your trip is as enchanting and varied as the land itself.

Explore Dublin's Rich History

Historical landmarks in Dublin

Dublin, a city steeped in centuries of Irish history, is a treasure trove of cultural gems waiting to be uncovered. From the hallowed grounds of Trinity College, where the venerable Book of Kells resides, to the old library’s towering shelves brimming with literary masterpieces, Dublin is a bibliophile’s dream. But the city’s allure doesn’t end with its academic accolades.

Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets, and you’ll find yourself amidst historic sites that tell the tales of Vikings, medieval lords, and revolutionary heroes. And when the sun sets, Dublin transforms into a hub of conviviality, with traditional Irish music spilling out from the pubs of Temple Bar, inviting you to join in the revelry.

Yet, Dublin’s rich history is not confined to its castles and cathedrals. For a taste of Ireland’s beloved exports, visit the Guinness Storehouse or the Irish Whiskey Museum, where the legacy of the black stuff and the smooth spirit unfolds.

Here, in the heart of the city, you’ll understand why Dublin is an essential stop on any Irish bucket list. Whether you’re raising a glass in the Gravity Bar, overlooking the Dublin skyline, or tracing the footsteps of literary giants, the capital’s rich history is a captivating introduction to the Emerald Isle.

Drive the Ring of Kerry

Scenic drive on the Ring of Kerry

Have you ever wanted to escape on a road trip that combines mythic tales with landscapes that leap right out of a storybook? The Ring of Kerry offers just that. This scenic drive weaves through the heart of County Kerry, a realm of rugged mountains and shimmering lakes, dotted with ancient stone circles and ruins whispering of a bygone era.

Picture yourself behind the wheel, taking the route counter-clockwise to capture the best views and avoid the tour buses that frequent this popular path. Pause at Ladies View to gaze upon the splendor of Killarney National Park, and let the sheer beauty of it all sink in.

But the Ring of Kerry is more than just a drive; it’s an adventure through the soul of Ireland. Each turn reveals a new vista, a hidden gem like the quaint village of Kenmare or the mystical Skellig Michael, perched in the Atlantic like a sentinel from the past.

Thrill-seekers might even leave the car behind for a while to explore on horseback or bicycle, embracing the wild spirit of the west coast. And when night falls, the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve offers a celestial spectacle, with stars shining bright above the silent landscape. This is the Ring of Kerry – a journey through the very heart of Irish enchantment.

Visit the Cliffs of Moher

Breathtaking Cliffs of Moher

As you stand on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, the wild Atlantic stretching endlessly before you, it’s easy to see why this is Ireland’s most-visited natural wonder. Rising to a breathtaking 214 meters, these majestic cliffs offer a view that captures the essence of the Emerald Isle’s rugged beauty.

The wind carries the cries of seabirds as they dance above the rough ocean waves, and you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the sheer power of nature on display.

But the Cliffs of Moher are not just a feast for the eyes; they’re an experience that engages all the senses. Visit the eco-friendly Visitor Centre, a structure that seamlessly blends into the landscape, and dive into the interactive exhibitions.

Here, you can learn about the geology, wildlife, and human history of the cliffs. And for those brave enough to embrace the elements, boat tours provide a different perspective, allowing you to witness the cliffs’ grandeur from the heaving bosom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Whether shrouded in mist or bathed in sunlight, the Cliffs of Moher are a sight that embodies the untamed spirit of Ireland.

Discover the Wild Atlantic Way

Embark on a journey along the Wild Atlantic Way, where the spirit of adventure is as vast as the ocean itself. Stretching over 1,600 miles, this epic road trip skirts the western coast of Ireland, a land shaped by the forces of the Atlantic.

Along the way, you’ll encounter 157 unique discovery points, each a chapter in the story of the wild west. From the surfer’s paradise at Mullaghmore Head to the mystical heights of Slieve League, the route is a celebration of Ireland’s elemental beauty.

But the Wild Atlantic Way is not just a path; it’s a passage through time. Imagine exploring the rough Atlantic Ocean as you discover:

  • the deserted beauty of Silver Strand
  • standing atop the ancient sea stack of Dún Briste, where seabirds make their home
  • the tranquility of Erris Head Peninsula, where the cries of the Atlantic grey seal echo
  • the haunting landscapes of the Doolough Valley

With each mile, the road reveals a new facet of Ireland’s soul, from the traditional music of County Clare to the literary culture of the Dingle Peninsula.

And yet, to truly experience the Wild Atlantic Way is to take your time. Spend a month, if you can, stopping at each viewpoint and immersing yourself in the local life. Cycle the winding roads of the Beara Peninsula, feast on the culinary delights of Kinsale, or simply sit and watch the dolphins play around Fanad Head Lighthouse.

This is more than a trip; it’s an odyssey along one of Ireland’s most magnificent coastlines, where every turn brings a new wonder and every moment is a memory in the making.

Experience Traditional Irish Music in Pubs

Can you hear it? The rousing stomp of a bodhrán, the sweet melody of a fiddle, and the joyful strum of a guitar – this is the sound of Ireland’s heart. Step into any pub from Galway to Dingle, and you’ll find the air alive with the strains of traditional Irish music.

These spontaneous sessions, where locals and visitors alike share in the joy of song, are the essence of Irish culture. In places like Dick Mack’s or Teach Sheain, the music is more than entertainment; it’s a celebration of community and heritage.

And it’s not just the music that makes these nights special; it’s the stories, the laughter, and the friendly locals who will welcome you as one of their own. Whether you’re tapping your feet to a lively jig in O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub or raising a glass to the soulful ballads of Sean Og’s, the pub is where Ireland’s spirit truly shines. So come, pull up a stool, and let the music sweep you away.

For in the heart of an Irish pub, surrounded by the warmth of the people and the passion of their music, you’ll find the soul of Ireland itself.

Tour the Guinness Storehouse

No visit to Ireland is complete without a pilgrimage to the temple of the black stuff – the Guinness Storehouse. Here, in the heart of Dublin, lies the birthplace of the iconic stout that has become synonymous with Irish identity.

As you wander through the seven-story shrine to all things Guinness, you’ll uncover the history of this legendary brew, from its humble beginnings to its global fame. And of course, a tour wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Gravity Bar, where you can savor a perfectly poured pint while drinking in the panoramic views of the city.

But the Guinness Storehouse is more than just a monument to Ireland’s favorite beer; it’s an immersive experience that captivates all your senses. Here are some highlights of what you can expect:

  • Learn the art of the perfect pour at the Guinness Academy
  • Explore the sensory-friendly hours for a more relaxed visit
  • Every floor unveils a new story, a new flavor, and a new aspect of the rich tapestry that is Guinness.

So raise a glass to the brewers’ craft, to the history that flows through the very walls, and to the unforgettable experience of the Guinness Storehouse – a true highlight of any Irish adventure.

Wander Through Killarney National Park

Stunning landscapes of Killarney National Park

As you step into Killarney National Park, the rest of the world seems to fade away, leaving only the beauty of nature and the whisper of history. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a haven of tranquility, where ancient woodlands give way to crystal-clear lakes and towering mountains.

Wander the trails around Ross Castle, delve into the past at Muckross House, or simply breathe in the serenity of the park’s lush landscapes. Whether you’re fishing for trout, watching for birds, or taking a leisurely carriage ride, Killarney National Park is a place where the soul can roam free.

But Killarney is more than just a national park; it’s a gateway to the Ring of Kerry and a cornerstone of Ireland’s natural heritage. Explore the Torc Waterfall, where the water cascades down moss-covered rocks, or cycle the winding paths that offer stunning views at every turn.

Here, in the heart of County Kerry, you’ll discover the true essence of Ireland’s wild beauty. So take your time, let the magic of the park envelop you, and find your connection to the land that has captivated hearts for centuries.

Visit the Giant's Causeway

Step into a world where myth and geology intertwine at the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s own natural marvel. Here, the Antrim coastline is adorned with some 40,000 basalt columns, the result of ancient volcanic eruptions, shaping a landscape that has captured imaginations for generations. Northern Ireland’s complex history, including The Troubles and its other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, adds a rich cultural layer to this already fascinating region.

Legend has it that the Irish giant Finn McCool crafted this causeway to reach Scotland, and as you walk among these hexagonal pillars, it’s easy to believe that giants once roamed these lands.

Protected by the National Trust, the Causeway is not only a testament to nature’s artistry but also a sanctuary for biodiversity. From the rugged cliffs to the diverse flora and fauna, the Giant’s Causeway is a microcosm of Northern Ireland’s natural wonders.

Whether you’re exploring the interactive visitor center or hiking along the windswept coastline, the Giant’s Causeway is a place where the ancient world echoes in every stone.

So come and witness the majesty of this UNESCO World Heritage site, where every step takes you deeper into the heart of Northern Ireland’s legendary past.

Explore Skellig Michael

Venture out to Skellig Michael, a beacon of solitude rising from the Atlantic Ocean. This remote island, once home to an early Christian monastery, is a testament to the sheer determination and faith of those who sought to live at the edge of the world.

As you climb the ancient stone steps, the air is filled with the calls of nesting puffins, and the weight of centuries is palpable in the silence. Here, amidst the crumbling beehive huts and windswept grasses, you can almost hear the monks’ whispers on the breeze.

Skellig Michael’s allure extends beyond its spiritual heritage; it has also captured the imagination of filmmakers and storytellers, serving as a backdrop for scenes in the Star Wars saga. The journey to this otherworldly place requires a boat trip across the heaving waves of the Atlantic, a voyage that adds to the sense of adventure and isolation. But be warned, the weather is fickle, and landing on the island is not guaranteed.

Still, for those who make it to this sacred and rugged outpost, Skellig Michael offers an experience that is as profound as it is unforgettable.

Discover the Beauty of Connemara

Venture into the wild heart of Connemara, where the landscapes defy description and the beauty is as untamed as the history is rich. Here, in this rugged expanse of western Ireland, you will find:

  • Mountains meeting the sea in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power
  • Expansive boglands, formed over millennia, paint a palette of earthy tones
  • White sandy beaches offer a stark contrast to the treeless mountains that rise majestically into the sky
  • A land shaped by the elements, where the Atlantic’s mighty winds have carved out a region of breathtaking vistas and serene isolation

This is a place that will leave you in awe of its natural wonders and captivated by its untamed beauty.

But Connemara is not just a feast for the eyes; it is also a stronghold of traditional Irish culture. The Irish language thrives here, spoken fluently by locals who are the custodians of a rich cultural heritage. Traverse the region’s rugged coastline, dotted with inlets and islands, and you may catch sight of the iconic Galway Bay Hookers, traditional wooden boats that sail these waters.

Hiking enthusiasts will find solace on the trails that lead through the Maumturk range and the Twelve Bens, each summit offering its own unique view of this storied landscape. And with each step, you’ll feel the spirit of Connemara envelop you, a spirit that is as wild and free as the land itself.

Tour the Titanic Belfast Museum

Step back in time at the Titanic Belfast Museum, where the tragic story of the world’s most famous ship is brought to life. Situated in the very place where the Titanic was built, this museum is not just a chronicle of the ship’s ill-fated journey but a tribute to Belfast’s industrial past.

Through immersive exhibitions and poignant artifacts, you’ll walk the decks of the Titanic, delve into the lives of its passengers and crew, and feel the impact of the disaster that shook the world. This is a place where history is palpable, where the grandeur and tragedy of the Titanic are etched into the walls, and where the spirit of the ship is forever preserved.

The Titanic Belfast Museum’s thematic route guides you through:

  • The shipyard’s boomtown days
  • The very slipway where the Titanic first touched the water
  • The craft of shipbuilding
  • The luxury of the Titanic’s interiors
  • The somber reality of its sinking

The museum not only tells a story but also connects you to the people and the city that gave birth to the Titanic. As you leave the museum, you’ll take with you a deeper understanding of this iconic vessel and the indelible mark it left on history.

Hike Carrauntoohil, Ireland's Highest Peak

Conquer the heights of Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest peak, and stand atop a summit that offers vistas unrivaled anywhere in the land. Part of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range in County Kerry, Carrauntoohil is a siren call to hikers and mountaineers who seek to scale its 1,038 meters.

The ascent, whether you choose the straightforward Brother O’Shea’s Gully Trail or the more challenging Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop, is a journey through Ireland’s rugged heart. With each step, the terrain unfolds in all its glory, from the sweeping valleys below to the surrounding peaks that stand as sentinels over the landscape.

Reaching the summit of Carrauntoohil is an achievement that rewards the brave with panoramic views and a sense of accomplishment that is as towering as the peak itself. Here, beneath the shadow of the 12-foot steel cross that marks the highest point, you can gaze across a country that seems to stretch endlessly into the horizon.

It’s a place where the sky feels close enough to touch and where the majesty of Ireland lies spread out beneath you. Hiking Carrauntoohil is not just about reaching the top; it’s about embracing the journey, the challenge, and the sheer beauty of Ireland’s highest peak.

Visit Blarney Castle and Kiss the Blarney Stone

Journey to the storied grounds of Blarney Castle, where legends and history converge amidst ancient stones and lush gardens. This imposing fortress in County Cork is home to:

  • the famed Blarney Stone said to bestow the gift of eloquence upon those who kiss it
  • narrow steps and lean back to kiss the storied stone
  • a rich tapestry that has captivated visitors for centuries

But the magic of Blarney Castle extends beyond the stone; it’s a place where myths come alive, and history whispers from every corner.

The castle grounds themselves are a wonder to explore, with winding paths leading through enchanting gardens and secret passages that hint at the castle’s storied past. Whether you’re delving into the legends of Cormac McCarthy and the witch who revealed the stone’s power, or simply basking in the splendor of the castle’s architecture, Blarney Castle offers a glimpse into a bygone era.

It’s a place that captures the imagination, where the line between history and folklore is charmingly blurred, and where the allure of Ireland’s ancient past is as strong as ever.

Drive the Causeway Coastal Route

Embark on a drive along the Causeway Coastal Route, a journey that takes you through some of Northern Ireland’s most breathtaking landscapes. Stretching from Belfast to Derry/Londonderry, this 130-mile route is a showcase of nature’s grandeur, from rugged cliffs and scenic beaches to picturesque villages like Cushendun and Ballycastle.

Along the way, you’ll encounter iconic sites like the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the historic ruins of Dunluce Castle, each offering a window into the region’s rich past and stunning natural beauty.

The Causeway Coastal Route is not just a drive; it’s an adventure filled with opportunities for discovery. Here are some highlights along the way:

  • Glenariff Forest Park: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.
  • Torr Head: Pause and absorb the sweeping views of the coast.
  • Old Bushmills Distillery: Indulge in a taste of Northern Ireland’s famous whiskey.

No journey along this coastal road would be complete without experiencing these attractions.

This route is a celebration of the land, the sea, and the enduring spirit of Northern Ireland, offering an experience that is as varied as it is unforgettable. Northern Ireland’s unique historical and cultural aspects, such as its complex history related to The Troubles and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Giant’s Causeway, add depth to this remarkable journey.

Explore the Burren National Park

Enter the otherworldly landscape of the Burren National Park, a place where the stark beauty of limestone pavements and rare flora create a scene straight out of a fantasy novel. Located in County Clare, the Burren is a unique geological wonder formed over millions of years, its name deriving from the Irish ‘Boíreann’ meaning ‘rocky place.’ Here, you’ll traverse a terrain that is both alien and enchanting, a testament to the power and artistry of nature.

As you explore the Burren, you’ll discover a land rich in history and biodiversity. Visit the ancient Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb that stands as a sentinel over a landscape that has been a crossroads of human activity for thousands of years.

Or wander through the hazel scrub and grasslands that are home to an astonishing variety of plant species, some of which are found nowhere else in Ireland. The Burren is a place that defies expectations, a protected area that offers not only a glimpse into Ireland’s past but also a sanctuary for its present.

Attend a Gaelic Games Match

Feel the pulse of Ireland’s sporting heart at a Gaelic Games match, where the ancient traditions of hurling and Gaelic football come alive with modern fervor. Within the hallowed walls of Croke Park, the nation’s largest stadium, you can witness the skill, speed, and passion that define these uniquely Irish sports. As the crowd roars and the players take to the field, you’ll be swept up in the excitement of a cultural event that is deeply embedded in the Irish identity.

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or a curious traveler, attending a Gaelic Games match is an essential Irish experience. The electric atmosphere at Croke Park, where over 83,000 spectators cheer on their county teams, is a spectacle to behold.

From the fast-paced action of hurling to the strategic play of Gaelic football, each match is a celebration of athleticism and community spirit. Join the locals in supporting their teams, and you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for Ireland’s sporting heritage and the games that have captured the nation’s heart for centuries.

Tour the Old Bushmills Distillery

Take a step back in time at the Old Bushmills Distillery, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery, nestled in the village of Bushmills, County Antrim. For over 400 years, this distillery has been crafting the smooth spirit that has become an emblem of Irish heritage.

Here, you can follow the journey of Bushmills whiskey from grain to glass, witnessing the time-honored process of triple distillation that gives the whiskey its distinctive character.

As you tour the distillery, you’ll be enveloped in the rich aromas of malted barley and aging casks, learning about the artistry that goes into every bottle. Bushmills whiskey is more than just a beverage; it’s a story of tradition, craftsmanship, and the land from which it comes.

Whether you’re sampling the classic Bushmills Original or exploring the newly reopened Causeway Distillery, your visit to Bushmills will be a highlight of your Irish adventure, a toast to the distillery’s storied past and bright future.

Discover the Aran Islands

Set sail for the Aran Islands, a trio of rocky outcrops off the west coast of Ireland where the past lingers in the present, and the Gaelic language flourishes. As you step off the ferry onto the shores of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, or Inis Oírr, you’ll find yourself in a world where time moves to the rhythm of the sea, and the traditions of old Ireland are preserved.

From the ancient stone fort of Dún Aonghasa perched on the edge of a dramatic cliff to the serene beauty of Kilmurvey Beach, the Aran Islands offer a glimpse into a way of life that has endured for centuries.

The islands are not just a haven for history buffs; they are a paradise for nature lovers as well. Here are some activities you can enjoy on the Aran Islands:

  • Explore the winding coastal roads by bike
  • Take a leisurely pony and trap tour to discover hidden inlets and breathtaking vistas
  • Dive into the clear waters with the Dive Academy
  • Watch the seals basking on the rocks

The Aran Islands are a place of connection—connection to the land, to the sea, and to the soul of Ireland. Here, you’ll find a sense of peace and a deeper understanding of the island’s storied past and vibrant present.

Visit Newgrange Passage Tomb

Journey to the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East and stand before Newgrange, a passage tomb that predates the pyramids of Egypt. This 5,200-year-old marvel in County Meath is a testament to the ingenuity and spirituality of Ireland’s early inhabitants.

As you enter the narrow passageway and emerge into the central chamber, you’ll be enveloped in an atmosphere of ancient mystery. The tomb’s precise alignment with the winter solstice sunrise is a phenomenon that continues to awe visitors, as a beam of light illuminates the chamber and brings the intricate stone carvings to life.

A visit to Newgrange offers:

  • A journey into the depths of history, where myth and archaeology intersect
  • The opportunity to witness the winter solstice phenomenon (access determined by a lottery)
  • A connection to Ireland’s distant past, where the stones speak of a time long forgotten and the legacy of the tomb’s builders endures

Walk the Walls of Derry/Londonderry

Experience the living history of Derry/Londonderry by walking its ancient city walls, the only remaining intact fortifications in Ireland. As you traverse the 1.5-kilometer circuit, you’ll gain insights into the city’s tumultuous past, from the sieges it endured to the vibrant present it enjoys. The walls, built between 1613 and 1619, offer panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside, a vantage point that has witnessed centuries of change.

The walls of Derry/Londonderry are more than just a historical artifact; they are a symbol of the city’s resilience and diversity. Whether you call it Derry or Londonderry, the city’s walls unite its people and stand as a monument to their shared history. Northern Ireland’s complex history, including The Troubles and its UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Giant’s Causeway, adds layers of depth to the experience.

As you walk the walls, you’ll feel the pulse of a city that has survived conflict and emerged with a spirit of hope and unity. It’s a walk that takes you through time, offering a perspective on Northern Ireland that is as complex as it is compelling.

Experience the Charm of Cork City

Step into the vibrant heart of Cork City, where history blends seamlessly with modern dynamism, creating a cultural tapestry that is uniquely Irish. Cork, with its friendly locals and lively atmosphere, invites you to explore its winding streets and historic landmarks. Some must-visit attractions in Cork include:

  • St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral: Imposing grandeur and stunning architecture
  • English Market: Intimate charm and a wide variety of food stalls
  • St. Anne’s Church: Ring the bells and enjoy panoramic views of the city
  • University College Cork: Beautiful campus with a rich history
  • Cork Butter Museum: Learn about the city’s maritime history and the butter trade

Cork is a city that wears its heritage proudly, and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

But Cork is more than a city of sights; it’s a city of experiences. Indulge in the culinary delights of the English Market, where local produce and artisanal treats await. Visit the Crawford Art Gallery, where Irish art comes to life, or take in a performance at the Cork Opera House.

Cork is a city that invites you to become part of its story, a place where every corner reveals a new discovery, and every moment is an opportunity to connect with Ireland’s vibrant culture.

Explore Glendalough Monastic Site

Immerse yourself in the spiritual serenity of Glendalough Monastic Site, nestled in a glacial valley in County Wicklow. Founded by St. Kevin in the sixth century, this monastic retreat was once a beacon of learning and faith in Europe.

Today, the site’s round tower, stone churches, and crosses stand as silent witnesses to a time when monks sought solitude and contemplation amidst nature’s splendor. Glendalough, or the “valley of two lakes,” provides a backdrop of stunning scenery that enhances the site’s peaceful ambiance.

A visit to Glendalough is an encounter with both history and nature. The monastic city’s remains invite contemplation, while the surrounding Wicklow Mountains National Park offers a canvas of lush woodlands and tranquil waters.

Whether you’re exploring the interpretive center to learn about the site’s storied past or taking a reflective walk along the lakes, Glendalough is a place where the spirit can breathe and the mind can wander. It’s a retreat that offers a respite from the modern world, a sanctuary where the legacy of Ireland’s early Christians lives on.

Visit the Rock of Cashel

Rise above the plains of Tipperary to the Rock of Cashel, an imposing fortress steeped in legend and history. Once the seat of the Kings of Munster, the Rock of Cashel, also known as St. Patrick’s Rock, is a complex of medieval buildings that command the landscape with their dramatic presence.

Here, amid the cathedral ruins and high crosses, you can trace the footsteps of St. Patrick, who is said to have baptized King Aengus here, and immerse yourself in the lore of a place where kings once ruled.

The Rock of Cashel is not just a historical site; it’s a canvas of Irish identity, where the past resonates with the present. Explore the Hall of the Vicars Choral, marvel at the grandeur of the cathedral, or ponder the legends that surround the rock itself.

With each step, you’ll uncover a layer of Ireland’s rich tapestry, from the site’s early Christian significance to the sieges and sacking it endured.

The Rock of Cashel is a must-visit for anyone seeking to understand the heart of Ireland’s storied past.

Discover the Beauty of Achill Island

Escape to the rugged beauty of Achill Island, where the wilds of County Mayo unfold in a panorama of dramatic cliffs, serene beaches, and untamed landscapes. Achill, the largest island off the Irish coast, beckons with its Blue Flag beaches, such as the secluded Keem Bay and the sweeping sands of Keel Beach.

The island’s history is etched into the haunting Deserted Village at Slievemore, a poignant reminder of the Great Famine that once ravaged this land.

But Achill Island is not just a place of breathtaking views; it’s an adventure waiting to be had. Some of the activities you can enjoy on Achill Island include:

  • Climbing Croaghaun Mountain for a glimpse of Europe’s highest sea cliffs
  • Delving into the marine world at the Achill Experience Aquarium and Visitor Centre
  • Hiking the rugged terrain
  • Swimming in the crystal-clear waters
  • Simply soaking in the island’s tranquil beauty

Achill Island is truly a jewel in the crown of Ireland’s natural wonders.

Visit the Ceide Fields

Step back in time at the Ceide Fields, where the ancient landscape of County Mayo unfolds to reveal the world’s most extensive Stone Age monument. Here, beneath the natural blanket bog, lies a complex of stone-walled fields, dwellings, and tombs that together weave a narrative of human life and labor nearly 6,000 years ago.

As you walk among these ancient structures, you’re not just exploring a prehistoric site; you’re connecting with the earliest farmers who shaped this land, leaving behind a legacy etched in stone.

The Ceide Fields are not merely an archaeological wonder; they are a place where the past and present coexist. The award-winning visitor center, perched on the edge of a 110-meter-high cliff, offers a window into a forgotten world where communities thrived in harmony with their environment.

The site’s significance extends beyond its historical value; it’s a testament to the enduring human spirit and its capacity to adapt and endure through the millennia. Visiting the Ceide Fields is an experience that transcends time, offering a profound sense of continuity and connection to the ancestral roots of Ireland.

Take a Black Taxi Tour in Belfast

Embark on a journey through Belfast’s recent past with a Black Taxi Tour, an intimate and revealing look into the heart of Northern Ireland’s capital. As your driver-guide weaves through the city’s streets, you’ll encounter the political murals and peace walls that tell the story of The Troubles, a period of conflict that has shaped the city’s identity.

Each mural, whether it speaks of hope, pain, or resilience, is a canvas that bears witness to the struggles and aspirations of the communities on either side of the divide.

Taking a Black Taxi Tour in Belfast is not just about sightseeing; it’s about understanding. Your guide, often someone who has lived through the conflict, will share personal anecdotes and insights that bring the history to life.

As you stop at the famous peace walls, you’ll have the chance to leave your own mark, joining the countless visitors who have expressed their hopes for peace and reconciliation.

A Black Taxi Tour is a poignant and powerful experience, one that offers a deeper perspective on Belfast’s complex history and the path toward a more peaceful future.

Discover the Wonders of West Cork

Explore the enchanting region of West Cork, a corner of Ireland where the land and sea conspire to create a landscape of extraordinary beauty. From the culinary town of Kinsale to the remote Beara Peninsula, West Cork is a patchwork of picturesque towns, idyllic islands, and wild coastlines.

Here, in places like Glandore, Schull, and Ballydehob, you’ll find a slower pace of life, where the rich maritime heritage and the warmth of the local community are as inviting as the stunning scenery that surrounds them.

But West Cork’s wonders are not confined to its coast. Venture inland to discover lush valleys and serene lakes, or take to the sea for a whale-watching expedition that reveals the rich marine life that thrives in these waters. Food lovers will delight in the region’s gastronomic offerings, with local artisans and chefs creating dishes that celebrate the bounty of the land and sea.

Whether you’re hiking the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, exploring the subtropical gardens of Garnish Island, or simply soaking up the laid-back vibe, West Cork is a place that captures the essence of Ireland’s wild and beautiful soul.

Visit the Glenoe Waterfall

Find tranquility at the Glenoe Waterfall, nestled in the verdant landscapes of The Glens of Antrim. This charming cascade, owned by the National Trust, offers:

  • A moment of peace amid the lush greenery
  • A 30-foot waterfall that tumbles into a serene pool
  • A short stroll through a woodland path
  • A viewing bridge where the full splendor of the waterfall can be appreciated
  • The sound of the water, the rustle of leaves, and the song of birds combine to create a symphony of nature that soothes the soul.

Visiting the Glenoe Waterfall is a year-round delight, with each season painting the scenery in a new light. Whether cloaked in the vibrant greens of spring, the rich hues of autumn, or the frosty whites of winter, the waterfall remains a captivating sight.

Free to access and open from dawn till dusk, Glenoe Waterfall is a hidden gem that offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, a place where the beauty of Northern Ireland’s landscapes can be fully embraced.

Experience the Passion of Riverdance

Experience the rhythm and soul of Ireland with Riverdance. It is an explosive celebration of traditional Irish music and dance that has captivated audiences worldwide. From the moment the curtain rises, you’ll be swept away by:

  • the energy and precision of the dancers, whose feet move with a speed and grace that is nothing short of mesmerizing
  • the show’s blend of folklore, music, and dance that tells the story of Ireland’s cultural evolution
  • a journey that resonates with the heartbeats of the dancers and the audience alike

Riverdance is more than just a performance; it’s a cultural phenomenon that has become an integral part of Ireland’s global identity. The show’s original choreography, by the likes of Michael Flatley and Jean Butler, has evolved over the years, yet the passion and spirit that define Riverdance remain unchanged.

Whether you’re witnessing the show in Dublin or at one of its many international tours, the experience is unforgettable. The thunderous applause, the standing ovations, and the electric atmosphere are testaments to the enduring appeal of Riverdance and its celebration of Irish heritage.

Explore the Wicklow Mountains National Park

Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, a sanctuary of serene lakes, rugged peaks, and verdant valleys.

As the largest of Ireland’s six national parks, Wicklow offers an escape into a wilderness that captivates with its geological wonders and abundant wildlife.

Hiking trails wind through the park, leading to breathtaking vistas at locations like:

  • Lough Tay, affectionately known asThe Guinness Lakefor its striking resemblance to Ireland’s famous stout
  • Glendalough, a glacial valley with a monastic settlement dating back to the 6th century
  • Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland
  • Sally Gap, a mountain pass with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside

Explore the Wicklow Mountains National Park and discover the magic of this natural wonderland. The Wicklow Mountains offer a variety of outdoor activities, including:

  • Hiking routes that range from leisurely walks to challenging ascents, such as the climb to the summit of Lugnaquilla Mountain, the park’s highest peak
  • Bird-watching
  • Mountain biking

As you explore, you might recognize scenes from movies and TV series that have used the park’s dramatic scenery as a filming location.

A visit to the Wicklow Mountains National Park is a journey into the heart of Ireland’s natural beauty, a place where the splendor of the landscape inspires awe and wonder.

Summary

From the storied streets of Dublin to the mystical heights of the Skelligs, Ireland offers a mosaic of experiences that weave together the country’s history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re raising a pint in the lively pubs of Galway, marveling at the ancient wonders of Newgrange, or finding solace in the wild landscapes of Connemara, each destination on this list promises a piece of Ireland’s soul.

As you reflect on the 30 best things to do in Ireland, remember that the true essence of this enchanting island lies not just in the places you visit, but in the memories you create and the connections you forge along the way. Ireland awaits, ready to etch its magic into your heart and leave you yearning to return to its emerald shores.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the #1 thing to see in Ireland?

The Cliffs of Moher are Dublin's premier tourist attraction, drawing over a million visitors each year. Many cities located within a 100-mile radius frequently offer full-day bus trips to this stunning natural wonder.

What is the one thing not to miss in Ireland?

The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland's most visited natural attraction, are a must-see destination.

How many days in Ireland is enough?

In a five-day tour, you can explore many of Ireland's iconic landmarks. We recommend focusing on one or two regions and then branching out into major cities. With five days at your disposal, you have the chance to discover the Southwest Shores or combine a trip to Belfast with a tour of Northern Ireland.

What is Ireland best known for?

Ireland boasts a rich history, stunning landscapes, and warm, friendly people. As the birthplace of Game of Thrones, it offers travelers a diverse range of experiences, from breathtaking scenery and vibrant pubs to historic castles and world-class coffee and beer.

Is Ireland a cheap place to visit?

I am mainly convinced that Irish tourism is fairly costly. Between the sky-high costs for accommodations in summer, as well as the higher prices throughout West Europe, a visit to Ireland can become quite costly.

Is 4 days in Ireland enough?

Is 3 days in Ireland enough? Absolutely not. It's only suitable for those who aren't truly interested in exploring what Ireland has to offer.

How many days are enough for Ireland?

In just 5 days, you can experience many of Ireland's top attractions. We recommend focusing on two or three regions before venturing beyond the major cities. During this time, you can explore the scenic coastline of South West Ireland or combine a trip from Belfast to Northern Ireland.

Do I need cash in Ireland?

While traveling in Ireland, you can easily find ATMs to withdraw cash. Apple Pay and MasterCard are widely accepted as payment methods. However, it's worth noting that credit cards from the United States, especially $100 bills, are not commonly accepted by Irish banks.

Is Ireland expensive to visit?

Yes, Ireland can be quite an expensive destination. Between the high costs of accommodations and rentals during the summer, and the generally steep prices in Western Europe, a trip to Ireland can indeed be very costly.

Where is the prettiest place in Ireland?

County Antrim is arguably the most scenic county in Ireland. Within its expansive borders, you'll find a microcosm of the entire country: bustling cities, charming towns, quaint villages, national parks, cascading waterfalls, lush forests, and stunning coastal landscapes.

What is the #1 attraction in Dublin, Ireland?

St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral form a captivating duo of historic sites. St. Patrick's Cathedral, constructed in 1220 beside a well where the patron saint of Ireland is believed to have baptized converts, features impressive monuments, exquisite stained glass, and an elegant Lady Chapel.

What is the best time of year to visit the Cliffs of Moher?

The best time to visit the Cliffs of Moher is during spring or fall to avoid crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience. Enjoy your trip!

Can I see the winter solstice event at Newgrange?

Yes, you can enter a lottery in September for a chance to witness the winter solstice event at Newgrange, when sunlight illuminates the passage tomb's chamber. It's a unique and magical experience.

How can I experience traditional Irish music?

You can experience traditional Irish music by attending music sessions in pubs across Ireland, especially in cities like Galway known for their vibrant music scene. Enjoy!

Is it necessary to book in advance to visit Skellig Michael?

Yes, it's crucial to book Skellig Michael landing tour tickets well in advance, preferably 3 – 6 months before your trip, due to limited availability and weather-dependent access.

Are the Gaelic Games accessible to visitors?

Yes, visitors can purchase tickets through the Croke Park website to attend Gaelic football and hurling matches, providing an opportunity to experience Ireland's traditional sports firsthand.


Ella McGuire

40 Blog posts

Comments