There’s much more to Ireland than Guinness, leprechauns or St. Patrick’s Day. The Emerald Isle is a magical land with breathtaking places to discover. Whether you love strolling through cities or exploring the outdoors, the country has plenty to offer. Here are the 15 best places to visit in Ireland that will leave you “O’bsessed” with the country.
- 1. Discover Dublin
- 2. Grab a beer at the Guinness Storehouse
- 3. Branch out in Belfast
- 4. Get out to Giant’s Causeway
- 5. Explore the world of Game of Thrones
- 6. Cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
- 7. Conquer the Cliffs of Moher
- 8. Pop over to Cork
- 9. Cool off in Cobh
- 10. Make your way to the Wicklow Mountains
- 11. Hike around Killarney National Park
- 12. Road trip on the Ring of Kerry
- 13. Seek out Skellig Michael
- 14. Hear the music in Galway
- 15. Head out to the Arran Islands
1. Discover Dublin
Ireland’s capital is a treat for any traveler. One of the best ways of exploring a city is by taking a good old-fashioned stroll, and Dublin is an excellent city to discover by foot. Charming pubs and cobblestoned streets meet modern architecture and bustling energy. Absorb Irish culture with each step while you explore iconic landmarks like Dublin Castle or Kilmainham Gaol. Feel like your feet might get tired? Cruise through the city by boat to admire its monuments from the water.
2. Grab a beer at the Guinness Storehouse
One of Dublin’s most famous attractions, the Guinness Storehouse is a historic brewery that was built in 1904. Of course, you’ll know it as the place where the world famous Guinness beer is made. If you’re not completely full after a couple of pints of the delicious stout, make your way to the cozy Irish pubs in the legendary Temple Bar area. If you need to give your stomach a bit of a break, take a stroll by the Liffey river to walk off the beer.
3. Branch out in Belfast
The capital of Northern Ireland is another must-see during your visit to the Emerald Isle. For cinema and history lovers, the Titanic was famously build in the city. But Belfast has much more to offer than tragic maritime stories. Head to the Saint George market for some Belfast charm and delicious food. Enjoy an evening at the Crown Bar, the oldest in the city and known for its iconic Victorian architecture. Finally, don’t forget to stroll around the Cathedral Quarter, West Belfast’s political murals or the Commercial Court, a traditional alley decorated with umbrellas.
4. Get out to Giant’s Causeway
As Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway is a mandatory stop. Located in Antrim County, legend has it that the remains are from a causeway built by a giant. While the legend may have given the cause its name, we know the natural wonder originated from the rapid cooling of volcanic lava about 60 million years ago. This phenomenon formed the famous 40,000 basalt columns with geometric shapes.
5. Explore the world of Game of Thrones
Fans of Game of Thrones will absolutely love a trip to Northern Ireland. With numerous locations used in the show, the scenery feels like it’s right out of a fantasy world. Make sure to visit the avenue of trees known as the Dark Hedges, used as the King’s Road location. Or make your way to Ballintoy, where numerous iconic scenes were filmed. From Carrickfergus Castle to Carnlough, these stunning locations are worth a visit whether you’re a fan of the show or not.
6. Cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Perfect for adventure lovers and thrill seekers, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge has become one of the most popular destinations in Ireland. The bridge is 20 meters long and stands 25 meters above sea level, connecting the coastline to Carrick Island. Looking for something to eat on the island? Make a stop for some delicious Atlantic salmon to eat while you enjoy the breathtaking views.
7. Conquer the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most iconic and popular attractions, and for good reason. The view is one of the most beautiful in the world. The combination of white cliffs and rugged coast make for an unforgettable landscape. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a day with clear skies, you’ll get stunning views of the Galway Bay. You can reach the Cliffs of Moher easily from Dublin, Galway, Limerick or Cork.
8. Pop over to Cork
Despite being the second most populous in Ireland, Cork is an ideal and quiet getaway from more bustling cities like Dublin or Belfast. Located southwest of the River Lee, the charming city has plenty to offer visitors. Head to the Victorian Quarter to find famous MacCurtain Street. Ideal for art lovers, the area is rich with color and culture. An easy city to explore on foot, make sure to walk through the English Market for some local, artisanal treats.
9. Cool off in Cobh
Cobh is a small coastal town that is part of the Cork port complex. Worth a visit for the quaint, cozy houses and charm alone, the town also boasts some fascinating history. In 1912, the town was the site of the Titanic’s last port of call, when Cobh’s name was Queenstown. Located at the southern tip of Ireland, visitors can easily make a stop at the Spike Island, home of Fort Mitchel and medieval church ruins.
10. Make your way to the Wicklow Mountains
Perfect for those who love the outdoors, the Wicklow Mountains feature some of Ireland’s most incredible natural wonders. Make your way through the mountains to discover Guinness lake, the Glencree Valley, and the nature reserves of County Glendalough. These mountains have been the setting of numerous films, as several scenes from Braveheart and P.S. I Love You were filmed throughout the range.
11. Hike around Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is the first park of its kind to be established in Ireland. Located in the captivating County Kerry, the park features lush vegetation, towering trees, and the highest mountain range in Ireland. Nature lovers will love hiking and getting lost in the stunning beauty. You’ll find waterfalls, lakes, and oak forests that extend far beyond what the eyes can see.
12. Road trip on the Ring of Kerry
If there’s one road to take in Ireland, it’s the Ring of Kerry. This stunning road trip will conveniently take you to various iconic landmarks in the country, each with its own charm. From beaches, wild islands, small coastal towns ,and castles in typical Irish architecture, you’ll be awed on your journey. Fans of Charlie Chaplin can visit a statue of the famous actor in Waterville, where he spent many summers.
13. Seek out Skellig Michael
If you’re a Star Wars aficionado, you’ll be happy to know the force is strong with Ireland. Fans of the films will particularly recognize Skellig Michael, a craggy island that played home to Luke Skywalker Getting to this UNESCO World Heritage Site can be tricky. You’ll need to take a boat, and trips from the mainland towns of Portmagee, Ballinskelligs, and Caherdaniel are only available during the summer. Taking the trip is well worth it. At 180 meters above sea level, the cliffs provide some unforgettable views.
14. Hear the music in Galway
Galway is referred to as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland,” and the title is well-deserved. Located on the west coast of the country, the city is well-known for its museums, art galleries of the Latin Quarter, and the iconic, medieval city walls. Looking for an authentic Irish experience? Make your way to Eyre Sqare, the city’s bubbly hub, and find a place to enjoy some live, traditional folk music. Just think twice before requesting the musicians perform “Galway Girl.”
15. Head out to the Arran Islands
East of Galway Bay, you’ll find the Arran Islands. The group of three islands stands out for their impressive landscapes and cozy rural homes. Becoming more and more popular to visit each year, the islands are known for the distinctive culture born from a population of just 800 residents. While you can explore the islands on foot, renting a bicycle is an excellent way to take in the charming scenery. To reach the islands, visitors have to take a ferry from Galway or Clare. For visitors who want to make the most of their time, the trip takes just 8 minutes by plane.