Ireland (Republic of Ireland)

Languages: English, Irish

Currencies: EUR · Euro (€)

Capitol: Dublin

Continents: Europe

Borders: United Kingdom

More useful information

Area: 70,273km2

Population: 4,994,724

Traffic/driving side: left

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +353

Timezones: UTC

Last updated on May 21, 2024

Ireland, a land steeped in history and bursting with breathtaking landscapes, has been my home since almost 8 years now. It is a true traveler’s paradise waiting to be explored! With all the things to do in Ireland, and the warmth of its people, this enchanting Emerald Isle will captivate your heart and leave you yearning for more.

Nestled in the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland offers a wealth of stunning scenery and experiences that are sure to leave an indelible mark on the hearts of all who venture onto its shores. Over the last years I have explored almost every hill and corner of the island – so join for top places to visit in Ireland for best adventure.

Top places to visit in Ireland - the Emerald Isle.

If you’ve ever dreamed of wandering through verdant meadows, exploring ancient castles, or savoring a pint of Guinness while tapping your feet to lively traditional music, then visiting Ireland should definitely be on your bucket list.

This article I’ll guide you through some of the most captivating attractions and activities that Ireland has to offer. From the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way to the vibrant cities filled with culture and tradition, there’s no shortage of excitement to be found here.

Read on to uncover the hidden gems and iconic landmarks that make Ireland such an unforgettable destination.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ireland is home to thousands of historic castles and monuments, offering a glimpse into the country’s fascinating past.
  • The Wild Atlantic Way showcases Ireland’s coastline, breathtaking landscapes, and charming villages. READ ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WILD ATLANTIC WAY!
  • Ireland’s national parks provide opportunities to reconnect with nature and explore diverse landscapes.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as hiking, surfing, rock climbing, and bouldering across Ireland’s stunning terrains. READ TOP 10 BEST HIKES IN IRELAND.
  • The Aran and Skellig Michael Islands offer a unique journey into Irish tradition and history. READ MY TRIP TO MAGIC SKELLIG ISLAND.
  • Ireland’s vibrant cities, such as Dublin, Galway, and Cork, offer a mix of history, culture, and modern life, while traditional Irish cuisine and drinks provide a taste of the country’s rich culture.

Immerse Yourself in History at Iconic Castles and Monuments.

Ireland is home to over 3,000 castles and monuments that tell the fascinating stories of Irish history.

One of the top must-visit destinations is the renowned Blarney Castle, where the legendary Blarney Stone awaits to bestow the gift of eloquence upon those who dare to kiss it. The grounds of Blarney Castle are dotted with unusual rock formations, forested hollows, and a beautiful running river.

Another iconic structure is the Dublin Castle, located in the heart of Ireland’s capital city — an iconic symbol of the nation’s rich history and a must-see attraction for visitors. Today, the castle houses several museums and cultural institutions, such as the Chester Beatty Library, with its world-renowned collection of manuscripts, rare books, and artifacts.

When in Ireland, it’s also worth visiting the Kilkenny Castle, a majestic and historic fortress that stands proudly on the banks of the River Nore in the charming city of Kilkenny.

The Wild Atlantic Way: Discover Ireland’s Breathtaking & the longest coastal route in the world!

Also known as Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin, this tourist trail is an epic, 2,500-kilometer (1,553-mile) coastal route that stretches along the western coast of Ireland. This breathtaking journey showcases the rugged beauty, dramatic landscapes, and enchanting charm of Ireland’s coastline.

READ: Wild Atlantic Way – the longest coastal route in the world!

A good point to begin your adventure is in County Donegal, where you can explore the ancient fort of Grianán of Aileach or marvel at the towering sea cliffs at Slieve League. Then, continue southward, taking in the stunning vistas of Ben Bulben mountain (County Sligo) and the picturesque town of Westport (County Mayo).

This coastal road continues through the spectacular landscapes of County Clare, where you’ll find one of Ireland’s most iconic natural wonders, the Cliffs of Moher.

Formed over millions of years by the relentless forces of nature, the Cliffs of Moher are a natural masterpiece. On a clear day, it is possible to see as far as Northern Ireland or the mountains of Connemara, showcasing Ireland’s dramatic landscapes at their finest.

While in County Clare, take the opportunity to explore The Burren, a unique limestone plateau known for its otherworldly appearance and diverse flora and fauna.

As the journey then leads you further, experience the beauty of Killarney National Park (County Kerry), with its serene lakes, ancient forests, and historic Muckross House.

Throughout your travels, you’ll encounter charming villages, hidden beaches, and fascinating historical sites. Immerse yourself in local culture by sampling traditional Irish cuisine at cozy pubs or attending lively music sessions that capture the spirit of this captivating region.

Reconnecting with Nature: Ireland’s Stunning National Parks

Ireland’s national parks offer a sanctuary for those looking to reconnect with nature and explore the untouched beauty of this emerald island.

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Nestled in the heart of County Wicklow, this national park provides an easily accessible escape into nature. It features serene forests, cascading waterfalls, and scenic walking trails that meander through tranquil valleys. Highlights include the picturesque Glendalough monastic site and the towering granite peaks of the Wicklow mountains.

Glenveagh National Park

Encompassing a vast wilderness in County Donegal, Glenveagh National Park invites visitors to explore its remote beauty through mountain terrain, pristine lakes, and secluded woodlands. Embedded in the park lies Glenveagh Castle, a 19th-century mansion surrounded by meticulously maintained gardens. Wildlife enthusiasts can also catch a glimpse of the park’s resident red deer, golden eagles, and other native species.

Embrace Your Inner Adventurer with Outdoor Activities

Ireland’s diverse landscapes provide a plethora of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to embrace their inner adventurer and embark on thrilling activities. From hiking to water sports and more, there’s something for everyone seeking excitement in the Emerald Isle.

Surfing

If you don’t mind getting wet, catch some waves at famous surf spots like Lahinch, Bundoran, or Strandhill, where the powerful swells of the ocean create ideal conditions for beginners and seasoned surfers alike.

Hiking and Trekking

Ireland offers countless trails catering to all levels of experience, from gentle strolls to challenging mountain climbs. Hike the iconic Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo or traverse the dramatic Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. For coastal treks, try the breathtaking Dingle Way (County Kerry) to catch the stunning views of the Atlantic coast.

Check one of the most stunning (and challenging) hiking trails in west Ireland – Connemara National Park – Glencoaghan Horseshoe (12 Bens): Hiking Glencoaghan Horseshoe Loop – Adventurous Ireland.

Rock Climbing and Bouldering

Challenge yourself by scaling some of Ireland’s impressive rock faces and cliffs. Fair Head (Co. Antrim), The Mourne Mountains (Co. Down), and Dalkey Quarry (Co. Dublin) are popular climbing destinations that cater to various skill levels. Many people also recommend the Fairhead area in Northern Ireland.

Skellig Michael Island: Unveiling the Mysteries of an Ancient Monastic Sanctuary

Looking for even more things to do in Ireland? Then you should definitely check out Skellig Michael Island, situated off the coast of Co. Kerry.

It’s a place of unparalleled beauty and mystique. Steeped in history and surrounded by the wild waters of the ocean, this remote island was once home to an ancient monastic settlement dating back to the 6th century.

Today, the island continues to captivate visitors with its enigmatic allure and stunning landscapes. READ MY COMPLETE GUIDE ON SKELLIG MICHAEL TOUR.

As you explore this isolated refuge, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the determination and devotion of the monks who chose to live in such a remote and inhospitable environment, pursuing a life of solitude, prayer, and contemplation.

In addition to its historical significance, the island is home to a diverse array of wildlife. Thousands of seabirds, including puffins, gannets, and razorbills, nest on the island during the breeding season, making it an important sanctuary for these species.

The surrounding waters also provide opportunities for spotting seals, basking sharks, and other marine life.

Exploring Vibrant Cities: Dublin, Galway, and Cork

Ireland’s vibrant cities offer a delightful mix of history, culture, and modern urban life, providing visitors with an array of unique experiences. Dublin, Galway, and Cork are three cities that showcase Ireland’s charm and character at its best.

Dublin is steeped in literary and historical significance. There, you can visit the iconic Dublin Trinity College, home to the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript containing four Gospels of the New Testament that dates back to the 9th century.

When in Dublin, wander through the cobbled streets of Temple Bar, where lively pubs, trendy boutiques, and art galleries await.

Don’t forget to visit Dublin Zoo, home to over 400 rare, exotic, and endangered animals from around the world. You should also make sure that your road trip includes St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which stands as a proud testament to the city’s rich heritage.

In the evening, experience Dublin’s bustling nightlife scene by joining a traditional pub crawl or enjoying a live music performance, including traditional Irish music!

Galway

Galway, often referred to as Ireland’s Cultural Heart, is a thriving city situated on the west coast in County Galway. The city is renowned for its lively arts scene and numerous festivals throughout the year, including the Galway International Arts Festival and Galway Film Fleadh.

Stroll along the picturesque streets lined with brightly colored shops and cafes, or take a leisurely walk beside the River Corrib. Be sure to explore the nearby Connemara region and stunning coastline.

Cork

Cork, Ireland’s second-largest city, offers a distinct charm with its winding waterways and hilltop vistas.

Located in County Cork, the largest and the southernmost county of Ireland, the city boasts a rich maritime history that can be explored at the Titanic Experience Cobh, which was her final port of call on its maiden journey to New York.

Discover Cork’s culinary delights at the famous English Market or enjoy a taste of local craft beer in one of its many artisan breweries. Don’t forget that a short drive from Cork brings you to Blarney Castle, where you can kiss the famous Blarney Stone!

If you happen to be in West Cork, make sure to visit Inchydoney Beach — one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and maybe even the world!

Each of these cities offers a unique perspective on Irish urban life, with a blend of history, culture, and modern amenities that cater to all interests. Exploring them is a journey that will leave you with lasting memories of the warm and welcoming spirit of the Irish people.

The Aran Islands: A Journey into the Heart of Timeless Irish Tradition

When seeking more things to do in Ireland, one should not miss the opportunity to visit the Aran Islands, a group of three islands — Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr — located off the western coast of Ireland.

With a rich cultural legacy and a long history, these islands offer visitors a journey into the heart of timeless Irish tradition, untouched by the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Inis Mór, the largest of the three islands, is home to several significant historical sites, including Dún Aonghasa, an impressive prehistoric stone fort perched dramatically on a cliff edge.

Other highlights include the Seven Churches, a monastic complex dating back to the 8th century, and Clochán na Carraige, a well-preserved beehive hut from the early Christian period.

Inis Meáin, the middle island, remains relatively untouched by tourism and offers an authentic glimpse into traditional Irish life.

Renowned for its unique landscape characterized by limestone pavements and drystone walls, the island has inspired countless artists and writers throughout history. While visiting Inis Meáin, be sure to explore its numerous stone forts and ancient ruins.

Inis Oírr, the smallest and most eastern island, is known for its charming village, beautiful beaches, and warm hospitality. A visit to the Plassey Shipwreck, a freighter that ran aground in 1960 and has since become an iconic landmark, is a must. The island also boasts several historical sites, such as the O’Brien’s Castle ruins and St. Kevin’s Church.

Each of the islands offers an array of outdoor activities, such as cycling, hiking, and horseback riding,. The surrounding waters provide excellent opportunities for fishing and kayaking.

Savor Traditional Irish Cuisine and Drinks

Trying traditional Irish dishes and drinks is an essential part of immersing yourself in the rich culture of this country. From hearty meals to iconic beverages, there’s a wealth of delicious options to explore if you decide to visit Ireland.

  • Hearty dishes. Irish cuisine is known for its comforting, wholesome meals that showcase locally sourced ingredients. Savor classics like Irish stew made with tender lamb or beef, potatoes, and vegetables or boxty, a versatile potato pancake that can be served as a side dish or filled with savory ingredients.
  • Seafood chowder. Incredibly tasty traditional irish stew, a mixt of fresh and smoked fish. The soup has its origins in Dingle Peninsula – west coast of Ireland. 
  • Seafood. With its extensive coastline, Ireland boasts some of the freshest seafood in the world. Delight in delicacies such as Galway Bay oysters, Dingle Peninsula shrimps, and Atlantic-caught salmon. Don’t miss out on trying traditional fish and chips – battered and fried fresh fish served with crispy fries.
  • Bread. Soda bread is an Irish staple often served alongside meals or enjoyed simply with butter and jam. Made with buttermilk and baking soda, this dense bread has a distinctive taste that pairs well with soups, stews, and smoked salmon.
  • Iconic beverages. No trip to Ireland would be complete without sampling its renowned drinks. Visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin to learn about the brewing process behind this iconic stout and enjoy a freshly poured pint with a panoramic view of the city. Whiskey aficionados should embark on a tasting tour at the Irish Whiskey Museum, where you can savor the smooth taste of authentic Irish whiskey.

Ireland – a must visit destination!

Ireland is a treasure trove of rich history, stunning landscapes, and heartwarming culture. Whether you’re navigating the rugged coastline of Dingle Peninsula, exploring the Cliffs of Moher, or savoring a pint of Guinness in a lively Dublin pub, the Emerald Isle offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences.

Immerse yourself in the captivating narratives of its iconic castles, the tranquillity of its national parks, or the energy of its vibrant cities. To truly appreciate the Irish spirit, taste its traditional cuisine, and join in its timeless traditions.

There are plenty of things to do in Ireland, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler! Check my posts Ireland on all incredible activities you can do in the Emerald Island.

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!
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