Ireland is a small paradise of incredible scenery, welcoming people, and great fun.
Here begins the adventure of a lifetime. Fill your heart with Ireland, an island located at the westernmost tip of Europe.
You can choose to immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Ireland’s modern cities, or lose yourself in the picturesque little villages and discover a land of unique beauty.
In all cases, you will have endless opportunities to enjoy a warm Irish welcome and the craic (fun) of the Irish.
Here are some of the highlights not to miss when visiting Ireland from North to South and East to West, which include tourist attractions, landmarks, mountains, beaches, and much more.
What not to miss when you are in Ireland
1. Dublin and the East
- Guinness Storehouse: Guinness has become a symbol of Irish culture, and this dark beer has been an important part of Dublin life since Arthur Guinness founded his brewery in James’ Gate in 1759. You can celebrate more than 250 years of Guinness by visiting the Warehouse to discover how this legendary beer is brewed. You’ll learn how to pour a pint and savor it while overlooking the city from the original Gravity Bar
- Kilmainham Gaol: opened in 1796 as the new County Gaol for Dublin. It closed its doors in 1924. It provides a unique insight into Ireland’s historical politics. Take a guided tour to discover the history of the events that shaped Ireland from 1780 to 1920. There is a permanent exhibition explaining the penal history and restoration of the prison and other exhibitions throughout the year.
- National Gallery of Ireland: The National Gallery of Ireland exhibits beautiful paintings by Irish and international artists. Works by Caravaggio or Jack B. Yeats, Paul Henry, and Louis le Brocquy are displayed in a wonderful setting. Free guided tours are available. The constant temporary exhibitions that are organized guarantee that no visit to the Gallery will be the same as the previous one.
- Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo: Phoenix Park is the largest urban park in Europe, ideal for a relaxing day out or taking the kids for a run. Surprising monuments, such as the Wellington Memorial and the Papal Cross, provide an incomparable setting for a day of picnics and sports on the meadows. At the Ashtown Castle visitor center, you can learn more about its history, flora, and fauna. Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo, which opened in 1830, making it the oldest urban zoo in the world. Take a fascinating Safari through the African Highlands to spot giraffes, rhinos, or lions in the grass, or even a herd of African elephants in the Rainforest.
- Trinity College and the Book of Kells: Founded by Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1592, Trinity College has a strong academic tradition, beautiful buildings, and fascinating history. You can take a guided tour of the college that includes the beautiful Long Room, the main chamber of the Old Library, with more than 200,000 of the oldest books in the college. The Book of Kells, a beautiful medieval Christian manuscript is on permanent display at the university, where you can also see the Book of Armagh and the Book of Durrow.
- Dublin Walking Tours: Dublin has so many places to discover. Know all about the history of the fair city, the culture, the music, anecdotes and Hiddedn Gems of this vibrant city
- Enjoy Dublin’s pubs: It is easy to understand why Irish pubs are so popular around the world, as their atmosphere and fun are hard to beat, especially in the most authentic establishments in the capital, such as Keogh” on South Anne Street, or Dawson Lounge, the smallest pub in Ireland. And for a splash of color, go to one that plays traditional Irish music. Many of the pubs in Temple Bar, Dublin’s cultural quarter, are particularly enjoyable, such as Foggy Dew and PorterHouse, which serves drinks created in its own craft distillery.
- Croke Park: Soak up Irish culture by catching a game of hurling, camogie, or Gaelic soccer at Croke Park, the national stadium for Gaelic games. With a capacity of 82,300, the stadium is a hive of excitement on match days. Throughout the year, the GAA Museum showcases the history of the GAA and its important contribution to Irish sporting, cultural and social life since its founding in 1884.
- Visit the site of the Battle of the Boyne in County Louth: The Battle of the Boyne was fought between the deposed King James II and William of Orange in 1690, changing the course of British and Irish history. The visitor center lets you find out what happened through an interesting video presentation and exhibits. Then you can walk through the site of the battle through passages specially built to relive the dramatic event.
- Boyne Valley: 11 km from Drogheda. Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, over 5,000 years old. An archaeological ensemble that brings together more than forty funerary monuments of the Neolithic period, before Stonehedge. In Newgrange, the burial mound measures 90 meters in diameter and 15 meters high, at the entrance you can see the famous stone carved with spirals, a corridor of 19 meters leads to the burial chamber where a striking phenomenon occurs, for about ten minutes the sun enters during the winter solstice. Open from 9.30 am, it is advisable to bring a flashlight.
- Clonmacnoise, County Offaly: Clonmacnoise Monastery is one of the most appreciated ecclesiastical places in Ireland. Founded on a bend of the River Shannon, south of Athlone, visitors will discover these amazing remnants of Ireland’s “sacred” past. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary: The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most picturesque sites, rising above the Golden Valley near the historic town of Cashel. It was the seat of the Kings of Munster for centuries before it was given to the church. The site is steeped in history, and the cathedral and circular tower, as well as the beautifully carved Celtic crosses and tombs on the Rock, are the highlights of the building.
- Powerscourt Gardens and Waterfall, County Wicklow: Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow contains some of the most beautiful gardens in the country. Designed in Italianate style, with terraces and formal elements typical of Renaissance villas, the gardens are the various viscounts and architects’ legacy. Beyond the gardens is Powerscourt Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Ireland, with a drop of over 121 meters, an impressive place and ideal for a picnic.
- Glendalough: in Wicklow, 30 km from Dublin, on the east coast in the region of the “Valley of the two lakes”. Set of religious buildings built in the sixth century, restored several times. The hermit St. Kevin chose one of the caves of the place to live and be in contact with nature, in that place were built the buildings that were assaulted, looted, and destroyed by Vikings and English. Free visit.
- National Studs Japanese and St Fiachra’s Gardens, County Kildare: The National Stables are where thoroughbred racing horses are bred, a must for horse lovers, as they are also located above the beautiful Japanese gardens, which in 2010 celebrate their centenary, while St Fiachra’s Gardens are an oasis of wooded areas and lakes.
- Dunbrody Heritage Ship, County Wexford: The legacy and testimony of millions of people who left Ireland is commemorated on the Dunbrody, a replica of the 19th-century emigrant ships that carried many people to America. You can learn about the events that caused so many Irish to leave their homeland and board the ship and be spectators in a short reenactment of the harrowing events.
- Kilkenny Castle: In Kilkenny, 155 Km. from Cork. The fortress of the Dukes of Ormonde is the main attraction of this medieval city. Built in the thirteenth century, the castle passed from the Clare family to the Butler of Ormonde in 1391, this family reigned for 500 years in southern Ireland. It is surrounded by a park of 50 hectares.
2. Belfast and Northern Ireland
- Belfast Castle and Zoo: The historic Belfast Castle, dating from 1870, is a magnificent sandstone building on the slopes of Cave Hill. It also has a children’s playground, a visitor information center, and a superb restaurant, so the whole family can have a fun day out. The nearby Belfast Zoo is home to more than 140 different species, including some that are protected or endangered in the wild.
- Titanic Belfast Interactive Center: The Titanic was born in Belfast, built, and created in Belfast. The Titanic Belfast Interactive Center opens on March 31 and is the world’s largest Titanic attraction. The building, wrapped in a layer of gleaming aluminum, is designed to mimic the hulls of four ships. The complex features modern multimedia installations, a tour of the entire building, and a reconstruction of a shipyard.
- Stormont: Stormont, east of Belfast, is home to the Northern Ireland Government. The building’s beautiful architecture reflects the classical Greek tradition and measures exactly 365 feet, one for each day of the year. Some of the highlights include the Main Lobby, the House of Assembly, and the Senate. Stormont Park and Estate are an ideal way to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You should not miss the famous Prince of Wales Avenue, which leads to the Parliament Buildings.
- Ulster Museum: Overlooking the beautiful Belfast Botanic Gardens, the Ulster Museum is a real feast for the senses. It is one of the most interesting activities in Northern Ireland and offers an interesting journey through history, art, and science through its wonderful galleries and wonderful exhibitions. Some of the most remarkable objects are the famous “Takabuti”, an Egyptian mummy, the Belleek Collection, one of the best examples of porcelain in the world, and elements of the galleon La Girona, of the Spanish Armada, sunk in the waters of the Antrim Coast in 1588.
- The Gobbins Cliff path: The Gobbins experience is located in Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the Causeway Coastal Route. You will experience a thrilling world, where bridges will carry you over crashing waves to sunken caves and sheer cliff faces.
- Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra: Situated on a 70-hectare site, the Ulster Folk Museum houses more than 50 exhibits illustrating the way of life and traditions of the people of the north of Ireland since the early 20th century. The site also houses the Transport Museum, which displays one of the leading collections of its kind in Ireland, including horse-drawn carriages, automobiles, locomotives, and aircraft.
- Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim: The fascinating Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Site is where legend has it that Fin McCool formed a rock path to Scotland to fight a giant. But scientists know that the 40,000 crisscrossing basalt hills are the result of a volcanic eruption. You can hear both versions of this story at the visitor center. Undoubtedly one of the most impressive places in the world.
- Bushmills Distillery, County Antrim: Ireland is renowned for the quality of its whiskeys, and the oldest “official” distillery, Bushmills, is the perfect place to learn more about this tradition. Bushmills is dedicated to the production of single malt whiskey, and is open to the public year-round, offering tastings after a guided tour.
Mourne Mountains, County Down: The majestic Mourne mountain range is believed to have inspired C.S. Lewis’s magical world of Narnia, and it’s easy to see why: these peaks offer spectacular views of forests, valleys, and the rugged Down coast. Here you can play golf in Royal County Down, or go rock climbing, horse riding, water sports, or coastal touring. The mix of adventure and beauty will set your imagination soaring.
- Walled City of Derry: The massive walls of this city dating from 1450 remain intact, and have never been breached, despite the many harassments suffered. Walking through this medieval town you will find the largest collection of cannons in Europe and many architectural landmarks, such as St. Columban’s Cathedral, Austin’s, the world’s oldest department store, and the Victorian town hall. At the Tower Museum, you can find out more about the city’s dramatic past. Ulster American People’s Park, County Tyrone: This park is an open-air museum that tells the stories of the emigrants who left Northern Ireland and traveled to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Streets, buildings, and characters have been reconstructed to create a real and overwhelming atmosphere. The Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival is held in September and attracts the best names in American and Irish folk.
3. Cork and the South West
- Shandon Bells & Tower. St Annes’ Church: Due to Covid Restrictions, Bells can’t be rung at the moment, but you can climb 132 steps of the Tower to see spectacular 360-degree views of the city at 36.65m/120ft. Visit St. Anne’s Church – one of the oldest churches in the city built-in in 1722.
Easy to find just look for the ‘Goldie fish’ in the sky!!
- Blarney Castle: in Cork, 8 km from the city, this castle is one of the oldest in Ireland. Built-in the fifteenth century has the famous “Blarney stone” that if kissed (difficult task because you have to be suspended) you get the gift of eloquence. In high season it is normal to queue to kiss the stone.
- Crawford Art Gallery: Crawford Art Gallery is a National Cultural Institution and regional art museum for Munster, dedicated to the visual arts, both historic and contemporary. Its collection comprises almost 4,000 works, ranging from eighteenth-century Irish and European painting and sculpture, through to contemporary video installations. At the heart of the collection is a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican Museum in Rome.
- Cork City Gaol: former prison of Cork, recreated with mannequins, illustrates the life of the prisoners housed in the prison between 1824 and 1923. Guided and commented visit. Screening of a very interesting documentary. Open Wednesday to Mondays, from 10 am to 4.30 pm.
- Kinsale and Charles Fort: The picturesque yachting harbor of Kinsale (Cionn tSáile) is one of the many colorful gems strung along the coastline of County Cork. Kinsale captivates by its beautiful setting; long waterfront, yacht-filled harbor, narrow winding streets, and brightly painted galleries, shops, and houses. Charles Fort is one of the finest surviving examples of a 17th Century star-shaped fort. It was constructed between 1677 and 1682 – during the reign of King Charles II – to protect the town and harbor of Kinsale in County Cork. William Robinson, the architect of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, and Superintendent of Fortifications, is credited with designing the fort.
- Skellig Islands: to the south, on the island Skellig Michael is the oldest Celtic monastery, built-in 600, it is not difficult to imagine the austerity in which the monks lived. Access depends on weather conditions.
- The Ring of Kerry: Kerry is a county of incredible natural beauty, highlighting the famous Ring of Kerry from Killarney through the Iveragh Peninsula. You can walk, cycle or drive to admire the spectacular views, especially from the Gap of Dunloe and Derrinane House, where the legendary Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell lived.
- Killarney National Park: in County Kerry, is known for its oak forests and herds of red deer, an endangered species. It extends over more than 10,000 hectares and in addition to its lush and beautiful forests has 3 lakes and mountains. If we are only going to spend a day in the park, renting a bicycle is a good idea. Inside the park, there is a Victorian manor house and the ruins of Muckross Abbey from 1148. Bring food, water, and a map of the park with its trails.
4. The West
- The Burren, Clare County: The Burren serves as home to an incredible variety of animals and plants. There are arctic, Mediterranean, and alpine species coexisting in this incredible limestone environment. You will also find the Poulnabrone Dolmen, and the spectacular Ailwee Cave, discovered by a local shepherd in 1940. It offers guided tours all year round. For the best salmon in Clare go to Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna.
- King John’s Castle, Limerick City: In the center of the medieval city of Limerick, King John’s Castle, dating from the 13th century stands majestically on “King’s Island” overlooking the River Shannon. The Castle was nearly destroyed after numerous sieges, including the Great Siege of 1642. The garrison, soldiers’ quarters, and more than 1,000 objects have been excavated on the site, as well as a few houses of Viking origin. The tour of the castle allows you to discover what life was really like in the Middle Ages.
- The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare: This wonderful natural site is famous throughout the world. The cliffs reach 214 meters at their highest point and stretch for eight kilometers above the Atlantic Ocean. Climb up to O’Brien’s Tower, which stands on the headland, and enjoy views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, and the Twelve Pins Mountains.
- Connemara, County Galway: The Gaeltacht regions, where Irish is the first language of most of its inhabitants, are known for their peaceful and friendly atmosphere, especially Connemara. You will be captivated by its beautiful landscapes and rich tradition of craftsmanship. Something also typically Irish and very common in the Gaeltacht is the enjoyment of music, with Irish ballads and narrations about the famous Irish myths.
- Aran Islands, Galway: You can choose two routes to reach the Aran Islands (Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr), taking the ferry from Galway, or from Doolin, County Clare. You will always find it a relaxing and comforting experience. The community has maintained many ancient traditions. The best thing to do on good weather days is to rent a bicycle to explore the surroundings on your own. There are magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean all along the coast, and incredible historical sites on these islands, such as Fort Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór, and the old Inis Oirr Lighthouse.
- Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal: Glenveagh National Park is situated in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains, County Donegal. You can take a guided tour of the Castle, stroll through the gardens or wander at your leisure through the fantastic scenery. There are marked trails for families. The park consists of 16,000 hectares of bush, lakes, and mountains, with spectacular scenery and a variety of paths through the hills, peat bogs, and forests.
- Ancient sites: Céide Fields, north of Mayo, offer the possibility to discover the life of the first settlers of the island. The unique Neolithic landscape is of world importance, as the remains of stone walls, houses, and megalithic tombs have survived thousands of years, preserved by a blanket of peat. Another historic site is Carrowmore, a Megalithic cemetery in County Sligo, the most important of its kind in Ireland, with monuments from 5500 to 6500 years old.
- Achill Island. Irelands largest offshore island is Achill with its golden beaches, unspoiled beauty, and great island skies full of ever-changing cloudscapes, continually caressing its peaks and valleys. Achill is joined to the mainland by a bridge at Achill Sound and about half of the island is a Gaeltacht region.
- Great Western Greenway: The Great Western Greenway, in County Mayo, is a 42km trail that follows the route of the now-defunct Achill to Westport railway line and offers breath-taking views of Clew Bay and its surrounding landscape. First opened in 2010, the route is popular with tourists. Thousands of visitors, both international and domestic, travel west to walk or cycle the trail. The Great Western Greenway is divided into three sections (see below) and can be completed in sections or as one whole cycle or walk. We recommend starting the trail from Achill and finishing in Westport, as the trail is easier from the start, however, the Greenway can be completed in either direction.
- Achill to Mulrann
- Mulranny to Newport
- Newport to Westport