55 AMAZING Things To Do In Ireland

With over 10 million people visiting Ireland this year, there is no secret; the Emerald Isle is a magic land brimming with unique wonders, authentic heritage, dazzling sceneries and good-natured people.

things to do in ireland

A country that offers some of the planet’s most untamed and hushed countryside, the longest coastal road in the world and unlimited festivities, centuries of History and fearsome adrenaline experiences, idyllic beaches and traditional bar culture; can only arouse interest and become addictive.

Shaped to be walked and dreamt to be lived; Ireland is an authentic land with endless possibilities. This is a special list of the 55 top things to do in Ireland that will take you through an epic journey.

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55 Best Things To Do While in Ireland:

1. Ring Of Kerry Drive

image of the ring of kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a popular 179-kilometre (111 miles) loop that outlines the coastal curve of Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula. This ride will award you with mesmerizing views on the Wild Atlantic Ocean, the Dingle Peninsula, the Skellig islands and various lakes.

On your way, you will discover the beauty of Killarney national park, the historical Staigue Stone Fort, the dizzying Kerry cliffs, the Gap of Dunloe as well as the imperial Ladies View. 

Note: Tourist buses drive counter-clockwise, to avoid traffic jams drive in the opposite direction. If you have time, the Gap of Dunloe is worth either a cycling trip or by jaunting car (see below).

2. Dingle Peninsula

image of dingle peninsula ireland

Choose to cycle, walk or ride this 48-kilometre (30 miles) loop road of this Gaeltacht (Irish-Speaking) region. This short tour will embark on a magnificent journey through history and spirituality.

The Dingle Peninsula is indeed an open-air museum where Neolithic remains, classical monuments, traditional villages with thatched roofs, beehive huts and Iron-age forts share space. Your ride will reward you with breathtaking sceneries over Ventry Bay, the Blasket islands including Inishtooskert (the “Sleeping Giant”), Dunmore Head and the Conor Pass. 

Note: Drive on a clockwise direction to enjoy the greatest views. Star Wars buffs must visit Ceann Sibéal where a part of “The Last Jedi” was shot.

3. Glendalough 

image of Glendalough ireland

Located near two lakes, Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most popular monastic site. The ecclesiastic ground’s construction started in the 6th century with St Kevin and continued through time.  

Despite the Vikings and the Normans’ attacks, the 33-meter (36 yards) millenary Round Tower remained while saving the lives of many abbots and friars.

The area also includes other flawless architectures such as St Kevin’s Kitchen, Cross, and Bed. Several well-preserved ruins and crosses are spread all over the sector such as St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Priest House, Temple-na-Skellig, The Caher and, four churches (St Kieran, Trinity, St Mary, and The Reefert). 

Hikers and strollers, fascinated by the Ancient East and Nature, will definitely find what they are looking for.

Note: There is no ATM in Glendalough

4. Boat Tour to Skellig Michael

image of skellig michael ireland

Whether you are a birdwatcher, a history aficionado or passionate by rugged landscapes, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skellig Michael is a must. As the westernmost holy site in Europe, it concludes the ancient pilgrim line (known as the Apollo-St Michael axis) that runs all the way to Palestine.

Depart from the Marina of Portmagee fishing village and, if the weather allows, head on the 12.9-kilometre boat ride (8 miles). Once arrived, be prepared to climb the 640 steps leading to one the finest example of early-medieval religious devotion. You will have 2.5 hours onsite to discover this 6th-century oratory. The weatherproof beehive huts used to shelter St Fionan monks and the oppressed Catholics seeking refuge.  

Bird-wise: Puffins, Black Guillemots, Arctic Terns, Gannets, Razorbills, Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars, Cormorants are all residents of the insular land. Make sure your camera is fully loaded!

Note: Tours depend on the weather and sea conditions

5. Gap of Dunloe

image of gap of dunloe ireland

As the river Loe crossing the valley, the Gap of Dunloe got its name after the Irish “Dun Lóich” (Dun’s fort). This natural formation, created 25 Millenials ago, begins at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. 

Hire a jaunting car to travel the 11kms (6.8 miles), stop at the “Wishing Bridge” to make your dream come true and, discover the five corrie lakes. On your way stop at Turnpike boulder and embrace the panorama on Augier Lake. In the end, a new perspective awaits you, as a boat will take you back to your base crossing 3 of the 5 basins. 

Note: Cash is required as the location is remote. Hiking or cycling is also a great way to discover the area. 

6. Giants Causeway (Many Bus Tours Leave from Dublin)

image of giants causeway things to do in ireland

Giants Causeway is easily one of the most popular things to do in Ireland. Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Nature Reserve, Giant Causeway is home to 40,000 interweaving giant steps. Made of basalt, these massive hexadic to octadic columns can reach a height up to 12 meters (39 feet). The geological explanation reveals that the grounds were created by a volcanic eruption that occurred over 50 million years ago.

Legends, on its side, tells us that Fionn mac Cumhaill, a bulky native hunter and fighter, found himself menaced by a Scottish behemoth named Benandonner. The latter, who needed a spot for their physical encounter, erected the site.

In one version, the Irish took on the battle and won the fight. In the other, his wife camouflaged him as their baby and the titan, presuming the dad’s size to be mammoth, got scared and left conflict-free. 

Many tours, leaving from Dublin daily, couple the trip with other touristic attractions such as Game of Throne filming sets, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the Dark Hedges or/and Belfast city excursion. 

7. Tour Of Dublin Castle

image of Dublin Castle

Built by King John of England, Dublin Castle was the siege of English (then British) rulers for over 7 centuries. Implanted on an ancient Viking settlement, it was the home of the Viceroy of Ireland and his governmental headquarters. 

In 1684, a fire burst and destroyed some parts of the bulwark. Revamped into a Georgian piece of art with a neo-Gothic Royal Chapel, it was also a place of ceremonial and entertainment. After the 1916 Easter Rising and the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty signature, the palace was handed over to Michael Collins, an Irish free-state revolutionary, in 1922. 

Book the 60-minute tour and track the steps of many honored political figures (including Benjamin Franklin, Queen Victoria, Nelson Mandela, JFK, Charles de Gaulle) who feasted within the luxurious dwelling. As 250,000 people each year, uncover every detail of the middle-age times, the state apartments and the historical additions. 

Note: Open from 9:45 AM to 5:45 PM

8. Trinity College – Book Of Kells 

image of Trinity College

Established by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, this Neo-classical institution gave birth to various Nobel Laureates including Samuel Beckett and Ernest Walton. It was also the place of study of famous writers and playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, and politicians counting three Presidents of Ireland. 

Today, the 19-hectare ground (47 acres) lodges 25 schools and the eminent Trinity College Library. This bibliotheca preserves over 6.2 million books and manuscripts and owns a copy of every single book published in the country. It is also home to the 800-AD Book of Kells.

This Evangelion, composed of four Vulgate Gospels, hides the finest examples of Hiberno-Saxon arts and calligraphy.  Produced in calf vellum, the collection is considered as Ireland’s most precious possession. 

Note: Two volumes out of 4 of the Book of Kells are on public display. The Long Room Of The Old Library At Trinity College opens from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM from Monday to Saturday. 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sundays. 

9. Day Trip to the Aran Islands

image of Aran Islands

When visiting the Arans, you’ll stop by a group of three Gaeltacht islands just off the Galway Bay. To make the most of it in one day, single out the experience that suits you best:

Inis Oirr (Inisheer) has a surface area of 8km² (3sq miles) and is the smallest of them all. It conceals a traditional fishing village, the Well of Enda, the 1960 Plassey shipwreck, two churches (Teampall Chaoimháin and Cill Ghobnait) and the remains of the 14th-century O’Brien’s Castle. 

Inis Mór (Inishmore), on its side, is 31km² (12sq miles) and is both the largest and most popular isle. With over 50 pre-Christian, Christian and Celtic monuments, it is an open sacred museum. You will also find Megalithic remains such as the 2,500BC ‘Bed of Diarmuid and Gráinne’ alongside medieval site as ‘Dún (fort) Eoghanachta.’

Adrenaline junkies and nature lovers will share space by the dizzying ‘Worm Hole’. Ones will satisfy their thirst of epinephrine, by either cliff diving or rock climbing, on this Red Bull Cliff Diving series scene. Others will admire the raw pool and the wave crashing, before heading to more wilderness like Kilmurvey Blue Flag beach, the Puffing hole or the Cliffs of Aran.

Third and last, the 9km² (3.5sq miles) Inis Meain is the less frequented but, the more traditional islet. It is where Synge lived and found aspirations for several of his novels, including “The Playboy of The Western World.” There is also a museum dedicated to the writer and his favourite spot, known as Cathaoir Synge, overhangs the Atlantic Ocean. Dún Fearbhaí, Conor’s Fort, and Saint Kenderig’s Well also worth a visit.

Note: Ferry from Rossaveal (40 minutes) available all year. Ferry from Doolin (90 minutes) available from April through October. Flying offers fantastic views over the triad and is possible from Inverin. 

10. Connemara Drive 

image of Connemara Drive

Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Connemara Loop has a length of 80kms (about 50 miles). The journey starts in Maam Cross where heath, bogs, the Shindilla Lake and mountain vistas await visitors. Connemara is notorious for encompassing some of the wildest landscapes in the country.

The Connemara drive is an absolute must see! To get the most of the area though, it is well worth heading off the beaten tracks. Take a detour through the non-touristic Bog Road and get a charge out of the Twelve Bens spectacle.

Follow with the giddy Sky Road and stop at the vantage point to admire the scenery. Stretch your legs and visit the ruins of Victorian Gothic Clifden Castle. Then, head to the flawless Kylemore Abbey, or discover Tullycross thatched cottages. 

If ancient architecture is not your thing, you can either follow the coast to Lettergesh or hike Diamond Hill (2.5 to 3 hours to the top). Your next halt will lead you to Killary Fjord, one of the three glaciers in Ireland. Take a boat tour (from April to October) and enjoy some local mussels or simply appreciate the outlines from the mainland. 

Last but not least, the Inagh Valley hides flocks of Connemara ponies and offers some of the most scenic rides in the world.  

Note: As it is a hooped road, you can actually choose to begin your trip from anywhere around. If time allows Lake Corrib (the biggest lake of the Republic), Ashford Castle and the 15th century Ross Errilly Friary are also nearby.

11. Tour Kylemore Abbey

image of Kylemore Abbey

You can easily spend several days touring the 60km² (15,000 acres) of Kylemore Abbey’s property.

Before becoming a Benedictine nun sanctuary in 1920, the building was primarily a castle built by Mitchell Henry to his wife, Margaret. The newlyweds fell in love with the region when celebrating their honeymoon.

The Duke and Duchess of Manchester then purchased the grounds, as the initial couple had to go back to England.

Few years after its acquisition, gambling liabilities led them to sell it as well, this time to the religious women. The latter, fleeing Ypres (in Belgium) after World War I bombing, found refuge in the nunnery for 90 years until its definite closure in 2010. 

Your ticket will give you access to:

  • A self-guided tour brochure in 9 languages
  • The ground floor
  • the mausoleum where the original owners are buried
  • the 19th-century Gothic church (and ceremonies when programmed) 
  • the shuttle bus that leads to the Victorian Walled Garden (inclusive of a guided visit from June to August)
  • Lakeshore and woodlands walk
  • The daily 20-minute history talks, at 11:30 AM/ 1:00 PM & 3:00 PM

Note: Open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (late in summer). Private Tours are also available (charges apply). If you like fishing, angling is possible from February to September at the fishery. 

12. Tour Ashford Castle

image of ashford castle

If you plan to visit the grounds surrounding the castle, then access will be granted in exchange for a €15 fee (per adult, €5 per child). However, your ticket will not allow access to the interior of the magnificent estate. 

13. Have A Pint at Seán’s Bar In Athlone – World’s Oldest Bar

image of sean's bar

No trip to Ireland can be complete without seeing it’s famous pubs. Located on the banks of River Shannon in Athlone (Átha Luain: “the Ford of Luain”), Luain’s Inn, today “Seán’s,” opened in AD 900. Despite the investigations, no older bar or pub has been found in the world yet. The structure, initially made of wicker and wattle, surely deserves its unofficial title. 

As in old times, sawdust covers the black and white squares that make the floor. Historical artifacts and archives coat the walls. Most of the days, musicians perform traditional acoustic, ballads and Irish folklore.

Head to the wooden bar, order a pint (or their famous Irish coffee) and sit by the antique fireplace. The only watchword being “Sláinte,” it is time to raise your glass!

Note: Opened Monday to Saturday from 10:30 AM till late, Sunday from 12:30 PM till 11:30 PM

14. Swim in “Forty Foot” in County Dublin 

image of Forty Foot

Forty Foot is an iconic promontory where people have been swimming for 2.5 centuries. Initially, it was a gentlemen’s swimming club that turned into a nudist spot. This union also had the mission to preserve the area. In the ’70s, a crowd of women equal-rights militants jumped into the waters and changed the course of history. Since then, everyone from every age can enjoy the healthy benefits of Forty Foot freezing waters. Nowadays opened to all, the social organization still exists and carries its first conservation duty.   

Do not expect to jump from forty feet (12 meters) in what was defined by Buck Mulligan (Ulysses character) as “The Scrotumtightening Sea”. No one actually knows where the name ‘Forty Foot’ comes from. What is sure though, is that people dip in from January 1st to December 31st. Would you dare join them and brave the frosty aqua of Dublin Bay?

Note: Minimum temperature: 7.8° in February and max 15.8° in August. No one will judge you if you decide to wear a swimsuit.

15. Titanic Experience in Cobh 

image of cobh

Previously known as Queenstown (a tribute to Queen Victoria who visited), Cobh was the last stop of the RMS Titanic before her departure towards New York.

The museum recounts the story of the last 123 passengers who embarked on the liner on April 11th, 1912. For your 30-minute guided tour, you will incarnate one of those last voyagers.

You will also discover the travel conditions of both first and third class passengers until the plight. The interactive videos will give you details on the proceedings, on how the RMS Carpathia saved over 700 people) and much more. 

In the end, you will discover the fate of the passenger you were personifying (alongside the 122 others). Have you survived the nightmare that took the lives of over 1,500 people?

Note: Open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

16. Visit Kilkenny (Castle, Shops along The Canal) 

image of a shop at Kilkenny

Kilkenny comes from the Irish “Cill Chainnigh,” translated as “church of Cainnech (one of the Twelve Ireland Apostles).” This medieval city hides many ancient sites such as the 13th-century St Canice’s Cathedral, the 16th-century Shee Alms House and the eminent Kilkenny Castle. 

The latter, built in the 12th-century, is a Norman-style fortress surrounded by a 20.2-hectare (50-acre) garden. For 8 centuries, only two families possessed the property: the Earls of Pembroke until 1391 and the Butler’s of Ormonde for 576 years. The last heir sold it to the Office of Public Works in order to keep the legendary grounds operative. 

After your visit, you can take the canal walk (opened to the public) until the main square, and stop for some shopping. “Kitty’s Cabin” advertises traditional sweets when “The Gift Horse” focuses on arts and collectables. “The Valley of the Roses” offers to create your own perfume. “Essaness Music Shop,” on its side, sells all type of instruments (including Bodhran beaters to Claddagh Bodhran). Many eateries, gift shops and bars are yet to be explored!

Note: Open from 9:30 AM till 4:30 PM (Feb to Oct), 5:00 PM (March) and 5:30 PM (Apr to Sept)

17. Mizen Head – County Cork – Get Your Cameras Ready

image of Mizen Head

Situated in County Cork, Mizen Head is at the highest point of Mizen Peninsula. There, you’ll find breathtaking cliffs and dramatic views over the ferocious North Atlantic Ocean. Dolphins, whales alongside many other mammals and birds are part of the seascape. 

From the carpark, a 10-minute walk is required, including stepping down the famous 99 strides. Stop by the visitor centre, and learn about the Lighthouse Keepers life, local geology and a lot more. Cross then the dizzying ‘Arched Bridge,’ before reaching the signal station, the ‘Fastnet Lighthouse’ and the meteorological facility. 

The area, also known as “Ireland’s Teardrop,” was the last part of Ireland perceived by emigrants heading to America. 

If that is not enough, other paths are leading to the bottom of the footbridge and the dramatic ‘Sea Arch.’

18. Take a Boat Trip to the Saltee Islands in Wexford

image of Saltee Islands
Photo by: AutoberlesOnline.hu

The privately-owned property combines a duo of islands together enclosing a surface area of 1.2km² (267 acres). Take a boat from Kilmore Quay and enjoy the 5-kilometer ride. This trip is the ideal choice for those seeking an authentic taste of wilderness.

Birdwatchers will find paradise in this breeding and migratory land. Gannets, puffins, razorbills and many other species found a serene shelter in this “Special Protection Area.” Grey seals also run the show in Autumn as 120 of them find refuge yearly. If you’re lucky, you might even see their pups!

You’ll also find a memorial from Michael the 1st, the deceased owner, to his mother. He swore her an oath to buy the island and become its first prince; he became the sole proprietor in 1943 and had his official coronation in 1956. 

Note: Little Saltee is not accessible as landing is too dangerous. Access to Great Saltee allowed from 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Camping is not (and will never be) allowed. There is no fee to enter the island, only the boat ride has a fare. 

19. Visit Newgrange: Brú Na Bóinne

image of newgrange

Older than the Great Pyramid of Giza (2580 BC – 2560 BC); Newgrange dates back from 3,200 B.C and is amongst the earliest sites in the world. The prehistorical ground is part of the 780-hectare (3sq miles) Brú na Bóinne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also comprises both Dowth and Knowth groups. 

Stone Age farmers built this passage tomb. They bordered it with 97 kerbstones including some decorated with magnetizing Megalithic art.  

This Neolithic monument, erected for otherworldly aspirations, offers an enchanting spectacle few days a year. On the winter solstice, dawn skylight passes through the faultlessly aligned ‘roof box,’ and highlights the 19-meter (62 feet) corridor including the ancestral bones. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines this Boyne Valley land as “the largest and most important expression of prehistoric megalithic plastic art in Europe”.

Note: Opening hours vary throughout the year. It generally opens from 9:00/9:30 AM to 3:00/5:00 PM

Only 60 people can enter Newgrange at the time of the phenomenon. Brú Na Bóinne Visitor Centre makes a random selection each September to pick the lucky ones. Please contact them for further information. 

20. Killarney National Park

image of Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is the ideal spot for those seeking for both a natural and sporting venture. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has a surface area of 103 km2 (over 25,000 acres) and can be explored through one or multiple day trips (if time allows). Hiking, walking, jaunting car and boating are possible, but biking is the most popular way to discover the craggy area.

Wildlife includes the only red deer herd remaining mainland, the horseshoe bat and, over a dozen bird species. The environment also presents incredible sceneries over MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland.

Six kilometres (3.7 miles) from town is the 17th-century Muckross House and its 19th-century Gardens. In 1932, it became the first national park of the country. It offers outlooks over the lake, a selection of craft shops and 1930’s traditional farms.

Torc Waterfall, located 7km (4.3 miles) from township and 2.5km (1.55 mile) from Muckross, has a height of 20 meters (65.6 feet). Once there, you will find some steps leading to excellent views over Middle Lake (aka Muckross Lake).

The 15th-century Ross Castle, built at the edge of Lough Leane, is 3km (1.86 miles) away from the municipality. Legends say that his first owner, O’Donoghue Mór, reappears every 7 years on May 1st. If you have the chance to see him, expect an everlasting good fortune.

Finally, Ladies Views, situated 19km (12 miles) from Killarney, is a vantage point of the Ring of Kerry road. The name of the viewpoint originates from Queen Victoria’s “ladies-in-waiting,” who were hypnotized by the panorama, during their visit in 1861. The vista is so exhilarating that it became one of the most photographed spots in Ireland, and also a highly recommended things to do in Ireland.

Note: Killarney town has plenty of operators proposing bicycle hire from €15 (hybrids) to €35 (road or electric). 

21. Guinness Storehouse

image of Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse’s inauguration took place on November 2000. The attraction celebrated its first 20 million guests on April 25, 2019. The initial purpose of the building, erected in 1902, was to serve as a fermentation plant for St. James’s Gate Brewery (now relocated near River Liffey). 

During your 7-floor tour, you will first uncover the 4 ingredients that make the “Black Stuff” before discovering how passion can make history. Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease in 1759; today, his beer is sold in over 150 countries.

‘The Fountain of Truth’ will require your olfaction sense as you pass the sleek aroma room. ‘The Velvet Room’ will make you travel back in time while experiencing a multisensory tasting. The advertising space, on its side, exhibits the creative side of the brand. 

Awaken your palate by tasting the complimentary brew in the ‘Guinness Academy’, through the ‘Connoisseur Experience’ or, in the ‘Gravity Bar.’ 

The Guinness storehouse is one of the very first things to do in Ireland.

22. Dublin Whiskey Distillery Tours

image of Dublin Whiskey Distillery

If you are a whiskey aficionado, then touring the five distilleries in Dublin is a must see experience when in Ireland. Through your tours, you will uncover the distilleries’ secrets behind milling (grinding the dried malt into grist), mashing (hot water is added until reaching the ‘strike point’ and create wort), fermentation (liquid is moved to washbacks and yeast is added) and distillation (heating multiple times to set apart the substances of the components). 

Teeling Whiskey Distillery is both a modern and traditional distillery. ‘Teeling Whiskey 24 Year Old’ received the title of the “World’s Best Single Malt” at the ‘2019 World’s Whiskey Award’. It is the first time in the beverage history that an Irish brand receives the prize.

During your English language tour (brochures available in various languages), all your senses will be excited. In the end, a cocktail will be served at the Bang Bang Bar.  The gorgeous top-floor bistro was named after a notorious maverick, who spent his life bringing elation and amusement to Dubliners.   

Jameson Distillery Bow St. has been producing whiskey since 1780. In the 19th-century, the company was supplying 3.8 million litres annually (1 million gallons); it was the second-largest producer worldwide.

Awarded as the “World’s Leading Distillery Tour,” visitors will go through an immersive sensorial, historical and educational experience. The 40-minute tour, in either English or French, will reveal all the anecdotes behind the most glorious Irish spirit. 

The company also offers to blend and take home your own usquebaugh. A cocktail masterclass is also available.

Located in the 1859 St James Church, Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery is probably the quirkiest and the most emblematic of its kind. The stained glass windows illustrate the drink’s making and coopering, but also the Camino de Santiago (aka St James Way) spiritual expedition. The revamped glass steeple turns blue at night, and their copper pot stills travelled all the way from Kentucky.  

You will embark on a typical storytelling tour through the production processes and the church’s graveyard ancient times (one of the oldest and largest in Dublin). At the end of your visit, you will taste a trio of Pearse poteen. 

PLW Distillery also suggests their “Art of Whiskey Distilling Experience.” This package includes tasting, private tour, food & whiskey pairing, making your own blend and a post-drink.

Inspired by storytellers, scoundrels, and insurgents, Dublin Liberties Distillery is one of the youngest. It opened its doors in February 2019 in a 400-year-old building. The latter used to grind flour before turning into a tannery and becoming today’s poitin producers. 

Darryl McNally, award whiskey master, is at the strain of the crafted fabrication. Discover the history of the rebellious Liberties, taste the handmade concoctions and learn innovative creation methods. 

Roe and Co Distillery is a resurrection of Thomas Street Distillery. It was once the top producer worldwide (before Jameson) with a yearly output of 7.6 million litres (2 million gallons). Recently renovated by DIAGEO, its inauguration occurred on June 2019. The tour will lead you to Room 106, named after the number of times it took to elaborate the flawless blend, where you will receive a tasting course. The Flavors Workshop is set to explain to you the principle of the five basic tastes. In the end, your complimentary cocktail, made by some of the best bartenders in the world, will be served in a 1920’s atmosphere.

23. Have a Beach Day: Kilkee  /Keem Bay / Inch Beach/ Coummenole Beach

picture of kilkee ireland beach

Surrounded by a coastline of over 3,000 kilometres, Ireland rewards with a countless number of wild and heart-stopping beaches. Your Ireland experience cannot be complete without a day by the sandy waterfront. To give you a taste of what to expect, we selected the three following beaches:

Made famous by ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ in the 70’s, Coummenole Beach is cut from the rest of the world. Located on the Dingle Peninsula, it is a haven of peace made of raw wilderness. An ideal spot for surfers and those searching for a remote (yet a little popular in summer times) spot. Enjoy a picnic with views over the Blasket Islands, and, if you feel bold, brave the cold water of the North Atlantic Ocean.

On the same peninsula, you will find the astonishing Inch Beach, where another part of ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ was filmed (alongside other movies such as ‘Excalibur’ and ‘Far & Away’). This 5-kilometre strand, separating Castlemaine harbour from Dingle Bay, is a supreme locus for watersport adrenaline junkies (Kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurf). Gliding is another thrilling activity available onsite. Otherwise, walking along the beach is great enough to keep you busy for a whole afternoon. While you are there, wait for sunset, it is simply stunning. 

Moving up to Achill Island is Keem Bay. When thinking of a paradise beach, most minds tend to picture a tropical island. The Blue Flag beach of Keem Bay is everything you dream about less the aqua temperature! It offers turquoise water, raw surroundings, horseshoe shape and, thin light golden sand. The area used to be a basking shark fishery, and it is not rare to detect the mammal. Harmless to humans, you can try your luck by following the snorkelling Blueway Trail. Otherwise, a hike along the cliff offers an exceptional vantage point over the seascape. 

For more beaches, check out our Best Beaches in Ireland article

24. Visit The Ancient Fishing Town Of “Howth”

image of Howth

Accessible by bus, train or car from Dublin, the fishing village of Howth bustles with activities, ancient sites and fantastic eateries. Its name first appeared in 819 but graves such as ‘Aideen Portal Tomb’ witness of human presence since Megalithic times. 

Walking is the best way to discover the area surrounded by peaks, marsh and a ravishing seascape. Both the 12-kilometre (about 7.5 miles) ‘Bog of the Frogs’ and the 6-kilometre (over 3.7 miles) ‘Cliff Path’ (easy) loops will embark you along the clifftops, Doldrum Bay and Red Rock. Your effort, rewarded with vistas over both Lambay Island and Ireland Eye, will lead you to paths only wayfarer can access.

Other trails include the 7-kilometre (over 4.3 miles) ‘Tramline Loop’ and the 8-kilometre (about 5 miles) ‘Black Linn Loop.’

If you are in the mood for strolling while uncovering old architecture, you’re also in the right place.

The isolated Howth Harbor Lighthouse, constructed in 1667, is an iconic Irish landmark that symbolizes adventurous escapes, independence and homecoming. Used as a defensive structure, it was where Erskine Childers landed weapons, to help free Ireland from British occupation. The edifice, which can only be seen from outside, was judged obsolete as its beacon was not efficiently operational in foggy weather. In 1817, the 41-meter (134.5 feet) Baily Lighthouse replaced the pharos. 

Other historical points of interest include the 1235 Howth Castle, the ‘Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio,’ the Martello Tower as well as the remains of St. Mary’s Church and its graveyard. 

A tour of Howth would not be complete without tasting the fresh local fish. Luckily, over a dozen eating houses, for all budgets, line up on the harbour. The most popular ones include Beshoffs, the Octopussy’s, Crabby Jo’s and The Brass Monkey.

Note: If you happen to be in Howth during a weekend, you should definitely check out the market.

25. Enjoy The Live Music And Fantastic Food In Galway’s Latin Quarter

image of Galway’s Latin Quarter
Photo by: Ekim Hizzle

Described by visitors as “the most beautiful part of Galway,” the Latin Quarter is a community of modern merchants, selling all types of goods and experiences. Culture is at the core of the neighbourhood; it is celebrated at the ‘Pálás’ alongside both the ‘Druid’ and ‘Mick Lane’ theatres.’

Strolling the area will also reward you with a multisensory experience. Mainly held by family businesses, the sector is an open exhibition of handcrafted artifacts, traditional objects and jewelery. The passion behind each piece makes your eyes go all over the place.

The sound of busker’ music awakens your hearing when the smell of divine food excites your taste buds. If hunger calls (how could it not?), there are over 30 diners around. Chophouse, Pizza, Gastropub, bistro, Japanese, Indian, Mexican: name it, you’ll have it!

Alehouses such as ‘The Dáil Bar’ and ‘Tigh Neachtain’ offer great craic as well as live music. So you better halt for a pint!

26. Blarney Castle – Kiss The Blarney Stone For The Gift Of Gab

image of blarney castle

Kissing the Blarney Stone is one of the top things to do in Ireland. The Blarney Castle (in its current structure) is a middle-age bastion dating back from 1446. Each angle of the medieval remains will change the way you regard it. From one perspective, it looks more belligerent. From another, it is what Jonathan Swift would qualify as “Brobdingnagian.” 

Discover the family room and follow the arrow up to the famous Blarney Stone, by the fortress’s machicolations. According to the myth (and millions of pilgrims): “Whoever kisses the Blarney Stone is gifted with eloquence and persuasiveness.” To earn the gift of gab, you will have to lean rearwards, head suspended with hands holding iron bars, and kiss the wall.

The parkland’s surface area, on its side, exceeds the 24 hectares (exactly 60 acres). The land grants with various walks (from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours) by the lake, the riverside or the woodlands. It also exhibits eight types of gardens, such as the ‘Poison Garden’ or the ‘Himalayan Walk.”

Rock Close, the 1874 Scottish Mansion, the Witch’s Stone and many other monuments of Blarney’s heritage also await your visit. 

27. Titanic Belfast

image of Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast is located on the Harland & Wolff’s initial dockyard, also known as “the Titanic Quarter.”  Fifteen times awarded, it is the world’s largest experience of its kind. The passenger liner, built-in Belfast, was the biggest ship until her sinking, provoked by the collision with an iceberg. The tourist attraction not only features her memoirs but also brings her back to life.  

Uncover the legends by either booking a tour or by yourself. The 6-floor building is a work of contemporary art. Stroll through the nine interactive galleries; find out each detail from its creation to her dramatic ending. Many artefacts, such as “The Last Luncheon Menu” or “Lord Pirrie’s Watch” (Chairman of Harland & Wolff), are on display as well.

Head then to the original ‘Hamilton Dry Dock’ and, enter the world of the 1911 refreshed SS Nomadic Cherbourg, the only White Star Line vessel remaining today. You will submerge yourself with the stories of the passengers and acquire knowledge on this unique piece of history. Before leaving, do not skip the Captain’s cabin, and dare a romantic “Jack & Rose” shot by the prow. 

Other things to do include the ‘Wee Tram,’ the ‘Titanic’s Dock and Pump House,’ WWI battleship HMS Caroline, and (if budget allows) a nautical night at ‘Titanic Hotel.’

Note: Opening times depend on the expected crowd. Check the official website for more info.

28. Enjoy a Dinner that Takes You Back in Time

image of Bunratty Castle

In 1425, the McNamara clan established Bunratty Castle by the Raite (Ratty) River. In 1475, the Earl of Thomond, and the O’Brien Clan became the new owners. Today it is the most thorough royal fortification in Ireland.

You will find an authentic collection of artefacts including old portraits, a small canon, wine barrels donations, and much more. Most of which were bestowed by the generous Lord and Lady Gort. 

10.5 hectares (26 acres) encompass the tower house. Travel back to another section of the grounds timeline, and discover the reconstructed 19th-century Folk Park. The area displays a self-sufficient Irish rural life amid its transition to a money-oriented one. 

Since 1963, a singular occurrence takes place within the fortress. Like 3 million people before you, have an uncommon dinner and attend the medieval banquet. The Earl of Thomond was a great host and a renowned entertainer.

As his guests in the past, you will be received by his butler, and greeted by the piper’s melody. You will then enjoy a sip of Mead while listening to a madrigal, before the Earl’s (and his lady’s) coronation takes place.

Your 4-course menu will be served on oak tables and wooden benches; candlelight, harp and fiddle will both accompany your feast and stress the atmosphere. The feudal break will come to an end after the 35-minute traditional show.

While there, do not miss the Bunratty House and the walled garden. 

Note: Dinners are held twice a night (5:30 PM and 8:45 PM) and last 2.5 hours. 

29. Temple Bar

image of temple bar

Going to Dublin without visiting the colourful Temple Bar is like going to Sydney and missing the Opera House (yes that much!), it is merely inconceivable. Surrounded by the most significant sites in the city and based on the banks of River Liffey, its cobbled streets are bustling with life. This area, famous for its pubs and nightlife, is also an important cultural centre.

During the day, you can take a tour at the 18th-century Leinster House (also known as the House of the Oireachtas/Parliament), Dublin Castle and see both the Ha’Penny and Millenium Bridges. Other points of interest include the enlightening: ‘Irish Film Institute,’ ‘Meeting House Square,’ ‘Project Arts Centre,’ ‘National Photo Archives,’ and ‘Jam Art Factory’. Street art, on its side, combines countless numbers of stunning graffiti and the melody of Grafton buskers. 

Over a dozen of alehouses also open their door, including the award-winning ‘Brazen Head’ (the oldest pub [not bar] in the country) and the legendary 160-year-old ‘Temple Bar’ pub. Storytelling, live music and craic are up until late at night.

If you happen to be in the neighbourhood during market days:  check out the Temple Bar farmer’s market and the Ha’Penny flea market.

30. Day Trip To Northern Ireland: Dunluce Castle / Dark Hedges / Carrick-A-Rede

From Dublin, various tour companies offer day trips to Dunluce Castle, the Dark Hedges and Carrick-a-Rede (sometimes it also includes Giant Causeway).

You can also DIY your trip by taking public buses, but it will take much longer than the 3-hour drive. The last option would be to transit in Belfast and hire a car directly from there. 

Dunluce Castle 

image of Dunluce Castle

This dramatic late middle-age fortress, encompassed by steep declines into the ocean, was first erected in the 15th/16th-century. The McQuillans (first owners) surrendered, and the castle became the property of both the “Clan MacDonald of Scotland” and the “Clan MacDonnell of Antrim.” 

Partially destroyed by a storm in the 17th-century, the remains, secluded on a volcanic cliff, hide another secret: a 1,500-year-old passage has recently been unveiled. Nearby the bridge leading to the fort, archaeologists also discovered a 17th-century underground town. Most of it has yet to be extracted though. Finally, yet importantly, 25 metres beneath the bastion lies the enchanting Mermaid’s Cave (accessible through adjacent green stairs).

Dark Hedges

image of The Dark Hedges

Despite the loss of 70 of the 150 beech trees, the Dark Hedges Avenue stays one of the most photographed locations in Northern Ireland. James Stuart planted the seedlings in the 18th-century and, they grew intertwining each other gracefully. Legend tells that a spectre drifts from one tree to another and that, on Samhain twilight, other spirits join the roving ghost. If you are a fan of Game of Throne, remember, you are stepping on “Kings Road.”


image of carrick-a-rede

The 20-meter (65.6 feet) rope bridge of Carrick-a-Rede was primarily raised by fishermen, to assist them in their North Atlantic Salmon hunt, 350 years ago. This National Trust attraction, replaced in 2008, hangs above 30 meters (98.4 feet).

Despite being one of the most renowned spots in Northern Ireland, this experience is not for the faint-hearted. (various visitors unable to cross back had to be picked up by a boat).

When crossing, you will catch a glimpse of the wave crashing and twirling underneath your feet. The wood will crack as you progress but don’t panic! Instead, focus on the views of Rathlin Island that await you on the other side.

To access the site, either walk from the carpark or take the 1.6-kilometre (1 mile) trail from Harbour Road.

31. Achill Island

image of Achill Island

With a surface area of 148 km2 (57 sq. mi), Achill is Ireland’s largest island. You already know that Keem Bay is an indispensable locus to explore, but that’s not all!

Part of the Atlantic Drive, the isle is accessible by car through Michael Davitt bridge. The ride starts at Achill Sound and will lead you to the ruins of the 16th-century Grace O’Malley’s House Tower (aka Kildavnet tower), its church and cemetery.

On your way, stop in Dooagh and pay tribute to Don Allum, the first man who rowed the Atlantic (roundtrip). Most of the route follows the coast and offers breathtaking sceneries on Ashleem Bay Rocky Cove, Trawmore Strand and Keel Lake.

At least 13 routes, from 4.5 km (2.8 miles) to 18.5 km (11.5 miles), are available for hikers. Mt Croaghaun, goes up to 688-meter (2,257 feet) and displays the highest sea cliffs in Western Europe. 

Annagh bay (marked as “Annagh Strand” on Maps.me and “Achill Island Secret Beach” on Google Maps) is a sandy beach, located between Lough Nakeeroge and the ocean. On arrival, the views over the corrie lake are heart-stopping. Many do NOT find the spot, so make sure to research the trail prior departure.

Another climb to the 671-meter Slievemore Mount starts at the ‘Deserted Village’ of the same name. The latter, populated from time to time since the Megalithic era (tomb onsite), is a rare example of a “booley” hamlet (seasonal settlement).

During the Irish Famine, the rents increased, the soil became unfruitful, and many emigrated.  It was completely abandoned in the mid-19th-century. Today, 80 to 100 cottages ruins are still visible. 

The sea salt visitor centre, the Church of Mary Immaculate, Achill Mission Colony, and St Thomas’ Church are also worth a visit. You can even surf, scuba dive, cycle and kayak all over the island.

32. Malahide Castle And Gardens

image of Malahide Castle And Gardens

Despite the Cromwell 11 years’ annexation and the Battle of Boyne (14 members of the family were killed in the Great Hall), Malahide Castle was home to the Talbot family for over 780 years. The land, used as an airship during World War I, has a surface area of 1.km² (260 acres).

In 1185, Richard Talbots received the grounds from King Henry II as an acknowledgment for his services to the Queen. In 1976, the last heir, Rose Talbot, had to sell it to the Irish State due to the amount of taxes and lack of funding. 

Today, visitors can discover the daily life of the Irish aristocracy and learn endless stories about their ancestral residents. Portraits, antique furniture, artwork, the confidante sofa, reproductions of Raphael’s frescoes and much more, testify the timeline wealth of the elite. 

If you are fortunate, you might meet (or hear) the heartbroken Puck or “The Lady in White,” two of the multiple ghosts haunting the fortress.  

The parkland, on its side, has over 5,000 different varieties of plants. It hides the only butterfly house in the country alongside a fascinating ‘Kitchen Garden.’ Lastly, the ‘West Lawn’ shelters uncommon species of tree such as the Chinese Ginkgo. It also encloses a magical 1.8km ‘Fairy Trail’ that both kids and parents will enjoy.  

Note: You can either visit by yourself, book a private tour or use audio-guides (available in 6 languages). Tickets include either the entire estate, the gardens exclusively or the ‘Fairy Trail’ only. 

Note: Open from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (November to March) and 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM (April to October)

33. Take a Tour at the Historic Charles Fort

image of Charles Fort
Photo by: Round The World Travelers

In Kinsale Harbor, and overlooking Old Head, prevails an incredible 17th-century star-shaped military system. Based at Bandon river mouth and facing James Fort, “Dún Chathail”, known as Charles Fort, was designed to protect against any attacks coming from the sea.

The 10-hectare (24.7 acres) bastion, secured by canons, had a significant vulnerability: its inland safety was unreliable. During the Williamite War, in 1690, John Churchill sieged the “trace italienne” for 13 days until full capitulation. 

The citadel turned into infantry barracks and lodged over 450 English soldiers. The land was given back to Eire after the signing of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, but a civil war between anti and pro-treaty broke out. The opponents of the agreement expressed their animosity by setting the buildings on fire. Restorations took place 52 years later when the stronghold became an official National Monument. Ironic fact: the last dwellers of Charles Fort were fervent hippies.

Your ticket includes the visitor centre audio-visual exhibitions (antes the general headquarter) and an hour free-guided tour (not compulsory)

Note: Open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Mid-March to October), close at 5:00 PM the rest of the year. If you plan on walking every corner of the site, don’t forget to wear proper shoes. 

34. Rock Of Cashel

image of Rock Of Cashel

Also known as either ‘St Patrick’s Rock’ or ‘The Cashel of the Kings’, the Rock of Cashel raises at the very top of an exclusive limestone. Set on both a Celtic and Medieval site, the sedimentary rock was initially based (according to legends) on the Devil’s Bit Mountain, located at a distance of 30 km (18.6 miles).

Its apparition occurred after St Patrick expelled Lucifer from his cave. Furious, the latter severed a piece but could not hold it as one of his teeth was broken. It fell on what was the long-established seat of the High Kings of Munster. 

The saint not only chased the devil but also converted Aenghus in the 5th-century. The iconic spot, donated to the Church in the 12th-century, displays the 1134 Romanesque Cormac’s Chapel, a 28-metre round tower made of dry stones, a High Cross, a roofless Gothic cathedral, the renovated 15th-century Hall of the Vicars Choral and an enthralling graveyard.

Today, the holy location is the most visited historical site in Ireland.

35. Hike Slieve League Cliff

Picture of Slieve League Cliff

Slieve League Cliff, also known as Sliabh Liag, is one of Ireland’s best-kept secret. These sea rock faces, located in County Donegal, are the second-highest in Ireland (right after Croaghaun) and among the most elevated ones in Europe. Donegal is one of the most undomesticated areas in the country and was rated “the coolest place in Ireland” by National Geographic Traveller.

There are two paths to reach the top of the cliff:

  • The Pilgrim’s path is a 2.5-hour walk (round way) and starts in Teelin.
  • Bunglass Viewpoint path is an easy 20 minutes climb.

36. Surf one of the Longest Waves in Europe

image of Inch Strand
Photo by: Christo

Inch Strand in County Kerry is glorious for being the “place where an inch is actually three miles long”. Both experienced, and neophyte surfers will appreciate the swell and the peace of winter. National Geographic added the beach to the magazine’s list of “Ireland’s most picture-perfect spot”.

Famous for being the place of several movie sets (such as “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Playboy of the Western World”) and due to its dream location (near the rightly praised Dingle and surrounded by dunes), the beach tends to be a little too popular in summer.

37. Kayak the Killary Fjord

image of Kayak
Photo by: Claire Campbell

Shaped up by glaciers millions of years ago, Killary Harbour, situated in Galway, is Ireland one and the only fjord.

Hire a Kayak and relish the picturesque views surrounding this narrow inlet. The North allows breath-taking vistas on the sharp-peaked Twelve Bens’ Mountain Range when the South awards a panorama of the Mweelrea and Maumturk Mountains. The fauna will dazzle birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Otters, dolphins and hundreds of feathered friends populate and breed in this area.

The fresh razor and surf clams, blue mussels and oysters will delight the taste buds and palate of shellfish addicts. You can also go on a crustacean tour to understand the daily tasks of a thriving culture.

38. Stargaze in Ireland’s First Dark-Sky Reserve

Picture of Stargaze in Ireland

Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve is the only one of its kind in Ireland. You will not need any gear to identify and distinguish the constellations, as this protected area does not show any sign of light pollution.

On a cloudless and moonless night (new moon), your naked eye will observe the Milky Way, the Nebulas, the different Clusters and so much more. You can also hire a professional astronomer to broaden your knowledge of the star system and galaxies.

Note that this 700 square kilometres sector replete with wildlife and attractions, villages and hotels, pubs and delectable food.

39. Cycle the Great Western Greenway

image of Cycle the Great Western Greenway
Photo by: Sean Calvey

The Great Western Greenway is a 42kms ride alongside an old railway coastal route. The trail starts and ends in County Mayo, from Westport Town to Achill Island. It is the longest off-road track in the country. You can either do it in one go or stop in the two towns on the way: Newport and Mulranny.

According to the EEA, European Environment Agency, Newport has two of the most exceptional freshwater fishing spots in Europe: Lough Betra and Newport River. Mulranny on its side hides a Salt Marsh with “Sea Pink Flowers”, orchids and lavender.

40. Scuba Dive in the Dingle Peninsula

Picture of Scuba Dive in the Dingle Peninsula

The Northern side of the Dingle Peninsula has been described as “some of the best diving in the world” and as “an exceptional beauty” by the most prestigious aquatic and sports masters such as Commandant Cousteau, National Geographic journalists, and RedBull.

This treasure-trove includes immaculate reefs and colourful corals, friendly dolphins and hulking whales but is also acclaimed for being one of the top ones in Europe to shipwreck dive.

Not only is the marine life incredible but also the scenery above the surface as The Brandon Mountain, pristine beaches and magnetizing vistas surround the area.

41. Meet the “Fratercula Arctica”

Picture of Fratercula Arctica

This Irish seabird is better known as the “Atlantic Puffin”. It was named “Fratercula Arctica” (little brother of the North) in the 19th century, due to its black and white feathers looking like a monastic robe.

You can spot them during their breeding season, from March to September, all along the Irish West coast. The Cliff of Moher, the Skelligs Islands and Horn Head are three great locations to encounter this adorable but fierce hunter.  To see them nesting in colonies though, it is only from April to the early days of August.

42. Cahersiveen, the Blend of Nature and History

image of Cahersiveen

Cahersiveen, in County Kerry, is the perfect combination of natural beauty and historical sites. The countless possibilities will not disappoint sports and outdoor lovers. Horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, sailing, windsurfing and cycling are part of the very long activity menu.

History and archaeology fans can rest assured, Cahersiveen will provide. Two stone forts, a 15th-century castle, the Old Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks, Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church and more is at your disposition.

With comfortable accommodations and a wide range of eateries, the town overlooking Valentia Harbour is undoubtedly a welcoming place for everyone.

43. The Unspoiled Lost Valley

Picture of The Unspoiled Lost Valley

When the European Habitats Directive calls a place an “Area of Special Scenic Importance”, expectations are high. The Lost Valley lives up to its reputation with its fantastic scenery.

Located in County Mayo, west of Ireland, the untouched beaches, the slopes of Mweelrea Mountains and waterfalls are all part of this sublime picture. Ireland’s only fjord can be seen from the valley as well.

The area has been empty for two centuries as the Great Famine caused the eviction of the villagers. Their heritage can still be seen today, as their cabins and fields have not been touched.

The 3 hours walking tour is the best way to discover this pristine land’s highlights, while guides explain all about the History and facts during this “cultural adventure”.

44. Mannin Bay Blueway

image of Mannin Bay Blueway
Photo by: Luc ROGER Photographies

A real gem for water-based activity and beach lovers. Near Galway, anyone will be astonished by all the shades of blue, the white sand, rock pools, and water trails.

One can enjoy kayaking around a small island and along the rocky shore, or discovering sea life while snorkeling in the natural pools.
Equipment rental is available onsite and booking in advance is strongly advised.

If you do not feel like swimming, hiking is a great alternative to enjoy the natural beauty of the bay.

45. The Great Sugarloaf

image of The Great Sugarloaf
Photo by: Declan Goulding

This conical-shaped mountain is a real icon, standing just outside Dublin. With 500m of altitude, it can be climbed by all fitness level in about an hour via the Sugarloaf Trail. Suitable footwear is recommended, as it gets steeper and rocky towards the top. From up there, a fantastic view over Dublin and Wicklow can be enjoyed while having a picnic.

For the early birds, this is a great sunrise viewing point.

46. A 4,000-Year-Old Sport

Picture of 4,000-Year-Old Sport - Hurling

Which Irish sport has been played for 4,000 years, has players carrying a wooden stick, and is practiced all around the world? That’s right, Hurling. Nowadays, it is one of Ireland’s most popular sports, with Gaelic football and Rugby.

If you visit Dublin on the 3rd Sunday of August, you can witness the final of the All-Ireland Senior Championship, one of Ireland’s key sporting event.

47. Dunquin Harbor: “One of the Most Picturesque”

image of Dunquin Harbor
Photo by: Stefano Valeri

Located along the unmissable coastal Slea Head Drive, lies the village of Dunquin, home to the picturesque Dunquin Harbour and The Sheep Highway. The port connects the mainland to the Blasket Island, uninhabited since 1953 due to an evacuation after extreme weather recurrences.

Only the sheep remained on the island. They are occasionally brought to the mainland to eat the abundant grass around Dunquin —which gave the narrow path up from the pier the nickname of The Sheep Highway.

The scenic haven with its dramatic landscape is one of Ireland’s most photographed place.

48. Go to the Top of Hook Lighthouse

image of Hook Lighthouse
Photo by: Europe Wandering

The Hook Lighthouse, in Wexford, Ireland is the oldest functioning and flawless lighthouse in the world. Located on the eastern side of Waterford Harbour, the current building, built by Knight William Marshal, dates back to the 12th century.

Amazingly, it is possible to climb the 115 steps all the way up the lighthouse. From the top, visitors can enjoy the endless sea view.

Guided tours are available to head back in time and learn about the life of a lightkeeper and Ireland’s Ancient East.  You can also have lunch within the erstwhile keeper’s house.

49. Cliff of Moher, the Mother of Cliffs

image of Cliff of Moher

Undeniably one of the most visited places in Ireland, with well over a million tourists every year. The reason lies within the 14km long and 200m high, jaw-dropping vertical cliffs descending straight into the Atlantic Ocean.

To fully value the wilderness of the dramatic Irish coastline, there is a hiking trail all along the cliffs. To beat the crowd, it is advised to head there in the early morning or late afternoon.

The cliffs are a major stopover of the famous tourist trail “Wild Atlantic Way”, 2500km of coastline splendour making it one of the top things to do in Ireland.

50. Powerscourt, Ireland’s Highest Waterfall

Picture of Powerscourt Waterfall

There is no shortage of cascades in Ireland. However, if you had to pick one, it would probably be the tallest. Powerscourt is a 121m high waterfall, located at Wicklow Mountains’ foothill.

The area is a great getaway, just 35 minutes from Dublin centre. Picnics and barbecues can be savoured in the family and kids friendly natural attraction. Surrounded by various species of tree, such as Oak, Larch and Beech, visitors might have the chance to spot endemic wildlife. Pathways meander through the parkland to enjoy nature from up-close.

51. Take Ireland’s Unique Cable Car

image of Ireland’s Unique Cable Car
Photo by: Harriet Browne

Can you hold your breath for 8 minutes? Well, that might actually happen if you take the intimidating Dursey Cable Car. Ireland’s only cable car is also the single one in Europe crossing open seawater.

Initially designed to carry sheep, it traverses the Dursey Sound all the way to Dursey Island, offering spectacular views of the water, shores and the island from up top.

On the other side of the 150 meters-wide passage, visitors can wander around the barren island, but bear in mind that there are no shops on the island. It is advised to bring your own food and water.

Furthermore, the company functions on a first-come-first-serve basis.

52. The Incomparable Wonderful Barn 

image of The Incomparable Wonderful Barn
Photo by: Geograph.ie

What comes after a discussion about the Wonderful Barn is “I have to see this thing!”. Reaching 22 meters high and dating back to 1743, the corkscrew-shaped structure is real unconventionality.

Located on the Castletown House Estate, County Kildare, it is believed to have been used as a versatile facility for stockpiling grains, game shooting and other tasks, in case of another famine.

Though in need of some maintenance, it is delightful to roam around the area and admire the enchanting architectural presence of the Wonderful Barn.

53. Go on a Seafari 

image of seafari

If you consider that Safari means “journey” in Swahili, the term Seafari is self-explanatory. In Kenmare, County Kerry, Captain Ray from Seafari Cruises will take you on a 2-3 hours’ exploration of the tranquil bay on-board a sheltered passenger vessel.

Encompassed by spectacular landscapes, you will observe seals and various bird species from the ship.  The Captain will entertain you with stories, facts and perhaps a little Irish lesson for the luckiest.

You will find informational books about wildlife and regional attractions inboard, as well as binoculars and snacks.

On top of it, the 20-meter ship is fairly eco-friendly, minimising waves and reducing harmful substances waste. An excellent choice for families and wildlife discovery cruise.

54. Tee Off and Strike the Ball

Picture of Tee Off and Strike the Ball

With over 300 courses, it sometimes feels like Ireland was sculpted for golfers. Some of the greatest players were either born or welcomed in “the green of dreams”. The only word Tiger Woods was able to express when he saw the Old Head Golf Links’ 15th tee was “WOW”. Indeed, these world-class courses are located in magnificent locations, with views of the seas, lighthouses, green hills and cliffs.

Some of the hidden gems include:

– Adare Manor, with a castle as part of the landscape

– Royal Curragh, the oldest club in Ireland

– The seaside Galway Bay

– Ceann Sibeal next to the Three Sisters’ cliffs

– Scenic views from the Bantry Bay golf course.

55. Coasteering, Ireland’s New Obsession

image of Coasteering
Photo by: Real Adventures

This is something the fainthearted will love. Coasteering is a new type of extreme sport that is gaining a lot of traction these days. It is basically a coastline exploration which involves cliff jumping, exploring sea caves, climbing up vertical rocks, and pretty much anything else that defies any logic.

Performed with a skilled instructor, this activity often involves dramatic landscapes. It requires a reasonable level of fitness, and heights can vary depending on how adventurous you feel. Perhaps a dolphin will come to admire the show.

Looking for other things to do?

Ireland is full of amazing places to see, check out our following guides

Day Trips in Dublin Ireland

Here is our crazy guide of 266 Day Trips from Dublin.

Things To Do in Northern Ireland

Here is our guide for Things to do in Northern Ireland


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