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Top Things To Do In Ireland

By Edited Jul 8, 2014 7 10

Great Places to Visit in Ireland 

Living in Ireland presents the great opportunity to constantly explore attractions on an Island where within a few hours driving you can run out of land. Day and weekend trips can bring you to most corners of an amazingly beautiful landscape. No matter how many times I visit some places they always amaze me like I've seen them for the first time.

When friends and family come to visit they often ask for recommendations on places to go and see. Like with most countries, there are always more attractions than the average tourist can visit on one trip, so the task of prioritisation presents itself.

In this short article I want to briefly talk about some of my favourite places to visit and places I would go back to  many more times.

My Personal Favourite Attractions

1)     Cliffs of Moher

Pushing right onto the Atlantic, with the next stop being the USA, this is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. At 700 foot high (214m) they truly make you feel insignificant. An important thing to keep in mind is that even on a sunny day there will be quite strong and cold sea wind, so pack a warm jacket.

While the tourist centre is very informative you really want to be outdoors to enjoy this place. You can also do a boat tour to the bottom of the cliffs, which I haven't done, but it would certainly give another perspective of their sheer size.


Cliffs of Moher

2)     Connemara/The Burren

Situated in the very West of Ireland this is one of my personal favourites. The landscape is incredibly barren but yet visually stunning at the same time. Driving around this area, and ideally getting lost is probably the best way to explore it.

Apart from regular stops to stand in awe of the seemingly endless dry stone walls I would highly recommend going to Caherconnell Stone Fort, about 300 years old, and Poulnabrone dolmen, which is five to six thousand years old. Even on a sunny day this part of the country can be very wind swept so back a warm jacket.

A great spot to use as a base for the region is a small village called Doolin, which is located right on the coast and close to coastal drives, the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren itself.

Poulnabrone dolmen

3)     English Market

The English Market is an indoor market in the centre of Cork City. No matter what time of day you visit, the place is always bustling with activity. It has been trading as a market since the late 18th century with some of the freshest produce you could possibly get. On display you will find fresh fish, vegetables, bread and cakes, fruit from all over the world, a vast choice of butchers with a large selection of more exotic meats, poultry, cheeses and many many more things.

Do not miss the opportunity to refuel and make sure you look for O'Flynn's Gourmet Sausages. They have a stall pretty much in the centre of the market which sells the most delicious sausages freshly prepared, with a selection of different flavours.

If your apatite is dictating something more substantial you should definitely check out the Farm Gate restaurant on the upper level, which is also a great spot to just watch the world go by.

English Market

 4)     Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is probably one of the most popular tourist attractions because of its sheer beauty. This does come at a price though, as it does attract an awful lot of tourists, especially on sunny days. The ring is just over 100 miles (180km) and there is so much to see that it will take you at least a day, but I would suggest spending a couple of days in the area to not have to rush.

The panorama that presents itself at Ladies View is unforgettable and a must see; it is simply impossible to take a bad photo, even on a crowded day. Waterville and Sneem are two lovely villages to stop off, refuel and stretch the legs. Also a must see, and near Sneem is Staigue Stone Fort, an Iron Age ringfort.

If you are planning several days for the Ring of Kerry I would suggest using Kenmare or Killarney as your base. Personally I prefer Kenmare, as it isn't as big as Killarney.

Ring of Kerry

5)     Ring of Beara

Like the better know, and probably more popular, Ring of Kerry, this coastal drive goes from Glengarriff in County Cork to Kenmare in County Kerry. Passing through the fishing village of Castletownbere, Allihies and Ardgroom, it presents equally stunning views of land and seascapes as the Ring of Kerry does.

Probably the greatest advantage, and for me personally the greatest attraction, is the fact that it is not as popular with tourists and therefore a lot quieter. Especially during the busy summer months and on sunny days, floods of foreign and domestic tourists descend on such attractions.

There are many places to stop along the way, I would recommend stopping as much as possible to soak in the sheer beauty of the place. One place to definitely stop is Allihies, for a walk along a lovely sandy beach, as well as a pint in The Lighthouse bar.


Ring of Beara

6)     Copper Coast

The Copper Coast is a European Geopark in the south east of the island in County Waterford. There is an absolutely sensational coastal drive from Tramore to Dungarvan which, on a sunny day, is absolutely amazing.

The steep cliffs and rugged terrain make for many photo opportunities and I strongly suggest you get out of your car at every opportunity. There are many car parks along this stretch of winding country road, so there really is no excuse to not stop.

One great stop along the way is the recently restored Tankardstown Engine House which dates back to the mid 19th century. It is a great place to stretch out the legs and go for a walk with breathtaking views.


Copper Coast

7)     Trinity College Dublin

Dating to the 16th century this is one of the big attractions in Dublin City Center. It is a beautiful place to just walk around and enjoy the architecture and landscaping, and on a sunny just to sit down and watch young students going about heir lives.

Make sure you don't miss a visit to the Old Library which also houses the Book of Kells, a Latin transcript of the New Testament written by monks around 800 AD


Trinity College

8)     National Museum of Ireland

Essentially there are four parts to this museum, one covers the National History, another Decorative Arts , a third Country Life and a last one for Natural History; all are located in different buildings. I have only visited the national and natural history ones and these are located close to each other. 

Keep in mind that these museums are not open on Mondays for some strange reason so take this into account when planning a visit.


National Museum Ireland

9)     Giant's Causeway

Located in the very north east, this is another one of Ireland's natural attractions, which consists of 40,000 interlocking, hexagonal basalt columns. It is a truly unique feature in the land and seascape, but it is quite a bit out of the way. If you do decide to go this far to the top of the island I would also suggest the next point on my list.


Giant's Causeway

10)   Bushmills

Bushmills is a very pretty little village in Northern Ireland's County Antrim. It is quite a bit of drive to get here, but well worth it once you arrive. A tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery which offers a great tour of the facilities with the obligatory tasting involved as well.



Image Credits: LWY, alex ranaldi, mrantanas, IrishFireside, budgetplaces.com, infomatique, alex ranaldi, Jack Shainsky



Jun 2, 2012 7:20am
Great article, great info, great photos. Thumbs up!
I have been to almost all countries of Europe, but never to Ireland. One of my big mistakes in life!
Jun 2, 2012 9:29am
It's never too late, and it's a lot cheaper these days ;-)
Jun 27, 2012 11:04am
Rathlin Island is another maybe to include (for Northern Ireland) - I was there last year and it's worth a visit. G
Jun 27, 2012 3:37pm
Thanks for the tip, I'll have to put it on my list!
Jul 29, 2012 1:32pm
I could add anther dozen, living in Cork as I do ...Driving across the bog in Co Galway, Ballycotton cliffs in Co Cork, The view down into Dungarvan as you approach from Cork, The beauty of the bridge on the new Waterford bypass, my garden, You get the gist. Great article
Jul 29, 2012 1:47pm
Thanks for leaving a comment, and I agree with the places you list, there really are so many.
Jul 29, 2012 5:07pm
A very informative article! My twins are Irish and maybe some day we can take a tour of our family's of multicultural ancestry. Congrats on the feature!
Aug 26, 2012 9:06pm
Very Very nice written article and very informative!!!
Mar 18, 2015 3:47pm
Great article. And you can't beat Glendalough on a sunny day. Free to enter, beautiful and of historical interest too. Everyone takls about the West, the South West, and Dublin, but every county in Ireland has beautiful sites and attractions. Just get in a car and drive.
Apr 29, 2015 7:46pm
nice one. I like. Keep up friend
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