Best Places To Visit In Ireland
15 Best Places To Visit in Ireland
Here you’ll find the top 15 best places to go in Ireland. If you want to learn about where to visit in the country then look no further.
There are so many great places to visit in Ireland, which can make it hard to narrow down exactly which ones are worth seeing! Luckily, this list covers a multitude of destinations for all types of travellers.
I spent an entire semester abroad while studying in Dublin. During my days off and holiday time, I explored pretty much all of the country!
In Ireland, you can find breathtaking coastal routes, beautiful national parks, coastal towns with scenic cliff walks, and more. Plus, everywhere you go, you’re bound to run into locals who will make you feel right at home.
There are endless things to do in Ireland and places to visit to keep you busy for months!
Click the button at the bottom of each destination to learn more about them — including where to stay, how to get around, the budget, the best restaurants and bars, and the top things to see and do.
The capital city of Dublin is located on the eastern coast of the country and is an absolute must-see on this list of places to visit in Ireland.
Dublin is where I was based while studying in Ireland – it’s definitely one of my favourite cities in the world.
This picturesque city set against the River Liffey has a medieval history and packs a great bit of charm. Plus, the locals are extremely kind and welcoming.
Dublin is perfectly located, as a lot of other popular spots in Ireland are only a train ride away, including Belfast, Wexford, and Galway. It truly is a perfect home base if you plan on doing day trips, and exploring more of the Emerald Isle.
Dublin itself has so much to offer and has everything from The Brazen Head (the oldest pub in the country) to breweries focused on some of the country’s best beverages, like the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Storehouse.
While in Dublin, be sure to explore the Temple Bar area, relax at St. Stephen’s Green, grab a pint at The Brazen Head, and see the Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin.
This city is best explored in at least three days, but a week will allow you to fully experience everything. Even if you only have a weekend, it’s worth taking a quick trip to Dublin!
The Cultural Centre
2. GALWAY CITY
Galway City is known for being the Emerald Isle’s cultural centre and is one of the best places to see in Ireland. This city has the best live music and seafood in the whole country! Plus, Galway is home to the popular Claddagh symbol, which can be found in countless souvenir shops in Ireland.
When visiting Galway, there are so many things to see, but the best places to visit are Quay Street, Eyre Square, and the nearby beaches. It’s also a perfect location to take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, which is one of the most gorgeous natural attractions of the entire country.
This city is perfect for any kind of traveller, and though it’s a city, it’s a lot more quaint than Dublin. I visited Galway numerous times during my stay in Dublin. Galway City can easily be explored in a weekend.
The city of Galway is located on the western coast of Ireland. It’s only a ride away from the Aran Islands and Doolin and is a popular stopping point along the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. Galway City is one of the places to visit in Ireland you won’t want to miss.
Dingle is home to some of the most breathtaking areas of Ireland, though it’s best explored by car. The town of Dingle is the main hub on the peninsula of the same name and is extremely charming. Dingle hosts the fun Dingle Food Festival which is held in October every year.
Some of the top places to visit on the Dingle Peninsula include Inch Beach (which is way longer than an inch), Slea Head Drive, Clogher Strand, and Brandon Point. If you’re feeling adventurous, also check out Connor Pass, which is one of the most scenic drives in the country.
Dingle is located on the westernmost peninsula in Ireland, right on the coast. There are enough things to do there to keep you busy for a few days, but if you plan on exploring the rest of the peninsula, give yourself three to five days.
This part of Ireland is perfect for any type of traveller, but especially those who love getting outdoors and going on adventures. The Dingle Peninsula is mainly filled with attractions that are natural and shows the country’s pure beauty! Find the best places to stay in Dingle and start planning your trip.
4. ARAN ISLANDS
To take a step back into Ireland’s past, you’ll want to visit the famed Aran Islands. Three different islands make it up: Inishmaan, Inisheer, and Inishmore. Inishmore is the biggest island of the three.
The Aran Islands aren’t like “normal” islands, as they are most well-known for their large acres of green space, great views, ruins, and tranquillity and closeness to nature. Plus, the islands are a Gaeltacht, which means that the majority of people here speak Irish Gaelic as their main language.
For anyone looking for a truly authentic and traditional Irish experience, the Aran Islands are one of the best places to visit in the country.
Some of the top spots to explore on the Aran Islands include Kilmurvey Beach, the Seven Churches, Plassey Shipwreck, and the Wormhole, which is considered to be a hidden gem. One of the most fun and easy ways to get around each island is to rent a bike.
To reach the Aran Islands, you will have to take a ferry from Rossaveel, which is a short drive or bus ride from Galway City. Two days is the perfect amount of time here. The islands are located off of Ireland’s western coast and can be seen on Google Maps here.
Northern Ireland Capital
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and is located only a short train ride away from Dublin. This city packs a lot of history (especially related to the Titanic) and was home to famed author C.S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia series.
In the city, be sure to stop by the Peace Walls, which showcase art depicting the Troubles. A great way to explore the walls and the history of the city is to book a tour with a local guide who knows the ins and outs of Belfast.
Other interesting things to do and areas to explore include Titanic Belfast, Belfast City Hall, St. George’s Market, and the Botanic Gardens. You can easily explore this city by just utilizing public transportation since it’s very walkable.
Belfast can easily be explored in a weekend. The city is located on the eastern coast of Northern Ireland.
Wild Atlantic Way
Sligo is most well-known for being a breathtaking natural part of the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. There’s also a great bit of history here and a strong devotion to the literature and arts scene. No matter what kind of traveller you are, you’re sure to find something here.
Fun things to do in Sligo include visiting the Caves of Keash, going to Streedagh Beach, and doing the Benbulben Forest Walk. It’s also worth visiting Sligo Abbey, the Yeats Building, and the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, which are right in the town of Sligo.
Sligo is located in northwest Ireland and is near the Northern Ireland border. It’s best to explore here with at least three days, because of how many great things there are to do!
Most Popular Attraction
7. CLIFFS OF MOHER
The Cliffs of Moher is hands-down one of the best places to visit in Ireland because of its natural beauty. Countless movies have been filmed here, including Leap Year, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and The Princess Bride.
These cliffs are truly a testament to the natural beauty of Ireland. They stand at 700 feet above the sea and go on for almost 9 miles. Try to visit earlier in the morning to beat the crowds that the tour groups bring.
Be sure to grab lunch at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. There’s an area inside that offers great views of the cliffs in addition to a cafe and souvenir shop. You’re also allowed to bring snacks from home to enjoy inside.
The Cliffs of Moher are located on the western coast of Ireland and make an easy day trip from Galway. You can easily visit the Cliffs of Moher in a half day.
8. CORK CITY
Cork is the second-largest city in the country, right behind Dublin! This city is most well-known for being home to the best foodie scene in the whole country, which is why this is one of the top places to visit in Ireland.
In Cork, there are many things to do, but be sure to visit Blarney Castle & Gardens, The English Market, and the Cork City Gaol. The annual Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is also held in Cork every October and is the largest jazz festival in the country.
UNESCO World Heritage
9. SKELLIG ISLANDS
The Skellig Islands consist of two islands, Skellig Michael and Little Skelling. Skellig Michael is best known for being featured in the Star Wars movies and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Top places to visit at the Skellig Islands include St. Fionan’s Monastery and the Skelligs Lighthouse — and keep your eyes peeled for Puffins! Keep in mind that to get to the Skellig Islands, you’ll have to take a boat from Portmagee.
When visiting the Skellig Islands, be sure to book well in advance and pay close attention to the boat that you’re booking. Only a select few stop on the islands, while most of them only go around the islands.
You can easily visit the Skellig Islands in just one day. They’re located off of the western coast of Ireland.
10. WICKLOW MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Wicklow Mountains National Park is a gorgeous area of Ireland that covers over 50,000 acres. There are countless hiking trails, lakes, and more throughout the park. This is a great place to go for both solo travellers and those travelling with families.
This is not only one of the best places to explore in all of Ireland, but hiking here is one of the things to do in Wicklow you won’t want to miss.
For the best views of the national park, be sure to check out the Glendalough “White” Route, the Lough Ouler Loop, and Lugnaquilla Ridge Trail. Some of the best hikes in Ireland are found in this National Park. Visit the Upper Lake in Glendalough to go swimming, paddle boarding, jet-skiing, or water-skiing.
The Wicklow Mountains National Park is located in eastern Ireland, just a short drive south of Dublin. Spending two days exploring the park is best, but you could also visit some of the top sights in the park with just a day.
Wicklow City serves as the perfect home base for visiting the Wicklow Mountains National Park. It’s located right on the outskirts of the park and is quite accessible.
Ireland's Oldest City
The city of Waterford is most well-known for the Waterford Crystal and the city’s glassmaking which dates back to the 18th century. Waterford is also the oldest city in the country and therefore is packed full of history.
In Waterford, be sure to stop by the House of Waterford Crystal, Waterford Treasures, Reginald’s Tower, and Bishop’s Palace. The Medieval Museum is also worth visiting and is the only medieval museum in the country.
Waterford is located in southeastern Ireland. It’s best to spend at least two days exploring the city and all of the fun things to do. Waterford City serves as a great home base if you plan to visit the rest of the Viking Triangle.
For a magical experience, be sure to book your stay in Waterford Castle! It’s located on its own island, has a golf court, a tennis court, an archery range, and is 800 years old.
Bray is a truly one of the best places to visit in Ireland — and it’s only a short bus or train ride south of Dublin. It’s a gorgeous coastal town that is often overlooked by those visiting the Emerald Isle.
Top places to visit in Bray include the Garden House, Mermaid Arts Centre, Kilruddery House & Gardens, and the Bray Promenade. Of course, the most popular attraction in Bray is the Bray Head Cliff Walk which offers some of the best coastal views in the area.
Bray is right on the eastern coast of Ireland. It can easily be fully explored in just a day, but you could also spend a lot longer here.
If you’re looking to visit a medieval town in Ireland, consider going to Kilkenny. This town is filled with old churches, beautiful gardens, the oldest brewery in the whole country, and even a great castle.
Some of the most interesting things to do in Kilkenny include visiting the Cathedral Church of St. Canice, Rothe House and Garden, and Kilkenny Castle.
You’ll also definitely want to check out Swmithwick’s Experience, which is a brewery located in the same spot that it was located in the 16th century!
Historically, Kilkenny was also the medieval capital of Ireland. If you’re interested in learning more about its history, be sure to walk the Medieval Mile, which runs straight through the older portion of Kilkenny and goes by many historic buildings.
Kilkenny is located in southeastern Ireland, only an hour and a half south of Dublin. To get a great experience in this city, be sure to spend at least a weekend in Kilkenny (better yet, 3 days)!
Howth is a breathtaking fishing village that’s only 30 minutes north of Dublin city. It’s right on the coast and is truly one of Ireland’s hidden gems that is too often overlooked!
The breathtaking coastal views that you can get from almost anywhere in Howth is reason enough for it to be one of the best places to see in Ireland. I loved taking day trips from Dublin to Howth, highly recommended.
In Howth, be sure to check out Howth Harbour, Balscadden Bay Beach, and the Howth Market. You also won’t want to miss the Howth Cliff Walk, which is the true highlight of this town. There are a few different routes so hikers of all levels can go on it!
You truly only need one day to explore Howth, and that can easily be done by taking a day trip from a surrounding town or city like Dublin. However, if you’d like to enjoy more of the tranquil lifestyle of Howth, you could easily spend a lot longer here.
Quintessential Irish Town
If you were to think of a quintessential, picturesque Irish town, you’d 100% be thinking of somewhere that looks exactly like Killarney! This town is filled with fun outdoor activities and is on the edge of the Killarney National Park.
There are loads of fun activities in Killarney, including exploring Muckross House, hiking the Torc Waterfall Loop, playing a round at one of the best golf courses in Ireland (the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club), and visiting Ross Castle.
If you visit Killarney with a car, you can also go out and explore more of Killarney National Park and see all that it truly has to offer.
To visit just the town of Killarney, you would only need one or two days total. However, Killarney is a perfect starting spot for the Ring of Kerry drive, and doing that route could tack on an extra day or two, depending on how many stops you’d like to make along the drive.
Now You Know The Best Places To Visit in Ireland!
Though this list is long, just know that even if you don’t get to every destination listed here, you’ll always be welcomed back to the Emerald Isle!
A lot of these places are also located quite close together, like Dingle, Killarney, and Cork, and could be explored during a road trip.
The trick to travelling Ireland is to plan well in advance and choose the places that you’re most interested in — don’t try to see it all!
There are also way more great places to visit in Ireland; these are just the highlights. Happy travels.
Images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.com.