Ireland, also known as “the Emerald Isle,” is a place full of rich history, beautiful views, and friendly people. Your Ireland trip can be vastly different from the next person, as the country has so much to do and explore. Whether you’re interested in historic castles, a visit to a shanty pub or a day spent hiking through some beautiful landscape, this list has something for everyone.
1. Cliffs of Moher
This is the first on any Ireland trip planning list. The Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking oceanside cliffs that reach 120 meters high and run almost nine miles long. As you stand on the edge of the cliffs, the waters of Galway Bay crash below. The Cliffs are Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, so you can’t visit the country without making a stop here.
2. Grafton Street, Dublin
Grafton Street in Dublin is a hub for high-activity for food, entertainment, and shopping. Spend the day grabbing coffees, watching street performers, and visiting small boutique shops. And in the evening, go out for a nice dinner or a visit to an authentic Irish shanty bar. For some authentic Irish food, visit The Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to 1198.
3. Guinness Storehouse
It wouldn’t be an Ireland trip without a stop at the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness is the national beer of Ireland. So, it only feels right that you take a Guinness brewery tour and then enjoy a glass of perfectly poured and chilled Guinness at the bar. The Storehouse now also offers Guinness-inspired food pairings made with local, fresh ingredients to enjoy after your tour.
4. The Rock of Cashel
Ireland has several ancient castles you can tour and explore, but the Rock of Cashel may be the most famous castle attraction among tourists. Also known as the Cashel of the Kings, this historical land site has a mythical history that starts with St. Patrick banishing Satan from a cave.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour throughout the castle that typically lasts one hour. It’s a popular destination, so it’s recommended you purchase tickets before going.
5. The Aran Islands
If you prefer to travel off the beaten path, the Aran Islands are a quiet but beautiful escape within Ireland. Made up of three islands, Inishmore, Inisheer, and the large Inishmaan, the region has it’s own unique culture separate from the Irish mainland. The islands have a population of just over 12,000, and Gaelic is the first language. You can spend a few days visiting local bars, the farmer’s markets, and ancient ruins.
6. Blarney Stone & Blarney Castle
The Blarney Castle was built almost 600 years ago by great Ireland chieftain Cormac MacCarthy. The castle has a rich history and has been restored to preserve the original architecture.
No trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the Blarney Stone, located on the site of the Blarney Castle. The Blarney Stone is said to have magical powers that will give anyone that kisses it the ‘gift of gab.’ You’re allowed to kiss the stone, but you might want to wipe it down first, as thousands of people have kissed it before you!
7. Killarney National Park
Ireland’s Killarney National Park was established in 1932 when the Muckross Estate was donated to the country. Now, the Muckross House is the park’s visitor center. Visitors to the park can explore the massive space for the luscious gardens, the three lakes, and the fascinating animals such as red deer, otters, and swans. The park is large, so visitors can choose to explore it via boat, car, bicycle, foot, or even horse-drawn carriage.
Picturing an Irish city in your head, you probably imagine something similar to Galway. This colorful city is full of cobblestone roads, art galleries, and a lively music scene. If you’re looking for an authentic experience on your Ireland trip, Galway is the city to go to. In fact, this is one of the few towns in Ireland where the Irish language is still spoken on the streets.
The National Geographic deemed Galway the ‘beating heart of Ireland’s food scene,’ so make sure to stop at as many restaurants as possible during your time in this city.
When you think of an Ireland trip, the first thought you might have is of Dublin. And, with good reason. Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and the largest city in the country. Dublin could have its own list of things to do! This bustling city is a beautiful combination of history and modernism. You can explore historical land sites like the 13th Century Dublin Castle or go on a literary pub crawls. Make sure you stop at the Temple Bar district and spend an evening visiting cocktail bars and pubs.
10. The Ring of Kerry
If you’re up for a gorgeous 100-mile road trip, drive along the Ring of Kerry. This highway runs along the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula. Along the drive, you’ll see Ireland’s tallest mountain (Carrantuohill), stunning lakes, beaches, and the prehistoric Staigue Fort. Stop at any of the many beachfront small towns for some food and a warm Irish welcome.
Your next Ireland trip has to include at least one of these ten experiences, if not all of them!