Awesome, you're subscribed!

Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!

The best things in life are free.

Sign up for our email to enjoy your city without spending a thing (as well as some options when you’re feeling flush).

Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.

Love the mag?

Our newsletter hand-delivers the best bits to your inbox. Sign up to unlock our digital magazines and also receive the latest news, events, offers and partner promotions.

  • Los Angeles

Get us in your inbox

🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

IRELAND

The 21 best things to do in Ireland

Head to ancient sites on tiny Aran Islands or go bohemian in Galway when tackling the best things to do in Ireland

When a country is as famous as this one for being, above all, friendly, it's no surprise tourists flock to it, hoping to enjoy the best things to do in Ireland.

Opt to spend a weekend on a stag do in Dublin , blearily enjoying one of Europe's best cities, sample a slice of Bohemian life in Galway , head out to ancient sites on the tiny Aran Islands or even plan a few relaxing days at one of the best hotels in the country. Our guide brings together some of the most iconic spots, giving you a flavour of the many thing to do in this remarkable and stunning country.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

Find out more about   how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world .

An email you’ll actually love

Best things to do in Ireland

Treat yourself to a pint at the Guinness Storehouse

1.  Treat yourself to a pint at the Guinness Storehouse

What is it?  Dublin’s most famous and popular tourist spot where you can learn the story of Guinness, and then remind yourself how good it tastes. Why go?  Most brewery tours (good as they are) involve a short tour followed by a tasting sesh. The Guinness Storehouse, however, is seven floors of interactive experiences, finishing with a pint in the Gravity Bar.

Catch some waves at Bundoran

2.  Catch some waves at Bundoran

What is it?  The ‘Surfing Captial of Ireland’ where you can take your first rookie steps with a surf board, or show off some well-honed skills. Why go?  Book a room at the Bundoran surf lodge and your place at surf school, then start enjoying the water. Bundoran Surf Co. offer surf packages catering to all tastes. We like the sound of their surf-and-yoga breaks - double relaxation.

Travel full circle at the Ring of Kerry

3.  Travel full circle at the Ring of Kerry

What is it? Famous circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland. Why go? So you want to ‘see Ireland’ but don’t really know where to start. Well, the Ring of Kerry wouldn’t be a bad  place. It’s basically a well-trod route linking together nine different towns. Starting in Cork, a day's guided tour will take you around sites including the 18-meter-high Torc Waterfall. 

Go glamping on the Aran Islands

4.  Go glamping on the Aran Islands

What is it? The fancier version of camping on the largest of the Aran Islands, Inis Mor. Why go?  The Aran Islands are a set of three small islands just off Galway Bay. They’re famous for a series of ancient monuments and beautiful scenery. If you’re keen to explore them more than briefly, book a spot in the glamping site near Inis Mor’s main town, Kilronan, and sleep soundly to the not-very-distant roar of the ocean waves.

Wave to Canada from the Cliffs of Moher

5.  Wave to Canada from the Cliffs of Moher

What is it? A stretch of cliffs in County Clare offering uninterrupted views across the Atlantic. Why go? One of the most gorgeous spots in an over-all gorgeous country. The Cliffs of Moher aren’t a favourite tourist spot for nothing – they really are stunning. But don’t let their fame put you off from going. No matter how many people visit, when you cast your eyes out across the Atlantic you’ll feel like the only person for miles and miles - apart from those living on the otherside of the ocean!

Take afternoon tea at Kylemore Abbey

6.  Take afternoon tea at Kylemore Abbey

What is it?  Scones, cakes, pies and more in the café of a Benedictine Monastery in Connemara, County Galway. Why go?  Visting Kylemore Abbey, a monastery founded in 1920 by Belgium nuns and set in the grounds of Kylemore Castle, is pleasant enough in itself, but whilst you're there make sure to sample the delicious produce served in the abbey’s café. Then, take a stroll around the Victorian walled garden.

Wash away your troubles at the Irish Whiskey Museum

7.  Wash away your troubles at the Irish Whiskey Museum

What is it?  Interactive tour through the history of Ireland's favourite spirit in Dublin.  Why go?  Like the Guinness Storeroom, the Irish Whiskey Museum is a thoroughly modern tourist attraction. The popularity of the venue links closely to the popularity of the drink, which has boomed in recent years. Taste not just one, but a whole selection of different tipples.

Find the ponies in Connemara National Park

8.  Find the ponies in Connemara National Park

What is it?  One of Ireland's six national parks, located in County Galway and a paradise for bird-spotters and outdoor pursuits fans alike.  Why go?  Connemara National Park boasts an amazingly wide variety of landscape: mountains, bogs, heaths and woodlands vie for attention here, as does the wildlife. The area gives its name to the lithe Connemara ponies, but you can also spot red deer and millions of different birds.

Try to choose between over 450 whiskeys in the Temple Bar Pub

9.  Try to choose between over 450 whiskeys in the Temple Bar Pub

What is it? A very well loved and lively pub know for its sexy oysters and HUGE collection of whiskey, bourbon and scotch. Why go? If you’ve come to Dublin for a good time, chances are you’ll at some point end up in the Temple Bar area of the city. The pub that shares the area’s name boasts a collection of over 450 different types of the world’s favourite brown liquor. Just err… don’t try them all.

Have a picnic in Phoenix Park and make some deer friends

10.  Have a picnic in Phoenix Park and make some deer friends

What is it?  The biggest public park in any capital city in Europe, home to both the President of Ireland and some beautiful deer.  Why go?  Why wouldn’t you? It’s a huge, walled park with sports fields, expansive open, green space and it recently won an award at the Inaugural International Large Urban Parks Awards. Pack up a picnic and go spot the herd of fallow deer.

Say hello to the lemurs in Dublin Zoo

11.  Say hello to the lemurs in Dublin Zoo

What is it?  Phoenix Park zoo containing animals from all corners of the world, and one of the oldest zoos around. Why go?  Like many modern zoos, Dublin’s centrally-located zoo is now dedicated to conservation and saving endangered species. This means visitors can get fill their heads with facts, whilst also enjoying walking around the massive grounds within Phoenix Park.

Climb the 600 steps up to Skellig Michael monastery

12.  Climb the 600 steps up to Skellig Michael monastery

What is it? An ancient monastery located on Skellig Michael, a small island off the south west coast of Ireland. Why go? You’re unlikely to come across something quite like this ever again. The now abandoned monastery on Skellig Michael includes dome-shaped cells, a church, an oratory, a graveyard and a whole lot of steps. Hot baths for aching calf muscles are very much allowed afterwards.

Spend an evening at Dublin’s iconic Abbey Theatre

13.  Spend an evening at Dublin’s iconic Abbey Theatre

What is it?  The National Theatre of Ireland and the historical venue that launched the careers of many of Ireland's most famous playwrights.  Why go?  Irish theatre is having a moment in the sunshine, with its venues consistently programming a brilliant range of directors, playwrights, companies and performers. The Abbey is Dublin’s most famous theatre, but make sure you also check out The Gate and many of the city’s smaller performance spaces – you never know what you might see in a room above a pub.

Become acquainted with Irish history at Kilmainham Gaol Museum

14.  Become acquainted with Irish history at Kilmainham Gaol Museum

What is it?  Former prison in Dublin now turned into a museum where visitors are told the story of a nation. Why go? Dublin provides endless opportunities for letting your hair down, but it’s also a city seeped in history – some of it very recent. The Kilmainham Gaol is a striking reminder of the turbulent route to independence and the people who fought for it.

Watch the morning sun ripple the lake water in Killarney National Park

15.  Watch the morning sun ripple the lake water in Killarney National Park

What is it? The first national park to be created in Ireland and the location of the country’s highest mountain range. Why go? If you’re in search of epically stunning landscapes, Ireland isn’t exactly short of them. The thing that makes the Killarney National Park special is the sheer range of different features in it – including large lakes that reflect the dramatic sky.

Watch the boats criss-cross Galway Bay - or get on one

16.  Watch the boats criss-cross Galway Bay - or get on one

What is it?  A lovely bay along the west coast of Ireland for fishing, sailing, swimming or just watching the world go by. Why go? Some would argue that Galway is a little over represented in this list, and they might have a point, but there are so many reasons why it’s an attractive area to visit. Not least is the strip of coast known as Galway Bay. Whether you view the bay from standing on shore, swimming in the sea or cruising in a boat, it’ll make for some great memories.

Get your annual arts fix at Galway International Arts Festival

17.  Get your annual arts fix at Galway International Arts Festival

What is it?  Ireland's biggest arts festival bringing together theatre, visual art, dance, literature, performance and more.  Why go?  In 2018, Galway International Arts Festival will have been going 41 years. Like its yearly counterpart in Edinburgh, there's so much going on here, the problem is going be deciding what you can possibly bear to miss. The only solution, really, is to come back next year...

Become a folklore expert at Brigit’s Celtic Garden

18.  Become a folklore expert at Brigit’s Celtic Garden

What is it?  A truly magical garden nestled in woodland and wildflower meadows, giving a sense of the land’s history. Why go? These lovely gardens will introduce you to Celtic mythology and heritage… but even if you’re not that interested in fairies and the Celtic calendar, this special spot will still be sure to calm and sooth simply through looking so damn pretty.

Gorge yourself on new plays at Dublin Theatre Festival and Fringe

19.  Gorge yourself on new plays at Dublin Theatre Festival and Fringe

What is it?  An autumnal take-over of the capital city by world-class theatre groups from Ireland and across the globe. Why go?  The Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe might be better known, but head to Dublin from September onwards and you'll be treated to the nation's most creative and brilliant producers of theatre, plus the more experimental companies working on the Fringe.

See the best in historic Irish art at the National Gallery of Ireland…

20.  See the best in historic Irish art at the National Gallery of Ireland…

What is it?  The name says it all really. Inside you’ll find a huge collection of artworks by Irish and European artists from 14 th – 20 th  century.  Why go?  Again this is the big hitter and it’s certainly worth a visit, not least because its collection will take you through the major art movements of the last centuries, whilst also showcasing home-grown artistic talents. 

…And then see the best in Modern Irish art at the Irish Museum of Modern Art!

21.  …And then see the best in Modern Irish art at the Irish Museum of Modern Art!

What is it?  Also known as IMMA, this is the country's top gallery for seeing modern and contemporary art. Why go?  As with the Abbey Theatre, don’t limit yourself to the NGI if you’re an art fan. Dublin alone is filled with galleries, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Gallery of Photography Ireland and Project Arts Centre (also used to stage some great theatre and performance). IMMA's treasures include a substantial new collection of Lucian Freud paintings.

[image] [title]

Discover Time Out original video

  • Press office
  • Investor relations
  • Work for Time Out
  • Editorial guidelines
  • Privacy notice
  • Do not sell my information
  • Cookie policy
  • Accessibility statement
  • Terms of use
  • Modern slavery statement
  • Manage cookies
  • Advertising
  • Time Out Market
  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Newsletters
  • Sweepstakes
  • Destinations

20 Best Places to Visit in Ireland — From a Dark-sky Park With Milky Way Views to One of Europe's Highest Sea Cliffs

From the popular Cliffs of Moher to lesser-known towns, islands, and mountains, these are the best places to visit in Ireland.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

CaptureLight/Getty Images

When I visited Ireland for the first time back in 2016, I thought my four-day itinerary was airtight. My friend and I would spend a night in Dublin, head to Galway, drive to the Wicklow Mountains, and then explore Howth before flying home from the capital city. While we certainly covered a lot of ground, the plan was flawed from the beginning. Four days is barely enough time to discover one region, much less the country as a whole. Yes, I checked off several popular items — including Trinity College Library, Quay Street, and the Cliffs of Moher — but the country boasts many more charming villages, natural wonders, and historic landmarks, each as worthy of a visit as the next. 

According to Michael Leahy, the head concierge at Ashford Castle , I’m not the only traveler who has made that mistake. “I find that first-time visitors to Ireland often misjudge how large and expansive the island is, and therefore underestimate the time they need to fully explore and enjoy Ireland’s myriad attractions, sites, hotels, rich history, and cultural heritage,” he tells Travel + Leisure . If your schedule is flexible, he recommends extending your trip — so it’s longer than just a few days — in order to get a “well-rounded Irish experience.” 

By embracing this leisurely pace, you’ll also be able to appreciate your trip more profoundly. “Beyond the picturesque landscapes, taking time to interact with locals, immersing yourself in traditional music, and exploring local pubs can enhance your overall experience and truly integrate you into the Irish way of life,” explains Chris Parkes, front of house manager at Adare Manor .

To ensure your trip to the Emerald Isle is more comprehensive than my original endeavor, we asked some of the country’s most knowledgeable experts to share their recommendations for the best places to visit in Ireland. Read on to discover their favorites.

Jamie Ditaranto/Travel + Leisure

There’s a good chance you’ll start your Irish adventure in Dublin , home to Dublin Castle, Trinity College Dublin, the National Museum of Ireland, and the Guinness Storehouse. It’s a walkable city, so you’ll be able to explore most of it in just a day or two. For an extra dose of history and a drink, of course, make your way to The Brazen Head , which Patrick McManus, concierge at The Shelbourne , notes is the oldest pub in Dublin.

lisandrotrarbach/Getty Images

According to Parkes, Galway’s “bohemian atmosphere and lively arts scene” are two reasons you’ll want to visit the harbor city during your journey. Unlike Dublin, where you may feel the need to see as much as possible, Galway is a bit more low-key. He recommends travelers “stroll through cobblestone streets, savor traditional music in local pubs, and experience the enchanting landscapes of Connemara that surround this charismatic city.”

Tessa Desjardins/Travel + Leisure

In Kinsale, “beautiful views of the harbor abound,” says Anna Marron, guest relations manager at Liss Ard Estate . If it’s a nice day, stretch your legs along the 3.7-mile Scilly Walk before heading to Bulman Bar & Restaurant for dinner. Or, if you want something a bit more elevated, there’s the Michelin-rated Bastion , which is only open Thursday through Sunday.

Old Head of Kinsale

Fergus Wright/Getty Images

Marron describes the Old Head of Kinsale as a “world-class golf course on many golfer's ... lists.” It’s only about a 20-minute drive from the town, but it stands alone as its own destination. “It’s the Pebble Beach of Ireland,” she adds, referring to the golf paradise in Northern California.

Cliffs of Moher

There’s a reason the Cliffs of Moher make an appearance on your Instagram feed every so often — and they’re even more beautiful in person. “Towering over the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs offer panoramic views that are both exhilarating and serene,” says Parkes. Plus, says, McManus, the surrounding landscape is equally impressive, “with unique and precious wildlife and natural flora and fauna.”

Iveragh Peninsula

Dawid Kalisinski Photography/Getty Images

Leahy describes the Iveragh Peninsula as a “stunning stretch of heritage in southwestern Ireland” that offers a “picturesque escape into nature’s awaiting embrace.” Many travelers choose to explore the area via the Ring of Kerry, the scenic drive that encircles the peninsula. The route’s popularity stems from the fact that the 111-mile journey is accented by incredible landscapes, small villages, and top-tier views of the Atlantic Ocean.  

Borisb17/Getty Images

If you decide to complete the Ring of Kerry scenic drive, you’ll come across Killarney. Take the time to explore the town — it’s very walkable — but Parkes also shares that nearby Killarney National Park should not be overlooked: “Within the park, you'll find the three famous Killarney lakes, which provide breathtaking views as they sit beside the mountain range ... [and] Torc Waterfall, one of the most spectacular in Ireland and best viewed after heavy rain.”

Dingle Peninsula

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

You’ll find the Dingle Peninsula slightly northwest of Killarney. According to Parkes, its “rugged coastline and charming villages” create the ultimate Irish experience. “Explore the Slea Head Drive for jaw-dropping vistas, encounter ancient archaeological sites, and engage with the welcoming locals who add a touch of warmth to this picturesque region,” he adds. 

Aran Islands

GummyBone/Getty Images

Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer make up the Aran Islands, a place known for its ruins and sacred sites. “The islands unfold a tale of timeless elegance against the backdrop of the Atlantic's gentle embrace,” explains Leahy. If you’re already in Galway, you can take the seasonal ferry directly from the city to the islands.

If your trip was inspired by the desire to hear Irish music, look no further than Doolin, a coastal village known as the “traditional music capital of Ireland.” Take a seat at Gus O'Connor's Pub or McDermott's Pub and enjoy hours of lively tunes, pint in hand. Doolin is also called the “gateway to the Aran Islands,” as the rocky isles are just offshore.

Located southwest of Limerick, Adare was founded in the 13th century, and since then, it's become known as one of the most beautiful villages in the country. Parkes shares he may be a bit biased, given that he works in Adare, but he also says it’s a destination that captivates visitors with its “timeless charm … picture-perfect thatched cottages, historic architecture, and lush green landscapes.” 

Trim Castle

Located in County Meath, Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and a well-preserved example of Anglo-Norman military architecture. Travelers may recognize it from "Braveheart," but the castle’s history goes all the way back to the 12th century, when it served as a fortress during the Norman invasion of Ireland.

If you’re after an unforgettable view of the ocean and its powerful waves, Marron suggests checking out Mizen Head in West Cork. She calls the geographical feature a “more dramatic and less-visited version of the Cliffs of Moher,” and it’s commonly known as the mainland’s most southwesterly point.

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Courtesy CONSARC Consultancy

McManus also recommends exploring Wicklow Mountains National Park , the largest of Ireland’s six national parks. Hikers and walkers have their choice of paths in this stunning region — and movie buffs will want to make their way to Sally Gap, a recognizable setting from the 2007 film "P.S. I Love You."

Giant’s Causeway

Ruben Earth/Getty Images

The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most identifiable features in Ireland. While scientists have discovered that the 40,000 basalt columns sticking out of the sea were formed by volcanic activity more than 50 million years ago, there’s still a mystical and sacred feeling to the area. “This historic route invites pilgrims and wanderers alike to tread upon its hallowed ground, whispering tales of spirituality and connection through the ages,” shares Leahy. 

Jerpoint Abbey

imageBROKER/Thomas Schaeffer/Getty Images

History can be found nearly everywhere you go in Ireland — but it’s particularly noticeable at Jerpoint Abbey in County Kilkenny. The medieval Cistercian abbey dates back to the 12th century and features Romanesque and Gothic elements. Inside, visitors will find a church, tower, cloister, and several detailed stone sculptures.

Mayo Dark Sky Park

 Josh Matthews/Courtesy Mayo Dark Sky Park

If the weather permits, astronomy enthusiasts will be able to see stars, planets, the Milky Way, and even meteor showers while inside Mayo Dark Sky Park , a designated dark-sky preserve in County Mayo. Should you visit, Leahy says you’ll get to witness these “celestial wonders unfolded beneath a cloak of velvety darkness,” all completely free of charge.

Backpacksandbubbly/Getty Images

“Howth is a lovely fisherman’s village,” says McManus. It’s a quick trip from Dublin — about 30 minutes by train — so it’s an easy destination to tack on to the beginning or end of your trip. Start the day with a moderate hike along the 3.7-mile Howth Cliff Walk, then head back to the village for some fresh seafood (you can’t go wrong with fish and chips). 

Croagh Patrick

Kriangkrai Thitimakorn/Getty Images

Croagh Patrick, which you may hear referred to as “the Reek,” is one of Leahy’s recommendations, thanks to its “iconic peak overlooking the surrounding landscape” and its role as a “majestic pilgrimage site.” The mountain has held religious significance for mor ethan 1,500 years, and it’s said that Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick, spent 40 days fasting on its summit in the fifth century. It’s also popular with hikers and those interested in panoramic views of Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding countryside.

Sliabh Liag

Artur Kosmatka/Getty Images

Sliabh Liag, or Slieve League, is one of Europe’s highest sea cliffs, measuring in at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level. Significantly taller than the Cliffs of Moher, which reach 702 feet, these cliffs provide amazing views in nearly every direction — and they’re a convenient stop along the famed Wild Atlantic Way .

Related Articles

15 unmissable experiences to have in Ireland

Connemara, best places to visit in Ireland

Experience authentic Ireland: from the savage beauty, to traditional feats, to movie magic. (Image: Chaosheng Zhang)

--> BY Kassia Byrnes

Last updated . 28 May 2024

From modern movie sets to ancient ruins and natural landforms that are millions of years old, a myriad of fascinating adventures await in Ireland.

There are many famous bucket list items to be had on the island of Ireland – like the west coast drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, puckering up for the Blarney Stone, and having a pint in the Guinness Storehouse with some of the friendliest locals in the world.

But if you’re looking to dig a little deeper for culture and history that dates back from BC times right up to our modern age, this is the list for you.

1. Immerse yourself in the Titanic Belfast

The tragic history of the RMS Titanic is such that even those of us without a maritime bone in our bodies can’t help but be fascinated.

Titanic Belfast museum, best places to visit in Ireland

Get up close and personal with the real Titanic store. (Image: Chris Hill)

The Titanic Belfast museum gets you up close and personal with the ship’s story – from conception to sinking – in a way the movie never could. Several interactive galleries immerse you in what being onboard was really like, from the sights, sounds and smells to the true stories of the passengers and workers.

You can even walk around and explore the last remaining White Star Line vessel, the Titanic’s own tender ship.

SS Nomadic, Titanic Belfast Museum, Ireland

Board the last remaining White Star Line ship, SS Nomadic.

2. Be in awe of Ireland’s natural beauty

Ireland is blessed with natural beauty, which means that a few wonders have well and truly earned their iconic status and need to remain firmly at the top of your Irish bucket list.

The 40,000 black basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim are one of those must-see icons.

The result of an ancient volcanic eruption, the 50 to 60-million-year-old formation has inspired legends about a giant who tore up the coastline to build the causeway from Ireland to Scotland.

Giant’s Causeway, best places to visit in Ireland

View the black basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway from below on a boat tour. (Image: Chris Hill)

To the west of Ireland in County Clare, you’ll find the Cliffs of Moher. Few places in the world offer such a dramatic coastline, with almost 14 kilometres of rugged cliffs reaching over 200 metres tall.

There is nothing to impede the gorgeous view out to the open sea as you wander the paved pathways, but to truly appreciate the enormity of the cliffs, jump on a boat tour and gaze up at them from sea level.

Cliffs of Moher, best places to visit in Ireland

Gaze up at the 200-metre-tall Cliffs of Moher. (Image: Chaosheng Zhang)

3. Nerd out at Ireland’s TV and movie locations

It’s no surprise that the magical landscapes around the island of Ireland have inspired the sets of more than one fantasy epic.

Game of Thrones ®fans might already know that scenes in Winterfell, the Iron Islands and many that took place closer to The Wall were filmed in Northern Ireland. Join a Game of Thrones Tour to see the real locations of places like Winterfell (Castle Ward), the road from King’s Landing (the Dark Hedges) and Downhill Beach (dragonstone). Each of the tours is led by a guide who was an extra in the famous series. They’ll even provide cloaks, banners and swords for you to wear.

Games Of Thrones® Studio Tours, Ireland

Visit sets from Games Of Thrones®.

Alternatively head out to the Game of Thrones ® Studio Tour at Bainbridge, 40 mins south of Belfast or 90 mins north of Dublin. The behind the scenes tour takes in the epic sets, costumes, weapons and special effects created for the show.

If sci-fi is more your calling, Star Wars location scouts also saw the otherworldly landscape of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline and chose to film parts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens there. The locations are easy to get to so you can see them on your own, or you can join one of the many tour groups.

You’ll find those Star Wars locations, as well as the places where many other famous movies were set (including Harry Potter , Brooklyn and Braveheart ) in our guide to Ireland’s famous film locations .

Skellig Ring, Ireland

Visit the otherworldly Skellig Ring, where Rey met Luke Skywalker for the first time. (Image: Tom Archer)

4. Taste the best of Ireland at Moran’s Oyster Cottage

You haven’t done Ireland right if you haven’t sat down to oysters, soda bread and Guinness – and the locals love to share that experience with newcomers – which makes a trip to Moran’s Oyster Cottage essential. This family business dating back to the 1800s knows seafood, and they get it fresh out of Galway Bay.

Enjoy that day’s catch right from the ocean onto your plate. Oysters are the speciality here, but you’ll find a range of seafood dishes – like Chilli Coconut Prawns and smoked salmon – and even a few vegetarian options.

Morans Oyster Cottage, best places to visit in Ireland

Delight your tastebuds with a classic Irish feast.

5. Be transported back in time at Rock of Cashel

Seeing the Rock of Cashel for the first time is nothing short of jaw-dropping. As you arrive, this group of medieval buildings appears like an arrow piercing the ubiquitous fields of green.

A Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, and a fifteenth-century Tower House are preserved here, considered the most impressive of their age on the island of Ireland.

If you find that a day trip isn’t enough, a new five-star hotel, The Cashel Palace Hotel , opened up this year. Spend the night in a grand 18th-century Palladian – formerly home to Archbishops of Cashel – overlooking the other iconic structures.

Rock of Cashel, Ireland

Marvel at the medieval buildings of Rock of Cashel. (Image: Brian Morrison)

6. Join a tour of Newgrange

The sheer size of this tomb in Ireland’s Ancient East is an awe-inspiring sight. About 80 metres in diameter, this cairn is estimated to weigh a massive 200,000 tonnes in total, with some of the larger stones decorated with European Neolithic art.

A circle of standing stones surrounds the mound, believed to have been erected sometime after 2000BC.

Newgrange, Ireland

Catch the shuttle bus to Newgrange, an ancient tomb estimated to weigh 200,000 tonnes. (Image: Sonder Visuals)

Adding a bit of magic to the structure, a small opening was built so a beam of sunlight would shine directly down the entry passage into the tomb at dawn on the winter solstice every year – a day that was believed to signify nature’s rebirth and renewed life.

To see it, be sure to check shuttle bus timetables and book before you go, then arrive at the Brú na Bóinne visitors center; from there, a bus will drive you the 10 minutes to Newgrange (and will usually stop at other significant sites along the way).

A guide will take you around and into the tomb, sharing their intimate knowledge. It’s well worth the tour to fully appreciate the significance of what you’re seeing.

Sun shines into Newgrange on winter solstice, Ireland

Visit on Winter Solstice to see the sun reach inside the ancient tomb. (Image: Brian Morrison)

7. Explore another world on the Aran Islands

Off the coast of Galway sit the Aran Islands , a place where the Gaelic language, Celtic churches and prehistoric ruins are all preserved. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything else that gives you such a sense of what ancient times were like in the area, and the locals are excited to share their heritage and culture with visitors.

Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Ireland

Let the locals show you their heritage and culture around Inis Mór. (Image: Lukasz Warzecha)

For more history, visit World Heritage-listed Dún Aonghasa, the largest prehistoric stone fort on the islands, or Dún Eochaill, a fort estimated to be from the Iron Age.

You can also walk along the dramatic Inis Mór cliffs, spot the local seal colonies, or pop in for some traditional Irish music in Kilronan village.

Dun Aengus, Aran Islands, Ireland

Marvel at World Heritage-listed Dún Aonghasa. (Image: Gareth McCormack)

8. Be inspired by Connemara

Connemara has inspired poets and artists for decades – like Oscar Wilde, who described the place as a “savage beauty”.

Famous for its ocean-edged wild landscape and soft, pretty colours, this corner of Galway is another haven for locals who speak the Irish language.

Connemara, best places to visit in Ireland

Experience the “savage beauty” of Connemara. (Image: Chaosheng Zhang)

Jump on a bike and explore nature, wander through the famous Kylemore Abbey (part of a castle built by an Irish politician for his wife in the 1800s), be charmed by the picturesque towns and villages, and get stuck into traditional local dishes.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland

Wander through Kylemore Abbey, a castle built for love. (Image: Chaosheng Zhang)

9. Stay in a piece of Irish history

There aren’t too many places in the world where you can stay for a night or two like royalty, but in Ireland you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Castle Leslie Estate is about as grand as it gets. This four-star hotel in Glaslough, towards the north of Ireland, has had its fair share of fame; not only does the Leslie family tree include the likes of Attila the Hun and several Churchills, but it’s also been host to a huge number of celebrities, including Winston Churchill, WB Yeats and Mick Jagger.

Castle Leslie Hotel, Ireland

Stay at Castle Leslie, a real castle that’s not a four-star hotel. (Image: Tom Archer)

Foodies should head to Dromoland Castle , as the onsite restaurant, Earl of Thomond, was awarded a Michelin star in the 1990s.

The castle went through extensive renovations to transform it into a five-star hotel and has boasted its own long list of famous guests, such as Nelson Mandela, Johnny Cash and John Travolta.

You can check out our list of other Irish castles to stay in , or go for something completely different and be transported even further back in history by staying in a reconstructed Viking Settlement at the Irish National Heritage Park.

exterior Dromoland Castle, Ireland

Taste Michelin-star cooking at Dromoland Castle’s on-site restaurant.

Your accommodation for the night is built in the style of ancient Vikings’ homes, complete with walls made of woven branches and clay, a thatched roof and a central hearth – and yes, you’ll be cooking dinner on an open fire.

On arrival, you’ll be briefed on living an off-grid Viking life, including being on the lookout for invaders, and you’ll even be provided with authentic Viking costumes.

Viking Settlement at the Irish National Heritage Park. Ireland

Live the life of a Viking for a night.

10. Step into the Derry Girls Experience

Set during the time of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, Derry Girls is a coming-of-age story about five adolescent Catholic girls living in ‘Derry’, aka Londonderry.

The newly launched Derry Girls Experience will take you back in time to the 90s on the set of the famed British teen sitcom. The new exhibition is within the city’s historic walls just across from the iconic Guildhall – one of the many filming locations for the series.

You’ll find a diverse collection of memorabilia from the hit series, courtesy of Hat Trick Productions and Irish playwright Lisa McGee herself, including Aunt Sarah’s famous pyjamas, Erin’s diary and the Spice Girls’ costumes.

Catch the Derry Girls Experience in the Tower Museum until July 2024. Tickets are still available online .

a look inside the Derry Girls Experience exhibition in Ireland

Visit Derry Girls Experience and see original memorabilia from the hit show.

11. Sample Irish whiskeys at Skellig Six18 Distillery

In the historic town of Cahersiveen on Skellig Island you’ll find Skellig Six18. The remote distillery produces world-class Irish whiskeys, gins, and spirits infused with local botanicals and Atlantic-aged flavour.

It’s the perfect place to start exploring one of Ireland’s most alluring locations and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Skellig Michael – it’s also the site where the all-time top-grossing film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filmed.

Join a Skellig Six18 tour and be guided by a local storyteller who’ll take you on a sensory journey behind the scenes of the working distillery with a tasting of their signature gins and whiskeys.

a rocky cliffside at Skellig Michael, Ireland

The World Heritage-listed Skellig Michael is a sight to behold.

12. Escape from Ireland’s Ancient East Maze

Get lost in Ireland’s largest wooden panel maze at Sky Park in Carlingford, County Louth. Ireland’s Ancient East Maze features towers, bridges and gates that open and close to create a new challenge each time you visit.

In addition to the maze, kids and adults can also enjoy a range of thrills and activities, including an aerial adventure course that features more than 30 obstacles and seven zip wires. Test your limits as you tackle cargo nets, giant log swings and monkey bars or play a round of minigolf, monster croquet or aero ball.

13. Wish upon a star at OM Dark Sky Park

Cloaked in the darkness of the Davagh Forest away from the city lights you’ll find the OM Dark Sky Park . The observatory is the world’s 78th area to be awarded International Dark Sky accreditation and the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

It’s the best stargazing spot in Ireland and home to a 14-inch LX600 Meade telescope. From holographic installations to virtual reality headsets, prepare for an immersive experience of our solar system – it’s even possible to witness the Northern Lights, if you’re lucky. Don’t miss the chance to make a wish while admiring the vast expanse of the Milky Way.

The Davagh Forest can be challenging to navigate, so you must stay close to the observatory building and car park. Visitors can stargaze at any time of the night. Note, that it only gets dark at half past ten during the months of June and July.

14. Cycle the Listowel–Abbeyfeale Greenway

Fertile valleys and rolling hills set the scene for a 16-kilometre off-road trail that connects the heritage town of Listowel with the market town of Abbeyfeale. The route will take you through the Kingdom of Kerry Greenway with views of the Stack Mountains to the south and on to the foothills of the Mullaghareirk Mountains before ending at the Limerick border.

Along the way, be sure to take a moment to breathe in the crisp air and stop at one of several picnic tables along the way to enjoy a packed lunch. If you need to hire a bike or would prefer to join a cycling tour, you can visit LikeBikes in Listowel or Abbeyfeale (depending on which end of the trail you are starting at).

15. Visit the Irish Wake Museum

What was once a retirement home for old people in the 15th century is now home to Ireland’s newest attraction: The Irish Wake Museum . Dive into five centuries of fascinating funeral rituals as you explore Ireland’s superstitions and traditions around death.

While death is often considered a taboo topic, you’ll be given a unique perspective on the subject matter when you join a guided audio-visual tour through six rooms that move you chronologically through Ireland’s death practices from the 15 th to the 20 th centuries.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

One Comment

' src=

Good source of info for planning for the forthcoming trip to Ireland in sept/October 2023.

You might also like

Scenic view of Gap of Dunloe, in County Kerry, Killarney.

5 unmissable road trips around Ireland

Ireland does road trips like nobody else – seeing the gorgeous greenery and history galore is like poetry in motion. Wind your way through breathta...

Blackhead Cutter lighthouse

7 of the best unique places to stay in Ireland

Want to see a different side of the Emerald Isle?  Go in search of seven very special places to rest your head. Ireland has always been beautiful, b...

The best castle and manor house hotels in Ireland

The best castle and manor house hotels in Ireland

Sample some of the best castle and manor house hotels in Ireland to help you find just the right retreat for an indulgent stay. It’s a tough job, bu...

Portmagee Skellig Michael.

Six of Ireland’s most enchanting towns and villages

Natural, beautiful - and just a little bit magical... You’ve heard of Ireland’s larger cities: capital Dublin, home of Guinness; Cork, famous for...

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

10 most beautiful views in Ireland

With its windswept countryside and striking coastal cliffs, it’s no secret that the Emerald Isle is home to some of the most jaw-dropping vistas. H...

subscriptions footer

Protect Your Trip »

Best places to visit in ireland.

Ireland's rich culture, enchanting green landscapes and friendly locals are just a few reasons why so many travelers make the journey to this island country. But with so many cities, charming small towns and countryside wonders to choose from, it may be hard to decide exactly what should be on your Emerald Isle itinerary. U.S. News took into account sights, adventure, food and culture, plus expert opinions and traveler sentiment, to determine the best places to visit in Ireland. If you want to have a say in next year's list, be sure to vote below.

Dingle Peninsula

Cliffs of moher, iveragh peninsula, glenveagh national park, inishowen peninsula, connemara national park, aran islands.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

With a stoic castle, wild coastline and great "craic" (fun, entertainment and good company), Donegal checks off many items on an Ireland vacation bucket list. Donegal visitors can see the 15th-century Donegal Castle, grab a pint of Guinness in a traditional Irish bar dating back to the 1700s or revel in one of the town's high-spirited festivals. Meanwhile, Donegal's northwest coast location makes it ideal for driving along the scenic Donegal Bay to the Slieve League cliffs – which are nearly three times as tall as the Cliffs of Moher – or hopping to islands known for their exceptional preservation of the Gaelic language and culture.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Though Dublin is Ireland's hub for politics, culture and music, its approachable and relaxed culture sets it apart from most European capitals. Before making a beeline for the Guinness Storehouse, consider a walking tour to take in popular attractions like Trinity College (and its swoon-worthy library), the 13th-century Dublin Castle and the always exuberant Temple Bar district. Save time to take in the arts, too: Dublin is home to the national theater of Ireland and plenty of festivals and museums dedicated to Irish literary greats. Plus, Dublin offers easy access  to alluring destinations like the fishing village of Howth and Wicklow Mountains National Park.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Located along the country's famous Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Peninsula consistently stuns with its otherworldly scenery (think: evergreen cliffs, craggy coastlines and vibrant blue waters). Begin your journey by driving along Slea Head Drive, a scenic route known for its photo-worthy vistas. If you'd rather see the peninsula on foot, head down the Dingle Way, a network of trails that spans the entire peninsula. Or, take a ferry to the Blasket Islands to explore jaw-dropping cliffs, look for wildlife like sheep and dolphins, and visit pristine beaches without rubbing elbows with other tourists.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

For the quintessential Irish countryside experience, travel to Killarney. The town is surrounded by evergreen hills and valley on all sides, affording plenty of opportunities to become one with nature. Visitors gravitate toward Killarney National Park, which features Ireland's highest mountain range, MacGillycuddy's Reeks. If you aren't much of a hiker, you can still enjoy the scenic lakes or visit one of Killarney's centuries-old churches or castles.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland's most popular tourist attraction, welcoming more than 1 million visitors each year. In fact, the cliffs are so popular that cities situated more than 100 miles away often offer full-day bus tours to the attraction. Once you lay eyes on this sight, you'll understand why so many people travel hours to gaze at it. Measuring more than 8 miles long and 700 feet tall, the cliffs provide breathtaking views of Galway Bay, parts of Connemara National Park and the Aran Islands on a clear day.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

This peninsula in County Kerry is best known for featuring the world-famous Ring of Kerry, a 111-mile scenic drive that circles around the entire peninsula. Along the way, visitors will enjoy truly spectacular scenery both on the coast and inland. Can't-miss stops include Ladies View, Rossbeigh Strand, Derrynane beach and the Gap of Dunloe. Travelers should also save time for visiting some of the peninsula's picturesque small towns and castles, which are both developed and abandoned. Be sure to stay at least one night here for a glimpse of the stars in Ireland's first dark sky reserve.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Surrounded by a looming mountain, sandy beaches and charming countryside (dubbed "Yeats Country" after the county's famed poet), Sligo offers something for everyone. If you're up for an adventure, hike the loop around the iconic Benbulben mountain, take a surf lesson in Strandhill or watch the big-wave pros at Mullaghmore Head. Meanwhile, more leisurely travelers can visit Sligo town's popular sites like The Model art center and Sligo Abbey, or take a coastal drive to fine estates like the Lissadell House and Gardens (open seasonally). Just make time for a few stops along the Sligo Food Trail on your way.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

After Dublin, Cork is Ireland's largest city. Located at the southern end of the country, this city of more than 200,000 residents is famous for being home to Blarney Castle and its Blarney Stone. According to local legend, the stone will grant you the gift of eloquence, if you dare kiss it. Cork is also where you'll find 18th- and 19th-century churches, the Cork City Gaol (a former prison converted into a museum) and lush Fitzgerald Park, among other noteworthy attractions. When hunger strikes, explore Cork's English Market, where you'll find everything from meat and fish counters to cafes and bakeries.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Located just 17 miles south of Cork, this enclave on Ireland's southern coast charms visitors with rainbow-hued buildings and a "riviera" vibe. Sailing is central to Kinsale, which hosts several regattas throughout the summer, but other water activities like kayaking and surfing hold equal appeal. Those who prefer to stay on land can visit nearby attractions like the scenic Nohoval Cove and historic Charles Fort. What's more, as one of Ireland's top culinary destinations, Kinsale entices foodies with more than 50 delectable eateries and food-centric celebrations like the Kinsale Gourmet Festival and Kinsale Street Feast.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Galway offers the best of both worlds for travelers. City slickers can revel in Galway's relatively light but palpable bustle, while outdoor lovers can venture outside the city to see many natural attractions, including the Salthill Promenade, Wild Atlantic Way and, farther afield, Burren National Park. If you prefer to stay local, stroll through the lively Latin Quarter, then check out historical attractions like the Spanish Arch and St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Situated in the heart of County Donegal, Glenveagh National Park sets a picturesque scene, complete with a lakeside castle and lush mountains. Here, active sightseers can bask in the unspoiled natural beauty of the Emerald Isle, with nearly 40,000 acres that are completely free to access for hiking, biking, fishing and camping. Highlights include the Derryveagh Mountains, the sweeping valleys of the Poisoned Glen and the rugged shores of Lough Inshagh and Lough Veagh. For a small fee, visitors can also take a tour of the Glenveagh Castle, a stately granite structure representing the idyllic highland retreat, and explore its varied gardens and tearooms.  

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Situated just northwest of Ireland's border with Northern Ireland, the Inishowen Peninsula is the country's largest peninsula. Its remote location 170 miles northwest of Dublin plus its otherworldly scenery and thatched cottages create a peaceful setting you won't find in Ireland's more tourist-heavy peninsulas. Must-see natural wonders here include Malin Head, Trawbreaga Bay and the Gap of Mamore. If you've always dreamed of seeing the northern lights , be sure to visit in winter when the aurora borealis' beautiful hues are typically visible throughout the peninsula.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Expect awe-inspiring scenery everywhere you turn when you visit this 5,000-acre national park during the warmer months. Connemara National Park is home to the Twelve Bens mountain range, plus woodlands, grasslands, heaths (wild, undeveloped flatlands) and bogs (wetlands) that you can explore via one of several trails. To get a good overview of the park's diverse scenery, hike the Diamond Hill paths and walk the Green Road along Killary Harbour. The latter is where you'll find one of Ireland's few glacial fjords.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Travelers keen on getting a taste of what old Ireland looked and felt like should consider visiting the Aran Islands. Accessible by plane from Connemara or by ferry from Rossaveal, Galway and Doolin on Ireland's western coast, the Aran Islands feature important historical sites, Celtic churches and lots of untouched landscapes (think: the "Banshees of Inisherin," some of which was filmed here). Plus, Gaelic is widely spoken, providing an authentic cultural experience. Though all three islands offer noteworthy sights, plan on spending the bulk of your time on Inis Mór (or Inishmore), where the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa is located.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Kilkenny offers a hearty amount of historical attractions for travelers to explore. This is largely thanks to the town's prior distinction of being the medieval capital of Ireland, a heritage that remains evident today  in the Medieval Mile, Kilkenny's top attraction. Within the Medieval Mile you'll find several interesting sights, such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice's Cathedral and the Medieval Mile Museum. This historic part of town is also home to the Smithwick's Experience, where you can learn more about how one of Ireland's most popular ales is brewed.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Head to this small seaport on Ireland's southeastern coast to catch a glimpse of the country's oldest city. Waterford is full of history, and its attractions reflect that. History buffs can learn more about the city's Viking roots at Waterford Treasures' Medieval Museum, Reginald's Tower and Bishop's Palace facilities. Or, they can take a tour of the 18th-century House of Waterford factory to see how the city's world-renowned crystal is made. For travelers who need a break from Waterford's rich history, there's the Waterford Greenway, a nearly 30-mile-long walking and bike path.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Those who plan on visiting Cork should save time for a daytrip to Cobh. This charming small town, which sits on an island in Cork Harbor, is known for its past as both a major departure point for Irish emigrating to the U.S. and as the last port of call for the Titanic. Travelers who want to learn more about these key roles in Cobh's history can visit the Cobh Heritage Centre and Titanic Experience Cobh. Before leaving, take a stroll around town to admire Cobh's striking Victorian-era architecture and brightly colored storefronts and homes.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Wicklow Mountains

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

You May Be Interested In

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Best Places to Visit in Europe for 2023-2024

Best places to visit in france.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Best Winter Vacations in Europe

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Best Family Vacations in Europe

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

The 28 Best Water Parks in the U.S. for 2024

Holly Johnson|Timothy J. Forster May 8, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

The 18 Best Napa Valley Wineries to Visit in 2024

Lyn Mettler|Sharael Kolberg April 23, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

The 25 Best Beaches on the East Coast for 2024

Timothy J. Forster|Sharael Kolberg April 19, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

The 50 Best Hotels in the USA 2024

Christina Maggitas February 6, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

The 32 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

Gwen Pratesi|Timothy J. Forster February 1, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

9 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida for 2024

Gwen Pratesi|Amanda Norcross January 5, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

24 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S. for 2024

Erin Evans January 4, 2024

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

26 Top Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resorts for 2024

Zach Watson December 28, 2023

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Solo Vacations: The 36 Best Places to Travel Alone in 2024

Lyn Mettler|Erin Vasta December 22, 2023

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

26 Cheap Beach Vacations for Travelers on a Budget

Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

  • Inspiration
  • Destinations
  • Places To Stay
  • Style & Culture
  • Food & Drink
  • Wellness & Spas
  • News & Advice
  • Partnerships
  • Traveller's Directory
  • Travel Tips
  • Competitions

20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

By Aoife O’Riordain

20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

For a relatively small country, Ireland scores high in the sightseeing stakes from the elegant Georgian streets of its capital Dublin , to the more elemental and remote appeal of its further flung beauty spots and historic landmarks. The craic might be mighty and the welcome warm, but it’s not just a nostalgia-steeped vision of the past that is the draw, modern-day Ireland is a progressive, youthful and cosmopolitan society with a fast-moving contemporary scene when it comes to art, film, music, food, literature and tech with something new to discover all the time.

Best places to visit in Ireland

1. Cliffs of Moher Clare  The Atlantic Ocean churns relentlessly below the towering Cliffs of Moher. Buffeted by the...

  • Cliffs of Moher, Clare

The Atlantic Ocean churns relentlessly below the towering Cliffs of Moher. Buffeted by the ever-present wind, the full majesty of the world’s longest defined cliffs unfurl before you, towering 702ft above the water for almost nine miles along the County Clare coast. The views over Galway Bay towards the Aran Islands are staggering, as are the vistas from the five-mile coastal Doolin Cliff Walk. This is one of the country’s most visited natural wonders, so expect some crowds, but stop by in the evening when numbers begin to dwindle – you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular sunset.

2. Connemara      Northwest of Galway city lies one of Irelands most alluring wildernesses. The haunting beauty of the...

North-west of Galway city lies one of Ireland’s most alluring wildernesses. The haunting beauty of the Connemara region stretches across County Galway: a landscape of slate-coloured lakes, bogland, sheep-dotted mountains, rugged coastline, hidden bays and small towns. Stop at Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord; the scenically situated Kylemore Abbey; the Alcock and Brown monument near Clifden that commemorates the landing site of the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919; and take to the hiking trails of the 40,000-acre Connemara National Park.

1. Voya Seaweed Baths Sligo  The rejuvenating properties of seaweed should not be underestimated. In the early 20th...

  • Voya Seaweed Baths, Sligo

The rejuvenating properties of seaweed should not be underestimated. In the early 20th century, there were more than 300 seaweed baths dotted around the coast of Ireland, but numbers dwindled in the ensuing decades and only a handful remain. Voya Seaweed Baths in Strandhill is just one of a number rediscovering this very ancient therapy for a whole new audience, hand-harvesting organic seaweed from the nearby beaches and combining it with mineral-rich seawater for the ultimate steamy soak.

4. Ring of Kerry      The scenic photo opportunities just keep coming on the 112mile Ring of Kerry one of Irelands most...

  • Ring of Kerry

The scenic photo opportunities just keep coming on the 112-mile Ring of Kerry, one of Ireland’s most celebrated touring routes. Roughly skirting the edges of the Iveragh Peninsula in the south-western corner of the country, it starts and ends in Killarney. Along the way it threads through a ravishing reveal of mountains and Atlantic-bashed coastal views that include the UNESCO World Heritage-listed monastic settlement on Skellig Michael and the glorious golden sands of Rossbeigh Beach.

5. Dingle peninsula Kerry     Dingle feels a long way from anywhere but the charm of this west Kerry fishing town in the...

  • Dingle peninsula, Kerry

Dingle feels a long way from anywhere, but the charm of this west Kerry fishing town in the heart of the Gaelic-speaking region is worth the trip. The pubs lining Main Street double as grocery stores and its annual gatherings such as the Other Voices music festival and the Dingle Food Festival draw a crowd. It’s also the jumping-off point for the remote charms of its namesake peninsula: the vertiginous drive around Slea Head with its views of the Blasket Islands; Sybil Head, which was used as a filming location in in Star Wars: The Last Jedi ; and, in good weather, the Caribbean-like the water lapping Coumeenoole Strand (aka Ryan’s Daughter beach), where David Lean’s classic 1970 flick was shot.

6. Waterford Greenway     In the 19th and 20th centuries Ireland was crisscrossed with a much larger network of regional...

  • Waterford Greenway

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Ireland was criss-crossed with a much larger network of regional railways than it is today. Some of the now-disused lines are being imaginatively repurposed into off-road walking and cycling routes. As its name hints, the Waterford Greenway is a 28-mile trail between the southerly port city of Waterford and seaside town Dungarvan, passing through tranquil countryside over viaducts and through moss-strewn railway tunnels with flashes of sea views.

7. Wild Atlantic Way      Irelands headlining scenic route the Wild Atlantic Way is an epic road trip that hugs the...

  • Wild Atlantic Way

Ireland’s headlining scenic route, the Wild Atlantic Way , is an epic road trip that hugs the ragged, western coast of Ireland from the isolated, weather-beaten beauty of Malin Head in Donegal for more than 1,500 miles through Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry to the picturesque fishing town of Kinsale in Cork. You can pick up the well-signposted route in either a northerly or southerly direction anywhere along the coastline, stopping off to explore its show-stopping landscapes, towns and villages.

8. Giants Causeway Antrim      Northern Irelands unmissable landmark is the otherworldly UNESCO World Heritagelisted...

  • Giant’s Causeway, Antrim

Northern Ireland’s unmissable landmark is the otherworldly, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Giant’s Causeway. Tumbling into the sea, it’s an astonishing geological wonder; an expanse of more than 40,000 hexagonal columns resembling a super-sized pathway formed by volcanic activity between 50 and 60 million years ago. More fantastically, legend has it that the stones were laid by Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumaill to use as stepping stones across the water to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner.

The airport outfits our jet-setting editors are wearing this summer

Marti Buckley

The best economy seats for long-haul flights

Jessica Puckett

The best hotels in Portugal

Abigail Malbon

9. Dublin     Sliced in two by the River Liffey and hugging the gentle sweep of Dublin Bay the Irish capital was first...

Sliced in two by the River Liffey and hugging the gentle sweep of Dublin Bay, the Irish capital was first founded by the Vikings in the ninth century and has a rough-around-the-edges charm where Georgian grandeur rubs up against inner-city grit. A UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin 's streets are haunted by some of the literary greats of the English language. Dip into its thriving food scene, lose a few hours in one of its atmospheric pubs, seek out less well-known pockets of the capital such as The Liberties and delve into its multi-layered history spanning more than 1,000 years.

10. The Burren Clare     There is a lunar look to the extraordinary limestone landscape of The Burren and Cliffs of...

  • The Burren, Clare

There is a lunar look to the extraordinary limestone landscape of The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark in County Clare. This UNESCO World Heritage site is littered with archaeological and natural wonders, such as the lonely Poulnabrone Dolmen near Ballyvaughan dating from around 3,800 BC; the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe in Doolin Cave; and the far-reaching views from the aptly named Corkscrew Hill. Its limestone nooks and crannies are a botanist’s fantasy rock garden, with more than 1,100 Mediterranean, alpine and Irish plant species. Don’t miss a pit-stop at the picturesque An Fear Gorta tearooms in Ballyvaughan – fans of its cheesecake include Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

11. Galway     Often called the city of tribes Galway has a relaxed bohemian vibe. One of two European Capitals of...

Often called the city of tribes, Galway has a relaxed, bohemian vibe. One of two European Capitals of Culture for 2020, this is a place that celebrates creativity and craft. A university town with a strong sense of its Irish heritage, the city is also a Gaelic-speaking stronghold and when summer rolls around the Galway International Arts Festival and Galway Film Fleadh attract culture lovers from all over the world. Visit the 16th-century Spanish Arch overlooking the Claddagh, where the River Corrib mingles with Galway Bay; dip into its thriving traditional music scene; stroll along Salthill pier and watch the hardy souls taking the plunge into the icy Atlantic waters; and visit one of its many standout restaurants such as Kai, Aniar and Ard Bia at Nimmos.

12. Cork      Spanning both sides of the River Lee is the selfstyled Peoples Republic of Cork whose residents only...

Spanning both sides of the River Lee is the self-styled People’s Republic of Cork , whose residents only half-jokingly refer to as the real capital of Ireland. A flourishing merchant city in the 18th and 19th centuries, its must-sees include the cherished English Market, where Corkonians have been shopping for some of the finest produce from the surrounding countryside since 1788; the Glucksman gallery within the grounds of the leafy University College Cork; and the Crawford Art Gallery set inside the repurposed 18th-century Customs House. Cork’s closest port, in Cobh, with its colourful houses creeping up the hill, was the last place the ill-fated Titanic docked in 1912.

13. Newgrange Meath     A marvel of early engineering Newgrange is one of Europes most remarkable Neolithic...

  • Newgrange, Meath

A marvel of early engineering, Newgrange is one of Europe’s most remarkable Neolithic archaeological sites. Older than the Great Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, this sprawling passage tomb dates from 3,200 BC and, through a feat of ingenious Stone Age design, its main chamber is illuminated once a year (clouds permitting), when a small slit over the entrance lines up with the rising sun of the winter solstice in late December. The site forms part of the larger Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage site, set within a bend of the River Boyne, one of the most important clusters of prehistoric sites in Europe.

14. Glendalough Wicklow     Set in a deep valley gashed through the hills during the Ice Age the 100ft round tower of...

  • Glendalough, Wicklow

Set in a deep valley gashed through the hills during the Ice Age, the 100ft round tower of Glendalough pokes up through the trees bordered by steep forested slopes of the surrounding Wicklow Mountains National Park. This ancient monastic settlement and pilgrimage site, whose name means ‘glen of two lakes’ was founded in the sixth century by Saint Kevin and is one of Ireland’s loveliest beauty spots, with a network of walking trails nearby including the long-distance Wicklow Way.

15. Kilkenny City     Medieval magic awaits in Kilkenny which for a brief period in the Middle Ages served as the Irish...

  • Kilkenny City

Medieval magic awaits in Kilkenny, which for a brief period in the Middle Ages served as the Irish capital, astride the banks of the River Nore in the bucolic heart of Ireland. A former stronghold of Anglo-Norman invaders, its architectural heritage is part of the draw, told in its Medieval Mile Museum and throughout its atmospheric cobblestone streets and laneways presided over by the 12th-century Kilkenny Castle.

16. Birr Castle Offaly     Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year Birr Castle has been occupied by the Parsons...

  • Birr Castle, Offaly

Celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, Birr Castle has been occupied by the Parsons family since 1620. The hoi polloi can get the opportunity to peek around the castle and its extensive gardens that are home to more than 2,000 plant species and a grove of towering redwood trees. Also on display is the great telescope, completed in 1845 by the 3rd Earl of Rosse, who was one of the first to discover the spiral nature of the galaxies. The exploration of the cosmos continues with the estate’s low-frequency radio telescope, the I-LOFAR, part of one of the most sophisticated astrophysics research projects in the world.

17. Sliabh Liag Donegal     The Cliffs of Moher might be the crowd puller but Sliabh Liag in County Donegal has...

  • Sliabh Liag, Donegal

The Cliffs of Moher might be the crowd puller, but Sliabh Liag in County Donegal has high-altitude thrills of its own. Rising almost 2,000ft above the Atlantic Ocean, the mountain has some of Europe’s tallest accessible sea cliffs, three times higher than their County Clare rivals. Those with a head for heights should tackle the One Man’s Pass trail, where you can see the surf swirling beneath and marvel at the vertiginous, if stomach-churning, views.

18. Bundoran Donegal     Irelands selfstyled surf capital in Donegal also known as Fundoran is one of the best places in...

  • Bundoran, Donegal

Ireland’s self-styled surf capital in Donegal , also known as Fundoran, is one of the best places in the country to catch a wave, both for beginners and the more experienced. Tullan Strand or Rossnowlagh further up the coast offer plenty of thrills and spills, while south of the town in Sligo, Mullaghmore Head is one of the world’s premier big-wave spots, attracting the most daredevil surfers. Bundoran’s Sea Sessions surf and music festival in June is an annual sell-out.

19. Rock of Cashel Tipperary     Sitting on top of a jagged outcrop with the velvety green landscape of County Tipperary...

  • Rock of Cashel, Tipperary

Sitting on top of a jagged outcrop with the velvety green landscape of County Tipperary unfolding beneath for more than a millennium, the Rock of Cashel has a touch of the film set about it. Also known as St Patrick’s Rock, this huddle of partly ruined ecclesiastical buildings that include a 13th-century cathedral was once the seat of the High Kings of Munster and is one of Ireland’s most imposing historic sites.

20. Belfast Antrim     The city is having a bit of a moment. With The Troubles far behind it Belfast has found a new...

  • Belfast, Antrim

The city is having a bit of a moment. With The Troubles far behind it, Belfast has found a new energy helped by a burgeoning film-production scene and the regeneration of its Titanic Quarter which sits in the shadow of legendary Samson and Goliath, the nicknames given to the giant yellow Harland and Wolff shipyard cranes. Belfast’s charms creep up on you, but are easy to unearth from the winding streets of the Cathedral Quarter to the wide-open skies over Belfast Lough. Discover its evolving foodie scene with a browse in the 19th-century St George’s Market or supper at hot tables such as The Muddlers Club and Ox.

Keep scrolling for more beautiful images of Ireland below

Like this? Now read:

Where is 'Normal People' filmed?

The county with some of the best beaches in Ireland

The best weekend breaks in the UK and Ireland

Delphi Lodge Connemara. Find out the best places to stay in Connemara here

Delphi Lodge, Connemara. Find out the best places to stay in Connemara here

The Tweed Project studio

The Tweed Project studio

Dunmoran Strand. We've rounded up 11 of the best beaches in Ireland here

Dunmoran Strand. We've rounded up 11 of the best beaches in Ireland here

A beachcombed haul

A beachcombed haul

Donegal landscape. Discover more about Donegal the county with some of the best beaches in Ireland here

Donegal landscape. Discover more about Donegal, the county with some of the best beaches in Ireland, here

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

The Irish Tricolour

The Irish Tricolour

Bedroom at Ballyportry County Clare

Bedroom at Ballyportry, County Clare

Darren Topps head gardener at Lismore Castle County Waterford

Darren Topps, head gardener at Lismore Castle, County Waterford

Peninsula Dingle

Peninsula Dingle

Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory

Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory

Ard Bia restaurant

Ard Bia restaurant

Cliff at Lyons. Read more about the best hotels in Ireland here

Cliff at Lyons. Read more about the best hotels in Ireland here

Lismore Castle County Waterford. Discover more of the best castles in Ireland here

Lismore Castle, County Waterford. Discover more of the best castles in Ireland here

Ard Bia and B

Ard Bia and B

Cow grazing

Cow grazing

America Village Apothecary

America Village Apothecary

Houses on Gola island with Owey in the background

Houses on Gola island with Owey in the background

Mullaghmore

Mullaghmore

Mitchell's restaurant in Clifden

Mitchell's restaurant in Clifden

The Burren. Find out more places to visit in Galway here

The Burren. Find out more places to visit in Galway here

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Ballymaloe House, Cork. Here are travel tips for Southern Ireland from Three Graces London

Connemara ponies

Connemara ponies

Fisherman Kevin Molloy with his spaniels on Lough Corrib

Fisherman Kevin Molloy with his spaniels on Lough Corrib

AutoTravel

10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Ireland is a country of contrasts. To the west, its ocean coastline has towering sea cliffs, powder-soft beaches, medieval castles, historic villages and forlornly beautiful islands where locals still nurture ancient traditions. The midlands harbor lesser-seen towns and meandering blue trails that follow the path of the River Shannon along rich green countryside. Dublin and Belfast to the east and north offer all the rich culture and diversity you’d expect to find in a large, modern metropolis.

With so many places to choose from, it’s not always easy to know where to go in Ireland, so we’ve handpicked the best places to stay to suit every taste and every changing mood.

Choose 3, 4, 5, or 7 top Dublin attractions and enjoy great savings with Go City. Taste the world-famous Irish drink at Guinness Storehouse, enjoy the sights on Big Bus Dublin Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, or discover Dublinʼs oldest building, Christ Church Cathedral – the choice is yours!

1. Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal

Best place for a road trip

This is the final slice (or trailhead) of the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal odyssey that connects this most northerly tip of Ireland to the south along the western seaboard. Inishowen has a hundred-mile sign-posted loop trail that covers the major attractions around the peninsula from any starting point. It’s one of the best places to visit in Ireland for a weekend, as it’s easily navigated over a couple of days.

Start the drive north by navigating the easterly contours of Lough Swilly before moving inland from Fort Dunree to discover a highlight, Mamore Gap. It’s a narrow, curving road that snakes through the Urris Hills with spectacular coastal views. Before weaving on towards Tullagh Strand, there’s a wonderful detour to Glenevin Waterfall. The route passes one beauty spot after another, like Five Finger Strand (which has hazardous swimming conditions) and Knockamany, before arriving at the top of the world at Banba’s Crown on Malin Head.

Planning tip: Travel in the off-season (November to Easter) for the best chance to catch Inishowen’s famous Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) stenciled onto a dark sky.

Sea stack standing in the ocean framed by other rocks on the cliff

2. Northwest Mayo

Best places for beaches

With a jagged, vast coastline, towering sea stacks and off-the-radar islands, County Mayo offers beach settings that are framed by spectacular backdrops. Mulranny, with its bone-white powdery sand, has turquoise water that swirls around its contours. It once lured John Lennon and Yoko Ono on a “second honeymoon,” and it’s also the gateway to Achill Island’s Keel Strand, which has miles of dunes to fly kites and jaw-dropping views of Slievemore and the Mweelaun Cliffs.

Keem Bay is further west on Achill, and it is arguably Ireland’s most beautiful beach. It’s sheltered by giant cliffs that rise up to the north and south like a natural amphitheater. North of Achill is the Erris Peninsula which has Elly Bay, a safe beach with shallow waters, or Glosh and Crosshead Beaches, which offer dangerous, menacing waves. Head off-grid to Blacksod Pier to catch a ferry to the Inishkea Islands and discover a magnificent beach fringed by an abandoned village and pristine ocean waters.

Local tip: Rinroe, a secret cove north of Erris, has caverns that offer a good photo op.

3. Kilkenny

Best city for history

The medieval mile in Ireland’s prettiest city center is a living museum. Yes, there are countless ticketed heritage sites like Kilkenny Castle and the Medieval Mile Museum, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past (and rooftop views), but a ramble around “The Marble City’s” beating heart is the best way to discover its past. A self-guided walking tour of the Medieval Mile takes in sites like the Black Abbey, Saint Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower and the Butter Slip – an atmospheric laneway that exudes old-world charm.

As one of the best nightlife spots in Ireland for centuries, expect the pubs in this pint-sized city to have a great backstory. Kyteler’s Inn on St Kieran’s Street harbors a dark past with trumped-up witchcraft convictions, and Kilkenny’s brewing pedigree is showcased at the Smithwick’s Experience on Parliament Street and Sullivan’s Tap Room on John’s Street.

4. Limerick City

Best city for sport

Large stadiums and racetracks orbit the heart of Ireland’s third city while its narrow cobbled lanes and broad avenues have pubs, like Jerry Flannery’s on Catherine Street or JJ Bowles near King John’s Castle, for post-match banter. The Limerick team is the reigning national champions at hurling, one of the fastest and oldest field sports on the planet, but it’s rugby that gets pulses racing in “The Treaty City.” Thomond Park Stadium gives the backstory to the 1978 match, when the local team and underdogs beat the famous All Blacks from New Zealand.

A brand new multistory International Rugby Experience in O’Connell Street has redefined Limerick’s roofscape. Adare Manor, a resort and golf club a short drive from the city center, will host the 2027 Ryder Cup. The Great Limerick Run draws crowds every May weekend, and cyclists venture to the countryside for mountain biking at Ballyhoura or to the Limerick Greenway for off-road trails as far as Kerry.

Group of gay men celebrating Gay Pride at home from their balcony

5. Dublin City

Best city for LGBTIQ+ travelers

A statue of playwright Oscar Wilde reclines on a bed of quartz near his home on Merrion Square with a wry smile that conveys playful puzzlement. About 120 years after he was imprisoned for gross indecency, almost to the day, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, and Wilde’s hometown was engulfed with rainbow flags for the occasion.

The party continues in the capital’s landmark gay bar, The George, which is one of the best places to visit in Dublin for members of the LGBTIQ+ community. Pantibar on Capel Street and Street 66 on Parliament Street are more laid back, and ‘Mother’ on Grafton Street is for weekend clubbing. The city’s annual Pride Festival rivals the St Patrick’s Day parade for bringing the city to a standstill. Both GAZE, a film event in September, and the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in May mark the LGBTIQ+ community’s contribution to Ireland’s performing arts.

6. Galway City

Best city for food

The scent of aromatic spices is carried on the fresh Atlantic breeze that passes through the cobbled lanes off Quay Street, the medieval heart of Galway. Top local restaurants like Ard Bia at Nimmos cluster around its southern tip at Spanish Arch because of its romantic setting, making it one of the best places for couples to visit in Ireland. It was once a trading post where galleons carried cargos of wine and food.

Cava Bodega continues that fusion of the experimental with traditional with their imaginative tapas, and on Middle Street, Anair, the flagship restaurant of master chef JP McMahon is five minutes away. Éan, a contemporary space down the moodily lit Druid Lane, sells exquisite artisan pastries. With fresh catch arriving from the ocean to the city by the trawler load, expect humble fish and chips with a difference at McDonagh’s on Quay Street. Sheridan’s Cheese on Nicholas Street offers the best dairy produce from the land.

Planning tip: Travel in the September shoulder season for the Galway International Oyster Festival.

O'Connor's Pub, group playing music at a table

7. County Clare

Best place to catch a tune

County Clare’s coastline attracts visitors by the busload for the Micho Russel Festival in Doolin, near the Cliffs of Moher, late in February. It’s the place to catch a lively traditional (trad) music session at any time of year, with Gus O’Connor’s Pub packing in visitors to the rafters.

For something slower and more sentimental, visit the medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle or Knappogue, where you can listen to harpists and vocalists harmonize Ireland’s past over a glass of honeyed mead and spare ribs. Ennis hosts the annual Fleadh Nua every May, when the entire town moves in rhythm with the bodhrán (Irish drum). Its pubs showcase a nightly blast of trad at Brogan’s and Knox’s or contemporary live music at Nora Culligan’s on Abbey Street.

Local tip:  True music aficionados head to the east side of the county towards Lough Derg, where the pubs cupped in fern green valleys –like Shortt’s Bar in Feakle – host top performers nightly.

8. Causeway Coast, County Antrim

Best place to hike

Located between Belfast and Derry on the north Antrim coastline, the Causeway Coast has a seascape that’s smooth as whipped cream in some locations and jagged as broken ice in others. But it’s always fascinating. At a 20-mile (34km) distance of moderate difficulty, and blessed with spectacular scenery, it’s one of the best places to hike in Ireland.

The eastern leg has stunning settings, like the Gobbins Cliff Path on Islandmagee Peninsula, but if time is restricted, travel west by train to hike to the heavy hitters that are crammed within 10 miles of each other. Starting at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which jigs and sways over the waves below, head west past the Giant’s Causeway to the spectacular Dunluce Castle that teeters on a cliff edge. Round off with a visit to the Old Bushmill’s Distillery to get the blood flowing.

Planning tip:  Build in a detour to The Dark Hedges, nine miles south of Carrick-a-Rede.

nice senior woman on mountain bike, cycling in sunset on the cliffs of Sheeps Head, County Cork, in the southwestern part of the Republic of Ireland

9. West Cork

Best place for families

Ocean spray and homemade ice cream are just a taste of why this expansive, meandering coastline, with its necklace of charming seaside villages, is one of the best places for families to visit in Ireland. Take a walking tour around pretty Kinsale to discover stories of notorious seafarers like Alexander Selkirk, who inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and Pirate Queen Anne Bonny. Or meander by the ramparts of star-shaped Charles Fort. For another epic activity, take a whale-watching boat tour from Baltimore to catch a glimpse of a magnificent humpback or baleen rise and fall beneath the clear ocean water.

Days can be spent lazing, surfing and horse-riding by the white dunes of Barley Cove or Inchydoney Beach, or kayaking with seals near Glengarriff.  Ireland’s only cable car leaves from Beara to cross ocean waters to Dursey Island. Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point, has an interpretive signal station that is accessed by footbridge over wild Atlantic waves.

10. Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry

Best place for sensational views

For an out-of-this-world excursion, catch the ferry from brightly painted Portmagee to one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. Skellig Michael, a small mountainous UNESCO World Heritage site, doubles as the windswept island sanctuary on the planet Ahch-To in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) and Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017).

Back on the mainland, the superlative landscapes will continue to impress with Ladies View, which has panoramic views over the Lakes of Killarney. Torc Waterfall on the northern tip of The Ring of Kerry is better recorded than photographed with the powerful sound of the water pounding in the background. Head to Cronin’s Yard to scale and capture Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, which towers over the entire peninsula and ocean.

Planning tip:  The ferry service to Skellig Michael is extremely popular (and weather dependent), so it’s necessary to book months in advance to secure tickets.

Essential Travel Toys for Toddlers – Travel Tips

6 of the best road trips in Nevada

The Essential Road Trip Packing List: A 7-Day Journey Guide

Creating Unforgettable Family Memories: Unique Travel Activities for All Ages

The 4 best road trips in Peru

  • Hotel Reviews
  • Travel Guides
  • Flight Search
  • 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and we can’t wait to visit! We have heard from many of you that you are interested in going to Ireland, and we want to take this opportunity to tell you about all of the amazing things you’ll see and do when you visit.

First off, there are so many places to see in Ireland. The country is made up of four provinces (Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster), each with its own distinct culture and personality. You’ll experience everything from majestic castles and rolling green hills to bustling cities full of exciting activities like concerts and street festivals.

You’ll also learn a lot about Irish history while visiting Ireland! This includes learning about how it was colonized by the English, what life was like before modern times were brought into existence here and how it has changed since then.

10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

Whether you’re looking for a place to get away from it all or a city full of culture, there’s something for everyone in Ireland. Check out our list of 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland:

1. Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, and for good reason. The castle is one of the oldest in Ireland and it was built by an Irish king named Brian Boru around 1180. The castle has been used as a place of worship since medieval times.

Blarney Castle is located just outside Cork City, which makes it an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for a fun day trip or if you’re traveling with friends and family who are interested in history. There are plenty of other unmissable places to visit in Ireland as well, including Cork City itself, Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park and more!

2. Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are a natural wonder in Ireland, one that you’ll want to see. These cliffs rise from the sea and stretch for miles, making them a must-see for any visitor to Ireland.

The cliffs form an impressive layered structure that makes it easy to get a great picture or video of them. The cliffs are also home to many different types of plants and animals, including birds and butterflies. If you’re visiting Ireland, be sure to add the Cliffs of Moher to your itinerary!

3. Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is a must-see for anyone travelling to Ireland. It’s home to some of the most scenic views in all of Ireland, and it’s also got a lot of history—the area was inhabited by the ancient Celtic tribes before they were conquered by the Vikings. If you’re looking for something a little different than the more popular tourist attractions, this place has it. You’ll get to see incredible hikes that take you through some of the most beautiful parts of the country, as well as stop by some historic sites dating back thousands of years.

The Killarney National Park is also a great place to spend time with your family, because it’s dog-friendly! There are plenty of trails for dogs to run off leash and explore on their own—or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even bring your furry friend on hiking trips! If you want an unforgettable trip to Ireland without having to worry about finding accommodations or planning your vacation around activities like hiking or kayaking, then look no further than Killarney National Park—it’s definitely worth checking out!

4. Galway City

The city of Galway lies in the west of Ireland and is one of the country’s most-visited tourist destinations. It is a popular destination for visitors from all over Ireland and beyond, with its famous Grafton Street shopping complex and bustling bars, restaurants, and pubs drawing thousands of tourists each year.

As well as being an exciting tourist destination, Galway is also an important cultural center for the Irish people. The city has a thriving arts scene that includes performing arts such as music, theater and dance performances. There are also many historic sites like the National Museum which tells the story of Irish history through artifacts from ancient times up until modern day!

5. Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula is a beautiful part of Ireland that is often overlooked. It has some amazing scenery, and it’s also a great destination for those who want to get away from the crowds and relax.

This peninsula is home to Dingle, where you can find lots of restaurants and pubs, as well as art galleries and museums. In addition to its attractions, Dingle has many more unmissable places to visit in Ireland such as Kerry’s Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park (the most visited national park in Ireland), Blasket Islands National Park (home to one of the best beaches in Ireland), and Tralee Bay (which is known for its surfing).

6. Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are located off the coast of County Galway, Ireland. The islands are all part of the Burren National Park and are home to a diverse range of wildlife including wolves, wildcats and otters.

There are seven islands that make up the Aran Islands group: Inishmore, Inishmaan, Inisheer, Inishturk, Islay, Jura and Tory. Each island has its own distinct identity and character, but they do share some common characteristics such as wilderness and isolation.

Each island offers its own unique attractions for visitors such as beaches with fine sand or pebble beaches, cliffs that offer spectacular views of the ocean and mountains with ancient forestland. There are also plenty of waterfalls to explore as well as caves and rock formations created by erosion over thousands of years by wind and water erosion.

The best time to visit is between mid-June and late August when there are fewer tourists around and it’s easier to get away from crowds because many prefer going on holiday during this period rather than at other times throughout the year.

7. Dublin City Walls

The walls of Dublin are a must-see for visitors to Dublin, Ireland. The city is an architectural gem, and the walls are a big part of that. The walls stretch from Northside to Southside, and are lined with impressive buildings, like Trinity College and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The most popular walking route starts in College Green, where you can pick up a map from the tourist office or download it online. From there, you’ll wind your way through Trinity College and Gardens, before crossing over the River Liffey at O’Connell Bridge. Continuing on your way up toward Christchurch Cathedral and along Dawson Street brings you to O’Connell Street—where you’ll find yourself at Dublin Castle!

If you’re looking for more than just a few hours of sightseeing, though, Dublin City Walls has plenty more to offer: take a boat tour along the Liffey River; visit St. Stephen’s Green Gardens; walk down Grafton Street or head over to Blackhall Place for some shopping and delicious food; or cross over Trinity Bridge directly onto the south side of O’Connell Bridge Road—all within walking distance of each other!

8. Kilkenny City Walls

Kilkenny City Walls is an old fortress built in the 12th century and has been protected by walls for over 700 years. It is situated in the center of Kilkenny city, Ireland, and is a popular tourist destination.

The entrance to the fortifications is located in Castle Street, and you can get there by walking along Castle Street or by using any of the buses that go through it. The entrance fee for adults is €6 per person, and children under 16 are free. The entrance fee includes guided tour around the fortifications.

The fortifications are made of limestone blocks, with walls up to 5 meters (16 feet) high at some parts. There are seven towers on each side of the fortifications that were used for defense purposes during times of battle and siege. Some of these towers still stand today; however, most have been destroyed by fire or replaced by newer structures built after they were destroyed.

9. Slieve League Mountains

Slieve League Mountains is a range of mountains located in County Donegal, Ireland. It’s an amazing place to visit in Ireland due to its beautiful scenery and incredible views.

The Slieve League Mountains are located on the border between County Donegal and County Tyrone. This area is known for its unique scenery, which includes cliffs and sea stacks. The mountains are also home to many wildlife species such as deer, rabbits and foxes. In addition, there are many hiking trails that allow visitors to explore this area on foot or by bicycle.

One of the best things about visiting the Slieve League Mountains is that there are so many places you can visit while you’re there! You can take a picnic lunch with you and enjoy some delicious local food while enjoying the view from atop one of the cliffs above sea level or even higher up where there’s no danger of falling off!

If you’re interested in visiting Slieve League Mountains then we recommend doing so as soon as possible because it gets very busy during peak season from May through August when families come out here for picnics during summer break.

10. Powerscourt Waterfall

The Powerscourt Waterfall is a spectacular waterfall in the Wicklow Mountains, located in County Wicklow, Ireland. The waterfall is named after the nearby Powerscourt Estate and was designed by architect Roger Staley. It’s one of the most popular waterfalls in Ireland and can be reached by car or on foot; it’s about a 2-hour drive from Dublin.

The waterfall is situated near the village of Glendalough, which was home to Saint Kevin’s Monastery for centuries before being destroyed by Vikings in AD 804. The monastery was later rebuilt and one of its buildings was converted into a church dedicated to Saint Kevin; this church was later converted into a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas (St. Nicholas Church).

The Powerscourt Waterfall can be seen from many different vantage points throughout Glendalough—you’ll have plenty of options if you just want to stay put! You can walk up close to the falls if you’d like, but there are also places along the path that allow access via cable car so that you can get even closer without climbing over rocks or scrambling through bushes!

If you find this page helpful, share it.

Related Posts

  • Discovery the Best Places for Family Holidays on a Budget in Europe
  • Tips For Travel In London On A Budget | London Travel Tips And Advices
  • Europe’s Top Destinations to Visit in July
  • The 10 Best Spring Break Destinations in Europe
  • Cheapest Travel Spots In Europe | Guide to Budget Travel

Click here to submit your review.

Latest Posts

  • Luxury Savannah Hotels with Pools
  • Exploring the Best Travel Destinations on the East Coast of the United Kingdom
  • Discover Top Tourist Attractions in Tokyo
  • Top 4 Charlotte Hotels with Hot Tub
  • Top 3 Indiana Hotels with Pools
  • 5 Best Costa Rica All Inclusive Resorts
  • Hotels with Early Check-in in Denver
  • Best Osaka Hotels Near Train Station
  • 5 Best Beachfront Hotels in Pacific Beach, San Diego
  • Cook Islands Holidays: A Tropical Paradise Awaits
  • Maui Where to Stay: Choosing Your Ideal Retreat
  • The Top 5 Thousand Palms Hotels in California for Your Dream Vacation
  • Best Iceland Camping Sites: Your Ultimate Nature Escape
  • Lake Garda Things to Do: Top Activities and Attractions
  • Kyoto Family Hotels: Where to Stay and Explore with Kids
  • The Best Hotels in Medellin
  • Flight Delays and Cancellations: Tips, Rights, and Solutions
  • Exploring Sweden Vacation Costs
  • Best Romantic Getaways in New England, USA
  • Best Fiji Resort for Snorkeling: Dive into a Sublime Underwater Adventure
  • Squamish Hotels with Pool: Relaxation and Adventure Await!
  • Snow Travel Insurance: Protecting Your Winter Adventures
  • Best Trip to the Galapagos Islands
  • Welsh Road Trip: Exploring the Hidden Gems of Wales
  • Discover the Best Sandals Resort: An Unforgettable Tropical Escape
  • Turks and Caicos Resorts: Embracing the Epitome of Luxury and Tranquility
  • John Forrest National Park Camping: A Gateway to Wilderness Exploration
  • South Pole Trip: Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • Best African Safari Tours for Families
  • Oaxaca Mexico: Exploring the Enchanting Beauty
  • Sunset Gondola Ride in Venice: Embrace the Romance and Beauty
  • Snowboarding Travel Insurance: Protect Your Adventure on the Slopes
  • Caribbean Islands: Captivating Beauty and Endless Adventures
  • Luxury Business Travel: Elevating Your Corporate Journey
  • Ocean Adventure: Exploring the Wonders of the Deep Blue
  • Inspiring Vacations | Ultimate Source of Adventure
  • Pan-Americana Road Trip: Journey of Adventure and Discovery
  • Buying Trip Insurance: Secure Your Journey
  • Planning a Trip to Morocco: Uncover the Wonders of North Africa
  • Hawaiian Parasailing Waikiki: Soaring High Above Oahu’s Shores
  • Sunset Tour Waikiki: A Hawaiian Adventure
  • The Best Beaches in Bermuda for Pink Sand: Exploring the Jewel of the Atlantic
  • The Best Time to Visit the Scottish Highlands
  • Road Trip from Sydney to Perth: The Ultimate Australian Adventure
  • Honeymoon on a Budget: Affordable and Memorable Getaway
  • Portugal Travel Itinerary for 7 Days: Exploring the Riches of Portugal
  • The Best Time to Visit Uluru: Experience the Iconic Landmark at Its Finest
  • Sustainable Travel Tips: Embracing Responsible Tourism for a Greener Future
  • Explore San Francisco Airport: Unveiling the Gateway to the Golden City
  • 5 Best Barcelona Hotels with Private Pools
  • 10 Best Luxury Cruises in Halong Bay
  • The Best Ways to Cut Costs on a Trip to Maine
  • Europe’s Top Destinations to Visit in July
  • Efficient and Convenient: A Guide to Getting Around Michigan by Flight
  • Switzerland on a Budget: The Best Things in Schweiz are Free
  • A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Denver
  • 8 Epic and Affordable Places for a Tropical Vacation
  • The Best Things to Do in Los Angeles
  • Hong Kong is Open to Tourists: Here’s What You Don’t Want to Miss
  • Discover the Best Things to do in Houston on the Weekend
  • Explore the West Rim of Grand Canyon
  • Discover the Unique Things to do and see in Santorini
  • Visit the Czech Republic | The Most Beautiful Towns and Cities of the Czech
  • Best Canggu Villas with Private Pools
  • 10 Best Places to Visit in Cape Town for Couples
  • Best Health and Wellness Retreats in Phuket
  • Best Luxury Chicago Hotels on the River
  • 10 of the best things to do in New York City
  • When is the best time to visit Istanbul, Turkey
  • Pike Place Market at the Center of Seattle’s Bustling Downtown
  • The top things to do in Yellowstone National Park with kids
  • The Best Time to Visit Lisbon, Portugal | Europe’s Most Beloved City
  • The finest Rhodes Hotels with Private Pools
  • Top 5 Cheapest Great Value Hotels in Florida
  • Guiding you to the best hikes on La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain
  • The 6 Most Romantic Getaways in North Carolina
  • How to Avoid and Recover from Holiday Debt Trap
  • The Most Affordable Destinations for Budget Travelers
  • 10 Unmissable South Island Attractions, New Zealand
  • Everything you need to know before you visit Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Uzbekistan: The Most Amazing Destination in Central Asia
  • 7 Best Things to do in Portugal
  • The Best Things to do in Frankfurt
  • Why Travel is Good for Your Mental Health
  • The Best of Osaka | A City of Fine Food and Timeless Culture
  • Discover the Best Time to Visit San Diego | America’s Finest City
  • Explore the World’s Best Private Hot Springs | The Perfect Staycation
  • Tropical Exotic Retreats | Top 10 Tropical Escapes
  • The Best Time to Visit Egypt | Discover a Whole New World
  • The Best Time to Visit Stockholm | Stockholm’s Best Attractions
  • Experience the Best of Busan | A Full Day Tour of Busan Highlights
  • A Guide to Airline Fare Classes and Comfort Levels | Buying the Right Ticket
  • Your Perfect Vacation Spot in the United States
  • Asia’s Best Tourist Destination | Experience the Real Asia
  • Reasons You Need to Plan Your Next Trip to Paris | Visit Disneyland Paris
  • Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Family Vacation in Middle East
  • 10 Best Places to See Cherry Blossom in Japan
  • Ontario Attractions for Families | Experience a Great Getaway

Popular Cities

Travel Around Ireland

Top 10 Things to Do in Northern Ireland: Unique and Unmissable

Northern Ireland is a beautiful corner of the Emerald Isle and has more to offer visitors than may first meet the eye.

Northern Ireland has eluded me but I have researched this part of the Emerald Isle extensively to bring you an amazing list of the top 10 things to do in Northern Ireland , things I plan to do when I visit.

So, if you are considering going North while on the Emerald Isle, you will love this list of some of Northern Ireland’s unique and unmissable attractions and things to do.

Uncover the top 10 things to do in Northern Ireland here so you can start planning your visit and discovering all the best things to see and do in the region.

Games of Thrones locations

Top things to do in northern ireland.

The northeast corner of Ireland is where you will find Northern Ireland. Although officially a country within the United Kingdom containing six of the overall 32 counties on Ireland, Northern Ireland is often combined with a trip to the Republic by many visitors to the island of Ireland.

If you are looking for the top things to do in Northern Ireland or have been wondering what the top 10 tourist attractions in Northern Ireland are, then you are going to enjoy learning about them below!

Read my post to understand why there is a difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland .

Visit Belfast

One of the top 10 places to visit in Northern Ireland is Belfast. As the capital city, Belfast is a city that has undergone many changes in the last few decades. With the peace after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the biggest changes have occurred, making it more appealing and popular with tourists flocking to the Emerald Isle.

One of the best places in the city, and top places to visit in Northern Ireland, is the area known as the Titanic Quarter. The city is famous for having been the birthplace of the famous liner and the shipyard in which she was built has been transformed into one of the top ten places to visit in Northern Ireland.

You can visit the Titanic Museum, the Titanic Studios, and visit the SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star liner.

Also a must in Belfast is Belfast City Hall (pictured) and the Botanic Gardens. Tours of City Hall are available, and you should make time to visit the Victorian greenhouses in the Botanic Gardens, especially the 1839 Palm House.

There is also the Ulster Museum to visit, Stormont where the Northern Ireland Assembly meets, and the grounds of Belfast Castle are a lovely place for a quiet wander, although the castle itself is not open to the public.

One of the best things to do in Belfast is to take a Black Cab Tour of the city to discover the political murals of the city. During the Troubles between 1968 and 1998, many political murals were created to denote political loyalties and affiliations. Today the amazing artwork remains as a testament to the troubled times, which will hopefully remain in the past.

No matter your interests, there is sure to be plenty to do in Belfast.

A picture of Belfast City Hall with a Ferris Wheel behind it, green grass in front and blue skies overhead

Mourne Mountains

One of the best things to do in Northern Ireland is to head south from Belfast to visit the Mourne Mountains. Located in County Down, these low mountains, whose peaks rarely surpass 600m in height, attract thousands of visitors every year.

Although they might not be considered one of the top tourist destinations in Northern Ireland, should you choose to visit, you won’t be disappointed. They are hugely popular with walkers and hikers thanks to the fact that there is only one road that crosses the Mourne Mountains. This road was only built in the 19 th century and until then the mountains could only be cross on foot or circumvented by sea.

The Mourne Mountains are one of the best places in Northern Ireland to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature. There are a few forest parks to visit including the Tollymore Forest Park and the Castlewellan Forest Park.

You can also see the Mourne Wall, a spectacular drystone wall that was erected between 1904 and 1922 to enclose the catchment area of the Rivers Kilkeel and Annalong and prevent livestock from reaching them. The wall is 2m high, 1m thick and 35m long.

The Silent Valley Reservoir is another great place in the mountains for a stroll. As well as the walks and trails there is an exhibition about the dam’s construction.

There is no national park in Northern Ireland but there have been calls for the Mourne Mountains to be converted to Northern Ireland’s first one, which would make it a seventh national park in Ireland .

A picture of a gentle river slowing between rocks with hills in the background in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland

Visit Derry-Londonderry

Along with Belfast, one of the most popular places in Northern Ireland for visitors is Derry or Londonderry. As the second-largest city in Northern Ireland, the city was given a makeover in 2013 for its turn in being the UK City of Culture with the Peace Bridge being built and the waterfront being redeveloped.

Derry is a walled city and one of the best things to do is to walk along the circumference of the 17th-century city walls. You can get a feel for the city and enjoy unparalleled views of Derry. These are among Ireland’s only, largely intact city walls and there are four original gates and three additional gates to pass.

There are also a few museums worth visiting in the city including the Tower Museum where you can learn about the city’s history, and the Siege Museum where visitors can learn about the 1688 siege of Derry by Jacobite troops.

Outside the city walls of Derry, you can walk the Peace Bridge (pictured), visit St Columba’s Church, and also see the 12 murals depicting key events in the Troubles including Bloody Sunday.

Note, the city’s (and county’s) official name is Londonderry, having acquired the prefix of London in 1613 after it was selected as a major Plantation project, although it is most commonly referred to as Derry in everyday speech.

A picture of the Peace Bridge in Derry at dusk

Discover the Causeway Coastal Route

If you are looking for things to do on the north coast of Northern Ireland and the east, then driving the Causeway Coastal Route is a must. This coastal route is approximately 130 miles long (210km) and stretches north from Belfast and then west to Derry.

This route includes some of the top 10 attractions in Northern Ireland including the Giant’s Causeway (discussed below), the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunseverick which has waterfalls that flow directly into the sea, the Mussenden Temple (pictured), and the beautiful seaside town of Portrush which hosts one of the best beaches in Ireland .

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a bridge that hangs 30m above the Atlantic Ocean and spans the 20m chasm between the mainland and Carrick-a-Rede Island. It was erected to provide access to the tiny island. It is hugely popular and, as one of the top things to see in Northern Ireland, a ticketed system was introduced giving visitors a one-hour slot to enjoy the bridge.

A unique sight to see in Northern Ireland is the Mussenden Temple, located not far from Portstewart. Built in the late 18 th century by the eccentric Earl of Bristol as a memorial to his cousin, this temple is quite unique, perched on the headland with its domed rotunda. Originally designed to be used as a library, it is now maintained as a tourist attraction by the National Trust .

There are lots of pretty coastal towns along the way and exploring the Causeway Coastal Route, both the east and north coast could easily fill more than a few days.

A picture of the Mussenden Temple on the Causeway Coast, one of the best things to do in Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway

One of the top tourist attractions in Northern Ireland that is usually found on people’s Ireland bucket list is the Giant’s Causeway, located along the Causeway Coast to the north. This spectacular rock formation is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe.

The mainly hexagonal basalt stone columns were formed around 60 million years ago as a result of volcanic fissure eruption. After the molten basalt pushed through the chalk beds, rapid cooling occurred resulting in contraction, causing horizontal fractures which formed what we see today.

However, there is a legend associated with the Giant’s Causeway. Legend has it that an Irish giant, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant, Benandonner. Fionn built the causeway to reach Scotland to accept the challenge. However, when Fionn realised his opponent was much larger than he, his wife disguised Fionn as her baby. When the Scottish giant saw the baby, he believed that the Irish giant must be a giant among giants and fled back to Scotland, tearing up the causeway as he went so that Fionn cannot pursue him. There are identical basalt columns at the Scottish Isle of Staffa, which may have helped influence the legendary tale.

At the Giant’s Causeway, there is a visitor centre where you can learn more about the formation of the columns. While the centre is free to enter, you must pay for parking which gives you entry to the centre. From the visitor centre, it is a 10 to 15-minute walk to the Causeway itself.

So, if you are looking to visit one of the top ten tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, then the Giant’s Causeway is a must.

A picture of the Giant's Causeway with blue skies above it

Rathlin Island

Another one of the top things to visit in Northern Ireland is Rathlin Island. Lying 6km off-shore from Ballycastle on the Causeway Coast, the island which is L-shaped is a great place to visit if you’d like to try and spot seals or nesting birds in Spring or Summer.

The island is small and best visited on a day trip from Ballycastle or for an overnight stay. On the island, there is a Boathouse Visitor Centre where you can learn more about the island. There are also two lighthouses, among the best lighthouses in Ireland , and plenty of walking trails too.

The island also has a cave called Bruce’s Cave where it is said that Scottish hero Robert the Bruce spent time before returning to Scotland to defeat the English. His cave is located beneath the East Lighthouse at the north-eastern tip of the island.

A picture of the Rathlin West Lighthouse shining its upside down beacon in foggy conditions

Glen’s of Antrim

One of the most beautiful places to go in Northern Ireland is the area between Cushendun and Glenarm, known as the Glen’s of Antrim. The glacier valleys which form the Glens dissect a high plateau of black basalt lava and are among the best things to do in County Antrim .

The Glen’s of Antrim is an area of natural beauty and there are several walking trails in the region including the Ulster Way which stays close to the coast and the Moyle Way which runs inland across the plateau and includes the Glenariff Forest Park, which is a must-visit in this part of Northern Ireland.

The Glenariff Forest Park is home to one of the best things to see in Northern Ireland, the Ess-na-Larach Waterfall, one of the best Irish waterfalls . This and other waterfalls are dotted through the Glens, carved by nine rivers that run from the Antrim Mountains to the sea.

A picture of the milky waters of the Ess-na-Larach waterfall

As with the whole of Ireland, some of the best things to see in Northern Ireland are its many castles. There are over 40 castles, some of which are ruins, some of which are intact, and no matter where you are in the region, you are sure to stumble upon one of them.

One of the most visited lies along the northern part of the Causeway Coast, Dunluce Castle (pictured). This 13th-century castle is mostly ruined, as a result of a fire in the 1600s. However, it is often visited as part of a trip along the Causeway Coast. Guided tours are offered during the summer and it is a picture-worthy castle sitting atop its craggy basalt outcrop.

A visit to Belfast Castle (already mentioned) is worth doing if you are in the city. Although the castle itself is not open to the public, its grounds are a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Carrickfergus Castle is another castle to visit in Northern Ireland. It is a well-preserved Norman castle dating back to the 12 th century and located on the north shore of Lough Belfast in the town of the same name.

Other castles to visit in Northern Ireland include

  • Dunseverick Castle (history dating back to the 6 th century)
  • Enniskillen Castle (16 th century)

Castles are among the top things to see and do in Northern Ireland, so make sure to add one to your itinerary. Find a complete list of Northern Ireland castles here .

A picture of the ruins of Dunluce Castle on the Causeway Coast in Antrim with sunlight bathing it and the sea in the background

One of the top ten things to do in Northern Ireland is to pay a visit to the Gobbins. This cliff path at Islandmagee along the Causeway Coastal Route has tunnels, caves, and bridges passing lots of birdlife, which makes it a must-see in Northern Ireland. You may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins in the Irish Sea.

First opened in 1902, after being created by Irish railway engineer Berkeley Deane Wise when the new railway made the area accessible to visitors, it is a popular place to go if you enjoy walking and hiking and have a good level of fitness.

The Gobbins area is accessible by guided tour and visitors will enjoy a 2.5-hour tour along the path. Booking in advance is a must. There is a visitor centre from where tours begin, a playground, a café, and a souvenir shop.

If you are looking for something unusual to do in Northern Ireland, then make sure to tackle the Gobbins.

A picture of part of the Gobbins Coastal Path in Northern Ireland

One of the fun things to do in Northern Ireland is to embark on a trail to visit Game of Thrones locations in the country. There were about 25 filming locations around Northern Ireland for the famous TV show and many people flock to the region to visit some of them.

One of the top attractions in Northern Ireland when it comes to Game of Thrones locations is the Dark Hedges. Used as the Kingsroad in the show, the Dark Hedges is a road lined with entwined beech trees that were planted in the 18 th century by the Stuart family as the formal entrance to their estate.

Other Game of Thrones locations to visit include:

  • Cushenden Caves, where Melisandre gave birth to her ‘shadow baby’.
  • Ballintoy Harbour, which featured as the Free Cities where Varys was born, and as the coastal place where Theon Greyjoy arrives back to the Iron Islands.
  • Larrybane Quarry, which was used to introduce Brienne of Tarth when she fought Ser Loras Tyrell in front of King Renly.
  • Castle Ward, used as part of Winterfell.

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, then one of the best activities to do in Northern Ireland is to seek out these filming locations.

A picture of the famous Dark Hedges in Antrim, a road covered with entwined beech trees

Final thoughts on the top 10 things to do in Northern Ireland

If you’ve been wondering what to do in Northern Ireland, whether you are visiting the Emerald Isle or looking to explore more of the island you live on, then hopefully this list of the 10 best places to visit in Northern Ireland has given you some ideas.

From famous things in Northern Ireland to perhaps a few lesser-known places, Northern Ireland has so much to offer visitors to this corner of the Emerald Isle. Where will you visit next?

Read more about visiting Northern Ireland:

  • Is Belfast Worth Visiting?
  • Best Day Trips from Belfast
  • Best Things to Do in County Antrim
  • Ireland vs Northern Ireland: What’s the Difference?
  • The Two Fascinating Capitals of Ireland: Dublin and Belfast
  • Best Places in Ireland to Visit
  • Best Time to Visit Ireland
  • Navigating Ireland With or Without a Car
  • Best Reasons You Should Visit Ireland
  • Getting Around Ireland Without a Car
  • The Ultimate Ireland Packing List

A picture of the Giant's Causeway at dusk with text overlay saying Top Northern Ireland things to do

by Cath Jordan

2 thoughts on “top 10 things to do in northern ireland: unique and unmissable”.

I’m visiting Northern Ireland in a few weeks on a coach tour butI believe part of the tour includes Ireland on the Wild Atlantic coast. Is it worthwhile taking few Euros? Also, I’m not too good on my feet. Would you recommend crossing the rope bridge and walking near the Giants Causeway? Is Belfast an expensive city. I was thinking of buying one or two souvenirs. What’s best?

Unless you are actually going into the Republic of Ireland, you won’t need euros. I have not crossed the rope bridge but from what I understand, it is not hugely accessible and is only accessed via 1km of a cliff walk, of which only the first 0.5km is wheelchair accessible. For the Giant’s Causeway, you might find this article more helpful: https://spintheglobe.net/dir/2018/09/09/visit-wheelchair-accessible-giants-causeway/

All cities in Ireland can be expensive depending on where you stay and what you do. As for souvenirs, Carroll’s can be great for picking up cheap and inexpensive gifts and souvenirs. There are two in Belfast: https://www.carrollsirishgifts.com/stores/?showMap=true&horizontalView=true&isForm=true

Hope this helps 🙂

Leave a comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Privacy Overview

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Love Exploring

Love Exploring

10 of the best things to see and do in Northern Ireland for culture lovers

Posted: 4 January 2024 | Last updated: 4 January 2024

<p>Small but mighty Northern Ireland packs in plenty of impressive sights, Celtic culture, cuisine, tradition and history into 32,595 square miles. From museums to festivals and fine dining experiences, this destination offers an activity for every age and a flavour for every palette.</p>  <p><strong>Click or scroll through the gallery to discover our guide to the unmissable highlights of Northern Ireland, with a focus on activities for city break lovers...</strong></p>

Unmissable highlights of Northern Ireland

Small but mighty Northern Ireland packs in plenty of impressive sights, Celtic culture, cuisine, tradition and history into 32,595 square miles. From museums to festivals and fine dining experiences, this destination offers an activity for every age and a flavour for every palette.

Click or scroll through the gallery to discover our guide to the unmissable highlights of Northern Ireland, with a focus on activities for city break lovers...

<p>Located on the very spot where the ill-fated ship was designed, built and launched, <a href="https://www.titanicbelfast.com/explore/">Titanic Belfast</a> is a world-leading tourist attraction which takes visitors on an immersive journey from the bustling boomtown of early 19<sup>th </sup>century Belfast, through the conception and construction of the RMS Titanic. You'll also learn what life was like on board the completed ship and within the cabins of various classes, and finally the story culminates in the tragic sinking and devastating aftermath, with one of the largest collections of salvaged artefacts in the world.</p>

1. Visit Titanic Belfast

Located on the very spot where the ill-fated ship was designed, built and launched, Titanic Belfast is a world-leading tourist attraction which takes visitors on an immersive journey from the bustling boomtown of early 19 th  century Belfast, through the conception and construction of the RMS Titanic. You'll also learn what life was like on board the completed ship and within the cabins of various classes, and finally the story culminates in the tragic sinking and devastating aftermath, with one of the largest collections of salvaged artefacts in the world.

<p>The museum is designed for guests of all ages, with plenty of interactive elements to engage young children, and a wealth of information presented through multimedia exhibits. There’s even a short, fairground-style ride which takes passengers through the sights, sounds and smells of the shipyard as it would have been during the Titanic’s construction.</p>  <p>Also in the vicinity and worth exploring are the SS Nomadic, the Titanic’s tender ship and the last remaining White Star Liner vessel in the world; the slipways where the ship was actually constructed; and the former Harland & Wolff headquarters where the Titanic was designed – and which is now the <a href="https://www.titanichotelbelfast.com/?_gl=1*11a63nl*_up*MQ..&gclid=CjwKCAiAgeeqBhBAEiwAoDDhnzS6LmhB6dtrHfPNn22WGbnX24zjXkicjzdCQ9S2I7wJCvRB5EPLeBoCZtsQAvD_BwE">Titanic Hotel Belfast</a>.</p>

The museum is designed for guests of all ages, with plenty of interactive elements to engage young children, and a wealth of information presented through multimedia exhibits. There’s even a short, fairground-style ride which takes passengers through the sights, sounds and smells of the shipyard as it would have been during the Titanic’s construction.

Also in the vicinity and worth exploring are the SS Nomadic, the Titanic’s tender ship and the last remaining White Star Liner vessel in the world; the slipways where the ship was actually constructed; and the former Harland & Wolff headquarters where the Titanic was designed – and which is now the Titanic Hotel Belfast .

<p>While exploring Belfast’s rapidly developing 10-km (six-mile) Maritime Mile along the waterfront, you’ll want to stop by the <a href="https://www.titanicdistillers.com/">Titanic Distillers</a>, a new distillery based out of a former pumphouse that once serviced the Titanic, as well as many other ships. Distillery tours take visitors on a journey through the building’s history, from its original use – as a pumphouse, it was the last spot where Titanic rested on dry ground before she set sail – to its restoration and renovation into the distillery, including an explanation of the whiskey making process.</p>

2. Tour the Titanic Distillers

While exploring Belfast’s rapidly developing 10-km (six-mile) Maritime Mile along the waterfront, you’ll want to stop by the  Titanic Distillers , a new distillery based out of a former pumphouse that once serviced the Titanic, as well as many other ships. Distillery tours take visitors on a journey through the building’s history, from its original use – as a pumphouse, it was the last spot where Titanic rested on dry ground before she set sail – to its restoration and renovation into the distillery, including an explanation of the whiskey making process.

<p>The tour ends with a tasting, allowing guests to sample their Irish Whisky and award-winning Irish vodka, distilled on site. The tour is a must-do for history and whiskey-lovers alike, the perfect way to immerse yourself in Belfast’s maritime past while enjoying some of its very best contemporary spirits.</p>  <p>There is also a fantastic gift shop if you want to bring some Titanic-branded beverages back home. </p>

The tour ends with a tasting, allowing guests to sample their Irish Whisky and award-winning Irish vodka, distilled on site. The tour is a must-do for history and whiskey-lovers alike, the perfect way to immerse yourself in Belfast’s maritime past while enjoying some of its very best contemporary spirits.

There is also a fantastic gift shop if you want to bring some Titanic-branded beverages back home. 

<p>If you’re looking for an outdoor experience near Belfast that doesn’t require elite outdoorsman skills, then a hike up Cave Hill is the perfect excursion, with the added benefit that the trails are within easy walking distance of the city centre. The hike starts at the beautiful <a href="https://www.belfastcastle.co.uk/belfast-castle/about-us/history/history.aspx">Belfast Castle</a>, a late 19<sup>th</sup> century mansion built in the Scottish baronial style popular at the time and situated on a promontory overlooking the city. From here, hikers can choose one of several routes of varying lengths, depending on how ambitious they’re feeling.</p>

3. Take a hike up Cave Hill

If you’re looking for an outdoor experience near Belfast that doesn’t require elite outdoorsman skills, then a hike up Cave Hill is the perfect excursion, with the added benefit that the trails are within easy walking distance of the city centre. The hike starts at the beautiful Belfast Castle , a late 19 th century mansion built in the Scottish baronial style popular at the time and situated on a promontory overlooking the city. From here, hikers can choose one of several routes of varying lengths, depending on how ambitious they’re feeling.

<p>Any hike here should include a visit to McArt's Fort, known by locals as ‘the nose’ or ‘Napoleon’s Nose.’ This promontory sits 1,207 feet (368m) above sea level and is said to resemble the profile of the French emperor Napoleon I.</p>  <p>Napoleon’s Nose is also said to have inspired the giant in Jonathan Swift’s <em>Gulliver’s Travels</em>. This summit will provide breathtaking views out across the city, while the entire journey up the hill is punctuated with beautiful vistas of rolling farmland, leafy pastures and the occasional herd of cows.</p>

Any hike here should include a visit to McArt's Fort, known by locals as ‘the nose’ or ‘Napoleon’s Nose.’ This promontory sits 1,207 feet (368m) above sea level and is said to resemble the profile of the French emperor Napoleon I.

Napoleon’s Nose is also said to have inspired the giant in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels . This summit will provide breathtaking views out across the city, while the entire journey up the hill is punctuated with beautiful vistas of rolling farmland, leafy pastures and the occasional herd of cows.

<p>If you’re keen to sample more of the flavours of Belfast, you should check out the variety of experiences offered by <a href="https://tasteandtour.co.uk/">Taste & Tour</a>, a company which specialises in various walking tours based around the city’s culinary highlights. The tours are an excellent way to see the city, while providing the low-down on the best places to eat and drink from a knowledgeable guide.</p>

4. Savour the flavours on a tasting tour

If you’re keen to sample more of the flavours of Belfast, you should check out the variety of experiences offered by  Taste & Tour , a company which specialises in various walking tours based around the city’s culinary highlights. The tours are an excellent way to see the city, while providing the low-down on the best places to eat and drink from a knowledgeable guide.

<p>Great tour options from Taste & Tour include the Belfast Food Tour, the Belfast Gin Jaunt, the City Cocktail Circuit and the 5 Stop Brunch. Whichever tour you choose, the company ethos remains the same – highlighting local traditions and businesses, showcasing the very best of Northern Ireland’s flavours and generally creating an atmosphere of a big, portable party. </p>  <p>We tried the City Cocktail Circuit and loved getting to sample a wide variety of artisanal drinks in locations ranging from the sumptuous and historic Merchant Hotel to a quirky underground speakeasy. And, if the thought of so many beverages in a concentrated time causes concern, don’t worry: there are plenty of tasty snacks included along the way! </p>

Great tour options from Taste & Tour include the Belfast Food Tour, the Belfast Gin Jaunt, the City Cocktail Circuit and the 5 Stop Brunch. Whichever tour you choose, the company ethos remains the same – highlighting local traditions and businesses, showcasing the very best of Northern Ireland’s flavours and generally creating an atmosphere of a big, portable party. 

We tried the City Cocktail Circuit and loved getting to sample a wide variety of artisanal drinks in locations ranging from the sumptuous and historic Merchant Hotel to a quirky underground speakeasy. And, if the thought of so many beverages in a concentrated time causes concern, don’t worry: there are plenty of tasty snacks included along the way! 

<p>Moving away from Belfast and into County Tyrone (around 1 hour 20 from Belfast by car), you’ll find another activity that’s perfect for the whole family – the <a href="https://www.ulsteramericanfolkpark.org/">Ulster American Folk Park</a>. Popular with international tourists as well as locals, this living history museum recreates rural Irish life in the 18<sup>th</sup> century and charts the Irish immigrant’s journey from County Tyrone across the Atlantic to the American frontier.</p>  <p>Throughout the museum’s collection of authentic 18<sup>th</sup> and 19<sup>th</sup> century buildings, costumed interpreters perform daily chores and regale guests with stories from the past.</p>

5. Visit the Ulster American Folk Park

Moving away from Belfast and into County Tyrone (around 1 hour 20 from Belfast by car), you’ll find another activity that’s perfect for the whole family – the Ulster American Folk Park . Popular with international tourists as well as locals, this living history museum recreates rural Irish life in the 18 th century and charts the Irish immigrant’s journey from County Tyrone across the Atlantic to the American frontier.

Throughout the museum’s collection of authentic 18 th and 19 th century buildings, costumed interpreters perform daily chores and regale guests with stories from the past.

<p>Visitors will start in a traditional Ulster village, moving along the bustling high street from the blacksmiths to the schoolhouse, and then board the recreated ‘Brig Union ship,’ experiencing the cramped quarters and squalid conditions that immigrants endured for the 12-week journey to the US. They will then emerge in the vibrant New World and discover how Irish immigrants built new lives and communities in settlements as wide ranging as West Virginia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.</p>  <p>The Ulster American Folk Park also offers a range of seasonal events and workshops, particularly around the holidays.</p>

Visitors will start in a traditional Ulster village, moving along the bustling high street from the blacksmiths to the schoolhouse, and then board the recreated ‘Brig Union ship,’ experiencing the cramped quarters and squalid conditions that immigrants endured for the 12-week journey to the US. They will then emerge in the vibrant New World and discover how Irish immigrants built new lives and communities in settlements as wide ranging as West Virginia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

The Ulster American Folk Park also offers a range of seasonal events and workshops, particularly around the holidays.

<p>Well into their third generation of farmers, the McKeever’s of <a href="https://www.longmeadowcider.com/">Long Meadow Cider</a> is a family farm situated in County Armagh, which has long been dedicated to the production of Bramley apples. The McKeevers turn the tasty fruit into award-winning juices, ciders and apple cider vinegars, with tried and tested methods that have been passed down from generation to generation.</p>

6. Sample cider at Long Meadow Farm

Well into their third generation of farmers, the McKeever’s of  Long Meadow Cider  is a family farm situated in County Armagh, which has long been dedicated to the production of Bramley apples. The McKeevers turn the tasty fruit into award-winning juices, ciders and apple cider vinegars, with tried and tested methods that have been passed down from generation to generation.

<p>The best way to experience all that Long Meadow has to offer is with a tour, which includes a walk through the aromatic orchard, a peek into the apple pressing and bottling room and the cold storage facilities (with the chance to try both a piece of fruit and shot of apple cider vinegar), and a fabulous finish in the glass-fronted barn overlooking the orchard with a cup of hot coffee and a piece of freshly made apple tart and cream. There is also the option to enjoy a cooking demonstration and tasting of Irish soda bread.</p>  <p>And of course, all tours include a tasting of the various juices and ciders produced on site.</p>

The best way to experience all that Long Meadow has to offer is with a tour, which includes a walk through the aromatic orchard, a peek into the apple pressing and bottling room and the cold storage facilities (with the chance to try both a piece of fruit and shot of apple cider vinegar), and a fabulous finish in the glass-fronted barn overlooking the orchard with a cup of hot coffee and a piece of freshly made apple tart and cream. There is also the option to enjoy a cooking demonstration and tasting of Irish soda bread.

And of course, all tours include a tasting of the various juices and ciders produced on site.

<p>In the historic walled city of Derry/Londonderry, you’ll have the chance to experience all that the inaugural UK City of Culture has to offer. The best way to do this is to take a tour of the city walls themselves.</p>  <p>Join a <a href="https://www.derrycitytours.com/">City Walking Tour</a> for an engaging, unbiased journey through Derry/Londonderry's history, from its Christian settlement in the 6<sup>th</sup> century, up through the Troubles including Bloody Sunday, to its current reputation as a seat of music, hospitality and peace.</p>

7. Take a tour of the Derry walls

In the historic walled city of Derry/Londonderry, you’ll have the chance to experience all that the inaugural UK City of Culture has to offer. The best way to do this is to take a tour of the city walls themselves.

Join a City Walking Tour for an engaging, unbiased journey through Derry/Londonderry's history, from its Christian settlement in the 6 th century, up through the Troubles including Bloody Sunday, to its current reputation as a seat of music, hospitality and peace.

<p>City Walking Tours take in exciting highlights, including the siege cannons still mounted on the city walls, St Columb’s Cathedral, and the Bogside murals, painted on the sides of buildings by local artists, which depict poignant moments from the Troubles. Plus, for fans of the hit Channel 4 TV series <em>Derry Girls</em>, there are quite a few familiar landmarks and references sprinkled in along the way…</p>

City Walking Tours take in exciting highlights, including the siege cannons still mounted on the city walls, St Columb’s Cathedral, and the Bogside murals, painted on the sides of buildings by local artists, which depict poignant moments from the Troubles. Plus, for fans of the hit Channel 4 TV series Derry Girls , there are quite a few familiar landmarks and references sprinkled in along the way…

<p>In fact, there are plenty of opportunities for <em>Derry Girls </em>fans to immerse themselves in the world of these iconic characters while visiting the city. Perhaps the biggest attraction is the Derry Girls mural, painted by UV Arts in 2019 to honour the show’s impact on the city.</p>  <p>The mural is a fantastic photo opp for Derry Girls fans of all ages. </p>

8. Pay homage to the Derry Girls

In fact, there are plenty of opportunities for Derry Girls fans to immerse themselves in the world of these iconic characters while visiting the city. Perhaps the biggest attraction is the Derry Girls mural, painted by UV Arts in 2019 to honour the show’s impact on the city.

The mural is a fantastic photo opp for Derry Girls fans of all ages. 

<p>There is also a fantastic Derry Girls Experience in the <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=tower+museum+derry&sca_esv=583840315&sxsrf=AM9HkKlPvDKl8Tf-KSGPNWe2iWwaQfeqvA%3A1700431638338&ei=FodaZejzE4y1hbIPq4SwuAw&ved=0ahUKEwjo1pG-idGCAxWMWkEAHSsCDMcQ4dUDCBE&uact=5&oq=tower+museum+derry&gs_lp=Egxnd3Mtd2l6LXNlcnAiEnRvd2VyIG11c2V1bSBkZXJyeTILEC4YrwEYxwEYgAQyBRAAGIAEMgUQABiABDIFEAAYgAQyBRAAGIAEMgoQABiABBgUGIcCMgsQABiABBiKBRiGAzILEAAYgAQYigUYhgMyGhAuGK8BGMcBGIAEGJcFGNwEGN4EGOAE2AEDSIMRUIcFWOwMcAF4AZABAJgBxQGgAYoHqgEDMS41uAEDyAEA-AEBwgIKEAAYRxjWBBiwA8ICDRAAGIAEGIoFGLADGEPCAhwQLhiABBiKBRjHARivARjIAxiwAxiOBRhD2AEBwgIZEC4YgAQYigUYxwEYrwEYyAMYsAMYQ9gBAcICDhAAGOQCGNYEGLAD2AECwgIKEAAYgAQYigUYQ8ICCxAuGIAEGMcBGK8BwgIQEC4YFBivARjHARiHAhiABMICDhAuGIAEGMcBGK8BGI4F4gMEGAAgQYgGAZAGE7oGBggBEAEYCLoGBggCEAEYCboGBggDEAEYFA&sclient=gws-wiz-serp">Tower Museum</a>, located in the heart of the city. Here, visitors can see sets, costumes and props used on the hit TV series, as well as watch interviews with its cast and creator Lisa McGee, as they find out more about the production process.</p>  <p>If all this walking has tired you out, you can always stop by Doherty’s Home Bakery for a cream horn pick-me-up in honour of the show's Granda Joe!</p>

There is also a fantastic Derry Girls Experience in the Tower Museum , located in the heart of the city. Here, visitors can see sets, costumes and props used on the hit TV series, as well as watch interviews with its cast and creator Lisa McGee, as they find out more about the production process.

If all this walking has tired you out, you can always stop by Doherty’s Home Bakery for a cream horn pick-me-up in honour of the show's Granda Joe!

<p>The best way to end a day in Derry/Londonderry is within the warm and welcoming confines of the <a href="https://www.walledcitybrewery.com/">Walled City Brewery</a>. Here, the self-proclaimed “expert hipster brewers” will take you on a tour of the facilities, letting you taste the different grains used, showing you the equipment for the brewing process and explaining the history of the brewery itself, which originally opened in 1872.</p>  <p>At the end of the tour comes the highlight – the opportunity to pull your own pint of choice, straight from the keg.</p>

9. Pull your own pints at the Walled City Brewery

The best way to end a day in Derry/Londonderry is within the warm and welcoming confines of the Walled City Brewery . Here, the self-proclaimed “expert hipster brewers” will take you on a tour of the facilities, letting you taste the different grains used, showing you the equipment for the brewing process and explaining the history of the brewery itself, which originally opened in 1872.

At the end of the tour comes the highlight – the opportunity to pull your own pint of choice, straight from the keg.

<p>The Walled City Brewery also boasts an impressive onsite restaurant, with a menu inspired by local produce and flavours and featuring everything from steak and chips and pork fillet to gluten-free, veggie and vegan options. The restaurant is family friendly and makes an excellent spot to kick back and relax with a pint after a day of exploring, or in preparation for a night of festivities…</p>

The Walled City Brewery also boasts an impressive onsite restaurant, with a menu inspired by local produce and flavours and featuring everything from steak and chips and pork fillet to gluten-free, veggie and vegan options. The restaurant is family friendly and makes an excellent spot to kick back and relax with a pint after a day of exploring, or in preparation for a night of festivities…

<p>If you’re lucky enough to visit Derry/Londonderry at the end of October, you’ll find yourself immersed in <a href="https://derryhalloween.com/">Derry Halloween</a>, Europe’s largest Halloween festival (taking place 28-31 October 2024). Steeped in centuries of Celtic tradition, the festival celebrates the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter or, in slightly darker lore, the moment when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest.</p>  <p>While our modern Halloween traditions may have come a long way from these early Gaelic precursors, the spirit of Samhain is still alive and well in Derry.</p>

10. Revel at Derry Halloween

If you’re lucky enough to visit Derry/Londonderry at the end of October, you’ll find yourself immersed in Derry Halloween , Europe’s largest Halloween festival (taking place 28-31 October 2024). Steeped in centuries of Celtic tradition, the festival celebrates the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter or, in slightly darker lore, the moment when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest.

While our modern Halloween traditions may have come a long way from these early Gaelic precursors, the spirit of Samhain is still alive and well in Derry.

<p>In a rollicking marriage of old and new traditions, Derry Halloween turns the entire walled city into one enormous party, with music, dancers, acrobats, storytellers, fire artists and live performances of every kind. The festival runs for about a week leading up to the main event – an enormous parade and fireworks display that caps off the festivities.</p>  <p>Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world flood the city for this special event every year, all dressed to impress in their finest (or fiercest!) festive attire.</p>  <p><a href="https://www.loveexploring.com/galleries/182887/irelands-most-beautiful-small-towns-and-villages"><strong>Now discover Ireland's most beautiful small towns and villages</strong></a></p>

In a rollicking marriage of old and new traditions, Derry Halloween turns the entire walled city into one enormous party, with music, dancers, acrobats, storytellers, fire artists and live performances of every kind. The festival runs for about a week leading up to the main event – an enormous parade and fireworks display that caps off the festivities.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world flood the city for this special event every year, all dressed to impress in their finest (or fiercest!) festive attire.

Now discover Ireland's most beautiful small towns and villages

More for You

shutterstock_editorial_10584437c.jpg

TV doctor Michael Mosley’s wife says ‘kind and brilliant’ husband found dead on Greek island

Air Canada Boeing plane bursts into flames seconds after taking off

Air Canada Boeing plane bursts into flames seconds after taking off

Who is my local councillor? Here's a list of all the seats filled so far

Who is my local councillor? Here's a list of all the seats filled so far

People are only just realising the meaning behind iconic 70s rock band name

People are only just realising the meaning behind iconic 70s rock band name

Apocalypse now: Donald Trump dons the

What a fool believes: Donald Trump and America's bogus respect for "faith"

undefined

Letters: D-Day heroes weren’t asked for their passports to liberate France

Tom Bower has tragically died aged 86

Die Hard 2 star Tom Bower dies aged 86 - as tributes pour in

Tesco urgently recalls chocolate bars and issues 'do not eat' warning

Tesco urgently recalls chocolate bars and issues 'do not eat' warning

21 Simple and Dumb Jokes That Still Went Over People's Heads

20 Simple and Dumb Jokes That Still Went Over People's Heads

Taylor Swift fans were left 'in tears' last night in Edinburgh

Taylor Swift fans 'in tears' as she 'dedicates' rarely-played songs to Travis Kelce

Putin:

Wind has turned: Putin organises his escape plan

Trump-Arizona

TikTok, ‘Lock her up!’ and hush money testimony: What Trump said vs what Trump did

Age at which you officially become ‘old’ has changed

Age at which you officially become ‘old’ has changed

Power play: an 1872 illustration of army officers playing Kriegsspiel, by Joseph Nash

The German board game that changed the face of war

wedding.jpg 22.jpg

Duke of Westminster wedding arrivals and dress: Prince William and Princess Eugenie lead fashionable guests

This vehicle survived three explosions!

Gripping footage reveals remarkable performance of U.S. military vehicle

Baggage handler warns passengers not to tie ribbons on suitcases

Baggage handler warns passengers not to tie ribbons on suitcases

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen Lists People Donald Trump May Target With SEAL Team Six

6a80b786-f2ca-4c87-bb71-bccd0bb33a6e.jpg

Taylor Swift Eras Tour review, Edinburgh: Like mainlining dopamine for three hours straight

Peter and William Ash.

Are Emmerdale's William Ash and Coronation Street’s Peter Ash related?

  • Food & Drink
  • Amazon Disclaimer
  • DMCA / Copyrights Disclaimer
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms and Conditions

10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

January 28, 2023 by admin 0 Comments

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Ireland is a country of contrasts. To the west, its ocean coastline has towering sea cliffs, powder-soft beaches, medieval castles, historic villages and forlornly beautiful islands where locals still nurture ancient traditions. The midlands harbor lesser-seen towns and meandering blue trails that follow the path of the River Shannon along rich green countryside. Dublin and Belfast to the east and north offer all the rich culture and diversity you’d expect to find in a large, modern metropolis.

With so many places to choose from, it’s not always easy to know where to go in Ireland , so we’ve handpicked the best places to stay to suit every taste and every changing mood.

1. Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal

Best place for a road trip

This is the final slice (or trailhead) of the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal odyssey that connects this most northerly tip of Ireland to the south along the western seaboard. The Inishowen has a hundred-mile sign-posted loop trail that covers the major attractions around the peninsula from any starting point. It’s one of the best places to visit in Ireland for a weekend, as it’s easily navigated over a couple of days.

Start the drive north by navigating the easterly contours of Lough Swilly before moving inland from  Fort Dunree to discover a highlight, Mamore Gap. It’s a narrow, curving road that snakes through the Urris Hills with spectacular coastal views. Before weaving on towards Tullagh Strand , there’s a wonderful detour to Glenevin Waterfall. The route passes one beauty spot after another, like Five Finger Strand (which has hazardous swimming conditions) and Knockamany, before arriving at the top of the world at  Banba’s Crown on Malin Head.

Planning tip: Travel in the off-season (November to Easter) for the best chance to catch Inishowen’s famous Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) stenciled onto a dark sky.

2. Northwest Mayo

Best places for beaches

With a jagged, vast coastline, towering sea stacks and off-the-radar islands,  County Mayo offers beach settings that are framed by spectacular backdrops. Mulranny , with its bone-white powdery sand, has turquoise water that swirls around its contours. It once lured John Lennon and Yoko Ono on a “second honeymoon,” and it’s also the gateway to Achill Island’s Keel Strand, which has miles of dunes to fly kites and jaw-dropping views of Slievemore and the Mweelaun Cliffs. 

Keem Bay is further west on Achill, and it is arguably Ireland’s most beautiful beach. It’s sheltered by giant cliffs that rise up to the north and south like a natural amphitheater. North of Achill is the Erris Peninsula which has Elly Bay, a safe beach with shallow waters, or Glosh and Crosshead Beaches, which offer dangerous, menacing waves. Head off-grid to Blacksod Pier to catch a ferry to the Inishkea Islands and discover a magnificent beach fringed by an abandoned village and pristine ocean waters.

Local tip: Rinroe, a secret cove north of Erris, has caverns that offer a good photo op.

3. Kilkenny

Best city for history

The medieval mile in Ireland’s prettiest city center is a living museum. Yes, there are countless ticketed heritage sites like  Kilkenny Castle and the  Medieval Mile Museum , which offer a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past (and rooftop views), but a ramble around “The Marble City’s” beating heart is the best way to discover its past. A self-guided walking tour of the Medieval Mile takes in sites like the  Black Abbey ,  Saint Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower and the Butter Slip – an atmospheric laneway that exudes old-world charm.

As one of the best nightlife spots in Ireland for centuries, expect the pubs in this pint-sized city to have a great backstory.  Kyteler’s Inn on St Kieran’s Street harbors a dark past with trumped-up witchcraft convictions, and Kilkenny’s brewing pedigree is showcased at the  Smithwick’s Experience on Parliament Street and  Sullivan’s Tap Room on John’s Street.

4. Limerick City

Best city for sport

Large stadiums and racetracks orbit the heart of Ireland’s third city while its narrow cobbled lanes and broad avenues have pubs, like  Jerry Flannery’s on Catherine Street or  JJ Bowles near  King John’s Castle , for post-match banter. The Limerick team is the reigning national champions at hurling, one of the fastest and oldest field sports on the planet, but it’s rugby that gets pulses racing in “The Treaty City.”  Thomond Park Stadium gives the backstory to the 1978 match, when the local team and underdogs beat the famous All Blacks from New Zealand.

A brand new multistory  International Rugby Experience in O’Connell Street has redefined Limerick’s roofscape. Adare Manor , a resort and golf club a short drive from the city center, will host the 2027 Ryder Cup. The  Great Limerick Run draws crowds every May weekend, and cyclists venture to the countryside for mountain biking at  Ballyhoura or to the  Limerick Greenway for off-road trails as far as Kerry.

Local tip: The University of Limerick has one of Ireland’s three Olympic standard Swimming Pools.

Group of gay men celebrating Gay Pride at home from their balcony

5. Dublin City

Best city for LGBTIQ+ travelers

A statue of playwright Oscar Wilde reclines on a bed of quartz near his home on Merrion Square with a wry smile that conveys playful puzzlement. About 120 years after he was imprisoned for gross indecency, almost to the day, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, and Wilde’s hometown was engulfed with rainbow flags for the occasion.

The  party continues in the capital’s landmark gay bar,  The George , which is one of the best places to visit in Dublin for members of the LGBTIQ+ community.  Pantibar on Capel Street and Street 66 on Parliament Street are more laid back, and ‘Mother’ on Grafton Street is for weekend clubbing. The city’s annual Pride Festival rivals the St Patrick’s Day parade for bringing the city to a standstill. Both GAZE, a film event in September, and the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in May mark the LGBTIQ+ community’s contribution to Ireland’s performing arts.  

6. Galway City

Best city for food

The scent of aromatic spices is carried on the fresh Atlantic breeze that passes through the cobbled lanes off Quay Street, the medieval heart of Galway . Top local restaurants like  Ard Bia at Nimmos cluster around its southern tip at  Spanish Arch because of its romantic setting, making it one of the best places for couples to visit in Ireland. It was once a trading post where galleons carried cargos of wine and food — along with explorer Christopher Columbus back in 1477.

Cava Bodega continues that fusion of the exotic with traditional with their imaginative tapas, and on Middle Street,  Anair , the flagship restaurant of master chef JP McMahon is five minutes away.  Éan , a contemporary space down the moodily lit Druid Lane, sells exquisite artisan pastries. With fresh catch arriving from the ocean to the city by the trawler load, expect humble fish and chips with a difference at  McDonagh’s on Quay Street.  Sheridan’s Cheese on Nicholas Street offers the best dairy produce from the land.

Planning tip: Travel in the September shoulder season for the  Galway International Oyster Festival . 

O'Connor's Pub, group playing music at a table

7. County Clare

Best place to catch a tune

County Clare ’s coastline attracts visitors by the busload for the Micho Russel Festival in  Doolin , near the  Cliffs of Moher , late in February. It’s the place to catch a lively traditional (trad) music session at any time of year, with  Gus O’Connor’s Pub packing in visitors to the rafters.

For something slower and more sentimental, visit the medieval banquet at  Bunratty Castle or Knappogue , where you can listen to harpists and vocalists harmonize Ireland’s past over a glass of honeyed mead and spare ribs. Ennis hosts the annual Fleadh Nua every May, when the entire town moves in rhythm with the bodhrán. Its pubs showcase a nightly blast of trad at  Brogan’s and  Knox’s or contemporary live music at  Nora Culligan’s on Abbey Street.

Local tip:  True music aficionados head to the east side of the county towards Lough Derg, where the pubs cupped in fern green valleys like Shortt’s Bar in Feakle host top performers nightly. 

8. Causeway Coast, County Antrim

Best place to hike

Located between Belfast and Derry on the north Antrim coastline, the Causeway Coast has a seascape that’s smooth as whipped cream in some locations and jagged as broken ice in others. But it’s always fascinating. At a 20-mile (34km) distance of moderate difficulty, and blessed with spectacular scenery, it’s one of the best places to hike in Ireland.

The eastern leg has stunning settings, like the Gobbins Cliff Path on Islandmagee Peninsula, but if time is restricted, travel west by train to hike to the heavy hitters that are crammed within 10 miles of each other. Starting at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which jigs and sways over the waves below, head west past the  Giant’s Causeway to the spectacular  Dunluce Castle that teeters on a cliff edge. Round off with a visit to the  Old Bushmill’s Distillery to get the blood flowing.

Planning tip:  Build in a detour to  The Dark Hedges ,  9 miles south of Carrick-a-Rede.

nice senior woman on mountain bike, cycling in sunset on the cliffs of Sheeps Head, County Cork, in the southwestern part of the Republic of Ireland

9. West Cork

Best place for families

Ocean spray and homemade ice cream are just a taste of why this expansive, meandering coastline, with its necklace of charming seaside villages, is one of the best places for families to visit in Ireland. Take a walking tour around pretty  Kinsale to discover stories of notorious seafarers like Alexander Selkirk, who inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and Pirate Queen Anne Bonny. Or meander by the ramparts of star-shaped  Charles Fort . For another epic activity, take a whale-watching  boat tour from Baltimore to catch a glimpse of a magnificent Humpback or Baleen rise and fall beneath the clear ocean water.

Days can be spent lazing, surfing and horse-riding by the white dunes of  Barley Cove or  Inchydoney Beach or k ayaking with seals near Glengarriff.  Ireland’s only cable car leaves from Beara (under maintenance until April 2023) to cross ocean waters to Dursey Island. Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point, has an interpretive signal station that is accessed by footbridge over wild Atlantic waves.

10. Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry

Best place for sensational views

For an out-of-this-world excursion, catch the ferry from brightly painted Portmagee to one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.  Skellig Michael, a small mountainous Unesco World Heritage site, doubles as the windswept island sanctuary on the planet Ahch-To in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) and Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017).

Back on the mainland, the superlative landscapes will continue to impress with  Ladies View , which has panoramic views over the Lakes of Killarney.  Torc Waterfall on the northern tip of  The Ring of Kerry is better recorded than photographed with the powerful sound of the water pounding in the background. Head to Cronin’s Yard to scale and capture  Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, which towers over the entire peninsula and ocean.

Planning tip:  The ferry service to Skellig Michael is extremely popular (and weather dependent), so it’s necessary to book months in advance to secure tickets.

Introducing Ireland

Products You May Like

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Currently you have JavaScript disabled. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser.

Education in Ireland Student Ambassador Blog

10 unmissable places in Ireland

by Layene Alves Augusto | 2 Feb, 2024 | from: Brazil , Independent Colleges , Uncategorized

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Immerse with our Student Ambassador Layene Alves in 10 must-see destinations, embark on this journey through Ireland and its surroundings.

https:// youtube.com/shorts/gQZBoDA OXqc …

Layene is studying Marketing at Independent College via Education in Ireland.

Recent Posts

  • First semester in Ireland 5 June 2024
  • A Journey Through Intriguing Culture Shocks 5 June 2024
  • Join me as an International Student at UCC 5 June 2024
  • Life since I arrived in Ireland 29 May 2024
  • Come with me on a tour at ATU Galway 29 May 2024

Search post by Category

The Irish Road Trip

17 Of The Best Things To Do In Bray (Along With Plenty To See Nearby)

By Author Keith O'Hara

Posted on Last updated: December 29, 2023

17 Of The Best Things To Do In Bray (Along With Plenty To See Nearby)

Looking for things to do in Bray? You’ll find plenty below!

The lively town of Bray is home to  heaps  of walks, a handful of rainy-day activities and several ‘hidden’ gems.

There’s also plenty of things to do near Bray a short spin from the town.

In the guide below, you’ll discover what to do in Bray, from the cliff walk and the Bray Head hike to great spots for a pint and more.

Table of Contents

The best things to do in Bray this weekend

what to do in bray

Click to enlarge

If you read our guide to the best things to do in Wicklow , you’ll know that Bray is home to a number of mighty walks, hikes and places to eat.

It’s also home to what’s arguably one of the best pubs in the country (we’ll get to that in a minute!). Below, you’ll discover what to do in Bray if you’re visiting in 2024.

1. Climb Bray Head

Bray Head walk

Photos via Shutterstock

A morning spent tackling the Bray Head Walk is hard to bate. One of the more popular walks in Wicklow , it can be conquered via two trails.

Looking down over the Bray promenade and beyond, it’s a big unmissable reminder just in case you haven’t made the trek yet.

A 241-metre high hill located on the south end of the beach, it offers deadly views over Bray and up towards Dublin.

It’s also a good warm-up if you’re planning on further hikes in the Wicklow Mountains National Park .

This is the perfect early-morning activity for those looking for things to do in Bray on a fine day.

2. Post-climb ice cream and a ramble along Bray Seafront

bray seafront

If you prefer more conventional seaside activities, then look no further than grabbing a tasty cold treat from Gelateria and then heading for a stroll along Bray Seafront.

Take a stroll along the old Victorian promenade, originally the headline attraction back when Bray was known as the ‘Brighton of Ireland’.

Cheap package holidays abroad have long since put paid to that moniker, but the promenade is just as elegant as it ever was.

If you fancy dipping your toes, you’ll find Bray Beach on your left, but please do note that there are  extremely strong currents  here.

3. Sea Life Bray

Sea Life Bray

Photos via Sea Life Bray on FB

When the weather isn’t playing ball (as is often the case in this part of the world…) and a rain-soaked ice cream doesn’t sound hugely appealing, head indoors to Sea Life Bray , Ireland’s number one aquarium.

Conspicuously located right on the promenade front, it’s a treasure trove of colourful fish, tropical life and it even contains sharks and octopus.

It’s good value too, with advance tickets online available from €14. This is a handy one for those of you wondering what to do in Bray for families.

4. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

Bray to Greystones

Hugging the coastline around Bray Head, the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk was a leisurely 7km stroll until a section of the end of the trail was closed.

Running between the towns of Bray and Greystones, the route actually follows a train line around before it disappears into a tunnel.

The rugged coastline is picturesque and the trek isn’t too long for inexperienced walkers. Top it off with a pint or an ice cream when you reach Greystones (because why not?!).

Find a full guide to the walk here and discover why this is arguably one of the best walks in Wicklow for a sunny morning.

5. A post-adventure pint in one of the finest pubs in the land

The Harbour Bar Bray

Photos via The Harbour Bar on FB

The Harbour Bar has been an institution in Bray since 1872. Its quirky shabby-chic interior and character make it a fine place to nurse a pint or two following a long walk.

Originally a terrace of fisherman’s houses, it’s now one of Ireland’s finest pubs and it hosts live music and stand-up comedy gigs.

Traveller tip: If you’re looking for things to do in Bray with a group, do the Bray Head walk and then round it off with food and a pint (the Guinness here is top-notch!) here.

6. Killruddery House & Gardens

Killruddery House

Photos via Killruddery House on FB

Killruddery House & Gardens lies just to the south of Bray and it’s arguably one of the most overlooked attractions in Bray.

Dating from the 17th century (although large scale renovations took place between 1820 and 1830), the house is built in an Elizabethan style and the estate covers around 800 acres.

Take a tour of the house between May and October to see how the other half live.

7. Bray Adventures

Time to pack the wet suit! It can take a lot to coax some people into the chilly Irish sea. However, the lads at Bray Adventures have been making light work of it for years.

If you’re in search of fun things to do in Bray, this ones for you! From kayaking to surfing and even stand-up paddle-boarding, Bray Adventures have you covered.

Also, check out the new activity ‘coasteering’ (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before, it was new to me too), a heady combination of rock climbing, sea swimming, caving and cliff jumping.

Related read:  Fancy spending the night? Check out our guide to the best hotels in Bray (with something for most budgets).

8. Grab a feed in one of Bray’s many great restaurants

food in Bray

Photos via Platform Pizza Bar on FB

Bray’s blessed with some great spots for a bite-to-eat. Our go-to restaurant is Platform Pizza, pictured above.

If you’re there in the morning, breakfast at Dockyard No.8 is hard to bate while if you fancy a feed with a view head for Butler and Barry Bray.

Hop into our guide to the best restaurants in Bray to discover heaps of places to eat, from cheap eats to fine dining.

9. Visit the Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre

Wicklow Arts Centre

Photos via Wicklow Arts Centre on FB

Next up is another one for those of you wondering what to do in Bray when it’s raining – Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre.

You’ll find this purpose-built centre for the arts on Bray Main Street, where it’s home to three performance and exhibition areas.

There’s a brilliant line up of events that take place throughout the year. See the most up-to-date events calendar here .

Things to do near Bray

Bray is a stone’s throw from many of the best things to do in Wicklow . If you base yourself in the town for a night or two, you’ll be a handy spin of an endless number of attractions.

From long, lovely walks in Glendalough to a coffee and a ramble near Powerscourt Waterfall, you’ll find a handful of brilliant things to do near Bray below!

1. Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

You’re spoilt for choice in Wicklow for great scenery but among the hills and mountains lies Powerscourt Waterfall , Ireland’s highest waterfall.

Only a 20-minute drive from Bray, it rises to 121 metres (ranking it a mighty 687th in the world!) and is part of the beautiful Powerscourt Estate.

2. Glendalough

Glendalough walks

Not only does Glendalough contain some of the finest scenery in Wicklow, its historic Monastic site dates back to the 6th century.

30 minutes from Bray, the monastic remains here include the ruined St Mary’s Church and, most famously, the 30-metre-tall Round Tower.

If you head into ‘the valley of the two lakes’, look out for the abundant wildlife as well as the gorgeous views. See our Glendalough walks guide for things to do.

3. The Sally Gap Drive

Sally Gap Drive

If you’re going to do the Wicklow Mountains, do them properly, which means heading off on the stunning Sally Gap Drive (or cycle!).

With picturesque stops at the shimmering Lough Tay , the spectacular Military Road and the relaxing Glenmacnass Waterfall , you’ll be kept entertained from beginning to end.

The drive takes around half an hour from start to finish, but there’s absolutely no rush so enjoy the views and take it all in at your own pace.

4. Walks, walks and more walks

Lough Ouler

One of the beauties of visiting Bray is that it’s a stone’s throw from some of the best walks and hikes in Wicklow . Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Lough Ouler
  • Ballinastoe Woods
  • Djouce Mountain
  • Djouce Woods
  • Devil’s Glen
  • Sugarloaf Mountain

What to do in Bray: where have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally missed out on some brilliant things to do in Bray in the guide above.

If you know of an attraction (or a pub, restaurant or cafe) that you want to shout about, let us know in the comments section below.

FAQs about what to do in Bray today

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from things to do in Bray with kids to what to do in Bray when it’s raining.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the best things to do in Bray today?

You can climb Bray Head, ramble along the seafront, do the Bray Cliff Walk, hit the water with Bray Adventures or visit Sea Life.

What are the best places to visit near Bray?

You’ve Greystones, Wicklow Gaol and Wicklow Mountains National Park all waiting to be explored nearby.

I’m wondering what to do in Bray when it’s raining?

Rain is never ideal. Sea Life and a show at Mermaid Arts Centre are arguably two of the best places to visit in Bray when it’s raining.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 35 years and has spent most of the last 10 creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries . Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

10 of the best things to do in New Zealand

Oct 4, 2023 • 8 min read

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

These are New Zealand's unmissable activities © Nicram Sabod / Shutterstock

Spectacular and diverse, New Zealand (also known as Aotearoa) is one of the world's most memorable destinations.

From its inspirational Indigenous Māori cultural experiences to its epic and otherworldly national parks , it can be hard to narrow down what to do. You can spend your days soaking in the urban energy of Auckland and Wellington, challenging yourself on outdoor adventures around Queenstown, cycling through Central Otago’s historic towns and big-sky landscapes or trying to spot the country’s iconic kiwi bird on Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Craft your own southern hemisphere adventure from this list of the best things to do in New Zealand.

A Tamaki Maori leader dancing in traditional dress.

1. Experience vibrant Māori culture

There are countless ways to engage with New Zealand’s Indigenous Māori culture while exploring the country. You can expect to hear greetings in te reo Māori (the Māori language) frequently, but for a deeper dive, the Auckland Museum and Waikato Museum both have displays of centuries-old Māori taonga (treasures). Around Rotorua , families from the local Te Arawa iwi (tribe) entertain and energize visitors with cultural performances and experiences, including the opportunity to take part in a haka (a ceremonial war dance made famous by the country’s All Blacks rugby team) or experience a hāngī (a Māori feast cooked in the ground). 

Detour: From Rotorua, travel 61km (38 miles) southeast to the isolated logging town of Murupara. Stays at the family-owned Kohutapu Lodge include excursions to catch tuna (endemic longfin eels), visits to historic Māori rock art sites and hiking through the Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park, a spiritually significant site said to be one of the world’s last prehistoric forests.

A woman sits on a bench at a viewpoint looking across a body of water towards a city skyline

2. Be immersed in Auckland’s diversity

Framed by two harbors and built on the sprawling remnants of more than 50 long-inactive volcanoes, Auckland is New Zealand's most diverse and cosmopolitan city. Visit the weekly Otara and Avondale markets to taste Pacific and Asian cuisine from communities drawn to Tāmaki Makaurau (the Māori name for Auckland). Or time your visit to experience popular cultural events including Pasifika , Diwali and the Lantern Festival. Good beaches, nearby wine regions, and a dynamic dining scene are other reasons why Auckland is consistently rated one of the world's most liveable cities.

Planning tip: Join Auckland’s most passionate fans while taking in a match featuring the New Zealand Warriors (a rugby league team) or the Auckland Blues (a rugby union team).

Female hiker looking at a map on a mountainous section of a hiking trail.

3. Hike one of New Zealand’s Great Walks

Hiking (known as “tramping”) is one of New Zealand’s most popular pastimes, with well-established wilderness tracks, shelters (called “huts”) and campsites throughout the country. Highlights include the meandering forest trails of the Rakiura Track on compact Stewart Island/Rakiura and the beach-fringed Abel Tasman Coast Track in the Nelson/Tasman region. Anchoring the rugged geothermal heart of the North Island, Tongariro National Park's most popular trail is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing , a single-day wilderness experience skirting two volcanoes and taking in views of craters, iridescent lakes and the sprawling Central Plateau.

Planning tip: All of New Zealand's  10 (soon to be 11) Great Walks are very popular, and New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) caps visitor numbers at a safe and sustainable level. To secure your spot, you’ll need to book in advance when the Great Walks booking system opens , usually from around May. The Great Walks season runs from late October to April, and the most popular experiences like the Milford and Routeburn Tracks often sell out in minutes. If you miss out; don’t worry. There are hundreds of other trails throughout the country to explore. 

4. Negotiate a two-wheeled adventure in Central Otago

New Zealand's first – and arguably best – multi-day cycling experience is the Otago Central Rail Trail . An undulating ride through sunbaked southern landscapes and the heritage streetscapes of former gold-mining towns, it takes four to six days to complete. Along the way, you can feast on locally grown summer stonefruit, visit contemporary vineyards known for world-class pinot noir, and toast the end of each day with a well-earned beer at historic pubs. E-bikes are a convenient option to maximize your enjoyment of this classic South Island experience, with operators throughout the region offering rentals and guided tours.

Detour: Linking the towns of Cromwell and Clyde, the 55km (34-mile)  Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail traverses the spectacular Cromwell Gorge via an 85m-long (279ft) suspension bridge and a spectacular cantilevered wooden biking track.

Fern trees near a lush coastline

5. Seek out kiwis on Stewart Island/Rakiura

At the southern tip of the South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura is New Zealand's third-largest island, home to a rugged community of around 400 hardy souls, where 85% of the land is protected by Rakiura National Park . Birdlife around Stewart Island/Raikura and the adjacent islet of Ulva Island includes rare hoiho (yellow-eyed penguins), raucous kākā (a type of parrot) and mellifluous bellbirds. However, the undoubted avian highlight is viewing tokoeka (Southern brown kiwi) in the wild. Join a twilight expedition with local operators including Beaks & Feathers and Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experiences to see Aotearoa's beloved national bird snuffling about on beaches and in the forest. Visit from March to September to also potentially glimpse the aurora australis (southern lights), the inspiration for Stewart Island's Māori name: Rakiura, which means “glowing skies.”

Planning tip: Ferries take one hour to cross the Foveaux Strait from Bluff on the mainland to Stewart Island/Rakiura. The crossing can sometimes be rough, so an alternative is a 20-minute flight from Invercargill.

6. Commune with marine mammals around Kaikōura 

Attracted by the nutrient-rich waters of the Kaikōura Canyon – a submarine valley just 800m (2624ft) off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island – the coastal town of Kaikōura is visited by various whale species throughout the year. Join a boat trip with Whale Watch Kaikōura , owned and operated by the local Ngāti Kuri iwi (Māori tribe), to see visiting humpback, orca, southern right and pilot whales. Resident marine mammals include sperm whales, dolphins and kekeno (New Zealand fur seals). The pelagic birdwatching here is also some of the best on the planet.

Planning tip: Kaikōura translates from te reo Māori as "eat crayfish". The spiny crustacean is a popular item on pub menus and roadside food caravans around the region. Try one at Nin’s Bin or Kaikōura Seafood BBQ .

A red cable car rises above a cityscape.

7. Have a capital time in Wellington

Compact and walkable, New Zealand’s harbor capital of Wellington is the ideal urban destination to balance and complement adventures in Aotearoa’s great outdoors. Explore the city’s pioneering craft beer heritage at local breweries including Garage Project, Heyday and Parrotdog, before learning about the movie-making magic of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings franchises at Wētā Workshop . The nation’s capital also boasts a vibrant arts and live music scene, with free events hosted throughout the year.

Planning tip: Visit (and book accommodation well ahead) for the Beervana craft beer festival in August. Also popular is Wellington on a Plate (WOAP), an annual celebration of the city’s dynamic culinary scene.

8. Explore architectural history in Hawke’s Bay

Rocked by an earthquake in 1931, the Hawke’s Bay cities of Napier and Hastings were rebuilt in the popular architectural styles of the day, and now the region boasts some of the world’s best-preserved art deco and Spanish Mission architectural precincts. From Napier’s Norfolk pine-trimmed Marine Parade, join a walking tour of the city’s cavalcade of art deco buildings, some also decorated with the cross-cultural influence of traditional Māori design motifs.

Detour: New Zealand winemaking began in Hawke’s Bay in the 1850s, and the region’s well-established vineyards and excellent winery restaurants are best explored on two wheels. See On Yer Bike online for details of bike hire and recommended wine trails.

Bungy jumper plunges off a bridge towards an alpine river that flows below

9. Get active around Queenstown

Nowhere else in New Zealand reinforces the country’s reputation for adrenaline-fuelled adventure activities like Queenstown . Amid beautiful lake and sub-alpine scenery, definitely sign up for a bungy jump . (It’s almost mandatory – the breathtaking leap of faith was invented in New Zealand, after all.) You can also consider other thrill rides like  Oxbow Adventures ’ exciting combo of jet sprint boats (which can reach up to 100km/h, or 62mph, in just 2.5 seconds) and extreme 4WD offroading. After all the action, adjourn to Altitude Brewing ’s ​lakeside location for great beers and tasty visits from local food trucks.

Detour: Reached via a scenic road over the Crown Range, Wānaka is Queenstown’s less manic Southern Lakes sibling. Catch a boat on Lake Wānaka to explore the island bird sanctuary of Mou Waho .

10. Kayak in pristine Fiordland

Cruising through Milford Sound /Piopiotahi on a day trip is popular, but a better strategy for experiencing the scale, spectacle and stillness of Fiordland ’s most famous sheltered anchorage is to explore it by kayak. Hook up with Roscoe’s Milford Kayaks for the ultimate on-the-water views of the fiord’s cascading quicksilver waterfalls and massive forest-covered cliffs. Sunriser classic tours loop for 10km (6 miles) around Milford Sound and depart well before the inevitable arrival of daytrippers visiting from Te Anau or Queenstown.

Detour: Fiordland’s Doubtful Sound/Patea (meaning "place of silence" in te reo Māori ) is even quieter and less visited than Milford Sound/Piopiotahi. Join a guided kayak tour with Te Anau-based Doubtful Sound Kayak or stay overnight on the MV Fiordland Jewel with Fiordland Discovery .

This article was first published Apr 22, 2021 and updated Oct 4, 2023.

Explore related stories

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Wildlife & Nature

Feb 27, 2024 • 6 min read

April is the ideal time of year for mild-weather hikes, cherry blossom festivals, fresh produce and more.

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Oct 8, 2023 • 8 min read

10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

Jul 14, 2023 • 4 min read

where-to-go-september.jpg

Jul 3, 2023 • 8 min read

toilet in a mossy forest.jpg

Apr 6, 2020 • 6 min read

GettyImages-538698212.jpg

Oct 4, 2019 • 6 min read

Features - shutterstockRF_485070769-53c7ec8a091f

Jan 2, 2019 • 7 min read

Features - Steam rising off a geo-thermal pool

Oct 26, 2018 • 4 min read

Features - View of the Majorelle Garden in Marrakec

Dec 21, 2016 • 5 min read

Features - GettyImages-147522150_high_1

Apr 7, 2016 • 5 min read

IMAGES

  1. Unmissable Tourist Attractions in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

  2. 10 magical places to visit in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

  3. 16 Bucket List Places to Visit in Ireland & Northern Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

  4. 15 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

  5. 25 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

  6. 20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in ireland

VIDEO

  1. Top 15 Travel Destinations in Puerto Rico

  2. Top 5 BEST WALKS IN NORTHERN IRELAND!

  3. Dubrovnik's Top 10: Unmissable Tourist Attractions

  4. Top 10 Unmissable Places to Live in the UK

  5. Top 10 must visit destination in Meghalaya || Adventurous Places in Meghalaya(India) || Mesmerizing

  6. Top 10 MUST SEE Places in MADRID 2023

COMMENTS

  1. 10 best places to visit in Ireland

    4. Limerick City. Best city for sport. Large stadiums and racetracks orbit the heart of Ireland's third city while its narrow cobbled lanes and broad avenues have pubs, like Jerry Flannery's on Catherine Street or JJ Bowles near King John's Castle, for post-match banter.

  2. 32 Best Things to do in Ireland (2024 Bucket List)

    The mighty Ring of Kerry starts and finishes in the buzzy town of Killarney on the Wild Atlantic Way. Best tackled over at least one day, this 179km long (111 miles) route takes in areas of immense natural beauty. One of the reasons that this is one of the more popular things to do in Ireland is the sheer volume of natural attractions you encounter along the way, like Killarney National Park ...

  3. 15 of the best things to do in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland. Mar 5, 2024 • 9 min read. Wildlife & Nature. The best places to visit in September 2023 . Jul 3, 2023 • 8 min read. Beaches. Postcard from the Aran Islands: my trip to the edge of Europe in pics. Mar 16, 2023 • 5 min read. Tours.

  4. Best Things To Do in Ireland

    They're famous for a series of ancient monuments and beautiful scenery. If you're keen to explore them more than briefly, book a spot in the glamping site near Inis Mor's main town, Kilronan ...

  5. 20 Best Places to Visit in Ireland, According to Locals

    20 Best Places to Visit in Ireland — From a Dark-sky Park With Milky Way Views to One of Europe's Highest Sea Cliffs. From the popular Cliffs of Moher to lesser-known towns, islands, and ...

  6. 15 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

    15. Visit the Irish Wake Museum. What was once a retirement home for old people in the 15th century is now home to Ireland's newest attraction: The Irish Wake Museum. Dive into five centuries of fascinating funeral rituals as you explore Ireland's superstitions and traditions around death.

  7. 17 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

    Iveragh Peninsula. #6 in Best Places to Visit in Ireland. This peninsula in County Kerry is best known for featuring the world-famous Ring of Kerry, a 111-mile scenic drive that circles around the ...

  8. 20 Places to Visit in Ireland You Can't Miss!

    Below is a breakdown of the number of days we'd recommend for some of the top places to visit in Ireland. The lower number of days will be for just seeing the highlights, while the higher number will allow you to spend more time really enjoying each place. Ring of Kerry: 1-3 days. Galway: 2-3 days. Dublin: 2-3 days.

  9. 10 Unmissable Things to do in Ireland

    Before you visit, be sure to check out our top 10 unmissable things to do in Ireland! Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland. The home of Ireland's most famous tipple, Dublin's Guinness Storehouse also happens to be one of the country's top attractions, welcoming thousands of visitors from around the globe each year.

  10. 25 Best Things To Do in Ireland (Irish Bucket List)

    20. Leap Castle, Co. Offaly - the world's most haunted castle. 19. Riverdance - to see Ireland's iconic dance. 18. Glenoe Waterfall, Co. Antrim - Ireland's most beautiful waterfall. 17. Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry - one of the best places to visit in Ireland. 16.

  11. 20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

    Ballymaloe House, Cork. Here are travel tips for Southern Ireland from Three Graces London. Michael Paul. Connemara ponies. Michael Paul. Fisherman Kevin Molloy with his spaniels on Lough Corrib. From Dublin, Sligo and Galway to Giant's Causeway in Antrim, Ireland is brimming with beautiful places to visit.

  12. Explore Ireland: The Ultimate List of 10 Unmissable Places

    Embark on a virtual journey with us as we unveil the Top 10 Unmissable Places to Visit in Ireland! 🇮🇪 From breathtaking landscapes to historic landmarks, t...

  13. 25 Best Places to Visit in Ireland in 2024

    However, Slieve League is every bit as jaw-dropping and boasts more unhampered natural beauty, unlike the tourist trap of Moher. This truly is one of the best places to go to in Ireland for any traveler, as well as a major highlight of The Wild Atlantic Way. Peter Krocka / shutterstock.com. 7. Wicklow.

  14. 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

    10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland. Road trips. Ireland is a country of contrasts. To the west, its ocean coastline has towering sea cliffs, powder-soft beaches, medieval castles, historic villages and forlornly beautiful islands where locals still nurture ancient traditions. The midlands harbor lesser-seen towns and meandering blue ...

  15. Ireland's top 10 natural wonders

    10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland. Mar 5, 2024 • 9 min read. For such a small island, Ireland doesn't lack for beautiful spots to visit. We've rounded up our favorites. Attraction. Coasts, Castles and Culture: Nine days on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. May 20, 2024 • 13 min read.

  16. 10 unmissable experiences in Dublin

    6. Wander the hallowed halls of Christ Church Cathedral. Many visitors to Dublin stop to marvel at this cathedral's stunning facade, but the exterior only tells half the story. Stepping inside is like traveling back in time almost 1,000 years to the cathedral's founding in 1028. A truly unmissable experience.

  17. 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

    Check out our list of 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland: 1. Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, and for good reason. The castle is one of the oldest in Ireland and it was built by an Irish king named Brian Boru around 1180. The castle has been used as a place of worship since medieval ...

  18. Top 10 Things to Do in Northern Ireland: Unique and Unmissable

    Visit Belfast. One of the top 10 places to visit in Northern Ireland is Belfast. As the capital city, Belfast is a city that has undergone many changes in the last few decades. With the peace after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the biggest changes have occurred, making it more appealing and popular with tourists flocking to the Emerald Isle.

  19. 10 of the best things to see and do in Northern Ireland for ...

    7. Take a tour of the Derry walls. In the historic walled city of Derry/Londonderry, you'll have the chance to experience all that the inaugural UK City of Culture has to offer. The best way to ...

  20. First time Ireland: unmissable Emerald Isle experiences

    Cliffs of Moher. Along Ireland's 2500km-long coastal drive (aptly named the Wild Atlantic Way), the entirely vertical Cliffs of Moher in County Clare rise to a dramatic height of 203m (666ft). On a clear day the views are tremendous, with the Aran Islands etched on the waters of Galway Bay. From the edge you can feel the cool Atlantic spray on ...

  21. 10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland

    Ireland is a country of contrasts. To the west, its ocean coastline has towering sea cliffs, powder-soft beaches, medieval castles, historic villages and forlornly beautiful islands where locals still nurture ancient traditions. The midlands harbor lesser-seen towns and meandering blue trails that follow the path of th...

  22. 10 unmissable places in Ireland

    10 unmissable places in Ireland. by Layene Alves Augusto | 2 Feb, 2024 | from: Brazil, Independent Colleges, Uncategorized. Immerse with our Student Ambassador Layene Alves in 10 must-see destinations, embark on this journey through Ireland and its surroundings.

  23. 17 Best Things To Do In Bray in 2024

    A morning spent tackling the Bray Head Walk is hard to bate. One of the more popular walks in Wicklow, it can be conquered via two trails.. Looking down over the Bray promenade and beyond, it's a big unmissable reminder just in case you haven't made the trek yet.. A 241-metre high hill located on the south end of the beach, it offers deadly views over Bray and up towards Dublin.

  24. 12 best things to do in Dublin

    10 unmissable places to visit in Ireland. Mar 5, 2024 • 9 min read. Wildlife & Nature. The best places to visit in September 2023 . Jul 3, 2023 • 8 min read. Tours. Haunted Dublin: spooky tours, ghost stories and macabre history. Mar 3, 2022 • 5 min read. Cycling.

  25. 10 of the best things to do in New Zealand

    4. Negotiate a two-wheeled adventure in Central Otago. New Zealand's first - and arguably best - multi-day cycling experience is the Otago Central Rail Trail. An undulating ride through sunbaked southern landscapes and the heritage streetscapes of former gold-mining towns, it takes four to six days to complete.