Whether you’re a fan of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ or prefer a more traditional yarn in the likes of ‘Danny Boy’ or ‘Molly Malone’, there’s no denying that Ireland’s strong culture and undeniable charm has infused into communities around the world. But there’s nothing like visiting the Emerald Isle to take it all in yourself!
There are 101 and more amazing places to visit in Ireland, but we’re narrowing it down to some of the iconic sights and destinations you must take in if you’re planning your first trip to Ireland.
The vibrant heart of Ireland has got to be Dublin. This culturally rich, yet modern city is filled with progressive thinkers, University students, businesspeople and plenty of international residents. Dublin offers something for everyone. Lovers of history and culture will enjoy visits to Trinity College and the notorious Kilmainham Gaol, while nature enthusiasts will enjoy the many botanical gardens and large open spaces, such as Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park. Sports fans must take in a trip to famous Croke Park, and pretty much everyone deserves a brewery tour at the Guinness Storehouse.
Apart from the many sights and attractions Dublin has to offer, it’s the pubs, music scene and creative juice that flows through the city that truly makes it unique. A Friday night at a pub in the Temple Bar district with an Irish fiddler and a glass of the black stuff is undeniably an Irish tradition.
Youthful Galway is considered Ireland’s festival capital, with an incredible nightlife that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike in the many pubs and theatres that line the streets. The Galway International Arts Festival is a popular event to enjoy in the summertime, but a vibrant experience can be enjoyed in this fun-loving city throughout the year.
County Galway is also an area in western Ireland that is home to a land of truly spectacular, rugged beauty. Visit the incredible Cliffs of Moher, which drop into the ocean from 700 feet high, providing amazing views of the Aran Islands (also worth a visit) in Galway Bay. Connemara National Park is also within reach from Galway, so if you’re looking for exceptional scenery and walking trails, this comes highly recommended.
When many think of Ireland, a picture of rolling green hills and grazing sheep on hillsides come to mind. This and more can be experienced at Killarney, offering the quintessential countryside experience. Killarney offers ancient castles, ocean scenery, lively bars and pubs, and classic Irish cuisine to be enjoyed – yet again – with a Guiness! The area is also the perfect spot to launch a tour of the beautiful Ring of Kerry, a 180m long peninsula that boasts amazing sea views and many historical sites along the way.
Make time to pop into the Kerry Woolen Mills, which produces all sorts of woolen products right in the heart of Killarney. You’ll likely leave with a traditional jersey, slippers or blanket as a memento of your Irish holiday!
Situated in southern Ireland and known as the second largest city in the country, Cork is most famous as being the home of the Blarney Stone. According to the local legend, kissing the stone will grant you the gift of eloquence! A visit to Blarney Castle is well worth it – the gardens are very pretty and the climb up through the ancient castle to the top where the Stone lies within its walls, is a highlight! You can even get a photograph of yourself half upside down kissing the Stone.
Cork is also the gateway down to the southern regions, such as the Beare Peninsula and Bere Island, Bantry, and Cape Clear Island.
Kilkenny, set south-west of Dublin, is a large town known for its reputation as the medieval capital of Ireland. Its famous Medieval Mile includes some unique sights for history lovers, such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and the Medieval Mile Museum. Make sure you spend some time enjoying one of the many arts and comedy festivals held in the city, and discover the sport of hurling; Kilkenny is home to the Kilkenny Cats, one of the best Irish hurling teams.
Beer lovers may enjoy want to enjoy more than just Guinness; head to Smithwick’s Experience, which is situated in the historic part of town, and learn more about the complexities in brewing ale.
Wild and rugged, the spectacular Dingle Peninsula winds its way along craggy coastlines and green cliffs, with views of the Atlantic below. Visitors to Ireland consider a visit to the Dingle Peninsula a must-do; the quintessential Irish scenery will certainly take your breath away. There are many photo-worthy stops along the Slea Head Drive, while Dingle Way offers hikers a unique angle to enjoy the scenery.
Once you’re done with your scenic drive, pop into one of the little pubs in Dingle and enjoy good food and ale, along with some fiddle music – authentic and uplifting!
While small in size, Ireland showcases some truly spectacular natural areas, culturally rich and vibrant cities, and quaint countryside filled with history, evergreen fields and song. Plus, there’s so much more to discover in and around in Belfast in the north. From Irish brews to Irish stews, there’s plenty to keep you coming back for more!
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