You’ll never run out of great experiences and gorgeous locations to visit in Ireland. Here are the top 52 tips, places, and things to do in Ireland. Which ones will you add to your list?
Ireland might be a small country but it’s brimming with gorgeous countryside, fascinating history, home to over 30,000 castles, and some of the friendliest people.
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Also, don’t forget to rent a car for your trip to Ireland. It’s the only way to get around Ireland, perfect for checking everything off your Ireland Bucket List!
52 Amazing Things to do in Ireland
Here is our newly updated 2022 list of the best places to see in Ireland and why Ireland should be on your travel bucket list. Many of these can be done as as day trip from Dublin or combined into a bigger Ireland vacation itinerary.
Ireland’s Natural Beauty and Landscapes
The natural beauty of Ireland offers the best things to see in this country. From the Ring of Kerry to the Ring of Beara and the Dingle Peninsula are a few of the epic road trips in Ireland. There is also a wide range of natural beauty like the Giant’s Causeway, the Wild Atlantic Way, Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands. Beyond this, there are countless places to hike, kayak and explore nature.
1. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way
The world’s longest coastal drive is located on the West side of Ireland. The 1553 miles of dramatic views of the Atlantic cliffs and lush green mountains is known as the Wild Atlantic Way. Driving the whole route would be a memorable trip! If possible, the best time for this epic road trip is a gorgeous sunny day.
2. Hike Ireland’s Highest Mountain – Carrauntoohil
Carrauntoohil is the highest peak at over 1000 meters (3280 feet) and is located in County Kerry. Challenge yourself to hike to the top for the views MacGillycuddy Reeks and the three bowl-shaped lakeside valleys. This is a great place to truly see the beauty of Ireland.
3. Drive the Ring of Kerry
County Kerry is Ireland’s top scenic region, drive the 179km road passing through Killarney National Park (one of six National Parks in Ireland) and stunning views.
4. Visit Geokaun Mountain on Valentia
As part of the Ring of Kerry drive, get a car ferry onto Valentia Island and drive to the top of Geokaun mountain for 360 views of The Skelligs, Dingle & Slea peninsula and Blasket Islands.
5. Take a boat trip to Skellig Michael
Famed for its location filming in Star Wars Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Skellig Michael has become a popular destination. Aside from the Star Wars filing location, the Skellig Islands are rich with history, wildlife and truly one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.
6. Visit Gap of Dunloe
Nestled between MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe is a picturesque narrow mountain pass with a river running through it.
7. Visit the Aran Islands
Take a ferry to the Aran Islands; 3 rocky islands at the mouth of Galway Bay on the Atlantic Ocean, in western Ireland. The Aran Islands are made up of Inishmore (Aranmor), Inishmaan and Inisheer. They are one of the few places in Ireland that have remained virtually unchanged for centuries.
The Aran Islands are known for their ancient sites. The largest island, Inishmore, is home to the best-known prehistoric stone fort of Dún Aonghasa.
8. See the River Shannon
This is the longest river in Ireland running from Cavan to Limerick. Enjoy a canal boat trip along the gentle waterway.
9. Walk Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail
The 7.4km boardwalk linear trail through isolated areas of the wilderness of Cuilcagh Mountain is just about guaranteed to have a nice blanket bog with cracking views of the landscape.
10. Visit Ireland’s most Northerly Point – Malin
While in Donegal, go to Malin Head where you find yourself at Ireland’s most northerly point. Enjoy the beautiful views looking out the Malin sea.
11. See the Northern Lights
You can see Aurora Borealis in Ireland! Best viewing opportunities would be in County Donegal, such as Malin head or Mamore Gap. Did you know that you do need a clear sky to see the northern lights?
12. Go Sea Kayaking with Sharks
Basking sharks are the world’s second-largest sharks, but harmless to humans. Kayaking alongside them on the west coast between April to August is a unique experience! Basking shark hotspots are the south coast from West Cork to West Kerry, and the North West coasts of Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal.
13. Hike Croagh Patrick – Ireland’s Holy Mountain
Located in County Mayo, a sacred mountain hosting the tradition of pilgrimage yearly stretching back 5000 years. You might see some hikers bravely walking barefoot on this holy mountain! Unbelievable views of the Clew Bay on a clear day.
14. Drive the Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route
This is a stunning drive in Northern Ireland starting from Belfast following the coast road, going through Glens of Antrim, Games of Thrones scenes, Torr head and many other popular attractions.
On the Giant’s Causeway coastal route, stop and walk down to the basalt columns area. It’s an impressive piece of nature!
Tip: Save a few bob by parking away from the car park and walk in for free.
15. Ride Horses in Connemara
Connemara is famous for its namesake ponies and ocated in the northwest corner of County Galway. The Connemara ponies origins date back 2,500 years to the of Celtic warriors and many stories rooted in mythology. They are a compact and athletic breed of horse that can be ridden by both children and adults.
To ride a Connemara pony through the wild region of Connemara National Park with views of vast mountains, bogs, and lakes is a highlight for many who visit Ireland.
16. Salmon Fishing in Ballina
Into fishing? Try salmon fishing the River Moy in the town of Ballina. It is known as the Salmon capital of Ireland and is the gateway to North Mayo.
17. Drive Slea Head
Rated as the number 1 thing to do in Ireland on TripAdvisor, driving the Slea head drive is a lovely 30-mile circular route as part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Starting in Dingle taking the Ventry direction will take you through stone forts, beehive huts, coastal views.
18. Brave the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
The rope bridge is 30ms above the rocks below interlinking a tiny island to the mainland, worthy views looking out to the sea. Tip: Go early as possible to avoid the queues.
19. Howth Head
When the weather is shining, people head to Howth head for coastal walk. A few miles from Dublin, hop of the DART and breathe in the sea air. Spot seals if you can!
20. Ireland Ancient East Trail
Over 5000 years of history in Ireland, follow this trail to unlock the history of Vikings, Castles, Kings and more.
21. Molls Gap
One of the top things to do in Ireland, Molls Gap is a mountain pass panoramic viewpoint. Grab a hot beverage from Avoca café and admire the Irish views with countless sheep.
Visit the Castles in Ireland
Castles are some of the most popular places to visit in Ireland. There are thought to be over 30,000 castles and castle ruins throughout Ireland. Some, like Ashford Castle and the Rock of Cashel, are huge fortresses and tower houses, while others are tiny. Some Irish castles are more worth a visit, especially if you have a limited amount of time on your Ireland vacation.
Below are just a few of the most popular Irish castles to visit.
22. Visit Blarney Castle
It’s not just a castle; there is the famous blarney stone to kiss! One has to lean backward to get a gift of eloquence. Courts, dungeon, caves and wishing steps are the place to be for a family day out.
23. Visit Dublin Castle
Built in the early thirteenth century on the site of a Viking settlement, Dublin Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dublin. It was originally built as a defensive fortification for the Norman city of Dublin, to have a vantage point of both the River Poddle and the River Liffey to defend the land. Although there is not much of the original castle remains, it’s worth a visit. Tours last a bit over an hour and you are able to explore on your own when the tour is over.
24. Visit Kilkenny Castle
Originally built as a wooden structure in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the thirteenth century as a defensive Castle for the River Nore. Kilkenny Castle is one of the earliest Norman stone castles to be built in Ireland. It was completed around 1210 and three of these original four towers survive to this day. Because of it’s popularity, tt is necessary to pre-book tickets online. There are no ‘walk-in tickets’ available.
25. Explore Ballycarney Castle
Tucked away on a corner of the ring of Kerry route, worth driving out to explore the ruins of Ballycarney Castle and awesome photo opportunities!
26. Visit Dunluce Castle
A ruined medieval castle on a clifftop in Northern Ireland makes for a fantastic stop and wonderful photo opportunities.
27. Glendalough Castle
Food & Drink in Ireland
While in Ireland, it’s a must to try some of the most popular food and drinks. Some of the foods you should try are soda bread, Irish stew, Boxty (traditional Irish potato pancake, a full Irish breakfast and black and white pudding to name a few! Of course, you can’t pass up a little sip of Guinness or Irish Whiskey during your trip to Ireland.
28. Drink a Guinness and Take the Guinness Tour
There’s no doubt that you should try Guinness! The traditional Irish pubs alone are a bonus, sit back with a Guinness and soak in the Irish culture. The best place to enjoy a glass of Guinness is at the Guinness factory in Dublin. Another great place to sip a Guinness is at Ireland’s oldest pub, Sean’s bar in Athlone (established in 900AD).
If you visit the Guinness Storehouse you can learn the mastery of pulling the perfect Guinness during the tour enjoy the journey of the making of Guinness and learn how to pull the perfect pint of Guinness. Take a certificate home to show off.
29. Have afternoon tea at Father Ted’s House
Are you a fan of the Father Ted TV show? Well have a cake & tea at Father Ted’s house and enjoy the stories! You won’t be served by Mrs. Doyle, but it’s quite an experience. Located in Burren in County Clare, this definitely requires a reservation because of it’s popularity!
30. Visit Johnny Fox’s pub
Known as Ireland’s highest pub with a traditional Hooley Irish dancing show to experience. Great Guinness, great atmosphere and great food. Worth a visit
Best Islands, Villages and Towns in Ireland
The Emerald Isle isn’t short on charming, quaint villages and towns. Below are some of the best and prettiest villages in Ireland. It seems like every town is cuter than the last.
31. Visit Galway
A lovely city in the West with many festivals in the summer and a gateway to the Cliffs of Moher. Enjoy getting lost in the winding lanes and soaking in the atmosphere.
32. Visit Westport
Westport is a charming town in County Mayo on Ireland’s West Coast. There’s so much to explore in this quaint town with it’s stone bridges linking the tree-lined promenade on the banks of the Carrowbeg River. Highlights include Clew Bay, the Georgian town center, superb restaurants, great pubs, and of course Westport House!
Read my article about how to spend one perfect day in Westport!
33. Visit Cobh
Small town with big history, known for the Titanic’s last call of port in 1912. Titanic Experience in Cobh is a themed attraction about Titanic and Irish emigrations.
34. Explore Kinsale
A fishing town located in County Cork. Kinsale is a picturesque colorful town, explore the harbor views and Charles fort.
Not far from Dublin, Wicklow is known as Garden of Ireland, the largest national park with stunning mountain views. Go hiking, mountain biking, visit Powercourt waterfall & gardens.
36. Visit Dingle
Dingle has an incredible 6,000 years of history and sits on the Kerry coastline. The views of the cliffs are beautiful and dramatic. One of the most popular things to do is visit Minard Castle.
37. Spike Island
Monastic fortress in Cork Harbour, this island is rich with history with ever-changing roles from a monastery to a fortress to a convict depot. Also gives beautiful views of Cobh town.
More Ireland Bucket List Things To See & Do
38. Visit EPIC – The Irish Emigration Museum
Have Irish heritage in your family tree? Visit this state of art museum showcasing the stories of Irish people around the world. Search for your Irish ancestors and discover your family story. Read more here.
39. Find the Dark Hedges
Games of Thrones fans will love this recognizable road, drive out here and pull up one side to take a picture of the iconic scene! It might be one of your favorite things to do in Ireland.
40. Kylemore Abbey
A pretty abbey that reflects perfectly against the lake, this is one of Ireland’s popular attractions to visit. Try to visit early if you can to avoid the crowd. A Walled gardens for the little ones to run around offers a perfect day out the family.
41. Slieve League
Never mind the well-trodden path at Cliff of Moher’s; Slieve League sometimes referred as Sliabh Liag is three times higher than cliffs of Moher and one of Europe’s largest cliff tops!
42. Titanic Museum in Belfast
A visit to Ireland isn’t complete with a trip to Titanic Museum in Belfast, the one-hour tour offers insight into how the world-famous ship was built and stories.
43. Watch Gaelic Football Game
Ireland has two distinctive Irish sports; Hurling and Gaelic football. Be a spectator and catch one of these games at Croke Park stadium. Three is also has a museum and great viewpoint to see Dublin’s skyline.
44. Attend One of Ireland’s Festivals
Ireland hosts thousands of festivals every year ranging from arts to music, these are among the quirky & popular festivals; Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, St Patrick’s day, Earagail Arts festivali, Trad music festival and Father Ted festival!
45. Visit Ireland’s UNESCO sites / Experience the Winter Solstice at Newgrange
Ireland has two world heritage sites; Skellig Michael and Brú na Bóinne. Newgrange is a 5000-year-old passage tomb located 40km north of Dublin. On mornings around the winter solstice, a beam of light penetrates the roof box and travels up the 19-meter passage and into the chamber.
46. Muckross House
A Victorian mansion with a large lake located in Killarney National Park. Explore the gardens, walk around the lake and stop for a cake in the cafe.
47. Glendalough Monastic site
Visit the Christian settlement founded in 6th century, located in County Wicklow with a valley looking out to a large lake.
Things to do in Dublin, Ireland
We could include 1,000 things to do in Dubin, but instead choose a few of our favorites and one’s you may not have heard of. But, if you want more, here are my absolute 52 Favorite things to do in Dublin.
48. Dublin Bay Cruise
Cruise around Dublin Bay for the views of Dublin Mountains, Ireland’s eye, Dalkey Island. Start with a one-way cruise to Howth from Dublin city out to the sea. Enjoy fresh fish in Howth. Read more here.
49. Visit Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol was opened in 1796 as a prison in Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland. It is now a museum and shared the history of the many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, who were imprisoned and executed in the prison by the orders of the UK Government.
50. Visit Wicklow Mountains National Park
The Wicklow Mountains National Park is situated just south of Dublin. It is the largest of Ireland’s six National Parks.
51. Eat Fish and Chips
My favorite Fish and Chips in Dublin is Beshoff Restaurant. They even have gluten-free fish and chips. This might seem random, but you need to understand one thing; I love fish and chips and it’s extremely rare to find it prepared gluten-free anywhere.
When to Visit Ireland
Visiting during St Patrick’s Day, summer and Christmas are the most expensive times to visit. Visiting during the shoulder season, the accommodation will be a lot cheaper.
VRBO is an alternative option where you stay in a room of somebody’s house like a B&B or even rent out the whole house for next to nothing! If you’re interested in VRBO use this link to find the best house rentals in Ireland.
Be Prepared for Weather in Ireland
Ireland is known to have all kinds of weather in one day; sunny one minute and rain the next minute. Bring a rain jacket and layers which you can easily peel off if it gets too warm or vice versa.
Money-Saving Tips When Visiting Ireland
Free attractions on Wednesdays
A lot of heritage sites & attractions in Ireland are free on the first Wednesday of the month such as Dublin Castle, Jerpoint Abbey, Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre and more. The Heritage Ireland website offers the full list (just look for Free Wednesday on the left side of the page).
Tip: Pick up Lonely Planet Guide to Ireland
Use discount codes for car rental
The majority of car rental websites have a promo code box. If you see this then search for “CAR BRAND promo / discount”. You can often find something like this on the Car Rental Ireland website, where you can save a few dollars! This tip can apply to hotels and other sites with a promo box.
Traveling To Ireland Soon?
Don’t forget to rent a car. I recommend,
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Read More About Ireland
- 22 Travel Tips for Dublin & Beyond on a Budget
- 52 Best Things To Do in Dublin
- 10 Things To Know When Renting A Car In Ireland
What is at the top of your travel to-do list? Where do you want to visit most? What are your favorite things to do in Ireland? Share in the comments below.