Ireland is a land of unique natural phenomena and archaeological sites that remember a history longer than the Egyptian pyramids. Today we show you the best things to do in Ireland. We’ve also included useful tips and a map to help you create your itinerary for your visit to Ireland.
Things to do in Ireland – Map
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find detailed tips on the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of places to see in Ireland. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.
Best Things to do in Ireland
There are so many great things to do in Ireland. From Neolithic sites and medieval castles to unique natural phenomena. Join us for a look at the most beautiful places and attractions to visit in Ireland.
Ireland can be imaginatively divided into 2 parts. An eastern region steeped in legend, full of history and ancient buildings.
On the other hand, the west coast has breathtaking scenery, wild cliffs and fantastic views.
The Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,600-mile route along the rugged coastline and across 9 counties, runs all the way west. The route is marked with a white wave on a blue background. If you stick to it, you’re guaranteed to see the best the west coast of Ireland has to offer.
Read our detailed guide on how to rent and drive a car in Ireland (prices, requirements, procedure, driving tips and what to avoid).
Now let’s take a look at the best things to do in Ireland:
Dublin will delight you with its long history, interesting museums, traditional pubs and incredibly friendly people.
Visit the Trinity College campus, with its 1000+ year old Book of Kells and magnificent library. Or stroll through the iconic Temple Bar district, full of pubs, bars, colourful shopfronts and good vibes.
Dublin is famous for its whiskey and Guinness. During your visit to the city, you can learn all about the production and story of the biggest brands.
Read our detailed guide to the best things to do in Dublin (+ practical tips on how to enjoy Dublin – accommodation, transport, prices, food and more).
From Dublin you can visit a number of places on a day trip. The most popular ones are The Cliffs of Moher on the west coast, which reach heights of up to 200 metres. Another popular excursion is the Giant’s Walk Giant’s Causeway in the north of Ireland.
Brú on Bóinne
Brú na Bóinne is a fascinating place. If you are interested in history, be sure to head here. This is in fact one of the most important Neolithic collections in the world, comprising the great passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. They are 5,000 years old and thus even older than the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge.
The tour starts at the visitor centre for Newgrange and Knowth (Dowth is not accessible from inside). Inside you can visit an exhibition where you can learn more about the history of Brú na Bóinne, see artefacts and see how people used to live, grow and breed here.
From here a free shuttle bus runs in small groups to Newgrange or Knowth (Knowth is closed in winter – it opens in early March). With a guide you can then visit the tombs inside (about 20-30 minutes).
Visits must be booked in advance. There are several types of tickets to choose from. You can choose one of the tombs or both tombs including the visitor centre. Even with a tour from the outside, expect to spend around 2.5-3 hours visiting the whole area. More information can be found on the official website.
Glendalough is located south of Dublin at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains. Ruins of a monastery complex from the 6th century, which are scattered around the area. Several scenes from Braveheart were filmed here.
There is a visitor centre, refreshments and paid parking (€4 in 2023). From here there are trails of varying difficulty. The surrounding countryside and around the Upper and Lower Lakes, above which you can climb and enjoy the view of the lakes and the surrounding area (follow the blue markings).
Be prepared for Glendalough to be a popular spot and it can get crowded in high season.
Glendalough is surrounded by the Wicklow Mountains. A rugged and often untouched mountain range and the only national park in the east of Ireland. Plus, it’s the largest mountain range in Ireland, so there are dozens of kilometres of hiking trails waiting for you.
And if you’re driving, take a drive over the Sally Gap mountain pass. A popular location for filming Irish scenery for movies (it appeared in P.S. I Love You, for example).
Check out more tips for trips around Dublin.
An ancient Irish town with narrow streets, historic monuments and Tudor houses. That’s exactly what Kilkenny is.
Kilkenny was the capital of Ireland in the Middle Ages. The first references date back to the 11th century, so it’s literally steeped in history and places of interest – from the medieval castle with its extensive gardens to the historic Medieval Mile and St Canice’s Cathedral.
Stroll through cobbled streets surrounded by arts and crafts shops, visit breathtaking monuments or enjoy a goulash and beer in one of the historic beer halls.
If Dublin is your base, there are regular tours to Kilkenny via the Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough and Kilkenny.
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is a complex of historic buildings on a limestone outcrop, including a Gothic cathedral and the original St Patrick’s Cross. The Rock of Cashel is also known as St Patrick’s Rock because of St Patrick’s influence.
It is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture in Europe. And although mostly ruins have been preserved, the atmosphere here is indescribable. Moreover, with a magnificent view of the surroundings.
The tour includes the round tower, the high cross, the Romanesque chapel (containing the only Romanesque frescoes in Ireland; guided tours only), the Gothic cathedral, the abbey, the vicarage and the 15th-century tower house.
The Rock of Cashel is located in the south of Ireland. For up-to-date information on admission and opening times, visit Heritage Ireland.
Cork, Ireland’s second largest city, lies in the very south of the country. Cork’s main street is along St Patrick’s St, lined with shops and restaurants. There are narrow streets leading off the main avenue.
The entrance to the English Market is a short walk away. Don’t miss the English market. A beautiful, historic 18th century market where local farmers sell their produce.
Also worth seeing is the 19th century Victorian quarter, which has just the right bohemian vibe. The best is along MacCurtain St, which you can walk along to the unusual St Patrick’s Church (a short walk from the station).
From Cork you can go on excursions in the surrounding area. For example, the coastal towns of Kinsale and Cobh.
Kinsale is probably the most colourful town in the whole of Ireland (you’ll see the most colourful houses on the pedestrianised Newman’s Mall). A magical place like Cobh, located south east of Cork.
On the other side of Cork lies Blarney Castle. Castle from 14th century, which is best known for its Blarney Stone wall. Legend has it that if you kiss the wall, you will be blessed with wisdom and eloquence. There are lines to kiss the wall :).
Read our detailed guide on how to rent and drive a car in Ireland (prices, requirements, procedure, driving tips and what to avoid).
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park was the first national park in Ireland. Wild nature, crystal clear lakes and waterfalls falling steeply into the valley. This already shows that Killarney NP is definitely worth a visit.
A lot of other visitors think so too, so it can get a bit crowded in high season. Fortunately, only near the main and easily accessible points.
If you venture further along one of the hiking trails, you’ll enjoy Killarney NP much more peacefully.
The Muckross area is one of the most popular areas in Killarney Park. Visit a lavish Victorian mansion from the 19th century. century Muckross House, stroll through the gardens with greenhouses and enjoy the views of the lake. Next door is a farm where you can try your hand at butter making, milk a cow, bake bread and experience what life was like in Ireland without electricity and water.
A short walk away is Muckross Abbey, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved abbeys in Ireland. Admission is free.
On the other side of Muckross House is the smaller Torc Waterfall hidden in the woods.
The medieval ruins of Ross Castle stand at the foot of Lough Leane. You can climb the park’s tower and enjoy the views of the surrounding countryside, or hop on a boat and take a ride on the lake that surrounds the peaks of Killarney NP. For more information about the Lough Leane cruise, please visit this link.
Ring of Kerry
There is probably no more famous panoramic route in Ireland than the Ring of Kerry.
The Ring of Kerry is a 179km circular route that starts and finishes in Killarney (but you can start anywhere else). It will take you through County Kerry around the Iveragh Peninsula – Killarney National Park, past the coastline and beaches, breathtaking views of the Kerry Cliffs and through Irish-speaking villages.
Rightfully one of the best things to visit in Ireland. And for that reason it can be very crowded, especially in the high season. To avoid traffic jams behind buses, drive clockwise. The route is part of the Wild Atlantic Way – follow the white wave markings on the blue background.
Also watch out for cyclists, sheep and people parking on the verge and crossing the road.
Already 100 years ago, Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw described it as, “...anincredible, impossible, mad place… I tell you that this thing does not belong to any world in which you and I have lived and worked: it is part of our dream world…”
The Skeliger Islands are 2 uninhabited islands in the southwest of Ireland – the larger Skelling Michael and the smaller Little Skelling. The islands are distinctly rocky and recognizable from a distance. Tens of thousands of wild birds, including puffins and gannets, nest here. If you’re lucky, you’ll see dolphins too.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you might remember Skelling Michael Island from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
And how to visit the islands? The only option is a boat cruise – you have 2 tour options to choose from:
- Eco Tour – cruise by eco boat around both islands. The boat gets so close to the islands that you can see historic sites and rare birds. Cruises depart several times a day from Portmagee harbour from May to October.
- Landing Tour – this tour takes you directly to Skelling Michael Island, where you can visit historical sites (the ruins of a monastery and a beehive-shaped hut). The ship sails only once a day.
Are you tempted by wild cliffs, golden beaches and fantastic views? The Dingle Peninsula fulfils this to a tee.
Take a car ride on Slea Head Drive, hike the ruins of ancient buildings or take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean (I recommend Coumeenoole Beach and Inch Beach). With the right weather, you’ll feel like you’re in the Mediterranean.
The Dingle Way is a long-distance hiking trail across the peninsula. The route runs along the coast and passes through most of the towns and villages on the peninsula, so you can always follow it and enjoy a bit of it. Take a look here if you’re interested in finding out more about the Dingle Way trail.
The spine of the Dingle Peninsula is a continuous belt of mountains, among the highest in Ireland. Conor Pass, one of the highest and most beautiful passes in Ireland, runs through the middle.
Scattered around the peninsula are remains from the Neolithic period – standing stones, beehive huts, Orgham stones and famine houses, where you can learn more about the Irish famine in which over 1 million Irish died.
Opposite the Dingle peninsula is the island of Blasket. And even though it’s uninhabited, you can still come here.
Slea Head Drive
Slea Head Drive is a 47 km long circular route that is part of the Wild Atlantic Way. A perfect alternative to the Ring of Kerry, which can be too touristy in high season.
It starts and finishes in Dingle (Daingean in Irish), but you can follow the route wherever you like. The route follows the R559 and is passable in half a day. However, I recommend that you set aside at least one full day, as there are many interesting things to see along the way. From archaeological sites to breathtaking views.
You’ll be stopping and getting off more often than you think. I recommend the Dunmore Head lookout, which is the westernmost point of mainland Ireland and overlooks the opposite island of Blasket. And I’ll make Star Wars fans happy, too. This is where several scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi were filmed.
Just around the corner is Dunquin Pier, a harbour with a viewpoint famous for its two iconic needle-shaped rocks. One of the most photogenic places in Ireland (and there are a lot of them).
Practical tips before visiting Slea Head Drive
If you are taking Slea Head Drive in high season, go clockwise. This avoids traffic jams behind buses, which also pass through here, because some parts of the road are really narrow. Also watch out for cyclists, sheep and people parking on the verge and crossing the road.
The route is marked with a white wave on a blue background (the markings for the Wild Atlantic Way, of which the Slea Head Way is a part).
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher cannot be missed here. If you were to visit only one place in Ireland (excluding Dublin), it would be the Cliffs of Moher. 200 m high and 14 km long cliffs, which are among the largest in the world. Thanks to this, they are on the UNESCO list. The caves in the cliffs also appeared in several scenes of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
If you head here in spring and summer, you might be lucky enough to spot puffins.
Practical information before visiting the Cliffs of Moher
The cliffs stretch between Doolin and Liscannor. A visitor centre is located roughly in the middle of the highest point. You can park in all three places – at the visitor centre, in Doolin or in Liscannor.
Parking at the visitor centre is the most expensive, but you also get a visit to the interactive exhibition at the centre included. The visitor centre is an interesting building in itself – modern and environmentally friendly.
If you have limited time, go here because the views are the best and the Cliffs of Moher are the highest. For up-to-date information on admission fees and opening times, please visit the official website.
Parking in Liscannor or Doolin is significantly cheaper. From both places you can then follow the trail along the coast. Don’t forget proper shoes as the trail can be slippery and muddy. From Doolin the trail is 8 km long, from Liscannor a little shorter. But from both directions you can enjoy fantastic views.
The visit to the Cliffs of Moher is free of charge.
Another option is take a direct bus to the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin. Buses leave from Dublin City Gallery in the city centre (there is a bus stop) and make a circular route through some of the most beautiful spots on the west coast.
You’ll explore the Cliffs of Moher, the lunar landscape of The Burren National Park and the beautiful town of Galway. Plus, it’s a great price that includes entry to the parks. You don’t have to worry about anything, the bus will take you to your destination.
Burren National Park
Ireland is known for its green and lush countryside. Did you know that this is where you can find a landscape that looks like a moonscape? It is called The Burren and is so unique and rare that it is part of the National Park.
It’s just a short distance from the Cliffs of Moher, so if you have time to spare, you know where to go next :).
The Burren’s unique landscape character is created by limestone that is over a thousand years old. If you thought the landscape of the Burren National Park was dull and flat, head here in summer. This is the time of year when the place is in full bloom.
The Burren area is fascinating for its ecosystem – plants that normally grow far apart are found here right next to each other. For example, the subarctic mountain walrus grows alongside the Mediterranean thick-flowered orchid.
The Burren National Park is free of charge. The free car park is located on the edge of the park (there are no facilities and the visitor centre is based in Corofin).
Have you heard the song Galway Girl by Irish singer Ed Sheeran? If so, you probably know that Galway is one of the most beautiful cities in Ireland.
Start at the Spanish Gate and walk through the historic centre to Eyre Square. The historic centre is located in the Latin Quarter and is full of restaurants, taverns and shops. And tourists too :).
Or go to the harbour. Take a walk or boat trip to some of the most beautiful places around Galway.
Another beautiful place in County Galway are the Aran Islands, also known as the Islands of Saints and Scholars. It’s like going back in time. The rocky islands, which are famous for their archaeological sites (and beautiful nature – how different in Ireland). The most famous ancient site is the Celtic church of Dún Aonghasa (translated as the Wormhole) on the island of Inishmore.
You’ll hear more Irish in the Arran Islands than anywhere else in Ireland. The whole area is like going back in time to earlier times.
Inishmore Island is the largest of the Aran Islands. You can get here by ferry from Doolin and other nearby places. There is a bicycle rental right in the harbour. You can cycle around the whole island. You’ll be at Dún Aonghasa, which is almost on the other side of the island, in half an hour (if you don’t stop).
On the west coast of Ireland in County Mayo lies the island of Achill. A place with the third highest cliffs in Europe, beautiful trails, pristine beaches and free grazing sheep.
In the western corner of the island, Keem Beach is hidden among the cliffs. A beach that ranks among the most beautiful beaches in the world. When the weather is nice, it is one of the best places for swimming in the area. You can get here by a narrow, panoramic road.
However, there are several other beautiful beaches nearby. Five of them were awarded the Blue Flag (as well as Keem beach).
Achill Island is easily accessible by car over a bridge.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park means Land of the Sea. The area is full of mountains, moors, heaths, bogs and miles of trails that will take you through the beautiful countryside. It is a place where a strong Irish tradition prevails.
The most visited place in Connemara NP is Kylemore Abbey. Beautiful romantic building at the foot of the lake. The Abbey is open to the public. You can explore the interiors and the well-kept gardens. For more information on admission and opening hours, click here.
For those looking for hiking, here’s another tip. And that is Diamond Hill, the iconic peak overlooking Connemara NP. Around the summit there are 3 trails of varying difficulty. If you want to walk over the Diamond Hill ridge, choose the longest loop (marked in red). The starting point is the town of Letterfrack at the foot of the national park, where the visitor centre is located.
Connemara NP is located on the west coast of Ireland, about an hour from Galway.
Ben Bulben is another place to visit in Ireland. Especially if you love mountains and breathtaking nature. Ben Bulben is a flat rocky peak that will disarm you with its impressiveness. Plus, it’s a place where you can avoid the big crowds.
A small free car park is located at Luke’s Bridge, from where you take an unmarked (but well-trodden) path. It may be muddy and waterlogged. Allow 3-4 hours up and back (depending on the weather).
Once you reach the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views across the Dartry Mountains and County Sligo.
Errigal and the Seven Sisters
Perhaps few mountains in Ireland are as iconic as Mount Errigal in County Donegal in the very north of Ireland (like Ben Bulben). From a distance, you can recognize it at first glance as it rises steeply from the surrounding flat landscape.
Errigal is part of the smaller Seven Sisters mountain range, with each of the 7 mountains having their own Celtic names – in addition to Errigal (751m) this includes Mackoght aka Little Errigal (555m), Aghla More (584m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603m), Aghla Beg (564m), Crocknalaragh (471m) and Muckish (666m).
The climb to Errigal is the most popular hike in the area. From the top, you will have a fantastic view of the Seven Sisters and the surrounding lakes.
The route starts at the unpaid car park just outside Dunlewey, is muddy, steep in places and often has strong winds. In the second half of the route you climb mainly on rocks. Any moderately fit hiker can make the climb. You will be at the top in about 1.5 hours.
If you would like to extend your hike, combine Errigal with the ascent of the opposite Mackoght. Far fewer people come here and the views from here are definitely worth it.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to rent and drive a car in Ireland (prices, requirements, procedure, driving tips and what to avoid).
Things to see and do in Ireland – Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland may not be part of Ireland anymore, but it’s so easily accessible that most everyone puts it on the same itinerary.
Please note: you pay in euros in Ireland and in Northern Ireland (UK) you pay in pounds. You can pay by card in many places, but you can’t always rely on it.
Giant’s Causeway is number one on the list of things to see in Northern Ireland.
You can imagine Giant’s Causeway as 40 thousand interlocking basalt rocks. The natural phenomenon (is it really natural?) was the result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.
But the legend sounds more interesting: the Irish giant Finn McCool attacked by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn took up the challenge and built a causeway in front of the North Canal. The causeway was destroyed during their battle, creating the Giant’s Causeway.
You can walk on the basalt cones (be careful in wet weather when it is quite slippery). There are also 4 trails to choose from, which you can use to explore the area better (the maps will help with orientation).
Practical information for visiting Gaint’s Causeway
Admission to Giant’s Causeway is free. If you are driving, the parking fee is £10. Or you can pay an admission fee, which includes the exhibition in the visitor centre, parking and a guided tour if you wish. It only costs a few extra pounds and the car park is right next to the visitor centre. More information here.
Do you prefer bus trips where everything is handled for you? Visit Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Belfast is one of the most popular trips from Dublin.
The beautiful nature of Giant’s Causeway needs to be balanced with a place full of history. Dunluce Castle is a castle ruin from the 16th century, which is spread out on a rocky cliff. In addition to sightseeing, you will also enjoy fantastic views.
Dunluce Castle appeared in several scenes of Game of Thrones, where Theon Greyjoy’s family came from.
Dunluce Castle lies just off the Giant’s Causeway. For the latest information on admission fees and opening times, click here.
Carrick-a-Rede is an old cable-stayed bridge connecting the mainland and a small fishing island, from where, on a clear day, you can get a fantastic view of Scotland opposite. It’s also a place where, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot dolphins.
Tickets for Carrick-a-Rede must be purchased online in advance. The ticket is also valid for parking. Show your ticket at the parking lot, then walk along the trail for about 15 minutes to the bridge, where the bridge attendant will check your ticket one more time. When the weather is nice and in high season, there are long queues. If it works out, arrive as early in the morning as possible or later in the afternoon.
Carrick-a-Rede is just a quarter of an hour’s drive from Giant’s Causeway.
Looking for a short stop along the way and are you a Game of Thrones fan? Then you can’t miss Dark Hedges, a stretch of Bregagh Road where beech trees line the road.
There is a large free car park a short walk away (some cars park right on Bregagh Road, spoiling the experience).
But honestly – unless you’re really a fan of the show, I’d skip visiting Dark Hedges. Especially in high season and in good weather, when the crowds flock here.
We end our list of places to visit in Ireland in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.
Stroll past the magnificent City Hall with its park and memorial where all the Titanic victims are recorded. Continue down Royal Ave and wander the streets to the waterfront, where you can see the big fish statue. And it’s not just any fish – its scales are engraved with important personalities and events from Belfast’s history.
Cross the river to the other side, where you’ll walk a few minutes to the city’s main attraction – Titanic Belfast. A monumental museum that includes 9 interactive galleries where you’ll be able to experience the sights, sounds, smells, stories and everything associated with the sinking of the Titanic.
The building itself contains design elements that symbolize the Titanic. The benches around are arranged in the same order as the Titanic’s Morse code distress signal, or the memorial lawns are sized according to the number of lives lost. Titanic Belfast is a powerful place to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the Titanic.
TOP 10 most beautiful places to visit in Ireland
Do you have limited time in Ireland and want to see the best Ireland has to offer? Check out the top 5 places not to miss in Ireland:
- Cliffs of Moher
- Aran Islands
- Ring of Kerry (or Slea Head Drive)
- Dingle Peninsula
- Skelliger Islands
- Giant’s Causeway
Tips for enjoying your visit to Ireland
- Pack your repellent. You’ll need it.
- Also pack good shoes and waterproof clothing with the repellent.
- When renting a car, choose smaller models. Some of the panoramic roads can be so narrow that it would be harder to get through with a bigger car.
- Follow the signs on the roads or buy a paper map. Google maps or GPS tend to get you to your destination as quickly as possible…and often, unfortunately, along a less interesting route.
- Ireland has many places where you might not expect mobile coverage. But the opposite is true – mobile coverage in Ireland is excellent.
- The best time to visit Ireland is September-October. There are just enough tourists, the days are still quite long and this is the time of year when Ireland gets the least rainfall.
These were the best things to do in Ireland. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!
More information about Ireland
TRIPS AROUND DUBLIN: Get inspired by our tips for trips around Dublin.
HIRING A CAR IN IRELAND: Here’s a detailed guide on how to rent and drive a car in Ireland (prices, requirements, procedure, driving tips and what to avoid).