Ireland is an incredible country, home to a fascinating history, unique culture and a lush and rugged landscape. Whether you plan on drinking pints of Guinness in quaint pubs, hiking through picturesque national parks, or trawling the major cities for ancient tales and history, there’s plenty to see and do.
Here we’ve complied a list of our top ten things to see and do whilst you tour Ireland.
1. Explore ancient castles
With over 30,000 castles and castle ruins scattered across Ireland’s lush, green landscape, it’s well worth checking out a few. Each medieval fortress has its own unique history and story; kiss the famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, enjoy a banquet at Bunratty Castle, or view the breathtaking moat at Doe Castle.
2. Marvel at the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are one of Ireland’s biggest, natural tourist attractions, and rightly so. Stretching 8 kilometres in length, the rugged cliffs loom over the Atlantic Ocean and reach 214 meters at their highest point. On a clear day, visitors can spot the Twelve Pins, the Aran and Blasket Islands, Galway Bay, the Maumturk Mountains, and the Dingle Peninsula.
3. Tour Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol Museum in Dublin is one of the largest unoccupied prisons in all of Europe. It was constructed in 1796, and until its close in 1924, Kilmainham detained and executed some of Ireland’s most infamous revolutionaries. Ordinary convicts were also held at Kilmainham, often whilst they were waiting to be transported to Australia.
4. Visit the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is located in Dublin, and is a must for any beer-lovers visiting the city. Visitors can experience an informative, and tasty tour through the seven-storey Storehouse. The best part? Relaxing with a free pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar, which offers a panoramic, 360 degree view of the city.
5. Travel the Ring of Kerry
Home to lush, rolling hills, white, sandy beaches, quaint villages and craggy islands, the Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive in the southwest of Ireland. Though it’s doable in just a day, it’s recommended to travel the loop at a slower pace, to ensure you experience the whole plethora of natural beauty.
6. Take a literary pub crawl through Dublin
Ireland is home to some of the world’s best literary talents; Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats, just to name a few. Immerse yourself in their history, inspiration and local haunts, whilst enjoying a few pints along the way.
7. Dance the night away to traditional Irish music
The distinct, whimsical song of the fiddle is bound to get your feet tapping. It seems that music runs in Irish blood, and as a result, there are live music venues teeming across the country. Drain the rest of you Guinness, shed any qualms you have about your singing voice, and join the locals on the dance floor.
8. Taste your way through whisky distilleries
Whisky in Irish, is uisce beatha, which directly translates to ‘the water of life.’ Ireland is world-famous for its whisky, and there are several distilleries dotted throughout the country that offer tours and tastings to visitors. Top picks are the Old Jameson Distillery, the Tullamore Distillery and the Glendalough Distillery.
9. Visit Father Ted’s house
Father Ted’s house is a must-see for any fans of the 1990’s comedy. Though the show ceased production in 1998, the house which was used to film the series still stands. It’s called Glanquin Farmhouse, and is owned by the McCormack family. Many fans travel to Glanquin just to take a photo outside the house, however the McCormack’s do offer tea and an inside tour by appointment.
10. Explore Killarney National Park
With a sweeping area of over 102 square kilometres, there is so much to discover at Killarney National Park. Home to Muckross House and Ross Castle, Killarney National Park also hosts peaceful woodlands and mountainous terrain, as well as rare wildlife species. In 1981, Killarney National Park was listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Elle Conway studies Journalism in Canberra, Australia. Prior to university, she spent four years travelling, working and living abroad. She loves fantasy novels and spiced rum, and one day hopes to travel to Antarctica.