By Bridget Castner
From rolling green hills to sandy beaches, unique interactive museums and luxury castle hotels, the Emerald Isle is simply filled with amazing things to do and see. To help narrow down your Ireland bucket list, here are 10 great places to visit in Ireland!
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is by far one of the best things to do in Ireland and a must on any Ireland bucket list. The cliffs have been featured in many films and offer unparalleled views; on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Twelve Pins, and the MaumTurk Mountains in Connemara. Try to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds, or visit sometime after 4:00 PM if you’re looking to catch a great sunset!
Kerry Dark Sky Reserve, County Kerry
Kerry Dark Sky Reserve is all things impressive and brilliant. Named one of the three Gold Tier International Dark Sky Reserves on the entire planet, this tranquil spot is like nothing you've seen before. The clearest of skies provide amazing views of constellations, the magnificent Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, and more. The stars shimmer and sparkle throughout the night sky, making it a great spot to marvel at the wonders beyond. November through April is said to be the best time to experience the dark skies of Ireland.
Cabra Castle Hotel, Cavan
Have you ever wanted to stay in an actual castle? The Cabra Castle Hotel is just that! Surrounded by 100 lush acres of parklands and gardens, this gorgeous 19th-century castle is right next to the Dún a' Rí Forest Park. There's plenty to explore outside if you're just visiting, but if you are staying, then you'll get to experience one of the most unique luxury hotels in Ireland. Lavishly decorated with a blend of modern elegance and old-world charm, guests will get to feel like royalty while staying here.
Fitzgerald Park, Cork
This stunning 18-acre park is located in the heart of Cork City, perfect for a tranquil escape inside the bustle. Relax while having a picnic and admiring the duck pond, or take a stroll through the beautiful rose gardens lined with unique sculptures. Cork Public Museum is just a few steps away filled with local history, as is Natural Foods Bakery Cafe. Additionally, the park features a playground making it one of the best things to do in Ireland with kids.
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
If you’re a fan of beer and on a Dublin vacation, then be sure to visit the Guinness Storehouse. At this interactive museum, you can learn a ton about the history of Guinness beer as well as its founder, Arthur Guinness. The museum has seven floors of exploration, beginning with a lesson on the basics of how Guinness is brewed along with the integral ingredients. Go up to the Gravity Bar before you leave to enjoy a brew and some of the most stunning views of Dublin. For other great museums in Dublin, consider checking out The Irish Emigration Museum as well!
Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle is by far one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland and is a central highlight of this charming medieval town. Go on a self-guided tour and start in the Medieval Room for a short video that sums up the history of the castle. Be sure to check out the marble fireplace on the first floor and tour the library, drawing room, Victorian nursery, and the picture gallery in the East Wing. Enjoy the stunning antique structure and look out over the River Nore or pack a picnic to eat in the rose garden.
Smithwick's Experience, Kilkenny
Located just six short minutes from Kilkenny Castle is the Smithwick’s Experience, an essential stop for anyone who loves a good ale. Learn the history of this craft drink, participate in hands-on activities, and have the opportunity to enjoy an ale while a staff member explains what makes it so unique. As they say in Ireland, sláinte!
Blessington Greenway Walk, County Wicklow
Located in County Wicklow, this easy, beautiful trail links the stunning Russborough House and the historic town of Blessington. The 5.5km linear trail takes you through scenic forests while offering incredible views of Blessington’s lakes along the way. It takes about 90 minutes to finish and covers many of the greatest sights in County Wicklow, including an ancient ringfort.
Dog’s Bay Beach, County Galway
With crystal clear waters and soft white sands, this horseshoe shaped bay will have you thinking you're on a tropical island! It stretches for one mile and provides incredible views of Errisbeg Mountain and the Connemara coast. The summer is a great time to rent a paddle boat, go for a dip, or engage in other water sport activities. The amazing scenery makes Dog's Bay one of the best places in Ireland to take photographs or simply relax.
Ring of Kerry, County Kerry
One of the biggest attractions and most beautiful driving routes in Ireland is the Ring of Kerry. Stretching for 120 miles, the drive takes 3 hours to go straight through – but you can easily spend an entire day stopping to admire all the beautiful scenery. Absorb stunning views as you drive through miles of rolling green hills along the coastline filled with castle ruins, forests, and even an ancient stone fort that dates back to approximately 400 AD. The route offers a bunch of incredible attractions including Killarney National Park, Derrynane Bay, and Ballinskelligs Bay.
Now that you have some ideas for your Ireland itinerary, are you ready to book a trip to the Emerald Isle?