The Irish Road Trip

32 Best Things to do in Ireland (2024 Edition)

By Author Keith O'Hara

Posted on Last updated: January 30, 2024

32 Best Things to do in Ireland (2024 Edition)

This guide to the best things to do in Ireland is packed with places that I’ve visited 10+ times and that I’m confident you’ll love.

Some places, like the majestic Ring of Kerry and the Wicklow Mountains, are famous the world over .

Others, like Donegal’s Inishowen , while not as famous, are home to some of the most impressive things to see in Ireland.

Below, you’ll discover what I think are the best things to do in Ireland, based on 35 years of living here . Cheers!

Table of Contents

The best things to do in Ireland

what to do in Ireland

Trying to decide what to do in Ireland can be a struggle, especially when you are presented with hundreds of worthy options.

Below, you’ll find everything from the Ring of Beara and the Dingle Peninsula to some unique spots that we think you must see in Ireland.

1. The Ring of Kerry

Killarney National Park

Photos via Shutterstock

The mighty Ring of Kerry starts and finishes in the buzzy town of Killarney on the Wild Atlantic Way. Best tackled over at least one day, this 179km long (111 miles) route takes in areas of immense natural beauty.

One of the reasons that this is one of the more popular things to do in Ireland is the sheer volume of natural attractions you encounter along the way, like Killarney National Park , Torc Waterfall , Moll’s Gap , Derrynane Beach and  Ladies View .

Expect countless castles, mountainous scenery, breath-taking coastline and plenty of colourful towns and villages, like Kenmare .

Related read: Check out our guide to 42 of the best things to do in Kerry in 2024.

2. The Inishowen Peninsula

Mamore Gap 

If you’re wondering what to do in Ireland that’ll take you away for the crowds, make a beeline for the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal.

Located in the north of the county, this is where you’ll discover some of Ireland’s most remote and unspoiled beauty.

Arguably the best way to explore it is on the Inishowen 100 – a scenic driving route that takes you to the likes of Malin Head , Mamore Gap , Five Finger Strand and heaps of beaches.

Related Read: Check out our guide to 33 of the best things to do in Donegal in 2024.

3. Sligo’s outdoor delights

Gleniff Horseshoe

Although Sligo is one of the key points along the Wild Atlantic Way , it tends to get overlooked by many exploring the west coast of Ireland.

However, if you like to explore on foot, the likes of Knocknarea , the Benbulben Forest Walk and the Gleniff Horseshoe will knock-you-sideways.

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Ireland, carve out some time to see  the Caves of Keash (ancient passage tombs that predate the Pyramids of Egypt) and the Devil’s Chimney (one of Ireland’s highest waterfalls).

Related Read: Check out our guide to 36 of the best things to do in Sligo in 2024.

4. The Causeway Coastal Route

Causeway Coastal Route map

There’s more to the Antrim Coast than the Giant’s Causeway and you’ll discover the best it has to offer on the Causeway Coastal Route drive!

The route begins in either Belfast or Derry City and follows the coast through the nine Glens of Antrim for 313km.

Over the course of the spin you’ll see everywhere from the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and the Old Bushmills Distillery to Glenariff Forest Park , Torr Head and plenty more.

This route is regarded as one of the top things to do in Ireland by visiting tourists as there’s endless places to visit all within close proximity to each other.

Related Read: Check out our guide to 36 of the best things to do in Antrim in 2024.

5. West Cork wonders

Dunlough Fort

We’re back to the Wild Atlantic Way again and off to West Cork. I’ve spent many holidays here over the years, and its scenery never gets old.

Arguably the most notable attraction in the area is Mizen Head – Ireland’s most Southwesterly Point. However, there’s plenty more to discover.

Gougane Barra , Cape Clear Island , Glengarriff Nature Reserve , Dursey Island and the  many  beaches in West Cork are a tiny bit of what awaits.

There’s a good reason that a visit to this corner of Ireland is widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Ireland.

Related Read: Check out our guide to 31 of the best things to do in West Cork in 2024.

6. Coumshingaun Lough

Coumshingaun

If you’re wondering what to do in Ireland that’ll get heart-rate boppin’, carve out some time to tackle one of the many hikes in Ireland ,

One of my favourites is the 3-4 hour Coumshingaun Lough hike (you need hiking experience for this trail) in Waterford, and the photos above should give you an idea as to why!

Some other challenging hikes in Ireland are Carrauntoohil (County Kerry) and Croagh Patrick (County Mayo). 

If you fancy a slightly easier hike, Diamond Hill (County Galway), Ballinastoe Woods (County Wicklow) and the Stairway to Heaven (Fermanagh) are well worth considering!

7. Achill Island

Keem Bay

A day spent on Achill Island is another one of the best things to do in Ireland, in my opinion.

Now, one of the beauties of this island is that you can drive onto it and follow the Atlantic Drive or you can cycle onto it via the brilliant Great Western Greenway .

When you arrive, you’ve everywhere from Keem Bay and the highest sea cliffs in Ireland (Croaghaun – 2,257 feet/687 meters) to Minaun Heights, Keel Beach and plenty more to see.

Related Read:  Check out our guide to 33 of the best things to do in Mayo in 2024.

8. Wicklow Mountains National Park

the spinc hike Ireland

The Wicklow Mountains are another of the more popular things to see in Ireland and you can easily explore them on a day trip from Dublin .

There’s plenty to see and do here, from the various walks in Glendalough and the brilliant Sally Gap Drive to Lough Ouler , Djouce Mountain , Guinness Lake and Glendalough Monastic City.

Keep in mind that if you’re renting a car in Ireland and driving to Wicklow to tackle one of the walks, arrive early as many car parks fill up on fine mornings.

Related Read: Check out our guide to 37 of the best things to do in Wicklow in 2024.

8. The Dingle Peninsula

Best Things to do in Dingle Ireland

The Dingle Peninsula really is hard to beat and there’s a few ways of exploring it. If you have time, you can stay in Dingle Town and explore around you over a few days.

If you don’t, your best bet is to head for the town (make sure to check out Conor Pass on the way!) and then join the brilliant Slea Head Drive .

Over the course of the route you’ll see the Blasket Islands , Dunquin Pier , Coumeenoole Beach , the Skellig Islands in the distance and much, much more.

A visit to the Dingle Peninsula is regarded as one of the best things to do in Ireland by visiting tourists as it combines charming towns and villages, spectacular scenery and Irish history into one relatively small area.

Related read: Check out our guide to 24 of the best things to do in Dingle in 2024.

10. The Doolough Valley

Doolough Valley

The Doolough Valley is situated between the villages of Louisburgh (County Mayo) and Leenaun (County Galway) and it’s one of my favourite drives on the Wild Atlantic Way.

If you drive this route outside of the busy summer months, it often feels like you’re the last person left in the world – the landscape is barren and beautiful and it has an almost other-worldly feel to it.

You’ll find an overview of what to expect from it in our guide to the Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive . It’s a great little gateway to Connemara if you’re in County Mayo and an hour spent here will live happily in your memory forever more.

Related read: Check out our guide to 41 of the best things to do in Galway in 2024.

11. The Ring of Beara

Beara Peninsula

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Ireland, slap the Beara Peninsula on your to-visit list and head off on your merry way (see our Ring of Beara drive guide for the route).

This places boasts bucket-loads of scenery around every (often narrow!) twist and turn and some gorgeous towns and villages, like Eyeries and Allihies .

The peninsula is also home to some of the more unique things to do in Ireland, like Dursey Island , Bull Rock , Priest’s Leap (beware!) and the Healy Pass .

Related read: Check out our guide to 44 of the best things to do in Cork in 2024.

12. Valentia Island

Valentia Island

There’s some gorgeous Irish islands and the spectacular Valentia Island in County Kerry is one of the more popular ones to visit.

When you arrive on the island, head for the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs side of the island. You’ll arrive at the viewing point above.

If you’re in search of things to see in Ireland that’ll paint themselves upon your mind for a long aul time, get yourself here for sunset.

You can park right up at a viewing point that overlooks mountains, Valentia Lighthouse and the wild Atlantic.

Visiting Ireland for the first time? See our guides to mapping out your Ireland itinerary and planning a trip to Ireland with ease.

13. Connemara

Kylemore Castle from afar

The Connemara region in Galway is arguably best known for Kylemore Abbey , but there’s plenty more to see and do here.

Spend a sunny morning exploring Connemara National Park on foot or saunter along one of the many beaches in Connemara , like Dog’s Bay .

Or you can kick-back in Clifden , spin along the Sky Road or set-off on one of the many hikes in Connemara.

14. Towns and villages

Kinsale

You’ll find gorgeous little towns and villages scattered right the way across Ireland and, while some are the run-of-the-mill places you’ll find in many countries in Europe, others have character and charm that you won’t find anywhere else.

If you’re looking to stay on the tourist track, the likes of Doolin , Cong , Westport and Kinsale are likely already on your radar.

If you fancy checking out some of the smaller villages and towns in Ireland , aim for Union Hall (County Cork), Killaloe (County Clare) or Dunmore East (County Waterford).

15. Cliffs of Moher and overlooked cliffs

what to see in ireland

A visit to the Cliffs of Moher is one of the top things to do in Ireland. Millions of people (a whopping 1,580,010 in 2018) visit each and every year.

And, while they’re worth visiting (especially on the Liscannor to Doolin walk ), there are plenty more cliffs in Ireland worth checking out.

The often-missed Kerry Cliffs near Portmagee pack a punch while the Fair Head Cliffs in Antrim are particularly impressive.

If you’re in County Clare, the Kilkee Cliffs are well-worth seeing as are the outstanding Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal and the ones hidden away on Arranmore island .

16. The Burren National Park

The Burren

The Burren National Park in County Clare covers an area of around 1,500 hectares while the wider Burren region boasts 200 sq km and includes everywhere from the Aran Islands to the Cliffs of Moher.

Although it’s one of the more popular things to see in Ireland, many people visit and leave underwhelmed, as they visit without a good plan of action.

If you follow the Burren Drive , you’ll visit everywhere from Doonagore Castle and Father Ted’s House to Doolin Cave , Poulnabrone Dolmen and the Aillwee Caves .

17. The Dublin Mountains

Dublin Mountains

Although there are plenty of walks in Dublin , it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the best of the bunch are the Howth Cliff Walk and Killiney Hill .

There are a clatter of rambles in the capital that fail to make it on the radar of first-time visitors. See our Dublin Mountains walks guide for a mix of easy and tough walks to head off on!

Or, if you fancy staying on the tourist track, head to Trinity College , see the Book of Kells , visit Kilmainham Gaol and drop into the various museums in Dublin.

Related read: Check out our guide to 33 of the best things to do in Dublin in 2024.

18. The Aran Islands

Aran Island Transport

If you read our guide to the Aran Islands , you’ll know that it’s possible to road trip around them… by ferry.

While this isn’t a traditional road trip, it’s easy to follow and it packs a sizeable punch, as the islands are home to an almost endless number of things to see and do.

You’ll start your journey with a trip to Inis Mor (from Doolin pier in County Clare) before moving on to Inis Meain and then, finally, to the brilliant Inis Oirr .

Over the course of your trip, you’ll see many a fort, sea cliff and historic site (you’ll also find a handful of cosy pubs for post-adventure pints).

19. Castles galore

Doonagore Castle

Some of the best things to do in Ireland involve taking a little step back in time, and where better to sample a chunk of the past than at one of the  many  castles in Ireland .

From tourist favourites like Blarney Castle , Bunratty Castle and the Rock of Cashel to less-visited castles like Kinbane Castle and Swords Castle, there’s plenty to choose from.

Or, if you fancy a very unique experience, there’s a handful of castle hotels in Ireland that you can book into!

20. A bounty of beaches

Inch Beach

If you’re wondering what to do in Ireland on one of those often rare sunny days, point your nose in the direction of the coast.

There’s some outstanding beaches in Ireland and many of the best fail to make it onto the pages of shiny tourist guidebooks.

Some of my favourites are Curracloe Beach in Wexford, Silver Strand in Donegal and Strandhill Beach in Sligo.

21. Traditional Irish pubs

pubs in Ireland

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

There are thousands of pubs in Ireland but not all are equal. If you can, aim to visit a traditional Irish pub during your visit.

Some of the more notable pubs are Sean’s Bar in Athlone (Ireland’s oldest) and the Brazen Head in Dublin.

In many old-school pubs you’ll get to chance to soak up some traditional Irish music while sampling Irish whiskey and/or Irish beer .

22. The Boyne Valley

Trim Castle

One of the more overlooked things to do in Ireland is to  properly  explore the Boyne Valley .

Yes,  many  people visit Brú na Bóinne to see Newgrange and Knowth , but the Boyne Valley encompasses some of the best that County Meath and County Louth has to offer.

Some of the other highlights are Trim Castle , Slane Castle , the Hill of Tara , Loughcrew Cairns and the Cooley Peninsula .

Related read: Check out our guide to 27 of the best things to do in Meath in 2024.

23. The Hook Peninsula

Hook Lighthouse

The chances are you’ll have heard of Hook Lighthouse – the current structure has been marking the entrance to Wexford Harbour for at least 800 years, yet its history goes back a whole lot further.

But have you heard of the Ring of Hook ?! This route takes you right the way around the Hook Peninsula where you’ll see Tintern Abbey , Duncannon Fort and some of the best beaches in Wexford .

If you’re wondering what to do in Ireland that’ll take you off the beaten path, Hook is well worth considering!

Related read: Check out our guide to 28 of the best things to do in Wexford in 2024.

24. The Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains

A day spent exploring the Mourne Mountains in County Down is another of the more frequently missed things to do in Ireland.

The Mournes are the highest mountain range in Northern Ireland and they boast endless adventure opportunities.

There’s plenty of hikes to get stuck into here, from Slieve Donard to Slieve Binnian , Slieve Doan , Slieve Bearnagh , Slieve Meelbeg and Meelmore and plenty more.

Related read: Check out our guide to 56 of the best things to do in Northern Ireland in 2024.

25. The Ballyhoura region

Canon Sheehan Loop

Photos courtesy Ballyhoura Fáilte

If you’re looking for a ‘hidden’ must see in Ireland, make a beeline for the Ballyhoura region.

It spans multiple counties including southeast Limerick, north-east Cork and west Tipperary and is home to some outstanding scenery.

There’s loads of great walks in Ballyhoura to get stuck into, with a trail to suit most levels of fitness. Two of my favourites are the Clare Glens Loop and the Canon Sheehan Loop .

Related read: Check out our guide to 19 of the best things to do in Limerick in 2024.

26. The Copper Coast

Bunmahon Beach

Waterford is home to some of the best coastline in Ireland and it’s a great place to explore by foot or on bike.

The Copper Coast is named after the massive mines that operated here in the 19th Century and it’s home to countless beautiful beaches.

If you fancy a long walk/cycle, the brilliant  Waterford Greenway is well worth tackling! Although the Greenway is Ireland’s longest off-road trail, you can complete it in a couple of hours by bike. 

Related Read: Check out our guide to 34 of the best things to do in Waterford in 2024.

27. Unique places to stay

Glenlo Abbey Hotel

Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway

If you’re wondering what to do in Ireland to mark a special occasion, give one of the many unique places to stay in Ireland a bash.

Castle hotels aside, there’s some excellent 5 star hotels in Ireland that are worth considering and there’s endless spa hotels in Ireland , too. Here’s some other guides with suggestions for you:

  • 27 unique places to go glamping in Ireland
  • 26 places to stay in Ireland if you fancy staying somewhere with a view
  • 40 of the most unique places to go glamping in Northern Ireland
  • 33 of the finest family hotels in Ireland

28. Buzz around Belfast

Belfast City Hall

Belfast gets a bad rep from some. Usually those that have never visited the city and base their opinion on hearsay.

The fact is that there’s plenty to see and do here, from the Cave Hill Walk and the Cathedral Quarter to the Black Cab Tours , Black Mountain and plenty more.

It also makes a good base to explore Northern Ireland from, as there’s plenty of day trips from Belfast that require very little driving.

Related Read: Take a look at our guide to 25 of the best things to do in Belfast today .

29. Spike Island and cobh

Cobh

A visit to Cobh is another of the best things to do in Ireland if you like to go off handbooks. I don’t, personally, but I’d have to agree.

Now, don’t get fooled into think that the Deck of Cards are all that Cobh has to offer – this is far from a one horse town.

You’ll find Spike Island , a 103-acre island that’s been used as a place of worship, defense, confinement, and punishment a short ferry ride from the village of Cobh in County Cork.

There’s also St Coleman’s Cathedral , Fota Wildlife Park , the Titanic Experience and much more.

Related Read:  Check out our guide to 11 mighty things to do in Cobh in 2024.

30. Step off the beaten-path

things to see in ireland

One of the best things to do in Ireland, in my opinion, is to step off the beaten track and experience a bit of ‘hidden’ Ireland.

If you fancy seeing places like Doon Fort (pictured above) or other ‘hidden’ tourist attractions in Ireland, like the secret waterfall in Donegal , you’re in for a treat, as Ireland’s home to plenty of them.

In our guide to the best ‘hidden’ places to visit in Ireland , you’ll find 35 very unique things to do in Ireland, some of which you hopefully won’t have seen before.

31. The North Mayo coast

Dun Briste

The North Mayo coastline is home to some magnificent cliffs, breath-taking beaches and, most of all, peace and quiet.

This corner of the island is well off the beaten path, which means that many who visit Ireland never make it out this far.

However, if you can, try and etch out some time to have a nosey around. You’ll find the towering Dun Briste sea stack, the Ceide Fields , the Mullet Peninsula and much more.

32. Tourist favourites

Dún Aonghasa

So, as I mentioned in the intro, this guide is packed with what  I  think are the best things to do in Ireland. However, as you’ll probably have noticed, many of the more popular tourist attractions in Ireland are missing.

If you’re visiting Dublin, the likes of the Guinness Storehouse , Dublin Zoo, Temple Bar and Dublin Castle are all popular spots.

Other notable omissions that are often considered must do in Ireland are Kilkenny Castle , Dún Aonghasa , Muckross House , Blarney Castle and Bunratty Castle .

Regardless of who you ask about what to do in Ireland, the answer tends to change, which is why it’s always worth taking any recommendations on the best things to see in Ireland with a pinch of salt!

FAQs about what to do in Ireland

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are good things to see in Ireland with kids?’ to ‘What are some fun things to do in Ireland for couples?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What are the best things to do in Ireland?

This is completely subjective, but some of my favourite tourist attractions in Ireland are the Ring of Kerry, the various walks in Sligo and the Inishowen Peninsula.

What are some unique things to see in Ireland?

If you’re wondering what to do in Ireland that’s a little different, see the Caves of Keash, visit Bull Rock, drive the Doolough Valley and see Spike Island.

What is Ireland’s number 1 tourist attraction?

If you go off visitor numbers, the Guinness Storehouse (with over 1.7 million visits in 2018) is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

I’m wondering what to do in Ireland on a first visit?

The first thing is to be realistic – don’t try and squeeze in too much. Make a list of the various things to see in Ireland and priortise them. Then choose a base to stay that’s within reasonable distance/located close to organised tours.

unique places to visit ireland

Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.

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Graham Cosgrave

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

Great article Keith! Leave the website! If it's ok with you I shared it with my network of doctors on facebook in an attempt to 'pitch Ireland' and convince international doctors and their families to move here. Keep it up and I'll keep sharing!

Monday 9th of August 2021

Fantastic ideas - won't be lost for something to do for many a year! thanks for this

Friday 14th of May 2021

thanks so much this will help out on my school project

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Wow what a list! Looking for some inspiration for once Lockdown ends and this was VERYYY useful :D Still a few I've yet to tick off :D

Tom McNamara

Saturday 25th of April 2020

Did I miss Skellig Michael on your list??

Protect Your Trip »

Best places to visit in ireland.

Ireland's rich culture, enchanting green landscapes and friendly locals are just a few reasons why so many travelers make the journey to this island country. But with so many cities, charming small towns and countryside wonders to choose from, it may be hard to decide exactly what should be on your Emerald Isle itinerary. U.S. News took into account sights, adventure, food and culture, plus expert opinions and traveler sentiment, to determine the best places to visit in Ireland. If you want to have a say in next year's list, be sure to vote below.

Dingle Peninsula

Cliffs of moher, iveragh peninsula, glenveagh national park, inishowen peninsula, connemara national park, aran islands.

unique places to visit ireland

With a stoic castle, wild coastline and great "craic" (fun, entertainment and good company), Donegal checks off many items on an Ireland vacation bucket list. Donegal visitors can see the 15th-century Donegal Castle, grab a pint of Guinness in a traditional Irish bar dating back to the 1700s or revel in one of the town's high-spirited festivals. Meanwhile, Donegal's northwest coast location makes it ideal for driving along the scenic Donegal Bay to the Slieve League cliffs – which are nearly three times as tall as the Cliffs of Moher – or hopping to islands known for their exceptional preservation of the Gaelic language and culture.

unique places to visit ireland

Though Dublin is Ireland's hub for politics, culture and music, its approachable and relaxed culture sets it apart from most European capitals. Before making a beeline for the Guinness Storehouse, consider a walking tour to take in popular attractions like Trinity College (and its swoon-worthy library), the 13th-century Dublin Castle and the always exuberant Temple Bar district. Save time to take in the arts, too: Dublin is home to the national theater of Ireland and plenty of festivals and museums dedicated to Irish literary greats. Plus, Dublin offers easy access  to alluring destinations like the fishing village of Howth and Wicklow Mountains National Park.

unique places to visit ireland

Located along the country's famous Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Peninsula consistently stuns with its otherworldly scenery (think: evergreen cliffs, craggy coastlines and vibrant blue waters). Begin your journey by driving along Slea Head Drive, a scenic route known for its photo-worthy vistas. If you'd rather see the peninsula on foot, head down the Dingle Way, a network of trails that spans the entire peninsula. Or, take a ferry to the Blasket Islands to explore jaw-dropping cliffs, look for wildlife like sheep and dolphins, and visit pristine beaches without rubbing elbows with other tourists.

unique places to visit ireland

For the quintessential Irish countryside experience, travel to Killarney. The town is surrounded by evergreen hills and valley on all sides, affording plenty of opportunities to become one with nature. Visitors gravitate toward Killarney National Park, which features Ireland's highest mountain range, MacGillycuddy's Reeks. If you aren't much of a hiker, you can still enjoy the scenic lakes or visit one of Killarney's centuries-old churches or castles.

unique places to visit ireland

The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland's most popular tourist attraction, welcoming more than 1 million visitors each year. In fact, the cliffs are so popular that cities situated more than 100 miles away often offer full-day bus tours to the attraction. Once you lay eyes on this sight, you'll understand why so many people travel hours to gaze at it. Measuring more than 8 miles long and 700 feet tall, the cliffs provide breathtaking views of Galway Bay, parts of Connemara National Park and the Aran Islands on a clear day.

unique places to visit ireland

This peninsula in County Kerry is best known for featuring the world-famous Ring of Kerry, a 111-mile scenic drive that circles around the entire peninsula. Along the way, visitors will enjoy truly spectacular scenery both on the coast and inland. Can't-miss stops include Ladies View, Rossbeigh Strand, Derrynane beach and the Gap of Dunloe. Travelers should also save time for visiting some of the peninsula's picturesque small towns and castles, which are both developed and abandoned. Be sure to stay at least one night here for a glimpse of the stars in Ireland's first dark sky reserve.

unique places to visit ireland

Surrounded by a looming mountain, sandy beaches and charming countryside (dubbed "Yeats Country" after the county's famed poet), Sligo offers something for everyone. If you're up for an adventure, hike the loop around the iconic Benbulben mountain, take a surf lesson in Strandhill or watch the big-wave pros at Mullaghmore Head. Meanwhile, more leisurely travelers can visit Sligo town's popular sites like The Model art center and Sligo Abbey, or take a coastal drive to fine estates like the Lissadell House and Gardens (open seasonally). Just make time for a few stops along the Sligo Food Trail on your way.

unique places to visit ireland

After Dublin, Cork is Ireland's largest city. Located at the southern end of the country, this city of more than 200,000 residents is famous for being home to Blarney Castle and its Blarney Stone. According to local legend, the stone will grant you the gift of eloquence, if you dare kiss it. Cork is also where you'll find 18th- and 19th-century churches, the Cork City Gaol (a former prison converted into a museum) and lush Fitzgerald Park, among other noteworthy attractions. When hunger strikes, explore Cork's English Market, where you'll find everything from meat and fish counters to cafes and bakeries.

unique places to visit ireland

Located just 17 miles south of Cork, this enclave on Ireland's southern coast charms visitors with rainbow-hued buildings and a "riviera" vibe. Sailing is central to Kinsale, which hosts several regattas throughout the summer, but other water activities like kayaking and surfing hold equal appeal. Those who prefer to stay on land can visit nearby attractions like the scenic Nohoval Cove and historic Charles Fort. What's more, as one of Ireland's top culinary destinations, Kinsale entices foodies with more than 50 delectable eateries and food-centric celebrations like the Kinsale Gourmet Festival and Kinsale Street Feast.

unique places to visit ireland

Galway offers the best of both worlds for travelers. City slickers can revel in Galway's relatively light but palpable bustle, while outdoor lovers can venture outside the city to see many natural attractions, including the Salthill Promenade, Wild Atlantic Way and, farther afield, Burren National Park. If you prefer to stay local, stroll through the lively Latin Quarter, then check out historical attractions like the Spanish Arch and St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church.

unique places to visit ireland

Situated in the heart of County Donegal, Glenveagh National Park sets a picturesque scene, complete with a lakeside castle and lush mountains. Here, active sightseers can bask in the unspoiled natural beauty of the Emerald Isle, with nearly 40,000 acres that are completely free to access for hiking, biking, fishing and camping. Highlights include the Derryveagh Mountains, the sweeping valleys of the Poisoned Glen and the rugged shores of Lough Inshagh and Lough Veagh. For a small fee, visitors can also take a tour of the Glenveagh Castle, a stately granite structure representing the idyllic highland retreat, and explore its varied gardens and tearooms.  

unique places to visit ireland

Situated just northwest of Ireland's border with Northern Ireland, the Inishowen Peninsula is the country's largest peninsula. Its remote location 170 miles northwest of Dublin plus its otherworldly scenery and thatched cottages create a peaceful setting you won't find in Ireland's more tourist-heavy peninsulas. Must-see natural wonders here include Malin Head, Trawbreaga Bay and the Gap of Mamore. If you've always dreamed of seeing the northern lights , be sure to visit in winter when the aurora borealis' beautiful hues are typically visible throughout the peninsula.

unique places to visit ireland

Expect awe-inspiring scenery everywhere you turn when you visit this 5,000-acre national park during the warmer months. Connemara National Park is home to the Twelve Bens mountain range, plus woodlands, grasslands, heaths (wild, undeveloped flatlands) and bogs (wetlands) that you can explore via one of several trails. To get a good overview of the park's diverse scenery, hike the Diamond Hill paths and walk the Green Road along Killary Harbour. The latter is where you'll find one of Ireland's few glacial fjords.

unique places to visit ireland

Travelers keen on getting a taste of what old Ireland looked and felt like should consider visiting the Aran Islands. Accessible by plane from Connemara or by ferry from Rossaveal, Galway and Doolin on Ireland's western coast, the Aran Islands feature important historical sites, Celtic churches and lots of untouched landscapes (think: the "Banshees of Inisherin," some of which was filmed here). Plus, Gaelic is widely spoken, providing an authentic cultural experience. Though all three islands offer noteworthy sights, plan on spending the bulk of your time on Inis Mór (or Inishmore), where the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa is located.

unique places to visit ireland

Kilkenny offers a hearty amount of historical attractions for travelers to explore. This is largely thanks to the town's prior distinction of being the medieval capital of Ireland, a heritage that remains evident today  in the Medieval Mile, Kilkenny's top attraction. Within the Medieval Mile you'll find several interesting sights, such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice's Cathedral and the Medieval Mile Museum. This historic part of town is also home to the Smithwick's Experience, where you can learn more about how one of Ireland's most popular ales is brewed.

unique places to visit ireland

Head to this small seaport on Ireland's southeastern coast to catch a glimpse of the country's oldest city. Waterford is full of history, and its attractions reflect that. History buffs can learn more about the city's Viking roots at Waterford Treasures' Medieval Museum, Reginald's Tower and Bishop's Palace facilities. Or, they can take a tour of the 18th-century House of Waterford factory to see how the city's world-renowned crystal is made. For travelers who need a break from Waterford's rich history, there's the Waterford Greenway, a nearly 30-mile-long walking and bike path.

unique places to visit ireland

Those who plan on visiting Cork should save time for a daytrip to Cobh. This charming small town, which sits on an island in Cork Harbor, is known for its past as both a major departure point for Irish emigrating to the U.S. and as the last port of call for the Titanic. Travelers who want to learn more about these key roles in Cobh's history can visit the Cobh Heritage Centre and Titanic Experience Cobh. Before leaving, take a stroll around town to admire Cobh's striking Victorian-era architecture and brightly colored storefronts and homes.

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60 unique things to do in Ireland after lockdown

Skellig Islands - unique things to do in Ireland

I know that by now most of us are raring to get outside and start adventuring again. While we’re not quite there just yet, we can still dream! So I’ve put together a list of 60 of the best and most unique things to do in Ireland that will provide plenty of inspiration for when we can travel again.

We are so spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing things to do in Ireland. Having travelled much of the country over the last 3 years, there was no shortage of things to list here. I originally planned to stop at 30 unique things to do in Ireland but that didn’t quit go to plan! It may be a bit on the long side now but I promise it’s full of good stuff.

If you have other unique experiences in Ireland that you want to share, please add them in the comments. But for now, and in no particular order, here’s my list of the most unique things to do in Ireland. Which ones will you be doing when we’re able to get out and about again?

1. Uncover the rich history of Spike Island

Exploring the fortress on Spike Island near Cobh

Located in Cork Harbour, just a short ferry ride from Cobh, Spike Island has an incredible past just waiting to be discovered. Often referred to as ‘Ireland’s Alcatraz’, Spike Island was once the largest prison in the world. In fact it functioned as a prison no less than four times in the last 1300 years. In addition it has been a monastic settlement, a convict depot and a military fortress.

Since 2016 you can add tourist attraction to that list and hopefully it’s the final addition! Spike Island was already named Europe’s leading tourist attraction in 2017 and since then has added even more exhibitions and enhancements. 

Trips to the island include a fascinating guided tour after which you can explore further at your leisure. The Cinema Club also offers the chance to visit after dark to watch a film. Maybe not the best idea if you’re easily spooked! Either way, Spike Island is definitely a place to add to your own Irish Bucket List.

Read more:  Taking a tour of Spike Island

2. hike to ireland’s heart-shaped lake.

unique places to visit ireland

When viewed from the right angle, Lough Ouler in Wicklow is pretty much a perfect heart shape. Hiking to the lake can be a bit of a challenge but is definitely worth the effort. Leave enough time to relax and enjoy the stunning panoramic views when you get there too. If you still have energy you can continue up Ireland’s 33rd highest mountain, Tonelagee. The name translates to “arse to the wind”, how very poetic indeed!

Read more:  Hiking to Lough Ouler, Ireland’s heart-shaped lake

3. experience the dursey island cable car.

Stunning view of the mainland and waves crashing against the rocks

Looking back to the mainland

If the idea of dangling 250 metres over the Atlantic ocean in a wooden box gives you a thrill, then you’ll love the Dursey Island Cable Car in West Cork. In addition to being Ireland’s only cable car, it is the only cable car in Europe that crosses the open sea. A short ride takes you from the mainland over to Dursey and the views along the way are totally captivating. So, will the Dursey Island Cable Car make it onto your list of things to do in Ireland?

Read more:  Take a ride on Ireland’s only cable car

4. walk the gobbins cliff path in antrim.

unique places to visit ireland

The iconic Tubular Bridge

When it comes to unique things to do in Ireland, this dramatic cliff walk is certainly up there with the best. The Gobbins Cliff Path first was a major attraction when it opened in the early 1900s and became every bit as popular as the famous Giant’s Causeway. Later abandoned, it lay in ruin for many years but has thankfully been reopened more recently.

An amazing feat of engineering, the walk takes you along the base of the cliffs at Islandmagee in County Down. Along the way you’ll pass sea stacks, chasms and caves and even a large colony of Kittiwakes. The Gobbins is a must for anyone looking for a unique adventure in Ireland.

Read more:  The Gobbins Cliff Path – a walk on the wild side

5. take a trip to the skellig islands.

A Puffin keeping watch over Little Skellig in the distance.

If you ever have the chance to do a trip to the Skellig Islands, take it! Visiting Skellig Michael has been one of the best day trips in Ireland that I have done. It’s such a magical place and one that should be on every Irish bucket list. Everything about Skellig Michael is just remarkable; the history, the natural beauty, the ancient beehive huts and the fact that the monks carved all those stone steps by hand. I’m sweating just thinking about it!

Due to restricted numbers it can be hard to get to Skellig Michael but if you can’t do the landing trip, take the eco tour instead. The eco tour brings you around both Little Skellig and Skellig Michael. Even just getting up close to the islands is an incredible experience. Little Skellig is home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world, as well as many other bird species. The noise when you get up close is unreal!

Read more:  Skellig Michael landing tour – the ultimate Irish day trip

6. get pally with puffins.

One puffin looks towards another who has landed on the edge of a rocky ledge beside it - Unique things to do in Ireland

If you are planning a trip to Skellig Michael, try to visit between the months of May and July to see the Puffins. These adorably cute birds are pretty much everywhere you turn. It’s amazing to be in such close proximity to them as they take off and land all around you.

Other good places to see Puffins in Ireland are the Blasket Islands in Kerry, the Saltee Islands in Wexford and Rathlin Island in Antrim. You may be lucky enough to see them at the Cliffs of Moher too. Take a boat cruise along the cliffs for the best chance to see them there.

7. Photograph the Northern Lights

A glimpse of the Northern Lights at Fanad Head, Donegal

A glimpse of the Northern Lights at Fanad Head, Donegal

To say you can ‘see’ the Northern Lights in Ireland may be a bit of a stretch. But while it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see them with the naked eye, you might be lucky enough to capture them on camera, which is the next best thing!

If you’re keen to give it a go, download an Aurora Forecast app and set up notifications. If auroral activity is high and the forecast is for clear skies, then you might just be in luck. Get as far north as you can for the best chance to capture them. Donegal is your best bet when hunting for the Northern Lights in Ireland and the long winter nights increase your chances too. We got lucky and captured the above image at Fanad Head.

8. Marvel at Longford’s ancient bog road

unique places to visit ireland

The trackway is inside a temperature controlled hall in the visitor centre.

Discovered in bogland near the village of Keenagh in 1985, the Corlea Trackway is an Iron Age road over 2,000 years old. The road was constructed from oak planks that have been radiocarbon dated to 148 BC. It’s the largest Iron Age road that has been discovered in Europe and is well worth a visit. You can view an 18 metre section of the amazingly well preserved trackway inside the Corlea Visitor Centre . 

Read more:  Corlea Trackway – an ancient bog road over 2,000 years old!

9. embrace the darkness at marble arch caves.

Line of people following the steps down in Marble Arch Caves - Unique things to do in Ireland

There are a lot of amazing show caves in Ireland but the Marble Arch Caves in Fermanagh standout as they include a short boat ride too. Gliding through the caverns in darkness is a pretty amazing experience, even if only for a few minutes. Afterwards, you’ll cover about 1.5 kms by foot through the caves. The tour lasts about 75 minutes and is definitely one that should be high up on your list of things to do in Ireland.

10. Tackle the Stairway to Heaven

Looking back down the steps of the boardwalk from the summit with Lake Atona in the background. Dark shadows dapple the mountainside from dark clouds above.

The Marble Arch Caves are part of the greater Marble Arch Geopark, which is also home to the Stairway to Heaven hike. So why not do both while you’re in the area! Though the Stairway to Heaven has become a common nickname, the walk is actually named the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail or Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail.

The trail leads you to just below the summit of Cuilcagh mountain. At 665 metres, it’s the highest peak in both Fermanagh and Cavan counties. At the top a viewing platform allows you to take in the incredible surrounding views while you catch your breath.

This area is one of the most intact blanket bogs in Western Europe and is a Special Area of Conservation. So t he boardwalk and stairs were installed to protect the fragile environment. As an added bonus it makes the summit a little easier to tackle too!

Read more:  Hiking Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven

11. spend a night in a lighthouse.

Stay overnight in a lighthouse - unique things to do in Ireland

Image of Loop Head Lighthouse via Fáilte Ireland

If you’re looking for a unique place to stay in Ireland, how about a lighthouse? Many of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland are available for rent and make for one heck of an amazing experience. Wake up to the pounding waves, surrounded by nature and fabulous sea views in some of the most beautiful places in Ireland. Just be prepared for a lot of stair climbing!

12. Visit Ireland’s only inland lighthouse

Low angle view of the Spire of Lloyd - Unique things to do in Ireland

While we’re on the subject of lighthouses, the Spire of Lloyd has got to be one of the most unique   in Ireland, given the fact that it’s nowhere near the coast! Located in Kells, Co. Meath, the Spire of Lloyd is in fact an 18th century folly. It is usually open on bank holiday Mondays, when you can climb the spiral staircase inside and take in the sweeping 360 views over five counties.

13. Search for the Wormhole on Inis Mór

The Wormhole - unique things to do in Ireland

A trip to the Aran Islands is never a bad idea and should you find yourself on Inis Mór, the largest of the three islands, be sure to check out one of Ireland’s most unique natural attractions.

Poll na bPéist, or the Wormhole, looks like it was carved out of the rocks but is actually completely natural. The rectangular pool is not the easiest spot to find, but there is some signage from the village of Gort na gCapall, which at least points you in the general direction of it. I can’t make it too easy on you, as finding it is all part of the adventure!

14. Visit Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery in Kilbeggan

unique places to visit ireland

The glass you get to keep as a souvenir.

What better place to learn about Irish Whiskey than in Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery. Kilbeggan Distillery in Westmeath was established in 1757, when the first license to produce whiskey was granted to Matthew MacManus. Today, tours of the distillery offer the perfect mix of old and new.

Most of the machinery you’ll see on the tour was used to produce whiskey here up until the distillery closed in 1957. Afterwards the distillery changed hands a number of times until the local community saved it and brought it back to life. Distillation started once again in 2007, so you also get to see the new process behind the small batch whiskeys now produced onsite. Naturally, the tour finishes off with the all important tasting session!

Read More:  Discover Ireland’s oldest licensed distillery

15. go moonlight kayaking on lough hyne.

Lough Hyne - Unique things to do in ireland

Nestled between the rolling hills of West Cork is Lough Hynes, a unique saltwater lake and Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve. It is also one of Europe’s most important Marine habitats. The lake is connected to the sea by a narrow channel and its waters rise and fall with the ebb and flow of the tide.

Climb nearby Knockomagh Hill for stunning panoramic views of Lough Hynes and its surrounds but for a real adventure you’ll want to get out on the water. Atlantic Sea Kayaking offers both day and night kayak trips on the lake. Opt for the Moonlight Kayaking Experience to experience a pretty unique phenomenon. As you slide your paddle through the dark waters, bioluminescence sparkles around you like tiny underwater stars. This definitely makes it one of the more unique things to do in Ireland and a must for any bucket list.

16. Take an alpaca for a wander

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by K2Alpacas (@k2alpacas) on Apr 1, 2020 at 3:46pm PDT

For a unique activity that’s both fun and memorable, give Alpaca trekking a go. With K2Alpacas you’ll be paired up with your very own alpaca for a 2 hour experience. You get to walk and feed your companion as you ramble along and get to know each other. Afterwards you’ll be treated to strawberries and Prosecco (or juice), to help ease the pain of saying goodbye to your new buddy!

If you just can’t wait for the trekking to resume, then fear not. You can book a private video chat with one of the alpacas or a virtual tour of the farm to meet all of the alpacas. You can even send a personal greeting to someone special via an Alpaca Gram!

17. Test drive Waterford’s magic road

Close to the beautiful Mahon Falls in Waterford, you’ll find one of Ireland’s most famous magic roads. Or perhaps it’s just the easiest one to find, thanks to a big rock with the words ‘Magic Road’ written on it! It really is helpful, considering most magic roads are a bit of a secret unless you’re local and in the know.

What’s so magic about these roads? Well, stop your car by the rock, put it in neutral with the handbrake off and wait. Your car should actually start to roll uphill, even though it’s facing downhill. Strange but true. Now some people will try and explain it as an optical illusion but we know it’s really fairy magic, right?!

18. Meet Fungie the dolphin

Meeting Fungie the dolphin in Dingle - unique things to do in Ireland

Credit: Fáilte Ireland

It’s said that dolphins are pretty intelligent and Fungie is proof of that. Since 1983 he has chosen Dingle as his place of residence, obviously because he knows it’s one of the best places in Ireland! He’s so happy about it, that he spends his days playing and interacting with anyone who visits him.

Fungie has even been noted in the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest solitary dolphin. Unfortunately, as there are no boat trips right now, it has been reported that poor Fungie is lonely for human contact. So he’ll definitely be excited to see everyone when trips start up again. You can get up close and personal to Fungie with Dingle Dolphin Tours . Don’t forget to say hi from us!

19. Visit Foynes Flying Boat Museum

Replica B314 flying boat at Foynes Flying Boat Museum - unique thing to do in Ireland

Did you know that Ireland’s first major airport was at Foynes in Limerick? Or that the Irish Coffee was invented there? At the incredibly fascinating Foynes Flying Boat Museum you’ll discover it all, including how the town of Foynes became a major global aviation hub from 1937 to 1945. You can also explore the inside of a life-size replica Boeing 314 Flying Boat, the only one of its kind in the world.

20. Walk the walls of Derry City

unique places to visit ireland

Derry city walls with the Guildhall in the background

Derry is one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe and is the only city in Ireland where the walls remain completely intact. They were built between 1613 and 1619, so recently celebrated reaching 400 years old! The walls measure approximately one mile in circumference and had four original gates. Three additional gates were added later. Walk the walls at your leisure or take an informative and fun guided tour and learn more about the history of this fascinating city as you go.

Read more:  Things to do in Derry – all the info you need to plan the perfect weekend

21. tour the picture perfect swiss cottage in cahir.

Pathway in the garden leading towards the front of the cottage.

The beautifully restored Swiss Cottage in Cahir is one of Europe’s finest examples of a 19th century cottage orné or ornamental cottage. It was originally part of the estate of Lord and Lady Cahir and was used for summer picnics and entertaining guests. Painstaking work was done to restore it to its former glory and you can now visit as part of a guided tours. The most scenic route to the cottage is to take the 2km Coronation Walk along the river from Cahir Castle, another great attraction to visit while you’re in the area.

Read More:  A Peasant Afternoon at the Swiss Cottage in Cahir

22. explore waterford’s spectacular copper coast.

Sunrise at Bunmahon Beach on the Copper Coast

The Copper Coast is a stunning 17km stretch of beautiful bays, long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and rock formations. Stretching from Kilfassary in the east to Stradbally in the west, it is also part of the UNESCO designated Copper Coast Geopark.

In addition to its natural beauty, the area is one of international geological significance and was Ireland’s first Geopark. Exploring this stunning coastline is definitely one of the top things to do in Ireland, yet somehow it still seems to be one of our best kept secrets.

Read more:  Exploring Waterford’s Copper Coast

23. admire ireland’s most scenic gaa pitch on inishturk island.

A woman sits on a hilltop looking down on Inishturk GAA Pitch - unique things to do in Ireland

Located about 15km off the west coast of Mayo, Inishturk is a beautiful island to visit. Well…if I’m honest, the ferry trip there in stormy seas was one I would rather forget but all was forgiven once I arrived!   Rugged and wild, the island has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

Inishturk is also home what is without a doubt the most scenic GAA Pitch in all of Ireland. I was never any good at team sports anyway but seriously, how are you supposed to focus on your game surrounded by views like that. This is definitely a place I’ll be returning but I’ll be sure to go in calmer weather next time round!

24. Test your nerves on the Conor Pass

View from Conor Pass in Dingle - unique things to do in Ireland

Credit: Tourism Ireland

At 456 metres, Conor Pass is Ireland’s highest mountain road. Narrow and winding, it’s not one you’ll want to tackle on a bad day. However, in fairer conditions it’s one of Ireland’s most breathtaking scenic drives.

There are two main viewing points along this 12km stretch of twisting road. So don’t miss the opportunity to stop and take in the amazing views of the valley as you travel from one side of the Dingle Peninsula to the other. At the very least it will give your hands a break from clenching the steering wheel!

25. Explore Rothe House in Kilkenny

unique places to visit ireland

A unique attraction along Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile is Rothe House, a late 16th century merchant’s townhouse. It is the only one of its kind in Ireland and is definitely a hidden gem. Inside you’ll find so much more than the exterior reveals.

Rothe House is actually a townhouse complex with three houses, and as many courtyards. There’s also an extensive Tudor garden, which includes an orchard and stretches way back to the original city wall line. It’s so unexpected in the middle of such a built up city area and definitely another attraction to add to your Irish bucket List.

Read more:  Rothe House & Garden, a must-do on Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile

26. eye up the great telescope at birr castle gardens.

The Great Telescope photographed from a distance with daffodils in the foreground.

The Great Telescope

For 70 years, from 1845 to 1917, the telescope at Birr Castle was the largest in the world. It was built by William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse and with it he discovered the spiral nature of galaxies. Scientists came from all over the world to witness the phenomenon and Birr Castle was well known as a hub of innovation and scientific discovery.  

The restored telescope can still be viewed today in the magnificent Birr Castle Gardens , while at the Science Centre you can learn more about the telescope and other significant achievements of the Parsons family.

Read More:  An afternoon at Birr Castle Gardens

27. soak in the views of clew bay from croagh patrick.

A couple sit at the summit of Croagh Patrick facing stunning views of Clew Bay on a sunny day - unique things to do in Ireland

Dotted with islands, Clew Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in all of Ireland. According to folklore there are 365 islands in all, one for every day of the year. In reality, I don’t know if anyone has counted them but why let facts get in the way of a good story.

For the best view of Clew Bay, getting your hiking boots on and climb to the summit of Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy mountain. If the climb doesn’t get your heart pumping, the stunning views certainly will.

Disclaimer: The climb will most definitely get your heart pumping! It’s not an easy one but it’s well worth it. 

28. Take a tour of Hook Lighthouse

Hook lighthouse reflected in the rock pools. Hook peninsula.

Standing proud at the tip of the Wexford’s Hook Peninsula for almost 850 years, Hook Head Lighthouse is one of the world’s oldest lighthouses. It’s also the second oldest lighthouse in the world that is still in operation today. Since 1996 the lighthouse has been automated and it’s now controlled from Dublin.

Take a guided tour to the top of the tower and enjoy the fabulous panoramic views along the coast. If the standard tour doesn’t float your boat, try one of the more unique tours on offer. Sunrise or sunset tours can be arranged, in addition to a Seafood Banquet Tour or Fish and Chip Supper Tour. Which will you choose?

Read More:  In search of frights and delights on the Hook Peninsula

29. visit the temple of the goddess at huntington castle.

unique places to visit ireland

Built in 1625, Huntington Castle is one of only a handful of castles in Ireland still in the possession of the founding family. With beautiful gardens including a 500 year old Yew Walk, rose garden and even a resident peacock, it’s well worth a visit.

Though the castle is a private home, you can tour some of the rooms inside and can even stay overnight. One of the more unique aspects of the castle tour is a visit to the basement and the Temple of the Goddess found within. In 1976 it became the Foundation Centre for the Fellowship of Isis, a recognised world religion which celebrates the divine feminine. Today the Fellowship has thousands of members throughout the world.

Read more: Tour the the house and gardens at Huntington Castle

30. delve into ireland’s ancient past at newgrange.

Low angle shot looking towards Newgrange passage tomb with grass moving to the breeze in the foreground - Unique things to do in Ireland

Newgrange passage tomb in the Boyne Valley, Co Meath, was built over 5,200 years ago by Stone Age farmers. It is part of a complex of Neolithic monuments known as Brú na Bóinne , which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the Winter Solstice, the rising sun aligns with the opening of the tomb, gradually lighting up the passage and the chamber within. Tours of the tomb are available year round, though access during the solstice is reserved for the lucky few who are chosen by lottery. If you get to attend and there is actually sunshine on the morning of your visit, count yourself very lucky indeed!

Read more:  Exploring Newgrange and Brú na Bóinne

31. treat yourself to a seaweed bath in ballybunion.

Collins' seaweed baths Ballybunion - unique things to do in Ireland

Collins’ Seaweed Baths in Ballybunion have been welcoming visitors since 1932. The business has been run by the Collins family for four generation now and the seaweed is still collected daily from the nearby black rocks.

Situated on the Ladies Beach, a visit to the baths is the perfect way to relax, unwind and rejuvenate. Soak in your your own private bathroom while the warm seawater and seaweed work wonders on your skin or aching muscles. I usually rinse myself off in the bracing waters of the Atlantic afterwards. It’s so invigorating! Don’t leave town without doing the stunning cliff walk either. 

32. Sail away to Garinish Island

unique places to visit ireland

Italian gardens

A trip to Garinish Island (or Ilnacullin) is one of the most unique trips to do in Ireland. Where else in the country could you step into a boat and end up in the Mediterranean 15 minutes later? Yeah ok, not exactly, but thanks to the unique micro climate on the island and features such as a Grecian Temple and Italian Gardens, it certainly feels like you have.

It’s just a short 15 minute boat ride to get to the island and along the way you get the chance to spot seals too. The history of the island and the family who lived here is fascinating and you can visit their home, which has been beautifully restored. Visitors to the island included the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Agatha Christie and many Irish Presidents.

Read more:  Visiting idyllic Garinish Island in Cork

33. go whale watching in west cork.

Whale watching in West Cork - unique things to do in Ireland

Image via Fáilte Ireland / © Stefan Schnebelt Photography 2019 – www.stefanschnebelt.com

You might not think Ireland is the obvious choice when it comes to whale watching, but think again. Take a wildlife boat tour in West Cork and there’s every chance you’ll see humpback whales, fin whales or minke whales depending on the time of year. You might also be lucky enough to spot dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and other wildlife along the way too. 

34. Ring the Shandon Bells

The Shandon Bells - unique things to do in Ireland

Image via Tourism Ireland

Built in 1722, St. Anne’s Church is one of Cork’s oldest buildings.   The church tower is a famous landmark in Cork City and home to the Shandon Bells. Climb to the first floor where you actually get to play a tune on the bells yourself. It’s definitely one of the most unique things you can do in Ireland, though I’m not sure how the neighbours feel about it! After your performance, continue to the top of the tower for a bird’s eye view of the city.

35. Cruise Ireland’s only fjord

A cruise boat in Killary Fjord, Connemara

Enjoy a relaxing cruise along Ireland’s only fjord with Killary Fjord Boat Tours . The fjord is 16kms long and forms a natural border between Galway and Mayo. This 90 minute cruise is the best way to take in the spectacular views of the surrounding mountainous landscape. Dolphins are sometimes spotted at the mouth of the harbour too. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a fun family adventure in Ireland. Better yet, kids under the age of 10 go free.

Read more:  Killary Fjord – take it all in on a relaxing boat tour

36. discover past accomplishments on the derrigimlagh loop walk in connemara.

Derrigimlagh Loop Walk in Connemara - unique things to do in Ireland

This interactive 5km loop walk takes you through the Derrygimlagh Bog, an area of outstanding natural beauty. It was also home to a Marconi wireless station from where the first wireless commercial messages were successfully sent in October 1907.

Later, in 1919, pilots Alcock & Brown crash-landed into the bog bringing a dramatic end to the world’s first transatlantic flight. News of their success was quick to spread across the globe thanks to the nearby wireless station! A series of information panels and interactive displays tell you more about these fascinating events as you explore the area.

37. Check out the tetrapod trackway on Valentia Island.

Looking back towards the signal tower from the tip of the headland.

Some of the stunning scenery you’ll find on Valentia Island

Along a stretch of shore on Valentia Island in Co. Kerry, a series of imprints can be found in the rocks. To some, they may seem unremarkable, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

These fossilised footprints were made by a primitive amphibian-like vertebrate or tetrapod and are believed to have been created as much as 370 million years ago. The imprints are of international significance as they provide evidence of the transition of life from water to land. Only four early tetrapod trackways have been discovered in the world but the Valentia Trackway is thought to be both the oldest and the longest on the planet. It doesn’t get much more unique than that.

38. Order a pint of plain in Sean’s Bar, Athlone

Exterior of Sean's Bar in Athlone - unique things to do in Ireland

Located in Athlone, on the banks of the River Shannon is Sean’s Bar . Dating back to 900 AD, it’s the oldest pub in Ireland. It has also been recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest pub in Europe. So if you find yourself in the town, it’d be a shame to walk past its door without nipping in for a cheeky pint!

Inside you can see part of an old wattle and wicker wall, which dates back to the 10th century. It was uncovered during renovations in 1970 along with coins dating back to the same period. The coins and sections of the wall are now on display in the National Museum.

39. Discover the story behind Westmeath’s Jealous Wall

Walking by the Jealous Wall at Belvedere House.

The Jealous Wall, Ireland’s largest and most impressive folly.

Located in Belvedere House and Gardens in Mullingar, the Jealous Wall is an 18th century Gothic folly and also the largest folly in Ireland. At the time it built (around 1760) Belvedere House was home to Robert Rochfort the 1st Earl of Belvedere. He built the Jealous Wall, at great expense, to hide his brother’s house from view. Why? You guessed it…because it was more grand than his and he was jealous! Unfortunately for his poor wife and family, that wasn’t the worst thing he did either. 

Read more:  An Afternoon exploring Belvedere House, Gardens and Park

40. enjoy a gin cruise on lough derg.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Lough Derg Gin Cruise (@loughderggincruise) on Jun 24, 2019 at 12:43pm PDT

Try a gin tasting experience with a difference, with Killaloe River Cruises . Relax as you sail for 90 minutes along the River Shannon and Lough Derg. Along the way your experienced mixologist will help you select the perfect tonics and garnishes to go along with your three premium gins. Not a bad way to take in some of the stunning scenery in this beautiful part of Ireland!

41. Visit Ireland’s largest stone circle

Grange Stone Circle, Lough Gur - unique things to do in Ireland

Measuring 150 feet in diameter, Grange stone circle at Lough Gur in Co. Limerick, is the largest stone circle in Ireland. It is made up of 113 standing stones with the largest stone weighing in at around 40 tons and standing over 13 feet high.

Built in the Bronze Age, Grange Stone Circle is over 4,000 years old and was an important ritual site. The entrance to the circle is aligned with the sunrise of the summer solstice. To this day, people still gather on Midsummer’s Eve to celebrate and await the dawn, hoping to witness the sun shine through the passageway.

Be sure to visit nearby Lough Gur Heritage Centre to learn more about this and other historical sites nearby. The area is one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites, having visible evidence of every age since Neolithic times.

42. Travel back in time at the Céide Fields

Céide Fields - unique thing to do in Ireland

The Céide Fields in North Mayo are the oldest known field systems in the world. This vast neolithic landscape is some 5,500 years old, making it even older than the pyramids in Egypt. Preserved for centuries below blanket bog, the remains of stone walls, houses and megalith tombs reveal a wealth of information about our Stone Age ancestors and make the Céide Feilds one of Ireland’s most unique attractions.

43. Explore the otherworldly landscape of the Burren

The Burren - unique things to do in Ireland

While most visitors to Ireland are keen to see the Cliffs of Moher, too many miss out on the delights of the neighbouring Burren Region . The unique karst landscape, characterised by its cracked limestone pavement, is often referred to as lunar-like. However, while it may look barren, the Burren is teeming with nature and renowned for its flora and fauna. Over 70% of Ireland’s flower species are found here and it’s particularly vibrant in summer months, when the wildflowers are in bloom.

In addition, the Burren offer beautiful beaches, caves, prehistoric sites such as Poulnabrone Dolmen, picturesque towns, wonderful walks and so much more. Simply put, this is not a part of Ireland you want to miss out on. Stay a few days and savour all it has to offer. You won’t be sorry.

44. Take the Ericsson Skyline Tour at Croke Park

  View this post on Instagram   Are you looking for a date with a difference that will give your loved one a high this Valentines? Ditch the dinner and enjoy the romance of the Dublin sunset from 17 storeys high! 😍 🌆 Book our special Valentines Skyline Dusk Tour today crokepark.ie/valentines A post shared by Croke Park Stadium (@crokepark_official) on Jan 28, 2020 at 12:05pm PST

For a unique view of Dublin get yourself to the iconic Croke Park Stadium for the Skyline Tour . Take in the city’s famous landmarks and stunning panoramic views from the 17 storey high open-viewing platform. Your guide will also fill you in on aspects of Dublin’s history and the construction of the stadium too. There is even a dusk tour during the winter months, so you can watch the skyline begin to glow as the city transitions from day to night.

45. Marvel at the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim

Giant's Causeway - Unique things to do in Ireland

There’s no disputing the fact that the Giant’s Causeway is one of the most unique places to visit in Ireland. Comprised of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.  

You need to get up close and personal to appreciate this unusual landscape, which resulted from an ancient volcanic eruption . As you explore, keep an eye out for some of the more recognisable features such as the Chimney Stacks, the Giant’s Boot and the Organ.

46. Explore Portumna Castle & Gardens in Co. Galway

Photo of Portumna Castle with pink roses in bloom in the foreground - Unique things to do in Ireland

Located on the northern shores of Lough Derg, Portumna Castle was built between 1610 and 1618 by Richard de Burgo, the 4th Earl of Clanricarde. It was without equal at the time and was the first building in Ireland to include some elements of the Renaissance style, already well established in other parts of Europe.

The castle is one of Ireland’s most important early seventeenth century homes and marks the transition from fortified medieval structures to the manor houses of the 18th and 19th century. The beautiful gardens were also the first Renaissance gardens in Ireland and include a rose garden and magnificently restored walled kitchen garden.

In 1826 an accidental fire gutted the building and it remained abandoned for many years, becoming a roofless shell. Thankfully major restoration work has been done and visitors can can access the ground floor as well as exploring the gardens and surrounds. Other attractions in the town include nearby Portumna Forest Park and The Irish Workhouse Centre .

47. Take a guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Glasnevin Cemetery Museum ⚰️ (@glasnevinmuseum) on Jan 26, 2020 at 2:35am PST

Glasnevin cemetery is Ireland’s National cemetery. Opened in 1832, is covers over 50 hectares and is the resting place of many iconic Irish figures. Take a tour to discover the graves of Ireland’s heroes, rebels and revolutionaries including Michael Collins, Constance Markievicz, Maud Gonne, Éamon de Valera and many more. Visitors can now also climb the iconic O’Connell Tower.   It’s the tallest round tower in Ireland and was built in honour of Daniel O’Connell.

48. Learn about life in the trenches at Cavan County Museum

World War One replica trench at Cavan County Museum - Unique things to do in Ireland

Every county in Ireland has its own museum but Cavan County Museum is definitely the best I have been to. The museum is housed in a former convent, built in 1883 by the Poor Sisters of St Clare. Like most county museums, it has many artefacts and exhibitions, including the medieval gallery, archaeology room and GAA history exhibition.

However, Cavan County Museum also has a number of more unique outdoor exhibitions too. Behind a replica GPO facade you get to experience the chaos and upheaval of the 1916 Rising. Nearby, the WW1 Trench Experience uses sound and visual effects to educate visitors on life in the trenches. It’s the largest outdoor replica trench in Ireland and the UK and a must-see for anyone.

49. Climb to the top of Ireland!

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by KERRYCLIMBING.ie (@kerryclimbing.ie) on Mar 28, 2020 at 4:24am PDT

At 1038 metres, Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland. Part of the MacGillycuddy Reeks mountain range in Kerry, the hike to the summit is a demanding one but rewards you with absolutely stunning views, not to mention an amazing sense of achievement. You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, not just the top of Ireland! So if hiking is your thing, make sure that Carrauntoohil is up there on your list of things to do in Ireland. 

If you’re not an experienced hiker or prefer to hike with others, get in touch with Kerry Climbing who offer guided ascents of Carrauntoohil. If you’re after more of a challenge, they can also guide you on more difficult climbs and scrambles.

50. See the Book of Kells & the Long Room at Trinity College

The Long Room in Trinity - unique things to do in Ireland

The Long Room Library

The Book of Kells was created by Early Christian monks circa 800AD and is regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure. Pages of this intricately illustrated and colourful manuscript can be viewed in Trinity College Dublin  as part of the Turning Darkness into Light exhibition . The exhibition is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.

Tickets for the exhibition also include entry to the Long Room, the main chamber of the Old Library.   The long Room is home over 200,000 books and is one of the most impressive libraries in the world. It also contains a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic as well as a 15th century Brian Boru harp, the national symbol of Ireland.

51. Make your very own bottle of Gin at Listoke Gin School

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Listoke Distillery & GinSchool (@listokedistillery) on Nov 6, 2018 at 7:09am PST

Based in Co. Louth, Listoke Distillery is home to Ireland’s only Gin School. Sign up for the Gin School Experience and enjoy a tour of the distillery before creating your own bottle of gin. Throughout the process you will enjoy a few Gin & Tonics (of course!), along with a selection of local Boyne Valley meats and cheeses. According to the website all you need to bring is a good attitude and an open mind. It also warns you should leave the high heels at home! Sounds like the perfect recipe for a great day out. 

52. Visit the deer in the Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park Deer - unique things to do in Ireland

The Phoenix Park in Dublin is a place that I feel a lot of us (yes, I’m including myself here!) take for granted but we are so lucky to have. Located just a few kilometres from the city centre, it’s the largest enclosed public park in any European Capital City. Its perimeter stretches 11kms and encloses 707 hectares of land.

With ample walking and cycling trails, Victorian Gardens, playgrounds, an orienteering course and much more, the Phoenix Park is perfect for a family day out. However, one of the biggest highlights is always spotting deer. The park was established in 1662 as a Royal Deer Park and some 600 fallow deer roam the park today.

Fallow deer are not native to Ireland but some of the deer in the park are descendants of the original deer imported from Great Britain 350 years ago. While the deer are beautiful to watch and have became used to people, remember they are still wild animals. Keep a safe distance and please don’t feed the deer. Despite signs everywhere warning people not to feed them, it still happens all the time and can actually cause illness, malnourishment or disease.

53. Pour a perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse

2 perfect pints of Guinness resting on the bar in the Gravity Bar at Guinness Storehouse. 2 more pints are settling in the background.

Learn to pour the perfect pint in the Guinness Academy

Sure, the Guinness Storehouse might be classed as a tourist trap but that doesn’t make it any less fun! And if you’ve never had the experience of pulling your own pint of Guinness, this is the place to do it. Your entrance ticket includes a voucher for a free pint, which you can use at the Guinness Academy.

In this short masterclass you’ll learn everything you need to know about the 6 steps (and 119.5 seconds) required to pour the perfect pint. By the time you leave, with your certificate in hand, you’ll be a total pro! Head up to the Gravity Bar afterwards for some of the best panoramic views of Dublin.

Read more:  Visiting the Guinness Storehouse – a guide to Ireland’s No 1 attraction

54. summit sea stacks in donegal.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Iain Miller (@uniqueascent) on Dec 2, 2019 at 8:59am PST

If you’re on the hunt for the most adventurous thing to do in Ireland, then this one’s for you. Venture out with Unique Ascent to remote locations as they guide you to the summit of sea stacks along the pristine Donegal Coast. As challenging as it sounds, sea stack climbing is open to everyone and previous climbing experience is not required. It’s sure to make for a totally unforgettable day.

55. Watch weavers at work in the Avoca Handweavers Mill

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Avoca Ireland (@avocaireland) on Jul 14, 2019 at 2:05am PDT

Today Avoca is a well-known brand with numerous stores and cafés around Ireland. The company is also one of the oldest surviving clothing manufacturers in the world. Its success can be traced back to the picturesque village of Avoca in Co. Wicklow, where its story began.

On the banks of the Avoca River, there’s now an Avoca store and café within the original whitewashed buildings of the founding mill. Established in 1723, it’s the oldest surviving mill still in use in Ireland. Inside, you can take a tour of the mill and witness firsthand the skill and expertise of the weavers. Once you see the work that goes into each piece and the beautiful finished products, you won’t want to leave empty handed!

56. Hike to Ireland’s highest waterfall

Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird, also known as the Devil’s Chimney, is the highest waterfall in Ireland at 150 metres. It’s located on the Dartry mountains, straddling the borders of Sligo and Leitrim. Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird, translates to “stream against the height” referring to the fact that the wind sometimes causes the water to be blown backwards over the cliff from which it falls.

There’s a public hiking trail which takes you close to the base of the falls. It takes about 45 mins to an hour and you’ll get some pretty great views. Bear in mind that the flow is weather dependent and sometimes there is little or no flow. Visit after heavy rain to see the waterfall at its best.

57. Take a boat ride to Holy Island in East Clare

Swams swimming by the shore of Holy Island in East Clare. In the distance the island's round tower can be seen - unique things to do in Ireland

Holy Island , or Inis Cealtra, is located on Lough Derg in Co. Clare and is one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland. The island is reached by a short boat trip from Mountshannon Harbour. Its attractions include a well preserved Round Tower, several church ruins, Bullaun stones and a monastic cell-like structure, which is said to be one of the most extraordinary buildings in Ireland.

Boat trips to the island are run by local historian Gerard Madden. So you’re in good hands should you have any questions. Once on the island you can explore at your leisure, though guided tours can also be arranged. In 2010 Holy Island was one of the sites submitted to UNESCO for future nomination to the World Heritage List. 

58. Head underground at the Arigna Mines in Co. Roscommon

A couple underground on the Arigna Mining Experience - unique things to do in Ireland

Image via Fáilte Ireland

Trace 400 years of mining history at the Arigna Mines, the last working coal mine in Ireland. With tours run by ex-miners who have actually worked here, this is one of the most unique and authentic experiences in Ireland.

The Arigna Mining Experience tours last about 45 minutes long and provide a fascinating account of life in the mines. From the visitor centre you can also enjoy stunning panoramic views over Lough Allen and the surrounding landscape.

59. Cycle Ireland’s longest greenway

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Waterford Greenway (@waterfordgreenway) on Mar 25, 2017 at 1:28pm PDT

Ireland has a growing number of Greenways, providing plenty of opportunity to hop on a bike and explore safely. Many of these dedicated off-road trails have been created along disused railway routes, offering access to some of the most scenic and unspoilt parts of Ireland.

Stretching for 46km from Waterford City to Dungarvan, the Waterford Greenway is the longest Greenway in Ireland. The trail follows the old Waterford to Mallow railway line and passes lots of breathtaking landscapes along the way. If you cycle the entire route you’ll also take in 11 bridges, 3 viaducts and pass through a 400 metre long tunnel. Alternative, the mostly flat trail is broken into six distinct sections, so it’s easy to just do part of it. The choice is all yours!   

60. Face your fears at Tayto Park

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by TaytoPark (@taytopark) on Apr 30, 2020 at 3:00am PDT

Why not end with a thrilling rollercoaster ride! Tayto Park in Meath is Ireland’s only theme park and is home to the Cú Chulainn Coaster. The Cú Chulainn was Ireland’s first rollercoaster and is also the largest wooden rollercoaster in Europe with an inversion. It might be a good idea not to fill up on too many delicious Tayto crisps before you get onboard. Just a thought.

What unique things to do in Ireland will you add to your list?!

Phew, that’s it! If you’re still reading I’m very impressed and hope you’ve enjoyed my list of unique things to do in Ireland. Before visiting please confirm reopening details with individual providers and check government guidelines in regards to travel restrictions. 

Are you planning to visit any of these attractions when we can travel again?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Further Reading...

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20 Images of Ireland to Fuel your Wanderlust

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unique places to visit ireland

Bridget Flannery

We would love if Dingle sea safari -Open Rib Experience is some how added to this list .. it’s a 2.5 hour experience going to wonderful sea cliffs sea cave around the Great Blaskets islands , grey seals, puffins .. dolphins and often seeing the whales .. No 1 on Tripadvisor ( since 2019 ) of 40 tours in Dingle to do

unique places to visit ireland

David Jones

Ireland it a beautiful country that offers something for everything to enjoy their travel trips. You have mentioned most of the tourist destination in Ireland and I hope people will consider them when they will plan to travel in Ireland. Thanks and keep posting more!!!

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Birr Castle

Explore the hidden gems on your doorstep and discover incredible things you can do only in Ireland.

Find unique experiences in Ireland’s Ancient East

1 | take on the epic wooden rollercoaster in emerald park.

Scream at the top of your lungs on the biggest wooden rollercoaster in Europe with an inversion at Meath’s  Emerald Park . Standing at 32m tall, Cú Chulainn is named after one of Ireland’s greatest mythological warriors, and a ride on this rollercoaster is no less thrilling than the stories of old. 

Refuel with a tasty crisp sandwich back at ground level before making a splash on the epic Viking Voyage water ride at Ireland’s largest theme park.

Aerial image of people riding the wooden rollercoaster at Emerald Park in County Meath

2 | See the oldest solar observatory in the world at Newgrange 

Newgrange is famous for the Winter Solstice, but did you know this magnificent monument is the oldest known solar observatory in the world? Walk around the mysterious stone chamber in Meath and step back in time to the Neolithic era when Ireland’s most celebrated passage tomb was built in 3,300BC. 

Access inside the chamber at Newgrange varies throughout the year, so which makes this experience popular amongst all visitors, so, be sure to book your ticket in advance online.

Sunset behind Newgrange in County Meath

3 | See the pyramids in Wicklow  

Visit Wicklow and admire the great pyramid of the Howard Mausoleum in  Arklow  in the grounds of Old Kilbride Cemetery. The extraordinary burial tomb is inspired by the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Snap a picture of the “largest pyramid tomb beyond the banks of the Nile” then make your way across the cemetery to another Egyptian-influenced mausoleum, owned by the same family laid to rest inside the Arklow Pyramid.

4 | Tour Ireland’s only blackcurrant farm 

Wexford may be known for its sweet strawberries but a visit to Ballykelly Farm in Drinagh is sure to give you a taste for its tasty blackcurrants too. Check out Ireland’s only  commercial blackcurrant farm  and take a tour with its owner Des and his two adorable golden retrievers, Molly and Sofie.

Discover the inner workings of the family farm and learn how these Irish berries became part of Wexford’s cultural history on this one-of-a-kind foodie experience.

5 | Visit the oldest operational lighthouse in the world  

See the oldest operational lighthouse in the world in Wexford and find out why  Hook Lighthouse  was once voted number one on a  Lonely Planet  list of the world’s best lighthouses. 

Drop by the visitor centre, hear real life stories of the lighthouse keepers who protected seafarers from the jagged rocks, and take in stunning views of Hook Peninsula. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins jumping in the sea.

Calm waters near rocks and lighthouse on Hook Head

6 | Hold a snake in Ireland’s only reptile zoo

Come face to face with giant pythons, snapping turtles and American alligators at Ireland’s only dedicated reptile zoo. Learn about these amazing animals at the  National Reptile Zoo  in Kilkenny. You can even hold a tarantula or pet an iguana during the hourly Animal Encounter sessions with a trained reptile wrangler. 

Experience adventure in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

7 | find the world's oldest licensed distillery in kilbeggan  .

Visit the world's oldest licensed distillery dating back to 1757 in Westmeath . Learn how whiskey was once made and see these ancient techniques still in action today on the  Kilbeggan Distillery Tour .

Taste a range of single malts and savour the experience of bottling your very own whiskey straight from the cask. Wet your whistle then stop by the Pantry Restaurant for a hearty lunch.

Thirsty for more? Ireland is home to plenty of must-see distilleries, so, squeeze in a few of the country's top distillery tours and experiences on your next adventure.

A glass of whiskey at Kilbeggan Distillery Experience

8 | Climb Ireland’s largest treehouse at Birr Castle Demesne  

Explore  Birr Castle Demesne , one of the most unique places in Ireland where science, history and nature collide. Stroll around the glorious  Offaly  gardens and find the tallest box hedges in the world.

Check out the largest treehouse in the country, wander over to the Historic Science Centre to see the Great Telescope and discover the new cutting edge I-LOFAR facility – a trip to Birr Castle Demesne is full of wonders you won't find anywhere else.

Two people standing in front The Great Telescope at Birr Castle Demesne, Offaly

9 | Enjoy a pint in the oldest pub in Ireland  

Where better to sink a creamy pint than at the oldest pub in Ireland? With a fantastic location in the heart of the country,  Seán’s Bar  in Athlone has been around since 900AD, and the pints have only gotten better with time.  

Get a selfie in front of the tavern’s bright blue exterior and enjoy the electric atmosphere at this authentic Irish pub.

People standing outside Sean's Bar on a sunny day in Athlone, Westmeath

10 | Make a splash at the largest indoor water park in Longford  

Book a short break in Longford Forest. Stay in a stylish woodland lodge at  Center Parcs , the first resort of its kind in Ireland, and make a splash at the country’s largest indoor water park. Swim in the subtropical pool, ride the incredible Tropical Cyclone or chill out in the heated whirlpool.

Inside the indoor swimming pool at Center Parcs in County Longford.

11 | Tour the oldest unexcavated royal site in Europe

Once the seat of the legendary Queen Medb of Connacht, Rathcroghan is the oldest and largest unexcavated royal site in Europe. Take a guided tour of this ancient landscape where the people of Connacht gathered to celebrate, feast and inaugurate kings.

Climb to the top of the Rathcroghan Mound and explore the wealth of archaeological sites dotted across the land. Then journey to the Otherworld through the fabled 'Gate to Hell' at Oweynagat – the birthplace of Halloween.

An flat-topped circular mound covered in grass at Rathcroghan in Roscommon

Explore hidden gems along the Wild Atlantic Way

12 | discover ireland’s only island distillery  .

Discover the unique setting of Cape Clear Island Distillery . The Gaeltacht region off the coast of Cork is the home of Ireland’s only island distillery. Take the ferry from Baltimore to enjoy the island’s famous hospitality and soak up the unbeatable views of Fastnet Rock. Bring home a bespoke bottle of gin as a souvenir of your visit.

Fastnet Lighthouse on a clear day with blue skies and calm water all around

13 | See the trains at West Cork Model Railway Village

Ireland’s only model railway village,  West Cork Model Railway Village , is a must-visit when in the Rebel County. Watch the miniature trains travel along the tracks and discover how people lived and worked in days gone by when the historic West Cork Railway Line operated during the 1940s.

Book a seat on the Road Train and enjoy a leisurely trip through the picturesque streets of Clonakilty for the full experience.

Aerial view of the West Cork Railway Village in County Cork.

14 | Swim in Europe’s only inland saltwater lake  

Avid sea swimmers flock to Lough Hyne  for a dip in its calm waters but the  West Cork lake is more than a great place for a swim. The only inland saltwater lake in Europe, Lough Hyne is also Ireland’s first designated Marine Nature Conservation Reserve. The unique and tranquil environment has a fascinating ecosystem where purple sea urchins and bioluminescent algae thrive.

Don’t miss the night tour with  Atlantic Sea Kayaking  to see the bioluminescence create a trail of light behind you as you move through the lake.

A group of people night kayaking on Lough Hyne in West Cork

15 | Travel to Dursey Island by cable car  

Escape from West Cork to Dursey Island in style on a Dursey Island Cable Car  - Ireland’s only cable car - and admire the breathtaking views as you fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The short but sweet adventure takes 10 minutes but make a day of it and bring a packed lunch to enjoy on the  Dursey Island Loop .

Journey from one end of the island to the other, keeping your eyes peeled for rare birds visiting from Siberia and America. Allow four to five hours to explore every nook and cranny before venturing back to the cable car at the end of the 14km trail.

View of Dursey Island Cable Car crossing the water from Beara Peninsula, Cork

16 | Take a tour of Skelligs Chocolate Factory

Go behind the scenes at  Skelligs Chocolate  and watch chocolatiers at work in the only open plan chocolate factory in Ireland. Make a pitstop in Baile an Sceilg (Ballinskelligs) , just off the Ring of Kerry , and see how the experts create their delicious chocolatey treats. Don’t leave without tasting some of the mouthwatering samples for yourself – did we mention they’re free?

17 | See dinosaur footprints on Valentia Island  

You know all about  Jurassic Park,  but have you ever seen dinosaur footprints in real life? Journey to  Valentia Island  in Kerry  and discover the fossilised tracks, thought to be at least 350 million years old.  

Scientists believe the tetrapod footprints represent the transition of life from water to land, making them the oldest reliably dated evidence in the world of amphibians on land.

Looking out to the sea and islands from Valentia Island, County Kerry

18 | Board a Boeing 314 replica in Limerick

Head to  Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum  in Limerick where the iconic Irish coffee was born in 1943. Taste the original hot beverage in the former centre of the aviation world and board a life-size Boeing 314 – the only existing B314 replica. Find out what it was like to pilot a flying boat across the Atlantic and test your skills in a realistic B314 flight simulator.

Climb aboard a life-size B314 replica in Limerick.

19 | Go kayaking on Ireland’s only fjord  

Hop in a kayak and paddle across Ireland’s only fjord at  Killary Harbour . Formed by glaciers thousands of years ago, a trip to this beautiful spot is one of the most unique things to do in the heart of Connemara . Experience a thrilling day on the water with  Killary Adventure Company  or admire the landscape from the historical Green Road that runs alongside the fjord.

Two people kayaking across Killary Harbour in Galway.

20 | Dive underwater at Galway Atlantaquaria

See what lies beneath the surface at  Galway Atlantaquaria  and explore the largest native species aquarium in the country. Meet conger eels and Irish sharks, get up close and personal with spider crabs and starfish in the Touch Tanks, and find the biggest indoor fin whale skeleton in the world. 

Learn about Ireland’s unique underwater life and after, take a stroll along Salthill Promenade and breathe in the fresh sea air.

A small fish resting on a rock inside Galway Atlantaquaria in Salthill, Galway

21 | Visit the Céide Fields

Discover the most extensive Stone Age site in the world beneath the wild boglands of North Mayo . A 10-minute drive from Ballycastle , the incredible  Céide Fields are the oldest known stone walled fields on the planet where the remains of houses and megalithic tombs are preserved under a blanket of peat.

Explore the land where an ancient farming community lived almost 6,000 years ago then make your way across the road for spectacular cliff and coastal views.

Visitors walking to the Céide Fields Visitor Centre in County Mayo.

Find world class art and culture in Dublin

22 | discover the oldest known public gallery of modern art.

While away an afternoon at  Hugh Lane Gallery , the world’s first known public gallery of modern art. Enter through the blue double doors on Parnell Square and immerse yourself in the celebrated collection of art. See contemporary masterpieces by Monet, Degas and Harry Clarke, and stumble upon Francis Bacon's studio preserved in the exact manner he left it.

A couple admiring the modern art installation outside of the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin city.

23 | Visit the world famous Marsh’s Library  

Lose yourself in a good book at Marsh’s Library . Just a few minutes from St. Patrick’s Cathedral , the world famous library is the oldest public library in the country.  

Unchanged since it first opened in 1707, spend time inside the historic building in the heart of Dublin. Browse the original oak bookcases filled with literary treasures, see the bullet holes from the Easter Rising, and check out the 18th century “cages” built to stop readers from stealing the rarest of books.

The wooden interior and leather-bound books of Marsh Library in Dublin

24 | Challenge yourself on Europe’s first escape boat  

Take on Europe’s first escape challenge built on a boat at Escape Boats at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin City. Grab your friends and test your teamwork as you decipher a series of puzzles in time to escape from the sinking ship. After, treat yourself and fellow crew members to well-deserved drinks and Pan Asian cuisine at  East Restaurant , a short stroll away.

Escape Boats

25 | Spend time in the only butterfly house in Ireland

Brush up on your lepidopterology in Ireland’s one and only butterfly house. Step inside the Cambridge Glasshouse at  Malahide Castle  and marvel at these colourful creatures. With over 20 species fluttering about, the butterfly house is a hidden gem in North Dublin.

Three butterflies resting on people's hands in the Cambridge Glasshouse at Malahide Castle and Gardens, Dublin

There’s so much to explore on our incredible island. Choose from these amazing experiences then check out our  Great Irish Bucket List  for even more unique things to do. How many you can tick off the list?

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Most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

unique places to visit ireland

Antonia Windsor

Destination Expert

Sunday July 3 2022, 06:48am

From the dramatic cliffs, remote islands and atmospheric towns of the Wild Atlantic Way to the fairytale castles, craggy mountains and placid lakes of the Ancient East, Ireland is a land where beauty is matched by variety. In the words of Johnny Cash, the Emerald Isle is rendered in “40 shades of green”, contrasting with a similar spread of blues and greys. The weather changes frequently here, making even the same landscape look different from one minute to the other. The only guarantee is that you will be constantly reaching for your camera. These are some of our scenic highlights.

Main picture: Cliffs of Moher (AirSwing Media)

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1. The Old Library, Trinity College Library, Dublin

Most people make the pilgrimage to this bibliophile’s heaven to see the intricately illuminated Book of Kells, which is a manuscript edition of the New Testament thought to have been created around AD800. However, the Long Room, which was built in the early 18th century, is a thing of beauty in itself. It houses 200,000 of the oldest books in impressive floor-to-ceiling shelves that climb up to the vaulted ceiling. The rows are lined with marble busts; it’s a cathedral in which to worship the written word.

Where to stay The Alex is just a few minutes’ stroll from Trinity College and features local artwork in the stylish rooms  The tour This fast-track easy-access Book of Kells tour includes a visit to Dublin Castle, which was the seat of English, and later British, rule from 1204 to 1922.

2. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

You can’t fail to be humbled by the enormity of these sandstone, siltstone and sedimentary cliffs that rise more than 700ft and stretch for five miles along the Atlantic coast. Stand and look out at the fiercely breaking waves and you’ll feel as though the wind is eroding your cheeks in the way it has the rocks. The safe viewing platforms relieve some of the vertigo you may feel when looking down.

Where to stay Enjoy the primary colours and Scandi wood panelling of boutique Hotel Doolin in the music capital of County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher are a short drive away. The tour Viator’s day trip from Cork also stops at Bunratty Castle, a 15th-century turreted castle on the site of a 1st-century Viking trading camp.

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The most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

3. Kinsale, County Cork

One of the most colourful of Ireland’s small towns, Kinsale sits on the seafront just south of Cork with its brightly painted houses as vibrant as a seaside windbreak. Here you can watch fishermen unloading their catch, wander the narrow medieval streets and listen to traditional music in the local bars.

Where to stay If the sea’s too chilly, make the most of the indoor pool at Actons , a four-star boutique hotel. The tour Take a walking tour with local guides Don and Barry to learn about the town’s connection to the Spanish Armada.

Kitesurfing on the Keel Strand, Achill Island

4. Achill Island, County Mayo

The largest island off the west coast of Ireland , Achill is a blend of peat bogs and mountains that slip down to sandy beaches or craggy coves. The author Graham Greene visited several times in the 1940s and wrote parts of the novels The Heart of the Matter and The Fallen Idol in the village of Dooagh, near Keem Bay on the south coast. Rent a bike to explore the Western Greenway, a 26-mile trail that circumnavigates the island.

Where to stay Charmingly eccentric Ferndale B&B has views across the south-facing sandy beach at Keel Strand to the 1,000ft-high cliffs of Menawan beyond. Rooms have names such as Mayan Treasure Bay (heavy with red brocade) and Laguna Venetia (palazzo-inspired marble floors and roll-top bath). The tour Achill Coach Tours will take you from Westport to Achill island and show you the deserted village — 80 houses that were abandoned during the 19th-century famine when starving families relocated to a seaside location.

The monastic mounds on Skellig Michael

5. Skellig Michael, County Kerry

This is the most westerly sacred site in Europe. A monastic settlement has been on the rocky outcrop of Skellig Michael since the 6th century. This twin-pinnacled crag in the Atlantic, off the Iveragh peninsula of County Kerry, marks the end of the Apollo/St Michael axis, a line of ancient pilgrimage sites running from Ireland to Palestine. Bird lovers visit for sightings of the puffins and razor bills that make this wild island their home.

Where to stay Trips to the island depart from the colourful fishing town of Portmagee. Stay at the Moorings Hotel and you’ll be first in the queue to board. The tour To view the well-preserved remains of the St Fionan monastery, choose a Skellig Michael Landing Tour, which allows you to disembark from the boat and explore the island.

Middle Street, Galway City - places to visit in Ireland

6. Galway, County Galway

This colourful harbour city on Ireland’s west coast is alive with Irish tradition. Gaelic is in daily use and you’ll see bilingual road signs and shop names. The beauty is in the brightly painted houses, cobbled streets and the celebration of Irish music, song and dancing in the bars and pubs. Don’t miss the Salthill promenade, a walk that stretches from the Latin quarter in the city along 3km of coastline to the Blackrock diving tower (tradition has it you should kick the wall here at the end of your walk).

Where to stay The four-star Galmont Hotel and Spa occupies a prime central location with views over the sea inlet Lough Atalia and Galway Bay. Facilities include an 18m pool and subterranean spa. The tour See Galway City from the bay while catching shrimp and lobster on a Galway Bay Boat Tour.

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Gap of Dunloe - most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

7. Killarney National Park, County Kerry

In the heart of County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland, Killarney National Park is sultry and majestic. At the base of the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s largest mountain range, 26,000 acres of woodlands and lakes spread out in shades of greens, browns, indigos and blues, making up this Unesco biosphere reserve. Brave the icy water for a swim at the bottom of Torc waterfall or learn about traditional farming techniques at Muckross House.

Where to stay The five-star Aghadoe Heights hotel is perched on a hilltop with panoramic views over the park. There’s also a spa to ease your muscles after all that walking, The tour Viator has a Ring of Kerry Day Tour from Cork, which will take you on this famous driving route that includes Killarney National Park as well as the traditional Irish village of Sneem.

Inis Oirr is the smallest of the three Aran Islands

8. Aran Islands

These three islands off the coast of Galway are rich in Celtic and Christian history. The largest, Inis Mór, has a deep rectangular natural swimming pool known as the “worm hole” as well as more than 50 monuments of Christian or Celtic importance. The middle island, Inis Meáin, is the least visited of the trio and was once the retreat of Irish playwright JM Synge. The smallest, Inis Oírr, has a fishing-village feel and dramatic views of the Cliffs of Moher.

Where to stay Base yourself in one of five luxury suites on Inis Meain , run by the same family as the island’s knitwear company that sends Aran jumpers all over the world. The tour Visit Inis Oírr Island and then enjoy a cruise at the foot of the famous Cliffs of Moher with this Viator tour.

The Waterford Greenway in Ireland

9. Waterford Greenway, County Waterford

Starting at the city that made its name producing crystal glassware, this walking and cycling route follows 46km of disused railway line from Waterford to the seaside town of Dungarvan. The entire route is car-free and you get spectacular sea views once you hit the coast. If you are not up to doing the full trail, the stretch between Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan is the most scenic.

Where to stay You’ll have burnt enough calories to enjoy a slap-up meal at the Tannery in Dungarvan (perhaps wild Atlantic cod with Dollar Bay clams and sea greens), and spend the night in one of their 14 rooms. The tour Waterford Greenway Cycle tours can sort you out with bike hire, including ebike options, and provide a free shuttle bus so you won’t have to make the long journey back.

10. The Burren, County Clare

This is Ireland’s 250 sq km rock garden. The great hunks of exposed limestone that make up the Burren National Park are home to a large variety of wildflowers, including 22 different types of orchid. This part of the Emerald Isle was once the seabed, but has lain exposed to the elements since the Ice Age, creating a lunar-like landscape made up of caves and crevices, fossils and flowers.

Where to stay Bed down in one of the 12 boutique rooms of the Fiddle + Bow in the heart of Doolin, one of the best towns to hear traditional music, on the edge of the Burren Geopark. The tour NatureTrek has a five-day botanical tour of the rare flora of this unique landscape.

11. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

The serenity of this turreted neo-Gothic Victorian castle, which seems to be slipping into the water at the base of a hill in Connemara, is enough to make you want to join the Benedictine nuns who have made this their home since the 1920s. The walled garden here was the largest to be built in Ireland during the Victorian era and today is a heritage garden that only contains plants that were available pre-1901. Marvel at little-seen Victorian vegetables such as cardoon (related to the globe artichoke) and scorzonera (a long thin root vegetable similar to salsify).

Where to stay Luxury Ballynahinch Castle is half an hour’s drive away and full of Connemara spirit (think impromptu Irish songs in the bar after an afternoon of fly-fishing in the river). The tour This Connemara day trip from Galway includes a three-hour stop at Kylemore Abbey.

The Rock of Cashel in Ireland

12. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

It’s not such a long way to Tipperary as the song would have you believe; only about two hours from Galway or Dublin . The drive is worth it to visit one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. The towers and turrets of this medieval cathedral rise from a flat, empty plain like a fairytale palace suspended in mid-air. The oldest parts date back 1,000 years, as the building started life as a fort and castle for the kings of Munster and this is thought to be the site where St Patrick converted King Aenghus to Christianity in the 5th century.

Where to stay Four-star Baileys Hotel is set in a Georgian townhouse on Cashel’s Main Street. The tour Paddy Wagon Tours has a day trip from Cork that takes in the Rock of Cashel and also gives you two hours to explore the cobbled streets of the medieval city of Kilkenny.

13. Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry

Jutting into the Atlantic like a giant thumb, the Dingle Peninsula is an incredible stretch of natural beauty featuring coastal cliffs, ruined castles, rugged hills and medieval beehive huts. Beaches abound, from rocky coves to glorious sandy bays. A short ferry ride away are the Blasket Islands, which were home to an Irish-speaking community until the 1950s, when the last residents were evacuated due to increasingly extreme weather, and now provides a nesting ground for seals and puffins.

Where to stay Dingle Skellig hotel is right on Dingle Bay and you can watch marine life from the outdoor hot tub on the spa terrace. The tour A Dingle Seafari will whisk you to the Blasket Islands where you can watch the colony of seals and seasonally spot puffins or dolphins.

14. The Wild Atlantic Way, West Ireland

The Wild Atlantic Way ‘s route has always been there, snaking along the coast road on the west of Ireland from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen Head in County Cork, but with some good marketing and a dedicated website it’s gained popularity in recent years. The driving route passes through nine counties and will provide some of the most dramatic driving you’ve ever experienced, winding along towering cliffs with the Atlantic crashing below. The sunsets aren’t too shabby either.

Where to stay Loop Head Lighthouse Keeper’s House is run by the Irish Landmark Trust and is right at the tip of Loop Head in County Clare in the southern part of the route, with panoramic views of the sea down to Kerry Head and Dingle and across to the Cliffs of Moher. The tour If you’d rather not self-drive, McInlay Kidd has a guided rail tour.

15. English market, Cork City

Perhaps the most Instagrammed building in Cork , the English market, with its central fountain, stone floors and vaulted ceiling, is a beautifully preserved 18th-century covered market. Built by the Protestant leaders of the city at the time, it became known as the English market in the mid-19th century when a Catholic “Irish” majority took over the city council and built a second covered market, St Peter’s, which became known as the Irish market. The English market is now a food emporium; the place to buy organic sourdough bread, olives and tapenade or Irish-produced pecorino and mozzarella, among other delicacies.

Where to stay Just behind the English market, the four-star Imperial Hotel was Cork’s very first hotel and is full of period grandeur. The tour On a Cork culinary tour you’ll get to meet the market traders and sample some produce.

Newgrange was built in 3200 BC

16. Brú na Bóinne, County Meath

An ancient site that is older than the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge, Brú na Bóinne (which means Palace of the Boyne) is an archaeological treasure trove with three large Neolithic passage tombs, Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth. Newgrange is positioned so that the sun pours into the chamber at winter solstice. To be in with a chance of experiencing this phenomenon, you need to enter a lottery, which you can do by email or at the visitor centre.

Where to stay The quirky country house B&B Collon House is crammed with antiques and period paintings and is a 15-minute drive from the tombs. The tour Viator offers a day tour that also takes in Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland with an imposing 20-sided cruciform central tower.

17. Wicklow Mountains National Park, County Wicklow

Wicklow Mountains National Park is just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin , but is like journeying to a time before civilisation: glacial valleys cupping mirror-still lakes; windswept mountain tops; dense woodland. This is the largest highland area in Ireland and the setting for a glut of movies, including P.S. I Love You, Excalibur and Braveheart .

Where to stay Historic Glendalough Hotel sits at the entrance of the park and is adjacent to 12th-century St Kevin’s Kitchen and the Glendalough Monastery. The tour Get Your Guide has a full day tour of the national park from Dublin, which includes horse-riding, cycling or a guided walk.

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Ballymastocker Bay, Portsalon

18. Portsalon Beach, Donegal

A mile of golden sand defines this blue-flag beach on the shores of Ballymastocker Bay in Donegal. It’s on the western side of Lough Swilly, about a 15-minute drive from Fanad Head lighthouse, and the water here is safe for swimming (if a little cold). Lifeguards are on duty between June and September.

Where to stay Portsalon Luxury Camping offers the chance to stay in a fancy yurt (with a king-sized bed and a wood-burning stove) only a six-minute drive from the beach. The tour The Fanad Peninsula trip, by Donegal Tours, takes in the beautiful bay as well as Fanad lighthouse, in its spectacular setting on the edge of the Atlantic.

The freshwater Lough Gill

19. Lough Gill, County Sligo

Find inspiration on the banks of this freshwater lake in County Sligo and Leitrim, where WB Yeats set his poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree (Innisfree is one of about 20 islands that dot the lake like giant stepping stones). Walk among the ancient woodland on the shore or swim in the bracing water.

Where to stay The architecturally striking Glasshouse hotel offers bright designer rooms in the city centre, two miles from the lake. The tour The Lough Gill tour takes in a burial site on the north shore of Lough Gill, a 16th-century Franciscan friary and Parke’s Castle, a 17th-century manor house.

20. Kilkenny City, County Kilkenny

Ireland’s smallest city is also one of the prettiest — and most creative. Medieval buildings house artisan shops, and artists and makers flock to the city to revel in its vibrant design scene. Kilkenny Design Centre in a converted castle stables is one of the best places in Ireland to buy handmade products by up-and-coming stars, while the National Design and Craft Gallery displays work by more established artists.

Where to stay Butler House hotel is in the Georgian dower house of Kilkenny Castle, so you’re right in the heart of the historic centre. The tour Explore the Medieval Mile with a 90-minute Shenanigans walking tour and hear tales of knights and witches.

21. Ross Castle, County Kerry

Particularly dramatic at night when the walls of the 15th-century tower and keep are floodlit, this castle was built by the Irish chieftain O’ Donoghue Ross. Sometimes called O’Donoghue’s Castle, it stands on the shores of Lough Leane in picturesque Killarney National Park. The castle was one of the last in Munster to surrender to Oliver Cromwell in the Irish Confederate wars. Look out for the red deer that sometimes come to the lake to drink.

Where to stay You’ll get a warm welcome and hearty breakfast at Ross Castle Lodge , a four-star B&B just a ten-minute walk from the castle. The tour Killarney Jaunting Cars will take you in a traditional horse and carriage through the national park to Ross Castle.

unique places to visit ireland

20 most incredible places to visit in

Irish scenery is among the most spectacular in Europe, with breathtaking views and stunning landscapes throughout the whole country.

Here’s our guide to the places that will make a trip to Ireland one to remember.

Best for breathtaking photos

The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry

The Gap of Dunloe is a wild and scenic (and sometimes hairy!) mountain pass – studded with crags and bejewelled with lakes and waterfalls.

It lies to the west of Killarney National Park, squeezed between Purple Mountain and the high summits of the Macgillycuddy Reeks (Ireland's highest mountain range).

Take a pony and trap ride with a local for an authentic experience, or walk the Gap to allow time to take in the majestic views.

Best for a Game of Thrones-like location

Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

Soaring up from the green Tipperary pastures, this ancient fortress takes your breath away at first sight.

The seat of kings and churchmen who ruled over the region for more than 1000 years, it rivalled Tara as a centre of power in Ireland for 400 years.

Entered through the 15th-century Hall of the Vicars Choral, its impervious walls guard an enclosure with a complete round tower, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and a 12th-century Romanesque chapel.

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Dublin’s Georgian Squares, County Dublin

A perfect way to spend an afternoon in Dublin is to wander around the city's elegant spaces of Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares and take in the exquisite architecture.

Here you'll find the perfect mix of imposing public buildings, museums, and private offices and residences.

These include the home of the Irish parliament at Leinster House and, immediately surrounding it, the main branch of the National Museum of Ireland and the Museum of Natural History.

Take a trip over to the Northside to the more vibrant, community centered Mountjoy Square, and stop off at the Hugh Lane gallery on Parnell Square to view an incredible contemporary art collection.

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16 Cool Finds and Unique Things to do in Ireland

Coopershill House Sligo Ireland

Here’s your one stop guide to all the unique things to do in Ireland!

By far Ireland tops our list of beautiful places on earth. Full of ancient history, incredible culture, friendly locals, stunning scenery, a dramatic landscape, castles, great food, and amazing beer, there’s so much to see an do.

After spending 20+ days driving around as much as we could, we put together this giant list on what to do in Ireland!

16 Unique Things to Do in Ireland

1. stay at dromoland castle.

Dromoland Castle with a rainbow

Live your own Downtown Abbey experience at the 5-star Dromoland Castle in County Clare ! Easily one of the more luxuriously unique things to do in Ireland. 

Get greeted with champagne at this gothic revival castle before getting escorted to your unique and lavish room. If you’re lucky you’ll get a room in one of the towers, but no matter what room you get you’re bound to enjoy! I mean you’re staying in a castle and being treated like royalty.

This is an experience worth splurging for and its no wonder why this place is the go to destination for celebrities visiting, like Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Brooke Shields, Bono and Muhamad Ali to name a few.

See our full guide to staying at Dromoland Castle in Ireland.

2. Stay in a historical manor

Coopershill House Sligo Ireland

Did you know there are tons of beautiful historical manors in Ireland you can stay at? The company, Ireland’s Blue Book, is the place to go to if you want to experience a premier and authentic Irish countryside getaway in a historic estate.

We enjoyed our stay at Coopershill House in Sligo, Ireland during our trip. It’s one of the most best things to do if you love country landscape, history, antiques, and an experience that you just can’t get at a regular hotel.

The home we stayed in felt like we were staying in a living museum filled with antiques and furniture passed down from generation to generation the house is immaculate and restored beautifully.

You can’t help but be impressed that even the smallest details from photos to bathtubs in the home are antique. Staying here felt like taking a step back in time and an experience we won’t forget.

3. Explore the Fairy Forts

Ring-and-Fairy-Forts-in-Ireland

One of the most unique things to do in Ireland is learning a bit about the local folklore and legends.

The most famous form of folklore are leprechauns who are cheeky and ornery fairies. The fairy folklore comes from a combination of Celtic, Greco-Roman, and Germanic elements.

There are even mystical fairy forts and fairy doors all throughout Ireland and even the most skeptical local doesn’t mess with fairy forts or fairy doors in fear of being cursed. We ran into a lot of them during our drive along the Dingle Peninsula.

Fairy Forts are circular grass mounds that are said to have special powers and are a way to the other world.

It is believed if you damage, disrespect, or build on top of one you will be cursed. There are actually several different local stories about how these forts have  affected others in the past.

If the local folklore is something that piques your interest you can even take a tour catered to the myths and legends of Irish folklore! I have some convincing to do to get Scott to join me on one of these on our next trip to the Emerald Isle.

4. Have Dinner at Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle dinner experience

If you love dinner with entertainment then this cool find is just for you. Bunratty Castle is one of the most unique things to do in Ireland if you like dinner and a show.

This medieval castle offers nightly medieval banquets complete with a meal you eat with your hands, wine, live music, and period performances.

This is an activity the entire family, groups, couples, or anyone will enjoy! The servers are the cast and decked out head to toe in period clothing and do not break character.

They even ask for some of the audience to participate in the show! Scott got selected to be the prisoner sent down to the actual dungeon during his meal.

This is a great night of entertainment and an unforgettable experience in Ireland.

Book your Bunratty Dinner Experience here.

5. Visit Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey Connemara

Kylemore Abbey has seen quite the slew of owners in its history. It’s been a:

  • Benedictine monastery
  • Private Castle
  • Home to the Duke & Duches of Manchester, who lost it due to a gambling addiction
  • private Catholic boarding school under Benedictine nuns.

Now it’s a beautiful, historical estate and abbey with dramatic landscapes. Visiting is by far one of the most beautiful and unique things to do in Ireland!

With an interesting history, Kylemore seems like something out of a movie. Even the tour guides who work there today were once students as the school only closed in 2010.

Besides having a cool backstory and gorgeous architecture, Kylemore Abbey is surrounded by beautiful mountains, exquisite Victorian gardens which were known as one of the last great gardens of that period, and a lovely lake.

Located in Connemara, this is another site not to miss along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

6. Explore the Caves of Keash

Caves of Keash Sligo Ireland

Another one of the most unique things to do in Ireland is the Caves of Keash in Sligo . We accidentally stumbled upon these caves while driving around the countryside looking for a bite to eat.

You can’t miss the huge cave openings on the side of a giant limestone cliff overlooking a pasture of sheep and the road.

The caves are one of the hidden gems of Sligo on Keshcorran Mountain . There are 16 different caves to explore after a short walk up the trail from the car park.

Besides being fun to explore, archeologists have found many remains and bones from Ice Age animals to humans within the caves.

To make things a bit more interesting the caves also have plenty of folklore to them as well including a tale about one of Ireland’s kings Cormac Mac Airt and how he was raided by a she-wolf in the caves.

If you are running short on time you can easily enjoy the enigma of the caves by just doing a drive by and pulling off to look up at the giant black cavities in the side of the mountain.

7. Check out Cnoc Suain

Connemara Ireland

If you want to dive deep into Irish traditions and culture, then this is one of the most unique things to do in Ireland! Visit Cnoc Suain to enjoy a cultural retreat in the heart of Connemara in Spiddal .

You’ll be centered in the middle of the boglands surrounded by the mountains and exploring the Burren along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way which is the place that has inspired great artists, poets, and writers for centuries. This includes Oscar Wilde who described the area as, “wild mountainous country…in every way magnificent.”

You can learn how to speak Gaelic, how to make soda bread, listen to traditional Irish music, learn about the local environment, make peat moss bricks for the fire, and stay in a restored 17th-century hill village in the bog.

This is a great place to take a digital detox and go back in time and enjoy the simpler things in life, Irish style.

Don’t just take our word for it, Cnoc Suain has won several awards for its cultural take on tourism, sustainable tourism, and eco-tourism.

8. See the Deck of Cards

Deck of Cards colorful homes in Cobh Ireland

One of our favorite finds and most unique things to do in Ireland is visiting the row of colorful homes in Cobh known as the “Deck of Cards.”

This adorable row of homes has become a famous photo spot over the years, and it’s really no wonder why!

You can’t beat the view of descending colorful houses with the backdrop of St. Colman’s Cathedral and Cork Harbor, it’s just too cute to seem real.

9. Get an Aran Jumper straight from the source

Inisheer Aran Islands Ireland

One of the most iconic and unique things to do in Ireland is track down an authentic Aran Wool sweater, or jumper as the locals say. The Aran Wool sweaters originate from the clans of the Aran Islands located off the coast of the Wild Atlantic Way.

The islands are still the place to visit in Ireland if you want to experience traditional Irish culture and villages that have barely changed with modern civilization.

The famous cream cable knit sweaters were worn by fishermen. They aren’t just for warmth either! Each clan in Ireland had their own cable knit pattern and it was said that this was used to identify fishermen whose bodies were recovered after lost at sea. But then there are those who say this was just a marketing ploy . Either way the sweaters are a cool souvenir from Ireland.

The best place to get an Aran Wool sweater is the source, the Aran Islands. I found mine from a local woman during our day trip to Inisheer who handknit the sweater over a 3-4 week period and was selling out of her house. She only had three at the time so I was lucky to nab one.

If you have any Irish heritage and want to find your family’s clan cable knit you can check a few of the authentic shops one being the Aran Sweater Market in Killarney.

10. See the Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel view from Hore Abbey

Another cool find and unique thing to do in Ireland visit the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary . This iconic complex and ruins is not only unique in Ireland but the entire world. The site is also referred to as St. Patrick’s Rock or the Cashel of Kings.

This place has an interesting history dating back to the 5th century and the structures you see today dating back to the 12th century when the rock was gifted to the church. The Rock of Cashel is considered one of the most amazing remains of Celtic art and medieval architecture in Europe.

Besides its impressive historical features, the Rock of Cashel is also incredibly photogenic. You can get one of the best shots from Hore Abbey , the ruined Cistercian monastery below the Rock of Cashel.

11. Explore the Doolin Caves

Giant Formation Inside Doolin Cave Ireland

Want to see the longest free hanging stalactite? If your answer is yes, then you will want to head over to Doolin for one of the coolest finds and most unique things to do in Ireland.

The big attraction at this family-run tourist attraction is the giant hanging stalactite which hangs at almost 24 ft in height and weighs over 10 tons. You don’t need a ton of time to visit the caves, but it is worth witnessing if you happen to be driving along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way!

12. Go on a Vikings Virtual Reality Tour

King of the Vikings Waterford Ireland

We are going to go tech with our next cool find and unique thing to do in Ireland. Located in Waterford , Ireland’s oldest city and in Ireland’s Ancient East, the King of the Vikings is a 30-minute virtual reality tour.  It’ll show you the history of Vikings in Waterford  and make you feel like you’re actually living the experience!

If this is the future of museums or even school, this is getting us super jazzed about learning history! Each experience takes place inside a reconstructed Viking house in the heart of Waterford Ireland’s Viking Triangle. It’s complete with two Viking actors who set up your VR experience.

Prepare to time travel and go back to learn the fascinating and horrifying history of the Vikings while swimming through corpses, seizing villages, and more.

13. Explore Ireland’s Castle Ruins

Doonagore Castle Doolin Ireland

Some of the most interesting things to do in Ireland is find ancient castle ruins. Two of our favorites are located in the small town of Doolin right next to the Cliffs of Moher .

Doonagore Castle Ruins date back to the 15th century and is located right off the countryside road. You don’t even have to leave your car to get an amazing photo of these ruins located just 1km above the town of Doolin.

Nearby, there’s also the ruins of Ballinalacken Castle which are privately owned. The only way you can explore Ballinalacken Castle is by staying at Ballinalacken Castle Country House . We were lucky to have spent one night here overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from our room with ancient castle ruins next door.

14. Visit Spike Island

Spike Island prison on Cobh Ireland

Did you know Ireland has their very own version of Alcatraz ? Spike Island was once a prison off the coast of Cork Harbor and one of the coolest history lessons and most unique things to do in Ireland.

Learn about the famous inmates who stayed here as well as the unforgettable uprising that took place here.

Spike Island was home to serious criminals and convicts including any rebels from the IRA during the Irish War of Independence. If you want to learn more about the history of Ireland including bits of the Irish War of Independence we highly recommend this day activity when visiting Cobh .

Spike Island was also named one of Europe’s leading tourist attractions recently as well!

15. See the Cliffs of Kilkee

Kilkee Ireland Loop Head Peninsula

Want to experience more dramatic cliffs along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way beside the Cliffs of Moher ? Imagine insanely beautiful Atlantic cliffs in Ireland without ANY crowds.

The cliffs of Kilkee are one of the country’s best-kept secrets and one of our favorite cool finds and unique things to do in Ireland.

The giant rock walls facing the ocean are hundreds of feet high and are terrifying beautiful to look at. You can visit by driving or walking along Loop Head Drive on the Loop Head Peninsula with unobstructed, protected views of the coastline with the intensely massive cliffs.

We recommend stopping the car and walking because you do not want to be distracted while driving next to the cliffs less traveled.

16. Drive by Knocknarea and Benbulben

Sligo Ireland

Another cool find and unique thing to do in Ireland is drive through the countryside of Sligo for some gorgeous dramatic landscape and two beautiful hills that make the perfect backdrop for photos, Knocknarea and Benbulben .

Take a drive along the Knocknarea scenic drive to get majestic views of Benbulben. You’ll see how this landscape inspired famous poet W.B. Yeats, who even had a poem dedicated to Benbulben titled, “ Under Ben Bulben .”

Stop along and visit the megalithic tomb sites, the burial site for Queen Maeve of Connacht, and just side of the road pull-offs for photos.

And a dramatically beautiful place like this in Ireland wouldn’t be complete without some more local legends and folklore. It is said there are fairy doors here and is the only place in the country where mortals can see fairies with their naked eye as well as other legends.

See more about planning the perfect Ireland road trip with this post by Nomadasaurus.

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20 Best Places to Visit in Ireland — From a Dark-sky Park With Milky Way Views to One of Europe's Highest Sea Cliffs

From the popular Cliffs of Moher to lesser-known towns, islands, and mountains, these are the best places to visit in Ireland.

unique places to visit ireland

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When I visited Ireland for the first time back in 2016, I thought my four-day itinerary was airtight. My friend and I would spend a night in Dublin, head to Galway, drive to the Wicklow Mountains, and then explore Howth before flying home from the capital city. While we certainly covered a lot of ground, the plan was flawed from the beginning. Four days is barely enough time to discover one region, much less the country as a whole. Yes, I checked off several popular items — including Trinity College Library, Quay Street, and the Cliffs of Moher — but the country boasts many more charming villages, natural wonders, and historic landmarks, each as worthy of a visit as the next. 

According to Michael Leahy, the head concierge at Ashford Castle , I’m not the only traveler who has made that mistake. “I find that first-time visitors to Ireland often misjudge how large and expansive the island is, and therefore underestimate the time they need to fully explore and enjoy Ireland’s myriad attractions, sites, hotels, rich history, and cultural heritage,” he tells Travel + Leisure . If your schedule is flexible, he recommends extending your trip — so it’s longer than just a few days — in order to get a “well-rounded Irish experience.” 

By embracing this leisurely pace, you’ll also be able to appreciate your trip more profoundly. “Beyond the picturesque landscapes, taking time to interact with locals, immersing yourself in traditional music, and exploring local pubs can enhance your overall experience and truly integrate you into the Irish way of life,” explains Chris Parkes, front of house manager at Adare Manor .

To ensure your trip to the Emerald Isle is more comprehensive than my original endeavor, we asked some of the country’s most knowledgeable experts to share their recommendations for the best places to visit in Ireland. Read on to discover their favorites.

Jamie Ditaranto/Travel + Leisure

There’s a good chance you’ll start your Irish adventure in Dublin , home to Dublin Castle, Trinity College Dublin, the National Museum of Ireland, and the Guinness Storehouse. It’s a walkable city, so you’ll be able to explore most of it in just a day or two. For an extra dose of history and a drink, of course, make your way to The Brazen Head , which Patrick McManus, concierge at The Shelbourne , notes is the oldest pub in Dublin.

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According to Parkes, Galway’s “bohemian atmosphere and lively arts scene” are two reasons you’ll want to visit the harbor city during your journey. Unlike Dublin, where you may feel the need to see as much as possible, Galway is a bit more low-key. He recommends travelers “stroll through cobblestone streets, savor traditional music in local pubs, and experience the enchanting landscapes of Connemara that surround this charismatic city.”

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In Kinsale, “beautiful views of the harbor abound,” says Anna Marron, guest relations manager at Liss Ard Estate . If it’s a nice day, stretch your legs along the 3.7-mile Scilly Walk before heading to Bulman Bar & Restaurant for dinner. Or, if you want something a bit more elevated, there’s the Michelin-rated Bastion , which is only open Thursday through Sunday.

Old Head of Kinsale

Fergus Wright/Getty Images

Marron describes the Old Head of Kinsale as a “world-class golf course on many golfer's ... lists.” It’s only about a 20-minute drive from the town, but it stands alone as its own destination. “It’s the Pebble Beach of Ireland,” she adds, referring to the golf paradise in Northern California.

Cliffs of Moher

There’s a reason the Cliffs of Moher make an appearance on your Instagram feed every so often — and they’re even more beautiful in person. “Towering over the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs offer panoramic views that are both exhilarating and serene,” says Parkes. Plus, says, McManus, the surrounding landscape is equally impressive, “with unique and precious wildlife and natural flora and fauna.”

Iveragh Peninsula

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Leahy describes the Iveragh Peninsula as a “stunning stretch of heritage in southwestern Ireland” that offers a “picturesque escape into nature’s awaiting embrace.” Many travelers choose to explore the area via the Ring of Kerry, the scenic drive that encircles the peninsula. The route’s popularity stems from the fact that the 111-mile journey is accented by incredible landscapes, small villages, and top-tier views of the Atlantic Ocean.  

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If you decide to complete the Ring of Kerry scenic drive, you’ll come across Killarney. Take the time to explore the town — it’s very walkable — but Parkes also shares that nearby Killarney National Park should not be overlooked: “Within the park, you'll find the three famous Killarney lakes, which provide breathtaking views as they sit beside the mountain range ... [and] Torc Waterfall, one of the most spectacular in Ireland and best viewed after heavy rain.”

Dingle Peninsula

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

You’ll find the Dingle Peninsula slightly northwest of Killarney. According to Parkes, its “rugged coastline and charming villages” create the ultimate Irish experience. “Explore the Slea Head Drive for jaw-dropping vistas, encounter ancient archaeological sites, and engage with the welcoming locals who add a touch of warmth to this picturesque region,” he adds. 

Aran Islands

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Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer make up the Aran Islands, a place known for its ruins and sacred sites. “The islands unfold a tale of timeless elegance against the backdrop of the Atlantic's gentle embrace,” explains Leahy. If you’re already in Galway, you can take the seasonal ferry directly from the city to the islands.

If your trip was inspired by the desire to hear Irish music, look no further than Doolin, a coastal village known as the “traditional music capital of Ireland.” Take a seat at Gus O'Connor's Pub or McDermott's Pub and enjoy hours of lively tunes, pint in hand. Doolin is also called the “gateway to the Aran Islands,” as the rocky isles are just offshore.

Located southwest of Limerick, Adare was founded in the 13th century, and since then, it's become known as one of the most beautiful villages in the country. Parkes shares he may be a bit biased, given that he works in Adare, but he also says it’s a destination that captivates visitors with its “timeless charm … picture-perfect thatched cottages, historic architecture, and lush green landscapes.” 

Trim Castle

Located in County Meath, Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and a well-preserved example of Anglo-Norman military architecture. Travelers may recognize it from "Braveheart," but the castle’s history goes all the way back to the 12th century, when it served as a fortress during the Norman invasion of Ireland.

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If you’re after an unforgettable view of the ocean and its powerful waves, Marron suggests checking out Mizen Head in West Cork. She calls the geographical feature a “more dramatic and less-visited version of the Cliffs of Moher,” and it’s commonly known as the mainland’s most southwesterly point.

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Courtesy CONSARC Consultancy

McManus also recommends exploring Wicklow Mountains National Park , the largest of Ireland’s six national parks. Hikers and walkers have their choice of paths in this stunning region — and movie buffs will want to make their way to Sally Gap, a recognizable setting from the 2007 film "P.S. I Love You."

Giant’s Causeway

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The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most identifiable features in Ireland. While scientists have discovered that the 40,000 basalt columns sticking out of the sea were formed by volcanic activity more than 50 million years ago, there’s still a mystical and sacred feeling to the area. “This historic route invites pilgrims and wanderers alike to tread upon its hallowed ground, whispering tales of spirituality and connection through the ages,” shares Leahy. 

Jerpoint Abbey

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History can be found nearly everywhere you go in Ireland — but it’s particularly noticeable at Jerpoint Abbey in County Kilkenny. The medieval Cistercian abbey dates back to the 12th century and features Romanesque and Gothic elements. Inside, visitors will find a church, tower, cloister, and several detailed stone sculptures.

Mayo Dark Sky Park

 Josh Matthews/Courtesy Mayo Dark Sky Park

If the weather permits, astronomy enthusiasts will be able to see stars, planets, the Milky Way, and even meteor showers while inside Mayo Dark Sky Park , a designated dark-sky preserve in County Mayo. Should you visit, Leahy says you’ll get to witness these “celestial wonders unfolded beneath a cloak of velvety darkness,” all completely free of charge.

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“Howth is a lovely fisherman’s village,” says McManus. It’s a quick trip from Dublin — about 30 minutes by train — so it’s an easy destination to tack on to the beginning or end of your trip. Start the day with a moderate hike along the 3.7-mile Howth Cliff Walk, then head back to the village for some fresh seafood (you can’t go wrong with fish and chips). 

Croagh Patrick

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Croagh Patrick, which you may hear referred to as “the Reek,” is one of Leahy’s recommendations, thanks to its “iconic peak overlooking the surrounding landscape” and its role as a “majestic pilgrimage site.” The mountain has held religious significance for mor ethan 1,500 years, and it’s said that Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick, spent 40 days fasting on its summit in the fifth century. It’s also popular with hikers and those interested in panoramic views of Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding countryside.

Sliabh Liag

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Sliabh Liag, or Slieve League, is one of Europe’s highest sea cliffs, measuring in at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level. Significantly taller than the Cliffs of Moher, which reach 702 feet, these cliffs provide amazing views in nearly every direction — and they’re a convenient stop along the famed Wild Atlantic Way .

Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal Ireland, as seen during a fabulous Ireland road trip

Ireland Off the Beaten Path: 17 Secret Spots + Hidden Gems

Ireland is a country that still feels ripe for exploring: the small villages, fantastic natural landscape, and beautiful architecture (modern, restored, and crumbling ruins alike) give it a fairytale-like quality. Nowhere is that more true than when discovering Ireland off the beaten path.

While touristic highlights like the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and Giant’s Causeway are beautiful, there’s something special about curling up in a small village pub for a meal, admiring a historic ruin with no other souls around, or staring out over the gorgeous coast without hundreds of other people nearby.

We’ve rounded some of the best hidden gems in Ireland up here, from natural beauty to historic buildings and beyond.

While there’s no shortage of quiet corners and beautiful places in Ireland, these are particularly lovely to visit.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm hold tall swords in front of other antique weapons at Belleek Castle in Ireland

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Table of Contents

How to Discover Ireland Off the Beaten Path

17 beautiful hidden gems in ireland, map of hidden gems in ireland.

Ireland is the perfect country for a road trip, and when talking about discovering Ireland off the beaten path, that is doubly true.

The best way to reach the majority of these hidden gems in Ireland is by car (or in the case of many of the islands, a ferry).

We recommend searching for a rental car through Discover Cars , which will compare the prices and rental inclusions of several companies at once, allowing you to find the best deal with the best terms!

Shop rental cars with Discover Cars today!

Kate Storm feeding sheep on Slea Head Drive--definitely stop at at least one farm during your 10 days in Ireland!

Hook Lighthouse

Set at the edge of the already-offbeat Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, Hook Lighthouse is considered to be one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world.

Dating back to the 13th century, the lighthouse has been open to the public since 1996 and offers gorgeous views of the surrounding coastline.

Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford Ireland

Ring of Beara

Located right next door to the Ring of Kerry and yet far more remote, driving the Ring of Beara will make you feel like you’re completely alone in Ireland (seriously–we often went several minutes at a time without so much as passing another car on the road when driving this route during high season).

Be sure to stop by the adorable village of Castletownbere for a quick walk and lunch, and to pull off the road at Dzogchen Beara, a Buddhist meditation center that is open to visitors and whose grounds boast some of the most beautiful views on the Ring of Beara .

Coastline of the Ring of Beara, one of the best hidden gems in Ireland

Loftus Hall

Built in 1350, Loftus Hall is considered by many to be the most haunted building in Ireland.

In its long life, it has served as a private home, a hotel, a nunnery, and as an abandoned building.

Today, it is finding new life as a tourist attraction, with ghost tours through the still-not-quite-renovated mansion offering an eerie peek into the history of the house.

Its opulent staircase is perhaps its most incredible feature: there are only three of its type in the world. The first is at the bottom of the ocean with the Titanic, the second in the Pope’s residence in the Vatican, and the third is in one of the most interesting hidden gems in Ireland.

Staircase in the haunted Loftus Hall, one of the best places to explore in Ireland off the beaten path

Belleek Castle

Tucked into a quiet corner of County Mayo, Belleek Castle is both absolutely stunning and absolutely uncrowded, offering an excellent place for a quiet getaway in Ireland far away from the crowds.

Whether you want to stop by to tour the eccentric and fascinating Marshall Doran collection (complete with antique weapons, Grace O’Malley’s bed, and 10,000-year-old fossils, among many other things), for a delicious meal or afternoon tea, or even to spend a night, Belleek Castle is well worth a visit when you’re looking for hidden gems in Ireland.

Exterior of Belleek Castle Ireland

Achill Island

For the tallest, most dramatic cliffs in all of Ireland, head to stunning and remote Achill Island.

Like most Irish islands, one of its major selling points is fantastic seaside views: once you get done admiring the cliffs, head to Keem Bay to admire water so bright you may just think you’re in the Caribbean (especially if you happen to visit on a sunny day).

As one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, Conor Pass boasts absolutely beautiful views of the Irish countryside, a fantastic place for a hike, and a lovely–if a bit unnerving–drive.

Be sure to be cautious when driving this route, but definitely stop by to check it out when exploring Ireland off the beaten path.

Jeremy Storm carrying a pacsafe backpack and wearing a gray jacket, looking out over Conor Pass in Ireland

Howth Cliff Walk

Located less than an hour outside of Dublin, the Howth Cliff Walk is one of the best ways to enjoy Ireland’s stunning coastline without going far from the capital.

Coated in colorful wildflowers during the summer and home to an adorable lighthouse at the cliff’s edge, the Howth Cliff Walk is typically uncrowded despite its incredible beauty.

Howth Cliff Walk in Ireland, a fun bonus stop for your 10 day Ireland road trip itinerary. Wildflowers are in the foreground and a lighthouse in the background.

Aran Islands

The Cliffs of Moher may be one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions, but most visitors don’t make it a short distance across the water to the Aran Islands that are visible from the edge of the cliffs.

It’s worth the ferry ride, though: the Aran Islands are one of the last places in Ireland where Irish is the main spoken language, and the long and fascinating history of the islands paired with the delight of exploring both the natural highlights and the small, cozy communities there makes for an excellent place to visit in Ireland off the beaten path.

Easily doable as a day trip from Doolin if you don’t want to tour all 3 islands, the Aran Islands are an incredible experience–so much so that we’ve been twice and would love to go again.

Couple in the distance walking down an empty road on Inisheer Island that leads to a small cemetery

Built in the 13th century as a Cistercian Monastery, Hore Abbey practically lies in the shadow of the Rock of Cashel–but unlike the Rock of Cashel, it is both free and uncrowded to visit.

If you’re looking for a place to walk around an empty, stunning ruin in Ireland, Hore Abbey is the place to visit.

Kate Storm in the distance walking into Hore Abbey--this dress and tights combo is one of my go-to outfits when packing for Ireland.

Slea Head Drive

More popular than the Ring of Beara and yet still far, far less touristy than the Ring of Kerry, Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula is–in my biased opinion–one of the prettiest places in all of Ireland, and definitely one of my favorite places to explore in Ireland off the beaten path.

Be sure to stop by highlights like Dunquin Pier, Dunbeg Fort, and Dingle, as well as lesser-known highlights like the Gallarus Oratory, Dunmore Head, and the many small farms and shops that dot the remote drive.

Dunquin Pier in Slea Head Drive Dingle Peninsula, one of the prettiest hidden gems in Ireland

Slieve League Cliffs

Significantly taller than the Cliffs of Moher, yet far more remote and with a fraction of the tourists, the Slieve League Cliffs are the definition of exploring Ireland off the beaten path.

We definitely recommend setting aside a day spent here–the long drive to the cliffs alone is a fabulous travel experience in Ireland.

Torc Waterfall

Despite the fact that Torc Waterfall is located within popular Killarney National Park, it’s easy to drive right past it without knowing what you’re missing if you’re not keeping an eye out for hidden gems in Ireland.

Be sure to pull off and take a five-minute walk into the woods to marvel at this stunning waterfall, which is absolutely gorgeous and a great place to admire to view, snap photos, and even stop for a picnic lunch if you’re so inclined.

Kate Storm in a yellow raincoat standing in front of Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park Ireland

Skellig Michael

Not unknown as much as difficult to reach, this stunningly beautiful island is located about 8 miles off the Ring of Kerry and is remote enough that it acted as a filming location for Star Wars.

Even today, it’s difficult enough to land on Skellig Island that the boats only sail roughly 5 days out of a given 7, with high winds and storms frequently cancelling the trip.

Its magnificent beauty makes it an incredible place to visit–and definitely worth the hassle of making it out there.

Minard Castle

This quiet castle ruin on the Dingle Peninsula is framed by a gorgeous pebble beach.

Devoid of crowds and very peaceful to visit, this is the perfect place to enjoy beautiful views off the beaten path in Ireland.

Kate Storm standing on a pebble beach on Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Minard Castle is behind her. This is a great example of what to wear in Ireland!

Downhill Beach

Long, remote, and incredibly beautiful, standing on sandy Downhill Beach in Northern Ireland feels a bit like standing at the end of the world.

Be sure to look up and admire the views of Mussenden Temple perched on the edge of the cliffs, set high above the beach.

Kate Storm in a red dress on Downhill Beach in Northern Ireland, one of best things to see in Ireland off the beaten path

Inishkea Islands

Set off the coast of County Mayo and only accessible by private charter, people called the remote Inishkea Islands home for over 5,000 years–all the way up until 1927, when a boating accident killed 10 young men and the islands and their lifestyle were abandoned.

Today, you can explore the islands on foot, including the abandoned villages that have sat empty for nearly 100 years, a beautiful lighthouse, and stunning views of the turquoise water.

4 photos of Ireland: Torc Waterfall, the coast of the Ring of Beara, Slieve League Cliffs, and Dunquin Pier. Black text on a white background reads "Ireland off the beaten path: secret spots & hidden gems in Ireland"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

21 thoughts on “Ireland Off the Beaten Path: 17 Secret Spots + Hidden Gems”

Love your descriptions and recommendations (and your boots). The husband and I are interested in slowing down a bit and staying in maybe 3-4 places using them as a base from which to travel out to some of the sites. So instead of trying to see everything we explore an area a little more throughly. Do you have suggestions for a 10-14 day itinerary that would accommodate?

Thanks so much, Peggy!

The choices are endless, of course, but if I were picking 3-4 bases in Ireland, I’d probably do something in County Wexford or County Waterford to explore the east coast a bit (it’s more under the radar, but delightful), something near Killarney National Park (maybe in Kenmare) where you could access the Ring of Kerry, Ring of Beara, and plenty of other nearby sights, and something on the Dingle Peninsula.

For the fourth base, you could potentially look at Doolin, Galway, or something else nearby if you’d like to do the Cliffs of Moher area, possibly something in County Mayo if you want to get a bit more off the beaten track, or something up in County Donegal if you’d like to explore the northern part of the country a bit.

Hope that gives you some ideas! You can see quite a bit with 3-4 days in each of those places.

wish you had put in a picture of Keem bay on Achill Island. I grew up about 2 miles from there and am feeling homesick for it right now since we cant go there during the covid-19 outbreak. but I will go back as soon as I can. its like a slice of Heaven and especially during this beautiful weather we are having at present, its all sparkly and bright and fresh and windy and pure or so my sister informs me-I can just imagine it!!

Ah, I can imagine how homesick you must be for somewhere so beautiful! I hope we can all start moving around again soon, the phenomenal weather across Europe right now that no one can enjoy (I know Paris and the UK are also unseasonably sunny) sure is a small extra challenge on top of everything else.

I’m homesick for Ireland and I’ve only spent 12 days of my life there. God bless hope you can get home soon.

It is a beautiful place! We can’t wait to visit again.

Peggy, on our trip to Ireland last October, my husband and I made Killarney our base in Co. Kerry while we explored the area for 3 days. Wonderful pubs and restaurants to visit. Bricin had THE best boxty I have ever had in my life. Kenmare is an absolute charmer of a place, and you would be in absolute heaven staying there as well. I just wanted to offer one more thing to consider as you plan your trip. I hope you have a wonderful time!!

Thank you, Kate, for a wonderful read. I’ve added a few of these stops to my list for our next trip to Ireland.

Thank you so much, Heidi! Can’t wait to get back to Ireland ourselves.

I have been to both Hook head lighthouse and Loftus Hall, as well as a number of other spots you talked about. They are all incredible. Loved the entire 3 weeks I was in Ireland and can’t wait to go back.

We can’t wait to go back, either! Such a special country.

Hi! I loved this blog (a year later but never mind) but have you posted something for someone who can’t rent a car? I don’t have a driver’s license and I’d love to read something about hidden gems in Ireland by bus. I’m especially longing to go to Dingle and Dingle Peninsula…

Thank you so much! Unfortunately, we don’t have any experience traveling Ireland by bus, but I know it is possible (though more limited).

I’d look at basing yourself in Dingle and perhaps booking a tour of the peninsula from there–that’ll get you to the highlights!

Hi Kate, I’m an American living in Ireland for the last 16 years. I’ve done a lot of exploring and have done it by bus, train, and coach tours. Though Killarney is a busy tourist town, it’s easier to get other places because of more bus and train services to other areas. Also Cork is a good base. The Cork bus/train station has frequent connections to the cities and towns. I live in Limerick City, which isn’t much of a tourist spot, but it’s a marvelous train and bus hub. Also, may I suggest Birr Demesne in County Offaly. I’ve visited so many times and in the off-season it’s wonderful to spend hours walking around the large estate. Birr Castle itself is a residence but private tours can be arranged. You’re spot on about the Aran Islands. I’ve been a frequent visitor to all three of them and it’s hard to pick a favorite. Gap of Dunloe in Killarney is an amazing experience. The landscape is breathtaking. You can either walk it or avail of a pony and trap. Also, Cong in County Mayo is a delightful small village. There are many trails to walk and Ashford Castle is just a few minutes walk from the village. Happy Trails!

Kate, just stumbled on your website – trying to get info to share with a friend who’s finally living her dream of visiting Ireland. I’m Irish, really!!, born in Cork but living here for a while. Love all the info you’ve shared – not just Ireland but your worldwide travel. What an amazing life!! Can’t imagine all the stories & treasures you have from the places and people you’ve encountered! I’d add that West Cork and the complete Atlantic Way is a must (yes, I’m biased, but I promise, it will not disappoint). Thanks again, looking forward to more tales from your adventures Cheers, B

Thank you so much, Breda! That is wonderful to hear. 🙂 We would love to get back to Ireland and explore even more in-depth–I nurture a dream of doing a 6-week road trip one of these summers. Hope your friend has a fabulous time!!

Hi there..planning a trip to Ireland in November, what are good areas to stay as a home base when you are there? Love off the beaten path views, as often we have found in the past that these places leave us with the most memories.

We have all the bed and breakfasts we stayed in (which we absolutely loved) in this post: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/10-day-ireland-itinerary-ireland-road-trip/

For off-the-beaten-path places, in particular, we adored Inishross House in New Ross! Still one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten.

Hi…..my mother was from Belfast and we want to plan a trip to Northern Ireland. It’s been years since I was there and I wanted to know if you had any itinerary or suggestions for a 14 day trip there. We want to visit Ballintoy area and other coastal towns as well as Belfast and end in Dublin.

Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) have any standalone posts about Northern Ireland.

This road trip guide does cover the whole island, though, including some time in Northern Ireland: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/10-day-ireland-itinerary-ireland-road-trip/

My son (14) and I are quite the food travelers. Any recommendations for local spots? Favorite hikes? Small town bnb’s? I’ve read you can fly into Shannon Airport to save some time – do you think that’s cost effective (Traveling from the east coast in the states).

Your post was so lovely by the way. Your travels sound like quite the relaxing adventures❤️

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

We have a lot of posts about visiting Ireland that cover many of the details you mentioned. This one is a great start: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/10-day-ireland-itinerary-ireland-road-trip/

Unfortunately, not all of the B&B’s we loved appear to have survived the last few years, but many did! We can highly recommend all the ones we cover there.

Flying into Shannon just comes down to the flight itself–you can always check both there and Dublin and compare availability and cost for your dates!

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Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled

Top 20 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Ireland

In Ireland, you are guaranteed stunning surroundings, a warm welcome, and a perfect pint of the black stuff! Dublin is a trendy city, but to make the most of the unique landscapes this country offers, you’ll have to explore further. I’ve lived here for many years and have fallen completely fallen for its charms, here are my picks for the country’s most easy-on-the-eye places…

1. Kerry, Munster

Kerry, Munster in Ireland - stunning places to visit in Ireland

This unspoiled region is one of the world’s most naturally striking places! County Kerry, located within the province of Munster in the southwestern peninsular region of Ireland, is known for its pockets of traditional Gaelic speakers and magnificent terrain.

Journeying past rugged coastlines and towering mountains, the Ring of Kerry is a popular scenic driving route skirting the edges of the Iveragh Peninsula filled with folklore and dramatic scenery and in my opinion it’s best explored independently by car! 

At 110 miles, it’s a long journey but provides an excellent opportunity to take in the beautiful views from the coastal road. It’s also a perfect area for outdoor activities, especially cycling, golf, walking, and water sports.

The main town in this area is Tralee, but in my opinion the most significant is Killarney. The Lakes of Killarney are an area of outstanding natural beauty in the mountainous Killarney National Park and I would highly recommend visiting these too!

My favourite highlights

  • Hire a car and tour the incredible Ring of Kerry – one of Europe’s most beautiful natural areas. The ‘ring’ will take you around the Iveragh Peninsula, past stunning Atlantic views, cute traditional towns, and lovely beaches.
  • Visit O’Conners for live Irish music and to experience a grand traditional Irish pub.
  • Go on a 3-Hour Eco Cruise and Star Wars Tour around the Skellig Islands, where you’ll see ancient history, where an episode of Star Wars was filmed, and also have the chance to see whales, dolphins, basking sharks, and over 22,000 Gannets.
  • Drive down Dingle Way to see stunning coastal views and their cute – and friendly – resident dolphin .
  • Visit Ross Castle, a 15th-century lakeside castle.
  • Visit Banna Strand for a beautiful beach backed by lovely dunes.
  • Do the Slea Head Drive , one of the most scenic drives in Europe. It’s a circular route, forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, beginning and ending in Dingle.

2. Cork, Munster

Cork city in Munster, Ireland

Cork is the southernmost and largest county, and like its rival, Kerry, it is also in Munster. The area is known as “The Rebel County” after Cork’s role in the Irish War of Independence. Cork is Ireland’s second-largest City but I personally love that is has the feel of a small, friendly town! 

In my opinion, this is a great enjoy the craic (traditional Irish fun) and also packs a big punch in art, history, and culture. It is a fantastic place to spend a few days. It’s also becoming known as a gastronomic haven, so I would suggest trying a few restaurants while you’re here! 

Ilnacullin (Garinish Island) is a top-rated tourist attraction known for its natural beauty and scenery. You will find wonderful tropical plants, beautiful Italian gardens, and the distinctive Martello Tower here.

  • Kiss the world-famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle .
  • Eat at Greene’s restaurant – an upscale global cuisine served in a stylish, converted 18th-century warehouse with high ceilings.
  • Step back in time at Cork City Gaol Museum .
  • Wander St Patrick’s Street, the city’s main shopping street, has twice won Ireland’s best shopping street awards.
  • Go for a pint of Guinness at the Mutton Lane Inn – a tremendous, cozy traditional pub and one of the oldest in Cork.
  • Catch live music at Counihans Bar every Sunday at 9:30 pm. Here, the band Arundó , an original four-piece group based in North Cork, plays an exciting mixture of traditional and contemporary Irish music.

3. The Dark Hedges, Co. Antrim

The Dark Hedges, a Game of Thrones location in Ireland

Trees are not always an attraction, but here one set of trees is not only a top tourist attraction but was featured in Game of Thrones! 

The Dark Hedges is an area in North Ireland that has been made famous for the scene in Game of Thrones where Arya dressed as a boy to escape King’s Landing, ultimately saving her life and leading to her Night King slaying destiny.

This striking and enchanting row of beech trees has become among the country’s best photo opportunities!

A Galway Street - great places to visit in Ireland

Galway is a medieval town on the west coast, which sits on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. It has recently enjoyed quite a bit of fame thanks to that Ed Sheeran song !

Once voted one of the world’s sexiest cities, Galway is known for its ancient architecture and vibrant art and cultural scene, and it certainly packs a punch!

Ensure you spend a few days here soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the craic. One of the best ways to explore the area is by boat.

Try the ‘ Corrib Princess ,’ which departs from Woodquay for a relaxing 90-minute cruise with added commentary. Just outside GalwCity, the Connemara National Park , you’ll find scenic mountains, vast expanses of bogs, heaths, woodlands, and Connemara ponies.

  • Explore Quay Street – a great street with a lively atmosphere, street performers, and excellent pubs and shops.
  • Sample the best of the Galway organic food scene at Cafe Kai
  • Discover Galway’s Latin Quarter – one of the most beautiful parts of Galway City. Home to cobbled stone streets, great restaurants, fab boutiques, and a rich culture.
  • Catch live Irish music at the cozy traditional Tig Coili pub .
  • Go on to the fantastic Micil Distillery Experience .
  • Start the day with genuine Irish hospitality and a late breakfast at the  Cupán Taze tea rooms on Quay Lane.
  • See the historic Medieval City Walls .
  • Stay at one of the many unique hotels in Galway .

5. Giants Causeway, County Antrim

Giants Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

If you visit County Antrim in Northern Ireland, you cannot miss Giants Causeway  – 40,000 natural basalt columns formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. The site was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Nature Reserve.

An area surrounded by mythical tales, the most enduring is the legend of Finn McCool. The Irish giant Finn is said to have created the Causeway after an argument with the Scottish giant Fingal.

Other attractions include a steam train that takes a journey to the Old Bushmills Distillery, where you can sample some traditional Irish whiskey.

6. Kilkenny, Leinster

Kilkenny, Leinster, Ireland - one of the best places to visit in Ireland

In the center of Kilkenny, you’ll find the large stone castle, a focal point of the City for over years. The City is also celebrated for its vibrant cultural scene, and the annual summer Arts Festival, which consists of theatre, dance, literature, music, and visual arts, shouldn’t be missed.

  • Visit the historic Kilkenny Castle , built in 1195.
  • Explore the Medieval Mile, a trail that links Kilkenny Castle to St. Canice’s Cathedral. The journey is filled with shops, pubs, restaurants, picturesque alleyways, and much history!
  • Eat at the s everal times winner of National’ Pub of the Year’ Langton’s. The 67 bar is a buzzing environment where you can enjoy authentic traditional Irish food in relaxed and stylish surroundings!
  • Head to Kyteller’s Inn for traditional music and cosy pub surroundings. 
  • Kilkenny is a scenic city best explored on foot. Take the Canal Walk , one of the prettiest walks you can take. 
  • Stay at one of the many.

7. Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim

Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland - a Game of Thrones location in Ireland

Later episodes of Game of Thrones show many of the Iron Islands, which are interesting-looking places, albeit a little dark. Fans of the show track to Ballintoy Harbour to see the famed filming location, but this is not the only attraction Ballintoy Harbour has to offer.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is an exciting and a little hair-raising attraction for tourists, especially if it’s windy! If you visit this area during Easter, you can enjoy one of the dawn services on the coast.

You will likely be in a tiny company as the village boasts less than 300 residents, but since the filming of Game of Thrones wrapped up, Ballintoy Harbour has undoubtedly seen an influx of new life into the area.

8. Dunluce Castle, Ulster

Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland - beautiful placs to explore in Ireland

The Iron Islands may have been filmed in Ballintoy Harbour, but that coast lacks an actual castle. Dunluce Castle was one of the best places for Game of Thrones fans and The House of Greyjoy is located in the Iron Islands on the show.

The 17th-century castle depicts the outside of the House of Greyjoy for Game of Thrones enthusiasts. History shows that Christians and Vikings have made their mark on Dunluce Castle, an earlier Irish Fort site.

Today, visitors to Dunluce Castle must traverse its connecting bridge to gain access, as it is the only thing connecting the small island to the mainland (and it’s hair-raising believe me!)

9. Murlough Bay, County Antrim

This region can be challenging, but it offers some genuinely stunning Irish countryside. The road leading to this small, seemingly cut-off piece of the country is rugged terrain.

However, travelers still visit this small bay for some of the best views of the coastline and photo ops at some Game of Thrones filming sites.

Murlough Bay, located on the Causeway Coast, is known for where Theon and Yara ride away on horseback from Sir Davos’s post-battle of Blackwater Bay shipwreck.

The above cliffs were used for the parlay between Renly and Stannis during Season 2. If you intend to visit Murlough Bay, many travelers feel it is easier to trek on foot from Ballycastle. However, be careful of the slippery rocks along the well-beaten paths between the two areas.

10. Glendalough

Glendalough - beautiful countryside in ireland

Glendalough countryside is beautiful and very photogenic and located in a glacial valley beside tranquil lakes. If you appreciate history or architecture, visit the two ancient towers of St Kevin’s Church and a ruined cathedral.

Nature lovers can also enjoy the walks along the trails and around the lakes. There are shorter trails for those looking for a gentle stroll or 10-mile hikes across mountains for more serious walkers.

11. Donegal, Ulster

Donegal Ireland - cool places to visit in Ireland

Donegal is an exceptional county with friendly communities, gorgeous Irish countryside, and breathtaking views.

Many visitors mention Donegal as their favorite area and people travel from all over Ireland to explore the naturally beautiful surroundings. Donegal town is scenic and was once voted ‘the coolest place on the planet!’.

Another county treasure is Glenveagh National Park, which covers 170 square kilometers of beautiful woodland and mountains and is one of the country’s finest natural attractions.

You will find rugged mountainous landscapes, sandy beaches, clear lakes, and the extraordinary late Victorian folly, Glenveagh Castle.

  • For the best craic in town, head to the old-school pub, the Reel Inn , down Guinness, and catch live Irish music sessions every night.
  • Discover Donegal’s Craft Village , where you can buy showcases of pottery, ironwork, handwoven fabrics, glasswork, jewelry, and more.
  • Visit the beautiful Slieve League Cliffs.
  • Drive the scenic road at Glengesh Pass .
  • Go for a hike in Glenveagh National Park , the second-largest national park in Ireland.
  • Walk along Marble Hill Strand at sunset.
  • Gaze out at the waves from the Tra Na Rossan viewpoint .
  • Visit Ballymastocker Bay – one of the best beaches in the country,
  • Eat at Creevy Pier Hotel at Ballyshannon has to be one of Donegal’s best-kept secrets; it is perched overlooking Creevy Pier down a driveway on the way from Ballyshannon to Rossnowlagh, and the views from the restaurant are just stunning!

12. Carnlough Bay, County Antrim

Carnlough Bay, Northern Ireland - Game of Thrones filming location

Carnlough Bay is a gem! This area was once just a tiny fishing village but has recently been updated to accommodate larger vessels.

Visitors are encouraged to walk along the picturesque coast of the bay and it was featured in Game of Thrones. Not the bay itself, but Carnlough caves is the shooting location where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow creature! Yikes! 

13. Ballycastle

Ballycastle Ireland - a scenic Game of Thrones location

Quaint seaside villages are found throughout the country but I would highly recommend visiting Ballycastle! It is located in the very northeastern tip of the country, and roughly 6,000 people call this area home.

Ballycastle maintains a spectacularly excellent small-town feel, but it, too, has been touched by Game of Thrones.

No scenes were shot in the area, but actors Conlyth Hill (Lord Varys) and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) were both born and raised in Ballycastle.

14. County Wicklow, South of Dublin

Glendalough Valley, County Wicklow, Ireland.

You’ll find Wicklow in County Wicklow. This area has illustrious coastlines, a sprawling mountain range, and picturesque woodland.

Although not the smallest town in Ireland, Wicklow is among the smaller ones as its population has maintained under 15,000 people, so walking around and meeting people is an absolute joy.

The beautiful Irish town is between Dublin and Wexford, linked by road and a railway network. Wicklow is full of charm and beauty that can only be appreciated in person.

15. Cooley Peninsula, County Louth

Cooley Peninsula - Ireland's best driving route

Cooley Peninsula is considered Ireland’s number one scenic drive. However, driving is not the only way to appreciate the beauty spot. You can also enjoy walking along the almost deserted coastlines of the Cooley Peninsula for the best views of the Mourne Mountains.

The stunning area is home to ancient ruins, including Proleek Dolmen, Gallery Grave, and Slieve Foy. Also, visit Carlingford, a town on the Cooley Peninsula with historic buildings. Bring your camera and a good pair of walking shoes, as you will want to see it all along this impressively beautiful coastline.

16. The Cliffs of Moher and County Clare

The Cliffs of Moher Ireland - one of the best places to visit in Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher tower is 700 feet over the foamy waves of the Atlantic Ocean and makes up some of Europe’s most ruggedly beautiful coastlines.

Here, surfers brave the chilly waves below, nesting seabirds thrill wildlife watchers, and enthusiastic walkers make the most of the unspoiled natural scenery. Also, take your time to explore the rest of beautiful County Clare, where the cliffs are located.

This is where a traditional, solid Irish culture flourishes; explore the many pretty villages, Stone Age monuments, ancient churches, and 15th-century castles, and stop in one of the many charming pubs to get your fix of traditional Irish music.

17. Tollymore Forest, County Down

Tollymore Forest is among the most beautiful parks in the country. Historically, it is also where wood for the Titanic and other White Star ships was harvested from.

As for our Game of Thrones fans, it is one of the first locations seen in the series. While out in the woods during the first episode, the Stark children and younger Theon come in contact with their Direwolf pups.

When visiting Tollymore Forest, bring a camera and some camping gear, as camping in the forest is a welcomed activity for weary travelers.

18. Aran Islands

Aran Islands in Ireland - beautiful places to go in Ireland

The Aran Islands are a collection of three islands nestled at the mouth of Galway Bay.

The beautiful and isolated islands have attracted and inspired many Irish artists and poets over the years (including the leading artists Seán Keating and Liam O’Flaherty).

Aside from the unique weather-battered landscapes, other notable attractions include several Iron Age forts and Teampull Bheanáin, considered the world’s smallest church.

19. Sligo, Connacht

Sligo, Connacht in Ireland - stunning places in Ireland

The scenery surrounding the county town of Sligo is stunning, especially the coastline. The Knocknarea Mountain dominates the landscape, and here you will find a 40-foot-high stone cairn, the mythical burial place of the legendary Queen Maeve of Connaught.

Make sure you include a visit to Carrowmore – the most extensive Stone Age cemetery in the country and the village of Drumcliff, the final resting place of the famous poet W.B. Yeats. Sligo is also a great area to try surfing – the Irish way!

20. Mountains of Mourne, County Down

Mountains of Mourne, County Down - places to go in Ireland

The Mountains of Mourne are a remarkable sight! It is known as the country’s most extensive mountain range and maintains a distinctive granite facade. Located in County Down, the Mountains of Mourne tower is 850 meters above and has been getting much attention in recent years.

The unmatched beauty of the Mountains of Mourne has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the Environment and Heritage Service 2002 commissioned the site to be established as a national park. It has yet to take place but surely deserves the honor.

Scott Balaam

Scott Balaam – writer and photographer

Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin , Instagram , or Twitter .

Hotel Reviewing Experience –Asked by many tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Visit Sweden ,  OET (Spanish Tourism Office) , Sultanate of Oman and  Travel Alberta . Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos . Also mentioned as a top UK travel journalist .

25 thoughts on “Top 20 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Ireland”

All these places you have mentioned in your post like killarney, Aran Island and many others are amazing.

Thus far I’ve just been to Ireland, but your pictures sure make me want to go there and see more! I never knew how amazing Ireland is …

I like this country, very beautiful nature!

YES, it is most beautiful places to visit in Irland…Amazing photographs!

12 trip to Ireland. something keeps me coming back. I have traveled over a lot of Europe and found something to like at every stop. That is why I enjoy traveling. There are a few places that I just don’t go back to but some of my friends rave about. We all have our likes and dislikes. I don’t know why you would call someone uneducated because of there likes or dislikes. I think it is you who has to be educated. I will be going to Ireland for the thirteenth time in April. my only regret is I did not go when I was in England for 2 1/2 years. JUST ENJOY WHERE YOU VISIT THATS WHAT TRAVEL IS FOR

As far as music and Vibrancy are concerned, The Irish have it over the Scots all day long. My Scottish friends tell me this. Also, Small Irish towns are painted in more vibrant colours compared to the mostly Scottish grey, which is more in line with the Irish Character. In my friend´s opinion, the atmosphere is more fun, which he puts down to the Calvinist streak in Scotland. However, The Scenery in Scotland is more dramatic for sure.

We went to Ireland in June/July 2009. I fell head over heels in love with Ireland. I found the folks very friendly and welcoming. We loved Dingle, Castle with Blarney Stone, The book of Kells, etc. etc. Every time we plan another trip (have been to Germany and this summer it will be Amsterdam, Belgium, France) I keep feeling the pull of Ireland beckoning me. If I could afford to, I would go to Ireland every summer

Ireland is ok, but it’s not dramatic. At least not if you’ve seen truly dramatic places. The Kerry way is nothing special. But again, some people love it. I would suggest Scotland instead of Ireland. It has truly wild, beautiful, dramatic scenery, much of it still unspoilt, and it’s one of he EU nations that has “Freedom (or Right) to Roam” – ie, you can freely access the countryside (if you like walking), whereas in Ireland, you can’t (except for the designated walking trails which get busy in the summer). If you like green fields and little else, then Ireland is certainly for you, since that’s predominantly all there is, as well as coastline, which is nice in some places. The ancient monuments are nice but often get very touristy in summer. The Scottish seem to care more about preserving their wild areas than the Irish do. It all depends on what you like though. I’d hope that people can share their opinions without others taking offense at every little thing and resorting to vulgar comments, but alas, there are always uneducated morons out there.

I could not agree with you more!!!! Scotland is the best.

Picture doesn’t do sligo justice btw

I’d always desire to be updated on new articles on this site, saved them to my personal favorites!

Donegal and five finger strand in Malin head. besides being beautiful in itself the trip to Malin head from any of the larger towns (We stayed in Letterkenny) is extraordinary. Cheers .

A little more specific, Kerry, yes the ring of Kerry is beautiful, but when you are done go to Dingle. A beautiful harbor town with pubs full of music and countrysides full of scenery. If you go to Cork, checkout Skibbereen, Baltimore, or the beautiful Town of Kinsale. I could go on forever, but you get the point. Cheers.

My friend will be going to Ireland next week. I will share this with her. I will come back for more. Thanks!

I think its crazy you have put Sligo and Kilkenny over Co Down and the Mourne Mountain’s

1) Down 2) Kerry 3) Donegal 4) Galway 5) Antrim 6) Cork 7) Kilkenny 8) Wicklow 9) Mayo 10)Clare

These photos are really beautiful! I hope that someday I will go to Ireland in at least one of those places 😀

Thanks for all your comments, Ireland is such a great place to visit but so often overlooked as a travel destination (aside from Dublin of course!)

what do you think of Scotland..the highlands, the islands..compared to Ireland? I think Scotland is far more majestic and breathtaking and varied.

Those pictures are truly stunning. It really brings home how peaceful and beautiful Ireland really is. If you’re planning a trip or return trip to Ireland check out http://www.facebook.com/PocketNative for attractions across Ireland. Thanks. Mike

I was disappointed with Ireland. I was expecting a much wilder, more naturally beautiful country. Instead, I found that what they call “forests” are mostly nothing more than monoculture conifer plantations – nothing natural, nothing beautiful about that. There are ugly, large, modern houses scattered all over the countryside, so that you get an urban feel where ever you go. There is no “freedom to roam” the countryside as there is in the UK, Sweden, Norway etc. Whats left of any beautiful, natural areas is generally just a small area and gets too busy in summer with tourists. What deciduous trees there are, are small, and, unlike the UK there are practically no large, stately trees. The National Parks are beautiful, yet they are small, and again – very few trees. I get the impression that the Irish government/landowners will do anything to make money – including destroying the very thing that makes Ireland a beautiful country – what’s left of the natural areas. That’s what you get when you let a bunch of greedy, materialistic, ignorant people run the show.

I’m Irish, not offended by the fact you didn’t like it. I just think your reasons are bizarre- “no freedom to roam” WTF?!?. I live in the west, there are soooo many unspoilt gorgeous coastal and country roads to walk, cycle or drive through. “monoculture conifer plantations”, that’s still cracking me up 🙂

I’ve travelled the world, I know what I’m talking about. You obviously are totally oblivious. Look up “Keep Ireland Open” and you’ll find out what “The Freedom to Roam means. There are nations in the EU that have freedom to roam the countryside – such as Scotland, Sweden, Norway etc. Ireland has NO freedom to roam. It only has designated trails. You can’t just hike across the countryside since most of it is private. It has become worse in recent years, with more rules an regulations. As for the conifer plantations you find so amusing, I suppose you think they are native to Ireland? There are too many of them,and again, do your research and you’ll find the devastating effects this is having on the environment in Ireland, and other nations that are planting what is known as a “mono-culture” plantation. In case you dont know what that means. It means all of same species. In this case conifers. Why am i bothering to even try to educate someone like you? Perhaps because you seem so pathetically oblivious. Sadly, I found that this attitude is typical in Ireland. And what’s worse, you get defensive about things you should instead be doing something to change and improves, instead of resorting to swearing and vulgarity. Educate yourself, and you will then be worth listening to!

You seem a bit bitter, i think you need a good cup of tea and a nice sunset, maybe in a nice warm climate maybe Somalia or India, I think there are miles and miles of free roaming countryside. Cheers.

I have only been to Dublin so far, but your pictures really make me want to go back to see more!

I never imagined Ireland is so beautiful…

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Unforgettable unique and iconic things to do in ireland.

unique places to visit ireland

Visiting the Emerald Isle and looking for the best things to see and do? Discover unforgettable and unique things to do in Ireland!

Visiting the Emerald Isle and looking for the best things to see and do? Discover unforgettable and unique things to do in Ireland!

If you’re planning to visit the Emerald Isle, you might be interested in Irish culture or the island’s rich history. Perhaps you want to walk the mind-blowing landscape and see the magnificent natural beauty of Ireland. You can do all of this and more with the best things to do in Ireland!

We love Ireland and had the privilege of living there several years ago, so it holds a special place in my heart. We loved exploring the island. There are so many things to do in Ireland and you can’t ever do it all, but I wanted to share my favorites, both iconic and unique!

Things to do in Ireland - Carrick-a-rede bridge

You’ll find historic castles, ancient ruins, and modern metropolitans all a short drive from one another. In Ireland, you can attend a soccer game in Dublin and be photographing glacial lakes the next day! There are sheer coastal cliffs and rolling grasslands dotted with whispers of forgotten structures.

It can be overwhelming to decide what to do on your Ireland vacation, but I’ve got you covered with my list of 20 essential things to do in Ireland.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews and blog posts? Here are our top picks for visiting Ireland:

Get an easy ireland itinerary.

Ireland Itinerary

Our favorite hotels in Ireland

  • Castle Hotel: Ashford Castle
  • Dublin Hotel: Moxie Dublin
  • Killarney: Killarney Royal Hotel
  • Northern Ireland: The Fitzwilliam

Our favorite tours in Ireland

  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Northern Ireland Tour
  • History Tour of Dublin
  • Dublin Food Tour
  • Book a Photoshoot in Ireland

Renting a Car in Ireland?

If you want to see authentic Ireland, I recommend you drive yourself. If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use:  Rental Cars  and  Expedia Cars.  We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.

Check Out 20 Top Things to Do in Ireland

There isn’t one place to find the best things to do in Ireland, with ancient castles and major tourist attractions everywhere! You can stay in luxury hotels in one of the major cities, or you can enjoy a small inn or B&B in a small town in the countryside. Both make great bases for exploring all the top sites in Ireland and soaking up Irish culture.

The Republic of Ireland takes up most of the island of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean. England and Wales are located off its eastern coast, with Northern Ireland being part of the UK. There are things to see in Ireland across both regions, and you can move across the border freely. While most of the things to do on my list are in the Republic of Ireland, I’ve included a handful of the Northern Ireland attractions that can’t be missed!

unique places to visit ireland

Book a Photoshoot

We always love to book a photoshoot when we’re traveling. As a mom, it’s tough to get in the photos since I’m always behind the camera. We love using Flytographer to capture our memories. You can get $25 off your shoot by booking with this link or using code WANDERLUST.

1. See the Cliffs of Moher

You’ll find the Cliffs of Moher as part of the  Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark  at the center of County Clare on the west coast. This is one of the best things to do in Ireland, and it’s no surprise! The cliffs run 8km or 5 miles along the coast with heights from 200 to over 700 feet at some spots.

The Best Places to Visit in Ireland Cliffs of Moher

The most popular attraction in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher host over 1 million guests every year. Fans of Harry Potter might recognize this site as a filming location from  Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince !

You can take tours from the visitors’ center to the main viewpoints, including the Burren and O’Brien’s Tower. Or you can explore the magnificent cliffs along the coastal walk that runs 20km through the park.

Order a picnic box from the visitors’ center and have a picnic with stunning views or find out about self-guided audio tours. And nearby in Doolin, you can take a ferry to the Aran Islands or check out the Doolin Caves.

2. See the Poulnabrone Dolmen

Also at the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark are a variety of geological sites that tell the earliest Irish history. This includes Poulnabrone, the oldest ancient ruins in Ireland.

This megalith tomb sits on the breathtaking Burren limestone plateau, which is worth a visit in itself! Poulnabrone dates back almost 6,000 years and during that time it was used as a tomb for an impressive 600 years. The structural limestone slabs you see were once supported by smaller stones mounded over them.

unique places to visit ireland

Exploring the plateau is one of those unforgettable and unique things to do in Ireland. You’ll work your way along limestone structures called clints that were formed through water erosion during the last ice age.

You can pick up itineraries of the geological sites at the geopark visitors’ center. And make sure to check out other ruins from different periods spread across the Burren. There’s an old church, medieval ring forts, and wedge tombs that are almost 1000 years younger than the Poulnabrone Dolmen!

3. Go Hiking in Ireland

For avid hikers visiting Ireland, you will not be disappointed. The island is a nature lover’s paradise. You can go on day hikes and overnight trails through a national park. Go on coastal walks or explore historical sites on walks through the rolling Ireland countryside.

 Wicklow Mountains National Park in County Wicklow is a great place to start, with a variety of natural walks and mountain trails for every skill level. Take a hill walk to enjoy the waterfalls, lakes, and milling history of the region. Or you can camp in the park during an overnight hike.

The Best Places to Visit in Ireland Howth Cliffs

Burren National Park in Clare County has 7 different trails and a green road. These trails are all graded moderate to very difficult and range from 30-minute paved walks to 3-hour hikes.

And for a true test of endurance, head to the Slieve League Cliffs in County Donegal. These coastal mountain cliffs are nearly triple the height of the Cliffs of Moher! They’re harder to get to, which is probably why they’re not as popular with tourists. But a challenging hike to the summit will reward you with unbeatable views.

4. Explore the Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains of County Down in Northern Ireland is another place to go for even more outdoor activities with magnificent scenery. The range is made up of 15 granite peaks across 1300 acres in the southeastern region of Northern Ireland.

unique places to visit ireland

The entire area is dappled with lakes, streams, and reservoirs, as well as historical sites and walking trails. When you see the vast landscape, you’ll understand why it inspired C. S. Lewis’s  The Chronicles of Narnia . The Mourne Mountains have also been filming locations for shows like  Game of Thrones  and  Vikings !

Some popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, and tours of the ruins and dams, but that’s just the beginning! You’ll find all kinds of tourist attractions across the Mourne Mountain range, from horseback riding, fishing, and camping, to visiting local villages, farms, and county parks.

5. Marvel at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

A must-see in Ireland is the natural phenomenon that is The Giant’s Causeway. You’ll find this geological site along the Causeway Coastal Route on the northernmost shores of Northern Ireland. The fascinating basalt columns were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and you can begin your visit at the visitors center a short walk away.

ireland kids

The Giant’s Causeway has its roots in Irish mythology. The story goes that an Irish giant named Finn McCool built a causeway to face his enemy, a Scottish giant named Benandonner. After beating Benandonner in a fight, McCool sent him back to Scotland and destroyed the causeway, leaving the formations you see there today!

From the visitor’s center, you’ll take a scenic walk along the coast to the site. It feels larger than life, and it’s not hard to see a giant creating it! If you look, you can even find a rock that looks like a boot. They say Benandonner left it behind when he ran back to Scotland.

6. Explore Dingle Peninsula

Heading all the way south, the Dingle Peninsula of County Kerry offers many of the top things to see in Ireland. The 5-mile-long peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean with stunning views and all kinds of things to do.

You could rent a car and just go between the towns and villages for an amazing time! The town of Dingle should be at the top of your list with its collection of great eateries, pubs, and shops. A lot of dolphin tours launch from the marina here, too.

unique places to visit ireland

You can hike Connor Pass, mountain bike between villages, or rock climb the cliffs on the coast. The Eask Tower and Rahinnane Castle are must-sees for those interested in Celtic ruins. Or for museums, you can visit the Celtic Prehistoric Museum or The Famine Cottages.

This is a great place to look for tiny B&Bs, cottage rentals, and inns to stay in. And along the coast, you’ll find several beautiful sandy beaches. The most scenic ones are Coumeenoole Beach and Clogher Strand.

7. Take a Ferry to Skellig Michael

From Portmagee on the west coast, you can take a ferry to one of the more touristy Ireland attractions. But you won’t regret this trip! Skellig Michael is the larger of the two Skellig Islands. It’s a striking splinter of black rock and greenery among the water and fog of the Atlantic.

unique places to visit ireland

Some visitors come for the walking paths and stunning scenery. Others come to see the mystical ruins of a medieval monastery. This is the best place to see puffins and other sea birds, too! And boat tours and guided walking tours are offered seasonally.

Also, bring your Star Wars aficionados here if you’re for cool things to do in Ireland! This is where scenes from 2 of the most recent movies were filmed, reintroducing fans to Luke Skywalker.

8. Ride the River Shannon

For a unique way to see Ireland, consider a boat cruise along the River Shannon. This is the longest river in Ireland and runs through the middle of the island, from the Atlantic Ocean at Limerick to the Lower Lough Erne of Northern Ireland.

unique places to visit ireland

How you travel the waterway is really up to you! If you want to rent boats, there are quality cabin cruisers available many places between Portumna and Carrick-on-the-Shannon. Just dock at towns along the way and explore. From end to end you’ll find the most popular Ireland tourist attractions, from castles and churches to lovely natural areas.

You can find great canoe trips and rentals everywhere from Limerick up to Drummanmore. Or if you prefer to let others take the helm, book a multi-day boat cruise from Carrick-on-Shannon. For day cruises, check down around Limerick.

9. Drive the Ring of Kerry

Back on land, you can have an Ireland adventure by renting a car and going on a road trip! The Ring of Kerry is popular with drivers and avid cyclists alike. It’s a loop route around the Inveragh Peninsula that’s easy to navigate and covers 179km or 111 miles.

You could easily drive it in 1 day, but if you choose to add this activity to your list of best things to do in Ireland, I suggest taking at least 2! That’s because you’ll want to stop at a lot of places along the way.

unique places to visit ireland

The ease of this route and all the popular sites make driving the Ring of Kerry one of the best things to do in Ireland. Most people start in Killarney . While you’re there, make sure to stop at Ross Castle and check out the Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park.

Pull over and take in the sites at Rossbeigh Strand Beach or enjoy the colorful shops of the village of Kenmare. And if you’re interested in well-preserved medieval structures, visit the Leacanabuaile Ring Fort. Nearby there’s also the Cahergall Stone Fort that dates back to 600 AD!

You can also find top-notch tours along the Ring of Kerry. This  7-hour private tour  takes your crew to the best sites along the route, including on Valentia Island.

10. Tour the Wild Atlantic Way

If you have the time and want to truly road trip across Ireland, the best way is along the Wild Atlantic Way. Considered one of the most scenic drives in the world, it follows 2500km or 1553 miles. It runs from the Inishowen Peninsula of County Donegal in the north all the way down and around to Kinsale in County Cork.

unique places to visit ireland

This is a great way to take in some of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland as well as just enjoy the serene and striking countryside of Ireland. I suggest taking at least 7 days to do this route with stops along the way. But to truly get some good sightseeing along the Atlantic Coast Drive, aim for 2 weeks!

Some of the best stops along the Wild Atlantic Way include the over 150 viewpoints along the verdant and rocky coast. There are cliffsides, beaches, and islands. You can find castles, forts, monasteries, and prehistoric ruins. Climb lighthouses, tour historic homes, and explore fishing villages!

The Wild Atlantic Way is the perfect way to see the east coast of Ireland. And if you wanted to see Northern Ireland, you could take another road trip on the Causeway Coastal Route Drive along the north coast.

11. Take in the History of Dublin

So many of the best things to do in Ireland are right in Dublin , the Green Isle’s capital city. If you can swing the high price tag, I totally recommend staying in Temple Bar or the Medieval Quarter. That way, you’re close to all the big tourist attractions, like Trinity College, Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and the River Liffey.

unique places to visit ireland

This central downtown region is ideal if you’re interested in Irish history. You can visit a variety of museums or hunt down remnants of the old city walls that were built in the 11th century. It’s also where you’ll find Francis Street, Dublin’s epicenter for antique shopping. And Temple Bar is a pleasure to explore with its trendy retail shops, lively pubs, and great restaurants.

If Riverdance is on your Ireland bucket list, book a show at the Gaiety Theatre. Or visit the Guinness Storehouse, where you can tour the plant and have a beer tasting at the onsite Gravity Bar. Across the river, you can also go for a cocktail-making class and whiskey tasting at the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street. And a bit further out, the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park is absolutely impressive.

12. See More Cities and Towns

You may prefer to stay in a quiet town outside of the capital city of Dublin, or perhaps you just want to see more of the best cities to visit in Ireland. The City of Cork in County Cork, Ireland’s second-largest city, is a must! You’ll want to explore historical landmarks like the Cork City Gaol, or just walk the Victorian Quarter. And make sure to stop by the English Market in Old Town.

The Best Places to Visit in Ireland

Or take your pick when it comes to the best towns to visit in Ireland! Across the island are smaller medieval towns with big personalities. Visit Kinsale in County Cork for the food and culture. You’ll love the colorful buildings lining the streets, and the Kinsale Jazz Festival draws a crowd every year. But Kinsale’s most famous for being the “gourmet capital of Ireland” with some of the best restaurants in the country, especially for seafood.

Doolin in County Clare has a cool spa with a Victorian pump house and some great pubs. Or if you prefer to explore a non-touristy spot, Union Hall is a sleepy little fishing village that’s great for experiencing village life in Ireland. The Drombeg Stone Circle is here, and the B&Bs and inns are very charming.

13. Visit a Castle or Even Stay in One!

With layer upon layer of history and changing rulers, one of the best things to do in Ireland is to visit as many ancient castles as you can! It’s a great way to get a feel for Irish history, and the structures are absolutely beautiful.

Plus, they cover both ends of the spectrum. You’ll find abandoned ruins on private property dating back to the days of the Bonnie Prince and medieval castles that double as museums that you can tour. And there are beautifully preserved Victorian castles that still hold state offices.

The Best Places to Visit in Ireland Blarney Castle

A great place to start is at the stunning Dublin Castle, which you can tour for a small fee. And if you’re there in December, check out the Christmas market! Blarney Castle is another popular tourist attraction, and you won’t regret a visit. The castle ruins from the 15th century are fun to tour and learn about. You can see the legendary Blarney Stone and walk through interesting gardens on the property.

Many of the small medieval towns have castles, but perhaps none as significant at the Rock of Cashel. This is where Saint Patrick was believed to preach Catholicism for the first time in Ireland. It’s also breathtaking to see the 12th-century ruins with Gaelic and Romanesque features.

Doonagore Castle in County Clare feels like something out of a fairytale book. It’s not open to the public, but if you’re going to be near the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll want to take time to stop by and see it. Or visit Leap Castle to experience the most haunted castle in Ireland! Just knock on the front door, and for a small fee, the owner will give you a tour and tell you the harrowing history of the castle.

And in Northern Ireland, outside of Ballycastle on the coast, you can visit the ghostly ruins of Kinbane Castle. It’s a quick hike down to the limestone cliffs where the ruins are located. You can read a historical plaque that tells you about the ruins and get some good pictures.

You can even stay in a castle in Ireland if you like! Explore Castles you can stay in here.

14. Visit Kilmainham Gaol

Located in Dublin,  Kilmainham Gaol  is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Ireland. It’s a moving experience for anyone who appreciates Ireland’s struggle for independence. The prison opened in 1796 and closed in 1924, and today functions as a museum that you can tour.

unique places to visit ireland

Kilmainham Gaol held all manner of prisoners, from petty thieves all the way up to political prisoners involved in some of the biggest events in Ireland’s history. When you visit, you’ll learn about Ireland through the lens of the prison, from the Irish Rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War.

The hour-long tour covers the east and west wings of the prison as well as the museum that features rotating exhibits. You can buy tickets online, but book early because they often sell out days in advance.

15. Relive History at Glencolumbkille Folk Village

If you’re heading to County Donegal and looking for fun things to do in Ireland with kids, check out the  Glencolumbkille Folk Village . This is a living history museum maintained by the local community that speaks the Irish language.

unique places to visit ireland

For a small admission fee, you can visit and walk around a small village featuring thatch-roof huts set to periods of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. There’s also a grocer, a pub, a schoolhouse, and a small fisherman’s hut. It’s interesting to see how rural people lived in Ireland in the last few centuries. But keep in mind that this is a seasonal stop, open from Easter through October 31st.

This is a very old region, with settlements recorded as far back as 2000 years. The property also highlights ancient cairns, or standing stones, that offer remnants of the earliest tribal settlers to Glencolumbkille!

16. See Brú na Bóinne (Bend of the Boyne)

Brú na Bóinne Complex in County Meath is one of the must-see things in Ireland. The site features 3 megalith structures that date back to the Neolithic period, making them older than the pyramids in Egypt! Certified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bend of the Boyne Park is considered one of the most significant finds in Irish and European history.

unique places to visit ireland

Your visit to the site begins at the visitors’ center, which has a front desk where you can sign up for tours, as well as a museum with exhibits. The sprawling park sits near the Boyne River north of Dublin. Plan 3 to 4 hours here and wear good shoes. You’ll be walking the hilly park and seeing the massive structures up close!

There are different tours for each of the megalith monument sites, called Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth. Newgrange is the most impressive and features passage tombs you can walk through. Keep your eyes peeled because the grounds have beautiful examples of prehistoric art. And if you come during the winter solstice, you can see the sun shining through the tomb pathway!

17. Visit a Church

Ireland is home to a rich religious history, and there are many churches and cathedrals throughout the country that are worth a visit. Here are just a few of the best ones:

unique places to visit ireland

  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin: One of the most famous landmarks in Dublin, this Anglican cathedral is named after Ireland’s patron saint and has been in continuous use for over 800 years.
  • Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin: Another famous cathedral in Dublin, this one is also over 800 years old and has a mix of Gothic and Romanesque architecture.
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny: A stunning example of Gothic architecture, St. Mary’s dates to the 13th century and features intricate stonework and beautiful stained-glass windows.
  • St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh: Located in the picturesque town of Cobh, this Neo-Gothic cathedral was completed in 1915.
  • St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork: Found in Cork City, St. Fin Barre is known for its striking French Gothic architecture and beautiful interior design.
  • Knock Shrine, County Mayo: A major pilgrimage site in Ireland, this shrine is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and commemorates an apparition that took place in 1879.

There are so many churches and cathedrals worth seeing in Ireland! Each one has its own architectural style and unique history.

18. Watch Gaelic Football at Croke Park

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is one of the most popular sporting organizations in Ireland, and you can attend a game at Croke Park, the GAA’s headquarters in Dublin. It’s one of the best things to do in Ireland if you want to experience Irish culture firsthand.

unique places to visit ireland

The GAA promotes uniquely Irish games, including Gaelic football, which combines elements of soccer, rugby, and basketball. At different times of the year, you can also attend hurling competitions and other Gaelic games. Attending a GAA game at Croke Park can be a highlight of any visit to Ireland, offering a unique blend of sports, history, and tradition.

It’s tons of fun, with fans singing in the stands, post-game celebrations in the local pubs, and an electric atmosphere all day long! Make sure to visit the GAA Museum onsite to learn about the stadium’s history.

19. Experience Irish Pubs

Whether it’s post-game, pre-game, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, any time is great for experiencing the hospitality and culture of traditional Irish pubs. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Ireland because of the friendly locals, cozy atmosphere, and live music. Pubs are also the best place to enjoy a traditional Irish meal.

unique places to visit ireland

One of the best Irish pubs in Ireland is The Brazen Head in Dublin. It claims to be the oldest in Ireland, dating back to 1198. You’ll find it on Bridge Street in the heart of Dublin’s historic district. Enjoy traditional Irish food and drink while you listen to live music and Irish storytelling.

There’s also Dick Mack’s, located in the charming town of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula. This pub has been serving locals and visitors for over 120 years and is known for its impressive whiskey selection.

And Gus O’Connor’s Pub in the seaside village of Doolin is a hidden gem and a must-do in Ireland. It’s popular if you’re interested in the traditional Irish music scene. Come for a draft while you enjoy live music sessions.

20. Sample Irish Food

The best of Ireland, like any culture, is experienced through its food. You’ll notice that most of the traditional Irish cuisine is made up of seafood, meat, dairy, and locally grown produce. Not a lot of fruit grows on the island so it’s mostly a lot of savory dishes! And bread usually accompanies meals, as do potatoes.

As cliché as it sounds, Irish stew and soda bread are iconic for a reason! And you should sample an Irish Breakfast at least once. It’s a hearty meal that usually includes bacon, black pudding, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and more.

Ireland with Kids What to Eat

If you see smoked cabbage and bacon on the menu, it’s much less boring than it sounds! Beef and Guinness stew is a must, especially if you’re there during the colder months. And then there’s Boxty, an Irish version of potato pancakes that’s eaten any time of the day.

Also, a special note for seafood lovers: Don’t skip over your opportunities while visiting Ireland! You’ll find seafood fresh off the boat, like local oysters. And Irish smoked salmon feels like a delicacy. Try it with eggs for breakfast.

FAQ on Things to Do in Ireland

While you’re planning what to do in Ireland, check out some frequently asked questions asked by travelers like you!

What is the top thing to do in Ireland?

Over a million tourists visit the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland every year! You’ll find them along the west coast of Ireland in County Clare. They’re a beautiful example of Ireland’s natural beauty. Enjoy the striking cliffs and check out the walk trails nearby. It’s also a popular destination for guided tours.

Are 4 days enough for a trip to Ireland?

You can check off many of the best things to do in Ireland in 4 days if you use your time wisely. I suggest making your base Dublin and planning 1 full day of exploring the rich history of the city. Then you still have 2 whole days to enjoy the countryside with must-sees in Ireland like Kilkenny, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

 What are the best months to visit Ireland?

Summer is Ireland’s high season when the island enjoys the mildest weather and most attractions are open. If you want to avoid crowds but also avoid the coldest months, I suggest either March through May or September through November.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Ireland?

Yes! The best place to see the Northern Lights in Ireland is the northernmost tip of Ireland, between Dunree and Malin Head in Inishowen. That’s because this northern part of Ireland has much lower light pollution, giving you a better chance to see it. Come in the early spring or early fall for the best chances of viewing them, though winter is also a good time.

What’s the best way to get around Ireland?

Train travel is the best way to get around over all. It’s the best way to travel between cities. Buses are best for exploring cities and will take you to almost every smaller town in the country. You can drive with a US driver’s license if you’re comfortable driving on the left side of the road. However, the costs related to rental cars are so expensive that most people stick to public transit.

Have an Adventure at the Biggest Ireland Attractions

You can pick and choose among the best things to do in Ireland to create the Irish vacation of your dreams! It’s a magical place where modern life exists alongside some of the oldest structures in the world.

There are film location sites from box office hits and medieval buildings across every county. Ireland’s rich history is everywhere, the culinary scene is unique, and it’s a great place to get outdoors.

Whether you want to stay in the big city or disconnect in a remote town, you can do it in Ireland. Walk the roads between villages or take a road trip around the entire island. I hope my list inspired your next trip to the Green Isle!

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Kids Are A Trip

11 Hidden Gems in Ireland to Add to Your Next Trip

I reland is a country of remote islands, dramatic cliffs, unique towns full of character, and lots of seemingly endless green rolling hills. Chances are you’ve heard about the island’s popular attractions, but there are endless hidden gems in Ireland that deserve your attention.

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check out our  disclosure policy  for more details. Thank you for your support!

We are sure you know about the atmospheric towns of the Wild Atlantic Way, the unique landscapes of Inishmore on the Aran Islands, the beautiful Blarney Castle, and the Dublin’s hospitality. But once you’ve ticked off the Emerald Isle’s main attractions, where should you go?

We recommend heading to one of the less touristy spots. These destinations help you get off the beaten track and explore the secret side of the country. Without further ado, here are some of the. best hidden gems in Ireland.

11 Hidden Gems in Ireland You Don’t Want to Miss

1. doon fort.

Doon Fort is located close to Ardara in County Donegal. Fort Doon is a circular stone fort built on a little island in the middle of Loughadoon Lake. It is an impressive archaeological site considered a treasure of Irish heritage. 

No one knows exactly when it was constructed, but historians estimate that it happened at some time between the late Iron Age and the early Middle Ages. During that time, this type of thick-walled, isolated fort in the middle of a lake was considered a symbol of power and governance of influential families in the region.

A boat ride is required to reach the island where Doon Fort rises, but it is well worth the effort. The fort’s ruins are enough to make the detour worthwhile, but the wild nature that surrounds them is spectacular too. Whether you’re into Irish history or a nature lover – or both! – you’ll be delighted with this private island.

2. Lough Ouler – The Heart-Shaped Lake

One of the prettiest hidden gems in Ireland is Lough Ouler, best known as the Heart-Shaped Lake. This lake is nestled inside Wicklow National Park under the Wicklow mountains.

This beautiful lake can only be reached on foot, making it one of the more unique places to visit. It’s a favorite for hikers (and romantics too!). The unique heart shape of this unusual lake and the stunning views around it are quickly putting it on local and foreign tourists’ radars. However, it can still be considered a hidden gem in Ireland.

Different trails lead to Lough Ouler, some more challenging than others. The most popular routes are Tonelagee Mountain trail, which is moderate, and the harder Lough Ouler Loop.

Whichever route you choose, your efforts will be rewarded with gorgeous vistas and perfect pics. Although swimming is not allowed, jogging, biking, and having a picnic on the outskirts are some of the best things to enjoy an amazing day.

3. Marsh’s Library

This wonderful hidden gem in Ireland is the oldest public library in the country and sits right in Dublin city.  It is right around the corner from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Founded in 1707, it is wonderfully preserved. It remains practically unchanged since its early days. It is one of the few libraries still used for its original purpose.

Marsh’s Library is not as popular as the Trinity College Library. This means that you’ll find fewer crowds admiring its impressive architecture, lovely courtyard garden, and fascinating collection of over 25,000 rare books and manuscripts.

Famous personalities that have actually sat and read inside Marsh’s walls include Bram Stoker, James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift. Legend has it that the ghost of Archbishop March roams around and lets himself be seen every once in a while! Whether that’s true or not, Marsh’s Library is a the perfect place for adults and children alike.

4. Cappagh Beach

This beach is situated in the Dingle Peninsula, a beautiful region in southwest Ireland. It features beaches, mountains, and surprising jungle-like terrain. Cappagh is a breathtaking hidden gem in Ireland. Although it is not included in many itineraries, it is worthy of some attention! Its deep blue waters and soft sand are backdropped by gorgeous green mountains.

Ireland isn’t famous for having ideal beach weather, but it does happen sometimes. That said, Cappagh Beach is small and sheltered, with crystal-clear calm water most of the time. It’s more peaceful than other popular beaches in the area. If you’re fond of hidden beaches with stunning views away from the typical tourist attractions, Cappagh Beach will suit you to a tee.

5. Beltany Stone Circle

One of the most mysterious and intriguing hidden gems in Ireland is Beltany Stone Circle. It is located south of Raphoe in County Donegal. There are 64 stones of different sizes in a circular formation surrounded by the characteristic Irish green landscape. Dating back to the Bronze Age, Beltany Stone Circle many speculate it is related to supernatural phenomena or mystic rituals.

Beltany is a captivating and great place for all types of travelers. This includes nature enthusiasts, history aficionados, mystic lovers, and photographers. Of the more than 240 stone circles that can be found in Ireland, this is one of the larger, best-preserved, and most unusual ones.

A carved stone mask from the Iron Age was found nearby, only adding to the mystery. It is on exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland.

6. Museum of Country Life

Located in Turlough Park, four miles east of Castlebar, the Museum of Country Life is Ireland’s only national museum outside of Dublin. 

It is an extension of the National Museum of Ireland and is dedicated to Irish country life. Clothing, farming tools, spinning wheels, wickerwork, and other artifacts are displayed over four floors of a Victorian Gothic-style house built in 1865.

Whether you’re into history or not, you’re sure to enjoy this museum. There are eye-catching displays and amazing collections that tell the story of ordinary people and their lives as farmers, fishermen, and blacksmiths. When you’re finished exploring take a look at the 800-year-old tower and enjoy a snack at the café.

7. Dunbrody Abbey

You’ll find Dunbrody Abbey on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford. It was founded by the Cistercian Order after the Norman invasion of Ireland in the year 1170.

This hidden gem in Ireland offers a fun day outing for the whole family. There is also a castle adjacent to it, which was built more than 500 years later although it was never fully finished. 

The castle grounds of Dunbrody Abbey offer an intricate yew maze and a 9-hole pitch and putt course. Families might also enjoy a nice picnic, especially during the summer months.

8. Gougane Barra Forest Park 

Sitting amid stunning scenery in West County Cork, Gougane Barra is a wonderful hidden gem in Ireland that is perfect for unwinding in a beautiful setting.

As soon as you enter Gougane Barra, you’ll be awed by the gorgeous man-made and natural beauty. Here you’ll find the lovely Sheehy Mountains overlooking the lake, and pretty St. Finbarr’s Oratory seeming to float on a tiny island in the middle.

Although the church is very small, you’ll experience some of the best views here. Tourists are growing increasingly fond of marrying here due to the spectacular views!

Gaugane Barra is a fantastic place for all nature lovers. It is especially great for hikers and bikers, with six trails offering splendid views and the opportunity to hike through a pine forest and rugged mountains. If you’re not too keen on sweating it out, worry not, Gaugane Barra has you covered with a 1.9-mile scenic drive.

Whichever way you decide to explore, keep your eyes open for the holy well. This is a simple square stone covered by a large flat stone and a mound of earth. It has been attracting pilgrims for ages because legend has it, its water has miraculous healing powers. 

When you’re done sightseeing on your day tour, treat yourself to the delicious food served in the area’s restaurants.

9. Serpents Lair on Inis Mor

Dubbed the Wormhole on Inis Mor, the official name of this intriguing hidden gem on Galway’s Aran Islands is Poll na bPéist .

This natural rectangular pool is linked to the sea by several underground channels and caves. Gaelic folklore has it that a reptilian sea monster or snake carved out this almost perfect rectangle to make his lair.

This natural attraction on Inis Mor is a favorite spot for daredevil divers. However, it’s best avoided on stormy days and high tide. This is because the water rushes in from the sea with great force through an underground channel. This then causes it to fill and spill over the edges.

Plan on visiting when the weather is calm if you want to get close to the pool. If high tide surprises you upon arrival, don’t worry! You can watch and take pictures from afar and enjoy other attractions in the area. Dún Aonghasa is a great choice, which is a semicircular stone fort sitting on the edge of a 328 feet cliff.

10. Dunmore Cave

Dunmore Cave is located near Kilkenny in southeast Ireland. It is a unique attraction that deserves a visit. This cave system was formed over 300 million years ago and has a fascinating history that dates to prehistoric times.

The remains of over 40 people, have been discovered in the cave, suggesting it may have been used for rituals at some point.

Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the cave to see its stunning crystal formations and underground streams while learning about its unique history.

11. Coumshingaun Lough 

Coumshingaun Lough, located in the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford, is a stunning natural wonder that is well worth a visit. The lake itself is a beautiful sight, with its navy blue water surrounded by dramatic cliffs and rolling hills.

If your family is looking for adventure, the lake has it in spades. There are a number of trails that lead to the lake, offering stunning views along the way.

The most popular hiking route is the Coumshingaun Loop, which takes visitors on a challenging trek through the mountains. Whether you are looking for a scenic picnic spot, a challenging hike, or simply a relaxing spot in nature, Coumshingaun Lough shouldn’t be missed.

As you can see, there are tons of unique places to visit in Ireland with kids. Add one or more of these hidden gems to your Ireland itinerary and your kids are sure to be impressed!

The post 11 Hidden Gems in Ireland to Add to Your Next Trip appeared first on Kids Are A Trip™ .

Ireland is a country of remote islands, dramatic cliffs, unique towns full of character, and lots of seemingly endless green rolling hills. Chances are you’ve heard about the island’s popular attractions, but there are endless hidden gems in Ireland that deserve your attention. We are sure you know about the atmospheric towns of the Wild...

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Indigo Sahara

Travel Reviews, Guides, Tips & Travel Hacking

Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland

By: Indigo Sahara, M.A. | Published: July 25, 2022 | Updated: January 17, 2024

From fairytale castles to jaw-dropping cliffscapes, Ireland is home to some of the most epic, enchanting and magical sceneries on Earth. Unsurprisingly, the most unique places to visit in Ireland include famous attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, but there is so much more to see outside these well-known places.

Here are 20 of the most unique places to visit in Ireland .

Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If a product is purchased using one of the following links, I may earn a small commission from the brand at no cost to you.

Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland

Table of Contents

1. Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is a volcanic masterpiece. Thousands of giant hexagon-shaped, column rock formations cover the northern Irish coast here.

Ancient Celtic myths talk of a giant who once claimed these columns as his own (you can also see the “giant’s boot,” and “giant’s pipe organ” if you take a short hike). Whether or not you have faith in the folklore , there is no denying the majestic qualities of this space.

(Giant’s Causeway also happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth.)

places to visit in ireland

2. Dunluce Castle

Just down the coast from Giant’s Causeway is the equally enchanting Dunluce Castle .

In fact, you can actually see Giant’s Causeway from Dunluce Castle if you look closely along the coast.

Although Dunluce may appear to be nothing more than ruin rumble at first glance, the marvelous legends associated with the castle — and legend associated with the castle’s ruin — will transport you back in time and make you imagine yourself living in the Medieval Ages .

places to visit in ireland bucket lists

3. The Dark Hedges

Also situated in Northern Ireland are the Dark Hedges.

The Dark Hedges are a series of unique eighteenth century beech trees that cover the road like a storybook tunnel. This pedestrian road is always open, so you can pass by foot anytime.

Don’t forget your camera !

4. Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Furthermore, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is another popular stop in Northern Ireland — especially for risk-takers.

If you’re looking for a hit of adrenaline and don’t mind heights (specifically on a rope bridge suspended 100 feet over rough waves and jagged rocks), you can’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cross Carrick-A-Rede.

top 10 places to visit in ireland

5. Glenariff Forest Park

Next, if you love waterfalls, you’ll be thrilled about this next Ireland hidden gem .

Glenariff Forest Park , tucked in the mountains of County Antrim, boasts a magnificent array of natural waterfalls, mossy rock formations and green Narnia-like atmospheres.

The park has several boardwalks for hiking to the waterfalls. Plus, there is a tea house, restaurant and souvenir shop onsite for you to indulge apres-hike. (And, if you’re lucky, you’ll even see a leprechaun or two.)

It’s always a good hike when you end up in a souvenir shop keeping an eye out for leprechauns. Learn all of my tips on how you can save $$ on souvenirs – How To Save Money On Souvenirs . Before you know it, you’ll end up with a pot of gold with how much you end up saving.

ireland vacation places to visit

Derry (also known as Derry-Londonderry) is one of the biggest cities in the northern region of Ireland.

What makes Derry unique is the historic wall that surrounds the entire city that was built in the 1610s to protect the English and Scottish settlers during England’s rule over the city .

Clearly, you get to experience a significant amount of history in Derry, but you also get to experience traditional foods, street musicians, pubs and more.

7. Ashford Castle

Perhaps, you’re looking for a unique luxury destination in Ireland . Allow me to introduce you to Ashford Castle .

Ashford Castle, Ireland’s only Forbes five-star hotel , is an 800-year-old castle that has been transformed into a lavish hotel and garden-filled property.

If you want to live out your childhood fairytale dream , I can assure, from experience, you’ll be treated like royalty here.

Want cheap hotels but scared to book on third-party budget booking sites? I have a FREE Hotwire cheatsheet will guide you step-by-step to booking the best hotels on  Hotwire  for the cheapest prices.

8. Cliffs Of Moher

Now, the Cliffs of Moher may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, but this popularity certainly does not discount its insane uniqueness .

There’s no other word to accurately describe this cliff coastal line other than epic. You’ll definitely be missing out if you don’t see the massive, jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher while in this country.

ireland top 10 places to visit

9. Aran Islands

Likewise, just a short ferry ride away from the legendary Cliffs of Moher lie the historic Aran Islands .

The Aran Islands are known for their traditional Gaeltacht communities — communities that still claim the Irish Gaelic language as the primary spoken language and where many people go to study Irish, traditional music, traditional dance and Irish sports.

On the Aran Islands, you seamlessly time-travel back to the Ireland that didn’t speak English, that participated in traditional song and dance, and that was culturally remote from continental Europe.

10. Connemara And Kylemore Abbey

Just a few hours north of the Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands area, you can find some of the most iconic views of Ireland : endless green rolling hills, sparkly blue lakes and, of course, a castle by the name of Kylemore Abbey .

When you visit, I highly recommend grabbing a picnic lunch from the abbey cafe to eat outside while overlooking the lake.

where to go in ireland places to visit

11. Wild Atlantic Way

So far, we have discussed 10 incredible unique places to visit in Ireland . However, it probably seems as though it will be impossible to visit all of the aforementioned destinations during one single trip.

The Wild Atlantic Way helps solve this issue. It is basically a coastal route and scenic drive on the western side of Ireland that passes through places like Connemara and Kylemore Abbey , Cliffs of Moher , Kerry and the Skellig Islands (which we will discuss later) and more.

Other noteworthy stops include Galway, Killary Harbor, Downpatrick Head and Mullaghmore .

things to do in ireland

12. Trinity College Library

While I always recommend getting outside of Dublin to experience Ireland , there are a couple notably unique places to visit in Ireland’s capital too.

First, the library of Trinity College (the most prestigious university in the country) is no ordinary library. Not only does the Trinity College Library house historical floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves with thousands of ancient books and documents, but this esteemed room is also home to the mystical Book of Kells .

13. National Leprechaun Museum

Second, the National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland offers a one-of-a-kind look into some of Ireland’s most mischievous mythological creatures: leprechauns .

Even if you don’t believe leprechauns exist, this fun museum will quench your nostalgia and most definitely qualify as one of Ireland’s most unique places to visit .

Otherwise, if you’re ready to revel in more modern history, check out the many other breathtaking historical sites in Dublin scattered throughout the city.

14. Newgrange (Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland)

Similarly, less than an hour north of Dublin lies another one of the most unique places to visit in Ireland : Newgrange .

Newgrange is known to be an ancient burial and ritual mound from Neolithic Era . It’s older than Italy’s Colosseum, England’s Stonehenge and even the Great Pyramids of Egypt. You’ll love this spot if you are a fan of ancient history.

This is also where you’ll see the tri-spiral carvings that are found throughout Irish folklore .

dublin ireland aesthetic

15. Powerscourt Waterfall

If you loved the previously mentioned idea of visiting Glenariff, then you’ll also love Powerscourt Waterfall .

Powerscourt Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Ireland , standing at an impressive 121 meters high. It’s tucked inside the Wicklow Mountains, and pours down into a quaint Irish stream.

Nearby, you can visit the famous Powerscourt Estate and fairytale gardens .

unique places in ireland

16. Glendalough (Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland)

Also situated in the Wicklows, you’ll find the majestic Glendalough monastery .

Glendalough is a 6th century monastic city where you can find an enchanting Rapunzel-esque tower , countless Celtic crosses , and epic lake and green mountain views. It’s definitely an Ireland bucket list place to visit . Better yet, it’s only one hour south of Dublin.

Ireland is very common for travelers to have on their travel bucket list, in fact it’s even on my free downloadable Budget Travel Bucket List. If you love Ireland, consider downloading my free printable bucket list to see what other countries are listed for budget travelers!

northern ireland travel

17. Rock Of Cashel (Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland)

The Rock of Cashel is a castle-like cathedral stacked on a hilltop overlooking green Irish pastures. I’d personally say it’s the Mont-Saint-Michel of Ireland.

Here, you’ll again find a plethora of giant celtic crosses , fantastic cathedral ruins and an immense sense of history.

In fact, St. Patrick himself ministered here , which makes this location one of the most historical unique places to visit in Ireland .

killarney ireland

18. Cork’s Deck Of Cards (Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland)

Cork’s Deck of Cards is the San Francisco Painted Ladies of Ireland.

Not only are these colorful townhouses stacked on a hill, but you can also see St. Colman’s Cathedral in the background, which gives this unique destination a perfect Irish twist .

Again, like the Dark Hedges, you won’t want to forget your camera . This location makes a fantastic photo op.

19. Ring Of Kerry (Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland)

Also in the southwestern region of Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is a wildly recognized scenic drive that rightfully attracts thousands of tourists every year. On this drive, you’ll see sheep-inhabited mountains , tons of green pasture, breathtaking rivers and stunning overlooks .

I must warn you, though, that the roads can get pretty windy . So, if you get car sick , I highly recommend bringing this Migrastil Migraine Stick . It will naturally take away your nausea in minutes!

I have an entire post on natural car sickness remedies that you can read, too.

places to visit in ireland

20. Skellig Michael

Finally, this wouldn’t be a sufficient list of the most unique places to visit in Ireland without mentioning the legendary Skellig Michael .

In essence, Skellig Michael is an island off the southwestern coast of Ireland (County Kerry) where you can see puffins in person, take a glimpse at monastic ruins and walk where multiple Star Wars movies were filmed.

To get to the island, you can easily take a ferry from County Kerry .

Most Unique Historical Places To Visit In Ireland

The 10 most unique places to visit in Ireland that are historical include:

  • Trinity College and the Book of Kells.
  • Aran Islands.
  • Glendalough.
  • Rock of Cashel.
  • Skellig Island.
  • Dunluce Castle.
  • Kylemore Abbey.
  • Ashford Castle.

Of course, Ireland is filled with history. This list only included places from this guide.

Regardless, the history buff in you will love these places .

Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland In Summer

While the weather in Ireland is fairly mild and travel-worthy year-round, some places are a bit more pleasant to visit in the summertime sunshine.

The 15 most unique places to visit in Ireland in summer are:

  • Giant’s Causeway.
  • Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.
  • Cliffs of Moher.
  • Newgrange (with the exception of winter solstice).
  • Powerscourt.
  • Ring of Kerry.
  • Skellig Michael.
  • Slea Head Drive.
  • Wild Atlantic Way.

Expect to encounter a lot of rain during your time in Ireland, even in the summer.

If you set this expectation and pack accordingly, you won’t have any limitations when visiting these places. You can visit the majority of these locations year-round.

That being said, the weather is much more tolerable in the summer , and the sun is much more likely to show itself. That’s why most people recommend visiting these unique locations during the summer.

Most Unique Places In Ireland To Visit On Your Own

Prepping a solo trip to Ireland?

Here are the 10 best, most unique places to visit in Ireland on your own :

  • National Leprechaun Museum.

If you have any more questions about your upcoming Ireland trip, leave a reply below. Or, feel free to send me a message on Instagram . My inbox is always open!

Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland

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About Indigo Sahara, M.A.

Indigo Sahara, M.A., is the founder and CEO of the Indigo Sahara travel blog. Since earning her master's degree in global leadership, she has traveled to more than 20 countries. Now, her goal is to make travel accessible to all by teaching others how to travel on a budget. She writes world travel guides and travel hacking tips weekly.

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45 Unique and Unusual Places in Ireland to Visit With Kids

unique places to visit ireland

May 28, 2020

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Looking for somewhere a bit different to take the kids during school holidays or weekends? Did you know there’s a pyramid in Offaly or a Jealous Wall in Westmeath or a Windmill in Roscommon? Here are our favourite Unusual Places in Ireland to visit with the kids:

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From a Pyramid in Offaly to a whale skeleton in Cork, there’s definitely plenty of unusual places in Ireland to visit as a family!

You May Also Enjoy 99 Fantastic Places to Go in Ireland With Kids This Summer

Unique and Unusual Places in Ireland

Irish agricultural museum, johnstown castle, wexford.

Irish Agriculture Museum at Johnstown Castle St Patrick's Day events in Ireland

The  Irish Agricultural Museum is housed within the grounds of Johnstown Castle and displays one of the most comprehensive collections showcasing farming and rural life in Ireland with everything from tractors to kitchens! Visitors can:

  • Admire the large collection of beautifully restored tractors, carts, ploughs, threshing machines, stationary engines and dairy equipment
  • See recreated workshops of traditional trades including blacksmith, cooper and wheelwright
  • Learn about ‘The Great Famine’ through an exhibition which vividly reveals what life was like before, during and after the famine
  • Discover the chequered history of Johnstown Castle and its estate
  • Enjoy the largest display of Irish country furniture
  • Compare farmhouse kitchens through the ages
  • Take part in quizzes and trails (suitable for children)

Treehouse at Birr Castle Demesne, Offaly

At Birr Castle Demesne , kids will be amazed by the most spectacular Treehouse Adventure area! It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon of fun and adventure.

Birr Castle is also a place of discovery for the whole family – home to extensive gardens and parkland, as well as the Historic Science Centre and the Great Telescope of the 1840s. Well worth a visit.

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The Giant’s Lair Story Trail, Armagh

The Giant’s Lair Story Trail at Slieve Gullion Forest Park near Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, is an innovative magical living storybook. The Trail takes visitors on an unforgettable journey of fairy house and amazing features creating a fantastical childhood land of mystery, dragons, giants, witches and fairies.

Follow in the footsteps of Flynn the mischievous fairy, who has one important job – not to allow anyone to wake Slieve Gullion. It might look like a mountain but it’s really a sleeping giant! Drop in for a cup of dandelion tea, grab a seat at the Giant’s Table, stroll along to the Ladybird House and sneak a peek at local witchy trickster, The Cailleach Beara.

Situated beside the Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark, with car parking available. The Giant’s Lair is free to explore. The trail takes you into plenty of nooks and crannies so a backpack carrier or baby sling is recommended for tots.

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Newgrange, Meath

Newgrange mythical places in Ireland

Image: © Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland

Newgrange is an old passage tomb located in the Boyne Valley in Ireland’s Ancient East, and is part of a number of monuments built along the River Boyne known collectively as Brú na Bóinne. This prehistoric monument dates back over 5,200 years ago – which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza!

Newgrange is famous for the illumination of the passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. Built by Stone Age farmers, Newgrange is surrounded by 97 large stones, called kerbstones, some of which are engraved with megalithic art.

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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin

Suitable for over 7s, the National Leprechaun Museum brings folklore to life! This oral storytelling experience taking you on a trip to the Otherworld, home of leprechauns and other mythical creatures.

Dublinia, Dublin

Dublinia best museums in Ireland

At Dublinia, travel back to Viking and Medieval Dublin, witness the sights, sounds and smells and unearth the city’s archaeology in the History Hunters exhibition!

There’s a full programme of events taking place at weekends during the summer, including Family First Saturdays which includes Making a Viking Longship Magnet, and demonstrations. With Viking Dublin Tours, Medieval Dublin tours and lots more, there’s heaps for families to do at Dublinia.

Elphin Windmill, Roscommon

elphin-windmill-1

This fully restored, working, 18th century windmill is the oldest of its kind in Ireland. It is perfectly located to harness the winds sweeping over the plains of Elphin. Unusual features include its thatched revolving roof and four sails that are turned into the wind by using a tailpole attached to a cartwheel on a circular track.

After visiting the Windmill, stop by the Farm Museum, where you will find a range of items connected to the windmill as well as miniature models of the Bishop’s Palace, St Mary’s Cathedral, and St Patrick’s Church on display.

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Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens, Waterford

The Lafcadio Hearn Gardens reflect the life and extensive wanderings of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo), who grew up in Ireland, and whose life journey embraced several parts of the world.

Learn about the life of Lafcadio Hearn through the Victorian, American, Greek and Japanese gardens. Children have their very own discovery trail with secret pathways through the woodlands with fairytales and folklore along the way.

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Ballycurrin Lighthouse, Galway

Ballycurrin Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of Rachel Dubber

Ballycurrin Lighthouse on Lough Corrib in County Galway is said to be the only in-shore lighthouse of its kind in Europe. It was built in the late 1700s by the local landowner Liam Lynch so that steamer that ran from Galway to Cong could make its way to his nearby Ballycurrin House with supplies. The Lighthouse is 22 foot high and has a mill stone as its roof. The uppermost section of the lighthouse would have been used to burn timber to create the beacon.

Rachel who visited recently says “Older kids will manage the uneven surface as some of the pier on the left is rather rocky but the walk to the lighthouse on the right is fine. It’s an unusual location as you feel you are trespassing but you’re not. The boat house is inhabited beside the pier and you park at the end of the lane near private homes.”

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The Mummies at St Michan’s Church, Dublin

St Michan’s, which was founded in 1095, was the only church located on the northside of Dublin until 1686. The interior, which has changed little since Victorian times, still has its original organ. Another notable artefact is the Penitant’s Desk, commissioned in 1724 and used for public confession.

Below the church are five long burial vaults containing the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential families from 1600 to 1800. In the vaults, guests can view the death mask of Wolfe Tone and the coffins of the 1798 rebels John and Henry Sheares. There are fully guided tours of the vaults with a tour guide and a gift shop.

Craggaunowen, Clare

Lughnasa

A highlight of any visit to the West of Ireland is the Living Past Experience at Craggaunowen, which is off the beaten track but will give you a real sense of stepping back in history.

At Craggaunowen you will find a restored Tower House Castle, where you can climb up the winding stairs and into the different rooms, as well as the Crannog, where you can meet actors who renact and tell stories of how the Celts lived in Iron & Early Christian periods, what they did for hunting, how the bards were important, how battles might have taken place, how society was run.

Follow the trail past the Iron Age Field, Iron Age Road (with a section brought over from an original Iron Age bog road Corlea), and visit the Ringfort.

You can also visit The Brendan which was a boat built in 1976 based on descriptions of Brendan the Navigator’s vessel which according to legend went to America long before Columbus.

The James Turrell Sky Garden, Cork

Sky Garden

At Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen, West Cork, there’s a most unusual garden called the James Turrell Sky Garden. It’s one of only two in the world designed by American sculptor James Turrell.

Shaped like a bowl, the Sky Garden is set against the natural landscape of the Celtic Liss Ard, or “High Fort”. The design of this Garden allows, either in daylight or at night, for the viewer to truly experience the sky at that particular moment in time without any distractions or impediments.

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The Other Dead Zoo, Dublin

Everyone knows the ‘Dead Zoo’ at the National Museum of Ireland Natural History, but did you know there’s a Dead Zoo at Trinity College Dublin? It’s actually the Zoology Museum , located on the first floor of the Zoology Building, and it is a unique, interactive experience for all ages. You can hold skulls, dinosaur material, shark jaws, elephant teeth and more.

Museum guides are recent zoology graduates and are on hand to answer questions and show you some of the amazing museum specimens.

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National Reptile Zoo, Kilkenny

National reptile zoo

The National Reptile Zoo houses numerous reptiles from snakes to crocodiles. With animal encounters daily, you can get up close and personal with some of your favourite reptiles. Why not hold or touch a reptile with the help of their trained wranglers?

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Queen Maeve’s Grave, Sligo

unique places to visit ireland

Photo courtesy of Val Robus

A 300m limestone hill sits in Knocknarea, Sligo and it’s believed that Queen Maeve, a figure from Irish mythology, is buried inside. As the story goes, the fiery Irish queen Medb was felled by a piece of cheese flung from an expert’s sling.

Although it features all the classic makings of a tomb, for now we don’t know if she lies inside or not as it remains of one the largest unexplored monuments in Ireland.

You can climb the hill of Knocknarea and get breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside including Ben Bulben, Slieve League and other famous Irish landmarks.

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Brigit’s Garden, Galway

brigit's garden galway

Brigit’s Garden takes you on a magical journey into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology, making it one of the truly outstanding places to visit in the West of Ireland. The award-winning Celtic Gardens are widely regarded as one of the most spectacular in Ireland, set within 11 acres of native woodland & wildflower meadows.

In addition to the Celtic Gardens visitors can enjoy the nature trail, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), thatched roundhouse and crannog, and the calendar sundial, the largest in Ireland. Brigit’s Garden is very family-friendly with a kids’ discovery trail, a natural playground, café and lots of opportunity to explore.

Conolly’s Folly, Kildare

unusual places in Ireland

Conolly’s Folly stands on the grounds of Castletown House. The arches and obelisks are decorated with stone eagles and pineapples, and the central obelisk reaches a height of 140 feet. But the Folly’s physical characteristics are not the only ingredient that makes it unique.

It was constructed in 1740 at the height of the Irish famine of 1740-1741. It was built so that the local farmers might make some money working on its construction and not starve. Katherine Conolly, widow of William Conolly, one of the richest men in Ireland, commissioned the folly.

Wonderful Barn, Kildare

unusual places in Ireland

Also on the edge of Castletown Estate you will find The Wonderful Barn which is made out of rock and shaped like a corkscrew. Dating from 1743, no one is exactly sure what its original purpose was, maybe it was a dovecote, or some think it was a granary.

The staircase goes around the exterior of the building, giving the building the look of a corkscrew, and ends on a flat roof, surrounded by a parapet.

Crag Cave, Kerry

Crag Cave is situated just outside Castleisland in Co. Kerry and is thought to be over 1 million years old. On your tour of Crag Cave you will see fine examples of pillars, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, straws and curtains, all naturally formed in the limestone cave.

Titanic Experience, Belfast

Things to do in Belfast with Kids - Mykidstime

At Titanic Belfast, discover the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way. Explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the true legend of Titanic, in the city where it all began.

With several levels of interactive exhibits, tracing the story of the Titanic from its origins in industrial Belfast to the final tragedy itself, you will find plenty for all ages.

The Hungry Tree, Dublin

unusual places in Ireland

The Hungry Tree in Dublin is located on the grounds of The Honorable Society of King’s Inns, Ireland’s oldest school of law. This 80-year-old London Plane tree is currently in the process of “eating” a cast-iron bench.

As the tree has grown, it has overtaken and swallowed parts of the structure in its way. Its gnarled bark now spills over the back of the bench, making it appear as though the seat is being sucked into the tree’s trunk.

The grounds are open and accessible to the public, so you can visit The Hungry Tree for yourself!

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The Leaning Tower of Galway

Did you know there’s a Leaning Tower in Galway? It’s actually St Colman’s Tower in Kilmacduagh, a short drive from either Gort or Kinvara. It’s notable not only as a good example of an Irish round tower but also because of its noticeable lean, over 2 feet from the vertical.

The “Leaning Tower of Galway” is over 30 metres tall, with the only doorway some 7 metres above ground level and dates from the 12th Century. The round tower sits next to the original Cathedral building within the graveyard just down the road a bit from the car park.

There’s plenty of room for kids to wander around and it’s enclosed so you don’t need to worry about them getting out on the road, quiet enough as it is. NB There are no facilites at the site, so head back to Gort or Kinvara for refreshments/toilets.

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Aistear Park, Clare

unique places to visit ireland

Situated in the centre of the village of Mountshannon, between the main street and the harbour, is a unique 4.5 acre Aistear Park which includes:

  • the Aistear Labyrinth, a maze incorporating timber, stone and foliage which takes the visitor through an informative exploration of Irish Spirituality over 9,000 years. There are seven spaces within the maze, each displaying contemporary relics and artefacts reflecting the beliefs of past generations. All artefacts have been replicated from original archaeological discoveries making it a fascinating heritage walk.
  • A kids playground area with swings, slides and climbing frames
  • Picnic area
  • An outdoor library called the “Wee Library”

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Kinnity Pyramid, Offaly

kinnity pyramid unusual places in Ireland

In the village of Kinnity in County Offaly you’ll find the 30-foot high Kinnitty Pyramid, which is actually a burial tomb of six members of the once-owners of nearby Kinnity Castle. Inspired by a visit to the Egyptian Pyramids, the Kinnity Pyramid took four years to complete, finished in 1834.

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Ulster American Folk Park, Tyrone

Ulster American Folk Park - ICP (1)

Image: Tourism Northern Ireland

When you visit the Ulster American Folk Park, embark on a journey back in time from the Old World of Ulster to the New World on the American frontier.

Wander the well-trodden pathways of rural Ulster, complete with a bustling street and welcoming farmhouses. Board a full-scale emigrant ship and experience the cramped quarters where hundreds of people lived during their twelve-week Atlantic crossing. Emerge in the New World and marvel at the ingenious solutions these resourceful newcomers created on the frontier.

Experience demonstrations of traditional crafts daily, from forge work to wool spinning, turf cutting to willow weaving, woodcraft to patchwork quilting. Take a stroll through the herb garden to learn about herbal remedies from years gone by.

Slievemore Deserted Village, Mayo

Slievemore for unusual places in Ireland

On Achill Island in County Mayo you can visit the Slievemore Deserted Village – it’s like stepping back in time. Along a stretch of 1km you will find the remains of up to 100 cottages and farms.

The village was one of the longest running booley villages on Achill. Booleying was the practice of living in different location depending on the season so that cattle could remain in grassy areas all year round. Slievemore was a good location in the spring and summer months, so would have been busy during these times.

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Tetrapod Trackway, Kerry

tetrapod trackway at Valentia

Did you know you can see prehistoric tetrapod footprints predating dinosaurs at the  Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island ? The island is at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, more familiar to many as the location of the Ring of Kerry.

On the island you will find one of only 4 sets of prehistoric footprints in the world! The footprints give an invaluable view of the transition of life from water onto land.

Access to the track way is by a steep pathway down to the rocks. NB this is quite rocky as well as steep and won’t be suitable for buggies but kids will enjoy climbing down. At the bottom of the hill is an information plaque where you can read about the Trackway before you make the final descent towards the rocks at the beach where the footprints themselves can be seen.

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Derrigimlagh, Galway

Derrigimlagh

The Derrigimlagh/Marconi walking loop provides visitors with a five kilometre trail through an area of outstanding natural beauty within the Derrygimlagh bog complex. The walk is made all the more interesting by its historical claims to fame.

The Derrygimlagh blanket bog, close to Clifden, is where pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown crashed-landed in 1919 after completing the world’s first transatlantic flight. They landed close to a wireless telegraphy station which had been set up 14 years earlier by Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi.

Today the location of the Marconi wireless station is home to a memorial cairn dedicated to the pair. You can hire bikes if you prefer cycling to walking.

Kilbrattain Whale, Cork

kilbrattain whale

Visit the Kilbrattain Whale for a unique opportunity to see the entire skeleton of a fin whale which beached locally in January 2009. The whale is over 65 feet long with the jaw being 18 feet long, it really is an awe-inspiring sight.

There is also a picnic area and it is a lovely area for woodland walks. You’ll also find a Slí na Sláinte walk nearby which takes you along the tidal mudflats which is a special area of conservation.

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Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Limerick

Foynes Flying Boat Museum (1)

Image © Tourism Ireland

The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is the only aviation museum in Ireland and the only dedicated flying boat museum in the world.

This unique attraction preserves the rich history of aviation and the development of passenger travel. It takes you back to that nostalgic era when Foynes became the centre of the aviation world between 1937 and 1945, and you will enjoy

  • an authentic 1940’s cinema
  • the Radio and Weather Room—complete with transmitters, receivers and Morse code equipment
  • the Brendan O’Regan restaurant
  • the only full sized replica B314 flying boat in the world
  • try your hand at flying the B314 on the flight simulators with amazing visuals.

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Charlie Chaplin’s Statue, Kerry

unusual places in Ireland

Did you know that Charlie Chaplin brought his family on holiday to Waterville in County Kerry every year for ten years starting in 1959? The actor became so beloved by the community during his brief stays, that they erected a permanent bronze statue of Charlie Chaplin and there’s an annual Chaplin film festival each year in the town.

Dunbrody Maze, Wexford

Dunbrody abbey maze

At Dunbrody Castle in Wexford you’ll find an intricate yew hedge maze made with 1,500 yew trees and gravel paths. As it is one of the few large scale mazes in Ireland, it may take a while to puzzle your way and out!

Around the outside of the maze lies a 9-hole pitch and putt course, you can hire clubs in the shop. You’ll also enjoy walks and a picnic area nearby.

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Blennerville Windmill, Kerry

blennerville windmill

Blennerville Windmill stands in Tralee Bay, where Tralee meets the Dingle Peninsula. At the Blennerville Visitor Centre you will find the working Windmill – you can climb to the top – and audio-visual presentation as well as a model of the Tralee Dingle railway, an exhibition gallery, gift and coffee shop.

Blennerville was the main port of emigration from County Kerry during the Great Famine (1845-1848) and was, during those years, the home port of the famous emigrant barque “Jeanie Johnston”. The visitor centre houses a fascinating display on Irish emigration including models of the infamous coffin ships.

There’s also a Bird Watching platform with a telescope overlooking Slí na nÉan (The Way of the Birds).

You might also enjoy Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Kerry

Dursey Island Cable Car, Cork

unusual places in Ireland

Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the turbulent waters of the Dursey Sound and offers a truly singular experience. Ireland’s only cable car, and one of the very few cable cars that traverses seawater in all of Europe, it is one of the great attractions of the island. As long as you and the kids have a good head for heights, that is, as it can be a wild ride over the waves!

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Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, Dublin

ye olde hurdy gurdy museum

Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio  is located in the Martello Tower in Howth and houses a fine collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications from the 1840s to date. There are many examples of early Morse equipment, gramophones, crystal sets, valve radios and other pieces of equipment.

You May Also Enjoy 30 Terrific Things to do in Dublin for Teens and Older Kids

Waterfall Alpaca Farm, Cork

waterfall alpaca farm

Go and meet Alpacas, curious and intelligent animals at Waterfall Alpaca Farm in Cork. As well as farm tours, they run Alpaca walks which take about 40 minutes, where you actually get to take the Alpacas for a walk! You can also meet the other farm residents, sheep, donkeys, hens, ducks and rabbits.

Bring a picnic for after the walk and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings, picnic table and toilet on site. There’s also a self catering cabin should you fancy an overnight stay.

You May Also Enjoy The Best Farm Experiences in Ireland for Kids

The Jealous Wall, Westmeath

unusual places in Ireland

The Jealous Wall at Belvedere was built c. 1760 as a result of a quarrel between Robert Rochfort and another brother George, the owner of nearby Rochfort House (subsequently re-named Tudenham House), now, alas a melancholy ruin. The Wall was built between the two houses as an artificial ruin of an abbey so as to exclude from Robert’s view the sight of his brother’s residence of which he was jealous. It is believed that the Earl went to enormous expense in constructing the ruin, to the extent of hiring the services of a celebrated Italian Architect Barrodotte to superintend its erection.

Enjoy a visit to Belvedere House and Gardens afterwards, they also run events throughout the year including Easter Hunts, outdoor plays, Bat Walks and their famous Green Santa event in the run up to Christmas.

You May Also Enjoy Top Things to do in Westmeath with Kids

Glendalough, Wicklow

Glendalough for places to learn about Irish history

Image © Failte Ireland & Tourism Ireland. Courtesy of Chris Hill

Glendalough (Gleann dá Loch, meaning ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’) is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland. With two dark and mysterious lakes tucked into a long, glacial valley fringed by forest.

There’s a 1000-year-old round tower, a ruined cathedral and the tiny church known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. It was founded in the late 6th century by St Kevin, a bishop who established a monastery on the Upper Lake’s southern shore.

You May Also Enjoy Top Ten Things to do in Wicklow with Kids

Dark Hedges, Antrim

The Dark Hedges

Image © Tourism Northern Ireland

Made famous by being included in a scene in Game of Thrones (when Arya Stark disguised as a boy travels in a cart north on the King’s Road) this striking avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century and was intended to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.

Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. There’s free parking at Hedges Estate Hotel nearby, with the Dark Hedges a short walk away.

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Giant’s Causeway, Antrim

Giant's Causeway

© Christopher Hill Photographic +44 (0)2890 245038

Follow in the footsteps of giants at the Giants Causeway, flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs. The Grand Causeway is the largest of three rock outcrops which make up the Giant’s Causeway. These collections of curious columns contributed to the causeway being designated Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.

Enjoy the Visitor Centre, then be sure to follow the small path leading towards the sea which takes you to what is perhaps the bay’s most famous feature – the Giant’s Boot. Apparently lost by Finn as he fled from the wrath of Scottish giant, Benandonner, the boot is reputed to be a size 93.5!

Then stop at the Wishing Chair, a natural throne formed from a perfectly arranged set of columns. Then peek out at Finn McCool’s Camel, the only steed capable of carrying the giant across long distances, now turned to stone. The Camel is actually a basaltic dyke, formed from cooling lava which has pushed its way through other layers of rock.

And for the very active, take the Cliff-top Experience, a fully guided 5-mile hike from the ruins of Dunseverick Castle along the cliffs high above the causeway.

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Terra Nova Fairy Garden, Limerick

terra nova fairy garden

Terra Nova Fairy Garden near Kilmallock is a beautifully designed and richly planted, award winning garden set in the Golden Vale of Co. Limerick. Packed to the brim with plants and personality, come and meet the fairies and feel the magic for yourself.

Kilfane Glen, Kilkenny

Kilfane Glen and Waterfall is romantic garden dating from the 1790s. Untouched for 200 years, it is a picturesque paradise with a waterfall tumbling its way to a rushing stream and woodland paths leading to a cottage orné. Tiny bridges sit among ancient trees, wild foxgloves and ferns.

You May Also Enjoy Top Ten Things to do in Kilkenny with Kids

Giant’s Walk, Mayo

land of giants

Follow the Giant’s Walk around Clare Lake in Claremorris, Co Mayo and you will see a towering yellow door, a red chair that belongs in the world of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant and an enormous set of keys that can never be lost, dangling from a random tree.

“Clare and Morris live here, but nobody has ever seen them, let us know if you see them”.

The Land of the Giants is a first for Ireland, its handcrafted wood features will guide you around the 4.5 km route. It is family-, buggy-, bike- and wheelchair- friendly and with a total distance of 5km and a flat terrain, it’s a great walk for all.

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Fairy Forest at Strokestown, Roscommon

strokestown woodland

Image courtesy of Val Robus

Val Robus recommended the Woodland Walk at Strokestown Park . It’s a gentle stroll through the woods to spot a worry tree, a wishing tree and a rag tree. You’ll find evidence of fairies are all around the woodland walk, some of the trees even have faces! It’s the perfect place for children of all ages. Look out for the sculptures created by local schools as part of a creative sculpture competition.

You May Also Enjoy Great Family Walks in Roscommon

Erica’s Fairy Forest, Cavan

erica's fairy forest

Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill, Cavan was created by her parents Natasha and Ciaran to honour Erica’s memory and her unshakable belief in fairies and magical kingdoms. It is also a thank you to the people of Cootehill and surrounding areas whose love and support was never ending throughout Erica’s journey.

You May Also Enjoy Places to Find Magical Fairy Trails in Ireland

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About the Author: Jill Holtz

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unique places to visit ireland

40 Insanely Cool And Unique Places You Need To Visit Before Your Friends Do

Nate

Beyond the United States, I haven’t traveled much. Now that I think about it, even within the United States, my traveling experience has been limited to the cities where I’ve done stand-up. That’s not to say I haven’t seen a lot of cool places , but there are still so many places I’d love to visit and things I’d love to see. Some might call them bucket-list travel destinations. I’d agree.

These cool places are pretty remarkable, and when you see them, you can’t help but bask in the awe and wonder of the world we’re living in. It’s an excellent reminder that this world is amazing sometimes. That’s why seeking out the good stuff while we’re here is essential.

If you’re in need of inspiration, might I recommend some of these unique places ? Even if you can’t make it there, these pictures will fill the void. For now, at least.

1. A Roman Sea Side Swimming Pool

unique places to visit ireland

2. A Magnificent View Of Cliffs Of Moher, Ireland

unique places to visit ireland

3. The View From The Istanbul University Library

unique places to visit ireland

4. The Golden Rays Of The Sunset Entered The Cave At Just The Right Angle To Light Up This Section Of Ice, Making It Look Like Amber

unique places to visit ireland

5. An Aerial View On Tulip Fields, Netherlands

unique places to visit ireland

6. Chicago Skyline Visible From Nearly 50 Miles Away In Indiana Dunes Sunset

unique places to visit ireland

7. Vilnius Has Put Up A Statue That Offers A “Portal” To The Polish City Of Lublin, Allowing People To See Each Other In Real Time

unique places to visit ireland

8. This Pool Full Of Crystals In Nettlebed Cave, New Zealand. It’s Hundreds Of Metres Below The Ground, Far Beyond Where Natural Light Has Ever Penetrated

unique places to visit ireland

9. Great View Of The Great Pyramid

unique places to visit ireland

10. Say Hello To America’s Newest National Park, New River Gorge National Park, WV!

unique places to visit ireland

11. The Eruption Of The Fagradalsfjall Volcano, Iceland

unique places to visit ireland

12. Italian Town Of Portofino

unique places to visit ireland

13. This Amazing View In Cappadocia, Turkey

unique places to visit ireland

14. This Is What Sunset Looks Like From Space

unique places to visit ireland

15. The View From The Top Of The World, Mount Everest

unique places to visit ireland

16. Iceland View

unique places to visit ireland

17. This Is A Real Picture Taken By Photographer Keinichi Ohno. It’s A Single Photo Of A Bird Standing At The Edge Of Some Water With A Wall And Its Reflection Creating A Fascinating Optical Illusion

unique places to visit ireland

18. Soccer Pitch In Greenland

unique places to visit ireland

19. No Idea That There Was Another Larger Mountain Behind The Sign

unique places to visit ireland

20. Mosaics Of A Roman Villa Were Found Under A Vineyard In Negrar, Italy

unique places to visit ireland

21. A Literal Boulder House In Portugal

unique places to visit ireland

22. The Place Where Julius Caesar Was Murdered Is Now A Sanctuary For Cats

unique places to visit ireland

23. Bird’s Eye View Of Venice

unique places to visit ireland

24. Entrance To A Furniture Store My Dad And Stepmom Checked Out Today

unique places to visit ireland

25. This Breathtaking View In Granada, Spain

unique places to visit ireland

26. Sphinx, Back View

unique places to visit ireland

27. here’s Cities, There’s Metropolises, And Then There’s Tokyo

unique places to visit ireland

28. The “Black Crack” Along Utah’s White Rim Trail, A Natural Fissure In The Rock A Few Feet Wide And Deep Enough To Kill You

unique places to visit ireland

29. A Strange Black House In The Middle Of The Town

unique places to visit ireland

30. Photo Of A Residential Subdivision In Dubai, United Arab Emirates

unique places to visit ireland

31. Bird’s Eye View Of Amsterdam

unique places to visit ireland

32. Aerial View Of The Pyramids Of Egypt

unique places to visit ireland

33. Before And After Of The Excavation Of The Ancient Greek Stadium

unique places to visit ireland

34. A Town In Norway Surrounded By Mountains Uses Three Giant Mirrors To Get A Little Bit Of Sunlight For Six Otherwise Dark Months Of The Year

unique places to visit ireland

35. Top View Of The Pyramid Of Khafre In Egypt

unique places to visit ireland

36. Eco House Merisi, A Hotel In Georgia With Amazing Views Throughout Seasons

unique places to visit ireland

37. Night View Of Yokohama City, Japan

unique places to visit ireland

38. Iceland Hvitserkur

unique places to visit ireland

39. Aerial View Of Holland’s Tulip Fields

unique places to visit ireland

40. Aerial Picture Of An Uncontacted Amazon Tribe

unique places to visit ireland

Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at natecomedy.com.

IMAGES

  1. 20 most incredible places to visit in Ireland

    unique places to visit ireland

  2. 8 places you must visit in Ireland

    unique places to visit ireland

  3. 20 most incredible places to visit in Ireland

    unique places to visit ireland

  4. 25 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

    unique places to visit ireland

  5. 20 most incredible places to visit in Ireland

    unique places to visit ireland

  6. Famous Landmarks in Ireland: The Ones You Should Visit!

    unique places to visit ireland

VIDEO

  1. TOP 25 Places to Visit in Ireland

  2. Top 10 Best Places To Visit In Ireland

  3. Places in Ireland that don’t feel real

  4. The Top 10 Ireland Points of Interest to Visit in 2016

COMMENTS

  1. 188 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Ireland

    Discover 188 hidden attractions, cool sights, and unusual things to do in Ireland from The Long Room Library at Trinity College to Saint Audoen's Gate .

  2. 33 Best Places to Visit in Ireland (2024 Edition)

    1. Coumshingaun Lough (Waterford) Photos via Shutterstock We tend to get a lot of emails from tourists asking where to go in Ireland for the best views. One of the places that I tend to recommend first is Coumshingaun in County Waterford. It's on the Coumshingaun Lake Walk that you'll see the view in the photo above all for yourself.

  3. 32 Best Things to do in Ireland (2024 Bucket List)

    If you're looking for unique things to do in Ireland, carve out some time to see the Caves of Keash (ancient passage tombs that predate the Pyramids of Egypt) and the Devil's Chimney (one of Ireland's highest waterfalls). Related Read: Check out our guide to 36 of the best things to do in Sligo in 2024. 4. The Causeway Coastal Route

  4. IRISH BUCKET LIST: 25 BEST things to do in Ireland before you die

    21. Sean's Bar, Athlone, Co. Westmeath - a pint in the oldest bar in the world 20. Leap Castle, Co. Offaly - the world's most-haunted castle 19. Riverdance - to see Ireland's iconic dance 18. Glenoe Waterfall, Co. Antrim - Ireland's most beautiful waterfall 17. Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry - one of the best places to visit in Ireland 16.

  5. 10 best places to visit in Ireland

    Taste the world-famous Irish drink at Guinness Storehouse, enjoy the sights on Big Bus Dublin Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, or discover Dublinʼs oldest building, Christ Church Cathedral - the choice is yours! 1. Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal Best place for a road trip

  6. 17 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

    Dublin Dingle Peninsula Killarney Cliffs of Moher Iveragh Peninsula Sligo Cork Kinsale Galway Glenveagh National Park Inishowen Peninsula Connemara National Park Aran Islands Kilkenny Waterford...

  7. 60 unique things to do in Ireland after lockdown

    23rd May 2020 Written by Kerry 2 I know that by now most of us are raring to get outside and start adventuring again. While we're not quite there just yet, we can still dream! So I've put together a list of 60 of the best and most unique things to do in Ireland that will provide plenty of inspiration for when we can travel again.

  8. Unique Experiences You'll Find Only in Ireland

    1 | Take on the epic wooden rollercoaster in Emerald Park Scream at the top of your lungs on the biggest wooden rollercoaster in Europe with an inversion at Meath's Emerald Park.

  9. 21 most beautiful places in Ireland

    Antonia Windsor | Destination Expert | Sunday July 3 2022, 06:48am From the dramatic cliffs, remote islands and atmospheric towns of the Wild Atlantic Way to the fairytale castles, craggy mountains...

  10. 20 most incredible places to visit in Ireland

    Macgillycuddy's Reeks mountains and Loe River. It lies to the west of Killarney National Park, squeezed between Purple Mountain and the high summits of the Macgillycuddy Reeks (Ireland's highest mountain range). Time lapse shot made in 4K/Ultra High Definition. Take a pony and trap ride with a local for an authentic experience, or walk the Gap ...

  11. 16 Unique Things to Do in Ireland

    1. Stay at Dromoland Castle Live your own Downtown Abbey experience at the 5-star Dromoland Castle in County Clare! Easily one of the more luxuriously unique things to do in Ireland. Get greeted with champagne at this gothic revival castle before getting escorted to your unique and lavish room.

  12. 20 Best Places to Visit in Ireland, According to Locals

    01 of 20 Dublin Jamie Ditaranto/Travel + Leisure There's a good chance you'll start your Irish adventure in Dublin, home to Dublin Castle, Trinity College Dublin, the National Museum of...

  13. 10 MOST unique things to do in Ireland in 2024

    If so, these are the ten most unique things to do in Ireland. Unique facts about Ireland: 10. Visit the Newgrange Ancient Observatory, Co, Meath - take a step back in time. 9. Get a taste of Egypt at the Howard Mausoleum, Co. Wicklow - the final resting place of an influential Irish family. 8.

  14. Ireland Off the Beaten Path: 17 Secret Spots + Hidden Gems

    While touristic highlights like the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and Giant's Causeway are beautiful, there's something special about curling up in a small village pub for a meal, admiring a historic ruin with no other souls around, or staring out over the gorgeous coast without hundreds of other people nearby.

  15. The 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL & MAGICAL places to see in Ireland

    13. Rock of Cashel - a historic castle 12. Connemara - Ireland's western beauty 11. Aran Islands - a window to Ireland's past 10. Killarney National Park - beautiful waterfalls and stunning lakes 9. Hook Lighthouse - the world's oldest operational lighthouse 8. Newgrange - experience the winter solstice

  16. 12 Best Hidden Gems in Ireland: Unique Places to Visit in Ireland

    Here's your in-depth guide to the best hidden gems in Ireland. 1. Gleninchaquin Park, County Kerry. Gleninchaquin Park is the epitome of Ireland's natural splendor. Nestled in the heart of County Kerry, this park is a haven for those seeking tranquility and awe-inspiring landscapes.

  17. 46 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Dublin

    Discover 46 hidden attractions, cool sights, and unusual things to do in Dublin from The Long Room Library at Trinity College to Dublinia.

  18. Top 20 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Ireland

    Ilnacullin (Garinish Island) is a top-rated tourist attraction in Ireland, known for its natural beauty and scenery. You will find wonderful tropical plants, beautiful Italian gardens, and the distinctive Martello Tower here. Things To Do in Cork. Kiss the world-famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle.

  19. Unforgettable Unique and Iconic Things to Do in Ireland

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  20. 11 Hidden Gems in Ireland to Add to Your Next Trip

    Dunmore Cave is located near Kilkenny in southeast Ireland. It is a unique attraction that deserves a visit. This cave system was formed over 300 million years ago and has a fascinating history ...

  21. Most Unique Places To Visit In Ireland

    Unsurprisingly, the most unique places to visit in Ireland include famous attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, but there is so much more to see outside these well-known places. Here are 20 of the most unique places to visit in Ireland. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If a product is purchased using one of the following ...

  22. 45 Unique and Unusual Places in Ireland to Visit With Kids

    The Hungry Tree in Dublin is located on the grounds of The Honorable Society of King's Inns, Ireland's oldest school of law. This 80-year-old London Plane tree is currently in the process of "eating" a cast-iron bench. As the tree has grown, it has overtaken and swallowed parts of the structure in its way.

  23. Top 10 UNUSUAL and UNIQUE places to stay in IRELAND

    Riversdale Farm B&B and Boat Buildings, Co. Leitrim - experience an unforgettable stay on the water. 5. The Lodges at Kilkea Castle, Co. Kildare - an opulent countryside escape. 4. Rock Farm Glamping, Co. Meath - for glamping in the country. 3. The Rusty Mackerel, Co. Donegal - stay in a traditional Irish pub. 2.

  24. 21+ INCREDIBLE Places to visit in IRELAND (2023 ...

    21+ of my favourite places in Ireland that I think you should add to your 2023 Travel Bucket List. As an Irish girl, born and bread. I know a thing or two ab...

  25. 40 Insanely Cool And Unique Places You Need To Visit Before Your Friends Do

    27. here's Cities, There's Metropolises, And Then There's Tokyo. 28. The "Black Crack" Along Utah's White Rim Trail, A Natural Fissure In The Rock A Few Feet Wide And Deep Enough To Kill You. 29. A Strange Black House In The Middle Of The Town. 30.