Beautiful landscapes, scenic views, and vast history are just some of the reasons Ireland sees nearly 10 million visitors yearly. Known by many as the ‘Emerald Isle’, Ireland’s praise has been sung by the likes of Jonny Cash, Daniel Day-Lewis, and even the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte had this to say:
“After a short sojourn in the capital – went to the coast – such a wild iron-bound coast – with such an ocean-view as I had not yet seen – and such battling of waves with rocks as I had never imagined.”
Yet thousands of Irish people travel abroad each month. The CSO said that the number of trips made abroad by Irish people increased by 2.8% in the fourth quarter of 2019 which equals 2.435 million people travelling abroad. With the Government asking people to stay home this year and travel around Ireland for ‘staycations’ instead of travelling abroad we compiled a list of the 10 places in Ireland to visit that everyone must go see!
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Co Clare
Bunratty Castle is a must if you’re planning to travel around Ireland. It boasts 26 acres of woodland and fairy trails with a petting farm and gorgeous walled gardens. The castle itself has an interesting history that you see as you walk around it and the surrounding village. It’s a step back in history and a brilliant day out for the family. Tickets can be found here.
Stairway to heaven, Co Fermanagh
This wooden trail opened in 2015 to preserve the underlying peatland bog from erosion. The wooden trail is 7.5 kilometres and is part of the longer Legnabrocky trail. It is located on the border of Fermanagh and Cavan and is part of the Cuilcagh mountain. Once the trail was open the mountain saw a rise in visitors from 3,000 to 60,000 yearly. Something to be aware of, especially during Covid-19. Tickets can be found here. Make sure to book them in advance!
Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Co Antrim
This is one of those hidden gems in Ireland that not many Irish people go to but tourists love. Spanning at 20 metres across and 30 metres above the rocks below this one might not be for everyone, especially if you have a fear of heights. It’s owned by the National Trust and is open year-round. This is another area where looking into the history of the bridge adds to the experience. The National Trust is a conservation charity and makes sure that the bridge is not damaged with the number of tourists it sees yearly! In certain places where you can even see Rathlin Island and Scotland. Tickets can be found here.
Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare
This is one of the most picturesque places in Ireland. According to the Cliffs of Moher website, nearly 1.6 million visitors went to the Cliffs of Moher in 2019, which makes it in the top ten of most visited attractions in Ireland, coming in second place to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It’s not just the view that is breath-taking though. The hillside visitor centre shows a birds-eye view from the cliffs, a video from the underwater caves while covering the geology, history and flora and fauna of the area. For €8 per adult, this is a must-see of Ireland. Tickets for the visitor centre and car park can be found here.
Giants Causeway, Co Antrim
Preserved by the National Trust, Giants Causeway offers a view of the North Atlantic ocean that has been depicted by artists over the centuries. Walking the stones are free of charge but if you go through the visitor centre, you will get a guide who will bring you through the history and mythology that surrounds this beautiful cliff. There is also the Shepherds steps and hike along the cliff that gives you a birds-eye view of the gorgeous causeway coast. Tickets can be found here.
Doolin cave, Co Clare
It’s back to County Clare for another hidden gem. Aillwee Cave, also in Clare, is one of the oldest caves in Ireland which makes it a big tourist attraction. After visiting Doolin cave, I would say that it is just as impressive, if not more so. It is host to the longest free-standing stalactite in Europe and the third-longest in the world. The cave is 70 feet underground and takes 127 steps to get to the bottom. If the cave isn’t your thing though, there is an option of going on a farmland nature trail as well where you see rare and indigenous species of flowers and shrubs along with farmland animals. Tickets can be found here.
Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo
Croagh Patrick is a mountain in County Mayo that sees an estimated 100,000 climbers a year with 20,000 of those climbing on Reek Sunday in honour of Saint Patrick who was said to have climbed it in 441 AD. Standing at 764 metres, this could be considered a tough enough climb for some. The view at the top is well worth the struggle, though! The visitor centre has packed lunches, climbing sticks, maps, raingear, and anything else you might need for the climb. It is free to walk the mountain, so it makes it a cheap day out!
Kinsale, Co Cork
Kinsale is a historic port and fishing town in County Cork and has a variety of things to do and see. The best way to get the fullest experience of Kinsale would be to do a walking tour. This brings you around all of the most important parts of the area and is usually only 40 minutes long. It gives you that first look at the town so that you can look further into the aspects that interest you, whether that is historical tours, castles, galleries, sailing, kayaking or even scuba diving. The options are endless in this little town. It is also only 40 minutes away from Fota Wildlife Park in Cobh. Tickets for Fota can be found here.
National Stud, Co Kildare
This is more of a two for one deal as it is the Japanese Gardens as well as the National Stud. The Japanese gardens in Co Kildare were made to symbolise the ‘life of man’ and hold the title of the best Japanese Gardens in Europe. You see a lot for €13 as the Gardens join with the National Stud where all the racehorses of Ireland including the foals and the retired horses reside. Each paddock has the name of the horses and the history of them. There are tour guides available for the visit and it is just ten minutes from the Curragh racecourse. Tickets can be found here.
Titanic, Co Antrim
Officially opened in 2012, the Titanic, Belfast has been a fan favourite ever since. The building is more than 12,000 square metres has a variety of galleries, function rooms, and community facilities. It tells the now well-known story of the Titanic while giving more of understanding of the ship along with explaining where the myths and legends stem from. It’s also in the beautiful city of Belfast that is full of other things to do and see. Tickets for the Titanic can be found here.
We hope these 10 places to visit in Ireland helped you. If you’re looking for more around Ireland check these out –