The Top 10 Must-See Places to Visit in Ireland

Ireland is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. From the centuries-old castles to the breathtaking cliffs along the coast, Ireland has so much to offer visitors. If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, be sure to include these top 10 must-see destinations on your itinerary.

1. The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most iconic sights. These majestic cliffs rise 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean along the southwest coast. When you stand atop the cliffs, you can admire the sheer beauty of the rugged landscape with amazing views of the Twelve Pins Mountains to the north, the Maumturks Mountains to the northeast, and Loop Head Peninsula to the south.

The Cliffs of Moher stretch for nearly 5 miles. One of the most popular spots is O’Brien’s Tower, a 19th century viewing point perched precariously close to the edge of the cliffs. As you walk along the designated trails, relish the sea breeze blowing through your hair. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Aran Islands located just off the coast of County Galway.

Don’t forget to look down at the awe-inspiring views of the crashing ocean waves and impressive sea stacks dotting the coastline below the Cliffs of Moher. You may even spot dolphins or whales swimming and playing in the waters below! The Cliffs of Moher are best enjoyed slowly with time to take in the breathtaking vistas at every step.

Top Tip: Escape the crowds by starting your visit at the south side of the cliffs. Then work your way north along the trails for more solitary experience taking in the natural beauty.

The Cliffs of Moher are undoubtedly one of the top attractions to visit in Ireland. But there’s much more to enjoy in this region of County Clare beyond the cliffs themselves. Make time to explore some of the charming towns and villages nearby.

In Doolin, stop into one of the village’s famous live music pubs like McGann’s or O’Connor’s Pub where nightly live traditional Irish music will get you taping your toes. Enjoy delicious fresh seafood at restaurants like Ballinalacken Castle, Fisherstreet, or Steam Café that all offer patio seating overlooking Doolin Harbour. In Lisdoonvarna, visit the Matchmaking Festival each September to celebrate the town’s history of matchmaking and enjoy live music events.

Nature lovers will appreciate the Doolin Cave just a couple miles from the Cliffs of Moher. Take a guided tour through the enormous chambers and past towering stalagmites and stalactites. Or for sweeping sea views minus the crowds, hike along the Doolin Cliff Walk stretching from Doolin Pier to Fisherstreet Beach. The Cliffs of Moher promise jaw-dropping vistas, but save time to explore the region’s charms too

2. The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most spectacular medieval sites. This grand castle complex sits prominently on a limestone rock outcropping overlooking the green plains of County Tipperary.

Also known as St. Patrick’s Rock, this historic site was once the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster. The Rock of Cashel contains a number of fantastic medieval ruins dating from the 10th through the 12th centuries. The oldest structure is the round tower that was likely built around 1100. Other highlights include the 13th century Gothic cathedral, a 15th century castle, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, and the majestic Cormac’s Chapel built in the native Irish Hiberno-Romanesque style.

Inside the chapel, don’t miss seeing the remarkable frescoes and stone carvings that have survived from the 12th and 13th centuries. Beyond the formal structures, the views of the surrounding Tipperary countryside itself are worth the visit alone. The Rock of Cashel offers a peek into Ireland’s medieval past with ruins and relics in a gorgeous setting.

The Rock of Cashel’s imposing medieval ruins stir the imagination about Ireland’s history and legends. Beyond the formal structures, you’ll find even more to explore on the grounds and in the surrounding areas.

On site, don’t miss visiting the small but worthy museum within the Hall of the Vicars Choral. It contains archaeological artifacts, photographs, and replicas that further tell the story of Cashel’s medieval history. For some hands-on fun, partake in one of the interactive workshops to practice medieval skills like writing with quills or creating stained glass.

In town, pop into the Bolton Library adjacent to the Rock to admire its gorgeous architecture and one of the largest collections of rare books in Ireland. The Brú Ború Cultural Centre hosts traditional Irish music and dance performances to experience after visiting the Rock. The Rock of Cashel rewards visitors who take time to delve deeper into its history and culture.

Top Tip: Time your visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday crowds. The site is less packed during these times, allowing you to better immerse yourself in the history and ambiance of the Rock of Cashel.

3. The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is one of the most scenic driving routes in Ireland that takes you along the dramatic coastlines of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry.

This 110-mile loop offers marvelous views of beaches,boggy lowlands, soaring mountains, lush forests, and quaint villages dotted with colorful building facades. Starting from Killarney, the Ring of Kerry runs in a clockwise direction along the scenic highlights of the peninsula.

Must-see stops around the Ring of Kerry route include the beach views at Rossbeigh Strand, Kells Bay House and Gardens, Skelligs Chocolate Factory, Staigue Fort dating from the Iron Age, and Derrynane House set on 60 acres of historic gardens and walking trails. From Waterville, you can take a boat tour to see the Skellig Islands, two imposing rock formations rising out of the ocean. The Ring of Kerry offers the opportunity to experience Ireland’s legendary rural landscapes all in one memorable road trip.

While traveling the Ring of Kerry, you’ll want to incorporate stops along the way for the best experience of this popular scenic drive. At Killorglin, stop at the stately 15th century Ballycarbery Castle that offers self-guided tours of the castle ruins and adjacent medieval ringfort. In the town of Caherdaniel, learn about the region’s history at Derrynane House, the 19th century ancestral home of politician Daniel O’Connell that sits on a scenic 250 acre estate.

Nature lovers will appreciate the Killarney National Park with its mountains, valleys, gardens, waterfalls, and historic mansion. The town of Portmagee is the departure point for boat tours out to the ethereal Skellig Islands, two small islands off the Kerry coast with 6th century monasteries and puffin colonies. From Kenmare, you can opt for a relaxing cruise through Kenmare Bay to spot seals or dolphins. The Ring of Kerry offers both incredible coastal scenery and opportunities for immersing yourself in Irish culture and history.

Top Tip: Drive the route in a counter-clockwise direction to avoid tour buses only going clockwise. And allow 2-3 days minimum to explore the many scenic pull-offs, towns, and activities along the full Ring.

4. Dublin

**Dublin offers visitors the best of Irish urban life. As the capital and largest city in Ireland, Dublin is rich in culture, nightlife, shopping, and historic sights. With its pedestrian-friendly streets, the city center is perfect to explore by foot. **

Must-see attractions include Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Temple Bar cultural district, and the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library. Go on a walking tour to see statues honoring Irish cultural heroes scattered around O’Connell Street and the city center. Stop for a pint at one of Dublin’s storied pubs like The Brazen Head that has been serving drinks since 1198. Treat yourself to an Irish coffee at a cozy café while listening to live music featuring traditional Irish instruments like the fiddle and tin whistle.

You’ll find first-rate museums such as the National Museum of Ireland, National Gallery of Ireland, and exhibits at EPIC, the Irish emigration museum. Just outside Dublin, visitors can tour the Guinness Brewery and the historic Malahide Castle. Whether you seek Irish history, architecture, art, literature, food, or good old pub culture, Dublin delivers.

As a cosmopolitan capital city, there are endless highlights to experience in Dublin beyond the well known attractions. For literary fans, Dublin offers several excellent tours and sites related to Ireland’s world renowned writers. The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl offers a fun walking tour stopping at pubs connected to famous authors and storytellers.

The Dublin Writer’s Museum highlights the city’s literary history through original manuscripts and fascinating memorabilia. Literary walking tours can take you to see the childhood homes of Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde and the historic Dublin Writers Museum. To soak up more learning, visit Trinity College’s opulent Old Library and Long Room housing 200,000 ancient texts.

For a creepy thrill, join a walking tour of Dublin’s dark supernatural history. You’ll hear chilling tales about plagues, murders, hauntings and more as you walk past related landmarks. Dublin also boasts over 10 world-class museums covering subjects from decorative arts, archaeology, and history to sports, Transport and railways, and modern visual arts. Allocate ample free time in Dublin to fully experience its rich history, culture, pubs, and limitless attractions.

Top Tip: Purchase the Dublin Pass for free entry to over 35 attractions plus discounts on dining and shopping.

5. Galway

On the west coast, Galway charms visitors with its laid-back energy and artsy vibe. Galway city center feels intimate and welcoming with its pedestrian walkways, colorful shops, restaurants, and traditional pubs where you’ll often hear live music.

Top attractions include Lynch’s Castle, the Church of St. Nicholas, and the Spanish Arch landmark. It’s also worth venturing to the trendy Galway Market offering crafts, gourmet food, and street performances. Just outside the city, visitors can explore the mystical landscape of Connemara including the Inagh Valley and Maumturks Mountains.

Make time for a boat tour to the Aran Islands located off Galway’s coast to learn about their ancient Celtic settlements and uncrowded beaches. Galway shines each summer when artists from around the globe flock here for the Galway International Arts Festival featuring theater, music, and comedy acts. Galway delivers small city character and beauty by the bay.

Galway city perfectly combines its history and culture with a lively modern vibe. In addition to seeing the historic Spanish Arch site, visit Galway City Museum to learn about the city’s heritage through interactive displays. The iconic Lynch’s Castle with its stone façade now contains a branch of Allied Irish Bank and a small museum displaying the building’s history.

For cutting edge art, stop by the Galway Arts Centre that promotes contemporary art through exhibits, workshops, and events. Walking tours like the Galway Food Tour and Galway Ghost Walk both provide great overviews of the city combined with tasty samplings and spooky tales respectively. Just outside Galway city, the haunting beauty of Connemara National Park awaits with mountains, bogs, and flowering heathers. Galway offers the ideal blend of history, culture, food, music and nature.

Top Tip: Book accommodations along the east side of the River Corrib for scenic views of Galway Bay and easy access to the Latin Quarter’s shops and dining.

6. Glenveagh National Park

For those seeking wilderness and nature, Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal should top your list. Glenveagh encompasses some of Ireland’s most stunning mountainous scenery and pristine lakes.

This park protects over 170 square kilometers of dramatic landscapes. Within Glenveagh National Park, you can explore oak woodlands, lush gardens near Glenveagh Castle, cascading waterfalls, tranquil lakes, and the Poisoned Glen with its eerie rock formations.

Keep your eyes peeled for the park’s wildlife including golden eagles soaring overheard, red deer that roam grassy fields, and endangered fish like the pollan found in Lough Beagh. Popular activities in Glenveagh National Park include scenic driving, cycling, hiking the remote wilderness, and guided walks and tours. Visitors can also tour elegant Glenveagh Castle set on the shore of glistening Lough Veagh surrounded by enchanting gardens.

Covering over 170 square kilometers, Glenveagh National Park offers endless adventures among Ireland’s most pristine wilderness in County Donegal. Must-see highlights include Glenveagh Castle and Gardens. This 19th century castle was built in Scottish Baronial style on the shores of Lough Veagh surrounded by hundreds of years old oak woodlands. Tour the castle’s elegant rooms and stroll through the serene gardens.

For an unforgettable wilderness experience, book an overnight guided tour hiking, camping, and exploring in remote areas of the park. The dedicated guides will introduce you to beautiful vistas and fascinating ecology few tourists get to access. Cyclists visiting Glenveagh will find paradise pedaling along the quiet country roads that wind past lakes and sheep-dotted green meadows fringed by the Derryveagh Mountains. With its majestic scenery and endless outdoor pursuits, Glenveagh National Park promises to delight nature lovers.

Top Tip: Pack a lunch and picnicking gear to fully embrace the natural beauty at one of the park’s picnic areas overlooking scenic Lough Veagh.

7. The Burren, Ireland

The Burren is a unique geographical region located in northwest County Clare known for its otherworldly landscapes and rare flora. This striking area consists of a rocky plateau made of exposed karst limestone stretching for over 150 square kilometers.

This unusual environment gives rise to diverse colorful wildflowers, unusual rock formations, underground caves, and many archaeological sites. Must-see sites in the Burren include the imposing Poulnabrone Dolmen portal tomb, Aillwee Cave featuring an underground river, and the ruins of medieval Corcomroe Abbey set in a peaceful valley.

Don’t miss a visit to the Cliffs of Moher marking the southern edges of the Burren’s strata. Popular activities in the Burren include cycling along marked trails that traverse the rocky terrain, guided walks exploring the region’s ecology and archaeology, and rock climbing the area’s sea cliffs and crags. Embrace your adventurous spirit amid the raw, exhilarating beauty of the Burren.

Top Tip: Visit the Burren Outdoor Education Centre in nearby Bellharbour for guided walks, climbing adventures, and interactive exhibits introducing the Burren’s ecology.

8. Newgrange, Ireland

As one of the world’s most famous prehistoric sites, Newgrange offers fascinating insights into Ireland’s ancient past. This Stone Age passage tomb located in County Meath dates back over 5,000 years making it older than the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and Stonehenge in England.

The grass-covered mound you see from the outside holds an ancient passageway and interior chamber constructed with remarkable precision. During the winter solstice each December, sunlight pierces the inner tomb, illuminating it for 17 minutes. Brave walking into the pitch-black interior to experience the ancient vibe and admire the medieval carvings etched into the walls.

In addition to Newgrange, you can explore nearby Knowth and Dowth passage tombs that also predate the Egyptian pyramids. The mysteries and spiritual aura surrounding these sacred places hint at just how advanced yet mystifying Ireland’s earliest inhabitants were. A visit to Newgrange and its sister sites connects you to Ireland’s ancient past in a powerful way.

Top Tip: Only the winter solstice and tours let you inside Newgrange’s interior, so book your tickets well in advance online.

9. Giants Causeway, Ireland

With its mind-boggling rock formations sculpted by nature, the Giants Causeway is Northern Ireland’s top tourist attraction located on the scenic Causeway Coast. More than 40,000 interlocking basalt rock columns rise in geometric patterns from the sea, creating a magical landscape.

The tallest columns reach nearly 40 feet high. As you wander the seaside trails, spot pillars with fanciful names like the Wishing Chair, the Giant’s Boot, and the Organ. Irish legend claims these mythic rock formations resulted from a giant called Fionn building stepping stones to Scotland to fight his rival giant Benandonner. Hearing the geological explanations behind the Giant’s Causeway’s formation only adds to its sense of wonder.

Beyond the unique rock structures, visitors can admire sweeping coastal views of heavy waves crashing against the rocks and blustery sea breeze swirling around you. Even in the most crowded times, it’s easy to feel small surrounded by the vastness of nature at the Giant’s Causeway.

Top Tip: Arrive in time for sunset when the rocks take on a whole new light and color as the sun dips below the horizon.

10. Grafton Street

No visit to Dublin would be complete without some time spent strolling along lively Grafton Street in the heart of the city center. This bustling pedestrian shopping street features major department stores, colorful street performers, and musicians creating an energy and buzz unique to Dublin.

While exploring the shops, boutiques, and traditional pubs, keep your eyes peeled for statues of iconic Irish writers and cultural figures scattered around Grafton Street. Must-see stops include the�famed Molly Malone statue and Trinity College with the Book of Kells on the northern end. On the southern end, you’ll find St. Stephen’s Green, a tranquil city park boasting fountains, sculptures, and gorgeous landscaping.

The best way to experience Grafton Street is to wander slowly, soaking up the electric atmosphere. Pop into stores that catch your eye, chat with buskers and street artists, relax at an outdoor café, and embrace the charming character of Grafton Street.

Top Tip: Visit on a Thursday or Friday to peruse stalls at the Temple Bar Food Market featuring tasty creations by local chefs and artisanal producers.


Ireland offers travelers endless opportunities to embrace cultural wonders, wild natural beauty, and charismatic cities all on one magical island. As you consider your own must-see list, keep these final Ireland travel tips in mind.

Slow Down and Linger

Give yourself ample time at each stop rather than racing from one sight to the next. Linger over morning tea at a B&B, get lost wandering medieval streets, hike remote trails, or relax with a pint at a local pub. By immersing yourself in each place, you’ll gain a deeper connection to Ireland’s charms.

Savor Local Food and Music

Irish pubs, restaurants, cafes, and markets let you sample regional specialties like freshly caught seafood, farmhouse cheeses, smoked fish, and traditional breads and cakes. Seek out live music to experience Ireland’s musical soul with Trad sessions, singer-songwriters, Irish folk, or get your feet tapping to energetic Celtic punk rock.

Meet the Locals

Some of the richest travel moments happen through serendipitous conversations with locals like the musician you chat with on the bus or the barman who shares funny stories. Ask for tips, soak up different perspectives, and forge real connections.

See Both City and Country

Balance cosmopolitan Dublin and Galway with Ireland’s small towns and rural landscapes. Meander country roads to find quaint village pubs, towering seaside cliffs, and sheep-dotted green fields that reflect Ireland’s magical allure.

Pack for the Weather

Irish weather is famously unpredictable so come prepared. Bring waterproof outer layers as well as warm woolens and scarves. Hats, gloves, and waterproof hiking boots will keep you comfortable exploring ruins and wild landscapes. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Splurge on Special Experiences

Make your Ireland trip truly special by booking at least one indulgent activity like an elegant castle or manor stay, private guided tour, fantastic meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or round of golf on an iconic seaside course.

See Both Republic and Northern Ireland

To fully appreciate the diversity of Irish history, culture, and scenery, visit both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway, Belfast attractions, and scenic coastal drives in the North complete the picture.

Visit Less-Touristed Sites

While popular spots like Newgrange do get crowded, you can discover hidden gems like the ancient monastic site of Glendalough, seaside village of Kinsale, medieval town of Kilkenny, and remote destinations along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

Embrace Spontaneity

Leave room for unexpected detours and adventures you stumble across like an impromptu ceilidh, chatting with a tweed weaver, or hearing legends from a wise old Irishman in a pub. Spontaneity makes for the most magical memories.

However you choose to experience Ireland’s top sites and hidden charms, embrace your spirit of adventure. Let the emerald landscape, musical language, timeless pubs, historic castles, and warm people touch your heart to create treasured memories of your own Irish bliss.

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