Ireland is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. It’s a nation with a rich history, inviting culture, and lots of cultural attractions. If you’re interested in visiting a country that is known all over the world, then Ireland should be at the top of your list.
If you do intend on visiting Ireland, Dublin will most likely be your first stop. Allow yourself a few days to explore the beautiful Irish capital and its charming street, stopping for a pint of Guinness along the way of course!
Further afield from Dublin, there are some fantastic places in Ireland that you can’t miss. Ireland’s breathtaking land and sea views, with its sheer cliffs, colourful towns, and snug pubs, have made the country famous globally. Are you ready to discover the Emerald Isle? Here are 7 of the top spots to visit in Ireland, so you can carefully plan out your trip.
1. Waterford Castle
Waterford Castle isn’t somewhere that you’ll want to miss. It is one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland, set on a 310-acre island. The castle’s construction is dated to the 16th century. In addition to functioning as a hotel, the castle also has a nearby golf course, a bar, and a restaurant. Activities like falconry and clay pigeon shooting are available for an additional cost. You can still visit even if you aren’t a guest, accessing the castle’s facilities. It’s a great place to base yourself if you are taking a vacation in Ireland.
2. Croagh Patrick
If you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, then you might want to visit Croagh Patrick, located in County Mayo. It has one of Ireland’s most stunning hiking trails. It has been a destination for pilgrims for several thousand years and is considered to be Ireland’s holiest mountain. If you aren’t a skilled hiker, then you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need to reach the mountain’s summit to get fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. If you do want to challenge yourself, however, then you should definitely try to reach the mountain’s summit.
3. Cliffs of Moher
Another great outdoor activity is to visit (and hike) the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher were voted Ireland’s favourite visitor attraction for 2019/20 by the Independent newspaper’s reader. The Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking. So much so in fact, that they have featured in many films, including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the Princess Bride. There is a visitor centre there, where you can go for a cup of tea, or just to chat to the staff about the cliff’s formation and history. It should definitely be on your list of places to see, on your visit to Ireland. You won’t regret seeing the cliff.
Cobh is one of Ireland’s most beautiful harbour towns. Many of the town’s houses are pastel-coloured, giving it a distinctly “beachy” vibe. Cobh was the last town visited by the Titanic. Unsurprisingly, the town has a memorial to the 123 passengers that boarded from Cobh. If you want to learn about their fates, then you’ll have to visit the town. The town also has a cathedral there, Cobh Cathedral. It is beautifully built and designed and was finished in 1919. It is the cathedral church of the local Roman Catholic diocese. Admission to the cathedral is free, so give it a visit.
5. Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle is another of Ireland’s most beautiful and historic castles. The castle was built shortly after the Normans invaded in 1195, though it has been used by many other people since then. In fact, it has been used nearly constantly for 800 years, by different ruling dynasties and tribes. It is within an hour’s drive of Dublin, making it a great place to go if you are basing yourself in the capital. Busses will take you there directly. Failing that, you could always rent a car and travel to the castle yourself. The Irish countryside is fantastic and well worth a visit.
6. Galway City
Galway City is Europe’s friendliest city, according to a 2020 traveller survey. It’s Ireland’s “cultural heart” with a variety of bars, restaurants, and historical sites that are worth visiting. One of the most intriguing locations in the city is its Spanish Arch, found in the Latin Quarter. If you are wondering why an Irish city would have a Latin Quarter, then the answer is quite simple. Because of Galway’s coastal location and natural harbour, trade links were established with Portugal and Spain. Sailors and merchants lived in Galway, carving out their own district in the city. Unfortunately, Galway’s diversity came to an end when Oliver Cromwell arrived, but was reinvigorated in the 1990’s.
7. Hook Lighthouse
Finally, we arrive at Hook Lighthouse. Hook Lighthouse is one of Ireland’s most popular photo spots, located on the Hook Peninsula in Wexford. It was built approximately 800 years ago and is one of the world’s oldest operating lighthouses.
There’s nowhere in the world like Ireland. It is one of the world’s friendliest and happiest nations. It is also one of the safest. If you are looking for somewhere to go on your summer vacation this year, then Ireland deserves some consideration.