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Must-See Destinations in Ireland

There are not many places in the world that compare to Ireland.

With its rich history, unique culture, literature, music, beer, whiskey, and sweeping panoramic landscapes.  It’s really something out of a storybook.  Once you go, you can’t wait to go back!!

Make no mistake…Ireland has so much to offer that it’s really impossible to capture it all in a simple list. However, if you’re planning to a trip anytime soon, this will help you get going in the right direction.  Here are a few must-see destinations in Ireland.

The Old Library and Book of Kells at Trinity College

Definitely a must-see for the history buff, a trip to the Old Library and Book of Kells Exhibit at Trinity College is a must. Journey back to around 800 A.D. when this famous manuscript was hand-written and illustrated by monks. The tours and storytelling of the people and times that provide context for the book’s creation are quite enjoyable and educational. The Old Trinity Library, with over 200,000 old books, is simply stunning. While you’re there, make sure you walk around and see Trinity College to soak in the magnificent architecture, lush gardens and historic sites.


Ring of Kerry, County Kerry

Much of what draws you to visit Ireland is the spectacular outdoor scenery.  There are so many rugged landscapes and natural beauty to be seen on this loop, that it might be unmatched anywhere in the world. Rent a car, or if you’re hard-core you can bike around the Ring of Kerry. If you drive, leave plenty of time to stop and take photos as you make your way around the ring. Go counter-clockwise if you have any fear of heights. The best thing about driving is setting your own pace, stopping whenever you want and finding that perfect road-side place for a meal or snack. If you have time, head over to the Island of Valentia for amazing 360 views from the summit of Geokaun Mountain and to see the incredible Fogher Cliffs.

Ring of Kerry Coastal

Guinness Storehouse, St. James Gate, Dublin

The Guinness Storehouse is probably the most popular place to visit in all of Dublin (and maybe #1 in Ireland). There are seven floors of dark bubbly fun to be had as you make your way up a giant pint glass-shaped atrium. It’s also a pretty cool place to share a selfie drinking your pint in the Gravity Bar, where you’ll be able to look out and see panoramic views of Dublin. Each of the seven floors tells a different part of Guinness history and how the beer is made and shipped worldwide. You’ll also get some tutoring on how to pour the perfect pint and cook with Guinness. While it can be very touristy and somewhat crowded, you have to go at least once and maybe even twice.


Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

One of the most prominent features in Northern Ireland is the UNESCO World Heritage site called the Giant’s Causeway. Here you will find an incredible display of more than 40,000 interlocking black basalt columns coming up from the sea. While there are some entertaining tales and legends about how the causeway of stones came to rest in this place, the truth is that it was formed by a volcanic eruption almost 60 million years ago. The photos do not do it justice, you have to go and take your camera for a somewhat bizarre and unforgettable day exploring the coastline. For the best results, see if you can go on a nice weather day. Wet and windy can be done, but you’ll appreciate the day more if it’s nice out.


St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

Without a doubt, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the best-kept Gothic-style European cathedrals in today’s modern world. While it serves as a very popular tourist attraction, historic site, and place of breathtaking architecture, St. Patrick’s remains a house of worship. A visit here is another chance to journey back in time to the 13th century and appreciate all that the cathedral has to offer. You’ll find the church surrounded by lovely gardens, full of rich woodworking and decorated with colorful stained glass windows. Plan to take the tour to learn about the impact and significance that St. Patrick’s has contributed to Irish history. If you’re into music, be sure to check out the 4,000 pipe organ which dates back to 1695.


Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry

Do you need to visit the Dingle Peninsula? Absolutely, and so does your camera. While the Ring of Kerry features dramatic cliffs that hover over the ocean, the Dingle Peninsula offers some of the most impressive coastal scenery you will ever see. The friendly locals make the trip more fun by freely sharing their culture and heritage. The area is both small and abundant, running 10 miles wide and 40 miles from Tralee to Slea Head. There is a loop that runs about 30 miles long, so be sure to plan ahead and take a self-guided tour of the area by car or bike. If you want to stay in the area, there are multiple adventures you can enjoy such as dolphin tours, hiking, horse riding, surfing, sailing, fishing, golfing, or just taking a peaceful stroll around the marvelous landscape.


Famous Castles: Blarney, Bunratty, Dunguaire & Ashford

Last but not least are some of my favorite Irish castles. Found among some of Ireland’s lush, green countryside in various states of up-keeping, the only real question is which to visit. The easiest answer would be the Blarney Castle (County Cork). The world-famous home of the Blarney Stone, many travel here to kiss said stone, hoping for the “gift of gab.”

Another excellent choice is Bunratty Castle (County Clare). Here, you may bestow yourself a night’s lodging by staying at the castle, and partake in a medieval banquet to boot!

For lovely views and a nice stroll around a silent lake, try the Dungaire Castle (Kinvara).

The grand finale is definitely the 13th Century Ashford Castle (Cong), which is pretty much the ultimate castle experience. You may stay on the grounds with your own moat and golf course and get treated like true royalty. Your most difficult moment will be trying to figure out if you want to try fishing or falconry.


What are some of your must-see destinations in Ireland? Share in the comments!

More from Samantha Brown:

Dreaming of Ireland

Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

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This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. The Cobblestone Pub in Dublin. Fantastic free live music. Authentic sessions, by locals for locals and visitors alike, for the price of a beer. Far away from Temple Bar. Just across the square from Jameson DIstillery tour.
    Love it.

  2. Newgrange, for a mind-bending, jaw-dropping insight into 5000 BC, and Glendalough, for a splash of history and culture in a gorgeous setting.

  3. Go West! Galway and Westport for the best music in Ireland.
    We biked for a week thru Connemara and Mayo counties, simply spectacular, when it didn’t rain. Stayed at gorgeous manor homes, and agree, wrap up like we did in Ashford Castle in Cong where you can pretend to be John Wayne or Maureen O’Hara in the setting where The Quiet Man was filmed

  4. I’m a big fan of standing stones and sacred sites. There are too many to list, (Newgrange is a must see) but not hard to locate online before you go. One of the most dramatic landscapes is The Burren. Liscannor, County Clare is a great place to start. Poulnaborne is near there. Stay at the Anchor Inn!

  5. Killarney National Park and the Danny Mann Pub in Killarney (craic and salmon fish & chips). And Ashford Castle, of course.

  6. NEWGRANGE burial chamber is 5,000 years old constructed of200,000 tons of loose stones. There are also huge boulders surrounding the tomb. There is a square box opening in the front of the burial chamber, which during the winter soltstice the sun shines through the opening and lights up the interior chamber.

  7. 1. Kilmainham Gaol Prison, Dubkin

    2. Derry City Walls

    3. Cliffs of Moher

    4. Dingle (small town in Ring of Kerry)

    5. Titanic Museum, Belfast

    Ok heck, see the whole wonderful country!


  8. • Take the DART out of Dublin and go walk the cliffs in Howth
    • Avoid touristy Dublin and walk the neighborhoods of Portobello, Rathmines, Ranelagh
    • Great music in Dingle
    • Head up to Glean Cholm Cille (Glencolmkill) in Donegal for some Irish language classes and spectacular beaches and mountains.

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