Ireland is one of the few places in the world that I have visited multiple times & would go tomorrow if the opportunity arose. It’s a great country for solo travelers, families, introverts, extroverts, road trippers and everyone in between. I wanted to share the magic of Ireland with you – so I teamed up with travel bloggers and readers to compile the Ultimate Ireland Bucket List. In this list, you’ll discover some of the quaint cities to visit in Ireland, amazing things to do in Ireland, what to do in Ireland, the best things to see in Ireland, and even where to eat in Ireland!
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The post is organized by region of Ireland – starting with Dublin, then working our way counter-clockwise around the country – northwest, western, southwest, southeast, and ending in midland.
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Dublin: Ultimate Ireland Bucket List
ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
submitted by Victoria of Travels on Uneven Pavements
Grand and towering St Patrick’s Cathedral stands proud in the center of Dublin, surrounded by well-manicured lawns and stunning formal gardens. This incredible piece of architecture has been part of the history of the country for over 800 years, and today is a must-see spot for all visitors of Dublin. As the largest cathedral in the country, it is certainly impressive, built in the 13th century in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. It is also well known for its choir, which still performs daily.
Visitors are able to take one of the guided tours around the cathedral which takes place regularly throughout the day, or you can head inside by yourself with an audio guide or using the free app for a self-guided tour. Walkthrough the nave to witness the 200 monuments and take a look at the incredible alter, which is just one of the feats that make the cathedral so breath-taking. A visit to this beautiful building offers a compelling cultural experience which is certainly one for the Ireland bucket list, especially as it is one of the last medieval buildings in the city.
Travel Tip: When you’re visiting Dublin, try to catch a GAA game at Croke Park! The Irish sport atmosphere is intoxicating!
submitted by Mayara of May the Journey Begin
The Dublin Castle is a must-see when visiting Dublin. It is a symbol of English reign, a government complex, conference center, and tourist attraction. It is filled with history and is one of the most important buildings in Irish history. Its majestic gardens are very well preserved and has spaces dedicated to important personalities and sculptures that celebrate marks in history such as the 2003 Special Olympics which was held in Ireland. Dublin Castle has been featured in many films and TV shows. It also hosts the Heineken Green Energy Festival every May.
Inside, there is a Revenue Museum within the castle, which is located inside the crypt of the Chapel Royal. It is usually open and free for visitors on weekdays, but there many be current limitations due to the pandemic.
The castle has exhibitions that change periodically and allows you to visit rooms like The King’s room, The Queen’s room, the Art & Sciences room, etc. The collection holds some of the most significant pieces in the State Apartments.
The magnificent structure of the castle is made with rich ornamental features and bristling with pinnacles on the outside. The castle provides a place of worship for the royal household and remains one of the architectural highlights of Georgian Dublin today.
PALACE BAR ON FLEET STREET
submitted by reader – Jordan!
Finding a pub in Dublin that isn’t over-crowded by tourists (like Temple Bar below) is a difficult task. Palace Bar’s atmosphere is intoxicating even before you get a drink! The Palace was built in 1823 and remains unspoiled by the passage of time – with the decor being the same as 189 years ago! Try to catch a trad session (traditional music) here!
Fun Fact: You can get amazing views of Dublin at the top of Ticknock!
THE LITTLE MUSEUM OF DUBLIN
submitted by Daniel and Ilona of Top Travel Sights
When you visit Ireland, you shouldn’t miss the Little Museum of Dublin. This museum is, as the name says, tiny, but the exhibition is far more enjoyable than many other museums we visited.
The Little Museum of Dublin showcases many seemingly random artifacts. Take a good look around while you visit. Local citizens donated most of the more than 5,000 objects, helping preserve the local history.
To go into the museum, you need to join a tour. Your tour guide will make it a lot of fun to learn about the history of Dublin. Ours managed to string these artifacts together in a story that both fascinated us and made us laugh out loud. In 40 minutes, she covered the whole history of the city.
If you arrive off-season, you should not have any problem buying your ticket. Just go there and join the next tour. In summer, however, you will need to reserve ahead. The Little Museum of Dublin is popular with tourists from all over the world and books out quickly.
TRINITY COLLEGE & BOOK OF KELLS
submitted by Emer and Nils of Let’s Go Ireland
If you visit Ireland’s capital, one of the must-see places is Trinity College Dublin. Trinity, conveniently located on College Green at the very heart of Dublin city, is the oldest university of Ireland. Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, and also Sally Rooney (who’s smash hit Normal People was recently filmed on Trinity campus) are among the many notable alumni.
If you enter the campus via the impressive main gate, you will encounter a splendid area full of beautiful 18th-century monuments and buildings. Why not take a stroll and admire the buildings and check out the manicured gardens and sports grounds?
Definitely make sure to see the Book of Kells. This is arguably the most stunning and important medieval manuscript. Part of the paid exhibition also includes the possibility to saunter through the awe-inspiring Long Room Library. This library has a feeling of Harry Potter to it. Many people claim that the Jedi Library in Star Wars was modeled on it. Either way, the Long Room Library is one of the most impressive places in Ireland.
submitted by reader – Jordan!
Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 and closed in 1924. It was restored in the late 1950’s by voluntary labor and donated materials. Now it’s a museum honoring the history of Ireland and the rebellions. Leaders of the numerous rebellions were detained and executed here. It almost didn’t survive since its home to some painful memories, but historians argued its case. Thousands of people were jailed here over the years. It may look familiar to you because it’s a popular filming location. Kilmainham gaol has starred in In The Name of the Father, Michael Collins and even Paddington 2.
Travel Tip: If you’re interested in Irish history – make a stop at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. It opened in 1832 and is the resting spot for Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, and more!
submitted by Sydney of A World in Reach
For visitors to Dublin wishing to experience a bit of the city’s legendary nightlife and pub culture, a visit to Temple Bar is a must. This vibrant, riverside neighborhood is the center of the city’s nightlife and is home to the famous Temple Bar Pub, a tourist attraction that is listed on many travelers’ Ireland bucket lists.
During the day, Temple Bar is full of tourists visiting area cultural attractions such as the Irish Photography Center or the Irish Film Institute. At night, the neighborhood comes alive as the pubs and nightclubs open. Popular pubs in the area include the Quays Bar, the Oliver St. John Gogarty, the Auld Dubliner, and of course the namesake Temple Bar Pub. Temple Bar’s nightlife primarily caters to tourists and visiting groups of hen and stag parties; however, some of the area pubs are also frequented by locals. Regardless of the touristy-ness of the neighborhood, Temple Bar is worth a visit for a night of fun and new friends.
If you’re spending a couple of days in Dublin, you should devote at least one night to having a night out in Temple Bar. Begin your night at the Temple Bar Pub. Given that this is the most famous pub in the area, it can get very busy and drinks are a bit more expensive here than at some of the surrounding pubs. Before the crowds head in, grab one or two drinks here before heading to some of the surrounding pubs. There are both lively and more low-key pubs in the area, many of which feature live music. For a more guided experience, you could opt to do a Temple Bar pub crawl. No matter how you choose to experience Temple Bar, you’re sure to have a great night!
LEARN ABOUT WHISKY AT THE DINGLE WHISKEY BAR
Submitted by reader Charlie!
Sure, you can visit the tourist-filled Jameson whiskey distillery, but this one has a more authentic Irish experience. They have 5 different whiskey packages so you can find one for your budget and taste!
submitted by Paul of The Two That Do
Is there anything more Irish than a pint of Guinness? A pint of the creamy dark stuff with the white top an image famous the world over.
A visit to the Guinness Storehouse at St. James’s Gate, home to Guinness since 1759 an unarguable entry on the Ireland Bucket List. Just one mile west of Dublin’s famous Temple Bar the Storehouse can be reached with a 20-minute walk or by jumping on a 123 bus from O’Connell Street. The City Hop-On Hop-off Bus Tours also stop here.
As you enter the Storehouse through the large wooden gates overworn original cobblestones you are immediately transported back centuries. This is truly an attraction for all the senses not just your salivating taste buds!
Opened in 2000 this testament to Guinness is housed around the world’s largest pint glass – a central seven-story atrium. With interactive experiences and areas dedicated to the World of Advertising, the Brewing story, cooperage, and Arthur Guinness himself this is a fascinating
insight into this iconic brand. You can also sign up for the Connoisseur Experience and learn the six-step ritual to pouring the perfect pint.
After ninety minutes of walking these floors, the only way to end your tour is a visit to the rooftop Gravity Bar. Offering panoramic views over Dublin this is the perfect location to enjoy what is undoubtedly the best pint of Guinness you’ll have anywhere in the world.
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HOWTH CLIFF WALK
Submitted by Krystianna of Volumes & Voyages
If you’re visiting Ireland, hiking the Howth Cliff Walk should be at the top of your list! Located just north of Dublin, Howth is a beautiful coastal fishing town that is filled with nonstop spectacular views of the ocean. Because of its close proximity to the city, it’s really easy to take a day trip to Howth from Dublin. Howth itself has a lot of character. There’s a beautiful market that you could grab a snack at, a harbor you could people-watch at, and a beautiful beach that you could swim in.
However, the true gem of the town is the Howth Cliff Walk. The cliff walk has a few different routes with varying difficulties, though all of them offer great views of the water. Overall, it takes about 2 hours to do the full walk without any breaks.
Travel Tip: Pack a quick lunch to have about halfway through, so you can take in the views!
If you’re afraid of heights, this may not be the activity for you. For the entire walk, there is nothing between you and the cliffs that lead into the water! Don’t worry though, there is a clear path to walk along for the duration of the hike.
The Howth Cliff Walk is an amazing adventure that should be at the top of your Ireland Bucket List for your visit!
Mine & a few readers’ favorite!
In the heart of Dublin is one of the most unique places I’ve ever eaten- The Church. The building was actually St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, built at the beginning of the 18th century. The organ and the ornate stained glass made this church well-known in Dublin. Unfortunately, it closed it’s doors in 1964 and was left alone until John Keating purchased it in 1997. It reopened in 2005, as a bar! However, the tasteful conversion and refurbishment of the landmark impressed Dublin City and it won a prize in the category of Best Old Building! Now it is a restaurant, night club, bar, and has a barbecue area! Enjoy some live music and delicious food at The Church.
Northwest Ireland Bucket List (Counties: Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan)
SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
You have to be in Ireland at the right time with the right weather conditions – but yes it is possible to see the Northern lights! Check out the Astronomy Ireland website to see if the lights are predicted when you’re visiting!
SLIEVE LEAGUE CLIFFS
submitted by Jan of Leisurely Drives
Awesome views of Sligo mountains, Donegal bay, and the Atlantic await you at Slieve League (Sliabh Liag in Irish) Cliffs on the south-west coast of County Donegal.
A rather scary drive to the car park, followed by a longish walk, will take you to the high cliff-top which looms 600 meters over the raging waters of the bay. The stunning views of the turquoise waters below are worth the effort! The gusty wind will swirl all around and almost push you away, and on a cloudy day, the ambiance is grim and foreboding. If you are an experienced hiker, you can venture beyond the viewpoint at the clifftop towards One Man’s Pass which loops around to the Pilgrim’s Path.
This corner of north-west Ireland is rugged and wild, unlike anything you will find in the rest of the country! Sliabh Liag was a holy mountain in the early days of Christianity, and probably for many preceding centuries too. To know more about the history of this unique location, you could stop by at Slieve League Cliffs Centre and enjoy a warm Donegal welcome and the local food.
GO BLO KARTING IN BUNDORAN
Bundoran is an adventure-seekers town! From big wave surfers at Mullaghmore, to stand up paddleboarding and kayaking – Bundoran has it all! However, blo karting is one that is a bit different. You sit in a beach buggy with a sail and fly down the beaches of Donegal.
FLY FISHING IN RIVER MOY
submitted by Nick of Into Fly Fishing
While there are plenty of stunning rivers in Ireland, the River Moy is one of the country’s true highlights, particularly for fly fishermen and women. Straddling the border between Sligo and Mayo countries, this river is famous for fly fishing. As an angler myself, it’s a place that was always on my travel bucket list for Ireland.
Known for being one of the most productive salmon fishing rivers in the world, you’ll want to bring at least a 5 weight fly rod if you plan to cast a line on this river as the fish can average 7 pounds or larger.
The average annual Salmon catch counted on the Moy in the past decade is an astonishing 7,300+ fish. This is partially thanks to the no-kill fly fishing that has taken place on this river for decades, which has helped the fishery to grow in numbers. Although any type of fishing goes, catch-and-release fly fishing dominates the shores here.
Salmon aren’t the only fish to be caught here either. Anglers come from around the world to fish wild sea trout that can easily grow to over 4 pounds in the river.
Casting a fly line over the slow-moving waters of the Moy with a backdrop of the ancient bridges, churches, and rolling green hills of the Wild Atlantic Way – what angler’s ultimate Ireland bucket list would be complete without it?
VISIT W.B. YEATS GRAVE & Benbulben Mountain
William Butler Yeats is buried in Sligo, Ireland in a modest grave. Visit Drumcliff Churchyard at the foot of Benbulben Mountain! The mountain has an unusual rock formation as well!
Submitted by Celt & Kiwi
If you’ve ever wondered where the Irish go on their summer holiday, I’m about to share the insider secrets.
Part of the Gaeltacht, where Irish is spoken as the first language, this is about as close as you can get to traditional Ireland. Everything about this area is homely. A stay at a family-run B&B like Teac Campbell is just like visiting your grandmother’s house. Think cozy armchairs and coffee table books about hillwalking and fishing.
Fun Fact: At low tide, you can take a stroll out to the shipwreck of the Cara Na Mara, which ran aground in the 1970s. If island hopping is more your style, the islands of Gola, Cruit, and Tory are just off the coast, waiting to be explored.
The town sits under the lonely peak of Errigal — a mountain that would not be out of place in a Tolkein novel. Climbing it is a 3-4 hour scramble. In the evening, visit one of the local pubs for some live music and a well-earned pint. Gweedore has produced world-famous Celtic musicians like Enya and the band Clannad, so the musical pedigree is high!
With scenic drives, outstanding natural beauty, hill-walking, and beaches, you need to put Gweedore on your Ireland bucket list.
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Travel Tip: If you love beaches, don’t miss Murder Hole Beach in County Donegal. It’s pretty remote and hard to get to, but you’ll find caves and smooth sand!
In County Fermanagh, you’ll find a boardwalk protecting rare blanket bog. You can take in the serene landscape on a nice walk – about 7.5 km (4.66 miles) and takes about 6 hours to complete.
Western Ireland (Counties: Mayo, Roscommon, Galway)
One of the most unspoiled regions of Europe is in Ireland! Connemara is one of the few remaining Gealtacht areas of Ireland (Irish-speaking). It’s home to lakes that reflect the mountains, small seaside villages, and the Maam Valley.
submitted by Lynne of Wander Your Way
I called it Aedín’s Beach after my Irish friend who brought me to this beautiful part of Ireland. She took a detour down a narrow, winding road off the R335 toward Killadoon as we drove from Killary Harbor to Louisburgh.
We made our way through rocky fields dotted with sheep, peaks looming off the distance. Eventually, I spotted the sea shimmering in the distance. We followed the road until it ended in a parking area.
A couple were just coming off the beach, so now my friend and I had this gorgeous place to ourselves. Who knew sandy beaches like this existed in Ireland?
But there it was before me. It was the most magical moment of my first trip to Ireland.11 years later, I finally returned to Silver Strand. Only this time, instead of a quick detour, I stayed at an Airbnb a short walk from this stunning beach for 4 nights.
There isn’t much around here except sheep and a few farms and houses. Yes, you can take a quick detour to play on this beautiful stretch of sand for an hour.
But I advise staying nearby. Walk the beach. Play in the dunes. Watch the sunrise and set. Enjoy the crazy Irish weather.
This is one of the best beaches in Ireland. And it’s one of the most magical places on the planet.
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NIGHT KAYAKING ON LOUGH HYNE
In West Cork, you’ll find a Marine Nature Reserve and lake that is home to a wide variety of plants and animals not found anywhere else in Ireland. In the summer, you can go night kayaking and see bio-luminescent plankton!
Submitted by Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child
One of the most enchanting experiences in Ireland is staying in a castle! Located around 45 minutes from the colorful Irish city of Galway is where Ashford Castle in Ireland resides. Ashford Castle was founded in the 13th Century by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family following their defeat of the native O’Connor’s of Connaught. Over the centuries, Ashford Castle had been owned by many people in Ireland, but in the year of 1852, it was passed down to Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, the man behind our favorite Irish beer!
When you first arrive at Ashford Castle, you will be amazed! The castle’s exterior is a stunning stone Gothic style and the interior has beautiful wooden architecture all around along with lovely chandeliers, fireplaces and Victorian charm. The Staterooms at Ashford Castle represent traditional elegance and comfort, combining all modern amenities. It is recommended that you get dinner inside Ashford Castle in The Dungeon as it makes you feel like you’re in a legitimate dungeon while you’re savoring great food. Another wonderful dinner spot on the castle grounds is Cullen’s at the Cottage. It is at this cozy traditional thatched cottage where you could enjoy amazing local dishes.
Other fun things to do during your time at Ashford Castle is wandering around the grounds. There are a lot of beautiful gardens, walking trails, fountains, and natural beauty. Ireland’s School of Falconry is also a memorable experience at Ashford Castle. You could do a fun hawk and owl walk around the castle grounds and learn how to fly them, which is an ancient tradition in Ireland. Renting a bike from the castle and exploring rural Cong is another fun activity to do as well as horseback riding at the Ashford Equestrian Centre. This area has so many things that it shouldn’t be missed on your Ireland bucket list!
Reader Bucket List Item: Take a class at Ireland’s School of Falconry at Ashford Castle.
DRIVE THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
From Donegal in the north, to Cork in the South, the Wild Atlantic Way is the most spectacular drive in Ireland. I wasn’t sure where to put it since it passes SO MUCH of Ireland – waterfalls, mountains, coastal villages – but the most famous sight on it is the Cliffs of Moher. It’s 1600 miles (or 2500 kilometers) of windy, hilly road – so take your time driving!
CLIFFS OF MOHER
submitted by Alanna of Periodic Adventures
Whether you’re a fan of The Princess Bride or just all things that boast natural beauty, visiting the Cliffs of Moher should absolutely be on your Ireland bucket list! Featured in many movies and music videos (including Harry Potter), these cliffs stand over 700 feet tall on the west coast of Ireland, near Galway. Still, you can visit them from Dublin in one day if you’re based there.
When visiting, enjoy the museum inside the visitor’s center, walk along the many paths lining the cliffs, climb O’Brien’s Tower to get a higher vantage point, and try to spot some of the many bird species, including puffins! Taking in the breathtaking views is so relaxing and makes for a nice, calm day. Admission prices vary depending on whether you book your tickets online or purchase them in person, and the prices change as crowds come and go where peak hours is more expensive. One tip for visiting is to check the weather. You want to visit on a sunny day so you have an unobstructed view of the cliffs.
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DOOLOUGH FAMINE WALK, County Mayo
In county Mayo, there is a yearly walk to remember the starving Irish peasants who had to walk 12 miles to seek relief. Many women and children died along the way. This walk remembers their sacrifice.
Fun Fact: You can visit the Blackrock Observatory in a 16th-century castle to go star-gazing!
Reader Elaine’s bucket list item: Bird watching of Inishboffin
submitted by Nina of Nina Out and About
Want a break from the tourist-y wonders of mainland Ireland? Take a ferry from Galway or Doolin to the Aran Islands. A quick ride over choppy waters will bring you to the three rugged islands. I visited the northern-most and largest island: Inis Mór, home of Dún Aonghasa. The prehistoric fort is best accessed by bicycle to soak up the rich Irish countryside and maybe meet a few cow friends. You can rent a bike when you get off the ferry at the docks of Inis Mór. Pack a lunch and dangle your legs off the 300ft tall edge of the cliff as you eat.
People say the Aran Islands have a special spiritual connection because they were connected to the Celts and the Christians. I didn’t explore more of the sacred ruins or partake in a Summer Solstice ceremony, but I did find the fresh air of the islands a welcome reprieve after trying to dance my way into an Ed Sheeran song in Galway the night before. The silence of biking through the hilly countryside and the rush of fresh air healed me in a way I didn’t know I needed.
Reader Lauren’s Bucket List item: Scuba Dive at the Aran Islands!
Fun Fact: The Red Bull Cliff Diving championships used to take place on the west coast of Inis Mor! These cliff divers jump into a saltwater swimming pool known as ‘The Serpents Lair”
Most visitors stay for a day to take the 1.5-hour bike ride to the ruins. On warmer days you can also hop in the ocean for a swim or lay on the beach. If you want to extend your stay, the islands have a variety of accommodations, cafes, supermarkets, and pubs.
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Fun Fact: There are three islands in the Aran Islands – Inis Mor, Inis Meadhoin and Inis Oirr (they’re named for the sizes – largest to smallest)
If you’re not tired of coastal walks, then head to Downpatrick Head – a few miles north of Ballycastle village in County Mayo. It’s named after St. Patrick, who founded a church here. There are still some ruins of the church and across here. If you’re visiting in July, the last Sunday of the month is known as Garland Sunday. You can receive mass at the sacred site! Out to sea, you’ll find a few islands called the Staggs of Broadhaven, but you’ll also see a sea-stack called Dun Briste (broken fort). Legend has it that when a pagan chieftain refused Christianity, St. Patrick struck the ground to split a chunk of the headland into the ocean – taking the chieftain with it!
CYCLE THE MAYO GREENWAY
The Mayo Greenway is a 26.1 miles (42 kilometers) long cycling path that connects Westport on the mainland with Achill Island. You’ll see quaint, picturesque villages, mountains, Clew Bay, and islands! Stay at this secluded hilltop getaway for some true Irish hospitality.
CLIMB CROAGH PATRICK
Croagh Patrick (named after St. Patrick) is one of the tallest peaks in Ireland. There is an annual pilgrimage up the mountain on the last Sunday in July or you can go at any time throughout the year. Weather conditions change quickly and there is loose shale and rocks at the top, making it a challenge.
Southwest Ireland (Counties: Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork)
SLEA HEAD DRIVE
submitted by Stephanie of History Fangirl
If you love exploring Ireland by car, you need to make sure you set aside time to complete the Slea Head Drive, a gorgeous coastal loop that will leave you completely breathless.
You can come down and do the drive for the day and then move on, or you can stay overnight in Dingle before enjoying spending a day on the drive.
Along the drive, make sure to see the historic sites of Beehive Huts, Dunbeg Fort, and Gallarus Oratory. Important natural sites to stop and see along the way include Coumeenole Beach, views of Great Blasket Island, and Dunquin (Dún Chaoin). Another popular activity here is to visit the farms advertising lamb cuddles. It is really fun cuddling and holding a soft baby lamb (or two)!
You can spend anywhere from three to eight hours on the drive depending on how often you stop to get out and explore the different stops along the way.
STAY IN A CASTLE AT BALLYSEEDE CASTLE
submitted by a reader – Caitlin!
Yes, you can spend a night in a breathtaking castle in Ireland! Ballyseede Castle is what you think of when you think of a castle – complete with chandeliers and more forks than you can count! Even if you don’t have the time to stay overnight – you can just pop in for a meal or afternoon tea. Staying in a castle should be on anyone’s Ireland Bucket List! The castle also has Irish woldhounds that you can interact with!
Fun Fact: County Clare is home to the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival which lasts the whole month of September and is the oldest traditional festival in Ireland!
KISS THE BLARNEY STONE AT BLARNEY CASTLE
Getting the gift of gab should be on any traveler’s Ireland Bucket List! This weird and quirky legend states that if you kiss the Blarney stone, then you’ll be gifted with the gift of eloquence.The Blarney Castle is a beautiful sight in itself- with a mansion and acres of land to wander around. Then climb the stairs and hang upside down to kiss the stone!
Travel Tip: When in Killarney, visit Reidys Sweetshop and bar! It’s not for tourists (but you’ll still be welcomed, don’t worry). The bar looks like a grocery and sweet shop from the front but if you walk to the back rooms, you’ll find a different bar. Order a pint and mingle with the locals!
RING OF KERRY
submitted by Sue of Sue Where? Why? What?
I have traveled to 70 countries & taken many iconic road trips, but I have to say that when I drove the Ring of Kerry for the first time last year it was one of the most beautiful & fun ones I have ever experienced. If you are interested in stone forts, rainbows, castles, abbeys, cliffs & some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the world then look no further!
The route is best explored at a slower pace, taking detours along the way. Killarney as a start & finish point is a must for sampling the famous Irish hospitality. I went in November which meant that there was hardly any traffic, few coaches to contend with & although everyone says you can do it in a day, I chose to take 3! I went anti-clockwise along the 179km road & was lucky to be treated to blue skies & sunshine on the final day. As I drove through Killarney National Park, the lakes were like mirrors, reflecting the mountains surrounding them. It was truly breathtaking.
Travel Tip: On the coast of Kerry, you may be able to spot Puffins on the rocky island of Skellig Micheal!
GAP OF DUNLOE on the Ring of Kerry
submitted by Darek of Darek and Gosia
Ireland is a stunning country and probably one of the most underrated in Europe. But everyone who has visited the country even only once knows that it is full of magical places.
One of them is Gap of Dunloe on the famous Ring of Kerry. It is known as one of the best mountain passes – great for a road trip in Europe!
The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow pass that is about 11 kilometres long and runs from north to south. There are also 5 lakes along the road which you see. The pass begins at Kate Kearney’s Cottage with a picturesque wish bridge not far away from it.
During the drive, views will change all the time. It is hard to choose the favourite section of the route as the landscape is just fantastic – you might even spot some colourful sheep!
The entire Gap of Dunloe is a must-see in Ireland – everyone visiting the country should drive the road or at least walk part of it!
Fun Fact: You can visit Valentia Island and lighthouse for amazing views of County Kerry!
Spike Island is a fascinating destination for any Ireland Bucket List! With over 700 years of history and a transformation from a monastery to a fortress to a prison – you bet there is quite the story! Now it’s a public museum easily accessible from Cork. People compare this to San Francisco’s Alcatraz!
THE DINGLE PENINSULA
submitted by Fiona of Travelling Thirties
Live traditional music, Guinness, green hills and rain, are all things that come to mind when I think of Ireland. Beautiful coastlines, Star Wars, and stunning beaches definitely don’t come to mind.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a rugged coastal drive that stretches 2,500km along the west coast of Ireland. One of the most picturesque drives along the Wild Atlantic Way is the Dingle Peninsula. Whilst the drive from Dingle along Slea Drive is only 30 miles, it will take you the best part of the day. You will find yourself driving on the edge of the cliffside, navigating hairpin turns that reveal even more beautiful views of the green hills and white sandy beaches.
Unlike the ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula is very well signposted and the “main spots” are easy to find. I would like to say that you need to stop at every stop along the peninsula but here are a couple of “must-see” spots:
To gain an understanding of Irish life back in the days of the Irish famine, you need to make a pit stop at the famine cottages (Teachíní an Ghorta Mhóir). Not only will you be able to take a journey back in time, but the views of the coastline are unbeatable, making it the perfect addition to your Ireland Bucket List.
If you like visiting Hollywood film sets you can’t miss the Ceann Sibeal, not only is the filming of the Last Jedi but it is also home to some of the most beautiful scenery.
Three sisters and a sleeping giant are located near the Ballyferriter, are a set of three peaks rising up out of the Atlantic Ocean. Add in the rustic pastures and farms and you have the perfect picnic spot.
So, grab your camera, a picnic lunch and hit the road, there is so much to see.
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RIDE IRELAND’S ONLY CABLE CAR
Ireland only has one cable car – and it’s the only one in Europe that goes over open sea water! The cable car is located on Dursey Island in Cork and can transport 6 people across the Dursey Sound. Keep an eye out for dolphins!
MEET FUNGIE, THE DINGLE DOLPHIN
submitted by Paige of Paige Minds the Gap
The Dingle Peninsula has some of the best scenery on the west coast of Ireland. There is plenty to do in the town of Dingle itself, including shopping and enjoying the local pub life, but the one thing everyone should make time for is meeting Fungie, the Dingle Dolphin.
Fungie is by far Dingle’s most famous resident. This male bottlenose dolphin first appeared in Dingle Harbour in 1984, where he would escort fishing boats to and from the port. For whatever reason, he just loves hanging out with humans!
You can take a boat tour out into the Harbour to meet Fungie. The boat tours operate all year round, and there are a few different operators to choose from. You can even take an early morning trip to get as close to Fungie as he’ll allow. On any of these dolphin tours, you aren’t chasing Fungie, but rather going out on a relaxing boat trip and waiting for Fungie to come to you. And he usually does! Some tour operators will even give you a full refund if you don’t manage to see Fungie.
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Located on the coast, only 25 minutes away from Cork city, Cobh is one of those quintessential places in Ireland to be added on the bucket list. Although Cobh is popularly associated with Titanic, for being the last port of call, there’s much more to Cobh. Whether you want to visit Cobh as a day trip or a weekend break, Cobh perfectly fits the bill and there are enough things to do around here.
Some of the cool things to do in Cobh include – walking along the colourful Cobh promenade, visiting St.Colman’s Cathedral that dominates the skyline and enjoy the sweeping views of the town. Alternatively take a short boat trip to Spike Island, and immerse in the history of 1300 years through museum and exhibition. Don’t miss the 200 year old Fort Michael, 23 acre star shaped fortress. Another famous attraction is visiting the photogenic Deck of Cards – a colourful array of row houses in West View Street. It would be a shame to miss out this instagrammable location. Other attractions include Cobh heritage centre, the Titanic Experience, and Fota Island which consists of gardens, wildlife park and Island Resort, all of which makes Cobh worth the visit, and a year round destination.
TITANIC EXPERIENCE IN COBH
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The Titanic Experience is one of the best things to do in Cobh and a must on an Irish itinerary. Cobh is a harbor town and was where many ships historically departed from including the world-famous Titanic. Cobh served as the last port of call for the Titanic before it headed across the Atlantic and it’s where the last 123 passengers joined the ship. The Titanic Experience is housed in the original White Star Line Building.
When purchasing your tickets you’ll receive a boarding card with the name and details of one of the 123 passengers who got on at the last stop in Cobh (called Queenstown back then). The first portion of the experience is a guided tour that goes through the experience of being on board. It includes seeing the original pier where passengers boarded and seeing what sleeping and dining arrangements were like for first and third-class passengers. A visual experience then allows you to experience the sinking of the ship which finishes the guided portion of the tour. After the guided tour you’re free to explore the rest of the experience on your own and you can find out whether your passenger survived or not.
The experience is open between 9 am and 6 pm every day in the summer (April-September) and 10 am and 5:30 pm in the winter (October-March). The guided tour portion lasts 30 minutes and it departs every 15 minutes (the last one being 45 minutes before closing). Adult tickets cost 10 euros and child tickets cost 7 euros. Tickets can be bought ahead of time online.
HIKE IN MACGILLYCUDDYS REEKS
This is one of the best places to stretch your legs from the car and go hiking in Ireland. MacGillycuddy’s Reeks is home to Carrauntoohil – the highest peak in Ireland. It’s 3,407 feet (1,039 meters) tall. There are longer mountain routes throughout the range including Coomlaughra Horseshoe (about 10 miles/15 kilometers) or MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Ridge Walk which encompasses the ENTIRE range (16 miles/26 kilometers).
Fun Fact: You can go mountain biking in the Ballyhoura Mountains. There are over 57.2 miles or 92 km of biking trails of varying lengths and skills!
Southeast Ireland (Counties: Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford)
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Just an hour and a half southwest of Dublin near Kilkenny, Ireland, you’ll find Dunmore Cave. Not only is this spot interesting due to its natural features, but it has quite an unusual history to go along with it. The cave is known for being the site where a Viking massacre took place in the year 928. Only €5 gets you access to the cave with a guided tour as well as the visitor center where you can learn more about the cave’s geological and anthropological history. There are films shown inside the center as well as exhibits showcasing Viking artifacts found excavated from the cave.
Entering the cave requires a commitment to descending 700 steps, so a good pair of shoes and a moderate level of fitness are a good idea. The tour lasts about 50 minutes on 400 meters of paved pathways as your knowledgeable guide explains much about the caves. The best part is at the end of the tour when you are given 1 minute of complete darkness and silence in a deep part of the cave. It’s a unique, eerie feeling you can’t experience in many other places in the world.
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The oldest lighthouse in Ireland is distinct with its black and white stripes. Not only is it the oldest lighthouse in Ireland, but also the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world! The current structure has stood for 848 years!
VISIT THE ROCK OF CASHEL
According to Irish mythology, the hill where the castle rests was taken from the Devil’s Bit – a mountain 20 miles north. When St. Patrick banished the devil out of Ireland, it is said that he took a bite out of the mountain. As the devil flew away, he spat out that piece of the mountain here at Cashel. It’s believed that St. Patrick converted Aengus, King of Munster in the 5th century. The Rock of Cashel isn’t really a rock, but rather four buildings looming over the hill. There’s a 12th-century chapel 12th-century round tower, 13th-century cathedral, and a 15th-century castle.
Midland Ireland Bucket List (Counties: Wicklow, Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Longford, Louth)
HILL OF TARA
The Hill of Tara is an ancient ceremonial and burial site. Traditionally, it was the inauguration place of the High Kings of Ireland. According to legend, five ancient roads connect Tara to all of the provinces of Ireland!
THE GLENDALOUGH MONASTIC RUINS
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The Glendalough Monastic Ruins are nestled in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains National Park. St. Kevin founded this monastery in the late 6th century and in its heyday about a millennium ago, it was one of the prime pilgrimage destinations of medieval Ireland. Today it remains one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites.
Though the monastery is a ruin now, visitors can still explore the fantastic remains which date back to the 13th century and earlier. Perhaps the most notable one is the round tower, a 1,000-year-old structure that stands about 33 meters tall. Visitors can also visit the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, one of the largest known early Christian churches in Ireland. Nearby is St. Kevin’s Cross, a fine example of a monolith. Though visitors can’t go inside, St. Kevin’s Kitchen is one of the most complete buildings to see. The gateway to the monastic site itself is one of the oldest in Ireland. There are many other structures to visit around the site, more ruined in physicality but not in historical significance.
Located in a valley in the Wicklow Mountains, the area is extremely picturesque. Those looking to spend time outdoors can take a short walk to the Glendalough Upper and Lower Lakes to soak in the amazing Irish countryside. Though you’ll need a few hours to enjoy the area, you could easily spend a whole day there. The Glendalough Monastic Ruins make a fantastic visit because it’s so charming and quintessentially Irish.
Fun Fact: The oldest bar in the WORLD is located in Athlone, County Westmeath. Visit Sean’s Bar for a pint!
The towering Slane Castle was built in the late 18th century and is home to the Conyngham family. Located near the river Boyne, you can take a tour of the castle and learn about history. They even have a distillery on-site you can tour!
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Trim Castle is the biggest and best-preserved Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland and one of the most beautiful. Located in Trim, in County Meath, it is an easy day trip from Dublin for history lovers.
The castle dates back to 1172 and was built as a military stronghold, an origin that explains the mighty walls and tower still visible today.
They are the first thing you notice on approaching the castle and an impressive sight: they have several turrets and frame a large inner courtyard with a moat (now dry) and the keep, the main part of the castle. The keep has a very peculiar shape counting 20 corners and is it open to visitors by guided tours only.
The tour is worth taking: it shows the main parts of the castle, brings you to the very top, from where you have stunning views over the Boyne Valley below, and teaches fun and unexpected facts about the castle.
Fun Fact: Trim Castle was used to shoot the movie Braveheart! Yes, the movie is set in Scotland but much of it was actually filmed in Ireland. The four castles that appear in the movie are actually all Trim shot at different angles!
Trim castle is a wonderful destination for culture lovers and, thanks to the fun tour, also a wonderful place to visit in Ireland with children.
Ireland isn’t typically on scuba diver’s top places to dive – but that’s because this is a lesser-known gem. Portroe quarry is a beautiful, crystal clear lagoon. The entry ramp is intact and easy to use. Under the water, you’ll find two car wrecks, old wheels, kayaks, and even an underwater pub! Dives cost 20 euros for the day and 10 euros for anyone arriving after 2pm.
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Tucked away in the Wicklow mountains are the Blessington Lakes. They cover over 5,000 acres of water – but despite their size, they were formed only 50 years ago. The Poulaphouca Dam and hydroelectric station were built and we were given these amazing lakes as a result! You can drive or cycle around the lakes for mountain views or take a kayak or canoe! The Vikings TV series was filmed near Blessington lake!
SUNRISE OVER LOUGH TAY
The Wicklow Mountains are a great day trip from Dublin at any time of the day. However, if you want to see breathtaking views of these mountains, head there early for a beautiful sunrise! (Bonus: it’s free!)
NEWGRANGE (Sí an Bhrú or Brú na Bóinne)
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This passage tomb was built around 3200 BC – making it older than Stonehenge AND the Egyptian pyramids. Yet, it is often forgotten by travelers. It’s a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Newgrange consists of about 200,000 tons of rocks and other materials – quite an engineering feat! There is an amazing winter solstice (December 21) celebration here as well! The sun illuminates the passage and chamber.
VISIT TAYTO PARK
If you’re an amusement park aficionado, or just want to get your adrenaline pumping, then visit Tayto Park. If you want to ride all the rides, then spend a full day here. You can also take a free tour of the Tayto factory and receive as many free bags of crisps (chips) to take home with you!
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Bray is a picturesque seaside town in the county of Wicklow, half an hour ride from Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland While close to the capital, Bray will take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A gorgeous getaway, located 20 kilometers south of Dublin, Bray features as the absolute choice to walk and relax by the sea. Travel from O’Connell Street to Bray by DART or take the bus or drive the N11 road. Bray hosts plenty of cafes and shops to wander as you will gaze across Wicklow mountains.
Walk along the promenade, stroll around the harbor, carry on to reach Bray Head to get some of the most stunning views of the town. Feeling hungry and tired? Ride the DART from Greystones to Bray, then stop to Martello to relax and taste good food, a great value in a lovely environment.
Fun Fact: There is another beautiful coastal walk from Bray to Greystones that you can do.
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Submitted by Donna of Living Learned
Riddled with paranormal tales, captivating myths, and bone-chilling legends, Ireland’s history is haunting. So, exploring this frightening piece of the Emerald Isle must be on your Ireland bucket list. Several druidic destinations and their ghostly inhabitants are dying to welcome you. However, few can truly compare to Kinnitty Castle. Spend the night in this 4-star hotel for an authentically haunted experience.
Two hours west of Dublin and just north of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the village of Birr is home to fewer than 400 people. Perhaps the scarce population can be contributed to the areas spooky past. There, in the heartland, looms a towering piece of spirited history – Kinitty Castle.
Originally erected in the 11th Century, there have long been stories of hauntings at Kinnity Castle. After its’ destruction in 1209, the Normans tasked themselves with rebuilding the structure. The newly constructed castle was bigger, better, and even included the Augustian Abbey and Century High Cross, which also still stand today. Although now, the castle serves travelers from around the world as a luxury hotel. If you look online, you can find current reviews from recent guests—Overnighters site scary encounters, unexplained events, and spooky happenings. ing children giggling, crying, or scampering about, and have even seen a “little girl” roaming the hall. Chilling tales include phones ringing in the middle of the night, feelings of hot breath nearby, and even the mysterious “falling” of objects.
Are you brave enough to fully embrace Ireland’s haunted history? If so, your Ultimate Ireland bucket list wouldn’t be complete without penciling in a memorable (and perhaps sleepless) night at Kinnitty Castle.
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Fun Fact: County Offaly is actually home to TWO haunted castles. Leap Castle is widely recognized as one of the most haunted castles in the world!
So there you have it – over SIXTY amazing things to do in Ireland – covering the entire country! From castles to nature, Ireland truly does have something for everyone!
What do you think of this Ultimate Ireland Bucket List? Should I add anything? Let me know in the comments!
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