There’s nothing quite like the scenery in Ireland. From some of the world’s greenest landscapes dotted with historic castles to wild coastal drives, there are so many breathtaking places to go in Ireland. Whether you are a nature-lover and you head to the UNESCO-listed Cliffs of Moher or you prefer diving deep into the history of medieval architecture at Bunratty Castle, you won't fall short of new travel experiences on the Emerald Isle. Of course, you can also take it easy, if you fancy garden strolls on tiny islands or simply a day shopping and dining in a fishing village - it’s just a question of where you begin.
As we operate a number of award-winning escorted tours to Ireland, we know a couple of recommendations. Here are the eight best places to visit in Ireland:
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park is simply one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. While the country might be renowned for its gentle green pastures with tiny farm villages, it is also home to a more rugged, other-worldly landscape. In Connemara, a region situated on the Atlantic coast of western County Galway, there is a mixture of landscapes including gushing waterfalls, rough bogs, grey mountains, and golden sand beaches. Look closely and you might even spot the intrepid Connemara Pony.
Scandinavia might take the cake for fjords, but Ireland has one of its very own. In Northern Connemara, lies the 9.9-mile Killary Fjord. This beautiful fjord is a spot that can be discovered by adventurous travellers on a day cruise.
From the boat, you can see all the stunning features of this glacial fjord, including the steep mountains at the water’s edge and the many otters that populate the fjord environment. There is hardly anything like this natural formation in all of the British Isles.
While Ireland might not be known for its beaches, it certainly should be. On an isolated, small cove on Ireland's southeastern coast lies a charming fishing village known as Dunmore East. It’s a must-see in Ireland. Dunmore East is the kind of town that attracts artists from all over, with its quaint harbourside, hidden laneways, and old thatched-roof buildings.
If it’s striking scenery you seek - scenery where the sea meets the mountains - Dingle Peninsula is where you need to be. The peninsula is full of varying sights, including dramatic cliffs, rolling hills, tiny beaches, to quaint villages. It’s no wonder this epic location is a recognised bastion of Irish language and culture.
One of the Dingle Peninsula highlights is Slea Head, Europe’s most westerly point. Here, you can find Blasket Island Heritage Centre, which offers incredible views of the surrounding islands and an exhibition that offers insight into the community who lived on the Blanket Islands until they were evacuated in the fifties due to extreme weather conditions. The fishing port of Dingle is also worth a visit, where you can stroll the charming streets to visit quaint pubs, arts and crafts shops, and even award-winning seafood restaurants.
Cliffs of Moher
Looming over the wild Atlantic Ocean at 702ft, the Cliffs of Moher continue for five miles along the coast. It’s one of the most incredible places to visit in southern Ireland. From the trails and lookout points, the cliffs offer breathtaking views of Galway Bay, Kerry Mountains, and the Aran Islands - just ensure you get a clear day! The cliffs are part of the Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, attracting more than one million visitors annually.
From the idyllic village of Glengarriff in Cork, you can ride a boat across the bay to Garnish Island. Also known as Ilnacullin, the 'island of holly', is just 37 acres in size. Despite its size, it is home to incredible Italian gardens that welcome nature lovers from all over the world.
You can expect incredible walking trails, a historic home, and plenty of rare plant species that shift throughout the seasons. A lovely side trip is to Seal Island, which is just across the bay. Unsurprisingly, you can expect to see plenty of cheeky seals hanging around, enjoying the sun (when it arrives!).
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is one of the best places to visit in Ireland. To soak up the scenery, you can take a ride in a horse-drawn jaunting car (Ireland's most traditional mode of transport) and listen as your guide informs you of the region’s rich history and legends. To see even more of the park, hop onto the Pride of the Lakes boat to tranquilly sail across the Lough and take in its scattered islands and local flora and fauna.
Bunratty Castle, and its adjoining Folk Park, is one of the most unique things to see in Ireland. Dating all the way back to the 15th century, the castle is Ireland’s most well-preserved medieval castle. Even more interesting is the Folk Park. Across 26 acres, the park boasts an enlightening array of more than 30 buildings including a school, hardware store, and one-bedroom house – it might just feel like you have time travelled 100 years back in time.
Adventure to the Emerald Isle with us. Your adventure in Ireland lies ahead.