15 Best Things to Do in Ireland

Ireland is that destination which makes you realize how tiny you are in front of nature. Stand at The Cliffs of Moher and open your arms wide to the vast ocean. Visit the islands and you will be able to embrace solitude. Ireland’s national parks are your gateway to greenery and its ancient sites are a path to rich history. Play a little game of sand on its pristine beaches and observe a moment of peace and its serene lakes. Not to forget are the Game of Thrones filming locations - an HBO series that has made a thousand more flock to the stunning Ireland. Drink the Guinness ale and be merry or ring in the local festivals to enjoy the Irish vibes. 

Ireland offers you never-ending possibilities of having the most memorable vacation. Here are the 15 best things to do in Ireland if you are short on time but wish to take in all that the astonishing country has to offer. 

1. See Nature’s Wildest Form at the Cliffs of Moher

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Image Source: Wikipedia.org

The Cliffs of Moher are synonyms with Ireland’s top tourist attraction. Located on the west coast of Ireland, The Cliffs of Moher showcase you nature at its most rugged self. Standing on The Cliffs, you will be treated to breathtaking vistas of the vast ocean with mighty waves crashing on the rocks below. There are three platforms from where you can have a 360-degree experience packed with stunning views. Next, you must visit the fascinating underground visitor center. Here the exhibits, images, and short tours about the cliffs will give you an interesting interactive experience. Walk along more than 600 paths at The Cliffs of Moher that are marked by mesmerizing scenery. This place is home to 20 species of nesting birds, inevitably making it a paradise for bird-watchers.     

2. Find Solace at the Secluded Irish Islands

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Ireland is dotted with many islands that are untouched, making a perfect retreat to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Home to very few inhabitants, these islands are just right to experience the countryside life. Inishbofin Island in the Galway County of Ireland is well-known for hosting a number of summer concerts. If you are an art-lover, flock to this island to attend the April Arts Festival. The Achill Island in Mayo County is for those who seek adventure. All you need are good hiking boots, surfing equipment, or a bicycle to make the most of your time on this raw island. Step onto Saltee Islands and you will feel as if you have entered a dreamland. The blooming wildflowers, coupled with sightings of gulls, razorbills, puffins, and gannets, make this island worth-visiting. 

3. Walk Through Historical times by Visiting the Megalithic Monuments

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Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Remember the Stonehenge that made for a lovely wallpaper? Ireland is marked by several such monolithic monuments that would leave the history buffs in a state of delight. Attracting millions of tourists every year, these rank amongst the most fascinating points of interest in Ireland. Newgrange, which is comprised of a circular mound with inner passages and chambers, is considered to be the most important megalithic monument of Ireland. The stone carvings here give you an insight into megalithic art. Carrowmore and Loughcrew are two megalithic cemeteries in the country. The Hill of Tara, Navan Fort, Turoe Stone, and Fourknocks are a few other prehistoric sites that hold a lot of fascination. 

4. Go Coasteering to Please the Adrenaline Junkie in You

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Ireland is the right place to awaken your adventurous side. With all the rugged nature around, it offers you plenty of opportunities to go wild. Coasteering is one such extreme adventure wherein you go swimming in the ocean, scrambling rough rocks, jumping high cliffs, and traversing the coastline. With the right equipment at hand, you may also go snorkelling or even swim through caves. Connemara in the Galway County of Ireland is considered to be one of the best places to enjoy coasteering. It is recommended to opt for tour operators to ensure safety at all times during the adventure.   

5. Praise the Architectural Beauty of Irish Castles

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The lovely Irish castles are tucked away in all the raw nature that Ireland is blessed with. While a few of them might be in ruins, others give you a glimpse of royalty enjoyed in the olden times. Rock of The Cashel, perched on top of a hill in the Tipperary County, is a castle full of history. The Ashford Castle, which was first built in 1228, now acts as a five-star hotel. Constructed in between 1811 and 1870, the Belfast Castle makes for a fairytale castle. Today, it is a dream destination to host weddings. The Doe Castle, overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Sheephaven Bay, make for a postcard-perfect picture. Bunratty Castle, Cahir Castle, Dunguaire Castle, and Ross Castle are a few other castles in Ireland that you must include in your itinerary.

6. Enjoy a Tour of the Guinness Storehouse 

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Introduced way back in 1759, Guinness is the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland. It would be interesting to tour the Guinness Storehouse to know the tale of this Irish dry stout, which has now gained recognition all over the world. The tour will walk you through the brewing story of this ale and will also offer you samples towards the end. You are even taught the proper manner to pour a pint of Guinness during the tour. If the alcoholic drink wins over your taste buds, you may buy a bottle or two at their retail store. 

7. Enjoy the salty breeze at the Beaches in Ireland

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Ireland is blessed with beaches that are responsible for inspiring classic songs. The azure blue water and the jaw-dropping cliffs at Keem beach make for a stunning sight to behold. The white sandy beaches of Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay are just right to enjoy some sunbathing time. These crescent-shaped beaches form a unique mirror image. Upon stepping on the Portsalon Beach, you will agree that the Atlantic Ocean nowhere appears to be so blue. Considered amongst the top beaches in Ireland, it is located in a natural Heritage Area and is usually crowded. Main Beach, the Inch Beach, and the Murlough Beach are a few more ideal beaches to enjoy the sun, sand, and the sea. 

8. Visit the Game of Thrones filming locations

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The beauty of Ireland is not unknown to the fans of the popular HBO series - Game of Thrones. Yes, the CGI does add beauty to the filming locations, but that does not make them any less mesmerizing. Be it the Mussenden Temple used as Dragonstone in season 2 or the Portstewart Strand through which Jaime and Bronn make their way in season 5, there are numerous sites throughout the country that have featured in the series. Many GoT filming location tours are hosted in the country. Opt for the one that best suits your needs and enjoy reliving the fantasy.

9. Ring in the Festivals of Ireland

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The cultural festivals of Ireland are all unique in their own way. But one thing which remains common is that they are all filled with merriment and joy. St Patrick’s Day, celebrated on 17th march in the country, is marked by parades and festivals across towns of Ireland. Castlepalooza is an annual Irish independent music and art festival which is full of fun and floric. If you wish to bask in the traditional festive spirits, then the Willie Clancy Festival, held in Miltown Malbay, is the right festival to attend when in Ireland. 

10. Ride Along the Scenic drives in Ireland

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Chasing miles on wheels with panoramic vistas on the side is one of the best things to do in Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way is recognized as the longest signed coastal drive and is laced through the rugged coastline of many counties in Ireland. Ring of Kerry is another popular path in the world that you may cover even cycling. It is a 180-200 kilometer loop, leading to beautiful places like Kenmare, Killarney, and Valentia Island. Loop Head Peninsula Drive, Dingle Peninsula Drive, and Causeway Coast Scenic Drive are other loops that have stunning vistas at every other turn. 

11. Trail through mountains and woodlands in National parks of Ireland

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Ireland has a total of 6 national parks and all of them are endowed with wild beauty. Spanning more than 25,000 acres, the Killarney National Park is comprised of diverse ecology, featuring Lake Killarney, rugged mountain peaks, along with oak and yew woodlands. A designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this national park is home to many red deer and several bird species. Wicklow Mountains National Park is a favorite amongst the residents of Ireland, thanks to the numerous recreational activities that one may indulge in here. These include walking and hiking, rowing, diving, rock climbing, fishing, and swimming in designated areas. Connemara, Glenveagh, The Burren, and Ballycroy are the other national parks in Ireland for you to explore.

12. Admire the magnificent ancient Abbeys and Cathedrals

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There are several abbeys and monastic sites in Ireland, coupled with many majestic cathedrals. All these make for spectacular pieces of architecture and hold the power of leaving you awe-inspired. The Kylemore Abbey dates back to 1920 and exhibits the Victorian style of architecture. The Corcomroe Abbey which was established in between 1180-1200 is another admirable site to visit. Although it might be a little in ruins, it is a good example of the Romanesque style of architecture in Ireland. When you are in Dublin, you must visit the Christ Church Cathedral. Showcasing a lovely amalgamation of Gothic and Romanesque style of architecture, its unique feature is that it houses a total of 19 bells. 

13. Bask in serenity of the Loughs of Ireland

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In all the ruggedness of Ireland, rest the tranquil lakes, where you can spend hours together in peace. Loughs (pronounced as Lochs) of Ireland are a popular retreat amongst locals during holidays and on weekends. Lough Corrib in the Galway County is the second largest lake in Ireland. This lake has a total of 365 islands and is a favorite amongst those who love fishing. Lough Ree boasts to be the Lake of Kings and offers fishing and boating as the prime recreational activities. If you are on a spiritual journey in Ireland, then Lough Derg is one place you cannot miss. With St Patrick’s Purgatory situated on the Station Island of Lake Derg, it is sought by those looking for spiritual reflection. 

14. Tour the lovely museums of Ireland

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ireland’s museums are the best place to know about its natural history, culture, and art. The National Museum of Ireland has four premises, each one giving you a detailed insight into the respective field. The museum focusing on archaeology has a huge collection of prehistoric artefacts, and its prime feature is the fascinating collection of well-preserved Iron Age ‘bog bodies’. The natural history museum is one of the best places to visit with kids in Ireland. Locally dubbed as ‘The Dead Zoo’, its vast collection includes huge skeletons of dinosaurs and a large deer once found in the country. Country Life and Decorative Arts and History are two other premises of the National Museum of Ireland. 

15. Set out on a shopping spree

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There are many goodies that you may carry back home from Ireland. Irish Chocolate tops the list of souvenirs that you can buy for your dear ones. Butlers Chocolate is one such product that you must purchase before returning home. Irish Aran Wool Knits are traditional winter wears, including sweaters, gloves, scarves, or hats. Carry them home and let their warmth remind you of the times spent in Ireland. You cannot return back to your homeland without a bottle of Irish Whiskey. Known to produce quality whiskey, this rich ale is for those appreciate fine taste. 

Marked with many prehistoric sites, dotted with postcard-perfect scenery, and enriched with a friendly culture, Ireland is a destination that must top your bucket-list. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Usually lost in a reverie, Ketki is someone who absolutely refuses to live in the practical world. While she has a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, she should be honored mastery in procrastination ...

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