The 13 Best Things to Do in Ireland

February 14th, 2023

Packed with natural beauty, vibrant culture, and rich history, Ireland is one of the most fascinating countries to visit. Regardless of what you choose to do in this spellbinding country, it will enchant, inspire, and surprise you.

This wonderful Celtic island has bustling urban cities to explore. If you love art and culture, food, shopping, and parties, you’re going to love cosmopolitan destinations like Dublin, Galway, and Cork.

On the flip side, if you’re inspired by nature and enjoy the silence, desolate grasslands with glacial lakes, ancient castles, and astonishing sea cliffs will keep you coming back for more.

With so many things Ireland has to offer, it can be challenging to plan a trip. Even though it’s nearly impossible to put all those on the list, here are some of the best things to do in Ireland that will make you fall in love with this marvelous place.

1. Discover Ancient Irish Castles

Medieval Castle on the Seaside Ireland

The many ancient castles scattered across Ireland are sure to take you back in time or to a fairytale. And each has a unique story to tell.

To start, you can stop by Dublin Castle for guided tours that will take you to the State Apartments. This is where presidential inaugurations have taken place. And if you love fine décor, make sure to visit the beautiful Chapel Royal.

If you want to see what it’s like to stay in a real castle, you can book a suite at the Ashford Castle in County Cong. This fortress dates back to 1228 but offers all the perks of luxurious 5-star service.

There are also medieval fortresses shrouded in legend and folklore for those looking for mystical experiences. For example, legend has it that Blarney Castle will give the “gift of gab” to anyone who bends backward to kiss this ancient piece of rock. For those brave enough, there’s the Rock of Cashel, the medieval castle that’s said to have been spit out by the devil.

2. Take a Cruise on the River Shannon

River Shannon in Winter

Taking a cruise on the river Shannon is one of the best things to do in Ireland. It’s the longest river on the island, flowing from the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain down to Limerick city where it meets the sea.

There aren’t many things that are as relaxing as cruising on the Shannon. Stunning scenes along the river will mesmerize you. That said, the most popular route is from Portumna to Carrick, and you can rent boats of different sizes. However, if you want to prolong this river journey, numerous hidden gems await you further north.

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3. Explore the Slieve League Cliffs

Slieve League Cliffs are one of the best places to visit in Ireland for a good reason. It boasts natural beauty and isn’t crowded, meaning you can take in the sights and smells without anyone blocking your view.

Although not as popular as Cliffs of Moher, Slieve League Cliffs are up to three times higher, offering you a top-of-the-world experience. And, the sight of the crashing waves pounding onto the massive rocks 2000 feet below is astonishing.

4. Try Irish Cuisine

Fish and Chips

What’s the point of traveling to Ireland without trying authentic Irish cuisine? Irish food can be described as hearty, as almost all dishes include potatoes, meat, and cabbage. So, when visiting local eateries, make sure to try some of the local dishes instead of sticking to fish and chips.

Some of the best Irish dishes include colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage, seafood pie (chunky fish pieces topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheese, Irish stew (a flavorful broth containing lamb stew, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions), and boxty (potato pancakes). And what better way to wash down the delicious meal than with a glass of Guinness?

5. Enjoy Hiking on the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher in County Clare

Cliffs of Moher are some of the most popular Ireland tourist attractions. The 8km stretch to the top will take you to an altitude of 200 feet. At some hiking points, you can enjoy the thrill of standing just a few inches from edges overlooking the majestic ocean.

Situated a short distance from the Doolin village, O’Brien’s Tower is the highest point of Moher Cliffs. On a clear day, you can spot Aran Islands, Loop Heads, Maumturks, and the Twelve Pins mountain ranges of County Galway.

6. Visit the Bend of the Boyne

Bend of the Boyne is one of the most historically significant locations in Europe. This complex megalithic site predates the Egyptian pyramids - its origins can be traced back to the Neolithic period during the 32nd century BC. And because of such a rich history, Bend of Boyne has become a World Heritage Site.

The most impressive characteristic of this attraction is the way it was built. It has an assortment of chamber tombs, henges, standing stones, and grave passes constructed from an inexplicable knowledge of astronomy and science people then couldn’t have possessed without divine help or aliens.

7. Enjoy a Glass of Beer at Guinness Storehouse

Dark Beer in a Glass

Head down to the Guinness Storehouse for the ultimate beer tasting experience. The fermentation plant will capture your imagination at first glance as it has seven floors surrounding a glass atrium that takes the form of a large pint of Guinness.

Besides its unique architectural allure, the Guinness Storehouse has much more to offer. You’ll get to discover the delicate craft of malting, fermenting, and virtually every topic regarding beer brewing. The tour guides will even tell you a thing or two about barrel making - an ancient craft passed down through generations.

The tour ends at the charming Gravity Bar on the top floor. There, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Dublin while sipping an ice-cold glass of original Guinness beer.

8. See the Killarney National Park

If you’re a nature lover, one of the best things to do in Ireland is to visit the Killarney National Park. This is the only place where you can see red deer in the wild. The park is also home to 141 bird species. Also, the glacial Lower Lake there boasts salmon, trout, and perch.

While exploring the park, you’ll get to see majestic mountain ranges in the distance, parks, gardens, lush moorlands, and waterways.

In addition, make sure to visit the Ring of Kerry. Some of the highlights along this route include Ross Castle, Torc Waterfall, Ogham Stones, the Stone Pillars, and the Gap of Dunloe. The area around Iveragn Peninsula has some particularly enchanting scenery.

9. Explore the Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains are located in Northern Ireland, south of County Down. It boasts splendid natural beauty and is one of the best places for hiking. But if you want to bypass the long walk, you can rent a bike and see the mountain countryside from a different perspective. Moreover, you’ll find many granite cliffs in the form of tors and outcrops scattered across the range. If you’re a fan of rock climbing, this is a place to be.

10. Go to an Irish Festival

Ireland has many festivals all year round. Regardless of the time of the year, there will be a local cultural event you can attend. The Irish know how to throw a festival, so prepare yourself for some fun.

11. Feed Your Eyes with Lough Tay Lake

Located between Luggala and Djouce mountains, Lough Tay Lake is a picturesque water body worth visiting and is best admired from above. The turquoise lake stands out in contrast to the green and brown vegetation covering most of the landscape.

The Northern Coastline surrounding the lake belongs to the Guinness family, and it’s edged by a strap of white sand imported by landowners. When taking an aerial view, the white sand and dark water resemble a pint of Guinness.

12. Visit the Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral is one of the most outstanding buildings in the city because of its impressive architectural design. The building is a prominent landmark of Galway’s skyline with its octagonal copper dome and pillars reflecting Renaissance style.

The interior is just as remarkable, with fine examples of Irish craftsmanship, including murals and cut stone woodcarvings. The Catedral also features rose windows and mosaics, epitomizing traditional Christian art.

13. Experience Traditional Irish Pubs

Irish Pub

There are numerous pubs in Ireland, and visiting them is one of the best things to do in Ireland because this way you can experience life in the Irish style. However, not all pubs are equal, and it’s best to find a traditional Irish pub to get the most out of your experience.

Sean’s Bar in Athlone is Ireland's oldest pub, and it’s definitely worth visiting. Brazen Head in Dublin is also a notable Irish pub many relish. In such pubs, you'll get to listen to traditional Irish music while sipping original Irish beer or whiskey.

Get the Most of Your Trip to Ireland

Ireland is an incredible country with numerous impressive sites to see and fun things to do. Although there are many other fun things to do in Ireland, the ones listed here will surely keep you coming back for more.

To get the most out of your trip, it’s a good idea to exchange money beforehand to avoid any issues you might have in a foreign country. At US First Exchange, you can buy Irish currency at competitive rates from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is place your order, and we’ll deliver it right to your doorstep quickly and securely.

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