Irish Island is less than 33,000 square miles, about the same size as Indiana. Despite its small size, Ireland has UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient tombs, engaging artistic traditions, and some of the world’s friendliest people.
So much to see and do makes it hard to start.
Visit these handpicked destinations to experience Ireland’s best features.
Ireland inspires. The landscapes have inspired some of the most popular books and stories, such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Game of Thrones. From the hexagonal basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway to the lunar-like limestone landscapes of Burren National Park, the landscapes spark imagination.
Along the roads are castles and abbeys to explore. Many lesser-known sites in Ireland, such as Brú na Bóinne, offer fascinating glimpses into its ancient history. Ancient Brú na Bóinne, a UNESCO World Heritage site, predates Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids by 5,000 years.
Several of the country’s most stunning sites are accessible via the Wild Atlantic Way and Causeway Coastal Route.
The Wild Atlantic Way offers a 1,500-mile journey along Ireland’s west coast, featuring famous sights like the Cliffs of Moher and abandoned Gaelic fishing villages on the Blasket Islands. Starting in Belfast, the Causeway Coastal Route follows Northern Ireland’s stunning coast. Besides the Giant’s Causeway, this coastal touring route has many other stunning sights, such as Dunluce Castle and The Gobbins’ thrilling cliff-paths.
Hiking, golfing, horseback riding, whale watching, and fishing are available on these two drives, which offer stunning views.
Renewing your passport can be a time-consuming and tedious process. However, with the option of Ireland passport renewal online, you can save valuable time and effort.
For a relaxing evening after sightseeing, enjoy traditional or “trad” music in a cozy pub. The lively tempos make it hard not to clap and dance, even with tired feet. The music capital of Ireland, Doolin, is the best place to listen to traditional music in a pub.
Irish folk art and craft flourish alongside music. Explore the Craft Trail in Kilkenny for a unique experience. Local artists use traditional and modern methods to make beautiful blown glass, pottery, textiles, and jewelry in Kilkenny’s vibrant artistic community.
Take the ferry across Galway Bay to the Irish-speaking Aran Islands for an immersive Irish heritage experience. Traditional Irish craftsmanship, such as the unique needlework of the Aran sweater, is evident in everyday life on these remote islands. On Inis Oir, the smallest island, the Aras Eanna Arts Center houses resident artists and offers Irish music and art classes.
Irish cities have world-class museums as well as folk traditions in smaller towns. Visit Belfast to see the Titanic’s birthplace or get lost in Dublin’s National Gallery of Art, home to “Ireland’s favorite painting.”
As a UNESCO city of literature, Dublin is an ideal destination for literary enthusiasts. Founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, the Abbey Theatre in the city center premiered Irish playwrights like John Milington Synge and George Bernard Shaw. Explore the city and enjoy a Guinness in bars frequented by famous writers like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Johnathan Swift.
No cultural trip to Dublin is complete without seeing the Book of Kells, Ireland’s most revered artwork. Trinity College holds a 1,200-year-old book with Latin text of the four gospels and script embellishments and interlinear drawings.
Experience Ireland’s captivating food scene now. Chefs from around the world are drawn to the country’s gastronomic renaissance featuring high-quality, farm-fresh ingredients. Ireland is used to farm-to-table food, a U.S. trend. Ballymaloe, Ireland’s top cookery school, is located on a 100-acre organic farm Cooking and organic food production are taught in half-day to twelve-week certification programs.
Specialty foods from Ireland are world-class due to fresh ingredients. The Burren Smokehouse in County Clare manufactures world-class smoked salmon.County Cork is known for its artisanal farmhouse cheeses, which are sold in shops and markets nationwide, including the English Market in Cork City and St. George’s Market in Belfast.
Fish is abundant in coastal towns, surrounded by the Atlantic and Irish Seas. Plan a trip to Ireland in late September to experience the world’s longest-running oyster festival, which coincides with the local oyster harvest.
Though Ireland’s food reputation is growing, its drink quality is well-established. Dublin visit is incomplete without visiting the Guinness Storehouse. Visit the Gravity Bar upstairs to enjoy a pint with panoramic views of Dublin after learning about Guinness and the St. James Gate Brewery. Ireland is seeing a rise in local microbreweries.The Crean’s Brewery on the Dingle Peninsula is a particular favorite for its crisp and refreshing Tom Crean’s Irish Lager.
There are many sites and activities in Ireland for foodies, history buffs, art lovers, and adventurers. Explore the Emerald Isle and this warm culture.