Ireland tourism spots are virtually on every corner and very quiet road. Every place is an Instagram photo waiting to be shot. I have recently returned from a visit to Ireland that left me blown away. The magic and mystery of Ireland will also leave you wanting to explore even more. I decided to make a list of the top twenty places you have to visit in Ireland.
1) The Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry
My visit here left me speechless. National Geographic declared the Dingle Peninsula: “One of the most beautiful places on Earth.” The view is breathtaking, and when you have taken in the beauty of the land you can head into town. This town has more pubs than any other town in Ireland.
2) Giant's Causeway in County Antrium
A UNESCO world heritage site since 1986, Giant's Causeway is a natural rock formation and one of the biggest Ireland tourism draws. It has forty thousand basalt columns that interlock that slope down to the sea. They look like hexagons. To make this landmark even more unusual, when you gaze at it from above, it looks like a typical man-made street.
3) Winter Solstice at Newgrange
This is second only to the Giants Causeway as the most popular Ireland tourism spot to visit.
This landmark alone is worth a visit to Ireland. One of the best European examples of a passage-tomb. The passage is from around 3200 B.C.E. It is aligned with the winter solstice.
4) Learn About the Perfect Pint at Guinness the Best Beer by Ireland Tourism Board
The clever founder of Guinness arranged for a nine thousand year lease at St. James Brewery in Dublin. Thus, ensuring Guinness would always have a place in Ireland. I took a tour of all seven floors of the building. It takes ninety minutes, but it is self-guided so I took it at a slower pace. I received at the top in the Gravity Bar a free pint. Although the tour is fascinating, I loved the architecture even more. It is a glass atrium created to look like a pint of Guinness.
5) Cliffs of Moher in County Clare
This beautiful site has many ancient Irish legends. The red cliffs are gorgeous, and it is heaven for spotting nature. Not only is it a refuge for fauna, but it is home to many different types of endangered birds. I was lucky enough to be there for nesting season. I saw many different birds (including puffins) from the cliff. During the spring and summer, you can see many gorgeous wildflowers and grass inland. On the oceans, you can dolphins, seals, and whales.
6) Visit the Oldest Bar in the World
One place you must visit in Ireland tourism spots is Sean's Bar. It opened around 1100 years ago and is as authentic as ever. Merry tunes greeted me from the musicians in the corner. There was an open turf fireplace as well as sawdust on the floor. I found Sean's Bar next to the 12th century Athlone Castle.
7) See the Most Haunted Castle in Ireland Tourism Books
Located in Coolderry is Leap Castle. The castle was on Ghost Hunters and has a long and fascinating history. The current owner welcomes visitors like myself. He shared stories such as the ghost of the murdered priest in the bloody chapel and the red lady. The ancient castle itself overwhelmed me with a sense of history. Although I did not see a ghost myself I would be happy to visit again.
8) Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
This jail built in 1796 and acted as a prison until 1924. They have guided tours every twenty minutes. I found that advanced online booking was essential to gaining entry. This prison featured everyday criminals from 6 to 60, but also political prisoners. I learned during the tour that people committed crimes during the Great Famine. The reason prison guaranteed them a way to get food. Come here to learn about the history of the prison, and the Easter Rising. Also, those who waited for transportation to Australia for their crimes.
What is a visit to Ireland without seeing the iconic Riverdance? Riverdance is a traditional Irish dance with a modern twist. I found the drums, fiddles and haunting vocals in the concert to be sublime. Hearing the thunder of the dance was the most amazing!
10) Blarney Stone An Ireland Tourism Treasure
Who can say they have visited the best Ireland tourism spots without the Blarney Stone? Another essential place to visit in Ireland is Blarney to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Hidden away from Blarney village in the woodlands, the stone is eighty-five feet up. Because of the awkward placement of the stones, I had to bend backward and hold the railing to kiss it. I hope it gives me the gift of the gab!
11) National Museum of Ireland–Archaeology
This museum opened in 1890 and features many wonders of medieval and Celtic art. The exhibition is currently featuring bog bodies from the Iron Age. I found out that bog bodies are people mummified when they died they buried them in a bog. The best part is that admission is free.
12) Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College alone is worth a visit to Ireland. Its establishment in 1592, making it Ireland tourisms oldest educational system that is high-level. The thirty-five-minute tour will allow you to see the glory of the Book of Kells. This is an ancient manuscript that illustrates the four gospels. It is a thing of beauty, and well placed within the walls of the old monastery.
13) Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
This was a grand Celtic cathedral that had its consecration in 1134. It has the most important and oldest Romanesque wall paintings in Ireland. I found them in Cormac's chapel. The very oldest were masonry patterns. There were also fantastic narrative scenes that included the Nativity.
14) Glendalough Monastic Site
In the county, Wicklow is a treasure to visit in Ireland. Glendalough is in a glacial valley. It is famous as a sixth-century early medieval monastery. The monastery was originally created by St. Kevin. There is a monastic city, as well as the glorious Valley of the Two Lakes. I found a stroll across the peaceful grounds was enough for me. You can also take a more demanding mountain hike. Don't miss St. Kevin's cross, which is a cross made of local granite that features an unpierced ring.
15) The National Gallery, Dublin
This free gallery features Irish and European art of the masters. A unique aspect of this gallery is they encourage you to improve your own skills. They provide drawing in workshops led by local artists. Better yet, you can create your own masterpiece as I did and hang it in their atrium. They provide all the materials. Admission is free.
16) Titanic Belfast A Popular Ireland Tourism Request
You can't miss this during your next visit to Ireland. It features artifacts, galleries and special effects about the RMS Titanic. I discovered over nine floors. Each floor shares the stories of the different passengers. There are also displays on how the ship worked and simulations of the architecture. This area is also home to Titanic Studios, where Game of Thrones was recently filmed. I was able to spot a peek at props from the throne room. Locals say you can see cast members going about their business during the filming season.
17) Killarney National Park, County Kerry
If there is any national park you should visit in Ireland, it is this one, and not because it's the oldest. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere in 1981, the parkland has waterfalls, woodlands, and lakes. It shows the huge ecological diversity and the only native herd of red deer found in Ireland. I visited the Muckross House and Gardens they date back as far the nineteenth century. It is well preserved. It has all the original artwork, trophies, furniture and furnishings from the period.
18) Iveagh Gardens, Dublin City
Iveagh Gardens is a must-see. It began as a modest earl's lawn and blossomed into its beauty during the Dublin Exhibition of 1865. Much of the originally featured landscape is still there. The site is better known as Dublin's “secret garden.” I found a yew maze, a gorgeous rosarium, and wonderful fountains.
19) Slieve League Cliffs, County Donegal
Another majestic site that is free, the Slieve League Cliffs. They are one of the finest and highest marine cliffs you will find in Europe. I found breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Sligo mountains, as well as Donegal Bay. It is well worth it to leave your car parked in the car park and walk the way to the sacred mountain. Do It! so that you don't miss any of the fantastic scenery.
20) Garnish Island, County Cork
Stunning is the word to describe this island. The gardens configuration in beautiful paths and feature rare specimens for the climate. I took the Garnish Island Ferry to reach it and saw a tame seal colony on a seal island. Well worth the trip!
I hope this list helps you discover the magic the next time you visit Ireland as I did. Happy travels!
After exploring 20 hot spots in Ireland, where to next?
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