Ireland is by far one of the most interesting travel destinations to visit in all of Europe. It’s a country that’s packed with a majestic history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty.
This country has a lot to offer the tourist who is willing to look beyond the obvious! The mythical Celtic nature of the island of Ireland is only truly revealed to those who are prepared to put in the effort to look beyond the bright lights of the cities of Ireland.
Here are the 10 best things to do in Ireland summer or winter, or anytime of year that you plan to visit!
1. Watch the Sunset at the Cliffs of Mother
The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most photographed pieces of land in Ireland and once you arrive here you will soon understand why. On a clear day you can see for miles, while on a misty day you make the long trip here and may see nothing. That’s all part of the charm, the wickedness of nature and the ever-changing Irish weather. If you do make it here, try and stick around for the sunset, it is one of the most beautiful sights in Ireland and is honestly a photographers dream. Just be careful not to get too near the edge!
2. Climb Croagh Patrick
One of the most rewarding things to do in Ireland is to climb any of our tallest peaks. One such mountain, Croagh Patrick, named after our Patron Saint, allows for spectacular views over Clew Bay in County Mayo and out over Clare Island. You can either join the annual pilgrimage up the mountain on the last Sunday in July, or go at your own pace any other time of the year. Be warned that conditions can change quickly and it is no easy climb, with loose shale and rocks making the last few hundred meters quite the challenge.
3. Get lost in Connemara
Connemara in County Galway is one of the most beautiful regions of Ireland. It is also quite special as it is one of the last remaining Gealtacht (Irish speaking) areas of Ireland.Spend a day drive through here and you will be rewarded with lakes that reflect the surrounding countryside like a mirror, small seaside villages, deserted beaches and harbours and the remote Maam Valley. This is one the most unspoiled regions in all of Europe.
4. Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights
Over the past few years, something quite incredible has started happening in Ireland. Photographers have started to capture the Northern Lights dancing in the sky in the Northern parts of the country. There is even a website called Donegal Skies, which has a breathtaking collection of photos taken by Astrophotographer Brendan Alexander of the Northern lighting up the Irish sky. For updates on when the Aurora will next be visible, sign up to Astronomy Ireland.
5. Watch the sunrise over Lough Tay
If even just for one day, get yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn and make your way down to the Wicklow Mountains. If driving from Dublin, you can make it in about 35 minutes and will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunrises over Lough Tay in Glendalough National park. It’s easy to do and it’s free, so this should definitely be on the top of your list of things to do in Ireland!
6. Take a Cruise on the River Shannon
River Shannon is the longest river in the island, and it snakes its way from the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain all the way down to Limerick City where the river meets the sea.
The most navigable parts are from Limerick to the Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.
There’s nothing more relaxing than taking a boating cruise on the Shannon.
Lovely scenes along the 500km of waterway will be the highlight of your entire trip.
The most popular routes are from Portumna to Carrick, where you can also rent boats of all sizes. For those who want to prolong their river adventure, many more hidden gems can be found further north.. Take a Cruise on the River Shannon
7. Go to the Guinness Storehouse
Few people of legal age visit Ireland without taking a sample of a pint of Guinness. Guinness was first brewed by Arthur Guinness at St James’s Gate in the heart of Dublin in the style of a porter. Guinness is famous for its deep black colour and white head and is one of Ireland’s most famous exports. Today Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands globally. Guinness has been brewed at Saint James’s Gate since Arthur Guinness first came up with the recipe.
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin celebrates Ireland’s most famous export from the heart of the St James Gate Brewery in Dublin City. This highlight is one of the biggest attractions in Ireland with over 4 million visitors since 2000 when the Storehouse first opened. The storehouse is a self guided tour which takes in the region of an hour and a half. The tour offers many highlights over seven floors, all surrounding a glass atrium which takes the shape of a pint of Guinness which extends from the reception to The Gravity Bar.
8. Visit The Burren
Located in north Clare and south Galway, The Burren is a must for any visitor to Ireland. It is easily the most unique and interesting landscape in Ireland, if not Europe, and combines distinctive limestone rock formations with rare species of flora and fauna. The Burren’s name is derived from the Gaelic word Boireann, which means rocky place. Its unique appearance is the result of thousands of years of the erosion of limestone by acidic rainwater which left ruts and hollows between the rock surfaces.
Always a favourite with hikers, The Burren has a well trodden walking trail that is 45 kilometres. As well as its stunning beauty, The Burren has long been a Mecca for naturalists. Its ecological diversity can not be found anywhere else in Europe with over 700 different species of plants and ferns growing there.
9. Star gazing at Blackrock Observatory
If you live in Cork or will be visiting during your trip to Ireland, be sure to stop by the Blackrock Observatory where you can star gaze with the experts. Located in a 16th century castle just outside Cork city, Blackrock Observatory is an attraction unique to Ireland and includes and interactive storytelling experience in the castle grounds. Open 7 days a week!
10. Take a ride on Ireland’s only cable car
Did you know that Ireland has a cable car? Just the one, but a very cool one in a very random location it must be said. The cable car on Dursey Island transports up to 6 people at a time across the Dursey sound, where you can often see dolphins jumping through the water below. It is the only cable car in Europe that transports people across open sea water – yet another reason to put it on your Irish bucket list!
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