Updated: Jul 21, 2022
If you’re in need of a little luck, a trip to Ireland is sure to leave you speechless and feeling like the luckiest person in the world. With sweeping fields of green, drastic cliffs, endless amounts of sheep that will have you stopping every few minutes for a photo, and picture-perfect hiking, Ireland is a traveler's paradise. For the beer lover, a trip to Ireland is sure to delight. But this stunning country is more than a pint of Guinness…although a stop at the local pub definitely won’t hurt during your visit. With millions of tourists flocking to Dublin every year, we decided to take a closer look at ten amazing places around Ireland that will get you out of the city and onto the path of adventure.
What To Know Before Traveling To Dublin
If you’re traveling to Ireland, you’ll likely enter the country via Dublin. From Dublin Airport, hop on the Dublin Express that departs from Zone 1 at Terminal 1 and Zone 21 at Terminal 2 every thirty minutes. The Dublin Express takes you straight into the heart of Dublin city and drops you off at the doorstep of Temple Bar for a welcome pint. There are many amazing and affordable hostels all through Dublin. During my visit, I stayed at Abbey Court Hostel, which was just steps away from all the important Dublin sites. My stay at Abbey Court Hostel was exceptional with friendly staff and clean rooms. For travelers looking to book a tour to some stunning sites, the hostel also offers guided bus tour options around Ireland that leave early in the morning and return to the hostel at the end of the day. During your stay, Dublin makes for a great home base for adventures. If you are just planning on taking day trips to the following locations, staying in Dublin offers close proximity to top destinations and the opportunity to experience many cultural staples of Ireland.
Are There Guided Day Tours From Dublin?
As the primary hub for travelers visiting Ireland, Dublin makes for the perfect central location for day tours to meet. Many tour companies offer a hotel pick-up option or select a well-known meeting place in Dublin to pick up visitors on a bus for their booked adventure. If you’re only traveling for a short time in Ireland or simply want the convenience of having a tour guide drive you to your destination while sharing fascinating tidbits with you, booking a guided day tour from Dublin is a great solution. On a previous short adventure to Ireland, I used Paddywagon Day Tours to visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Blarney Castle and had a fantastic experience with the provided guides. Tours were reliable and informative, but still fun. They had the perfect balance of guided information and free time. I have also had friends who have used Irish Day Tours and Wild Rover Tours and sang high praise of their experiences. Booking a guided day tour ensures ease of transport and that you will get a deeper understanding and secret insight into the area you are exploring.
Should You Rent A Car In Ireland?
While Ireland is by no means a large country, if you want to travel at your own pace or go off the beaten path, renting a car can make for a great travel option while in Ireland. From Dublin Airport pick up your rental car for your road trip adventure. For more adventurous road trippers, rent a camper van from Bunk Campers for the ultimate road trip and camping adventure. Keep in mind that while Ireland has excellent and easy to navigate roads, if you’re looking to go off-road or to a more rural location, you will want to book a car with four-wheel drive and off-roading capabilities.
What Is The Best Month To Visit Ireland?
The weather in Ireland can be a fickle trickster. No matter what time of the year you are traveling to Ireland, the weather is prone to change quickly. One minute you can have blue sky and sunshine, the next you’ll get caught in storm clouds and hail. Still, apart from the dead of winter, Ireland is a great escape in all other seasons. To avoid St. Patrick’s Day prices and crowds of summer tourists, travel to Ireland in either April, May, September, or early October for optimal weather and prices.
➡️ Pro Tip: Dublin makes for the perfect European weekend escape. Need more inspiration for a 48 hour adventure? Check out these 10 European Cities Perfect For a Weekend Escape.
What Are The Best Places To Explore In Ireland?
After spending some time exploring Dublin, hit the road on either a road trip or a guided tour to the following amazing places in Ireland. You are sure to be left speechless by the beauty of them all.
Sliabh Liag (Slieve League)
If you have ever dreamed of screaming into the wind from a cliff with stunning seaside views, look no further than Sliabh Liah. Known as the best sea cliff views in Europe, these cliffs make for the perfect hiking spot along the southwestern coast of Donegal. Sliabh Liag offers views of the Atlantic Ocean, Donegal Bay, and the Sligo Mountains, plus dolphin and shark spotting potential that will leave you speechless. It takes about three and a half hours to drive from Dublin to Sliabh Liag.
Giants Causeway is a UNESCO destination that should be high up on everyone’s bucket list. As legend has it, Giants Causeway was formed due to a fight among giants. More scientific tour guides however would note that this stunning site was formed as a result of a volcanic eruption that caused basalt columns to develop. Walk along the coast on the basalt columns and soak up the stunning views Giants Causeway has to offer.
Connemara National Park
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect hiking spot in Ireland, Connemara National Park is the destination for you. Connemara National Park offers four hiking trail options; a .5 km fifteen minute hike on the Ellis Wood Nature Trail, a 1.5 km forty minute hike on the Sruffaunboy Trail, a 3 km one hour hike on the Lower Diamond Trail, and a 3.7 km two and a half hour hike on the Upper Diamond Trail. All trails are doable for beginner to advanced hikers. Wild camping is permitted in certain parts of the park, but if you are looking to pitch a tent for the night, there are also many close-by campsites you can stay at. If you are looking to soak in the famous green-hilled views of Ireland, a day exploring this national park is a perfect adventure.
Off the coast of Dublin County, this special island makes for the perfect day trip adventure from Dublin. In order to reach Ireland’s Eye, you will need to take a fifteen minute ferry ride leaving from Howth. The area of Howth has some amazing cliff walks and castles and is a great escape from the busy Dublin city center. After exploring Howth, hop on the ferry to visit Ireland’s Eye. While on the island, hike to Martello Tower and then explore the small beaches on the island.
Cliffs of Moher
Throughout my years of backpacking, I have often encountered people who will refuse to go to popular tourist attractions because they seem “basic.” However, I firmly believe that most of the sites tourists hype up so much are popular simply because they are truly magnificent. And that’s exactly how I feel about the Cliffs of Moher. If you have ever wanted to be reminded of just how small you are in comparison to nature in its wildest element, the Cliffs of Moher are sure to quickly give you some perspective. This UNESCO site is perfect for hiking about and enjoying expansive sea cliff views. The Cliffs of Moher are about a three hour drive from Dublin and make for the perfect road trip or guided tour adventure.
Known as the “Valley of the Two Lakes,” Glendalough is teaming with rich history, scenic views, and wildlife. Additionally, there are many famous Monastic sites scattered throughout the region. During your time in Glendalough, hike around the Upper and Lower Lakes. Ireland is not just known for scenic hikes though. If you want the true Irish experience, you have to drink some whiskey. Stop at Glendalough Whiskey Distillery during your visit for a little pick-me-up after a long day of hiking.
Rock Of Cashel
Ireland is the land of castles and medieval buildings sat in stone and scattered throughout the countryside. While exploring Ireland, a stop at the Rock of Cashel is a must-do. This historical building boasts a cluster of medieval buildings that will have you wishing you were alive when knights roamed freely. If you’re looking to take a guided tour day trip during your time in Ireland, this destination is a great spot to book a tour to. Having a guide to walk through the history of the site will really enhance your experience and understanding of what makes this destination so special.
➡️ Pro Tip: Use our Ultimate Toiletry Packing List when packing your bags for Ireland.
The Dark Hedges
For Game of Thrones fans, a visit to The Dark Hedges is a must while in Ireland. Located in Northern Ireland, this famous site is recognizable for its line of trees along Bregagh Road. While The Dark Hedges were planted to form a magnificent entrance to Gracehill House, they now attract visitors who love the Game of Thrones series. Even if you’ve never seen the show, you’ll still love walking down this famous path.
Killarney National Park
Close to the town of Killarney, this national park is the perfect escape for nature enthusiasts. Killarney National Park is home to the highest mountain range in Ireland and boasts sweeping lakeshores. The national park offers numerous hiking trails from easy to very difficult, making it the perfect spot for all types of adventurers.
Dunquin Pier Dingle Peninsula
Located along the Wild Atlantic Way, this twisty-turny route is one of the most popular stops in Dingle. Dunquin Pier is located at the base of a steep winding road that leads down to the pier and boasts views that look out into the great ocean expanse. Getting to this destination can be slightly dangerous, but as long as you are cautious about where you are walking, it is worth it for the view.
My first travel adventure without my parents was to Ireland with my senior year college roommate. While it has been many years since I have been in college, the memories I made during that trip have held strong and are often used as a source of inspiration when I’m in a travel rut. While you could easily spend your trip in Ireland drinking your way around Dublin, you won’t regret taking some time to explore these stunning spots in Ireland. Sláinte!
Where in Ireland do you want to visit first? Tell us in the comments!