There’s absolutely no shortage of stunning places to visit in Ireland – a fact which has seen these beautiful Emerald Isle climb increasingly atop many a traveller’s list!
Yes, it might rain a lot in Ireland but it’s no coincidence then that some of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland are also some of it’s greenest!
And even when it’s pouring outside, there’s still loads to do indoors too so weather regardless, a trip Ireland is one we easily and rather heartily recommend – no matter what time of the year it is.
*Side note – thanks to the Gulf Stream, Ireland doesn’t experience quite the same extreme temperatures, especially in winter, as the rest of Europe so it’s easy to visit any time of the year.
All that aside, you might then be wondering where the best places to visit in Ireland are. Unashamedly, I’d say EVERYWHERE but Ireland is far too big for that and you’d be at it for ages so we’ve whittled it all down to 12 absolutely beautiful places you have to visit in Ireland.
Widely renowned as one of the prettiest town in Ireland (we got to find this out ourselves first hand, a few years ago), Adare is famed for its beautiful stone architecture topped with medieval-style thatched roof huts; not to mention its rather impressive ruins too.
If you’re something of a history buff, you should visit the Trinitarian Abbey as well as the ruins of the 13th century Adare Desmond Castle.
And, of course, no visit to Adare is not complete without a visit to the impressive Adare Manor. It’d be even better still if you stayed at this incredible five-star hotel. We popped here for an impromptu afternoon tea and it was glorious! 😋
The best way to truly enjoy Adare is to park your car (if you drove there) and just head out on foot. It’s walkable and give you the perfect excuse to pop in and out of it’s cute little shops, pubs and quaint alleyways you’d other miss out on.
Located on the south coast of Ireland in Waterford County, Ardmore is a fishing village that’s actually a very popular seaside resort (especially so in the warmer summer months) and easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland.
Visitors to Ardmore in search of adventure can go diving here (the conditions are particularly good due to its sheltered bay) and if you are feeling particularly curious, venture out a little farther to explore some fascinating shipwreck ruins.
Landlubbers fret not! There are plenty of things to see on the land as well, including the 12th Century Round Tower and Cathedral which also borders a historic cemetery.
Belfast was a tricky one initially. The capital city of Northern Ireland was considered one of Europe’s most dangerous cities during the 1970s- 80s, yet today, it’s evolved past its turbulent past and now boasts some rather spots to visit – especially so if you know where to look!
To get you started, a walk around the botanical gardens is always a beautiful experience, as is a trip to the historic Ulster Museum.
One of the biggest attractions in the city, however, is the Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest museum dedicated to the doomed ocean liner that stands on the actual site of the Harland and Wolff Shipyard where it was built!
Often referred to simply as “Clona,” Clonakilty is beautiful seaside resort town in West Cork that’s particularly well known for its pretty stunning blue flag beaches – which, of course is a key reason why it’s so popular with surfers (yes, it might be cold but you can go surfing in Ireland 😁)
You can spend the day relaxing on the sandy beach (suffice to say, fish and chips are pretty mandatory here), exploring the rock pools or just splashing about in the water (though perhaps save that last one for a warm summer day).
For a truly unforgettable experience, book a whale watching cruise, where you can potentially find yourself amongst dolphins, seals, basking sharks and if you’re ridiculously lucky – humpback whales!
The third most populous city in Ireland, Cork is located a little way inland from the southwestern coast and given its rich history (and stunning architecture), it’s very little wonder why Cork is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland.
No visit to Cork is complete without a tour of the iconic Blarney Castle, which has been attracting visitors for well over six hundred years! Here, you will have the chance to participate in an ancient part of Irish folklore by planting a kiss upon the Blarney Stone, a world-famous rock located at the top of the tower.
According to legend, anyone who kisses this stone is gifted with eloquence, meaning that their words will carry an incredible amount of influence and power! (Probably well-needed after quite a few pints of Guinness at your local… actually, there’s way more to Ireland than Guinness so be sure to sample a few local brews while you’re out an about in Cork).
At the end of the day, step into Greene’s for a modern, creative twist on traditional Irish cuisine. While almost everything here is delicious, you should definitely try the wild halibut fillet and pair it with a side of crispy, triple-cooked fries! (You can thank me later! 😉)
A small port town on the Kerry peninsula, I remember ages ago first finding out more about Dingle because it’s home to Fungie – a dolphin that lives in the harbour, loves to interact with humans and is now easily one of Dingle’s most famous residents! So much so that every year, many-a-tourist visit Dingle every year simply to catch a glimpse of (and perhaps even a photo with) Fungie.
Dolphins aside, Dingle has a long history as a fishing village, so it is hardly surprising that its one of the best places to visit in Ireland for its seafood. Be sure to stop by Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant on John Street, where you can begin your meal with a speciality cocktail before dining on grilled oysters or fresh filet of black sole.
Now this just wouldn’t be complete without mention Dublin now, would it? 😀
Chances are by now, you’ve already decided to visit Dublin (it is after all, one of the most popular places to visit in Ireland) so here are just a few places worth checking out when you’re here. First off – Saint Patrick’s Cathedral – it’s absolutely gorgeous and very impressive inside – it’s also almost 1,000 years old. Oh, and be sure to also check out the 13th century Dublin Castle!
A visit to Phoenix Park (even if just for a picnic – if the rain holds off) is pretty lovely in the sun and even though it’s fairly popular (and arguably a tad cliche) a drink at the infamous Temple Bar is a must (perhaps just for one or two drinks – you’ll find the prices much cheaper once you venture a bit further from this area).
Actually, as I write this, I just realised I’ve already got a list of the places you have to visit in Dublin here and also a list of where to eat in Dublin here too! So I guess, I’ll leave you with this recommendations and carry on to our next spot! 😀
Oh, and I know The Guinness Storehouse is like one of the most obvious places to visit in the city, but it’s not without good reason. I’ve genuinely had an amazing time there every time we’ve visited the city so can heartily recommend you pop in when you’re here.
Galway lies in western Ireland on the banks of the River Corrib (not sure why that’s pertinent information but for some reason, I seem to remember that fact so I’m putting it in 😀 ).
The Latin quarter of the city still boasts remnants of the original medieval walls, while the Spanish Arch, which was built in 1584 still stands proudly as a nod to Galway’s rich history and definitely a big part of why it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland.
Eyre Square is unquestionably the heartbeat of the city though! It boasts everything from seasonal markets to playgrounds to an impressive shopping complex and of course, many a watering hole for your mandatory pint of anything Irish when you’re here.
Be sure to book a room at Glenlo Abbey Hotel (an absolutely gorgeous, surprisingly affordable 5-star hotel which feels a bit like a major steal) or alternatively, the beautiful Twelve Hotel and just kick back and enjoy this Irish gem of a city!
A relatively small town, Glengarriff only has a population of around 800 people, yet it is an extremely popular destination for tourists thanks to its quaint and rather picturesque charm; making it easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland.
Located on the Beara Peninsula, the village is surrounded by craggy mountains and ancient peat bogs, as well as some of the oldest remaining oak and birch groves in the country.
Take a short but challenging trek up to the famous Lady Banty’s Lookout for incredible views of the Glengarriff Bay, or take a quick boat ride to Garnish Island, where you can view local wildlife as well as a stroll through the beautiful gardens.
If you are looking to recharge and refuel, Donemark West is just the place to go as it serves up some of the most delicious meals in town! (Seriously, visit and you’ll thank me later)
One of the major stopping points along the famous Ring of Kerry drive (seriously, if you have enough time – do this drive! It’s GORGEOUS), Killarney is located on the shores of Lough Leane in southwestern area of the country.
No trip to Killarney is complete without a visit to Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park. Dating back as early as the 6th century, this eerily beautiful spot is a brilliant spot to take in some of the local history as it used to be an ancient Irish monastery and was a key part of the area.
The jewel of County Cork, Kinsale is a port town with a rich military history that is ultimately immortalised at the Charles Fort. Famed for being one of the best-preserved forts in Europe, you can wander through the ruins today either independently or via booking a guided tour.
If Forts isn’t really your thing (and who would blame you? 😀 ), Desmond Castle is a pretty amazing piece of Irish history in Kinsale worth checking out instead.
After a day of exploring the city, stop for a drink and dinner at the Black Pig Winebar, a popular destination with an extensive wine list paired with some of the best food in the city!
When you’re in Lismore, you absolutely have to check out Lismore Castle. Arguably the most popular tourist destination in the entire city, the castle is well over 800 years old, nestled on a steep hill upon the site of a former monastery.
When you’re done inside, roam around the lush gardens which is littered with magnificent sculptures and are said to be the oldest landscaped gardens in the country.
Sidebar: If you’ve got a car, you should definitely also make some time to also pop by to Mount Melleray Abbey – a Trappist monastery in nearby Cappoquin.
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