Whether you are backpacking Ireland or taking a roadtrip, there is no shortage of things to choose from when it comes to compiling our Irish bucket list of the 20 best things to do in Ireland.
Ireland is known as one of the friendliest countries in the world with the most welcoming people. Add to this the fact that Ireland is a place full of beautiful scenery and great natural attractions that are steeped in history, it comes as no surprise as to why Ireland should be on everyone’s bucket list.
From our experiences of every great place and bucket list idea that Ireland has to offer, we have done our best to create a list compiled of the best and most compelling attractions on the Emerald Isle.
Below, we chronicle what we believe exactly to be the 20 best things to do in Ireland.
20. Cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge – Antrim’s famous seaside bridge
As statistics about tourism in Ireland show, Northern Ireland is the 3rd most popular place for people to visit on the island of Ireland. The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is easily one of the most famous spots to visit when you are driving the Causeway coast. The rope bridge links mainland Antrim with Carrick Island and is in an area surrounded by dramatic landscapes.
Thousands of people every year cross the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge which is suspended almost 100ft above sea level for an exhilarating experience and to witness beautiful coastal scenery.
Address: 119a Whitepark Road Ballintoy, County, Antrim, Ballycastle BT54 6LS
19. Cycle the Great Western Greenway – a cyclist’s dream
The Great Western Greenway in County Mayo is the ideal place for any cycling enthusiast as it is a picturesque and relaxing 42-kilometre cycle route which leads you from mainland Mayo to the stunning Achill Island.
Starting Point: In Westport an official access point is located to the right just off the N59 traveling in the direction of Newport approximately 500m from Westport town centre.
18. Visit Glendalough – one of the most scenic places to visit in Ireland
Glendalough is located in the rolling hills of County Wicklow and is a place where history and natural wonders collide. The most impressive thing in Glendalough to be found is the ancient abbey which dates back to the early 6th-century.
Address: Unnamed Road, Derrybawn, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
17. Take a walk in Phoenix Park, Dublin – nature deep in the city
Phoenix Park in Dublin is the largest enclosed public park in Europe as it covers over 700 hectares. Phoenix Park is home to many attractions such as the Zoological Gardens, Áras an Uachtaráin (home of the Irish president) and a variety of wildlife such as squirrels and a herd of fallow deer.
The park is one of Dublin’s main tourist attractions and it is one of the best things to do for families living in Dublin with kids.
Address: Northside, Dublin 8, Ireland
16. Hook Lighthouse – the world’s oldest operational lighthouse
Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford is the world’s oldest operational lighthouse and it still offers tours of the entire lighthouse and grounds to people to this day, with the lighthouse itself standing at 35 metres tall.
Address: Churchtown, Hook Head, Co. Wexford, Ireland
15. Catch a game in Croke park – the home of Irish sport
Croke Park in Dublin is Ireland’s biggest sports stadium and is the home of Ireland’s two original and unique sports which are Gaelic Football and Hurling, part of the Gaelic games. No trip to Ireland is complete without attending a game and sampling this important piece of Irish culture.
Address: Jones’ Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin 3, Ireland
14. Experience the Ireland of old at Aran Islands – a window to Ireland’s past
The Aran Islands located off the coast of Galway is a place of historic significance and contains a recognized World Heritage site. Visiting the Aran Islands will give you an insight into the Ireland of old as it once was and is certainly one of the best places to visit in Ireland.
Address: Oileáin Árann, Co. Galway, Ireland
13. Immerse yourself in Irish history at Kilmainham Gaol – one of the best things to do in Ireland
Kilmainham Gaol in County Dublin first opened in 1796 and stood as an active prison until 1924. In that time the prison has housed many famous Irish rebels from the most significant moments in Irish history. A visit to Kilmainham Gaol is a truly haunting experience but a very rewarding one.
Address: Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 RK28, Ireland
12. Climb Carrauntoohil – the rooftop of Ireland
Carrauntoohil Mountain in County Kerry is the highest mountain in Ireland and its summit is often referred to as the rooftop of Ireland as it is officially the highest point in Ireland that one can reach. It is a must for any adventurer who wishes to be rewarded with stunning scenic views.
Address: Corrán Tuathail, Coomcallee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
11. Explore Connemara National Park – an important Irish cultural region
The marauding Connemara Park in County Galway has a strong association with traditional Irish culture. Besides being an area of wild and untamed beauty, Connemara Park is also home to the largest Irish-speaking Gaeltacht area in the country.
Address: Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Ireland
10. Experience the Winter Solstice at Newgrange – older than the Egyptian pyramids
Newgrange in County Meath contains burial tombs that are so ancient that they are even 500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza, and visiting them is surely one of the best things to do in Ireland.
Newgrange is also famous for being the best place in Ireland to go to for witnessing the Winter Solstice as during it the passage and chambers of Newgrange become fully illuminated.
Address: Newgrange, Donore, Co. Meath, Ireland
9. Visit the Burren – like walking on the moon
One of the most beautiful and unique places in Ireland without a doubt would be the Burren in County Clare which has a landscape made up of ruts, rocky mounds and fissures which has made the experience of walking the Burren likened to walking on the moon.
Address: 2 Church St, Knockaunroe, Corofin, Co. Clare, V95 T9V6, Ireland
8. Visit the Belfast Titanic Museum – home of Ireland’s most famous ship
Virtually everyone is familiar with the ship Titanic and its tragic fate, but many may not be familiar that the Titanic was made in Belfast. The Titanic Belfast museum offers exhibitions which contain interpretative and interactive galleries that provide not only greater insight into the Titanic but Belfast itself too.
Address: 1 Olympic Way, Queen’s Road, Belfast BT3 9EP
7. Visit the Giant’s Causeway – Ireland’s most stunning rock formation
The Giant’s Causeway is a coastal area in County Antrim that is made up of over 40,000 basalt columns which were formed in a volcanic eruption and are steeped in Irish mythology.
It is one of the most popular natural attractions in Ireland and it recently received the honour of being named a World Heritage Site and a National Nature Reserve by UNESCO.
Address: Bushmills BT57 8SU
6. Visit the Leap Castle in Offaly – for the world’s most haunted castle
Leap Castle in County Offaly is regarded as the world’s most haunted castle; considering its bloody and sordid history perhaps it should come as no surprise that it earned that title. For anyone who wants a scare, a visit to Leap Castle should be on your Irish bucket list.
Address: R421, Leap, Roscrea, Co. Offaly, Ireland
5. Drive the Ring of Kerry – taking the scenic drive
The Ring of Kerry in County Kerry is a famous scenic route which stretches over 120 miles and takes people along the acclaimed Wild Atlantic Way that offers fantastic views of mountains, lakes and lush green scenery.
The Ring of Kerry is one of the best road trips in Europe. Driving the Ring of Kerry is something that every visitor to Ireland should do at least once and deserves its accreditation as one of the best things to do in Ireland.
Starting Point: Most tour buses will start in Killarney Town, and the address can be located here.
4. Explore Spike Island – Ireland’s Alcatraz
Spike Island in County Cork is Ireland’s equivalent of Alcatraz. The prison on Spike Island was known as “hell on earth” and any visit to it is a bone-chilling experience. The prison has now been converted to a museum, a tour to experience it is a must on any trip to Ireland.
Address: Inis Pic, Co. Cork, Ireland
3. Pull a pint of Guinness in the Guinness Storehouse – sample the famous black stuff
The Guinness Storehouse in County Dublin is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Ireland and draws millions to its doors every year, and is clearly one of the best things to do in Ireland.
At the Guinness Storehouse you will learn everything there is to know about Guinness and you will even get the opportunity to pull and sample your very own pint in the renowned sky bar which offers 360-degree, unparalleled views of the Dublin skyline.
Address: The Liberties, Dublin 8, Ireland
2. Visit Hill of Tara – home to the High Kings of Ireland
The Hill of Tara is an ancient, ceremonial burial site in County Meath which, according to Irish tradition, was once the location of the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
Not only is it a place of scenic beauty but anyone who visits it will also be greeted with the knowledge that they are standing in a place where the high kings of Ireland were once crowned.
Address: Castleboy, Co. Meath, Ireland
1. The Cliffs of Moher – a place of picture-postcard perfection
No list of the best things to do in Ireland would be complete without adding the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, one of the most visited natural attractions in Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher at its highest stands at a mesmerizing 214 meters in height and offers visitors great views of the Irish coastline.
The west coast of Ireland also provides some of the best yoga retreats in Ireland, with some including guided hikes of the Cliffs of Moher.
Address: Lislorkan North, Co. Clare, Ireland
That concludes our Irish bucket list of the 20 best things to do in Ireland. By adding as much of these things to your itinerary you will be sure to ensure that your next trip to Ireland will be a great success and you will have a holiday to remember.