Since St. Paddy’s Day is just around the bend, we thought it seemed like the perfect time to explore some of the Green Isle’s most picturesque and singular spots. Without further ado, here are ten perfect places to visit in Ireland. Get yourself the luck o’ the Irish and visit one of their country’s many, magical destinations.
Ireland is a land of countless castles, so we might as well start with the the most famous castle in all of the land. Blarney Castle is where thousands of tourists travel every year to be hung upside down by their feet (yes, that’s how you do it) and kiss the famous stone for good luck. What you may not realize is that this spectacle occurs in such a beautiful, old ruined castle in the country.
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher on the western edge of the island are one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world. They’ve appeared in movies – in The Princess Bride they were the “Cliffs of Insanity” and they’re right up there near the top of the list of any published must-see sights. The tallest tower more than 700 feet over the sea. Photographs do not do them justice. If you’re ever in Ireland we can say with great confidence – just go there.
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is just 120 miles long, but it takes in some of the most picturesque scenery in all of Ireland. A popular way to see the country is on a “fly and drive” holiday, where the main focus is for you and yours to drive around Ireland in a rental car on your own. If you’re making the trip, don’t mis the Ring of Kerry.
The Fanad Head Lighthouse
If you’re the romantic sort who loves a good lighthouse selfie, we have a great opportunity for you in the Fanad Head Lighthouse. Fanad sits about 120 feet above sea level overlooking the Atlantic. Porpoises, whales and dolphins are frequently sighted, and the landscape is perfectly Irish.
The Giant’s Causeway
More than 40,000 basalt rock columns created from ancient volcanos created the Giant’s Causeway, a magnificent natural wonder and Northern Ireland’s crown jewel/UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Skellig Islands
Another mysterious and wonderful sight, the Skellig Islands sit just off the coast of Portmagee. You can visit either Little Skellig or Skellig Michael, the latter of which was featured as Luke Skywalker’s place of self-imposed exile at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The island’s history (as a former monastery from the 6th century), makes it a perfect stand-in for the other-worldly franchise.
The Aran Islands are another remote and untouched off-the-beaten path destination while you’re in Ireland. It’s one of the few places you can still visit a traditional Irish village (the Aran’s have a famous cottage industry of knitted sweaters made from the island’s large sheep population). The locals still speak Gaelic, so you might get a chance to try your hand at this traditional language.
Connemara National Park
One of Ireland’s most popular National Parks, Connemara is famous for its Connemara Ponies as well as the wild and rugged countryside. It’s known for its many miles of novice to expert hiking trails that the Irish are proud to share with visitors. Hiking not your thing? You can also check out Kylemore Abbey, housed in another of Ireland’s many castles.
If you’re looking for the truth about St. Patrick this year (beyond the inspiration for many an Irish drinking game on March 17 the world over,) you’ll want to visit the Glendalough Valley. Not only is it a beautiful and bucolic area of the country, it’s where you’ll find Glendalough Monastery, where some say St. Patrick started his crusade to convert the Irish from paganism to Catholicism.
No visit to Ireland can be quite complete without a deep dive into some very ancient history. You might not know that people have inhabited Ireland for eons, but it’s true. The ancient peoples of Ireland were inhabitants for thousands of years. The Poulnabrone Dolmen tomb dates from between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. You can visit the more than 172 of these tombs in the countryside, but Poulnabrone is one of the most impressive and sits in the Burrens, another region worth exploring for its odd, fantastical landscapes.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If you need some more inspiration check out our post on Green Destinations Around the World.