At first glance Ireland may seem like a small island perfect for a quick trip, in reality though, Ireland is brimming with activities to do and sites to see. Everyone thinks they need to go to Blarney, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Ring of Kerry, but we tried to steer away from only classic tourist spots and combined our suggestions with some more ‘off the beaten path’ spots!!
- Giant’s Causeway
- Skellig Islands
- Brú Na Bóinne
- Guinness Storehouse
- St. Patrick’s Day Festival
- Connemara National Park
- Aran Islands
- Dingle Peninsula
Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim, Ireland
Giant’s Causeway is home to over 40,000 basalt columns. As a World Heritage site it’s probably at the top of a lot of people’s travel buckets lists. However, due to its unique formations we feel compelled to leave it on our list.
Skellig Islands, Co. Kerry, Ireland
We don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it, but Skellig Michael is one of the locations used for filming in the record-breaking, new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. Another World Heritage site, the Skellig Islands are home to some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery, as well as a historical monastery settlement. This would definitely be our suggestion if you are looking for an alternative to the Cliffs of Moher.
Newgrange, Co. Meath, Ireland
We’ve got a little bit of a theme happening here, Brú Na Bóinne is another World Heritage site, as it is home to one of the grandest megalithic structures dating back to the neolithic period. You’ll find various tombs, henges, and other structures at Brú Na Bóinne, but the holy grail would be visiting Newgrange during the Winter Solstice. Only 50 lucky winners are chosen from a lottery each year, the winners and their guests get to experience the amazing and eerie sunrise through the ancient structure.
Guinness Storehouse, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Okay sure, this one’s not exactly off the beaten path when thinking about trips to Ireland, but it’s a pretty essential stop in our books. Even if you don’t have a taste for beer, the storehouse tours are full of history and information about brewing and Ireland that those not taste testing can enjoy.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Co. Dublin, Ireland
What better place to celebrate a holiday than in the place where it originated. Dating back to the 17th Century, no one puts on a St. Paddy’s day party like Ireland does. While Dublin no doubt throws the largest of celebrations in Ireland, cities like Cork, Downpatrick, Belfast and others pull out all the stops as well.
Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway, Ireland
One of Irelands six National Parks, Connemara National Park is home to a wide range of natural features such as: mountains, bogs, forests, and grasslands. Much of the park was once part of the Kylemore Abbey Estate, which is still open for tours. A beautiful and historic castle that has been home to many, not just the wealthy doctor who built it, but eventually the Duke and Duchess of Manchester, and lastly a Benedictine Monastery.
Inishmore, Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland
Full of history and myth, the three islands that make up the Aran Islands are relatively small. The small populations that still inhabit the islands have done a lot to preserve the history of the island, allowing the world to view Ireland as it was in recent history. There’s something for everyone though, from the expansive nature and breathtaking views, to the adrenaline filled cliff diving options.
Blasket Island, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Maybe you’ve heard of Dingle from the recent film Leap Year, or possibly read an article about it’s surfing scene. The long winding roads make for perfect cycling or driving trips.
Interested in ticking off some more of the popular tourist destinations? Don’t feel bad! There’s a reason places become tourist hot spots, and it’s because millions of people think they are worth visiting.
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The Ultimate Guide to Ireland
A free digital guide on everything you need to know for a trip to Ireland.