When summer comes, and the sun splits the skies, it’s normal behaviour for people to jet off to a foreign destination to enjoy the better weather. Maybe Ireland isn’t first on that sunshine list of yours but it is easy to forget just how beautiful a country it really is even without constant sunshine (it is a myth that we get no sun at all).
Known as the Emerald Isle, Ireland is a magical island sitting on the edge of the world and has all you need for that perfect holiday. From each province and all corners of the country, there are boundless places to come and see. Here are my Top 10 best destinations in Ireland that everyone should visit once.
10. Connemara National Park – the wild west
One of the most unique spots in Ireland, the Connemara National Park in County Galway stretches a staggering 2,957 acres across bogland, mountains, grasslands, and forests. It earns its spot as one of the places you must visit in Ireland.
The famous collection of the ‘Twelve Bens’, the park’s domineering mountains, provide the perfect cover to the trails below and the animals that inhabit the area, such as ponies, red deer, and a vast rainbow of birdlife.
9. Glenveagh National Park – Donegal in style
Donegal has an endless list of places that could be on this list, but Glenveagh National Park, located in the north of the county, is, without doubt, one of the best places everyone should visit in Ireland.
It is the country’s second-largest national park, and is fitted with scenic walking trails that concludes with the majestic Lough Veagh and Glenveagh Castle, an 18th-century creation.
8. Slieve League – the pinnacle of Ireland
While the Cliffs of Moher often steal the spotlight, what can’t be looked over are the Slieve League Cliffs. Resting on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal, we explore this wondrous setting on our Wild Grande Tour 14 Day Tour, The Land of Giants 13 Day Tour and The Wild North – 8 Day Tour.
Amongst the highest cliffs in all of Europe, Slieve League reaches a jaw-dropping 609 metres high, almost three times the size of the Cliffs of Moher. A true gem and one of the most magnificent places to visit in all of Ireland.
7. Glendalough – Ireland’s Ancient East
One of the best places in Ireland to visit is Glendalough in County Wicklow. It’s posted in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. It is a bearer of Irish history with the monastic city, which includes an Early Medieval monastic settlement built in the 6th century.
You will also be in awe of the ‘valley of the two lakes’ for its vast scenery and abundant wildlife. It is the main reason why you need to see Ireland’s Ancient East.
6. The Giant’s Causeway – mythological Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway was Ireland’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, and this is no surprise. Found in North Antrim, the Causeway is a natural construction of 40,000 basalt columns.
The Causeway is memorialized in Irish mythology and will continue to play a premier role in Irish tourism for years and years to come.
5. Skellig Islands – a trip to the mystical islands
The Skellig Islands, located about 8 miles/13 km west of the coast of Kerry, are two small, uninhabited islands that grapple with the rocky waters of the Atlantic and are a must-visit.
One of the islands, Skellig Michael, is still home to an early Christian monastery, preserving Irish history, and can be reached by steep steps built on the island. If your heart is set on discovering this unique setting then jump aboard one of our Ring of Kerry Day Tours and take a magical 2 hour 30 mins boat tour.
4. Dingle Peninsula – the edge of the world
The Dingle Peninsula is located on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast, the northernmost of County Kerry’s peninsulas, ending at Dunmore Head, the westernmost part of the Emerald Isle. Once described by National Geographic as “the most beautiful place on earth”, it is a place of spectacular seascapes and landscapes shaped by the elements, with a wild and rugged coastline of steep cliffs and wide sandy beaches.
Encircling the town of Dingle, the peninsula is one of the most scenic routes in all of Ireland, hugging Ireland’s coastline and being dotted with remnants of Irish history. Experience this majestic destination on our Dingle Day Tour and you won’t be disappointed.
3. Cliffs of Moher – Ireland’s premier tourist destination
The most famous cliffs in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. They run 14 km along the County Clare coastline and are perhaps one of Ireland’s best known destinations to visit and that’s why it is a signature stop for us on our Celtic Voyage – 6 Day Tour.
A spectacular setting with jagged cliffs that stand highest at 214 metres and slightly north sits O’Brien’s Tower, a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs built way back in 1835. You can experience the Cliffs by visiting its interpretation centre, by sea with a boat cruise or take a dramatic coastal walk.
2. Killarney – the land of eternal youth
Call of the wild…A Red Stag on Mangerton Mountain, Killarney, bellows in search for hinds during this years rutting season.
Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Killarney, in Gaelic, Cill Airne – meaning the Church of the Sloes, is known for its legendary beauty of glistening lakes, roaring waterfalls and majestic mountain peaks sketched across the horizon.
People don’t just come for the beauty but also the craic agus ceol: the good times and the banter, the pubs, live music, and Irish charm. This town is adjacent to the largest of the three Lakes of Killarney – Lough Leane, or The Lake of Learning – where the medieval monks of Innisfallen recorded the earliest history of Ireland.
If you are looking for something adventurous to do then check out our Killarney Tour experiences which will let you see why Killarney makes nature easy to enjoy, while being as active or as laid-back as you choose.
1. Ring of Kerry – encircle the heart of Kerry
Arguably one of the most famous places in Ireland, and the best place that you must visit in Ireland at least once, is the Ring of Kerry. This sensational, all-encompassing, 179 km-long circular route teases rural villages and borders elegant coastal landscapes.
Non-stop, it would take you three and a half hours to drive through, but we recommend you do it slowly and make the most of the fascinating scenes that surround you. Our Ring of Kerry and Valentia Island Tour departs from Killarney at 9am and explores all the unique and off the beaten track destinations along the Ring of Kerry before returning to Killarney at 6pm. A day very well spent discovering the most amazing destination in Ireland.
Hopefully this Top 10 list has helped you in planning your trip to the Emerald Isle. They are the best Ireland has to offer and rival any destination you could think of in my opinion. If you need any advice on planning or further recommendations on what to see and do, then please feel free to contact one of our many dedicated tour experts. They are full of free knowledge, always ready to answer any questions you might have and will offer you the best advice in achieving your dream holiday.
Take care and safe adventures!
Wild N Happy Mick