“There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were.”
– Irish saying
Ireland offers some of the most breathtaking countryside and scenery in the world, including miles of lush green fields, magnificent cliffs, natural wonders, rugged coastline, wind-swept beaches, spectacular gardens (over 300 are open to the public), and 400+ world-class golf courses – it’s an incredible place to visit… and explore.
Rich in culture, history and tradition, Ireland draws over seven million visitors every year. Over 40 million Americans have Irish heritage – it’s no wonder that Ireland is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. The Irish people are renowned for their charming warm hospitality and wonderful storytelling… keep a look-out for leprechauns!
Fun Ireland Attractions & City Sightseeing Tours
“Craic” (pronounced crack) is the Irish word for fun – and there’s certainly no shortage of Fun Things To Do in the Emerald Isle. Festivals take place year-round throughout the country – plan a trip around a festival and experience Ireland at its best.
Ireland is famous for it’s ancient Castles which are located all over the country – many of the castles are in ruins, while others can be rented out for special occasions. With more castle hotels than in England, Ireland is the place to go if you want to stay in a castle hotel.
Blarney Castle and its beautiful Rose Close Gardens, located in Cork, is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. Other top attractions include: Guinness Storehouse (calling all beer-lovers!), Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College & The Book of Kells, Giants Causeway, Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula & Dingle Bay, Cliffs of Moher, Gap of Dunloe, Killarney & Killarney National Park, The Burren, Ross Castle, Wicklow Mountains, Belfast Castle, Natural Museum of Ireland, Boyne Valley, Kylemore Abbey, Moneygall, and scenic Connemara.
Dublin & East Coast – Meath, Louth & Wicklow
Dublin is Ireland’s largest city – it’s also the country’s capital. Rich is history and culture, Dublin’s trendy shopping, fun restaurants, hot bars… and over 1,000 pubs, makes it one of Ireland’s most popular destinations. Literary greats who have hailed from Dublin include: George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, Jonathon Swift and James Joyce.
Dublin’s attractions include: historic Dublin Castle, Trinity College (home to one of Ireland’s finest treasures – The Book of Kells), the world-famous Guinness Storehouse Brewery, beautiful Georgian manors, cathedrals, parks, and free museums. Temple Bar, the city’s center for entertainment and nightlife, is a popular hang-out for tourists and locals alike.
The East Coast of Ireland is famous for its natural beauty and historic sites. It encompasses the picturesque counties of Dublin, Meath, Louth and Wicklow. Top attractions include: Ardgillan Castle, Boyne Valley, Christ Church Cathedral, Cooley Peninsula, Dublin Bay, Dublin Castle, Fingal, Guinness Storehouse Brewery, Hill of Tara, Killruddery House & Gardens, National Botanic Gardens, Powerscourt House & Gardens, Sally Gap & Wicklow Gap, Trinity College and Book of Kells, and Wicklow Mountains National Park.
Southeast – Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford & Wexford
Known as the “Sunny Southeast” – the Counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford feature spectacular beaches, ancient castles and fun historical attractions, making the area one of Ireland’s most popular vacation destinations.
County Wexford is Ireland’s sunniest county – famous for miles of beautiful beaches that stretch along its coastline. The combination of sandy beaches and fun watersports makes it a great family vacation destination. Wexford is home to the annual Wexford Festival Opera – the annual event (dating back to 1951) takes place in October and November, drawing opera lovers from around Ireland and the world.
Fun attractions include: Altamont Gardens, Cahir Castle and The Rock of Castle (one of Ireland’s most visited Heritage sites), Carrickmacross Lace Gallery (popular with Royalty), Doncannon Fort, Dunmore Cave, Hook Lighthouse, Midleton Distillery (home of Jameson Irish whiskey), Kilkenny Castle, Saint Canices Cathedral, House of Waterford Crystal, and Waterford Tall Ships Race.
Cork & Southwest – Kerry and Limerick
County Cork is located in the Southwest – it’s the southernmost and largest county in Ireland. Its spectacular coastline, ancient castles, historic sites, fabulous food, and fun outdoor activities make it one of Ireland’s top destinations.
Fun Cork attractions include: historic Blarney Castle (be sure to kiss its famous “Blarney Stone”), old churches, fun wildlife parks and a “must-see” indoor-covered English Market (fun for foodies). West Cork is reputed to be one of Ireland’s top gourmet spots. Visit the quaint fishing villages of Schull and Skibbereen. Tour Dun na Sead Castle, Mizen Head and West Cork Model Railway Village. Fun summer events include “A Taste of West Cork” Food Festival and the Ballydehob Jazz Festival.
Famous for its natural beauty, ancient castles and historic sites, the South of Ireland encompasses the picturesque counties of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. County Kerry is home to several of Ireland’s most popular destinations – Dingle Peninsula, Killarney, Gap of Donloe, Ross Castle, and the Ring of Kerry. It’s also home to some of Ireland’s best spas, so be sure to pamper yourself with a relaxing spa treatment.
Dingle Bay & Dingle Peninsula
The beautiful Dingle Peninsula is located on the southwest coast of County Kerry. One of the most picturesque destinations in Ireland. Dingle Bay makes a great day trip from Cork or Killarney.
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most visited attractions – its circular tour route offers visitors some of the most spectacular landscapes and stunning coastline along Ireland’s southwest coast.
Galway & West Coast
The cosmopolitan city of Galway is located on Ireland’s West Coast, in County Galway – it sits on the edge of the River Corrib, surrounded by Galway Bay, facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Considered “The Wonderful West,” the western part of the island offers the most beautiful scenery in Ireland. “Not-to-be-missed” attractions include the spectacular Cliffs of Moher (located along Ireland’s rugged coastline), Connemara (one of Ireland’s most picturesque regions), and The Burren (one of Ireland’s most magnificent and unique natural wonders).
Midlands – Cavan, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Monaghan & Westmeath
The Irish Midlands region includes the counties of Cavan, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Monaghan and Westmeath. It is home to beautiful rolling hills, historic sites, ancient castles, Moneyall ((where President Obama has ancestral roots), and the River Shannon – Ireland’s longest river.
Area attractions include: Athlone Castle, Ballaghmore Castle, Birr Castle, Bog of Allen, Clonalis House, Clonmacnoise monastic site, Killykeen Forest Park (fun for bird-watchers and wildlife lovers), Lockes Distillery Museum, Parke’s Castle, Patrick Kavanagh Center, Roscommon Castles and Forts, Stradbally Hall Narrow Gauge Railway, and The Rock of Dunamaise (remains of a Celtic fortification).
Northwest – Donegal, Leitrim & Sligo
The Northwest region includes the counties of Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo – known for its beautiful mountains, lakes, and great outdoor activities (world-class golfing, fun water sports, surfing, angling, deep-sea fishing, horseback riding, and mountain climbing.
County Sligo is a fun place to enjoy surfing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, kayaking… and more! Surfing lessons are also offered for all ages and skill levels.
Donegal is the most northerly of the Irish counties – it has the largest number of links courses in Ireland, drawing golfers from around the world. Famous for its beautiful landscape (Bunglass Cliffs are the highest cliffs in Europe and twice the height of Ireland’s famous Cliffs of Moher). Donegal is also renowned for its fresh seafood and traditional Irish culture (music, dance, concerts) — it’s a FUN place to visit.
Other fun area attractions include: Bundoran (a surfer’s paradise), Fanad (beautiful scenery and beaches), Glenveagh National Park, Grianan Aileach Stone Fort, Inch Wildfowl Reserve (Ireland’s premier wetland site), Sliabh Liag (cliffs on the West Coast of Donegal), and Rathmullan seaside village.
Norther Ireland – Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry & Tyrone
Explore the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone and visit its ancient castles and historic sites. Belfast and Londonderry City are two of Northern Ireland’s most popular locales.
Belfast (in Irish, Beal Feirste), the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, is located in County Antrim – and it’s one of the country’s most popular destinations. The city is very easy to get around; it’s split into quarters – The Titanic Quarter (the Titanic was built here), The Cathedral Quarter, Queen’s Quarter and The Gaeltacht Quarter.
Belfast attractions include: Belfast Botanic Gardens & Palm House, Albert Memorial Clock Tower, Belfast Castle, Belfast Festival at Queen’s, Belfast Grand Opera House, Belfast St. Anne’s Cathedral, Crown Liquor Saloon, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulter Museum, and the Titanic Belfast – find out all about the Titanic and its history. Enjoy seeing interactive exhibits, artifacts, videos and all things Titanic!
The Causeway Coastal Route (120-mile trail) is one of the world’s most spectacular drives – take this route to see Giant’s Causeway (World Heritage Site), one of Northern Ireland’s most popular “must-see” tourist attractions. Some have called the famous giant stone columns the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Fun Northern Ireland attractions include: Antrim Coast Road, Belfast Castle, Belfast Botanical Gardens, Belleek Pottery (home to world-famous Belleek Fine China, one of Ireland’s top attractions), Carrickfergus Castle, Castle Coole, Causeway Coastal Route (one of the world’s best scenic drives! Giant’s Causeway (World Heritage Site and one of Ireland’s most popular “must-see” tourist attractions), Devenish Island, Down Cathedral, Fermanagh Lakes, Glens of Antrim, Londonderry City Walls and The Tower Museum, Mount Stewart House & Gardens, National Museums Northern Ireland, Sperrin Mountains, The Shannon-Erne Waterway and Waterways of Ireland, Ulter Museum and Whitepark Bay.
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The Best Time To Visit Ireland
There is no bad time to visit Ireland! Peak tourist season is in the summer – June thru’ August, so expect crowds. May and September are great times to visit – September tends to be drier than most months, especially near Dublin and Cork. Spring can also be a busy time (St. Patrick’s Day Festivals and Parades); however not all sites and attractions are open yet – many of them close down in October and don’t reopen until Easter.
Ireland enjoys relatively moderate year-round temperatures – it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Expect rain year-round, so be sure to pack a brolly (umbrella) and light windbreaker jacket, whenever you’re planning to visit. And wear layers – you could experience all four seasons in a day!
Ireland is blessed with very long Summer days – the sun is up early in the morning and sunsets are as late as 10-11pm. Winter days are short, with sunsets as early as 4:30pm.
You can see more attractions during the lighter summer months, so keep this in mind when booking your trip. Of course, if you’re coming to Ireland to see the countryside, meet the people and have a pint or two in the pubs, then it doesn’t really matter when you visit 🙂 Pick the time you want to go to Ireland and chances are there will be at least five Irish festivals taking place throughout the country.
Although It rarely snows during the winter time, December 2010 will go down as one of the coldest months on record in Ireland, with heavy snowfall blanketing most of the country. On a positive note… it was a beautiful white Christmas 🙂
Ireland is one of the wettest countries in Europe – it’s also one of the greenest. And that lush green countryside – and the Irish people – are just a few of the many attractions that make Ireland one of Europe’s most popular destinations.