THINGS TO DO IN IRELAND: THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST
IRELAND’S TOP ATTRACTIONSThere’s just no place in the world like Ireland. Uncover a country full of natural beauty and iconic culture, where a history of hardship and resilience never gets in the way of a good time.
ADMIRE THE ARCHITECTURE1. Newgrange: Located within the archeological area Brú na Bóinne, this Neolithic tomb predates the pyramids and Stonehenge by 1,000 years. During the winter solstice, a handful of lucky visitors can win a lottery-style draw to watch the sunrise illuminate the passage’s ancient stone carvings.
2. Castles: There are countless castles in Ireland. Among the must-sees are the often-besieged Carrickfergus Castle, and Blarney Castle, where you can kiss the Blarney stone—now sanitized between smooches—to earn the power of eloquence and persuasion.
3. Henrietta Street: The red brick Georgian townhouses that line this historic Dublin cul-de-sac are a window into 18th century Ireland.
4. Thatched roof cottages: These quaint buildings, known as blackhouses, are an example of ancient ingenuity and are scattered throughout the countryside.
5. Kylemore Abbey: This ivory monastery perched between a pond and rolling hills looks like something straight out of a storybook. Originally a sanctuary for nuns fleeing the World War I, anyone will find peace strolling through the grounds and gardens.
Recommended tour packages: Taste of Ireland, Luxury Taste of Ireland and Grand Tour of Ireland.
GET CULTURAL1. Literature: Wander through the beautiful Long Room at Trinity College’s library to see artifacts like the illuminated manuscript The Book of Kells and the country’s national symbol, Brian Boru’s harp. Celebrate Irish authors, poets and playwrights such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw at the Dublin Writers Museum or on a literary pub crawl.
2. Art: The political murals throughout Belfast and Derry are some of the most famous examples of street art in the world, capturing both sides of the conflict known as the Troubles.
3. History: If you want to understand the Irish plight for independence, spend some time at Kilmainham Gaol. This former prison turned museum is where the revolutionaries of 1916’s rebellion were held and executed.
4. Dance: Catch a traditional step performance, popularized by Broadway’s Riverdance, at bars throughout Dublin.
5. Holidays: While we often associate St. Patrick’s Day with Ireland, Halloween actually takes its roots from the pagan festival Samhain. Celebrate all that’s spooky and scary during fall or take a ghost tour to hunt for banshees any time of year.
Recommended tour packages: Dublin & Killarney and Tale of Two Cities.
EAT (+DRINK) YOUR HEART OUTPro-tip: Find all our culinary travel tips for Ireland in this guide.
1. Guinness Storehouse: This exhibition at St. James’s Gate Brewery covers everything about the iconic beer, from how it’s brewed to the legendary advertising campaigns that helped make “the black stuff” so popular. After learning all there is to know about the drink, pour your own perfect “pint of plain” and enjoy some of the best views of Dublin from the glass atrium.
2. Soda bread: This bread gets its name from using baking soda as a leavening agent when yeast wasn’t available. It’s usually plain and used to mop up stew—Ireland’s national dish—but some versions contain caraway and currants. Sweet or savoury, it’s best served warm and lathered with fresh salted butter.
3. Whiskey: That’s with an “e”. Second only to stout as Ireland’s favourite drink, the hard liquor can be enjoyed as a shot or in a sweet Irish coffee topped with whipped cream.
4. Potatoes: Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew. This versatile vegetable may get a bad reputation among fad dieters, but is integral to Irish cuisine. Two delicious dishes containing this healthy carb are colcannon, a mix of cabbage and potatoes, and champs, with butter, milk and scallions.
5. Ice cream: Irish dairy is renowned, and while the climate is far from hot and humid, ice cream is the best treat in any weather. Try the artisanal brand Murphy’s for unique and wholly Irish flavours like brown bread and gin. Or, if you’re not feeling fancy, stop for a “99” at any fast casual spot—soft serve vanilla with a chocolate bar stuck in it.
Recommended tour packages: Ireland East to West.
ANSWER NATURE’S CALLFind all our scenic travel tips for Ireland in this guide.
1. Giant’s Causeway: Legend says these 40,000 interlocking geometric rock formations were built by giants, but this natural wonder is really the result of a volcanic eruption.
2. Waterfalls: Unlike TLC, we say do go chasing waterfalls—Ireland has many of them! The 121-metre high Powerscourt is the tallest and Glenmacnass of the Wicklow Mountains is the most popular. Our favourite is the enchanting Torc in Killarney National Park.
3. Cliffs: You can’t go to Ireland without a trip to the Atlantic coast to take in the dizzying beauty of the sea cliffs. The Cliffs of Moher are perhaps the most famous, but the Sliabh Liag farther North are the highest in Europe.
4. Clew Bay: This unique ocean bay contains a field of underwater drumlins; tear-shaped hills of rock whose name comes from the Gaelic word droimnín. Hike to the top of nearby croagh (mountain or hill) for breathtaking views.
5. Dun Briste: It’s said St. Patrick chased the snakes from the mainland to this towering limestone rock in the middle of the sea. For a real thrill, travel here during a storm and watch water shoot from the blowhole.
Recommended tour package: Adventurous Ireland, Glens and Gardens and Ireland in Motion.