Looking for some things to do in Ireland? We started and ended in Dublin and spent 8 days circumnavigating the island. Below are 10 of our favorite activities and sights we experienced while exploring the Emerald Isle.
1. Kilkenny Castle and the Rose Garden
- Kilkenny is a small town in Ireland between Dublin and Cork. It is a breathtakingly cute town that will take you back in time with its old-world feel.
- Take a walk around the cobbled streets of Kilkenny. Have lunch and take a look at the famous cathedrals and abbeys. Then go see the Kilkenny Castle and Rose Garden where you can take a free self-guided tour around the premise.
2. Sightsee in Cork
- Cork is another small, historical town in Ireland. The city center is an island positioned between two channels of the River Lee that eventually meet up and flow to the Lough Mahon and Cork harbour.
- Take a walk around the city center to see great architecture and many shops and pubs. For traditional Irish music, go to Sin E Bar! Take the time to stop by St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral.
- Cobh is a 25 min drive from Cork and is the last known stop for the Titanic. Visit if you have time!
3. Tour Blarney Castle and Kiss the Blarney Stone
- There are SO MANY castles in Ireland. You can find one in nearly every town. However, the most popular is likely Blarney Castle due to the legend of kissing the Blarney Stone. It’s said that kissing the stone will bring you eloquence and persuasiveness. There have been many well-known people including Winston Churchill to lay upside down and kiss the stone!
- The castle is only a 15 minute drive from Cork! Expect to pay around 16 euros to enter the grounds.
4. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way
- Take a wild ride! The Wild Atlantic Way is miles and miles of coastal road in the southern and western portions of Ireland. Warning: once you’re on the Wild Atlantic Way, there can be limited exits, so be prepared for a long journey. We drove along the Ring of Kerry round trip from Killarney. Skellig Michael is a rocky island found along the peninsula, open during the warmer months (mid-May through September-ish)! Another route is to go along the Dingle peninsula. Both provide similar views along the coast! The Wild Atlantic Way goes all the way up to The Cliffs of Moher, but it is the long route; there is a more inland route around Limerick!
- To have the most freedom when viewing the coastline, take a rental car. However, if you haven’t rented a car there are tour buses that go around the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula.
5. Take in the Views of Cliffs of Moher
- The Cliffs of Moher are probably the most recognizable destination in Ireland, but are WORTH the hype. It is free to see the Cliffs if you do not have a car. However, parking is 4-8 Euros depending on the time of year. This fee will cover your entry fee into the visitor center
- Click here for everything you need to know about visiting the Cliffs of Moher!
6. Explore Galway
- Galway is one of the cutest towns in Ireland. Walk around to see your fair share of traditional pubs. Recommendation: do a pub crawl! For traditional Irish music, go to Tig Coili. “You’re My Pretty Little Galway Girl.” Don’t miss O’Connel’s pub where Ed Sheerens music video was shot.
- Walk around Eyre Square. Visit Charlie Byrne’s bookstore. have lunch at Ard Bia at Nimmos. The Avocado and eggs on sourdough bread are served all day and delicious!
7. Walk Around the Walls of Derry/Londonderry
- Derry/Londonderry is the only medieval city wall still fully intact in Europe. It is wide and easily navigated with great views within and outside of the city!
- There is deep history in the city of Derry/Londonderry between those of the Catholics/Protestants or nationalist/unionists. The history is recent and fresh. Feel free to read more about the history before visiting!
8. Visit The Giant's Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
- At the very Northern portion of Ireland you will find The Giant’s Causeway. Along with the Cliffs of Moher, it is a must-see natural site in Ireland. The causeway is an area full of basalt columns created by an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. Most of the are hexagonal and lie so intricately placed, it is unfathomable how the causeway was created so naturally. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. It costs 13 euros to visit the causeway.
- 15 minutes from Giant’s Causeway is Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. It is simply, just a rope bridge. However, when the weather is good you can cross the bridge to an island for views of the coastline. We weren’t fortunate enough to have said “good weather,” so may the odds be ever in your favor!
9. Take a Black Taxi Tour of Belfast
- Belfast is another city with fresh history similar to Derry/Londonderry. I found the Black Taxi Tour to provide information on both sides of the conflict. Belfast has a peace wall built between the predominantly Catholic/nationalist and Protestant/unionist communities. The tour takes you on both sides of the wall, displaying the murals of each side and the view point of those who wave the Union Jack flag and those who wave the Irish flag. The tour makes a pitstop for you to sign the peace wall. Be sensitive to the subject, but help learn and make yourself knowledgable of the history
10. Tour Game of Thrones Filming Sites
- There are about 28 filming sites for Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, which I was aware of prior to visiting Northern Ireland. I was not, however, aware that there is a collection of doors carved from the Dark Hedges filming site. In 2016, Storm Gertrude destroyed two of the famous Dark Hedge trees and a local artist carved them into 10 doors, one for each episode of season 6. The doors are now in various parts of Northern Ireland. You can get a “passport” of sorts to mark off each door as you go. It’s almost like a treasure hunt! One required you ask the bartender about the door in order to get it marked off your list of doors! It was really a cool experience! However, I’ll be the first to tell you, I am not your go-to person for all things GOT. Truthfully, I saved KevMRC’s post about all of the locations and used his map of all of the filming and door locations!
Things to do in Ireland REcap!
Ireland is such a beautiful country with a ton of options on activities and places to see. There is a ton of golfing and friends of mine opted to take a horseback riding trip along the coast. The options are limitless! These are simply 10 activities to do on your trip around Ireland that we enjoyed. Take these activities and add or subtract as you like. Enjoy your trip to Ireland!
To see how we fit these activities into our 10 day itinerary, click here!