things to do in ireland things to do in ireland

Celtic Charms: Your Ultimate Guide to the 15 Must-Experience Activities in Ireland

Ireland’s natural beauty makes it a popular tourist destination that steals the show and its abundance of things to do in Ireland. There are numerous places and sights to see in Ireland. However, the sites listed here are a few that everyone should visit at least once when visiting the land of saints and academics.

1) The Wicklow Mountains National Park

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The Wicklow Mountains National Park, which spans over 129,500 square kilometers, is Ireland’s most significant national Park. Additionally, it is the only one in the country’s east. The Park is home to several attractions, such as the historic Glendalough Valley and verdant forests, farms, and mountains.

The preservation of wildlife and the terrain is the primary goal of Wicklow Mountains National Park. The Park is a priceless recreational area for both residents and guests. There are reportedly more than a million visits each year. The picturesque Glendalough Valley, where the historic monastic town of St. Kevin is located, receives the most visitors. By arriving prepared and exploring the uplands on foot, one can easily find a sense of solitude and isolation while escaping the summertime throng.

The Wicklow uplands’ vegetation, animals, and landscape were all intended to be preserved when Wicklow Mountains National Park was created in 1991. In addition, the EU has designated the Wicklow Mountains as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA).

The 20,000 hectares of upland environments in the National Park are home to various species of animals and plants. Among the notable locations is the Liffey Head Bog, a superb illustration of an active, expanding mountain blanket bog. The Glendalough valley contains natural deciduous oak woodland, and Coronation Plantation and Glendalough both include native Scots pine woodland. The Park is filled with rocky upland streams and deep mountain lakes.

2) The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

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On County Antrim’s Causeway Coast, the Giant’s Causeway naturally draws the most tourists due to its undeniable natural beauty, but adventurers may find many more things to do nearby. Ireland’s bucket list should undoubtedly include visiting the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

Fishermen utilized the 350-year-old suspension bridge to access the salmon fishing on the mountainous island 66 feet off the shore. Although the original bridge has been strengthened, nothing compares to the pure adrenaline of passing 100 feet over the Atlantic’s raging waves.

3) Blarney Castle

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Family members of the Jefferyes constructed a sizable home close to the keep in the 15th century. After a fire destroyed this home, a replacement mansion called Blarney House was erected in 1874, with a view of the neighboring lake.

Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s most well-known tourist destinations. One of Ireland’s finest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy, constructed it around 600 years ago. Extensive gardens surround the Castle.

The Blarney Stone is another reason for the location’s fame, in addition to the Castle itself. For more than 200 years, prominent people from all over the world have traveled to Blarney to touch the fabled Blarney Stone to acquire the gift of eloquence.

The battlements and few accessible apartments of Blarney Castle are now only a partial ruin. Visitors to the Castle are permitted to kiss a stone that is claimed to bestow the gift of eloquence by hanging upside-down over a cliff. The Stone of Eloquence also referred to as the Blarney Stone, is located at the summit of the Castle. There are several explanations for the origination of the stone, one of which is that it was the Lia Fail, a mystical stone used to crown Irish rulers.

4) Kylemore Castle

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An affluent English doctor, Mitchell Henry, erected Kylemore Castle as a present for his wife Margaret in 1871. The Irish Benedictine sisters bought it in 1920 after had given it to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1903.

On the premises of Kylemore Castle in Connemara, a Benedictine monastery known as Kylemore Abbey was established in 1920. The estate has been accessible to the general public since the 1970s.

You can only enter 4 of the Castle’s total 66 rooms through the door. The sisters use the remaining space for their dwellings and the high school for young girls that they administer. Consequently, you can adore the following items:

  • The entrance hall.
  • The dining room.
  • The living room.
  • A space where Kylemore’s past is disclosed.

You can enjoy the elegance of the furnishings, their rugs, and the elegantly exhibited historic tableware in each room that has been designed in accordance with Victorian customs. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

5) Skellig Michael

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Southwest Kerry’s Skellig Michael is a twin-pinnacled, rocky cliff 12 kilometers offshore from Portmagee. Skellig Michael rises majestically from the water, rising 714 feet (218 meters) above sea level. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

A remarkable amount of this 6th-century monastery village has survived on the top of this magnificent mountain. Given that it is one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations, a visit there can end up being the main event of your trip.

The preservation of wildlife and the terrain is the main goal of Wicklow Mountains National Park. The Park is a priceless recreational area for both residents and guests. The picturesque Glendalough Valley, where the historic monastic town of St. Kevin is located, receives the most visitors. By arriving prepared and exploring the uplands on foot, one can easily find a sense of solitude and isolation while escaping the summertime throng.

The island has been the backdrop for several movies and documentaries. Some sources claim that Skellig Michael is in danger from climate change, likely impacting tourism due to increased rainfall and sea swells/storm intensity.

6) Book of Kells

The illuminated book known as the Book of Kells is so priceless that only one of its pages has been left open to the light. It is a Latin translation of the Gospels that monks penned in the ninth century. In addition to the exquisite script, the plated gold and delicate drawings make this an actual work of art. The magnificent book, originally from Kells, is now kept at Trinity College in Dublin.

The book served a sacramental function rather than an instructive one. Such a massive, extravagant Gospel would have been kept on the church’s high altar and only taken down for delivering the Gospel at Mass, with the reader likely reciting the text more from memory than from the actual book. It is important that take the book from the sacristy, where the vessels and other elements of the Mass were kept, according to the Chronicles of Ulster, rather than the monastery’s library.

This appears to be the intention behind its design, which created the book with aesthetics taking precedence above functionality. The text has a lot of errors that have not been fixed—frequently finished lines in the space left open by the bar above. It did not fill the margin of the page with the chapter headings required to make the canon tables usable. Generally speaking, they prioritized the page’s aesthetics over utility. Therefore, nothing was done to alter its appearance. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

7) Lighthouse at Hook Head

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Among the most amazing thing to do in Ireland’s Ancient East is to take a guided tour of the 800-year-old medieval tower at Hook Lighthouse in Wexford. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

St. Dubhán, a life-size hologram figure, recounts perilous nights spent with fellow monks in the fifth-century warning seafarers against perils with a beacon they maintained a light on the headland. Climb the tower’s 115 well-worn steps, explore the thick-walled rooms, and meet St. Dubhán.

Due to the presence of fossils, several bird species, sea life, and its vegetated coastal cliffs, the Hook Head area is of particular significance. The management of visitor flow prevents individuals from accessing the protected zones.

On the Hook Peninsula along the shore, a continuous sequence of rocks ranging in age from the Devonian to the Carboniferous exposes at Hook Head. Around the lighthouse, Carboniferous limestone has well-preserved fossils of corals, crinoids, brachiopods, bryozoans, and echinoids, which were once part of a thriving marine ecosystem 350 million years ago. The coastline area is recommended for NHA classification and is a part of the Hook Head SAC and NHA.

One of Ireland’s top ten tourist destinations is the Hook Lighthouse. Families enjoy the year-round games on the lawns, entertaining activities, and yearly calendar of special events, festivals, and late opening occasions.

8) Irish Towns

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Even though Ireland’s cities are pretty touristy and worth experiencing, it’s also worthwhile to take the time to travel to the more traditional Irish towns.

You can better understand Irish small-town life and perhaps even interact with residents by exploring the smaller towns.

Many of Ireland’s rural towns are easiest to reach by automobile because the DART and bus systems are mostly only well-connected in the cities. When visiting a small town, opt for a bed & breakfast over a big hotel for a more authentic experience. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

Here are several Irish towns you must visit:

i) Howth: This coastal fishing community is just to the north of Dublin.

ii) Bray: Hozier, a well-known singer, was born and raised in Bray, an area renowned for its excellent seafood and being directly on the ocean.

iii) Carlingford: Explore the Cooley Peninsula and look around Carlingford’s castles from the 12th century.

iv) Kenmare: Due to its charming and tranquil atmosphere, Kenmare is frequently referred to be the “quintessential Irish town.”

9) Assaranca Waterfall

These stunning falls, also known as Ardara Waterfall, are widely accessible and typically relatively calm. With a 15-minute journey from Ardara, a 35-minute drive from Glen Colmcille, and a 40-minute drive from Donegal Town, you may locate Assaranca Waterfall by the side of the road.

Natural wonders like Assaranca Waterfall, where there isn’t a fancy visitor center or any other hassle, make Ireland a joy to explore. The waterfalls here are breathtaking, and as you get closer, they often catch you off guard. The sound of the falls greets you as soon as you pop open your entrance or lower your window.

Step outside, then walk over to the water’s edge. You’ll feel the spray softly touch your face on a windy day. If you’re fortunate enough to go off-peak, you might get the place to yourself.

The Ardara Waterfall’s proximity to the road is one of its unique and fascinating characteristics. So, if it’s pouring when you get there, you can relax and take in the scenery from the comforts of your car. It takes effort to get to some of the county’s other waterfalls, such as the secluded/hidden Largy waterfall and the massive Glenevin Waterfall. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

10) Kilkenny Castle

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To manage a River Nore fording site and the intersection of multiple routes, Kilkenny Castle was constructed in 1195. It is a significant location in Kilkenny’s history and served as a symbol of Norman’s occupation. The Castle was given to the Kilkenny citizens in 1967. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

Kilkenny Castle is one of the relatively few castles in Ireland that currently allows visitors on excursions. Public access is also available to the castle complex’s Park and garden.

This castle is accessible to the public all year long and is primarily a Victorian redesign of the defensive Castle built in the thirteenth century. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit this opulent country house annually to see it and stroll through its 50 acres of beautiful parkland with old trees and fauna.

The central block may find a drawing room, library, nursery, and bedrooms lavishly adorned in the 1830s. Within Kilkenny Castle’s east wing is the famous Picture Gallery. This magnificent room was primarily constructed in the 19th century to hold the Butler Family’s impressive collection of artworks.

The nineteenth century saw other trees, an artificial lake, and a formal terraced rose garden. Visitors can also enjoy the tearoom, playground, and many orienteering trails.

11) Mullaghmore

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Photo by Elle Leontiev on Unsplash/Copyright 2021

Although the icy Atlantic waters off Ireland’s mountainous coastline may not be the first places that come to mind when considering surf areas, the water sport is becoming more popular all around the Emerald Isle. Put on a heavy wetsuit and Head to Mullaghmore in County Sligo to go paddling. The Head is the primary location for big-wave surfing on the island.

Two hotels, a fish farm, a grocery store, a restaurant serving seafood, a spiritual retreat center, and other businesses service Mullaghmore. Mullaghmore has a selection of B&Bs as well. The summer months of May, July, June, and August are Mullaghmore’s busiest for trade and tourism, with the busiest weekends being the 12th of July weekend and the August Bank holiday. Except for the fish farm, most of these enterprises close in winter.

Mullaghmore village, next to the Pier wall, is where you’ll find the Pier Head Hotel. Early in the 20th century, it opened as McHugh’s Hotel & Tearooms and included a school. Significant improvements were made to the hotel in 2005, including the construction of extra rooms, a new restaurant, a spa, and a heated pool. The McHugh family still owns it.

The Beach Hotel is located across the street from the Pier Head and offers harbor views. It was established in the 1950s and has long been successful in Mullaghmore. Showbands used to enjoy their popularity. The hotel installed Corki’s Niteclub and a recreation area with a 15-meter pool, gym, and jacuzzi in the late 1990s. The outcomes completely changed the hotel’s fortunes, and now it is thriving.

12) Glendalough Upper Lake

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One of Wicklow Mountains National Park’s top draws is the lake. It is a long, narrow lake formed in a glacier depression and referred to as a ribbon lake. The Wicklow Mountains contain the glacial lake known as Glendalough. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

The valley of such twin lakes, in addition to the lower lake, has attracted a lot of tourists. Initially, the Upper and Lower lakes were together, but one of their inflows carried enough material to split the initial lake. The body of water is a ribbon lake.

The National Park of the Wicklow Mountains includes Upper Lake. The white waterlily and broad-leaved pondweed are only two examples of the flora that can find close to the coast. A bottle sedge, a marsh with horsetail, and a common reed cover a portion of its shoreline, making it easy to observe dragonflies.

The Glendalough Valley, which is part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, offers a variety of tourist attractions, including the world-famous Monastic Site with Round Tower, picturesque lakes and valleys, and several walks and trails, including The Wicklow Way.

13) Rock of Cashel

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A historic site called The Rock of Cashel, also called Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is situated in Cashel, County Tipperary. It is one of Ireland’s most breathtaking sites and one of its most famous castles.

The most magnificent collection of medieval structures can be seen in Ireland at the Rock of Cashel, situated on a dramatic rock in the Golden Vale. A round tower, a Gothic cathedral, a Romanesque chapel, an abbey, a high cross, the Hall of the Vicars Choral, and a 15th-century Tower House are a few of the monuments that may be seen there.

Originally the home of the Munster monarchs, it is said that St. Patrick personally visited this location to win King Aenghus over to Christianity. After becoming High King in 978, Brian Boru established Cashel as his capital. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

After the location was given to the church in 1101, Cashel quickly gained notoriety as one of the nation’s most important centres of ecclesiastical power.

The structures that have survived are amazing. For instance, Ireland’s sole remaining Romanesque frescoes are seen at Cormac’s Chapel. One of Ireland’s most breathtaking and often visited tourist destinations is The Rock of Cashel.

14) Dunluce Castle

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The medieval fortress Dunluce Castle is currently in ruins in Northern Ireland. On the County Antrim shore, it is situated on the edge of some rocks. The first castle in Dunluce was constructed by Richard G. de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster. From then on, a lengthy and turbulent history between Ireland, Scotland, and the UK was observed at this Irish castle.

According to legend, Cair Paravel, the fictitious castle in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, was modeled around Dunluce Castle. Additionally, it served as the backdrop for the Seats of House Greyjoy in the enormous castle of Pyke in the Game of Thrones movies.

15) Lighthouse at Blackhead:

A listed lighthouse from the turn of the 20th century, Blackhead Lighthouse is located close to Antrim, Northern Ireland. It designates the northernmost point of Belfast Lough, where it opens into the North Channel, which divides Scotland from Northern Ireland.

About 4 kilometers to the northeast of Whitehead, there is a small private road that is only accessible on foot to members of the general public. There is also a footpath known as the Blackhead Path that leads from the town to the lighthouse. This path, which arcs around the headland and requires bridges and two tunnels, was created by Berkeley Deane Wise to assist draw tourists to the area. The Gobbins track, which extended along the shore a few miles farther north, was more stunning and acted as a prelude. Visiting this site is one of the best things to do in Ireland.

Why is Ireland a Fantastic Destination to Visit?

If you’re thinking about traveling to Ireland, you’ll probably meet many Irish people who make it one of the most wonderful sites in Ireland for tourists. Generally speaking, the Irish are kind, hospitable, and pleasant people eager to assist, offer counsel, or share a good time.

Is Ireland a Decent Place to Vacation on a Limited Budget?

On this side of the Atlantic, Ireland is one of the most well-liked tourist destinations; for many, it’s their first European trip. However, Ireland isn’t usually seen as the finest vacation spot for travelers on a tight budget, mainly because Dublin, the country’s capital, is one of the priciest cities in Europe.

In conclusion, Ireland has many entertaining things to do, whatever kind of traveler you are. From outdoor activities like trekking and cliff jumping to inside ones like learning about Jameson and Guinness, there is something for everyone. The various attractions and locations you can explore in Ireland are listed here.

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  • Sakina M Saleh

    Sakina Saleh from India is a student pursuing her bachelor's, and she is a blog and article writer who believes in continuous progress, learning and dynamism.

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