IRELAND Ultimate Travel Guide 2024 All Towns & Attractions
Ireland is not just a destination - it's an experience. This is a journey through a land that captures the imagination, steals the heart, and leaves visitors with memories that last a lifetime. Welcome to the magic of Ireland – where every moment is a story waiting to be told. What better place to start our journey than Dublin. The beating heart of Ireland is the perfect place to experience the contemporary Irish lifestyle. Dublin's center area is rather small,
although the city as a whole is made up of several villages, stretching from the seaside districts of Sandymount and Clontarf to the inner neighborhoods of Portobello and the Docklands. The historic north and the more modern south of Dublin are separated both physically and symbolically by the River Liffey, which cuts through the city's center. The sounds of laughter and traditional Irish music fill the narrow alleys on the northern side. The southern suburbs on the other hand, are fantastic for people watching in the Georgian squares, brunching, and exploring cafés. Built on the site of a Viking settlement in the early thirteenth century, Dublin Castle functioned as the center of English and then British government in Ireland for many years. After Ireland gained
independence in 1922, it became a major government complex, and is currently a popular tourist attraction. Kilmainham Gaol is a must-see if you have any interest in learning about the proud Irish history and the long resistance to British colonial control. Constructed in 1796, it has been involved in almost every event in Ireland's difficult journey towards freedom and is currently the most interesting museum you can visit in Dublin. Grafton Street, a busy pedestrian area, is the unofficial center of the city. It's always humming with people, and here you'll find the best stores and restaurants. Along with Dublin's most beloved city park, St Stephen's Green, this area is home to several of the city's most important landmarks and museums. Built on the site where St.
Patrick himself is said to have baptized the local Celtic tribal leaders in the fifth century, St. Patrick's Church is the biggest church in Ireland and the ultimate resting place of Jonathan Swift. The church is one of the most visited places in Ireland and can be found in the historic Liberties neighborhood. You can easily go around Dublin on foot; a car is not necessary. You can usually walk wherever you need to go, unless you're visiting some of the sites outside of the city center. Sitting south of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains National Park covers an area of over 23,000 hectares. With its beautiful views, twisting mountain routes, and fast flowing streams that lead to the deep lakes of the forested valleys, Wicklow is the biggest National Park in Ireland, and the only national park in the eastern part of the country. Geologically,
the region was shaped during the last Ice Age, which left a lasting impact on the landscape with the formation of valleys, lakes, and mountainous terrain. The park features some prominent peaks, such as Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in Wicklow, standing at 930 meters above sea level. Evidence of ancient settlements, megalithic tombs, and medieval monastic sites can be found within the park's boundaries. Glendalough, an ancient monastic settlement, is one of the most famous historical sites within the park. The Round Tower and St. Kevin's Church can also be found here. The Liffey Head Bog complexes, as well as the Glendalough Wood
Nature Reserve, are among the park's extensive mountain blanket bogs. From rare flowers to the wild and beautiful Peregrine Falcon, the National Park offers protection for both the natural environment and animals. The Wicklow Way is a long-distance hiking trail that spans 130 kilometers through the scenic landscapes of County Wicklow. Established in 1981, the trail is one of Ireland's oldest waymarked long-distance trails and has become a popular destination for hikers. The trail begins in the Dublin suburb of Marlay Park and winds its way south through the Wicklow Mountains before reaching its endpoint in the village of Clonegal in County Carlow.
Lying on the Boyne River in County Louth, you'll find the beautiful town of Drogheda. It is located 60 kilometers north of Dublin on the east coast. The medieval period was very important for the rise of Drogheda. Hugh de Lacy granted the town its charter in 1194, establishing it as a walled
community. A major turning point in the history of Drogheda happened in 1690, during the Irish Williamite War. King William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne had a long-lasting effect on Ireland. Drogheda experienced great suffering during the Great Femine in the 19th century, until the Ottoman Sultan sent a ship with food supplies and saved the people in the region. Later, as an expression of gratitude, the star and crescent emblem was placed to the crest
of Drogheda's coat of arms. The Old Mellifont Abbey, one of the first Cistercian monasteries in Ireland, was founded in 1142 and is a known historical site in the town. The Drogheda Viaduct is an outstanding 19th-century railway bridge that crosses the River Boyne, and St Laurence's Gate is a well-preserved medieval gateway. Today, the town has 45.000 inhabitants, and its most famous son is the actor Pierce Brosnan. The M1 highway, which connects Dublin and Belfast, is the main route in the town, and the Irish Rail provides connections to and from Dublin, Belfast, and other locations. Newgrange lies in the Boyne Valley in County Meath. More specifically,
it is located close to the Boyne River, around 8 kilometers west of Drogheda and 40 kilometers north of Dublin. Known for its remarkable prehistoric buildings like Knowth and Dowth, this ancient site is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient structure is a Neolithic passage tomb of immense importance that dates to around 3200 BCE. The monument is a massive, roughly 85-meter-diameter circular hill that surrounds a central tunnel and chamber. Granite and white quartz stones were used to decorate the outside. Newgrange's alignment with the sun on the winter solstice is one of its most fascinating characteristics. Given that the tunnel
and chamber are positioned so that sunlight may enter the inner chamber on the solstice, the builders of this ancient wonder had an in-depth understanding of astronomy. Guided tours lead visitors through the site. The narrative encompasses the Neolithic period, the construction techniques employed, and the symbolic carvings inside the monument.
The Cliffs of Moher are undoubtedly one of Ireland's most recognizable and most iconic landmarks. The cliffs are situated on the western coast of Ireland, in County Clare. They extend along the Atlantic Ocean for around 8 kilometers, starting from the village of Doolin in the north and reaching Hags Head in the south. The Cliffs of Moher reach their highest point at 214 meters above sea
level. The geological history of these cliffs dates back to the Upper Carboniferous period, making them approximately 320 million years old. They are composed of shale and sandstone, shaped by centuries of erosion by the relentless forces of the Atlantic Ocean. The constant beating of the Atlantic waves causes continuous erosion of the cliffs. The cliffs are thought to be retreating at a pace of around one meter a year. If you want to visit this iconic place, you can fly into Shannon Airport, which is 85 kilometers from the Cliffs of Moher. From the airport,
you can rent a car or take a bus for a journey to the cliffs. A network of walking trails allows you to explore the cliffs at your own pace. The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk takes around 2 hours to complete, and leads you along the edge of the cliffs, offering unrivaled views of the Atlantic Ocean. O'Brien's Tower is a historical site and a panoramic vantage point, positioned close to the highest point of the cliffs. Sir Cornelius O'Brien constructed the tower in the beginning of the
1800s, and it offers an outstanding perspective of the surrounding area, which includes the Aran Islands and the far-off Connemara highlands. The Aran Islands are a group of three islands at the mouth of Galway Bay. The Irish-speaking islands are known for their untamed scenery, unique knitted sweaters, and charming homes. Thousands of tourists that visit the Aran Islands each year are attracted by their preservation of traditional Irish culture and traditions. Inishmore is the largest of the three islands. Its main village is Kilronan. There are about
800 people living on the island. Considering its small size of 12 kilometers by 3 kilometers, there are many ancient sights to explore. The ruins of the Seven Churches, a medieval monastic site, showcase the island's historical and religious importance. Despite its name, there are only two churches still standing, but the site includes several other religious structures. On Inishmore,
you may clearly observe traditional agricultural methods, as evidenced by the little fields marked by the unique stone walls known as "lazy beds." A more genuine getaway from the contemporary world can be found on Inishmaan Island. It is the least visited of the three islands, and has only 200 residents. The island is considered one of the most important strongholds of traditional Irish culture. At the local knitting company, legendary Aran jumpers are being manufactured
alongside modern knit patterns. Fishing is also a huge part of life here. Inisheer is the smallest and easternmost of the Aran Islands. A popular landmark on Inisheer is the medieval tower house known as O'Brien's Castle. Set on a hill, it provides panoramic views of the island. The island has some beautiful sandy beaches. The wreckage of the cargo ship Plassey, which ran aground in 1960, is a unique attraction on the island's shore. Ferries to the Aran Islands operate from multiple locations along the west coast of Ireland. The ferry ride takes about 40 minutes from Rossaveel
and 90 minutes from Galway City, depending on which island you visit. Connemara Airport, located near the village of Inverin, offers flights to the islands. The province of Connacht has only one city - Galway. It is frequently called the "Bilingual Capital of Ireland" and is known among Irish cities for being connected to the Irish language, music, song and dance traditions. Galway also has the nickname "City of the Tribes", because “Tribes” or merchant families led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period. Galway is one of the cities which make the Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor, an area with a population of 1 million people. The city backed the Jacobites in the Irish
Williamite War at the close of the 17th century. Galway's great families were destroyed, the city declined, and it took until the late twentieth century's tremendous economic boom for Galway to fully recover. Standing on Nun's Island, close to Salmon Weir Bridge on the west side of the River Corrib, Galway Cathedral is among the city's most imposing structures. The Cathedral's construction
was started in 1958 and finished in 1965. It was the last major stone church built in Ireland, and it stands where the city prison once stood. Built in 1818, the county courthouse has won praise for both its architecture and design. The old Town Hall, which served as a courthouse in the past, is located next door. Although Galway is the smallest of the 4 main cities in Ireland,
it's the festival capital of the country. One of the big ones is the Galway International Arts Festival. It's a real showstopper, featuring a mix of music, theater and visual arts. And if you're into film, the Galway Film Festival is the place to be. It is Ireland's leading film festival,
screening a wide range of Irish and international films. Galway Bay is an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland, between the counties of Galway and Clare. It is bounded to the north by County Galway and to the south by the Burren region of North County Clare, stretching westward from the historic town of Galway. The bay, which is about 50 kilometers long and 30 kilometers broad, is shielded at its mouth by the Aran Islands. Galway Bay is immortalized
in the song "Galway Bay," which was written by Frank Fahey, revived by Arthur Colahan in 1947, and made famous by Bing Crosby. Driving is the ideal method to explore the shores of Galway Bay. You may start in County Clare's Doolin/Liscannor region and enjoy breathtaking views of the Cliffs of Moher. Once again offering stunning views of Galway Bay, Ballyvaughan is home to some of the best beaches in the nation. Take the N67 around Black Head to get there from the Cliffs of Moher. The Galway Bay Sailing Club can provide some unforgettable sailing experiences.
The Aran Islands, located at the mouth of Galway Bay, may also be reached by boat from Rossaveal in Galway or from Doolin in Clare. Originally built as a private residence in 1868, Kylemore Abbey was the dream project of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor turned politician. Actually, he built it as a romantic gift for his wife. With its towers, neo-gothic windows, and the
lakeside location, the abbey's architecture reflects the Gothic Revival style. In 1920, the Benedictine Nuns found refuge in Kylemore Abbey after fleeing from Belgium during World War I. The mansion's already interesting past gained a spiritual dimension when the nuns converted it into an abbey. Currently open to visitors, the imposing structure, which sits on the banks of Kylemore Lake, offers extravagantly painted hallways, a lovely walled garden, and a relaxing walk over the 1000 acres of grounds. The victorian garden, which is filled with seasonal flowers, shows the Victorian love of attractive plants. Roses,
dahlias, and hydrangeas make a lovely combination here. Several tour operators offer day tours to Kylemore Abbey from Galway. Sitting proudly on the banks of the mighty Shannon River lies the old city of Limerick. At 110,000 residents, it's the third biggest city in Ireland. The Golden Vale is a rich pastureland area to the south of the city. The history of Limerick began with the Vikings, who established a colony in the 10th century. Originally formed as a trade post, the Vikings
went on to construct a more developed urban center. During the Middle Ages, Limerick expanded and became a walled city. Standing in the very heart of the historic part of Limerick on King's Island, King John's Castle is a 13th-century fortress named after the villainous king from Robin Hood. Actually, it's among Europe's best-preserved Norman castles. The Treaty Stone, which is close to King John's Castle, honors the signing of the Limerick Treaty in 1691, which put an end to the Irish Williamite War. The St. John's Cathedral, designed by the famous Irish architect Philip Charles Hardwick, was opened in 1861. Large windows, ribbed vaults, and pointed arches are characteristics of the Gothic Revival architectural style used in the construction of the cathedral. Limerick Colbert and Limerick Junction are Limerick's two railway stations.
Limerick is connected to major cities like Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Waterford via train services operated by Irish Rail. The closest international airport to Limerick is Shannon Airport. The Dingle Peninsula is located on the western coast of Ireland. It extends into the Atlantic Ocean and is part of County Kerry in the province of Munster. The town of Dingle, which shares its name with the
peninsula, is located on the northern coast and serves as a popular starting point for exploring the scenic wonders of the region. The peninsula is known for its landscapes, coastal villages, and an interesting cultural heritage, making it a popular destination for travelers seeking the natural beauty and charm of Ireland's west coast. The Gaelic language is still spoken by a significant portion of the population here. The beautiful landscapes of Dingle Peninsula served as a backdrop for scenes in the Star Wars franchise. The peninsula is dotted with ancient Iron Age forts, including Dunbeg Fort. Slea Head proudly claims the title of being the westernmost point of the Dingle Peninsula and, consequently, the westernmost point in all of Europe. It is also
a focal point of the famous Slea Head Drive, a scenic route that winds its way along the coastal edges of the peninsula. The best way to see the Dingle Peninsula is on foot via the long-distance Dingle Way route. The entire path may be completed in seven to eight days, or it can be divided into doable walking segments that can be completed in a single day. The waters around Dingle Peninsula are home to a resident population of bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin tours provide a unique opportunity to witness these intelligent creatures in their natural environment. When the Muckross Estate was given to the Irish Free State in 1932, Killarney became the country's first national park. Covering an area of 105 square kilometers, the park stretches from the town of Killarney to
the MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range. It is impossible to discuss Killarney National Park without mentioning its spectacular mountainous landscape. It is home to some of the highest peaks in Ireland, including the 1040-meter-high Carrauntoohil. The Devil's Ladder is the most popular route to its top, and offers a challenging ascent, while other pathways, such as the Caher route, provide different perspectives of the Reeks and beyond. The Torc Waterfall lies at the base of Torc Mountain, about 7 kilometers from Killarney. An idyllic hike through the woods is perhaps the
most enjoyable way to reach the waterfall. The park has three major lakes—Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake. Lough Leane is the largest of the three lakes and covers an large area. Anglers can try their luck for brown trout and salmon in the clear waters. The lake is dotted with several islands, the most notable being Innisfallen Island. Innisfallen is known for its historic ruins, including the remains of the 7th century Innisfallen Abbey. One of Ireland's few surviving natural populations of native red deer is found in Killarney National Park. Red deer live in the park's open spaces and forests, and it's common to see them feeding
in the meadows or among the trees. The park also has designated bike trails that run across its landscapes. The ecological value of Killarney National Park was further recognized in 1981, when UNESCO designated it as a Biosphere Reserve. The park is open to visitors all year, and the Killarney House has a tourist and education center. The national park is free to enter, however some of the attractions within may charge admission. The 180-kilometer-long Ring of Kerry, sometimes known as just "The Ring," is a gorgeous circular path located in County Kerry in southwest Ireland. The Ring of Kerry primarily traverses the Iveragh Peninsula, the largest of the peninsulas
in County Kerry. The peninsula is known for its untamed landscape, which is broken up by gorgeous lakes and mountains. The Ring of Kerry typically starts and ends in Killarney. While there is no set route around the Ring of Kerry, most tour busses and visitors head out of Killarney in a counterclockwise orientation. This makes it possible to see the lovely seaside cliffs and surroundings more clearly. The route can be reached easily by car, tour bus, or bicycle, and it has been maintained properly. Without stops, the drive takes three to four hours, but for those who choose to explore the road, the beauty of the surroundings and its attractions often encourages them to take longer. The Coomakista Pass, Ladies View, and
Moll's Gap are a few of the most famous vantage spots. When you're in the area, you should also go to the amazing Kerry Cliffs, which are close to Portmagee village. Rain and fog are common, especially in the coastal regions of the Ring of Kerry, and the weather may be unstable at times. In particular during the winter, it is essential that you observe road conditions and be ready for every kind of weather scenarios. Skellig Michael, also called Great Skellig, is a remote island 12 kilometers west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. The island is famous for its ancient
monastic settlement from the 6th century. It was home to Christian monks for hundreds of years, who lived off the land in stone beehive homes. The buildings they constructed are still standing today. You will be stunned by the sights as you climb the 600 stairs that lead to the monastery settlement. However, this is not a trip for those with a faint of heart. The summit's 200 meters of height may be too much for someone who is afraid of heights. Skellig Michael was an obscure tourist site just a few years ago, but it gained fame when it was used as a filming location for the Star Wars franchise. Depending on the weather, monks use three different landing spots on
Skellig Michael. Accessible by boat from the town of Portmagee, the island welcomes 11,000 tourists annually on average. The Office of Public Works restricts daily visitor numbers to 180 in order to protect the site. The island is accessible only during summer months.
Is Cork the best place in the world? Folks in Cork definitely believe so. No location in Ireland can match the affection that the people who live here feel for this beautiful, energetic city. And it's understandable why. Proudly positioned on an island in the midst of the River Lee,
Cork is known for its art galleries, hipster coffee shops and quirky museums. This place feels quite towny, even though it is a city. Everything is easygoing and nothing is too much work. Saint Fin Barre founded Cork in the sixth century. The architectural assets of the city, most notably the Cork City Gaol, bear witness to the city's medieval heritage. This now-museum-turned-prison
offers a fascinating trip through Ireland's criminal past. The tower and Shandon Bells of St. Anne's Church, which dominate the skyline, are symbols of Cork. A panoramic view of the city awaits those who climb to the top of it. The River Lee is a central and defining feature of Cork. The it flows through the city, dividing it into two main channels - the north, and the south channel. The river springs in the Shehy Mountains and flows for about 140 kilometers,
ending in Cork Harbor, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Cork harbor is actually one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Because of the river's complex system of channels and islands inside the city, Cork is sometimes called the "Venice of the North". The city center of Cork is located on an island, giving the area a unique charm. The River Lee is crossed by a number of bridges that link the city's many neighborhoods. Among the famous bridges are the Shakey Bridge, Christy Ring Bridge, and St. Patrick's Bridge. One of the oldest film festivals in the world,
the Cork Film Festival attracts movie fans from all over the world. The Cork World Book Fest honors the city's literary legacy, which includes writers like Frank O'Connor. Cork has a population of 230.000. Many famous people were born here, the most notable being the actor Cillian Murphy and football legend Roy Keane. Set in County Cork, close to the village of Blarney, lies the medieval stronghold known as Blarney Castle. The Blarney Stone and its historical importance have made the
castle a popular destination for tourists. The first Blarney Castle was constructed of wood in the tenth century. The current castle was built in the fifteenth century by Cormac MacCarthy - King of Munster, and is the oldest stone construction still standing today in this region. The 16th and
17th centuries saw additional improvements done to the castle, which is now mostly ruined, but still has a lot of its medieval charm. With its enormous keep, battlements, and towers, Blarney Castle is a quintessential medieval castle. The castle is set in a beautiful setting and is constructed of limestone. The building had a number of features, including arrow slits for archers and a murder hole where defenders could drop things over invaders. There are huge, beautiful gardens all around the castle. Among these is the Rock Close, a garden full of mysterious, Druidic-looking rock formations. The Poison Garden within the site offers several types of poisonous plants,
creating the sense of mystery for guests. Kinsale is a beautiful town on the southern coast of Ireland, in the province of Munster within County Cork. It sits at the mouth of the River Bandon, about 25 kilometers south of Cork City. The most famous moment in Kinsale's history was the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. It was a decisive conflict during the Nine Years' War between the forces
of the English Crown and the combined Irish and Old English forces. The English victory at Kinsale had far-reaching consequences for Irish history, leading to increased English control over the country. During the 18th century, Kinsale became a center for the wine trade. Merchants imported wine from France and Spain, and Desmond Castle was used as a customs house. Charles Fort, located on the outskirts of Kinsale, is a well-preserved star-shaped fort that dates back to the 17th century. It played a strategic role in Ireland's military history and offers panoramic
views of the harbor and town. The narrow streets of Kinsale are lined with historic buildings, and some beautiful 18th-century homes. The town hosts regattas and sailing events throughout the year, and has sailing schools and clubs, where you can learn to sail, or improve your sailing skills.
The town has earned the reputation of being the "Gourmet Capital of Ireland" due to its outstanding culinary scene. The town is home to numerous award-winning restaurants. The Kinsale Gourmet Festival, held annually in October, is the most famous food festival in all of Ireland. Kinsale and its beautiful surroundings have also been featured in various films and television productions. If you're interested in Ireland's medieval history and architecture, look no further than the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. Its origins are said to date to the 4th century, when
Aengus, King of Munster, selected the location as his royal seat. According to legend, in the fifth century, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, converted Aengus to Christianity here, baptizing him and turning the Rock into a sacred place. Set atop a limestone hill, this historic landmark is made up of a collection of medieval buildings, most of which are from the 12th and 13th centuries. The cathedral, Cormac's Chapel, the round tower, and the Hall
of the Vicars Choral are the main buildings on the Rock of Cashel. The circular tower, which is typical of Irish monastery structures, is around 30 meters tall and was built in the twelfth century. Consecrated in 1134, Cormac's Chapel is a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture, known for its complex carvings and artistic decorations. The Rock of Cashel underwent restoration and preservation efforts in the 19th century. The purpose of the restoration work,
especially on Cormac's Chapel, was to bring back the medieval buildings' wonderful architecture and artistic quality. Waterford is the oldest town in Ireland. It's story began in 914, when Viking settlers founded a colony at the mouth of Waterford Harbour. The Norse presence in the region was a response to the River Suir's commercial and navigational opportunities. Waterford rapidly rose to prominence as a major Viking trade center. Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish nationalist and founder of the Young Irelanders, was born in Waterford. Later on, he rose to prominence in the United States after fighting in the American Civil War as a commander in the Union Army. The city is home to the famous glass production company Waterford Crystal, which
has gained a reputation for quality in workmanship around the world. Waterford has a strong cultural scene, with several museums, galleries, and historical attractions. Many historical sights may be found in the city center's Viking Triangle. Some prominent landmarks in Waterford are the Reginald's Tower, the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre, and the Bishop's Palace. The Waterford International Festival of Light Opera and the Waterford Film Festival are two of the city's most popular festivals.
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