From colourful fishing villages and pristine beaches to bustling cities and cosy pubs, Ireland is a place of thrilling contrasts. One day you’ll be walking Dublin’s medieval cobbled streets on a literary pub crawl, the next you’ll be whale-watching on the other side of the country. The likes of Skellig Michael, the Slieve League and the Wild Atlantic Way make Ireland’s coastline one of the planet’s most memorable and dramatic.

The best places to visit in Ireland

Dublin

Dublin

Ireland’s capital is one of the most beautiful and welcoming cities in Europe (Photo: GettyImages)

Filled with superb cafes, restaurants, galleries and museums, Ireland’s capital is one of the most beautiful and welcoming cities in Europe. What really sets Dublin apart, however, is the almost magical way the past and present seem to connect while you’re there. Seeking shelter from a sudden rain shower you might find yourself in a cosy corner of Toner’s Pub, in a seat past regulars James Joyce and Patrick Kavanagh once sat in. From there it’s a short walk to the Book of Kells and the famous Long Room in the hallowed halls of Trinity College.

Overlooking Trinity College, The College Green Hotel Dublin, Autograph Collection blends contemporary chic with historic grandeur. Its Atrium Lounge, with a wonderful five-storey high glass roofed atrium and a live pianist performing daily, is the perfect setting for a traditional Afternoon Tea.

One of the best hotels in Dublin is undoubtedly The Shelbourne, Autograph Collection. A 5-star luxury property overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, the hotel is part of the historic fabric of the city. From the drafting of the Irish Constitution in room 112, to the formation of The Chieftains in the Horseshoe Bar, it has been the social and cultural hub of the city for almost two hundred years.

The Midlands

Of all the places to visit in Ireland, The Midlands is the most overlooked, and yet there is no shortage of things to see and do in the region. Take a guided tour through Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest licensed distillery in the world, or spend a day wandering the forests, waterfalls and small villages of the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

By staying in the Sheraton Athlone Hotel you’ll be perfectly positioned to explore The Midlands. Located a short walk from the River Shannon in Athlone, this hotel has a superb luxury spa and pool – just what you need after a long day of sightseeing.

Kilkenny

Kilkenny

Kilkenny is unmissable (Photo: GettyImages)

Kilkenny is like a microcosm of the entire island. As well as the iconic twelfth-century Kilkenny Castle and thirteenth-century St. Canice’s Cathedral, there’s a wealth of lively pubs, contemporary eateries and boutique shops to enjoy in the city. Located just a short drive from town, Mount Juliet Estate, Autograph Collection is one of the best places to stay in the whole of Ireland. A magnificent Georgian manor house with a Michelin-starred restaurant and superb golf course, this is where old-world elegance meets modern comforts.

Wicklow

Just a short drive south of Dublin, Wicklow’s glacial lakes, verdant forest trails, waterfalls and crystal-clear rivers will leave you breathless. If you’re wondering where to go first in the “Garden of Ireland”, make it Glendalough, a stunning monastic site founded by Saint Kevin in the sixth century. A stay in the Powerscourt Hotel, Autograph Collection, with its Palladian-style architecture and Swarovski-crystal-lit indoor pool is a treat everyone should experience at least once.

What to eat and drink in Ireland

Guinness

Guinness

Guinness just doesn’t taste the same outside Ireland (Photo: GettyImages)

Guinness just doesn’t taste the same outside Ireland. But where is the best place to taste it while you’re here? Sure, you could go to the source and enjoy a pint at the top of the Guinness Storehouse, complete with panoramic views over Dublin, but we suggest somewhere a little more traditional. As a rule of thumb, the older a pub looks, the better a pint of what’s known in Ireland as ‘the black stuff’ will be. Try The Long Hall on George’s Street, a resplendent Victorian pub known for the perfect pint.

Soda bread

Soda bread

Try freshly baked Irish soda bread spread with butter (Photo: GettyImages)

There are few pleasures in life that can match the divine simplicity of freshly baked Irish soda bread spread with butter. For one of the best dishes to try while you’re in Ireland, pair soda bread with potted Dingle Bay crab in The Winding Stair restaurant.

Fresh seafood

Seafood is one of Ireland’s greatest natural resources and there are loads of great places to eat it. You can’t go wrong with classic fish and chips from Fish Shop in Smithfield, Dublin, or head to Fishy Fishy, one of the best places to eat in Cork. For a real gourmet extravaganza, get tickets to the Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival.

Top things to do in Ireland

Dunquin Pier

The unmissable Wild Atlantic Way stretches over 2600km (Photo: GettyImages)

One of the best things to do in Ireland is a road trip along the unmissable Wild Atlantic Way, which stretches over 2600km from Kinsale in the south all the way to the Inishowen Peninsula in the north. You’re unlikely to see everything it has to offer in one trip – which is all the more reason to make a return visit to Ireland.

One of the best things to do on the west coast is to take in the popular Cliffs of Moher. But if you want equally stunning coastal scenery, minus the throngs of tourists, we suggest the breathtaking Slieve League in Donegal, which rank among the highest sea cliffs in Europe.

Skellig Michael’s popularity has rocketed since the site appeared in Star Wars movies 'The Force Awakens' and 'The Last Jedi'. It is an unmissable sight. Walking among the remains of this early Christian monastery on a tiny island of jagged Atlantic rock is like stepping into another world – absolutely one of the most interesting things to do on your visit to Ireland.

Hidden gems in Ireland

Omey Island

A tidal island in west Connemara, Omey is only accessible at low tide (Photo: GettyImages)

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Ireland, a visit to Omey should be high on your list. A tidal island in west Connemara almost entirely hidden from the mainland, Omey is only accessible at low tide. If you’re there during the summer, a visit to The Sea Hare for lobster and drinks is a must.

For those seeking alternative things to do in the capital, an afternoon at 14 Henrietta Street is highly recommended. Set in a beautifully restored Georgian townhouse, the little museum offers a fascinating and surprisingly moving social history of Dublin life. By telling the story of the people who lived in the building over the course of three hundred years, the museum charts the address’ development from elegant beginnings to crowded tenement.

Go deeper

If you plan on spending time in Dublin, a Leap Visitor Card is very convenient. Available as 1-, 3-, and 7-day tickets, the card grants you unlimited travel on all modes of public transport – bus, rail and tram. The easiest way to buy one is on arrival at Dublin Airport.

Published: July 26, 2022

Last Updated: April 05, 2024

Article Tags:  Dublin , Ireland

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