36 Top Things To Do In Ireland For 2020

There are so many things to do in Ireland. This country might be small but it’s packed with history, amazing landscapes, imposing castles and activities. With this, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the long list of activities in Ireland.

I remember the first time I’ve learned about Ireland. It was through awesome Irish bands who made names in the international scene. Although my love for music is replaced by my love for travel, my fascination with Ireland remains the same.

So here are the best places to see in Ireland and why it’s worth visiting this country.


36 Awesome Things To Do In Ireland

Be amazed by the natural beauty and landscapes in Ireland.

1. Cliffs of Moher

cliffs of moher tour and tips

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The Cliffs of Moher are sea cliffs located in County Clare, Ireland.  It is one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights and one of the most visited attractions in Ireland with 1.5 million visitors annually.

Standing 702ft above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, Cliffs of Moher boasts one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a good day, you can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

To learn more about Cliffs of Moher, click here

2.Wicklow Mountains National Park

Wicklow Mountains national park

Wicklow Mountains National Park is the largest national park in Ireland with an area covering more than 129,500 square kilometers.  It is also the only one located in the east of the country.

It extends from County Wicklow and a small area of Dublin which makes it one of the best day trips from Dublin.

The park contains a variety of attractions that include lush forests, fields, and mountains, and the historical Glendalough Valley.

Check out our guide for the National Parks In Ireland For First Time Visitors here

3. Glendalough Upper Lake

Glendalough Upper Lake Ireland

Glendalough is a glacial lake in the Wicklow Mountains. It is classified as a ribbon lake which means, it is a long and narrow lake formed in a glacial trough. The lake is one of the main attractions in Wicklow Mountains National Parks. Along with the lower lake, the valley of these twin lakes has drawn a lot of visitors and it’s one of the favorite day trips from Dublin.

Aside from the lake, the Monastic Settlement which has the round tower, St Kevin’s Church, St Kevin’s Cross and the Cathedral are also among the main attractions.

Check out our guide for The Best Lakes In Ireland here

4. Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael things to do in ireland

Skellig Michael is a twin-pinnacled rugged cliff that lies 12 km off the coast of Portmagee in South West Kerry. Rising majestically from the sea, Skellig Michael towers 714ft. (218 meters) above sea level.

On the summit of this awe-inspiring rock, you will find a remarkably well preserved 6th-century monastic settlement. This is one of the best things to see in Ireland and a visit to this major tourist attraction may well be the highlight of your holiday.

5. Assaranca Waterfall – Ardara, Donegal

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’re headed to the quaint fishing town of Killybegs in County Donegal, you won’t miss this beautiful surprise just off the side of the road.

The picturesque Assaranca waterfall is found on your way to the stunning Maghera caves. Stop and admire the winding cascades and take a moment to just enjoy the serene atmosphere.

Seeing this waterfall won’t even cost you hours of hiking so stop, rest for a while and take lots of photos! 

Check out this guide for the Best Waterfalls In Ireland. 


Visit the castles in Ireland.

6.Blarney Castle

blarney castle

One of Ireland’s most popular attractions is Blarney castle. It was built nearly six hundred years ago by Cormac MacCarthy, one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains. Surrounding the castle are extensive gardens.

RELATED READ:  8 Things To Do In Letterkenny, Donegal

Aside from the castle itself, the place is also popular because of Blarney Stone. In order to get the gift of eloquence, for over 200 years many famous people from around the world visit Blarney to kiss the famous Blarney Stone.

7.Kilkenny Castle

kilkenny castle ireland

Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways. It was a symbol of Norman occupation and it is an important site to the history of Kilkenny. In 1967, the Castle was transferred to the people of Kilkenny for £50. The Kilkenny Castle is now one of the very few castles in Ireland that offer tours to the public. The garden and park in the castle complex are also open to the public.

8. Kylemore Castle

kylemore abbey castle

Kylemore Castle was built by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from England, as a gift to his wife Margaret in 1871. It was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1903 and was then purchased by the Irish Benedictine nuns in 1920. Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery was then founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara. Since 1970s, the estate has been opened to the public.

Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain and along the shore of Lough Pollacappul in Connemara, the Abbey is one of the most iconic attractions in Ireland. It is also one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland. And no visit to Ireland is complete without spending a half day to the castle ground.

Check out this Kylemore Abbey Tour article for more information.

9.The Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is a historic site located at Cashel in County Tipperary. It is one of the most spectacular attractions in Ireland and also one of the most visited castles in Ireland.

This iconic landmark was the seat of the High Kings of Munster and was built between the 12th to the 13th century.

10. Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is now a ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of rocks on the coast of County Antrim.  Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster, built the first castle in Dunluce. From then on, this Irish castle witnessed a long and tumultuous history between Scotland, Ireland, and UK.

Dunce castle is also said to be the inspiration for Cair Paravel, the fictional castle in Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It is also the film location of Game of Thrones for the Seat of House Greyjoy of the great castle of Pyke.

Check out our guide for The 15 Must-See Castles In Ireland here


Explore the ancient sites in Ireland.

11. Brú na Bóinne

Knowth Brú na Bóinne

Brú na Bóinne (Palace of the Boyne) or popularly known as the Boyne Valley tombs are passage tombs located near River Boyne, 8 km west of Drogheda, County Meath.

The site covers over 780 hectares where the majority of the monuments are located on the north side of the river.

Bru na Boinne contains one of the most important prehistoric landscapes in the world dating back from the Neolithic period. It is famous for its Megalithic passage tombs called Knowth, Newgrange, and Dowth.

Aside from these three spectacular ancient sites, there are over 90 Neolithic monuments dotted across in Brú na Bóinne. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993, this famous River Boyne Valley is considered one of the best attractions in Ireland.

To learn more about Brú na Bóinne, click here

12. Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara is an archaeological complex in County Meath of Ireland. It is located near the River of Boyne and it runs between Dunshaughlin and Navan. Hill of Tara used to be the seat of the kings during Stone Age.

It contains a number of ancient passages tombs, Ireland’s Stonehenge and historical ruins.

For more things to do in Meath, click here

13. Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national nature reserve. It is located in Northern Ireland and it is about 3-4 hour drive from Dublin in a private car.

Admission Fee

The access to the Giant’s Causeway is free however the visitor center charges £12.50 per adult and £31.00 for a family of 4.

14. Fahan beehive huts

Visit the Fahan Beehive Huts of Dingle in Kerry and step into pre-historic Ireland. They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath. No mortar was used to build these beehive huts by using the corbelling process. These huts dated back to the 12th century and they stand along the panoramic Slead Head drive.

For more things to do in Dingle, click here. 

15. Kenmare Stone Circle

Known locally as The Shrubberies this is one of the largest stone circles in southwest Ireland measuring 17.4 x 15.8m and it is the only egg-shaped stone circle in Munster province. Stone Circles were built during the bronze age believed to be used for ritual and ceremonial purposes.

RELATED READ:  15 Things To Do In Cork City, Ireland

For more things to do in Kenmare, click here


Learn history from awesome museums in Ireland.

16. Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland

Kilmainham Gaol museum

This symbol of Irish Nationalism was formerly a jail that got transformed into a museum over the course of history. The 300 years old building has a soul of its own and you can feel it in the chapels, cells, and grounds of Kilmainham Gaol. The museum gives a deep insight into the struggle that the country had to go through in the past.

17. EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum

The Irish Emigration Museum tells tales of the 10 million people who had to emigrate from Ireland for the sake of earning more or to find new opportunities. 10 million uprooted lives and 10 million stories, that’s what you get to see in this ethereal place.

18. Irish Potato Famine Exhibition

This museum brings before us the pain and suffering of the people in The Great Hunger. The seasonal museum is well worth a visit if you are planning a visit to Dublin.

19. Glasnevin Cemetery Museum

The 1.5 million people buried in the Glasnevin Cemetery and their artistically designed graves are there for you to search the lineage of old Irish people. A walking tour can be a great venture for tourists.

To learn more about the best museums in Dublin, click here

20. Donegal County Museum

Letterkenny’s 19th-century workhouse, built to provide Famine relief, now houses the local museum. The permanent collection offers 8000-plus artifacts from prehistoric times onwards. This county museum in Letterkenny, Donegal is officially recognized by the Government of Ireland as the best museum in the country.

For more things to do in Letterkenny, click here


Explore the charming towns in Ireland

There are lots of amazing towns in Ireland that you should visit at least once. 

21. Dingle

THINGS TO DO IN DINGLE IRELAND

Dingle in Ireland is a small port town in Dingle Peninsula and one of the scenic stops in Ring of Kerry along with Kenmare and Killarney. This town is known for its rugged scenery, trails, and sandy beaches.

To learn more about Dingle, click here.

22. Kinsale

kinsale ireland

Kinsale is a town in County Cork, Ireland. Originally a medieval fishing port, historic Kinsale is one of the most picturesque and historic towns on the south-west coast of Ireland. Kinsale has a beautiful set of long waterfront, yacht-filled harbor, narrow winding streets, and brightly painted galleries, shops and houses. It is also a leading Irish tourist attraction and the southerly starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way trail.

To learn more about Kinsale, click here.

23. Killarney

Ross Castle KILLARNEY

Killarney is a lakeshore town in the County of Kerry. It is a popular tourist destination in Ireland as it is one of the scenic stops in Ring of Kerry along with the towns of Kenmare and Dingle. Famous for its national park, beautiful lakes, imposing castles, wildlife, and gorgeous landscapes, this town is named as one of the top 10 global tourist destinations in the world.

To learn more about Killarney, click here.

24. Cobh, Ireland

cobh ireland

Cobh was developed as a Victorian spa retreat in the mid-19th century and became Ireland’s most important port for trans-Atlantic travel. It is known as the last port of Titanic before the tragedy struck. If you would like to create some memories that will last a lifetime, take the plunge and visit Cobh. It is a captivating town that it will hold you in its spell long after you’ve left.

To learn more about Cobh, click here.

25. Kilkenny

Kilkenny is one of the most beautiful and charming Irish cities. Located in the center of Ireland, it has a charming medieval center, lively pubs, and a dynamic art scene. Because of this, there are many unique things to do in Kilkenny, Ireland. From its majestic creeper-clad castle, a bustling crafts industry, cobbled lanes, beautiful churches, and secret passages, Kilkenny will surprise you in many ways.

To learn more about Kilkenny, click here.


Check out the lakes in Ireland.

Lough Tay Wicklow

26.Lough Ree

Lough Ree is one of the 3 lakes in the Shannon River Basin along with Lough Derg. The lake serves as a border between the counties of Longford and Westmeath and it’s a popular fishing and boating area. The boats leave from the harbor in Athlone.

27.Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib is the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland. This lake connects to the sea at Galway through River Corrib. Aside from being a Ramsar site, it has also been designated a Special Area of Conservation. Lough Corrib has over 1300 islands scattered around the lake. Inchagoil Island, one of the islands within the lake has views of the Maumturk range, Joyce Country and the mountains of Connemara.

To check the best lakes in Ireland, click here


Learn from the amazing libraries in Ireland

trinity college dublin

 

28. Marsh’s Library

Marsh’s Library is one of the oldest public libraries in Dublin that you definitely should not miss in your itinerary. It holds 25,000 books and 300 manuscripts where many of these are donated by an Archbishop of Dublin, Narcissus Marsh. This library, like some other attractions in Dublin, has also witnessed much of the city’s history.

RELATED READ:  The Most Beautiful Towns In Cork To Visit

Opening Times

Daily except for Tuesday and Sunday from 9:30 am to 5 pm.

Admission Fee

Adult €3 | Student/Senior €2 | Child (U-16) free

Contact Information

Address: St Patrick’s Close, Dublin, Ireland

Email: keeper@marshlibrary.ie 

Phone:  +353 1 4543511

29. Trinity College

If you enjoy walking down the memory lane, give it a shot at Trinity College where you can find a collection of Ireland’s treasured past in its Long Room Library. This 200-foot-long room holds 200,000 books as old as you can possibly imagine. The most popular treasure in this library is the Book of Kells which has a great role in Irish identity.


Attend some of the popular Irish festivals 

St. Patrick's Day

30. St. Patrick’s Festival

The biggest and grandest festival in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Festival is one hell of a celebration that you should not miss if you’re planning to travel to Ireland.

This festival which was started by the Irish government in November 1995 eventually turned into a multi-day celebration which takes place somewhere around March 17 every year. The highlight of the festival is the St. Patrick’s Day where there’s a grand parade, lots of drinking, and locals and tourists party in the streets all over Ireland.

It is a nationwide celebration where people usually dress up as Leprechauns. Spread throughout the St. Patrick’s Festival Week are various activities and events like traditional performances, food fairs, and a celebration of Irish culture.

31. Temple Bar TradFest

Late winter in Dublin is never boring because this would mean non-stop traditional Irish music and unlimited drinking sessions in Temple Bar TradFest.

Today, this festival is already considered as the largest festival of traditional music in Ireland long after it started as a small niche music festival in 2006.

The recognition received from this festival has pushed it to expand its goal which now includes the promotion of the next generation of Irish musicians.

TradFest also offers a memorable experience for festival-goers with its live music concert held in some of Dublin’s popular historical sites.

Aside from that, you can also expect to party all night long for free. Exhibitions, workshops, masterclasses, and film-screenings are also in the line up of activities. This festival starts around January 21 and ends on January 27.


Explore the vibrant cities of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

grafton street dublin

32. Dublin 

Dublin is the capital city of Ireland. The city surely has a lot to offer to tourists coming in and out of this marvelous city in Ireland. It has everything in store for travelers of all kinds- solo, group, young or old. From museums to bars, to historical sights, Dublin is surely packed with interesting things to do

33. Belfast

Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and along its size comes with a rich historical and political background.

It is also best known for a lot of things like the Titanic and CS Lewis. All these events gave birth to a lot of Belfast tourist attractions that first-time or frequent visitors will surely don’t want to miss.

Today, there are a lot of museums and landmarks that you would want to include in your Instagram feed if you’re paying a visit.

34. Derry 

Londonderry, also popularly known as “Derry”, is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland.

Overall, it is the fourth largest city in the country. Derry is derived from an Old Irish name which means “oak grove” but aside from that, it is also known as the walled city.

In fact, it is the only remaining intact walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples in Europe.

Londonderry is engulfed with a lot of history that is why you should not skip it when in Ireland.

35. Cork 

There are several things to do in Cork City. Cork surely has a long history behind it.

Being one of Europe’s oldest cities, Cork has gone through several developments which made it a hub for tourists nowadays. 

36. Galway 

Galway City and nothing else comes in mind if we speak about Ireland’s top destination for arts, music, and urban culture. This city on the west coast of Ireland never fails to exceed expectations- from its medieval walls down to the breathtaking view of the River Corrib.

So whether you’re coming over for a quick visit or longer, there’s just so much to enjoy in this harbor city.

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