There’s nowhere quite like Ireland. From Cork to Dublin and beyond, there’s gold at the end of every road here.
While it may be a small country, each region of Ireland has its own distinct character. Whether you opt to drive, book a train ticket, or just hop on the bus, the entire island is well worth exploring from top to bottom.
Grab a pint and take in a live traditional music session, then explore the rich history and stunning beauty of the countryside.
While I absolutely adore Dublin, it’s just one of the many treasures of the Emerald Isle. Spend a few days on the must-dos of the Irish capital city then see some of the off-the-beaten-path wonders of Ireland.
Fun fact: You have probably heard the expression beyond the pale, but did you know it originally was used to refer to anywhere in Ireland outside of Dublin? It was a term to describe the “wild” lands outside of the city.
Ready to go beyond the pale? Here is your guide to ten places you’ve got to see outside of Dublin.
Ask anyone in Cork and they will tell you that it’s the real capital of Ireland. As the second-largest city, this is a major business and cultural hub. As a port city and now a hub of international headquarters, Cork is a cosmopolitan and diverse city.
Explore the foodie delights of the English Market then climb to the top of the bell tower at St Anne’s Church.
Once you reach the peak, you can join the centuries’ old tradition of ringing the bell to your own tune. Just grab the rope, and find your inspiration!
From Cork, you can continue on to explore the picturesque seaside towns of West Cork. In just 15 minutes, you can also get your kisser on the iconic Blarney Stone.
Legend has it, once you give the stone a smooch, you will forever have the gift of gab.
In the Irish language, the word Blarney means “persuasive eloquence.”
It’s a type of sweet talk that’ll always give you your way. Want those smooth-talking skills? Kiss the Blarney Stone! While it’s definitely a bit of a tourist trap, it’s also a fun and memorable experience. Nestled in the lush woodlands, the Blarney Castle and that famous stone are both must-sees.
The entryway to the Ring of Kerry drive as well as the start of the 200 km (125 miles) Kerry Way walking trail, Killarney is the perfect base to start exploring.
While much of the beauty is actually on the outskirts of town and beyond, you’ll want to plan at least one afternoon to wander through the colorful streets of the town center.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to sample the local pub grub.
While you’re more likely to find feijoada or bulgogi than a potato on the menu in Dublin, you will find the Irish culinary classics out here. And Irish food is so much better than you think!
Grab my Irish local food guide and dig into the tastiest treats in all the land.
County Galway is home to the famous Cliff of Moher, the Wild Atlantic Way route, and the romantic Aran Islands.
Beyond the breathtaking natural beauty, Galway is a cultural treasure. Home to one of the country’s few remaining Irish-speaking communities can get a glimpse into the rich local culture and you get a glimpse into the unique history and present life of the Gaelic language.
Before you leave town, plan on plenty of time to explore the buzzing streets of the city of Galway. This lively university town is packed with pubs, live music, theatres, and incredible festivals.
Cliffs of Moher
While Galway, in general, is a fantastic addition to any trip — while there, you simply MUST check out the Cliffs of Moher!
Easily one of the most iconic sites of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are truly breathtaking.
Running 14 kilometers (8.5 miles) along the Atlantic coast, the dramatic landscape of County Clare is everything you’ve been dreaming of when you imagine the landscape of Ireland.
Soak in the remarkable landscape, and explore the unique local flora and fauna. The gem of the Wild Atlantic Way, this is your opportunity to stand atop a 214m (702 feet) cliff and look down at the waves crashing beneath you.
Derry, also known as Londonderry, is an essential stop in Northern Ireland. This is one of the gems of the Causeway Coastal Route as well as the Wild Atlantic Way. Plan at least one afternoon to stop and explore.
If you time it well, this is also a prime spot to stop and spend the night.
The small city of Derry is one of the most culturally and historically significant cities of Northern Ireland. Explore the fascinating past of this city at the Museum of Free Derry, City Walls, Peace Bridge, and Free Derry Corner.
Constructed of more than 40,000 basalt columns, this gorgeous stop is the result of an eruption of an ancient volcano, Northern Ireland’s one and only UNESCO World Heritage is one of the most beautiful seaside cliffs you’ve ever seen in your life.
If you can swing it, taking a two-week road trip around Ireland is a true bucket list experience. Grab my Irish road guide for inspiration!
The capital of Northern Ireland is a must on any excursion around the island of Ireland.
Stay in the Cathedral Quarter and explore the unique culture of this welcoming town. Grab brunch at St. George’s Market then hop on a Black Cab Tour to get an insider look at the city and its complex history.
Plan plenty of time to just wander amongst the Victorian buildings and snap photos of the famous murals. See where the Titanic was built then same some modern-day Irish cuisine in the center of the city.
Once you’ve seen the bright lights of the city, head off toward the Causeway Coastal Route.
This place was one of the stars of my Southern Ireland Road Trip Itinerary Via the Wild Atlantic Way. I’d read that it was named the most beautiful place on Earth by National Geographic Traveller…
and I was still shocked at how stunning this place truly was in real life.
This little spot is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula and it’s the gateway to endless lines of dramatic seaside cliffs and sandy beaches.
Planning Tip: On your very first adventure to the Emerald Isle? You need my 10 Tips for Your First Trip to Ireland.
In County Wicklow, you’ll find one of the most rugged and romantic escapes of Ireland. From Dublin, you can be to this spot in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
Easily one of the best day trips from Dublin, Glendalough is an easy trip that’ll show you the countryside in one afternoon without planning a major outing.
Glendalough Valley is a dream spot for hiking so bring comfy shoes! There are nine walking trails that range from a half-hour stroll through the park to a most intense four-hour hike.
Feeling spoilt for choice? Check out my 20 fave snapshots of Ireland to find inspiration for your must-see list.