Ireland has quickly become my favorite country that I’ve visited. The charm of this country and it’s people is absolutely contagious. Everywhere you look is somehow more beautiful than the last. The best part? At a mere 32,595 square miles, much of Ireland can easily be explored in a week!
I truly believe that everyone should visit Ireland at some point in their lives. This country exceeded all of my expectations. There is so much history and culture to be experienced, and I already can’t wait to visit again. While I was only there for 5 days, I was able to cross off all of the places on my bucket list and managed to stumble upon a few surprise spots. Here are my top 11 must see destinations in beautiful Ireland.
This restaurant was located on the top floor of our hotel, The Dean (which I wrote about here). Our first meal in Dublin was here and it did not disappoint! The views of the city are as impressive as the food, and the atmosphere is second to none. Serving up standard bar food a delicious daily brunch menu, Sophie’s is a delicious and affordable spot to grab a bite morning or night. Be sure to try their buttermilk pancakes with orange butter, or their delicious homemade pizzas.
The Guinness Storehouse
The most visited location in Ireland, the Guinness Storehouse is a must for first timers. Comprised of 7 themed floors, this tour is a learning experience from start to finish. You will walk away with not only an expanded knowledge of beer making, but of Ireland’s unique history. This was certainly a highlight of the trip for me, and I was able to pick up some great gifts here as well.
Did you know that there is more than one Temple Bar? The bar is actually named after the area of Temple Bar. Located on the southern bank of the River Liffey, this area is filled with charming storefronts, live music, and lively night life. This corner of Dublin is a must see. Grab yourself a pint inside the famous Temple Bar and spend a few hours roaming the cobblestone streets. You won’t regret it.
This famous school is home to one of the world’s most unique libraries. Trinity hosts daily tours around campus and with access to the famous Book of Kells, one of the oldest books in the world dating back to the 9th century. The school’s library is the only one in the world where the books are organized by size instead of the Dewey Decimal System. Most of these books so old they have never touched by students; to give you an idea of just how old, many of the science books in the library were written before Darwin’s Theory of Evolution!
The Aran Islands
One of the most beautiful and untouched places in Ireland. The Aran Islands are the only place in the country where Irish (also known as Gaelic) is still the first language. I learned that these islands were only granted electricity eleven years ago and that their primary source of income is tourism! We visited the island of Inisheer, the smallest of the three. Should you find yourself boarding the ferry and paying this little island a visit, be sure to grab yourself some fudge from Tomas, who runs “The Man Of Aran Fudge” right by the ferry drop off. SO GOOD.
The Cliffs of Moher
Quite literally the most terrifying and beautiful place I have ever seen,. I think it’s safe to say that a visit to the Cliffs of Moher is a must when visiting the Emerald Isle. While much of the cliffs are protected with barriers, there is a stretch of coastline just outside the designated National Park where you could quite literally walk off the edge of the country. If you ever want to feel small, awestruck, and alive, this is your place.
The Dark Hedges
As a Game of Thrones fan, this place was a must. This location has been growing in popularity since the TV show came out, and has risen to the #2 most popular tourist location in Ireland. Located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, over 150 of these giant trees were planted in 1775 along the driveway leading up to the Gracehill Estate. There are really no words to describe how amazing the atmosphere is here, so you will just have to pay them a visit yourself.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
In my opinion this is the most beautiful view in Ireland! On a clear day you can see the coastline of Scotland a mere 12 miles away. Luckily the weather was perfect and we were able to spot it along the horizon line. The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge was built in Ballintoy, Northern Ireland as a way to connect the tiny island of Carrickarede to the mainland. The bridge itself suspends 98 ft above the water below, and stretches 66 ft across. This area of the country was huge for salmon fishing, and this island has served as a hub for the fisherman for years. Now it serves as one of the most popular tourist locations in Ireland. The spot is owned by the National Trust and sees over 200,000 people a year.
The home to those crazy hexigonal rock formations, Giant’s Causeway is a unique piece of Ireland’s landscape. You will follow along via a audio guide and learn about the legend of “Finn MacCool” of Gaelic Mythology and take in the sights. No pictures do the enormity of this place to justice, or the beauty! Be sure to grab an ice cream cone next door to the visitors center as well.
Rock of Cashel
Also known as the Cashel of Kings and St. Patrick’s rock, this historic site located in County Tipperary is one of the greatest examples of Medieval architecture in all of Europe. The castle is often included in the Blarney Castle day tour.
Did you even visit Ireland if you didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone? My favorite part about this spot were the grounds. The castle sits on over 60 beautiful acres in County Cork. There are countless gardens, waterfalls, beautiful flower beds and walking paths to explore. This castle is straight out of a fairy tale. Be sure to end your day at Blarney Woollen Mills, the largest gift shop in Ireland.