Last summer, I went to Ireland with my family for a few weeks. It was an amazing experience! Visiting Ireland was on my bucket list before I even knew what a bucket list was, and I loved my time there so much that I applied for graduate school in Dublin! These five places were the highlights of my trip to Ireland, but there are countless spots in Ireland worth visiting! Please leave a comment to share your favorite places to visit in Ireland!
Howth is a peninsula just north of Dublin, and it is gorgeous. There is a hiking trail that winds along the cliff-lined coast. The town is adorable, with restaurants and shops looking out to the water. (My mom, a self-pronounced Starbucks addict, was positively gleeful when she saw a Starbucks nestled in among the other shops.) The neighborhood is beautiful, you have your pick of bed and breakfasts and you can eat freshly caught fish at many of the restaurants. What’s not to love? There is also a bus that will take you into Dublin’s City Center, so Howth is a good location for people who want a more laid-back vacation with easy access to the bustling city.
The Burren is a well-kept secret of Ireland, and it is well worth visiting! Located near the west coast of Ireland in County Clare, this area is characterized by the vast expanse of limestone landscape. Going hiking in this area is very interesting because everything is limestone and looks the same – you have to make sure you’re walking past trail markers regularly. We stayed in an Airbnb in Corofin (a very quaint small town), and they have a bus that will take you to one of the hiking trails in The Burren. Beautiful! I would definitely recommend visiting this area. It was something that didn’t sound that interesting to me, but once we were there it took my breath away!
This is a very popular tourist site, and there is a reason why! These cliffs are gorgeous, and the history surrounding them is fascinating. There is a visitor center that has exhibits about the cliffs. They also have a food court and a gift shop, and a protected area of the cliffs where you can walk out onto the cliffs. When we went, we parked in Doolin, a town that is along the coast. We took a bus from Doolin to the visitor center, and then we hiked back to Doolin along the cliffs. It was a really neat hike, but slightly terrifying. The trail was literally right next to the cliffs, and for a lot of it there was a trail that was dug into the ground like a trench to protect you from the wind blowing you to your death! (My family was probably very tired of me yelling “I feel swaddled in safety!” every time I got to walk in the trench trail). It was very windy, and when there wasn’t a trench trail I admit that I was slightly scared. But I am also a scaredy cat! It was a really great experience, and I would recommend it if you have the time! It is about a 7 km walk, which is about 4 miles. At the very least make sure to go to the visitor center!
The Ring of Kerry is a driving route along the coast of a peninsula in the southwest of County Kerry. We considered skipping this part of our vacation because we had heard that it gets very crowded, and we were also just tired of being in the car (which was a clown car that definitely should not have held four people). But I am so glad that we didn’t skip it. First of all, County Kerry is freaking gorgeous! All of Ireland is gorgeous, but I definitely made a mental note to go back to Kenmare for at least a full weekend. The view of the mountains is crazy. Driving the Ring of Kerry treated us to some really beautiful views of the coast and mountains and farmland in this area. My mom drove us, but I think that taking a bus around the Ring would allow everyone in the family to be able to enjoy the scenery! We stopped in Portmagee for lunch and ate at Skellig Mist Coffee Shop. Portmagee is a beautiful town right on the water, and there are ferries that will take you out to Skellig Michael from here. (I’ve heard that visiting Skellig Michael is an amazing experience, but we did not have a chance to go.)
We ended our trip in Dingle, which is located on the peninsula just north of where the Ring of Kerry is located. It was equally beautiful here! (Ugh, I am running out of adjectives for “gorgeous” and “beautiful” because that’s how I want to describe everything!) Dingle was very cute and had many little bars and shops. This would be a great place for people who really want a chance to experience the bar life of Ireland outside of Dublin. We took a bus tour of the peninsula of Dingle, which took us to a few really cool ancient sites. We were also treated to even more beautiful views of the coastline and mountains of County Kerry. It was a great low-key way to end our trip in Ireland!
Are you considering visiting Ireland? These are definitely five places that I would highly recommend adding to your itinerary! Have you visited Ireland before? What are your favorite places to visit in Ireland?