Ireland is a small country with a rich history and very beautiful places. It is popular not only for its colorful landscapes but also for its architectural monuments. Tourists from all over the world come here to admire the parks of stunning beauty, ruins of ancient castles, visit museums, as well as enjoy the architecture of modern buildings during hiking.
You can learn more about the history of the state, as well as learn more about the sights of Ireland, with the help of a professional guide. Special agencies will help tourists organize a tour so that viewing the beauties turned into a real adventure and will remain forever in the memory of visitors to the country.
You can save money and do without professional help. You can explore the main attractions of Ireland on your own. You can plan your route without missing any important details which can be found on the list of the most beautiful places in this country.
1. Dublin Castle (Dublin)
Many guests of the country start their acquaintance with the city of Dublin. Here is located one of the most important landmarks of Ireland — Dublin Castle. It was built in 1204 but excellently preserved till our days.
It is an attractive architectural monument and a significant part of the people’s history. Despite its ancient origin and old age, it was and still is the main castle of the country. Therefore, today it houses a whole complex of government organizations.
Historically, this building has welcomed more than one generation of high-ranking guests. For several centuries, the castle was home to the Viceroys of the English Crown in Ireland. Besides them, the King of Ireland and, in 1938, President Hyde Douglas also chose the place as their residence.
The architectural structure was erected for centuries. The first buildings appeared at the beginning of the XIII century, many of which collapsed over a long period of existence. Not a few buildings were erected in the period from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Every day there are a lot of excursions, even though there are government receptions and the work process of managing the state does not cease.
The basement, or more correctly would be said the underground, has become very popular among fans of symphonic music.
2. Kells Abbey (Kells, County Meath)
Kell Abbey is on the list of must-see sites. Over the years, the kingdom has built a huge number of religious buildings and structures. Not all have survived to this day, as many were destroyed by the Vikings who invaded Ireland. Fortunately, Kel Abbey was spared this fate, allowing modern tourists to observe the buildings as they were originally erected.
Remarkably, it was here that the famous Book of Kells was written. This work became one of the oldest literary editions. Today the book is housed in the city of Dublin at Trinity College.
The Abbey is surrounded by a landscape of extraordinary beauty. This becomes another reason why you simply must visit the city of Kells. Once in this place, it is as if you fall through the centuries. This is because the untouched corners of nature have been preserved here. The combination of ancient architecture with stunning scenery attracts tourists who want to not only look at and be imbued with history but also to leave a set of beautiful pictures in your piggy bank.
3. St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin City)
St. Patrick’s Day is popular around the world. Every country celebrates it in its way, but Ireland has a special day. This is because in the city of Dublin is located the Cathedral of St. Patrick, which can be visited on the day of celebration as well as at any other time.
Experienced guides and cathedral ministers will be happy to tell the story of St. Patrick’s as well as the temple. The information in tandem with the surroundings will help to imbue you with the stories of their life of Patrick.
The cathedral was built in 1192. Despite its advanced age of several centuries, it is recognized as one of the best-preserved structures in Ireland and Europe.
The place for the construction of the temple was not chosen by chance. The cathedral was built on a spring that is located between two branches of the River Poddle. It is noteworthy that the source has the same name as the cathedral. Today the building is a historical landmark, as well as a functioning church. Archbishop John Comyn of Dublin serves in it.
Since the cathedral was built, various ecclesiastical buildings have formed around it. Therefore, a whole complex of buildings has survived into modern times. Here you can even see the house of the archbishop. Visitors have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the architecture that has been erected over the centuries.
Over several centuries, the cathedral has experienced many things. There have been periods of development as well as phases of neglect. Now St. Patrick’s Cathedral serves as the leading government and ecclesiastical structure in the city of Dublin. Various religious festivals, including Memorial Day, are held on its grounds. Some events are attended by the president of the country.
4. Cair Castle (city of Cair)
The Shur River runs through the town of Cair in South Tipperary, in the center of which there is an island. It is on this island that another attraction is located. It is the castle of Cair. The main feature of the cultural heritage object is considered to be its impregnability and reliability. The construction of this structure was finally finished in the XII century. The past centuries had little effect on the appearance of the castle. Today it did not lose its attractiveness and charm.
The first building was laid in 1142, and the castle got its name in 1375 as a result of the assignment to the Baron Keir James Butler from King Edward the Third for his loyalty to the crown. The impregnability and reliability of the structure are ensured by its location. The castle is situated in the middle of the river, so it has always been difficult to approach it. But the preservation of its original appearance is quite different. In case of attack or siege, the owners surrendered their possessions without a fight, thereby not causing any damage to the architectural integrity of the structures. Thanks to this the castle still delights us with its beauty today.
The castle itself is very interesting, the miniature of the capture of Cair Castle in 1599 being particularly noteworthy. It consists of 1,000 figures of soldiers and immerses us in the era of those times. After viewing this composition, one has the feeling of actually participating in the events of those years.
The castle in recent years has become very popular with film directors. On his territory repeatedly conducted shooting of famous paintings. After all, no scenery will not be able to convey the spirit, which permeated the walls of these buildings. Here were filmed such films as «Excalibur», «Barry Lyndon», «Danish Darkness» and others.
5. Christ Church Cathedral (Dublin City)
One of the oldest cathedrals in Ireland is the Cathedral of Christ. Everyone who comes to this country simply must visit this place. The Cathedral is located in the city of Dublin and is considered one of the main attractions. From official sources, we know that it was founded in 1031 by the order of the famous Viking King Sitrig. Later it would become the fiefdom of the English and Catholic archbishops.
Once you are in the territory of this cathedral steeped in history, no one will remain indifferent. A huge number of monuments, sculptures, and other fascinating details. Here you can see the ruins of the priest’s house, which was built in the XIII century, look at the tomb of the knight Strongbow, remarkable paintings on the walls, in which tourists can consider a complete set of knights uniforms of the time. But of particular interest will be the Chapel of St. Laurence, which has kept his embalmed heart since the 13th century. It should be noted that the ceramic tiles with which the room is decorated have been preserved since those times.
The Cathedral of Christ will attract the attention of fans of modern trends in art. Only here you can see the mummies of a cat and a rat, which were formed naturally, stuck in the organ more than three hundred years ago. They were discovered in 1860, when reconstructing the instrument and decided to make them into exhibits because tourists are always attracted by unusual things.
6. Powerscourt Manor (the town of Enniskerry)
To take a break from the bustle of the city and the fresh air, locals and tourists come to the famous Powerscourt Manor. Located in County Wicklow and nestled amongst beautiful gardens and parks, Powerscourt is a haven of peace and tranquility. There are many different kinds of trees, bridges, statues, lawns, and artificial ponds, creating a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. Time seems to slow down here, and the visitor’s mind is filled with calm thoughts, relieving stress and anxiety.
In addition to the stunning nature here, some buildings may be of interest with their history. For example, the main building of the estate began to be built in the XIII century. Its founder was a Frenchman named Power, which gave its name to this architectural object. His family owned the place for almost four hundred years until Sir Wingfield received the estate as a reward for military achievements. By the mid-eighteenth century, engineers had worked on the design, giving the structure its modern contours. Today, the estate embodies all of the Irish cultures, and one viscount, having achieved his goal, created the most beautiful park in Ireland around the estate.
There’s a good golf club on the property and an overnight stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The pepperbox tower is a must-see. This is the observation tower, which was built in honor of the visit of the Prince of Wales. It is notable for its shape, as it is made in the form of an exact copy of the pepperbox from the Prince’s set.
7. Cashel Castle and Rock (County Tipperary)
Ireland is very rich in monuments of history. Another representative of such a collection is Cashel Castle. In the past, this structure was a royal residence. After the royal family left the castle, it began to be used as various religious centers.
For the first time, the castle is mentioned approximately in the IV century. At that time, it was a small fortress, which was erected at a height of sixteen meters. From that time until 1101 there were Munster kings, who then donated the fortification to the church.
In another attack in 1647, Cashel Castle was practically destroyed.
Today it stands before its visitors without a roof. When viewed from above, it resembles a cross. The most famous part of the castle is the tower, the height of which reaches 28 meters. There is also quite an interesting architectural object called the transept. There are two chapels and several burial places for bishops.
The front part of the building is decorated with arches and cornices. On the walls can be seen embossed figures of animals and other figurative elements. During the inspection of the inside of the building in the 1980s wall paintings were discovered. When you visit Cashel Castle, you become part of history because you can touch both the architecture of yesteryear and the culture of centuries past.
8. Macross House (Cary County, Killarney)
Near the town of Killarney is the Macross House Estate Museum. It is only 6 km away by bus. The museum opened in the middle of the XIX century. Construction was organized and supervised by the famous Scottish architect Byrne. Today Macross House occupies an important place in the tour program of any tourist. The two lakes Loch Lane and Macross formed a peninsula with their shores, which was the perfect site for the construction of the estate.
The place became open to the public museum in the mid-1960s. Due to the constant change of owners, the building was empty, which contributed to the partial destruction of some structures. The restoration took several years, creating a favorable atmosphere for walks and excursions.
Flower lovers, in particular, will enjoy the estate. Macross House is famous for its lovely gardens. The most popular here are rhododendrons, which bloom from April to July. In addition to flowers, various trees have been brought from other countries. Today, the Macross House Garden belongs to Killarney National Park.
There is a farm not far from the museum. In this place, time stood still centuries ago. Despite modern technology and scientific and technological advances, the life of Irish villagers is built according to the canon of past centuries. Here you can see a blacksmith’s shop, a carpenter’s workshop, and a cottage where artisans used to live. Every year the homestead museum organizes a festival for elementary school children, introducing them to the history of their country.
9. Newgrange Sanctuary
Tourists traveling in Ireland love to visit the Newgrange Sanctuary, which is part of the Bru-na-Boin complex. This historical monument appeared on the territory almost 5,000 years ago. The building reaches a height of 13.5 meters and its diameter is simply astounding at 85 meters.
The sanctuary is a UNESCO heritage site. Visiting this place helps not only to feel the history of the country but also to consider the subtleties of architecture, which also traces the culture of the Irish people. It should be noted that the technology by which the building was built is unlike any known in construction, which makes it even more unique.
10. National Leprechaun Museum (Dublin city)
Apart from historical facts in Ireland, you can also encounter myths and legends, with which this country is simply saturated. Proof of this judgment is the world-famous Leprechaun Museum in the city of Dublin.
It was founded in 2003 to emphasize the identity of the country. The main idea is to depict the life of magical characters — elves, fairies, and other fairy tale characters. The approach to visitors has become the hallmark of the place, as each of them is greeted by a leprechaun bringing a pot of gold.
Not only the fairy tale creatures are represented, but also the furnishings of the houses. For example, you can find yourself in a room where objects are three times larger than usual. Such an exhibition aims to allow the visitor to experience how a leprechaun sees the human world. Guides will tell about how leprechauns lived, how their encounters with people took place, and at the end of the trip, each tourist will be given a portrait of their leprechaun.
What else is there to see in Ireland?
A weekend or vacation in Ireland should be scheduled by the minute, so as not to miss anything interesting and as much as possible to soak up the traditions of the people and the country. After a list of the main attractions, here’s a list of places to see in Ireland that will make your trip unforgettable and add a special «highlight» to your vacation.
11. Guinness Beer Museum
In addition to architectural buildings, Ireland is famous for alcoholic beverages, so if you come to the city of Dublin, you should visit the Guinness Beer Museum. It is located at the working brewery, so visitors can not only tell how one of the best kinds of beer is brewed, but also provide an opportunity to taste the fresh beverage. At the brewery, there is a cafe called «Gravity. The main feature, oddly enough, is not the alcoholic beverages, but the view. During dinner, visitors can admire a bird’s-eye view of the city.
On the fourth floor, there is a special room for tastings. Professional brewers will teach visitors the rules of drinking this legendary beverage and tell them about the intricacies and secrets of brewing.
You just can’t get into this museum, because every day there are huge lines at the entrance. But the museum administration provided online booking that helps to bypass the stuffy lines.
12. Bunratty Castle (County Clare)
In the 13th century, a castle was laid out by Edward de Clair on the site of a former Viking merchant camp. A few centuries later during the war the castle and the city were completely destroyed. By the XV century it was decided to restore the building and the castle walls were erected anew. However, the original appearance of the stone castle was not restored, Bunratty received a more modern decoration.
Today the area is fully equipped for tourist groups. Around the castle, visitors stroll through Folklore Park, admiring the life of the Irish people, looking at the stores, workshops, and other buildings. It is possible to plunge into the Middle Ages by attending a real feast at the Bunratty Banqueting Castle. Visitors to Ireland will thus become acquainted with the traditional recipes of the Middle Ages, as well as the former rules of eating. You should be prepared to eat with your hands and wipe your mouth with a napkin tied around the neck of each guest. The banquet is served, of course, by people in colorful outfits of the time.
Bunratty invites you to walk the halls. Tourists see the most extensive collection of antique furniture and tapestries of the Middle Ages. Each exhibit has a detailed description reflecting the life of the people of that time.
13. Killarney National Park (County Kerry)
Statistics say that the most memorable and beautiful place in Ireland travelers read Killarney National Park. The year of its foundation is thought to be 1932. The park opened on the shore of the lake of the same name and is attracted by the identity and purity of nature. Tourists have the opportunity to enjoy the stunning scenery, which is spread over 10,000 hectares. The park consists of gardens, forests, and flower meadows, much of it in a mountainous area. It is a real zoo in the open air. Rare animals such as falcons, owls, white-fronted geese, peregrine falcons, and many others live here under natural conditions.
At the heart of the park is the main exhibit — Ros Castle, the ancestral home of the O’Donahue-Ros clan, built in the 15th century.
Nearby is a small town of the same name. Tourists can visit it and walk through the narrow streets. There are only 15,000 people, but because of the abundance of tourists, the city does not seem abandoned, it is always crowded and lively. The locals consider the city of Killarney the best place to hold the wedding, so often organize the celebration here. That is why almost every house in the streets of the city is equipped with a beautiful flower arch.
14. Jameson Distillery Museum (Dublin)
Most people associate Ireland with Jameson whiskey. Therefore, the local population supported such an initiative of tourists and included the real John Jameson distillery in Dublin’s Smithfield district in the list of attractions. The place has been a museum for a long time.
The history of the famous whisky goes far back in time — to the 18th century. John Jameson was born in 1740 and in his 40th year of life, he organized a small production of spirits. The main motto of the production, which to this day accompanies the drink — «No sugar!» John Jameson devoted the rest of his life to the creation and improvement of the hot beverage, which still bears the name of its creator.
Production of John Jameson & Son over time became one of the most popular and successful in the country, and the product produced is known throughout the world.
When visiting Ireland, it is definitely worth including a visit to the distillery in your tourist program. The museum will not offer a personal introduction to the production of whiskey, the process of creating the drink has long been abandoned here. The entourage of the XVIII-XIX centuries is preserved in the museum. During the tour, every tourist can watch a small documentary and taste the most popular varieties of whiskey.
15. Glenloch (County Wicklow)
Legend has it that a prehistoric glacier formed a green valley of fabulous beauty that became the refuge of St. Kevin. Glendalough is popular to this day for its natural beauty as well as its ancient buildings. St. Kevin and other ministers erected several buildings here:
- a room for transcribing books;
- a circular tower;
- a hospital;
- guest houses;
Thus a monastery was founded, around which the laity settled. The monastery operated not long — until the XIII century until it was destroyed by English troops. Currently, tourists can admire the architecture of the buildings of that time and feel the spirit of history. Tourists can take a look at the double stone gates with the inscribed symbol of the cross. Historians believe that this is the oldest sign of Christianity. Inside the walls of the monastery tourists will find a lot of great locations for taking pictures. Attract attention to the tower, which is equipped with windows on all sides of the world. It is believed that the surveillance was conducted from here.
There is a small ancient cemetery, where priests, monks, and members of higher estates are buried.
16. Blarney Castle (County Cork)
A striking representative of the caste of the Middle Ages is Blarney Castle. Traditionally the structure is situated on a hill and has many underground passages. But what attracts tourists is not the antiquity of its architecture and walls, but the famous «stone of eloquence. Travelers come here to worship the stone. It is believed that everyone who touches the stone with his lips gets eloquence and begins to possess the art of oratory and the gift of persuasion. The legend has been around for five centuries. Despite the fact that, of course, the miracle did not happen to any of the tourists, visitors continue to honor the tradition.
The legend was born during the reign of Elizabeth I. The lands of the castle belonged to the famous McCarthy family, and during the Battle of Bannockburn, King Cormac McCarthy of Munster sent 4,000 subjects to help the King of Scotland to fight. In gratitude for his timely support, the ruler gave Cormac half of the Scone Stone, on which kings had been crowned for many centuries.
17. Skellig Michael (County Kerry)
Tourists are offered a small water excursion. Traveling along the water near County Kerry you will meet the famous rocky island called Michael’s Rock, or Skellig Michael. There is a legend that said got its name in honor of the Holy Archangel Michael, who defeated the devil in the form of an evil dragon.
The cold cliffs seem uninhabited. However, people have lived here for a long time. The holy place was not left without the attention of Christians, so the walls of a small monastery were built on top of the rock. Several administrative buildings and a temple were built. From VI to XII century there was a monastery of monks until the hermits left the place because of strong hurricanes. Later numerous faithful pilgrims from all over the world began to visit the holy place. The monastery has been restored and currently operates as a pilgrimage center and nature reserve.
18. Grafton Street (Dublin)
A small tourist street, the «local Arbat». It’s located in the center of Dublin between St Stephen’s Park and Trinity College. Since Victorian times the best and most famous stores have been concentrated here. The upper classes would stroll down the pedestrian Grafton Street for shopping. Today, little has changed. The street is filled with famous boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. People come here to have a good time and relax, which is facilitated by the unobtrusive melodies of street musicians.
While walking along Grafton Street, there is an opportunity to highlight some important historical information. Be sure to come across Trinity College, which is one of the oldest active educational institutions. The university was founded in the 16th century and graduates students to the present day. Popular for its extensive library.
The street will take tourists to St. Stephen’s Park, where you can enjoy the beauty. Time here slows down its pace, causes peace, and allows you to immerse yourself in your own thoughts for a while.
The Grafton Street Monument is a must-see. The statue is named Molly Mallone, erected in honor of the commoner who traded on the street and died of fever.
19. St. Stephen’s Green Park (Dublin)
The best time to visit little Ireland is in spring. During this period, nature wakes up from its winter hibernation, blossoms green leaves, rejoices in the bright sunshine. All this forms a lot of beautiful locations for photographing. Tourists are advised to take a camera and walk through one of the parks of Ireland. The famous St. Stephen’s Green Park is a must-see. This place is popular not only with travelers but also with the locals.
Well-groomed trees, flowerbeds, and lawns surround the 3.5 kilometers of dark alleys where tourists will enjoy the beauty of nature. The Park is a trademark of Dublin City, so it is always kept clean and tidy.
The largest reconstruction of the park took place in the XIX century. The area was landscaped, different species of trees were planted, clubs were organized and a fountain was installed. Locals love to come here after a hard day’s work or for a walk on weekends. In the park will be interesting even for young visitors, there is a playground for them, as well as a place to feed the ducks.
20. Kilkenny Castle (Kilkenny)
In the east of Ireland lies the small town of Kilkenny, which is popular for the beauty of its architectural buildings. The most popular place in the city is Kilkenny Castle, built in the XII century. Stone walls were erected on the highest point. The Butler family lived here for six centuries. The castle was subjected to invasions, repeatedly destroyed and restored. The most extensive restoration took place in the 19th century, after which the appearance became more modern. Three towers remained of the original structures. Currently within the walls of the castle is organized a small museum of Irish artists, and on the territory, there are archaeological excavations.
21. Shop Street (Galway)
Travelers visit Ireland not only to admire the architectural canons, educate themselves and breathe in the spirit of history but also to buy various goods.
Shop Street in Galway is the perfect place to store, as it is home to a maximum concentration of boutiques with goods for all tastes and wallets. The perfect time to visit Shop Street is during the cold season when Ireland’s main attractions lose their charm, it’s time to go shopping and shelter from the cold in the beautiful stores.
Behind the city’s medieval architecture is modern buildings — the Square Centre Shopping Centre, and on the adjacent Headford Road, you can visit the largest Galway Shopping Centre in western Ireland.
Among the standard array of items, the range of goods is full of souvenirs, including Aran sweaters, local whiskey, honey wine, Irish cheese and tea, and crystal Irish souvenirs.
22. Temple Bar (Dublin)
No tourist route can do without this place. Visitors to Ireland are sure to visit this area. Many stores, boutiques, and galleries are concentrated here.
The area was formed in the XIV century, but today’s appearance has nothing to do with the original view. The buildings are the result of numerous reconstructions but built in the general style of medieval Ireland. From the seventeenth to the eighteenth century wealthy families lived here, and later an organization responsible for the preservation of the historical appearance of the district was established.
23. Kinsale (County Cork)
Ireland is full of small and cozy little towns whose streets resemble each other. Bright colorful buildings, alternate with old architectural structures, small bars, and pubs, and all of it is buried in greenery and flowers. However, against the backdrop of all these cities, the most memorable is Kinsale. The city’s streets are made up of closely spaced buildings with colorful facades. But Kinsale also has a rich history. Celts, Vikings, and Normans lived here.
Attention is drawn to the ancient church of St. Malta, which was founded in the XII century.
Another historical building of the XVI century, which was erected to organize the customs office, then for the purposes of the prison, is now a museum of winemaking. This is Desmond Castle.
In addition to receiving historic buildings, Kinsale offers tourists to get acquainted with the gastronomic canons of the Irish people.
The gastronomic canons of the Irish people. The streets are full of small cafes and restaurants.
24. The Ring of Kerry (County Kerry)
Ireland — it is not only walking through the old cities and visits to castles. Tourists are offered an interesting 166 km long tour. The famous Ring of Kerry runs through County Kerry and offers to visit the most picturesque places of the country, admire several castles, and enjoy the nature of these places.
The Ring of Kerry is accessible by car, by bus, by bicycle, and the more stalwart can explore the trails on foot.
25. The Giant’s Road (Giant’s Causeway)
Northern Ireland is the smallest region of the United Kingdom. Despite its small size, its importance cannot be understated. In terms of the number of attractions and the beauty of historic buildings, Northern Ireland is not in last place.
In addition to the above-mentioned places, every tourist is recommended to visit the famous Giant’s Causeway. A stone road weaved from numerous columns. It is believed that the path was formed more than 60 million years ago after a volcanic eruption.
From the surface of the upper parts of these columns folds the road. Legend has it that giants once walked along these paths.