Ireland is one of the best European destinations for a road trip – forget the map, drive and enjoy the best landscapes of this island! In this article you will find all the information you need to plan your trip in detail and discover the must-see places in Ireland.
Where is Ireland?
Ireland is the third largest island in Europe and is located very close to Great Britain. In fact, the island itself is divided between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Do I need a visa to travel to Ireland?
If you are a European citizen, you can enter the country without any restrictions. If you come from a non-EU country, I recommend you visit this website to see the entry requirements for your country of origin.
Do I need to rent a car to travel to Ireland?
Renting a car is not a must, but it is recommended.
If you plan to visit the major cities, you can plan your trip perfectly well without renting a car. And if you want to visit places like the Cliffs of Moher or the Giant’s Causeway, you can always book a day trip.
On the other hand, if you plan to cover the whole island in 5 days or a week, you will 100% need a car. Public transport in Ireland is terrible. Some areas have only one bus a day or the journey time is tripled because the bus has to go through many villages.
When is the best time to travel to Ireland?
Personally I prefer the summer months. From May to September the island is more lively, the sun is out and you can enjoy the whole coastal area even more.
Best places to visit in Ireland
Did you know that Ireland is also known as the Emerald Isle, and you can see more than 40 different shades of green in its landscapes? Don’t you think it’s AWESOME? 😲
Here I am going to show you the best places to visit in Ireland:
Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and one of the main places to see in Ireland. It is a relatively small city with half a million inhabitants and is easily accessible on foot.
Dublin city is a must on any trip to Ireland. From here you can find day trips to most of the island’s tourist attractions. You can even visit the locations where scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in Ireland!
It also has several free tours, ideal for those who want to visit the city with a guide and do it at a low cost.
These are the places I recommend you to visit in Dublin:
- Trinity College: the oldest university in Ireland and one of the most prestigious in the world. The recommended visiting hours are from 10:00 to 16:30 and the price to visit the inside of its famous library is 16€. You can book your tickets here.
- Grafton Street: one of the most famous streets in the city, even Ed Sheeran mentions it in his song “Galway girl”!
- Temple Bar: Dublin’s most atmospheric neighbourhood. It is the ideal place to enjoy a good Guinness, as it is home to the city’s most famous pubs 😉 An ideal way to get around is on a pub crawl in Dublin.
- Guinness Storehouse: This is the temple of the world’s most famous stout. This brewery is one of the must-see places in Dublin. It also has some of the best views of the city. Buy your tickets here.
- Phoenix Park: Dublin’s green heart where you can see deer in the wild 🦌
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and one of the best places to base yourself while exploring Northern Ireland.
Like Dublin, from here you’ll find excursions to the top places to visit in Northern Ireland such as the Giant’s Causeway or Game of Thrones locations.
I have to mention that the city of Belfast is not often acclaimed by tourists. I personally like it a lot; that’s why I’ve included it in this list of must-see places in Ireland. There’s something special about it that I can’t quite explain – I’ve been there 3 times and I’m not ruling out going back a fourth time! So I hope you enjoy the city as much as I have on every visit.
These are the main places to visit in Belfast:
- City Hall: Belfast City Hall is the most recognisable building in the city and admission is FREE! Its construction reflects the moment when Queen Victoria granted Belfast city status.
- Belfast Murals: are one of Belfast’s main tourist attractions. They are located in the Shankill and Falls. They depict the history of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Nowadays the best way to visit the murals in Belfast is on a walking tour with a guide in English or on a tour with a black taxi in English.
- Titanic Museum: one of the best places to visit in Belfast. This museum traces the history of the Titanic from its construction to the present day. The Titanic Museum in Belfast is open from 9am to 5pm and tickets cost around €18. Buy your tickets here!
- Crown Liquor Saloon: the most beautiful pub in Belfast, Ireland and almost the world.
- St George’s Market: the only surviving Victorian-style market in the city. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- Queen’s University: one of the most recommended places to visit in Belfast. Did you know that the University of Belfast has a replica of the wardrobe used during the filming of Narnia?
- Ulster Museum: it is the most important museum in Northern Ireland. Here you can learn more about the history of the conflict, see dinosaur skeletons and even mummies. Plus, admission is free!
- The Botanic Gardens: a great place to enjoy the Irish greenery and visit greenhouses with exotic plants.
- The Old Belfast Prison: also known as Crumlin Road Gaol, this is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Guided tours are available and tickets can be purchased from this website.
📍 Giant’s Causeway
This is one of the most spectacular sights to see in Ireland.
It is a volcanic formation formed by more than 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns. Some theories claim that millions of years ago, Ireland and Scotland were linked by this causeway.
In fact, there is even a legend about it: the legend of Finn McCool. If you want to know more about it, I recommend you to visit my article about what to visit in Northern Ireland, where I tell you all about it in detail!
Galway is one of the most beautiful and lively cities on the island. Without a doubt, an unmissable place to see in Ireland. It is also located very close to the Cliffs of Moher, another of the main places to visit in Ireland.
These are the most important places to visit in Galway:
- Lake Corrib and Galway Bay: In this part of the city is located one of the most picturesque postcards of Galway: The Long Walk.
- Spanish Arch: these are the remains of an ancient wall that protected the city’s docks. Its name pays tribute to the commercial relations between Spain and the city of Galway.
- Galway City Museum: free admission and from the top floor you can enjoy views of the sea.
- Latin Quarter: this is the most vibrant part of the city. This is where most of Galway’s shops and pubs are located.
- Eyre Square: is the main square of the city and the place where the Galway Christmas market is held every year.
- Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas: is the catholic cathedral of Galway.
- St Nicholas Cathedral: is the Protestant cathedral of Galway.
If you have time during your trip, I recommend a trip to Connemara and Kylemore Abbey from Galway.
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and a must-see place to visit in Ireland. These are the places you can’t miss in Cork:
- English Market: this is Cork’s market hall and one of the oldest municipal markets in the world.
- St Patrick Street: is the main shopping street of the city.
- Fitzgerald Park: is a beautiful park on the banks of the River Lee just outside the city centre – ideal for a picnic day in Cork!
- Cork Gaol: this is Cork’s old prison, although it was only in operation for 99 years!
- Elizabeth Fort: dates back to the 17th century, admission is free and it overlooks the city.
- Shandon Bells and St. Anne’s Church: one of the best things to do in Cork. The church retains its original 18th century bells. From here you can enjoy the views of the city and even ring the bells!
But the most beautiful thing about County Cork for me are its villages.
In this part of the island you can visit one of the few black lighthouses in the world in Ballycotton. Kiss the stone of eloquence in Blarney. Tour Kinsale, one of the county’s most colourful villages, or Cobh, the last port visited by the Titanic before it sank. Walk into the world’s largest former prison on Spike Island. Swim at one of Ireland’s most spectacular beaches and even visit Moby Dick’s village.
📍 Cliffs of Moher
Did you know that despite being Ireland’s most famous cliffs, the Cliffs of Moher are not the highest on the island?
At over 214 metres high, this spectacular landscape has become one of the island’s top tourist attractions and one of the best places to see in Ireland. The most common way to visit them is to climb to the top and tour them while enjoying the unique scenery. You can also book a boat trip and see it from a different perspective.
Derry, like Belfast, is one of the cities where traces of the history of the conflict still remain. It is one of the most important places to visit in Northern Ireland.
These are the main places to visit in Derry:
- Bogside neighbourhood: it is the place where the famous Bloody Sunday took place, a historical event in the history of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. To get to know it in depth, you can take a guided tour in English.
- Museum of Free Derry: it is a museum dedicated to the conflict. I have to add here that although I highly recommend the visit, it is a museum that leaves no one indifferent. Buy your tickets here!
- Derry Murals: similar to Belfast, this city uses its murals as a canvas for the history of the conflict.
- Derry City Walls: these were built by the British as a fortress to protect the city from the Irish. You can also visit the Tower Museum.
- Peace Bridge: it was inaugurated in 2011 and represents the union between the two parts of a formerly divided city.
Guildhall: Derry’s Guildhall is the most beautiful building in the city.