Ireland is a country to fall in love with.
Even for those who only like the rain when they are not outside, Ireland will steal your heart. Its tranquillity, its incredible landscapes and its people will make you never want to escape from the Irish bubble that will trap you during your trip.
Buckle up, we’re heading to the Emerald Isle!
🗺 10 unknown places to visit in Ireland
Unfortunately, we never have as much time as we’d like to travel. And Ireland is one of those places that should be savoured little by little.
Thanks to my second au pair experience, I was able to live in the Emerald Isle for 6 months and discover places that tourists don’t usually visit.
The vast majority of people who visit Ireland opt for a 5 to 10 day road trip. On the one hand, this is a great way to see the must-see places in the Emerald Isle. However, on the other hand, those who settle for such a trip (Ireland only once in a lifetime), miss out on much of the Irish essence by not wanting to return.
As I said, not all of us have a month’s holiday to visit a place in that time. So, if you are one of those who are looking to combine more well-known places with atypical ones, or if you are in love with the leprechaun culture, you will love this post.
These are just 10 lesser-known places you can visit in Ireland, but the list could be endless.
Ballycotton is a small coastal town in County Cork.
There is not much tourism in Ballycotton. In fact, the tour I’m about to tell you about is almost unknown even to local Irish people.
Ballycotton is a place you have to go to feel the essence of what I am talking about. Anyone who crosses your path will greet you. The walk along its cliffs will please you, but its lighthouse will impress you.
Ballycotton Lighthouse Tour is the company in charge of the tours. The lighthouse you will visit (if you decide to follow my advice) is one of only four black lighthouses in the world.
From the lighthouse you can enjoy the views of Ballycotton.
And to finish off the tour, enjoy a good fish and chips at Skinny’s. The best restaurant for al fresco dining and relaxing to the sound of the sea.
Lismore is in County Waterford.
Its main tourist attraction is its castle, one of the most beautiful in Ireland in my opinion.
And no, it is not the one in the picture. What appears in the photograph are the so-called Ballysaggartmore Towers. These towers were built by Arthur Kiely-Ussher for his wife. What was to be a castle, remained the towers you see in the photograph. After they were built, the money ran out, and the entrance gates are now part of a 2km walk. You can book a tour here.
They say the best anecdotes happen when you least expect them.
This day I sneaked into a school to take a picture of its impotent facade. And the nice people at Youghal International College ended up giving me a tour of the college and even let me take a souvenir of the beautiful view of Youghal from the bell tower.
On this day I ate at an Italian restaurant that made the Italian au pair who came with me cry with joy. Sweet and Salty is a modest restaurant with the best pasta in town. And no wonder, as the owner is also Italian.
📍 Route along the Stradbally coast
Travelling around Ireland without a car is not at all advisable, unless you’re going to specific towns or villages to stay in.
On a trip to Dungarvan, I discovered this beautiful spot on the Stradbally coast. This coastal route holds some of the most incredible scenery I’ve seen in Ireland.
If you get the chance to take a detour and lose yourself here, you’ll be treated to endless shades of green and blue.
I could almost say that Portrush was and is one of my favourite places in Ireland.
Maybe it was the timing, maybe it was that I had a wanderlust to spend time with me and enjoy the solitude, or maybe it was the anecdotes I take away from this place.
But that sunset and that day, I will never forget. Surfers in the background riding the waves, the sun going down and an explosion of pink in the sky. It was magical.
That same night I tasted the best hake I have ever eaten in my life at The Mermaid. And the next day, I met Willie Gregg, the liveliest and best-hearted waiter I’ve ever met in my life, and reconnected with my roots at Ocho Tapas Bistro. It’s the only Spanish bar I’ve ever been to where the food really made me feel at home.
Bangor is not very touristy.
However, it’s the perfect place if you want to enjoy a relaxing day out near Belfast. Its waterfront has fascinating contrasts of blue. Its promenade offers beautiful views of the city.
In Bangor, I was pleasantly surprised by The Salty Dog. This hotel and restaurant welcomes pets and treats them as a guest.
When I say Ireland is the safest place I feel, I’m not just saying that. It’s one of the few places where I feel at ease walking alone at night and on the road, or in the middle of the countryside alone, even if it’s daytime.
And this trip proved it.
Portstewart is another of the villages that welcomed me during my trip alone in Northern Ireland. This church is the most emblematic thing you will see in the village. On your left, a 4km walk to Strand Beach begins.
This place is fascinating.
It’s one of the most prestigious hotels in the area and its cookery school has a great reputation in the country. Ballymaloe started life as a restaurant in 1964 and later became a well known hotel in County Cork.
It has a small café where you can enjoy some of their delicious desserts such as macarons, brownies and homemade cakes. On Saturdays they offer a pizza tasting, organised by the cooking school. They also host numerous events such as concerts and parties inside.
Midleton was my home in Ireland.
A small town with a cinema, shopping centre and just over 12,000 inhabitants.
Midleton is known for being the birthplace of Jameson whiskey. Here you can find the distillery, which offers tours about the making of the whiskey.
The most important monument is the Choctaw Native American Monument. It is the feathered figure in the picture. This sculpture is a gift of thanks to the Native Americans, specifically the Choctaw, for their help to Ireland during the potato famine.
On Saturdays, the town square hosts Midleton Farmer’s Market, a local food market. Try the pulled pork from one of the stalls or a sweet treat from Bitesize.
You probably know this town better than the previous ones.
Cobh is best known for being where the Titanic sailed from. The colourful houses pictured here are on West View Street, with St Colman’s Cathedral in the background.
Another place not to miss in Cobh is Spike Island, a fortress that was converted into a prison until the late 1980s.