There are so many fabulous things to do in Ireland, whether you’re visiting for a few days or a few weeks. Visitors often love to spend some time exploring Dublin, then head off into the countryside or to the west of Ireland to explore the less populated and more naturally beautiful areas. Whether you’re a solo traveler hoping to spend some time off of the grid or a family looking to make lifelong memories, Ireland has plenty of activities from which you can choose.
Things to do in Ireland
Here’s a list of some of the top things to do while visiting Ireland. Think of it like an Irish bucket list, a set of activities that will help you to better understand the country and its cultural heritage.
Experience Temple Bar
Many visitors choose to visit Dublin because they prefer the lively local culture in Ireland. There’s perhaps nowhere in the country more known for local culture than Temple Bar, the city center of Dublin.
This area contains pubs, including one called Temple Bar, along with restaurants, museums, coffee shops, cool buildings that will delight architecture and design addicts, and the renowned Trinity College.
Admire the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are located along Ireland’s western coast, and they’re one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland. These sea cliffs overlook the Atlantic Ocean from County Clare, running for about 9 miles (14 kilometers). There is a visitor center near a particularly dramatic section of the cliffs, which contains a restaurant and a small museum.
When visiting the Cliffs of Moher, many visitors choose to stay in Doolin, a charming little town with a few pubs and shops. Alternatively, you can visit the Cliffs of Moher on a day trip from Cork or Dublin.
Explore the Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way – one of the most epic reasons to visit Ireland – is the name for a stretch of coastline that starts around the southern city of Cork and extends up along the west coast to Donegal. This area is known for its stunning natural beauty, cultural centers like Galway and Kilarney, and for plenty of little gems along the way.
If you have a more leisurely trip planned along the Wild Atlantic Way, you may want to spend a few hours in the Burren, where you can walk along the moonlike geological features.
Have a pint at an Irish pub
There’s perhaps nothing more iconically Irish than the Irish pub, and, as the name suggests, you’ll find them throughout the country. In Ireland, pubs are central meeting places for locals, who rarely invite others into their homes for meals.
Instead, most people will go to the pub for a drink, to meet a friend, for a meal, or to hear live music.
You’ll find all sorts of pubs in Ireland, from those with rowdy drinking scenes to quieter local affairs filled with people quietly sipping their beers.
Don’t be afraid to ask the locals about their favorite pubs, they’re usually happy to share some of the less traditional spots that you can check out.
Hike the Spinc Trail around Glendalough
People in Ireland love to get outside and enjoy some time in nature. Perhaps one of the best places to do this is in the mystic Wicklow Mountains, located about an hour south of Dublin.
Glendalough is a glacial lake that is set into the mountain range, offering incredible views to those who choose to hike the Spinc Trail that circles the lake.
For those who are less inclined to hike, you can still walk up to the lake and even along a waterfall without going too far. Adjacent to Glendalough is a set of monastic ruins, including a stone tower and funerary stones dating back several centuries.
Pull a perfect pint of Guinness
There’s a special technique to pulling a perfect pint of Guinness, and locals won’t touch a pint if it has too much – or too little – head. If you’d like to try your hand at pulling a pint of Guinness, some pubs will offer the opportunity during slower times of the day.
Otherwise, you can head to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, where you can learn all about how this classic beer is brewed and try your hand at a perfect pour in their Guinness Academy.
Kiss the Blarney Stone
It is said that those who kiss the Blarney Stone will be granted the “gift of the gab” and will be able to charm people with the spoken word. If you’d like to kiss the Blarney Stone on your trip to Ireland, you can do so by visiting Blarney Castle.
Located just outside of Cork, this castle was built in the 15th to 17th century, and it remains intact and welcoming visitors today.
Enjoy a traditional music session
Known in Ireland as “trad” music, one of the best places to see live performances is in Galway, a city located along the Wild Atlantic Way.
You can typically find trad music in pubs throughout Ireland, with small local bands playing in back corners on weekend evenings. In bigger cities like Cork and Dublin, you might find daily trad music in a few pubs.
Galway is the music capital of Ireland, so it’s the best place to catch some trad music. You’ll also find music festivals in the summer and bigger traditional music celebrations throughout the year. The Latin Quarter in Galway is also the best place to see street performers, often playing a mix of contemporary and trad music.
Visit a small Irish town
Most people imagine that Ireland is a much larger and more populated country than it really is. Geographically, Ireland is approximately the same size as South Carolina, and it is home to about 5 million people. Accordingly, it is full of small towns that are full of charm.
Really, you could get a sense of small-town Ireland in any county. However, a fabulous choice would be the town of Enniskerry, located about 45 minutes from Dublin in County Wicklow. Enniskerry was the filming location for Disney’s Enchanted II and it features a charming center, as well as a few shops, cafes, and pubs.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
If you happen to visit in March, be sure to plan your trip around St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that commemorates the death of the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated internationally, but it’s a national holiday in Ireland and most people have the day off of work.
Every Irish town, from the smallest towns to the capital of Dublin, will typically host their own Saint Patrick’s Day parade and other festivities.
Plan to celebrate for most of the day, as the parade typically leads into a variety of afternoon activities. The festivities continue into the pubs in the evening, with plenty of live music and general merriment. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17.
Amber Haggerty runs Amber Everywhere, a site dedicated to encouraging others to travel.
The mission of Amber Everywhere is to help people feel the sort of belonging, purpose, empathy, and expansiveness that travel can offer, especially if approached with the right mindset. Amber is originally from Colorado, but now she now lives in Europe and writes about her experiences traveling and living abroad.