Galway, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

Galway, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Traditional and oh so scenic, Ireland is also known as Emerald Isle due to the lush green fields that cover the countryside. Here you are guaranteed of stunning surroundings, a warm welcome and a perfect pint of the black stuff. Dublin is a very popular city to visit, but to make the most of the unique and gorgeous landscapes Ireland has to offer you’ll have to explore a little further afield. Aside from its lively capital, here are ten of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland (in no particular order):

Kerry

Kerry, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

You will find County Kerry located within the province of Munster. The main town in this area is Tralee, but the most significant is Killarney. The Lakes of Killarney are an area of outstanding natural beauty and can be found in the mountainous Killarney National Park. The Ring of Kerry (the Iveragh Peninsula) is a mystical part of the country, perfect for outdoor activities especially cycling, golf, walking and water sports. Also consider a drive around the Ring of Kerry. At 110 miles, it’s a lengthy journey but it provides an excellent opportunity to take in the beautiful views from the coastal road.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • Lake Hotel Killarney, Ring of Kerry – Elegant four star hotel with gorgeous lake views from €60pn
  • Abbey Lodge, Ring of Kerry – Popular small guest house set in outstanding unspoilt countryside from €40pn

Cork

Cork, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Cork is the southernmost and largest county and like its rival Kerry is also in Munster. The area is known as “The Rebel County” after the role Cork played in the Irish War of Independence. Ilnacullin (Garinish Island) is a very popular tourist attraction which is known for its natural beauty and scenery. Here you will find wonderful tropical plants, beautiful Italian gardens and the distinctive Martello Tower. Animal lovers should also visit ‘Fota Wildlife Park’, the 70 acre site is not like a normal zoo – all the animals roam freely.

Where to stay – our recommendations

Kilkenny

Kilkenny, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Kilkenny is popular tourist city and its numerous pubs have hosted many Stag and Hen events over the years. If you are fond of a pint or two, try taking a tour of Smithwick’s brewery – it’s an interesting visit in a town famous for its beer production. In the centre of Kilkenny you’ll find the large stone castle which has been a focal point of the City for over 800 years. The city is also regarded for its vibrant cultural scene and the annual summer Arts Festival consisting of theatre, dance, literature, music and visual arts shouldn’t be missed.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • Lyrath Estate Hotel, Kilkenny – Romantic five star country house hotel with excellent amenities from €80pn
  • Kilkenny River Court Hotel, Kilkenny – Elegant four star hotel located in a stunning location on the River Nore overlooking the Kilkenny Castle from €60pn

Galway

Galway, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Galway is a medieval town on the west coast of Ireland which sits on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. It’s easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland. Once voted one of the world’s sexiest cities, Galway is known for its ancient architecture and also for its vibrant art and cultural scene. One of the best ways to explore the area is by boat. Try the ‘Corrib Princess’ which departs from Woodquay for a relaxing 90 minute cruise with an added commentary. Just outside the city of Galway is the Connemara National Park where you’ll find scenic mountains, vast expanses of bogs, heaths, woodlands and Connemara ponies.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • Galway Bay Hotel, Galway – Four star hotel offering panoramic views of the sea from €66pn
  • Park House Hotel, Galway – A cosy well presented hotel located in the centre of the city from €60pn
  • Hotel Meyrick, Galway – Elegant hotel with classic decor housed in a historic building overlooking Eyre Square from €75pn

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway on GlobalGrasshopper.com

If you visit County Antrim in Northern Ireland you cannot miss Giants Causeway – 40,000 natural basalt columns formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. The site was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and also a National Nature Reserve. An area surrounded by mythical tales, the most enduring is the legend of Finn McCool. The Irish giant Finn is said to have created the Causeway after an argument with the Scottish giant Fingal. Other attractions in the area include a steam train which takes a journey to the Old Bushmills Distillery where you can sample some traditional Irish whiskey.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • The Bayview Hotel, near Giants Causeway – Bay located hotel with stunning panoramic sea views from €45pn
  • Royal Court Hotel Portrush – Well presented modern mid range hotel only a short car ride away from Giants Causeway from €30pn

Donegal

Donegal, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Donegal is an exceptional county filled with friendly communities and breathtaking views. Many visitors mention Donegal as their favourite area in Ireland and people travel from all over Ireland to explore the naturally beautiful surroundings. One of the county treasures is Glenveagh National Park which covers 170 square kilometres of beautiful woodland and mountains and is one of Ireland’s finest natural attractions. Here you will find rugged mountainous landscapes, sandy beaches, clear lakes and the wonderful late Victorian folly, Glenveagh Castle.

Where to stay – our recommendations

The Cliffs of Moher and County Clare

The Cliffs of Moher

Ireland’s most visited natural attractions seems to capture the heart of all her many visitors. The Cliffs of Moher tower 700 feet over the foamy waves of the Atlantic Ocean and make up some of the most ruggedly beautiful coastline in Europe. Here surfers brave the chilly waves below, nesting seabirds thrill wildlife watchers and enthusiastic walkers make the most of the unspoilt natural scenery. Also take your time to explore the rest of County Clare where the cliffs are located. This is the place where a strong traditional Irish culture flourishes; explore the many pretty villages, Stone Age monuments, ancient churches, 15th century castle and stop in one of the many charming pubs to get your fix of traditional Irish music.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • Falls Hotel Ennistymon – Romantic spa hotel with modern decor and fabulous surroundings (located not far from the cliffs of Moher) from €75pn
  • Gregans Castle Hotel – An elegant 18th-century manor house hotel with modern rooms and charming four poster beds from €85pn

Glendalough

Glendalough, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Located in a glacial valley beside tranquil lakes, Glendalough is truly beautiful and very photogenic. If you appreciate history or architecture then visit the ancient two round towers of St Kevin’s Church and a ruined cathedral. Nature lovers can also simply enjoy the walks along the trails and around the lakes. There are various trails on offer – shorter ones for those looking for a gentle stroll or 10 mile hikes across mountains for more serious walkers.

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • BrookLodge Hotel, Nr Glendalough – Ireland’s only luxury Bio Hotel with organic food & spa from €79pn
  • Tudor Lodge B&B, Nr Glendalough – Three star B&B located in the beautiful Wicklow Valley from €59pn

Aran Islands

Aran islands, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The Aran Islands are a collection of three islands which are nestled at the mouth of Galway Bay. The beautiful and isolated islands have attracted and inspired many Irish artists and poets over the years (including the leading artists Seán Keating and Liam O’Flaherty). Aside from the unique weather-battered landscapes other notable attractions include several Iron Age forts and Teampull Bheanáin which is considered to be the smallest church in the world.

Where to Stay

Sligo

Sligo, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The scenery surrounding the county town of Sligo is extraordinarily beautiful, especially the coastline. The Knocknarea Mountain dominates the landscape and here you will find a 40 foot high stone cairn which is the mythical burial place of the legendary Queen Maeve of Connaught. Make sure you include a visit to Carrowmore – the largest stone age cemetery in Ireland and the village of Drumcliff which is the final resting places of the famous poet W.B.Yeats. Sligo is also a great area to try out some surfing – the Irish way!

Where to stay – our recommendations

  • The Markree Castle Hotel, Sligo – Authentic Irish castle hotel steeped in history and set in a secluded 500 acre estate from €90pn
  • The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo – Striking and unique modern hotel with trendy glass exteriors located near all the attractions of Sligo from €80pn

Of course it’s impossible to mention all the beautiful places in Ireland in a Top 10 list. Still want more? Try the Mountains of Mourne a stunning granite mountain range in County Down, Dublin’s outdoor playground Wicklow filled with coastline, woodland and a sprawling mountain range, the wild beauty and haunting landscapes of County Mayo, the scenic unspoilt coastline of the Connemara Peninsula and the Cooley Peninsula and the Skellig Islands – a UNESCO heritage site off County Kerry’s coast which boast’s some of Ireland’s most important religious monuments. Enjoy the beautiful Emerald Isle!

Accommodation recommendation disclaimer

If you enjoyed 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland

Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter

26 Comments

  • bullykiller

    1 January, 2017 at 11:06 am

    As far as music and Vibrancy are concerned, The Irish have it over the Scots all day long. My Scottish friends tell me this. Also, Small Irish towns are painted in more vibrant colours compared to the mostly Scottish grey, which is more in line with the Irish Character. In my friend´s opinion, the atmosphere is more fun, which he puts down to the Calvinist streak in Scotland. However, The Scenery in Scotland is more dramatic for sure.

    Reply
  • Michie

    18 March, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    We went to Ireland in June/July 2009. I fell head over heels in love with Ireland. I found the folks very friendly and welcoming. We loved Dingle, Castle with Blarney Stone, The book of Kells, etc. etc. Every time we plan another trip (have been to Germany and this summer it will be Amsterdam, Belgium, France) I keep feeling the pull of Ireland beckoning me. If I could afford to, I would go to Ireland every summer.

    Reply
  • Bish

    17 August, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Ireland is ok, but it’s not dramatic. At least not if you’ve seen truly dramatic places. The Kerry way is nothing special. But again, some people love it. I would suggest Scotland instead of Ireland. It has truly wild, beautiful, dramatic scenery, much of it still unspoilt, and it’s one of he EU nations that has “Freedom (or Right) to Roam” – ie, you can freely access the countryside (if you like walking), whereas in Ireland, you can’t (except for the designated walking trails which get busy in the summer). If you like green fields and little else, then Ireland is certainly for you, since that’s predominantly all there is, as well as coastline, which is nice in some places. The ancient monuments are nice but often get very touristy in summer. The Scottish seem to care more about preserving their wild areas than the Irish do. It all depends on what you like though. I’d hope that people can share their opinions without others taking offense at every little thing and resorting to vulgar comments, but alas, there are always uneducated morons out there.

    Reply
  • irelandfavorites

    29 April, 2012 at 5:26 am

    A little more specific, Kerry, yes the ring of Kerry is beautiful, but when you are done go to Dingle. A beautiful harbor town with pubs full of music and countrysides full of scenery. If you go to Cork, checkout Skibbereen, Baltimore, or the beautiful Town of Kinsale. I could go on forever, but you get the point.
    Cheers.

    Reply
  • Jay Donnan

    22 May, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I think its crazy you have put Sligo and Kilkenny over Co Down and the Mourne Mountain’s

    1) Down
    2) Kerry
    3) Donegal
    4) Galway
    5) Antrim
    6) Cork
    7) Kilkenny
    8) Wicklow
    9) Mayo
    10)Clare

    Reply
    • Graham

      18 March, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks for all your comments, Ireland is such a great place to visit but so often overlooked as a travel destination (aside from Dublin of course!)

      Reply
    • Bish

      28 March, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      I was disappointed with Ireland. I was expecting a much wilder, more naturally beautiful country. Instead, I found that what they call “forests” are mostly nothing more than monoculture conifer plantations – nothing natural, nothing beautiful about that. There are ugly, large, modern houses scattered all over the countryside, so that you get an urban feel where ever you go. There is no “freedom to roam” the countryside as there is in the UK, Sweden, Norway etc. Whats left of any beautiful, natural areas is generally just a small area and gets too busy in summer with tourists. What deciduous trees there are, are small, and, unlike the UK there are practically no large, stately trees. The National Parks are beautiful, yet they are small, and again – very few trees. I get the impression that the Irish government/landowners will do anything to make money – including destroying the very thing that makes Ireland a beautiful country – what’s left of the natural areas. That’s what you get when you let a bunch of greedy, materialistic, ignorant people run the show.

      Reply
      • jennifer

        11 May, 2014 at 5:25 pm

        I’m Irish, not offended by the fact you didn’t like it. I just think your reasons are bizarre- “no freedom to roam” WTF?!?. I live in the west, there are soooo many unspoilt gorgeous coastal and country roads to walk, cycle or drive through. “monoculture conifer plantations”, that’s still cracking me up 🙂

        Reply
        • Bish

          17 August, 2014 at 7:16 pm

          I’ve travelled the world, I know what I’m talking about. You obviously are totally oblivious. Look up “Keep Ireland Open” and you’ll find out what “The Freedom to Roam means. There are nations in the EU that have freedom to roam the countryside – such as Scotland, Sweden, Norway etc. Ireland has NO freedom to roam. It only has designated trails. You can’t just hike across the countryside since most of it is private. It has become worse in recent years, with more rules an regulations. As for the conifer plantations you find so amusing, I suppose you think they are native to Ireland? There are too many of them,and again, do your research and you’ll find the devastating effects this is having on the environment in Ireland, and other nations that are planting what is known as a “mono-culture” plantation. In case you dont know what that means. It means all of same species. In this case conifers. Why am i bothering to even try to educate someone like you? Perhaps because you seem so pathetically oblivious. Sadly, I found that this attitude is typical in Ireland. And what’s worse, you get defensive about things you should instead be doing something to change and improves, instead of resorting to swearing and vulgarity. Educate yourself, and you will then be worth listening to!

          Reply
          • Brian O"Shea

            18 November, 2015 at 8:56 pm

            You seem a bit bitter, i think you need a good cup of tea and a nice sunset, maybe in a nice warm climate maybe Somalia or India, I think there are miles and miles of free roaming countryside.
            Cheers.

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