In 2018, Ireland experienced it’s best tourism year yet! In fact, 11.2 million overseas tourists visited that year. That’s a 5% increase from 2017.
Eager to pack your bags and explore a world like no other? In order to fully enjoy Ireland, you need to plan ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on potential adventures!
Here are nine epic things to do in Ireland. During your visit, you can take in the scenery and enjoy the country’s unique culture.
Already packing your bag? Awesome! Plan your itinerary with this list of the best things to do in Ireland!
1. Visit Skellig Michael
Make Skellig Michael in County Kerry one of your first stops in Ireland. If you’re looking for a magical experience in Ireland, this is a great location to visit. In fact, you might even recognize the location once you’re there.
Skellig Michael is located 12 km off the coast. It’s home to a sixth-century monastery that stands 200 meters above sea level.
That’s not the reason it might seem familiar, though.
The Skellig Michael creates such a unique, mysterious landscape that it became a location for the recent Star Wars films.
In fact, the final scene of The Force Awakens was filmed at this site. The Skellig Michael is the same spot where Luke Skywalker went into seclusion.
The Skellig Michael features little beehive huts, which overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Left in extraordinary condition, these huts are also featured in the Star Wars movies.
If you’re looking for things to do in Ireland, make sure to add this unique location to the list (especially if you’re traveling with Star Wars fans!).
2. Drive Along the Dingle Peninsula
Next stop, the Dingle Peninsula, also in County Kerry.
Slea Head Drive makes for a beautiful, relaxing adventure. You’ll start your drive in the town of Dingle, which also offers:
- Dingle Distillery
- Gallarus Oratory
- Dingle Oceanworld
- Coumeenoole Beach
- Eask Tower
- Fahan BeeHive Huts
- St. James Church
- Kilmalkedar Church
- Irish Famine Cottages
- Minard Castle
Consider exploring Dingle’s many historic locations before you start your coastal drive.
Then, you can take a car along the coast and watch the beautiful cliffs rush by. These cliffs overlook the Blasket Islands and the Three Sisters Islands, making for a wonderful photo op.
Make sure to have that camera ready!
3. Take a Horse Up the Hills
If you want to explore Ireland up close, ditch your car and take a horse! You can take a horseback ride up into the hills and see the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula landscape. This area is littered with ancient ruins, so there’s plenty to explore.
Horses also play an important part in Irish history. You’ll find a stable in nearly every county, so you can enjoy a trail ride wherever you area. For example, consider exploring County Wicklow on horseback during your visit as well.
If horseback isn’t your style, consider taking a day tour to Kilkenny and Wicklow Mountain. Either way, you’ll get the chance to take in the country’s natural beauty up close.
4. Explore Kylemore Abbey
Have you ever imagined what it’s like to live in a castle? The Kylemore Abbey is over 150 years old and makes for a beautiful stop in Connemara of County Galway.
The abbey was originally built as a private residence for a wealthy English doctor.
Later, it was an estate for the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909.
In 1920, the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the castle. Today, you can tour the abbey on your own. Consider buying a slice of pie from their bakery or enjoying a picnic lunch in the grass.
There’s also a beautiful Victorian walled garden and neo-Gothic Church. The abbey is open every day, so you can explore the beautifully restored rooms, gardens, shops, and ponies on the estate.
5. Hurl Through Kilkenny
Looking for more things to do in Ireland? Consider stopping by the medieval city of Kilkenny during your visit.
Here, you can explore the Kilkenny Castle along with its many churches and monasteries. The Kilkenny Way can also teach you the art of hurling, which is one of the world’s oldest field sports.
Nowlan Park is home to the Kilkenny Cats. There, you can hit the pitch and learn how to use your hurling stick. You’ll hit the sliotar, practice blocking, lifting, hooking, and striking.
Then, get a drink at the Legends Bar. There, you can learn more about the art of hurling, as well as the sport’s previous champions.
6. Kiss the Blarney Stone
68% of people who visited Ireland in 2017 were first-time visitors. While they were there, many tourists gave the Blarney Stone a visit.
The Blarney Stone is made of Carboniferous limestone. It’s located in Blarney Castle. According to legend, you can kiss the stone to receive “the gift of gab,” or flattery.
People visit from all over the world to kiss this stone. In order to do so, you’ll need to lean backwards against the parapet’s edge, so you might need a little help. Grab the wrought-iron guide rails and get kissing!
7. Ring the Bells
If you decide to visit County Cork, stop in Ireland’s second-largest city, which features the Church of St. Anne. There, you can climb into the bell towers and ring the bells of Shandon.
The church also offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
If you’re eager for more things to do in Ireland, try this 7 day itinerary.
8. Coaster into the Atlantic
Coasteering involves exploring and traversing Ireland’s coastline wearing wetsuits. You can jump from rock to rock and venture through the swirling waters. While you’re at it, leap off a cliff and into the Atlantic Ocean.
9. Soak in Seaweed
Looking to relax? Try a seaweed bath. Located in Sligo County, Voya has offered rejuvenating seaweed baths since 1996, attracting 40,000 visitors each year.
Things to Do In Ireland: Your Adventure Awaits
Now that you have your list of things to do in Ireland, get packing! Take the adventure of a lifetime and explore the country’s rich culture for yourself.
Looking for another adventure? Explore the Travel section of our blog for more helpful guides.