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Five Of The Best Cities And Places To Visit In Ireland

Everyone dreams of visiting Ireland, a stunning country situated at the westernmost edge of Europe known for its lush green fields, friendly people, breathtaking landscapes, and renowned drinking culture.

You’ve probably heard of iconic places like the Cliffs of Moher, the Giants Causeway, and Skellig Michael, but that’s only some of the many awe-inspiring locations Ireland is known for.

Cliffs of Moher at colourful sunset Co. Clare, Ireland
A trip to the Cliffs of Moher is a surreal experience to have when visiting Ireland © Getty Images

Ireland is a vast country with an abundance of wonderful places to travel to. We’ve put together this list of vacation ideas to help you decide where you should visit on your upcoming trip to the Emerald Isle.

When Is The Best Time To Travel To Ireland?

People don’t visit Ireland for sun. Regardless of what time of year you go to Ireland, the weather isn’t the warmest. It’s unpredictable at the best of times, but we can give you a rough idea of when the best time of year to go is.

Your highest possible chance of getting sun on your holidays in Ireland is visiting in the summer months: June, July, and August. Temperatures range between 14 and 18°C, but it varies. Ireland isn’t a cheap travel destination in general, but the prices skyrocket even more in the summer, so beware.

The winter season in Ireland is the months of December, January, and February, and it’s pretty cold and wet, but not cold enough for skiing. Temperatures range between 4 and 8°C. This is a busy time in Ireland as many people are traveling home for Christmas, so flight prices are quite high.

The cheapest times to visit Ireland is in the shoulder seasons of March to May and Mid September until the beginning of November. Fewer people are traveling then, and hostels and guesthouses lower the prices a lot to entice people to book.

Five Of The Top Places To Go In Ireland

  1. Dublin
  2. Galway
  3. Kerry
  4. Cork
  5. Waterford

 

Dublin – A Historic Capital Filled With Culture And Museums

The capital of Dublin is where most travelers begin their Irish adventure. Famed for its bustling bars, charming rivers like the Liffey, fascinating museums like the National Gallery of Ireland or the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and world-class attractions like the Guinness Storehouse. You could stay in Dublin for weeks and never get bored as a tourist.

Dublin – What To Do There

Experience the Guinness Storehouse – Arguably, the most popular thing to do in Dublin is tour the Guinness Storehouse. Learn about the history behind the most famous stout in the world, discover how it’s made, and sample a pint of your own in the 360-degree Gravity Bar, which offers amazing views of the city center.

Put a lock on the Ha’penny Bridge – Connecting the north and south sides of the city is the striking Ha’penny Bridge. Tourists are known to visit nearby shops, purchase a small lock, write a nice message on it, and then lock it on the bridge. As you arrive, you’ll be able to see the display; it’s incredible.

Take a walk through Temple Bar – Temple Bar is Dublin’s bustling nightlife district filled with cobblestone streets, buskers playing traditional Irish music, and clubs that stay open until early the following morning. One must not visit Dublin without stopping by Temple Bar

People walking past the Temple Bar at night.
If you’re looking for an iconic pub experience in Dublin, make sure to head into Temple Bar © Getty Images

Must Try Food And Drinks In Dublin

Dublin Coddle – A local favorite is the Dublin Coddle, a hearty boiled stew filled with sausage, potatoes, sliced onions, and chives. Pop into one of the many pubs around the city, and you’ll find Coddle on the menu.

Guinness – You can’t visit Dublin and not try Guinness in its birthplace. The stout is made from hops, malted and roasted barley, yeast, and water and can be bought anywhere in Dublin and Ireland. There’s an unwritten rule that you should never drink Guinness from a can, only from a pint, as the taste is much nicer.

Tips For Visiting Dublin

  • Don’t be afraid to stay a little bit outside of the city center. It’s cheaper, and the Dublin Bus network and the Luas(tram) connect the suburbs to the city, so you’ll be well connected.
  • Even if you’re visiting in the summer, bring a jacket because it always rains in Dublin.

 

Galway – One Of The Top Places For Festivals

Situated on the west coast of Ireland is the quintessential Irish city of Galway. Nowhere near as large as Dublin, but a lot cheaper and very different. The adorable metropolis has so much to offer visitors. Watch different bands play every night of the week in Eyre Square, wander down the Salthill Promenade to watch people diving, or seek out rugged mountains in the Connemara national park.

Beautiful Places To See In Galway

Walk down Salthill Promenade – Within walking distance from the city center is a gorgeous 3-kilometer stretch of coastline that looks out over the fabulous Galway Bay. It’s a popular area among families, couples, and free divers who all love to come together and enjoy a nice sunny day. Go experience it for yourself when you’re there.

Visit Connemara national park – Comprising of 2000 square hectares of craggy mountains, tranquil lakes, vast grasslands, and challenging hiking trails, the Connemara national park is one of the best locations to escape city life for a while.

Take a day trip to the Aran Islands – Off the coast of Galway lies three tiny islands different from anything you’ll find on the mainland, the Aran Islands. Known for their ancient sites and preservation of the Irish language, the Aran Islands are a fascinating display of the country’s culture.

Beautiful panoramic sunset view over The Claddagh Galway in Galway city, Ireland
Galway is a very cute colorful town to put down on your itinerary © Getty Images

Dishes And Drinks To Try In Galway

Irish stew – You can try Irish Stew anywhere in the country, but there’s something special about how they make it in Galway. The Dish consists of slowly cooked beef, carrots, potatoes, barley, and leeks. Nothing beats a hot bowl of this stuff when the Irish weather is at its coldest.

A Baby Guinness – Don’t jump to conclusions, this drink may look like Guinness, but it doesn’t taste anything like it. A Baby Guinness is a shot made with three-quarters of coffee liqueur and topped off with a head of Bailey’s Irish cream, so it looks exactly like Guinness.

Tips For First-Time Visitors Traveling To Galway

  • Try to visit Galway from July 31st to August 6th. One of the biggest horse racing festivals of the year is held on these dates, and the city comes alive with people traveling from all over Ireland and Europe to see it.
  • If you want to eat for cheap in Galway, stick to pub grub. Many bars will offer lunchtime specials.

Kerry – The Country For Honeymoons And Outdoor Explorers

In the southwest of Ireland lies the pretty county of Kerry. Everyone loves Kerry for its scenic drives like the Gap of Dunloe, humongous mountains like Carrountoohil, and seaside viewpoints like Dunquin Pier. Plus, you can even take an internal flight there from Dublin that only takes around 40 minutes, whereas if you were to drive, it would take nearly five hours.

What Are The Best Activities To Do In Kerry?

See Dunquin Pier with your own eyes – As you drive through the Dingle Peninsula, you’ll go past the Dunquin Pier, a charming roadway on the edge of a cliff, a part of Ireland’s most western settlement. You’ve probably seen photographs of this place before, as it’s used on almost every Irish postcard.

Climb Carrauntoohil – Carrauntoohol is Ireland’s highest mountain at 1,038.6 meters, about a 20-minute drive from Killarney, the main city in Kerry. On a clear day, you can see Galway in the distance from the mountain peak. You should hire a guide if you plan on taking on the trek, as parts of it are quite dangerous, especially if you don’t know the area well.

Drive through the Gap of Dunloe – The Gap of Dunloe is a picturesque drive through a set of mountains surrounded by quiet streams, wildlife, and old Irish farms. If you hire a car, you should park it near the entrance of the road because it’s extremely narrow and rocks are known to fall off the mountains.

Food And Drinks Everyone Should Try In Kerry

Colcannon – Colcannon is the ultimate comfort food made with mashed potatoes, cabbage, and onions. It’s typically eaten around the time of Halloween and often served with a slice of selected meat, and wow, is it good?

Bulmers – Bulmers is an Irish cider that’s a perfect refreshment on a warm summer’s day. Order yourself a bottle, ensure the bartender gives you a pint glass of ice, and get into the beer garden to mingle with like-minded locals. One bottle is never enough.

Coumeenoole beach (Slea Head), Dingle peninsula, County Kerry, Munster province, Ireland, Europe.
Why not take a scenic ride through the cliffs of Kerry whilst exploring Ireland? © Getty Images

Must Know Tips For Visiting Kerry

  • If you plan on hiring a car in Kerry, beware; a lot of the county’s roads are pretty underdeveloped. Of course, the locals know how to handle them, but if you’re a novice, you may struggle in some areas.
  • Killarney is the best starting point for every trip to Kerry. From there, you can access the Ring of Kerry, one of Ireland’s most famous road trips.

Cork – The Culinary Capital Of Ireland

Cork is Ireland’s second-largest city and is often visited for its ancient castles, alluring beaches, and delightful culinary scene. While Cork is a brilliant travel destination, foodies mainly take a fancy to it because it’s the food capital of Ireland. One minute you could be wandering through scrumptious street food markets munching on freshly made soda bread, and the next, you’re trying some delicious haddock at a fish and chips takeaway.

What Are Some Fun Things To Do In Cork?

Take a trip to Spike Island – Only 103 acres in size; Spike Island sits off the coast of Cork. It was once a monastic settlement and hosted a bastion fort known as Fort Mitchell, which was also used as a prison back in the 18th century. You can take a tour of the island which departs from the seaside town of Cobh. Make sure you reserve your space online beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Get tickets for Fota Wildlife Park – Are you an animal lover? Fota Wildlife Park is a wildlife park that spans over 100 acres and is home to a huge number of animal species, some of which are allowed to roam freely, and sometimes they might even approach you if they feel comfortable. It’s a unique concept you won’t find anywhere else in Ireland.

Go watch a GAA match – Gaelic football is Ireland’s national sport and is a fascinating and exhilarating sport that will have you on the edge of your seat. Cork has one of the best teams in the Emerald Isle and competes at the highest level. Their stadium is called Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and it’s just outside of the city center. Before you arrive in Cork, research when they’re playing; you might get lucky and see a game.

What To Eat And Drink In Cork

A Full Irish Breakfast – Even the biggest foodies struggle to demolish a Full Irish Breakfast. It’s a huge plate filled with fried sausages, eggs, white and black pudding, beans, toast, hash browns, and tomatoes, complemented with a cup of tea or coffee. If you’re on the go, many restaurants give you the option to have a breakfast roll, which is all we mentioned, only stuffed into a toasted roll.

Barry’s Tea – There has long been a debate among Irish people about the best Irish tea, and the answer depends on what part of the country you go to. If you speak to people from Cork, most will tell you Barry’s Tea. It’s simply made by pouring hot water on a tea bag and adding a drop of milk and some sugar if you like; the end product is absolutely delicious.

St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
When visiting Cork you will be sure to come across very pretty houses and views © Getty Images

What To Know Before Visiting Cork

  • The Cork accent can be pretty hard to understand. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves if you don’t know what they’re saying. The locals are light-hearted; they won’t be offended.
  • If you hear someone saying “grand,” it just means “good” or “okay.”

Waterford – The Home Of Crystal And Adventure Spots

Waterford is sometimes called the sunny southeast because it’s known to have some of the nicest weather in Ireland. Besides it being one of Ireland’s warm places, the city has an intriguing history and is an adventure-lovers paradise with access to the likes of the Comeragh Mountains, and it’s situated close to the sea.

Must-Do Things In Waterford

Explore Dunmore East – Dunmore East is an enchanting fishing village on the southern coast of Ireland. It’s pretty small in size but has so much to do, whether you want to take part in some stand-up paddle boarding or tackle the Dunmore East Cliff Walk.

Cycle the Waterford Greenway – Rent a bike in the Waterford city center and cycle the Waterford Greenway. This mesmerizing 46-kilometer route begins in the city and leads all the way down the coast to the lovely little town of Dungarvan, where you can stay for the night and cycle back the following day.

Check out Mahon Falls – The cascading Mahon Falls is a cool place to check out in Waterford. Embedded in the Comeragh Mountains and over 50 meters high, this waterfall forms where the River Mahon leaks out over the southern slopes of the Comeraghs. You’ll be blown away when you see it.

Food And Drink To Try In Waterford

A Waterford Blaa – Waterford’s famous snack is, of course, the Waterford Blaa, a soft bread roll unlike anything else found in Ireland. You’ll find these tasty treats in supermarkets, restaurants, and delicatessens all over Waterford. They’re served with some butter and a couple of fillings of your choice.

Jameson – Jameson is Ireland’s signature whiskey and, without a doubt, the most drank one in Waterford and throughout the country; loved for its smooth and distinct taste and is made by blending grain and triple-distilled barley whiskey. If you’re in a bar and order a whiskey and coke and don’t specify what whiskey you want, you’ll be served, Jameson.

Waterford Greenway, Ireland
Waterford is filled with interesting things to do and see such as this huge bridge © Getty Images

What First-Time Visitors Should Know Before Visiting Waterford

  • While Waterford does have an airport, it’s not in operation, so you’ll either have to take a flight to Cork and a bus from there or take a bus from Dublin, which is the easiest option.
  • If you can, hire a car when visiting Waterford. Public transport goes between the major towns, but if you want to get out to explore the countryside, you’ll need a vehicle of some sort.

Want more interesting tips and information on traveling? Read more Kiwi.com articles!

Frequently asked questions

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Ireland?

Tourists visit Ireland throughout the year, but some seasons are busier than others.

The shoulder seasons are ideal if you're looking for fewer crowds and lower prices, but the weather isn't guaranteed to be on your side. If you go between March to May, there's more of a chance of sunshine rather than October to November.

Whereas in the summer, there's more of a chance of the weather being better, but the prices for everything go through the roof, so there are pros and cons to each time.

How To Find Cheap Flights To Ireland?

Here at Kiwi.com, our sole mission is to give everyone access to the destinations they dream about. We find our customers the cheapest fares online through our travel hacks and technology that no other flight website shows you.

To get started organizing your once-in-a-lifetime holiday, visit our Ireland destination page, select which city you'd love to fly into, and we'll give you endless flight options that suit your travel dates.

What Is Ireland Known For?

Ireland is known globally for its hospitality, drinking culture, fighting spirit, green landscapes, unpredictable weather, and leprechauns.

What's The Best Food In Ireland?

As cliche as it sounds, Ireland's cuisine is focused a lot on potatoes, but other popular dishes include boxty, corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and Irish breakfast.

How Many Days Do I Need In Ireland?

The perfect amount of time to spend in Ireland is two weeks. You'll get to see more than a handful of places, and you can go at a slow enough pace. Ireland isn't a big country, so the max amount of time you'll spend traveling from place to place is 3 to 4 hours.