Giants Causeway Photo
Giants Causeway Photo

21 Attractions in Ireland that are Incredible

These 21 attractions in Ireland cited by Lonely Planet in a 2021 article on its website are also among Ireland's most popular.

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Walking on Inishmore. Photo: Gareth McCormack for Tourism Ireland/Failte Ireland.

Many of them have been mentioned by Ireland on a Budget before but they are worth a mention again.

Here are the attractions that the travel publisher recommends you visit when planning your budget vacation to Ireland in 2023.

“Best for Iconic Ireland” – The Cliffs of Moher

This iconic attraction in County Clare is on almost every Top 10 list of attractions to see in Ireland.

There’s a good reason why.

sunset over the ocean with a cliff tower nearby the Cliffs of Moher
O'Brien's Tower on the Cliffs of Moher. Photo: Niall Cosgrove for Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland.

Lonely Planet describes them as “staggeringly beautiful,” with views that stretch to the Aran Islands and beyond.

The Lonely Planet editors also gush about the sunsets that you’ll get there, with the sky turning a “kaleidoscope of amber, amethyst, rose pink, and deep garnet red.”

A recently released Cliffs of Moher app will help you plan a visit to the iconic cliffs, which gained UNESCO Global Geopark status in 2011.

They stretch for 5 miles (8 km) and reach a height of 702 feet/214 meters at their highest point.
The interior of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. Photo: Irish Fireside,

Be sure to visit the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, which contains exhibitions on the fauna, flora, geology, and climate of this unique area of Ireland.

Read More: County Clare: The Banner County

“Best for Road Trips” – The Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is akin to Route 1 on California’s coast (with decidedly cooler temperatures).

The 1,553-mile (2,500 km) route winds its way through nine counties and highlights the dramatic, sometimes craggy, coastline that is typical of Ireland’s western seaboard.
Malin Head in Co. Donegal along the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

The Lonely Planet editors describe the northwestern section of the route as “an untamed collection of soaring cliffs (the tallest in Europe), lonely, sheep-speckled headlands and, between them, secluded coves and long stretches of white, powdery sand.”

You can start at Malin Head in County Donegal or at the Old Head at Kinsale, whichever you prefer.

There’s much to see along the way, with designated discovery points that will help you better navigate your journey.

a surfer virtual tours of Ireland's attractions
A surfer rides the waves at Easkey, Co. Sligo. Photo: Tony Reddington.

If you’re into surfing, there’s plenty of opportunity along the route to test out the waters. Two outstanding locations are both in County Sligo.

They include Mullaghmore and Easkey.

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Get the Wild Atlantic Way Pocket Map from Collins Maps

“Best for Learning about Ireland’s Struggle for Independence” – Kilmainham Jail, Dublin

Perhaps one of the most popular attractions in Dublin, especially for Irish history enthusiasts, is Kilmainham Jail (Gaol).
The interior of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, one of Lonely Planet's 21 attractions in Ireland worth seeing. Photo: Alvaro Prieto,

The prison/museum is where many of Ireland’s nationalists died, including the 14 rebels who were executed for their part in planning The Easter Rising of 1916.

The only way you can see the jail is by guided tour.

It has “played a role in virtually every act of Ireland's painful path to independence, and even today, despite closing in 1924, it still has the power to chill,” said the Lonely Planet reviewers.

On a guided tour, you’ll hear about the history of Kilmainham Gaol and the prisoners who were held there.

Attached to the jail is a museum that features many of the artifacts and personal effects of the prisoners, making it hallowed ground for most Irish people.
The Kilmainham courtyard where many executions took place. Photo:

The jail is located within walking distance of the Guinness Storehouse and the Irish Museum of Art.

The tour is not suitable for young children.

Free Ticket and Tour of the Guinness Storehouse with the Dublin Go City Pass

“Best for Bucket List Ticking” – The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim

Equally as popular as The Cliffs of Moher is the large rock formation known as The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim.
The Giant's Causeway in County Antrim. Photo: Simon Quinn, Getty Images.

It contains a series of unique basalt columns that archaeologists believe were left behind by a volcanic eruption 50 to 60 million years ago.

The Lonely Planet editors describe it as a “vast expanse of regular, closely packed, hexagonal stone columns looking for all the world like the handiwork of giants.”

You can learn more about it at the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience.

“Best for Hiking” – Croagh Patrick in County Mayo

If hiking is on your list of things to do in Ireland, be sure to climb Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s “Holy Mountain,” which stands at 2,506 feet (764 meters).
Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo, Ireland's Holy Mountain and one of 21 attractions in Ireland worth climbing say Lonely Planet editors. Photo courtesy of Seamus Keane.

During the 5th century, St. Patrick fasted on top of the mountain for 40 days, which is why each year in July, pilgrims make a point of climbing to the summit to pay homage to Ireland’s patron saint.

The views of Clew Bay and the surrounding area are worth it.

The Lonely Planet editors also suggest that you visit Westport while you’re in the region.
The pretty town of Westport, Co. Mayo. Photo: Pawel Sadowski for Tourism Ireland.

The town has been a popular tourist destination for decades and you’ll find plenty of accommodation there, including quality B&Bs and hotels. But you should book them a few months of arriving in Ireland.

Read More: Clew Bay Bike Trail in County Mayo Open to Tourists

“Best for Understanding Ireland's Recent History” – Belfast Murals, County Antrim

Taking a black taxi tour of Belfast is the best way to learn about “The Troubles,” the sectarian conflict that affected the lives of people all across Northern Ireland.
One of the many murals in West Belfast, among the 21 attractions in Ireland worth seeing, according to a recent Lonely Planet article. Photo: Colette Connolly.

According to the Lonely Planet review “the murals were rarely permanent but changed to reflect the issues of the day.”

You’ll discover that your taxi driver has a deep knowledge of the murals — and the 30-year conflict — as you ride through West Belfast, visiting both the Nationalist and Loyalist strongholds.

“Best for Thrill Seekers” – Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim

If you’re not scared of heights, then this attraction is the ultimate thrill-seeker.
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in County Antrim. Photo: Chris Hill Photographic for Tourism Northern Ireland.

Perched 30 meters (98 feet) above the North Atlantic, the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge links the mainland with a tiny piece of land known as Carrickarede.

From there, you’ll be able to see Rathlin Island and Scotland.

The island and its surroundings have been designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest.

“Best for Traditional Lifestyles” – The Aran Islands

If you’re in Galway city, a day trip to the Aran Islands is in order.

In fact, the Lonely Planet editors suggest that you visit the three Aran Islands, which include Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.
An aerial view of Dún Aonghasa on Inishmore. Photo: Gareth McCormack/ for Tourism Ireland.

Many tourists are eager to visit Dún Aonghasa on the island of Inishmore.

It is one of the largest prehistoric stone forts in Europe, located on the edge of a 100-meter (328 feet) cliff drop.

You can get to the islands from Rossaveal in Co. Galway on the new passenger ship operated by Aran Island Ferries.

“Best for Music and Nightlife” – Galway City

If you find yourself in the West of Ireland, you simply must visit Galway City.

Described by the Lonely Planet editors as “one of Ireland’s most energetic cities,” Galway is popular with pretty much everyone.
Visitors to Galway are being entertained on its streets by one of the many musicians you'll find in the city center. Galway city is one of 21 attractions in Ireland recommended by Lonely Planet. Photo: Tourism Ireland.

Atmospheric pubs with nightly live music, great restaurants, a world-class theater, and a short distance from the seaside suburb of Salthill and the gateway to Connemara, all make Galway a crowd-pleaser.

Two major events that draw visitors to the city include Race Week and the Oyster Festival.

“Best for Starting the Irish Camino” – St Declan’s Way, Ardmore, County Waterford

Saint Declan’s Way is a pilgrimage walk that links the town of Cashel in Tipperary with Ardmore in County Waterford.
The Ardmore Round Tower, one of the attractions along St. Declan's pilgrimage route in Co. Waterford. Photo: Courtesy of Celtic Routes for Failte Ireland.

The Lonely Planet editors say that Ardmore is the ideal starting-off point for this 56-mile (96 km) walk.

The trek follows the route that Saint Declan took in the fifth century on his way to meeting St. Patrick in Cashel.

The editors also suggest visiting Ardmore’s beach, as well as the nearby secluded Ballyquin Beach.

“Best for a Game of Thrones-like Location” – Rock of Cashel

Once the traditional seat of the kings of Munster, the Rock of Cashel was the center of power in Ireland for 400 years.

a castle on a hill 11 questions you should ask
The Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary, a favorite destination for tourists to Ireland. Photo: Nick Fox.

The Lonely Planet editors say, “its impervious walls guard an awesome enclosure with a complete round tower, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and the most magnificent 12th-century Romanesque chapel in Ireland.”

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“Best for Postcard-Perfect Houses” – Adare Village, County Limerick

Lonely Planet’s editors believe that the village of Adare is “overtouted as Ireland’s prettiest village.”

However, the picture-perfect thatched cottages built by the 19th-century landlord, the Earl of Dunraven, are unmatched anywhere else in Ireland and are definitely worth a look.

a cottage 21 attractions in Ireland
One of the pretty cottages that you'll find in the village of Adare, Co. Limerick. Photo: Chris Hill Photographic, Tourism Ireland.

You’ll find several craft shops and fine restaurants there today.

The village is about 16 km (10 miles) from Limerick City.

Other attractions nearby include the luxury castle and golf resort Adare Manor.

More affordable accommodation is available around the Limerick city center area.

Read More: Limerick Greenway Officially Open to Visitors

“Best for Food Lovers” – The English Market, Cork City

This is Ireland’s only indoor market.

Described by the Lonely Planet editors as a “true gem, with its ornate vaulted ceilings, columns and polished marble fountain,” the market was founded in 1788 by The English Corporation that governed Cork City at the time.

a large building with a flag on it 21 attractions in Ireland
The English Market in Cork, a popular destination for foodies. Photo: Juan Jimenez.

There’s lots of great food to choose from at the English Market, much of it coming from the County Cork countryside, including traders selling meat, fish, fruit, cheeses, and more.

There is plenty of accommodation close to the English Market if you are thinking about staying in Cork City for a few days.

Some of the best value hotels include the Maldron Hotel South Mall, Hotel Isaacs, the Imperial Hotel, and The Metropole Hotel, all about 0.4 miles from the market.

“Best for Stepping Back in Time” – Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

The Lonely Planet editors say that “no trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to Glendalough.”

About 50 km (30 miles) from Dublin, the ancient monastic site can easily be reached by rental car or bus.

an old church and round tower 21 attractions in Ireland
St. Kevin's Church and round tower form part of the Glendalough Monastic Site in Co. Wicklow. Photo: Getty Images.

In fact, there are lots of day tours from Dublin that will take you to this part of Ireland if you’re not willing to drive yourself.

The monastery was founded by St. Kevin in the 5th century and became one of the leading monastic learning centers in the country.

The area is ideal for exploration and hiking around the Glendalough lakes is a popular activity.

Read More: 7 One-Day Tours in Ireland that are Doable Without a Rental Car

“Best for Discovering a Hidden World” – Garnish Island, West Cork

Described by Lonely Planet as a “well-kept secret,” Garnish Island, off the coast of County Cork, is a must if you are curious about how exotic plants and unusual species could possibly grow in Ireland.

You can get to this oasis of beauty and tranquility by taking a ferry ride from Glengarriff.
The Italian garden at Garnish Island in Co. Cork. Photo: Chris Hill, Tourism Ireland.

The garden was designed for John Annan Byrce, a Belfast native who purchased the island from the War Office in 1910.

It was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953.

Things to see on the 37-acre island include the Italian Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Kitchen Garden, which have been lovingly maintained for over a century, in addition to a restored Napoleonic Martello Tower.

water in front of an island house 21 attractions in Ireland
Bryce House on Garnish Island off the County Cork coast. Photo:

You can also visit Bryce House, the home of the Byrce family who lived in the home until the last of the family members passed away in 1998.

It has been extensively restored by the Office of Public Works.

Tours are available until the end of October.

Tours by Locals – Get to Know Ireland with a Local Guide

“Best for Rugged Views” – Sheep's Head, West Cork

“The Sheep's Head Peninsula has a wild charm all its own – and as the name suggests, there is plenty of sheep,” said the Lonely Planet editors.

a long road near the ocean 21 attractions in Ireland
Sheep's Head Walk is one of the 21 attractions in Ireland worth experiencing, says Lonely Planet editors. Photo: George Karbus Photography for Failte Ireland.

During the summer months, hiking is a popular activity in the region, with walkers tackling the Sheep’s Head walking route, a 93-kilometer trail that begins in the historic market town of Bantry and ends at the Sheep’s Head Lighthouse.

The editors suggest stopping at the “charming, tin-roofed” Ahakista Bar, which houses a 19th-century Victorian garden.

Durrus Farmhouse is also a popular attraction where local cheese is made.

“Best for Breathtaking Photos” – The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry

If you’re traveling through County Kerry, you’ll undoubtedly end up in the Gap of Dunloe, a place that the Lonely Planet editors describe as a “wild and scenic (and sometimes hairy!) mountain pass – studded with crags and bejeweled with lakes and waterfalls.”

a country road21 attractions in Ireland
The Gap of Dunloe on the Ring of Kerry is an iconic destination with breathtaking views, lush nature, wildlife, and charming Irish villages. County Kerry, Ireland. Photo: Leamus.

The hair-raising drive is located west of Killarney National Park and is in between Kerry’s Purple Mountain and Ireland’s highest mountain range, the MacGillycuddy Reeks.

The Gap of Dunloe Adventure Day Tour from Killarney 

“Best for Sporting Fans” – Croke Park GAA Stadium, Dublin

Even if you’ve just been introduced to the fast and furious Gaelic football and hurling games, to get a true understanding of it – and to feel the thrill that it exudes – the Lonely Planet editors suggest you visit Croke Park, the largest sports stadium in Ireland.

two men trying to catch a ball 21 attractions in Ireland
Players on opposing teams in an Irish hurling game reach for the ball, known as a sliotar. Photo: Failte Ireland.

If you can’t see a live game, a visit to the Croke Park Museum is a must.

There, you’ll discover the history of the GAA and find out how it has deeply contributed to the cultural, social, and sporting heritage of the nation.

Read More: Finding the Best Authentic Experiences in Ireland

“Best for City Strolling” – Dublin’s Georgian Squares

In addition to the many free museums that are situated in the heart of Dublin (yes, they are completely free!), another cost-free activity that the Lonely Planet editors suggest you do is to spend an afternoon wandering around the city’s Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares.

a red door 21 attractions in Ireland
One of Dublin's iconic Georgian-styled doors located in Dublin's Georgian squares, among the 21 attractions in Ireland worth seeing, according to Lonely Planet. Photo: Jonathan Hessian for Tourism Ireland.

The Georgian-styled buildings with their iconic brightly colored doors are a popular tourist attraction, inspiring many a postcard.

While these treasures are located on the south side of the city, Lonely Planet urges visitors to check out the north side, too, especially Mountjoy Square where the wonderful Hugh Lane Gallery is located.

“Best for Families” – The Phoenix Park

This large urban park located in Dublin is home to a herd of wild fallow deer that have there been since the 17th century!

deer in a field 21 attractions in Ireland
Herds of deer are a common sight on the grounds of Phoenix Park in Dublin, one of the 21 attractions in Ireland worth visiting, says Lonely Planet. Photo: Rpb Durston for Failte Ireland.

In addition to visiting Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the president of Ireland, as well as the nearby Dublin Zoo, the Lonely Planet editors suggest you also check out the “often missed” Farmleigh House and Estate.

The Edwardian-styled mansion, which was initially purchased by a member of the famous Guinness family, was designed by the noted architect of the 18th century, James Gandon, who also designed the Custom House.

a large house 21 attractions in Ireland
Farmleigh House is located on the Phoenix Park property. Photo: William Murphy,

Farmleigh House is the official Irish state guesthouse, and it is where former U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the late Queen Elizabeth II have stayed, among others.

Guided tours of the house are available but must be booked in advance.

Some of its best attributes include a beautiful library and glass conservatory, not to mention the vast pleasure gardens and lake outside.

“Best for Taking Your Breath Away” – Benbulben, County Sligo

County Sligo’s Benbulben, among the 21 attractions in Ireland worth seeing, is an unusual sight to be sure, resembling “a table covered by a pleated cloth,” said the Lonely Planet editors.

the side of Benbulben mountain 21 attractions in Ireland
The view from the top of Benbulben is one of 21 attractions in Ireland cited in a recent Lonely Planet review. Photo: Gareth Wray Photography.

The travel publication suggests you take a hike on the iconic mountain but not without an expert guide.

High Hopes Mountain Treks offers guided tours of the mountain.

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