Gougane Barra
Gougane Barra

The Most Beautiful Places in Ireland

Trivago Magazine, published by Trivago, an online hotel magazine powered by hotel search platform Trivago, recently published its bucket list of the most beautiful places in Ireland.

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The list of most beautiful places in Ireland includes beaches, cities, heritage sites, and more across the country.

Most Beautiful Beach: Keem Bay, Achill Island, Co. Mayo

Achill Island, the largest island off the Irish coast, may not be as familiar to international tourists as, say, the Aran Islands, 60 miles (100 km) to the south.

During the warmer months, it’s not unusual to see seals and dolphins gather in Keem Bay, a sheltered cove that is best seen from the nearby mountainside, where you can take in the breathtaking scenery on a 1.5 km (0.9-mile) walk.

The sandy Blue Flag Keem Beach is ideal for swimming and water sports, including surfing, sailing, canoeing, water skiing, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing.

A lifeguard is on duty from June through August.

The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which makes it easily accessible to visitors.

a beach how to plan your first trip to Ireland
Keem Bay on Achill Island in Co. Mayo, one of the beautiful places in Ireland, according to Trivago. Photo: Failte Ireland.


Must-see: Don’t miss the abandoned famine village along the walk to Keem Bay, which contains the remnants of about 80-100 cottages. In 1850, after the peak of the Great Famine, the entire village was abandoned.
Where to Stay: Achill Cliff House Hotel and Restaurant– expect stunning views from this beachfront hotel, a few minutes' walk from the village.

Most Beautiful City Center: Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle is smack in the middle of its city center surrounded by a network of cobbled streets that tell the story of this popular tourist destination.

During the Middle Ages, it was considered the unofficial capital of Ireland given its strategic location along the River Nore and its proximity to Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Wexford.

castle from the air planning a trip to Ireland in 2022
An aerial view of Kilkenny Castle, a popular tourist destination in Ireland. Photo: Failte Ireland.

The main draw for many visitors is of course the castle, which was founded shortly after the Norman conquest of Ireland in 1169.

The Medieval Mile showcases the city’s medieval roots, with many of its buildings dating back to the 12th century.

In addition to its rich cultural heritage, Kilkenny is also known for its buzzing arts scene and its many pubs, restaurants, and trendy cafes.

Must-see: Medieval Mile Museum that contains an impressive collection of high crosses.
Where to Stay: Kilkenny River Court Hotel – overlooking Kilkenny Castle, you can’t beat its access to the city’s main attractions.

Most Beautiful Island – Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry

The UNESCO World Heritage site that rises 712 feet out of the Atlantic off the coast of County Kerry is an absolute must-see if you’re visiting Ireland, especially during the summer months.

An aeriel view of Skellig Michael. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan, Tourism Ireland.

The island, one of the most beautiful places in Ireland according to Trivago Magazine, was once home to a group of monks. You can still see their beehive huts on the island, the centerpiece of its 6th-century monastic settlement.

The island was also the location for the 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie.

Tours to the island must be booked in advance as it’s a very popular attraction, especially during the high season.

Must-see: The view north from the settlement across Little Skellig Island to the mainland.
Where to Stay: Choose from a variety of B&Bs in the Portmagee area, which is where you’ll get the ferry to Skellig Michael.

Experience Skellig Michael with Viator Tours

Most Beautiful University – Trinity College, Dublin

No visit to Dublin is complete without visiting Trinity College.

The college building, which was constructed in 1592, has some fine architectural details worth seeing.

Bikes parked at Trinity College in Dublin. Photo: Jann Huizenga for Getty Images Signature.

The oldest part of the college campus includes the bell tower known as the Campanile, which was added in 1853.

It’s a popular spot for picture-taking, but Trinity College students aren’t as enthusiastic.

The story goes that any student who passes under the bell tower while it is ringing will fail their exams. On graduation day, however, when all of the exams are over, students take a celebratory walk under the famous bell tower.

The Douglas Hyde Gallery is located within the college, as is the Samuel Beckett Theatre, which hosts national and international performances.

The university campus is a popular movie location as well, which is where scenes from the popular Hulu and BBC Three series “Normal People” were filmed.

Must-see: The Book of Kells, which is housed in the college’s iconic Old Library.
Where to Stay: The Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge – this iconic 19th-century building is a great budget option when you’re staying in Dublin. The updated hotel is convenient to all of the city's popular attractions.

Most Beautiful Landscape – Connemara, Co. Galway

If you’re traveling through the West of Ireland, be sure to visit Connemara, one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, say Trivago Magazine's editors.

The landscape contains beaches, mountain ranges, valleys, and boglands that all lend to its unique beauty.

The Maumturk Mountain region of Connemara. Photo: Stevegeer, Getty Images Signature.

Some of the popular tourist attractions in Connemara include Kylemore Abbey, a neo-Gothic-styled building that contains a Victorian walled garden, as well as Diamond Hill, the Marconi Station, and more.

Must-see: Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord.
Where to Stay: Waterfront Rest B&B, Clifden – genuine Irish hospitality, a great breakfast topped with fabulous views make this a popular choice for many visitors to Connemara.

Most Beautiful Riverfront – Limerick

Explore the city of Limerick, Ireland’s third-largest city, by meandering the river that it’s built on.

King John's Castle, Limerick. Photo; P_L_photography for Getty images Pro.

The River Shannon (Ireland’s longest river) runs through Limerick. The city's main attraction is King John’s Castle, considered one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Europe.

An exhibition within the castle documents life there for over 800 years. The visitor center includes state-of-the-art interpretative activities as well as touch screen technology, 3D models, and more.

The riverfront is particularly pretty at nighttime, especially as the lights from the castle reflect upon the river.

Read More: Limerick Greenway Officially Opens to Visitors

Most Beautiful Coastline – County Clare

The famous Cliffs of Moher is County Clare’s most spectacular attraction, with more than a million people visiting it each year.

The cliffs, which reach 702 feet at their highest point, are part of a UNESCO Global Geopark that stretches for 5 miles, making it one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.

cliffs by the ocean the most beautiful places in Ireland
The iconic Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

Other parts of County Clare’s dramatic coastline include the Loop Head Peninsula, a dramatic headland on the northern side of the River Shannon. The peninsula’s prominent lighthouse is a popular destination for visitors in the area.

From the air, the peninsula can be spotted by the giant “Eire” sign that remains from the World War II era. The region was also one of the locations used in the film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Must-see: Pay a visit to Doolin, the colorful village in County Clare where traditional Irish music rules.
Where to Stay: Cahermaclanchy House B&B in the heart of Doolin is within easy driving distance from the cliffs, near to all the action in the village, and an affordable option for your stay in County Clare.

Read More: County Clare, the Banner County

Most Beautiful Lake Setting – Gougane Barra, Co. Cork

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet along with unmatched beauty, be sure to visit Gougane Barra located in the Gougane Barra National Park.

The main attraction in this 1,000-acre park is the small church with stained glass windows that sits on a tiny island at the edge of Gougane Barra Lake.

a church on a lake the most beautiful places in Ireland
St. Finbarr's Church on Gougane Barra Lake in County Cork. Photo: Carrig Photos for Getty Images.

Saint Finbarr, the patron saint of Cork City, established a monastery here in the 6th century and the remains of his hermitage can be found near the church.

If you’re energetic enough, be sure to take the trails that lead up to the nearby mountain for panoramic views of this magical place.

Must-see: Drive about 10 miles south and you will come across the Kealkill Bronze Age stone circle with beautiful views over Bantry Bay.
Where to Stay: If you want the experience to last longer than an hour or two, book into the Gougane Barra Hotel, which is located steps away from the iconic chapel.


Most Beautiful Building – The Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary

This ancient ruin with its stunning 12th-century Romanesque chapel is a popular tourist destination.

The County Tipperary fortress is enclosed by a circular stone and within it is some of the finest examples of European architecture.

a castle on a hill the most beautiful places in Ireland
The Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary, a favorite destination for tourists to Ireland and one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, according to a recent Trivago Magazine article. Photo: Nick Fox.

The Rock of Cashel was once the traditional seat of power for the kings of Munster, who ruled there for 400 years.

Must-see: Cormac’s Chapel with its elaborate masonry, carved arches, and other rich architectural details.
Where to Stay: Bailey’s Hotel, Cashel – constructed in 1709, this charming hotel is within walking distance of the attraction.

Most Beautiful Forest – Avondale, Co. Wicklow

This beautiful forest park contains the home of the famous Irish politician Charles Stewart Parnell.

Avondale House, constructed in 1777, is now known as the Parnell Museum.

a large house the most beautiful places in Ireland
Avondale House is located in the Avondale Forest Park in County Wicklow. Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

The 500-acre estate includes several walks and trails, the longest and hardest of them being The River Walk.

Other trails include The Railway Walk, a linear walk from Rathdrum Railway Station through the woods to Avondale House, no doubt a path that Parnell himself took when he lived there.

A brand new addition to this County Wicklow park is the treetop attraction called Beyond the Trees Avondale.

Must-see: Drive 10 miles north and discover the beautiful Glendalough Monastic Settlement.
Where to Stay: Jacob’s Well, Rathdrum – an excellent base to explore the park and surrounding attractions in County Wicklow.

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