A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.Isabelle Eberhardt
Since I focused an entire post on Dublin last week, you get my recommendations for spectacularly fun things to do in Ireland outside of Dublin. Ireland might be small, but it has so many amazing places to explore.
It’s going to sound ironic, but Ireland is one of the greenest destinations in the world. So, it’s no wonder the country is associate with the color. If you love getting outside, exploring castles, traipsing through countrysides, and viewing famous cliffs, Ireland is the place for you.
Consider the recommendations for things to do and see below just the tip of iceberg of wonderful sites to see in Ireland. Regardless, I hope you enjoy reading about them!
Cliffs of Moher
The cliffs are an awe-inspiring place that leaves you feeling small in the best way possible. It can get crowded during peak tourist season, but it’s well worth the visit to Ireland’s most-visited natural attraction. You can walk along the cliffs and walking paths snake around the countryside to give you as many views of the ocean and the ruggedness of the cliffs as you could ever want.
The cliffs stand over 700-feet tall at their highest point and stretch over 5 miles of Irish coastline. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Aran Islands.
Visiting a 60 million year old rock formation might not sound like the best vacation, but you really shouldn’t miss this. The 5-7-sided basalt formations stretch across 4 miles of coastlines and provide a unique experience. In total, there are about 40,000 of these pillars, some even disappear in the ocean making for a great photo opportunity for travel photographers.
If you’re a fan of legends and folklore, Giant’s Causeway has plenty of that. Legend has it that Northern Ireland was once home to a giant named Finn McCool/Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Benandonner, a giant in Scotland, threatens to attack, so Finn began to tear up pieces of the coastline to create a path across the sea to fight this giant. Benandonner turns out to be much larger and Finn makes a hasty retreat. His wife disguises him as a baby, so when Benandonner arrives he think the father would have to be twice his size to have a baby so large. Benandonner retreats back across the sea and tears up the path so the “father” couldn’t follow. As a result, the remains of the Giant’s Causeway are what’s left today.
This portal tomb is one of the largest ever found and sits in one of the most scenic places in Ireland. These megalithic tombs date back as far as 4,000 BCE during the Neolithic Period. Most of these sites (which are found across Europe) are associated with burials. This particular site yielded remains of 33 individuals. No one knows who made these structures, so it’s difficult to tell why they were made or the significance behind them.
You can also see remnants of the glaciers that used to cover the land. Large boulders lay haphazardly nearby where they were deposited as the glaciers moved and melted. Glacial karst also made its mark on the landscape which can be seen in the cracks of the rocky landscape.
Monasteries are notorious for getting built the most inaccessible and impossible-looking places. One of the best examples of this is Skellig Michael, a 7th century monastery on a rocky island in the Atlantic. Located 8 miles from the coast, Skellig Michael was built in the 600s near the summit of the tallest peak of the island.
This isn’t your typical monastery. The structures are beehive-like stone huts circling an oratory. Solitude was a virtue here as the only way to reach the monastery was to climb 600 stone steps along the cliff face. That’s after you found your way several miles from shore.
A series of Viking raids in the 9th century plagued the community, but it wasn’t until the 12th century when the small number of residents decided to abandon the remote monastery and move inland. Recently, the area was used as a backdrop in the Star Wars films where Rey found Luke Skywalker.
Ev-er-y-one has heard of the Titanic and it’s fateful voyage from Belfast to New York. The museum opened its doors to educate the world about this tragedy and bring the famed ship closer to curious minds. Since its opening, it’s earned the title of one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions and for good reason.
You can view some of the museum for free, but not much. The tickets are pricey, but you get your money’s worth. You’ll learn about the construction of the ship, the people who built it, and its passengers. From reconstructed rooms and full-scale models to an exploration of the dock and the largest-remaining White Star line ship, the museum covers every square inch of the Titanic and the voyage itself.
The Ring of Kerry
If nature is more your fancy, why not take a drive through one of the most scenic places in Ireland? Drive any part of the 111-mile picturesque stretch of road and you’ll be treated to views of the ocean, castles, stone forts, manor houses, countryside, seaside villages, waterfalls, and so much more.
It’s a great way to see more of Ireland’s beauty without having to compete with all the tourists. Simply rent a car and go at your own pace. If you’re looking to see lots of unique sites and don’t want to take guided tours this is the perfect option for you as you can stop anywhere along the route for as long as you’d like to explore!
Killarney National Park
Again, for the nature lovers. If you’re like me, spending all day in a car without moving around isn’t ideal. Spending the day walking/hiking and exploring nature makes me happier than I can express. Killarney National Park is the perfect place to get “lost” in nature.
You can see red deer grazing, mountains, waterways, gardens, parks, and you can even fish in one of the glacial lakes. There are six different walking trails you can explore which will lead you to a variety of sights to see. Bonus points for visiting the 18th century Muckross House within the park. Queen Victoria once visited so you know it’s oozing opulence and gorgeousness inside and out.
All of the Castles
- Blarney Castle
- Leap Castle
- Dungaire Castle
- Rock of Cashel
The list is pretty extensive, but these are some of my favorites. Blarney is the most well-known. Leap is the most haunted. Dungaire is one I visited and loved. The Rock of Cashel is epic and super well-preserved.
You can’t go to Ireland without visiting castles. It’s just not done. I’m convinced there’s a castle for everyone’s tastes. You just have to find it. Whether you want to explore moss-covered ruins or tour a reconstruction of a stately room in a manor house, Ireland has everything you could ever want when it comes to castles.