Ireland’s highlights are more than just a stereotype: they are the stuff of knight’s stories. That is certainly true of the region’s many intriguing castles, stunning cliff coastlines, lush rolling meadows, and rocky highlands. Many of the country’s major attractions have a rugged beauty to them. There are the megalithic tombs of Br na Bóinne, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids and served as inspiration for later Celtic emblems. The lovely Blarney Castle in County Cork, famous for its “Blarney Stone,” is considerably later. Kissing the Blarney Stone, according Irish legend, bestows “the gift of the gab,” or extraordinary eloquence. To get it, you must lie down while a castle staff holds your hand and a camera records the event. The Rock of Cashel, the ruins of a magnificent 12th-century fortress overlooking the verdant surrounding fields, is well worth seeing.
The island’s rugged shore line is one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions, and rightly so. The magnificent 230m high Cliffs of Moher remain a wonderful site to explore, despite the contemporary tourism industry that surrounds them. It’s undoubtedly one of the most spectacular locations, yet it’s only one of many beautiful areas along the Irish coast. Visit Achill Island to view the tallest peak, Croaghaun, as well as the beautiful Keem Bay and numerous beaches. Visit the stunning Aran Islands, where indigenous culture has endured and lush meadows are studded with castles and churches. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way to see more of the beautiful coastlines and stop in lovely coastal villages for a rest. A variety of national parks, including the limestone karst landscapes of the remainder of the Burren, are worth seeing farther inland (of which the Cliffs or Moher are part). Ballycroy National Park’s extensive peatlands, as well as Killarney National Park’s lakes and woods, provide excellent hiking opportunities. Ross Castle is located in the lovely town of Killarney, which also serves as a famous starting point for the Ring of Kerry.
Kilkenny, Ireland’s medieval capital, is a popular tourist destination and is easily accessible from Dublin. Kilkenny is a very attractive destination due to its magnificent architecture and, of course, the towering Norman Castle, as well as many events such as the Arts Festival and the Rhythm and Roots Festival. Explore the beautiful region of Co. Donegal if you have or can hire a car. In this traditional area, expect to witness modest stone walls, thatched roof cottages, rough hills, cliffs, and golden sand beaches. The best time to come is in the spring or summer, when there are lots of hill hikes and picture possibilities to be had.
The magnificent King John’s Castle is in Limerick, while Cork and Galway are also popular summer destinations with vibrant nightlife and historic history. And then there’s Dublin, of course. It’s very Irish, and it’s a great location to experience the country’s renowned beer culture, as well as seeing some fantastic views. Dublin Castle is a great option, and Trinity College has a fantastic library where you can view the Book of Kells, one of the world’s oldest manuscripts. While every tour trip should end with a pint, serious beer fans should visit the Guinness Storehouse.