Ireland is my all-time favorite country. The food is amazing, the views are great, and the people are the kindest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. I absolutely love Ireland to bits, and I think it should be on everyone’s travel list. I can’t recommend enough that you take an Ireland holiday!
There are so many cities and towns in Ireland, so it can get overwhelming trying to decide where to go when you only have a limited time in the country. That’s why I’ve decided to put together a list of my top 10 cities/towns you must visit in Ireland, in no particular order!
Killarney, Co. Kerry
Killarney is super beautiful, and it’s even an easy day trip away from Dublin. It’s 100% worth visiting and exploring. I think you could easily spend a week here, or even more. There’s a lot to see!
What to do in Killarney
Explore Killarney National Park. The town Killarney itself is in Killarney National Park, and the views everywhere are exceptional. If you’re lucky enough to rent a car in Ireland or own a car, definitely go out and drive around. There are amazing viewpoints everywhere. One such viewpoint that I suggest is Aghadoe Heights, which gives you a beautiful water and mountain view.
Check out Torc Waterfall. Torc Waterfall is probably one of the most-visited parts of Killarney National Park. It’s a very short hike up from the parking area and you may find it overcrowded if you’re there during midday, but you can also keep hiking up the trail if you please. The waterfall itself is 66 feet high and is a sight to behold.
Visit Muckross House, a victorian mansion from the 19th Century. It was designed by Scottish architect William Burn for Henry Arthur Herbert and his family. Queen Victoria even visited Muckross House in the 1860’s and instantly fell in love with Killarney. Supposedly, the Herberts redid a lot of the house before Queen Victoria came, even positioning her room with the best view of the park from her window!
Walk around downtown Killarney! Killarney is my favorite Irish town. There’s just something about it that makes it so different from other Irish towns I’ve visited. It just feels so homey and comforting. It’s hard to describe! The buildings are extremely beautiful and clean too. Plus, the locals are really friendly! Though of course the locals are friendly no matter where you are in Ireland.
Drive the Ring of Kerry. This road trip is one of the most popular drives in Ireland. If you rent a car during your visit to Ireland, this is one of the most scenic road trips to do! Killarney is such a great place to start this drive.
Dublin, Co. Dublin
There is obviously so much to do in Dublin and it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world! It’s definitely a city that you need to spend more than 48 hours in, but if you’re ever there for a short period of time, there’s a few things I definitely recommend seeing.
What to do in Dublin
EAT ALL THE FOOD. I personally think that there’s so much great food in Dublin. Try all the local dishes you can – from boxty, to a traditional Irish breakfast, to Irish stew! Be sure to get yourself a pint of Guinness too.
Visit Trinity College Dublin. Trinity College is a must-visit in Dublin, especially if you’re looking to see the Book of Kells. I suggest buying your Book of Kells ticket ahead of time online, because it can get quite busy! Really take your time at this exhibit too – it’s totally worth it. You can also wander around the gorgeous campus a little bit too!
Shop on Grafton Street. There are so many amazing stores on Grafton Street, and even amazing performers. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve grabbed a gelato or a crepe and just stood and listened to whoever was playing for a half hour.
Peruse the Temple Bar area. Yes, the Temple Bar area can be quite touristy. Don’t let that stop you! I still think it’s worth seeing while you’re in Dublin. Keep in mind that it definitely gets a lot busier at night. If you’re looking to actually get a drink at the Temple Bar Pub, I’d suggest going earlier in the day just to say you’ve done it, and then try going to another pub at night. One of the ones I personally found myself always going back to was Quay’s, which is conveniently located near the Temple Bar Pub. There’s also a lot more local options that will probably be more affordable around Dublin.
Experience the Guinness Storehouse. The Guinness Storehouse is actually the #1 most-visited Irish tourist attraction. Isn’t that crazy? I’m here to tell you that it is with good reason! The entire museum itself is so interactive and it has 5+ floors to explore. There’s even a tasting room where you’re taught how to correctly drink Guinness! Plus, you get a free pint at the Gravity Bar on the top floor, where you’re greeted with panoramic views of the entire city.
Take a stroll in St. Stephen’s Green. While studying abroad in Dublin, I constantly found myself coming back to St. Stephen’s Green. It’s such a beautiful park. It’s fun to even grab some food on Grafton Street and then sit in the park while you eat! There’s so many little areas that you can sit in the park too.
If you’re looking for more awesome things to do in this amazing city, check out this post on 50 Unique Things to Do in Dublin!
Galway, Co. Galway
Ah, Galway, the place that Ed Sheeran sang about in “Galway Girl”. I feel like Galway is always one of the top destinations that people want to visit in Ireland, and I don’t blame them!
What to do in Galway
Visit the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher are actually only 1.5 hours away from Galway, and they are accessible by public transport. You could even rent a car to do the trip if you wanted, or you could do a day tour trip where you could see even more awesome views. The Cliffs of Moher, though touristy, are definitely worth the visit. The views are amazing. Just don’t get too close to the edge!
Explore the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter is an area in Galway that is filled with cobblestone streets. I might be completely wrong in saying this, but it kind of reminds me of the Temple Bar area in Dublin. It’s a really beautiful area.
Walk down Quay Street. Quay Street is definitely one of Galway’s busier streets, but the buildings are so pretty. I definitely suggest walking down here. It’s also home to one of Galway’s most famous pubs, The Quays.
Look at Lynch’s Castle. This castle is actually one of the original castles that was in Galway long ago. It has now been converted into a bank! It’s fun to just look at from the inside. I’m sure you could even go in too if you really wanted to!
Still looking for more to do in Galway? Be sure to check out this post on the 20 Best Things to do in Galway, Ireland.
Snap a photo of picturesque Galway Harbor. The harbor is definitely the quintessential “I went to Galway” photo that everyone has. There’s a reason everyone goes here. It’s so beautiful!
Cork, Co. Cork
Cork is another fun city to visit in Ireland. It’s actually the second largest city in Ireland, right behind Dublin! It’s a lot larger than most people initially think. Here’s why you MUST visit Cork, Ireland!
What to do in Cork
Walk the grounds of Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. Keep in mind that this is kind of a super touristy attraction! I don’t think I ran into any locals here while at Blarney Castle, except maybe the workers. It is still a super fun experience though! If you’re afraid of heights, do not try to kiss the Blarney Stone.
There’s also a lot more to Blarney than just the castle. You also get to peruse all of the gardens. There’s so much to do here and a lot of the different areas of the grounds are amazing. I feel like so many people go, kiss the stone, and then leave. Really take your time here!
It’s also easy to get from Blarney Castle to downtown Cork by bus.
Peruse the English Market. The English Market is an indoor market from the 18th Century. There’s so many food stalls – trust me, you won’t be able to leave without buying at least one thing to eat. The inside of the English Market is also really gorgeous! It seemed really well-kept to me when I visited.
Walk around University College Cork. UCC has a gorgeous campus. What more is there to say? If I hadn’t studied in Dublin, I probably would’ve tried to study in Cork!
Stroll St. Patrick’s Street. St. Patrick’s Street is Cork’s Grafton Street. It’s where all the shopping happens! Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s fun to stroll down a city’s high streets and people watch and just pop into stores.
Bray, Co. Wicklow
Bray is a gorgeous coastal town in County Wicklow. If you’re staying in the Dublin area for the entirety of your time in Ireland, it makes for a really easy day trip on public transportation!
What to do in Bray
Hike the Bray Head cliff walk. While studying abroad in Ireland, I became a huge fan of doing cliff walks. They’re just a whole bunch of fun and you get some of the best views ever. Plus, you’re being active. The Bray Head cliff walk is no exception! I visited on a slightly overcast day and there weren’t many people along the walk at all.
Explore Wicklow Mountains National Park. Wicklow Mountains National Park is one of the most gorgeous places in all of Ireland. If you love getting outdoors, definitely check it out!
Visit the Mermaid Arts Centre. The Mermaids Art Centre is free to visit if you’re going to check out their galleries! They rotate out their second floor exhibits. I have heard so many great things about the performances and shows that are put on here too, but I unfortunately missed out on this when I was in Bray!
Walk along the Promenade. My friend and I decided that when we did the Bray Head cliff walk, we’d go from Greystones to Bray instead of from Bray to Greystones because we knew we’d be greeted with prettier views this way. Boy were we right! The Bray Promenade was our view at the end of the cliff walk, and it’s gorgeous. It’s Victorian style and lined with so many fun little shops and ice cream places. We even stopped to get some chips from a fish & chip shop while we soaked in the view.
Revel in the fact that Hozier is from Bray! Isn’t that wild? Hozier is one of my favorite artists, and this is actually his hometown!
Howth, Co. Fingal
Howth is an absolutely beautiful coastal town in Ireland. To this day it’s one of my favorite places that I visited! Plus, it’s super easy to get there from Dublin, and vice versa.
What to do in Howth
Walk the Howth coastal cliff walk. The Howth coastal cliff walk is just amazing. I don’t know how else to describe its beauty. The water is this amazing color blue that I’ve never seen before and everywhere you look there’s more amazing scenery. The walk can take anywhere from 1 – 3 hours depending on which route you decide to take and whether you decide to loop around or not. My friend and I took the easier route but tried coming back on a harder route just so that our views would be a little different.
Grab some food at Howth Market. Howth Market is a pretty little market down near the Harbor. There’s some great places to eat here. I couldn’t help myself and got some gelato since it was so hot the day I was there! There’s also a lot of actual lunch food as well.
Stare at the beauty of Howth Harbor. It’s a lot of fun to just sit and people-watch by Howth Harbor. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle and you can see all the beautiful boats. A lot of seafood restaurants are along Howth Harbor, so if you’re feeling up to it, you could even sit outside at one of these restaurants and people-watch that way!
Dip your toes into Balscadden Bay Beach. Balscadden Bay Beach is a cute little beach a short walk from Howth Harbor. It’s also on the way up to the cliff walk. It is a pretty rocky beach, so keep that in mind. It wouldn’t stop me from at least dipping my toes in!