A trip to Ireland is a once in a lifetime experience for many people. If you’re lucky enough to visit, you might quickly find there are many items that make your Ireland bucket list. Having to choose what to fit in is hard, but I’ve made a list of some of the must-see places in Ireland in my opinion.
I first visited the country in 2015 and have been back multiple times since, as there are so many unique things to do in Ireland. While I have yet to complete this list, I’ve done a good portion and have plans to go back every year or so to keep checking new ones off my list.
Narrowing this list down to the top ten things to do in Ireland was impossible, so I created a list of 35 must-do things in Ireland to inspire you to create your own bucket list for Ireland.
Ireland Bucket List – 35 Things to Do for a Magical Experience
Here is a list of the best things to do in Ireland, whether you attempt to do a handful in one trip or save them for multiple trips.
1. Kiss the Blarney Stone for the Gift of the Gab
Who wouldn’t want to leave Ireland as an eloquent, smooth talker with a skill for flattery and a way with words?
A fun Ireland fact is the legend goes that if you give the Blarney Stone – one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland – a big smooch, you’ll be bestowed with the gift of a silver tongue.
And if you happen to leave no more well-spoken than you arrived, at least you’ll have seen the stunning site. Set into Blarney Castle’s wall, the 15-century old stone and the palace attract thousands of visitors each year.
Enjoy a full-day tour of the castle. After you wander around the sprawling lawns and explore the mansion, you can climb the stairs and hang upside down to kiss the stone.
2. Grab a Drink at the Oldest Bar in the World
Pub culture is central to the overarching Irish culture. So why not head straight to the source, Sean’s Bar in Athlone? The oldest bar in the world has been the local watering hole for locals since 900 AD.
You may be expecting to find horses tied up outside and farmers nursing a tankard of mead and complaining about their feudal lords. But today, it’s a vibey spot with live music and a host of historical bric-a-brac reiterating the bar’s long history. There is even a written record of every owner since the 10th century!
While I encourage everyone to try Guinness at least once, I know it’s not for everyone. They’ll still have a variety of beer and other drinks you can try while you’re there.
3. Drive The Ring of Kerry
In a country where dramatic scenery and picturesque countryside are abundant, it’s a big statement to call this route the most scenic in Ireland. But it is, and it’s certainly one of the top 10 things to do in Ireland. This is one of my favorite drives in the country, so you’ll want to put it on your Ireland bucket list.
The route is 111 miles of rugged landscapes, idyllic villages, impressive mountains, and gorgeous islands. You can begin the journey anywhere on the route, but popular starting points are at Kenmare and Killarney. I will note that parts of this are a bit daunting, particularly Conor Pass, so don’t look down if you don’t like heights.
How long it takes depends entirely on you and your lust for outdoor activities, as there are many. You can enjoy watersports, explore nature by horseback, head out for deep-sea fishing or freshwater fishing. There are historical sites and ancient monuments.
4. Visit Ireland’s 50 Million Year Old Rock Formation
Visiting one of the most famous Irish landmarks is undoubtedly one of the top ten things to do in Ireland. Situated on the strikingly beautiful Northern Irish coastline, Giant’s Causeway is shrouded in legends and gets its name from its mythical maker, the giant Fin McCool.
In fact, the 40,000 interconnected basalt columns result from volcanic activity rather than a big friendly giant. The dramatic scenery, which the geological activity has created, is nothing short of magical.
Giant’s Causeway is one of the top tourist attractions in Ireland, so I recommend going as early as you can to avoid crowds. You can also take a tour from Dublin if you want to enjoy a day trip while someone else drives.
5. Traverse the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
After exploring the Giant’s Causeway, why not stop by the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge? It’s not for the faint-hearted, but thrill-seekers will want to put this on their Ireland bucket list.
The suspended bridge functions as a link between the Carrick-a-Rede Island and the mainland. It’s 66 ft long and is suspended at a heart-stopping 98 ft from the jagged rocks below.
Even the 1-mile walk from the car park to the bridge has phenomenal views of the coast. And if your nerves can bear it, don’t miss an opportunity to snap a photo on the bridge. One of my favorite parts when crossing the bridge was looking down to see an old fisherman’s cabin that still remains there.
Once you get to the other side, you can spend some time exploring the quaint island.
6. Stroll Through the Final Resting Place of Irish Historical Figures
This area is not an episode of the Dark Tourist, but Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery is a fascinating spot for history enthusiasts. While it may seem a strange site to visit, it’s unique to put on your Dublin bucket list.
You can wander through the almost 200-year-old cemetery looking for the tombstones of notable Irish leaders, artists, and icons. Keep a look out for names such as Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, and Charles Stewart Parnell.
There is a museum on-site, and the tour is wildly popular, making the cemetery one of the must-see places in Ireland if you have one day in Dublin. Top your visit off by climbing O’Connell’s tower for expansive views of Dublin.
This attraction is part of the Dublin Pass, which allows you to save money while seeing multiple places around the city.
7. Hit the Hiking Trails at Carrauntoohil
If you love to don hiking boots and explore the mountainous countryside of a new country as I do, there’s no better place to see in Ireland than Carrauntoohil. Outdoorsy people will find it necessary to put this on their Ireland bucket list.
Located in County Kerry, Ireland’s highest peak is at 3,407 ft and sits among the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks range.
The scenery is quintessential Irish countryside – downright beautiful. You have the option of a few different routes up to the highest point on the Emerald Isle. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll be spoiled with haunting views along the way.
Want more spookiness? Check out the most haunted places in Ireland.
8. Drink a Pint at Guinness Storehouse
There’s no escaping drinking at least one pint of the famous Irish stout while touring Ireland. So, where better to do that than the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, which is by far one of the top things to do in Ireland. If you’re in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll definitely want to know how to drink a pint of Guinness to celebrate with the locals.
Even if you don’t like Guinness, I highly recommend doing the tour. I found it fascinating to learn about the history of the founder (and his many children) and to see the process of how the beer is made during my 3 days in Dublin.
It will be a beer tasting experience like no other as you make your way through the seven floors, which surround a glass atrium surrounding a pint of Guinness. Here you’ll learn about the intricate process of creating the world-famous stout, from fermenting to brewing.
After a tour of the factory, you can settle down at the Gravity Bar. Order the freshest pint of Guinness that you’ll ever have and marvel at the incredible Dublin Vistas.
This attraction is part of the Dublin Pass, which allows you to save money while seeing multiple places around the city.
9. Cruise Down River Shannon on a Boat
Meandering all the way from Cuilcagh Mountain to Limerick City and into the sea, River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland.
There are multiple sections of the river when you can take a boat trip or rent a boat. The most popular section is from Portumna to Carrick.
You’ll be spoiled with spectacular scenery and views along the way. It’s a wonderful and relaxing way to see Ireland from a different perspective.
10. Tap Your Toes at a Riverdance Live Show
If you’ve never heard of Michael Flatley, you’re in for a glorious surprise. And if you’re familiar with the incredible Riverdance, then you know that seeing it live is one of the top things to do in Ireland.
Book a show in Dublin and witness the stunning performance of traditional Irish music and dance. The show has been going for twenty-five years and has become more phenomenal by the year, so you’ll want to include this when looking for what not to miss in Ireland.
The Riverdance tour has taken the stage in 46 countries and six continents. However, the magic of watching the Irish performance in the country’s capital city is unparalleled.
11. Learn About Ireland’s Famous Criminals at Kilmainham Gaol
Ireland has a notoriously troubled past and if you’re keen to take a walk through the history, then visiting Kilmainham Gaol is an unmissable Ireland tourist attraction.
The former prison is now a museum but once was a pinnacle institution in Ireland’s dark days. Famous leaders of the Easter Rising uprising of 1916 were imprisoned here. You can even visit the cells that these iconic prisoners lived out their final days before execution.
Before the civil war, the prison held the hungry and poor during the famine, making criminals out of the common person. The prison is so notorious as a symbol of oppression that it features in many rebel songs.
12. Peruse Quirky Bookstores for Your Next Read
Whether you’re a dedicated bookworm or simply looking for a unique Irish souvenir, you’ll find many treasures hidden on the shelves of Dublin’s bookstores. The city is full of charming bookstores with plenty of character.
Spend some time at one of the oldest reading spots in the city, The Winding Stair, or the 19th-century pharmacy turned bookstore Sweny’s Pharmacy. Visiting a bookstore is one of the best things to do in Ireland when it’s raining out.
13. Step Back in Time at the Aran Islands
These rugged and wild islands, Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer, boast a unique experience like no other. Only 12,000 people live on the three islands, and their mother tongue and first language is Gaelic.
Apart from the phenomenal scenery of wind-battered cliffs and striking coastal shores, the culture is fascinating and primitive, distinctly different from mainland Ireland. I highly recommend putting this on your Ireland bucket list if you have time.
The mystical islands have remained unchanged and traditional, offering visitors a unique look into Ireland as it once was hundreds of years ago.
If you’re traveling in Ireland without a car, you can take a tour to see the area. You’ll visit ancient forts and churches, a modern-day shipwreck, dive into tidal pools, explore museums and drink tea at charming tea houses.
14. Groove in Galway at Free Live Shows
In a country where people love to have a laugh and a drink, Galway is one of Ireland’s most entertaining cities. It has a booming, bustling, and thriving music scene. And you may just find some of the most talented buskers here as these were the streets that Ed Sheeran used to perform on.
If you love watching live music, you’ll have a memorable day and night of hopping from bar to bar, or venue to venue, enjoying Galway’s best export – talented artists and incredible music. This is a great free activity to put on your Galway bucket list.
It’s not just music that you can enjoy in this vibing city. Everything art is celebrated here as well as an eclectic food scene.
If you need a place to stay, check out the bed and breakfasts in Galway, Ireland that are available.
15. Explore the Story of the Ship that Sank at Titanic Belfast
You know the story. If not for the dramatic ‘don’t let go, Jack’ scene in the movie, then because it’s the most famous ship that sank on its very first voyage.
However, you might not have known that the Titanic was built in Belfast. The city has celebrated this with a comprehensive, immersive museum that will take you through the entire Titanic story.
You’ll embark on a self-guided tour, learning everything about the fascinating ship and its demise. It’s truly one of the must-do things in Ireland.
16. Walk the Cliffs of Moher
No Ireland bucket list is complete without mentioning the iconic Cliffs of Moher, one of the top things to see in Ireland. Around 1.5 million people flock to the striking cliffs to gaze in wonderment at one of the eight natural wonders of the world.
Looming 700 feet above the Atlantic ocean, the karst limestone features are a stunning sight to behold. They stretch about 9 miles along the coast, so it’s the perfect activity to spend the day walking along the cliffs. The scenery is so powerful and humbling; it’ll be difficult to pick your jaw up from the floor.
Try to plan your visit to catch the sunrise or sunset so you can witness the dramatic formations bathed in golden light.
17. Feast on Fish n’ Chips
There are few things more delectable than a forkful of fresh-out-the-ocean fish that flakes apart perfectly with a light and crispy batter. Add some vinegar-doused chips (french fries), and you’re in food heaven. I have to get this meal multiple times with each trip I make here.
Ireland is renowned for some of the best fish n’ chips in the world, and you’ll have no shortage of lovely fish shops to satisfy your cravings. If you’re in Dublin, try out Burdock’s Fish & Chips Shop – they’ve been frying up fish since 1913 and have undoubtedly perfected the dish.
18. Snap Pictures at the Stunning Glenoe Waterfall
In the lush, evergreen country where water flows in abundance, there are plenty of waterfalls to visit. However, none are so beautiful as Glenoe Waterfall tucked in the hillsides of Gleno Village, which is one of the best things to see in Ireland.
It’s a little fairy-tale like spot that makes for an ideal stop on your way to the north coast.
19. Discover One of the Most Beautiful Spots in Ireland
Arguably one of the best places to visit in Ireland, the Dingle Peninsula embodies the southwest Atlantic coast’s rough and rugged beauty. Impressive cliffs tower over sandy beaches with a backdrop of lush hills.
At Europe’s most western point, you can revel in some of Ireland’s best beaches, see Bronze Age monuments and stone huts dating back to the Middle Ages. You’ll have no problem finding what to do in Dingle when you visit.
Stop by Rahinnane Castle and Conor Pass or head out on a wildly popular Dingle Dolphin Boat Tour when you check this off your bucket list for Ireland.
20. Look for Ghosts at Ireland’s Most Haunted Castle
Ireland has no shortage of spooky places and haunted castles, and for a ‘real’ dive into the dark side, head over to Leap Castle. This castle is one of the must see things in Ireland for those who love a good ghost tale.
The owners of the castle frequently recount chilling tales of resident spirits roaming their home. These stories include the sounds of footsteps and the chatter of invisible crowds.
The castle itself is grand and historic, but it’s the haunted reputation that draws tourists from all over the world to one of the spookiest tourist attractions in Ireland.
Take a private tour of the castle to learn about its bloody history and the ghosts that call it home.
21. Watch a Gaelic Game Live
Gaelic games comprise six different sports: Hurling, Gaelic football, Handball, Rounders, Camogie, and ladies’ football.
It’s understandable if you’re scratching your head wondering what some of these games are. Hurling is especially unique and considered one of the most dangerous sports in the world. I didn’t quite understand it until I went to a game myself in Dublin.
Imagine lacrosse mixed with hockey and American football, and you’ve got hurling. It’s the oldest field sport known to man, and watching it live is a whole lot of fun
Watching a Gaelic Game such as hurling or Gaelic football at Croke Park in Dublin is one of the best things to do in Ireland. The atmosphere is electric and exciting and you won’t be able to help getting drawn into the spirit of things.
22. Take the Perfect Emerald Isle Picture at the Rock of Cashel
Seemingly erupting from the limestone rock on which it sits, the complex of medieval buildings is a spectacular architectural site. The Rock of Cashel is also the most visited heritage site in Ireland.
Snapping a picture here will give you your very own image that embodies the Emerald Isle. You can experience audio-visual shows and visit exhibitions while here at one of the top sights in Ireland.
23. Sip Golden Nectar at the World’s Oldest Whiskey Distillery
There are a significant number of ‘world’s oldest’ institutions and practices in Ireland. It comes with no surprise that you’ll also find the oldest whiskey distillery in the world here, The Old Bushmills Distillery, which is also one of the top Ireland tourist attractions.
The tour of the distillery is informative and interesting, ending with free tastings of arguably some of the best whiskey in the world. Get to know the complexity of Irish whiskey production and then sip the final product in the 413-year-old distillery.
24. Visit Ireland’s Alcatraz
Spike Island in Cork is the Alcatraz of Ireland with a fascinating 1300-year-old history. What was once a monastery turned into one of the world’s biggest prison populations and is now a public museum where you can learn all about it.
The star-shaped fortress houses museums and historical exhibitions. The surrounding area is picturesque, and when you need a moment to ponder the tumultuous history, you can explore the island.
If you’re fascinated by famous prisons such as Alcatraz and Robben Island and you’re wondering what to do in Ireland, set aside an entire day to explore Spike Island.
25. Find the Deck of Cards at Colorful Cobh
This little town is home to the final port of call for the RMS Titanic and has become a little tourist hub. The town is peppered with colorful architecture and an impressive cathedral that looms in the background.
It’s a small place, but there are quite a lot of activities aside from perusing the colorful streets. Stop by the Cobh Heritage Center, snap a photo of the iconic multicolored houses on the street known as the Deck of Cards, and learn about the Titanic at the Titanic Experience and Trail.
This is also where you’ll get the boat to Spike Island, so there’s a full day of exploring to be done when you check this off your Ireland bucket list.
26. Explore the Ruins of Sligo Abbey
This may be one of the most underrated attractions in Ireland, as many people breeze past Sligo on their tour of the country.
Wandering the crumbling 13th-century abbey, you’ll find Gothic and Renaissance tomb sculptures and the only sculptured 15th-century high altar that’s survived in Ireland.
The historic heart of Sligo is peaceful and quiet, devoid of tourist crowds, making it one of the top places to see in Ireland when you need solitude. Take a guided tour to learn about the impressive history surrounding the abbey.
27. Embark on a Road Trip Along the Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a 1700 mile route along the west coast of Ireland, passing through nine counties and three provinces. This is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever gone on, so you’ll want to put it on your list of what not to miss in Ireland.
It’s a well-marked route that is broken down into five sections and along the way, there are hundreds of sites and thousands of attractions and activities. This route encompasses many of the items on this list including the Dingle Peninsula, Cliffs of Moher, and Ring of Kerry.
If you’ve got enough time, it’s a pretty spectacular way to discover Ireland and many points of interest along the way.
You’ll be treated to stunning views of the coast and idyllic villages along the way. Begin the drive at Malin Head in County Donegal (one of the best places to see in Donegal) and finish at Kinsale in County Cork.
28. Dive into Belfast’s Troubled Past
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, you’ve no doubt heard about “The Troubles.” It’s an intrinsic part of Northern Ireland’s history, and if you desire to understand the culture, you should go on a famous Belfast Black Taxi Tour. This tour is one of the more unique things to do in Ireland.
You’ll be driven around Belfast in a private black taxi by a knowledgeable guide. You’ll visit famous political murals, sign your name on the peace wall and learn about how the city was affected by its turbulent past.
It’s a unique way to learn about Ireland’s troubles and one of the most fascinating things to do on your trip.
You’ll also be near one of the most famous country house hotels in Ireland, Castle Leslie, if you want to treat yourself to a night at this beautiful castle.
29. Dip Your Toes (or More) in the Sea at Forty Foot
When the New York Times names Forty Foot the best place in the world to swim, it may just be worth braving the freezing temperatures to put this on your Ireland bucket list.
What used to be a nude bathing place for men is now a popular swimming spot at Dublin Bay. An annual Christmas Day swim takes place here, with people dressed up in festive costumes. However, every day you’ll find people swimming in the cold water.
Dipping into the icy sea with locals is one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Ireland. Whether you can only manage to dip your toes into the water or if you’re brave enough to dive in, you’ll love the friendly, buzzing atmosphere.
30. Pilgrimage to the Peak of Croagh Patrick
According to legend, Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, spent 40 days on Croagh Patrick’s peak fasting and praying. It is now the most famous and holy mountain in Ireland, with a relatively short trail to the summit (2 hours).
Thousands of people climb Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday of July to honor the patron saint. If you find yourself in Ireland at this time, it would be a unique activity to take part in.
But it’s a fantastic activity regardless of the day, following in the footsteps of the saint with gorgeous views over Clew Bay.
31. Head Over to the Towering Slieve League Cliffs
Ireland has almost as many cliffs as it does castles. While the Cliffs of Moher are undoubtedly the most famous, Slieve League Cliffs are fast becoming just as popular.
Standing a whopping 1998 feet above the ocean, these are some of the highest cliffs in Europe. The rugged beauty is breathtaking, and you’ll be able to enjoy it in peace without the crowds that flock to the Cliffs of Moher.
The cliffs are rated the top attraction in county Donegal and one of Ireland’s top must-see places.
32. Escape From the City to Glendalough
Only an hour south of Dublin lies a breathtaking oasis and one of the most picturesque areas in Ireland.
Glendalough is part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, and the valley is a wonderland of greenery, lakes, and woods. Glendalough’s lake is the country’s most scenic lake, and nature lovers will relish the opportunity to spend the day exploring ‘the garden of Ireland.’
It’s the ideal day trip from the hustle and bustle of Dublin. Pack a picnic and some comfy shoes and head off to the wildflower-covered hills for this Ireland bucket list item. You can also hop on a tour to get here without a car.
33. Meet Mummies at St. Michan’s Church
Have you ever dreamed of shaking hands with an 800-year-old mummy? No, probably not. But why not try something a little different while you’re in Ireland?
St. Michan’s Church dates back to 1095 and served as an institution for surviving Vikings that remained in Ireland. The church then went through many changes throughout the years. However, one thing remains unchanged: the crypt and its centuries-old residents.
Visitors can descend the eery steps down to the crypt to view mummified remains of people from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
34. Roam Grafton Street in Dublin
Wandering down Dublin’s buzzing Grafton street is a must-do in Ireland. Browse charming boutiques and artisanal shops. Head into one of the many museums or art galleries and take a break in St. Stephen’s Park.
Here you’ll find the National Gallery of Ireland as well as the Little Museum of Dublin. You’ll have a wealth of delicious eating options at one of the many restaurants and it’s also a hotspot for Dublin nightlife.
35. Commune With Nature at Killarney National Park
Roam among majestic red deer and look to the trees for some of the 141 bird species that call this park home. You can also cast a line in Lower Lake and try to catch trout and salmon.
It’s a gorgeous, lush, and massive green space that you can spend hours walking through. Be sure to stop past the Muckross House and Gardens to see the grand 17th century estate.
No matter how big or small your Ireland bucket list is, you’ll have a blast seeing some of the top sights in Ireland. Leave a comment below and let me know which one was your favorite!