Choose from 123 Fun Things to Do in Ireland
- Bring a camera; the romantic ruins make an excellent photo opportunity.
- Viewing is from the roadside; wear comfortable shoes and rain gear.
- Respect the signs on the fence barring public admission and do not attempt to cross beyond them.
Rail and bus tours that showcase the best of the Irish western and southern coasts—including the Ring of Kerry scenic drive, the Cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay, and the Burren—often includes a stop at Blarney Castle. Find an itinerary to suit your interests, and choose one with a tour guide to learn about the history of the castle and the stone. Make the most of your time with combination tours to other sites such as the Rock of Cashel, the Celtic Cathedral, the Hall of Vicars, the Galtee Mountains, and County Kildare.
- Come prepared with layers for Ireland's famously unpredictable weather.
- Prepare to wait in line if you’d like to kiss the stone.
- Stone kissing is best suited for those who are able-bodied, as the line winds up steep staircases to the castle’s top.
How to Get to Blarney Castle
Located only 6 miles (10 km) northwest of the city of Cork, the Blarney Castle and Gardens are easy to reach on a simple afternoon trip from the city. The castle is also often experienced as a stop on a trip from Dublin to Cork, or vice versa. Blarney is 385 miles (620 km) from Dublin.
When to Get There
The castle is open daily from 9am to sunset; as with most popular attractions, it’s best to get there early to beat the crowds. Although chilly, Christmas time is lovely at the castle, which is sumptuously decorated for the season.
Exploring Cork City
A Cork day trip often includes time in the city as well as a visit to Blarney Castle. Stroll down St. Patrick Street and stop for lunch at the English Market, which hosted a visit from Queen Elizabeth II of England in 2011, or do some tax-free souvenir shopping at Blarney Woollen Mill. The Irish countryside throughout County Cork is picturesque and makes for a lovely drive.
Here on Aghadoe Hill stand the ruins of the 12th century Aghadoe Church and Round Tower. There was a monastery on the site since the 7th century, however, founded by St Finian Lobhar, and no wonder as the views are sublime and perfect for a life of contemplation. There are lakes and at night the town lights of Killarney twinkle, alongside the flood lights of Ross Castle in the distance, although that is a bit more recent dating from the 15th century! To appreciate the landscape, you'll find a few benches nearby so bring a picnic.
Although ruined, there is still plenty to see of interest at Aghadoe Church. The Romanesque door is well-preserved, there is a carved crucifixion scene on another sandstone block, two ca rved faces on the eastern window, and an Ogham Stone - carved writings in the ancient Celtic language. Not much is left of the Round Tower. It is really just a small stump of the sandstone building standing in an old cemetery.
Not far north-west of Killarney (2 miles / 3.2 km), the ruined church and tower are close to the Aghadoe Heights Hotel. You can park in a carpark just before the hotel and walk across to the church.
Guided tours take visitors through the grounds, sharing the history and ever-changing purpose of each building. Most notable is the story behind the Record Tower, the only remaining building from the original medieval structure that has miraculously survived centuries worth of fires and warfare that ravaged the other buildings. Other noteworthy areas include the Chester Beatty Library and the Dubhlinn Gardens, which now grow over the spot where there was once a black pool (‘dubh linn’) from which the city of Dublin gets its name.
The long and rich history behind this complex is enough reason to tour Dublin Castle. Even people who are not history buffs will find something of interest within the vast castle grounds. Plan to spend about two hours at the castle learning about Irish history and exploring the lavishly decorated private quarters and entertaining halls of the State Apartments, the State Bedrooms, St. Patrick’s Hall, the State Drawing Room, the Chapel Royal, the Medieval Undercroft, and the Throne Room.
- Dublin Castle is open to the public unless a special event is taking place; be sure to check the castle’s schedule ahead of time.
- Choose to travel with a tour guide for personal attention, or opt for a self-guided tour.
- Dublin Castle is a stop on most city hop-on, hop-off tours.
How to Get to Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is located in central Dublin on Dame Street. The castle is accessed easily on foot, by taxi, or via public transportation. City Hall and Trinity College are about a five-minute walk from Dublin Castle and both are well worth a visit.
When to Get There
The castle is open from 9:45am to 4:45pm, with the exception of holidays and special events. Expect some crowds and lines in summer.
The monumental building was constructed on O'Connell Street between 1815 and 1818 as the headquarters of the Irish postal service. Designed by Francis Johnston, the building’s architectural prowess features a Greek-revival theme, with 55-foot (17-meter) high Greco-Roman pillars and a series of dramatic Ionic columns flanking the entrance. Statues of Hibernia (goddess of Ireland), Fidelity and Mercury (messenger of the gods) stand proud atop the roof – the handiwork of sculptor John Smyth.
The GPO isn’t simply a landmark though; its walls hide an illustrious history. The building was famously used as the main stronghold of Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Easter Rising and the front steps were where Patrick Pearse made his famous pre-siege speech, declaring a free Irish Republic. While the ensuing battles all but destroyed the original building, the lovingly restored building remains a symbol of Irish freedom.
Today the building is once again a working post office, although the captivating architecture has made it a popular tourist photo spot. Take a look around as you’re stamping your postcards, as there are still a few remnants of its legendary status – bullet holes can still be seen in the roof, a statue of Cuchulainn (Irish god of war) stands in the window and the original Declaration of Independence is still proudly displayed on the walls.
- Doolin is a must for music-lovers and anyone who wants to experience Irish pub culture.
- Bring a good rain jacket and walking boots as Doolin is frequently hit with wind and rain.
- Some Cliffs of Moher cruises departing from Doolin are wheelchair-accessible.
Towering 702 feet (214 meters) above the Atlantic Ocean at their highest point and stretching for five miles (eight km) along the water, the world-famous Cliffs of Moher define the rugged west coast of Ireland. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, with tours available from cities such as Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Killarney, and Doolin, set only 5.6 miles (nine km) away.
What to See at the Cliffs of Moher
Once at the cliffs, visitors can wander a number of winding coastal trails and pathways, capture photos of the dramatic scenery, and walk out to peer over cliff edges at the waves below. The onsite underground Visitor Centre features educational exhibits and a number of arts and crafts gift shops, while the viewing platform atop the historical O’Brien’s Tower provides stellar views stretching west to the Aran Islands, north to Galway, and out along the Atlantic Coast.
Found in the Burren National Park region of County Clare, this natural wonder makes up only a short stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Along with your stop at the iconic cliffs, see more of the Atlantic edge with a coastal drive that includes visits to Bunratty Castle, Corcomroe Abbey, Dunguaire Castle, and the quaint fishing village of Kinvara. Other notable sights include Galway Bay and Connemara.
The cliffs can become especially crowded between 11am and 4pm, and even more so throughout July and August. To dodge the masses, stop for lunch at Fitzpatrick’s Pub in Doolin village before heading to the cliffs. The local seafood is particularly good here, and what’s an Irish lunch without a Guinness?
Things to Know Before You Go
- It’s recommended that you allocate at least two hours to explore the area.
- Weather can greatly affect visibility at the Cliffs of Moher; in the case of foggy conditions, admission tickets can be reused in the next 24 hours.
- The Cliffs of Moher site is both wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, and baby changing facilities are available.
- You’ll find free WiFi at the Visitor Centre.
How to Get from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are located about 174 miles (280 km) west of Dublin and can be reached in approximately 3.5 hours by car from the capital city. Cliffs of Moher day trips from Dublin city center often feature a tour guide and tend to be long (between 10 and 14 hours), given that they usually venture to other west coast attractions and also include hotel pickup and roundtrip transportation. Public bus connections can also be made from Galway bus station.
- Cobh Heritage Centre is a must for history buffs and anyone with an interest in Irish emigration.
- The center houses a café that sells hot and cold drinks, hot meals, sandwiches, and more.
- Free Wi-Fi is available at the center.
- The center is wheelchair accessible.
- If you are afraid of heights, kissing the Blarney Stone may not be for you, as there is a long drop below it.
- The stone is located on the castle’s roofless battlements, where visitors are exposed to the elements. Bring rain gear and sunscreen so you aren’t caught off guard by the weather.
- The Blarney Stone is only accessible via a steep, spiral staircase.
- Dublin City Hall is a must for history and politics buffs, as well as for architecture enthusiasts.
- Allow 30–60 minutes to fully explore the building and the basement exhibit.
- Dublin City Hall is wheelchair accessible.
- Cobh Cathedral is a must for amateur photographers, offering an excellent vantage point over Cork Harbour.
- Cobh Cathedral is still a functioning house of worship, so be respectfully quiet during your visit..
- The cathedral is wheelchair-accessible via a ramped entrance.
Starting from Dingle Town, the road rises 1,500 feet as it approaches the pass. There is a parking lot at the highest point where you can stop and admire the views of the coast. Then as you continue along the road, you will pass Brandon Bay and more cliffs, waterfalls, and lakes. The road also crosses the Brandon Mountains with Ireland's second highest peak, Brandon Mountain at 3,217 feet tall. The road is usually open all year but can be closed during winter months due to weather or if the snow has not been cleared.
- Connemara is a must-see for sightseers, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as many hiking trails in the region have rocky, uneven surfaces.
- If you plan on spending much time exploring outdoors, bring a rainproof outer layer, water, and sunscreen.
- Gaeltachts (Irish-speaking regions) are scattered throughout Connemara.