Lyrically gorgeous, charmingly ancient and culturally endowed – Ireland is an enchantress all the way! With some of the friendliest folks on earth and a proud heritage, there’s plenty for travelers to take back from this tiny country with a large legacy. Here are team Must Do Travels’ Top 12 Ireland Must Dos.
12. Trinity College, Dublin
Its mind-blowing Long Room was the inspiration behind the first Harry Potter flick’s library. This fairy tale-isque university (Ireland’s oldest) provides a glimpse of old-worldly academic pursuit with its cobblestones, sprawling grounds and the jaw-dropping Book of Kells (permanent exhibit). The modern melts into the endearing ancient as you walk into the premises of Trinity College, to unearth hidden treasures of another era. Grab a sandwich from the cafeteria, while you avoid the chaos of the outer world.
11. Grafton Street, Dublin
Grafton is beyond your regular shopping street. It pulsates with an unflinching energy evident in everything from the performing artists to flower-sellers. Watch the world pass by as you take in Dublin’s famed café culture. Tuck into hearty portions of the celebrated Irish breakfast at Bewley’s Oriental Café on a bright, sunny day or explore the labyrinth of vibrant alleyways. Dublin’s shopping nucleus is a great place for snagging cool merchandise at bargain prices.
10. The Aran Islands
Made famous by the fictional documentary Man of Aran, The Aran Islands captured the imagination of vacationers for its time warp feel, rugged natural beauty and stone structures. From the Dun Aonghasa fort to the elevated cliffs to the endearing local culture, the place is a montage of utterly unusual experiences. The generous scenery offers rich camping and glamping options. Stay at a charming local Bed & Breakfast, while you explore the islands’ Celtic churches and other archeological wonders.
9. Ring of Kerry
Inarguably Ireland’s most picturesque route, the Ring of Kerry commences from Kenmare or Killarney, concluding at same place in less than three hours (remote possibility of finishing with all the enroute wonders). Along the route, there are visually stunning vistas to feast on, including Atlantic Ocean panoramas, gorgeous islands, rugged mountains and scenic village communities. Enjoy outdoor activities such as cycling, golf, horse-riding, water sports and more. Heritage enthusiasts can explore ancient monasteries and forts.
8. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
The quintessential family attraction, Bunratty Castle is wow-worthy for its well preserved medieval charm (fortress restores in 1950s), themed banquets and elegant tapestries. Witness fine furnishings from the 15th and 16th century inside the castle. Housing 30 structures in a traditional village atmosphere, the striking Folk Park brings alive the nostalgic Ireland of yore with its cute shops, farm homes and country-style streets. This attraction packs in plenty of excitement and exploration opportunities for families with young children.
7. Shop Street, Galway
If you’re in Galway, Shop Street is a must figure on your itinerary. Teeming with sellers retailing everything books to jewels, along with tons of small boutiques, street performers and cafes dotting the pedestrian streets. The iconic street also houses Lynch’s Castle – a medieval townhouse. Lots of gift and souvenir shops around, complemented by Galway’s signature laid-back vibe. The art-struck crowd can grab their fix of art and culture at the numerous galleries and shops here.
6. The Rock of Cashel
The country’s most visited attraction, the Rock of Cashel is a permanent fixture on the Emerald Isle landscape. Nestled on a limestone rock, this cluster of medieval structures comprises the High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, an erstwhile Gothic cathedral, The Hall of Vicars Choral, a round tower and a splendid centuries old castle and more. There are audio-visual shows and exhibits for visitors. This former High Kings of Munster seat offers a delightful slice of Irish history.
5. St. Stephens Green, Dublin
Loved by locals for its rich historic legacy and serene setting, St. Stephen’s Green is perfect for unwinding or enjoying a leisurely family picnic. Go duck feeding or stroll through “The Green’s” (as locals call it) gorgeously landscaped gardens. The straight out of fables garden is replete with a beautiful bridge, a children’s playground and a pretty duck pond. Among the several Georgian structures, visit the Shelbourne Hotel for their popular afternoon tea treat at Lord Mayor’s Lounge.
4. The Little Museum of Dublin
A fairly new addition to Dublin’s thriving museum scene, the Little Museum of Dublin features prominent on the list of most travelers looking to grab an account of Ireland’s recent events. In addition to a slew of permanent exhibits, there are informative guided tours, plenty of new initiatives (The Green Mile Walking Tour and Dublin by Land and Sea) and U2 mementos (donated by members of the band). Delightful, humorous and quirky – this is a fun way to explore contemporary Irish legacy.
3. Sample Artisanal Food at English Market
Prepare for a heady sensory experience at Cork’s English Market, a closed food emporium featuring the finest regional Irish food, artisanal preparations and locally grown ingredients. Go shopping, lunching and crowd watching through the alleyways for this erstwhile market that reverberates with tales of Irish Independence War, years of famine and the Civil War. The English market was at the nucleus of much of Europe’s food culture centered on natural and locally grown produce. From craft butchers to fishmongers to artisanal producers (chutney, cakes, soda bread, chocolates and goat’s cheese), the fresh food buzz is palpably strong here.
2. Guinness Storehouse
It’s virtually blasphemous to visit Ireland and skip Guinness Storehouse, a center that pays homage to the most enduring Irish symbol – Guinness draught beer. This transformed former grain house is the accessible to public zone of a 26-hectare brewery. Worship the Irish black gold, across seven sprawling floors of everything Guinness, concluding the tour with a memorable tasting session at the Gravity Bar (offering splendid views). Book ahead online to save on tour charges.
1. PowersCourt House and Gardens, Co. Wicklow
Spectacular views, idyllic lakeside walks, stimulating history and a near-surreal Sugarloaf Mountain backdrop, there’s a lot going for this stunner of an Irish attraction, nestled about 20 kilometers from the heart of Dublin. Owned by the Slazenger clan, the home rests on 47 beautifully manicured acres of land. Stroll along the Rose and Kitchen Gardens or explore the exquisite Italian Gardens. Over 200 varieties of flora and a rather moving section (the family pets are buried here with headstone inscriptions) complete the experience. Visit the craft shops and an in-house amazing café/restaurant.