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What to See

 

Sightseeing

In Ireland, a wealth of excitement awaits you, whether you’re planning to explore the whole island or just make a couple of side trips. Here are a few excursions worth considering that are close to Dublin and accessible by local transportation.

Close to Dublin

  • Howth and Malahide Both of these picturesque villages grew around imposing castles that are among the oldest in Ireland; Malahide is also open to the public: a single family lived here for more than 800 years!
  • Dalkey and Killiney These lovely, upscale seaside communities (home to many Irish celebrities) feature great views, pubs, good shopping and a welcoming, historic vibe.
  • Glendalough Set in the “Valley of the Two Lakes” this beautiful site -- among the best in eastern Ireland -- boasts of mountains, lakes, rugged wilderness and a historic early Medieval monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century.
  • Enniskerry and Powerscourt Estate You’ll be charmed by Enniskerry -- considered among the prettiest historic villages in Ireland -- and wowed by the grand 18th century mansion and its glorious gardens.

Exploring Ireland

Do try to see the western coast, even for just a few days. It’s home to some of the best known sites in all of Ireland. It may seem far away on a map, but remember, Ireland isn’t very big (by American standards.) Even a trip from Dublin to Galway, clear across on the other side of the country, can be an affordable outing over a long weekend. Among the recommended places to visit -- in no particular order:

  • Cliffs of Moher The iconic cliffs are a must-see if you’re in western Ireland
  • Galway Think cobblestone streets, an artsy vibe, pubs galore, and the gateway to the Aran Islands and Connemara
  • The Rock of Cashel Actually, it’s a group of spectacular medieval buildings around a 12th century tower; perhaps the most important archeological site in Ireland
  • The Dingle Peninsula For many visitors, it’s their favorite area of Ireland
  • Kilkenny When you’re done exploring the medieval city and the castle, hit the pubs and restaurants of this nightlife-happy city
  • Blarney Castle Join the crowds of tourists at this spectacular castle waiting to kiss the Blarney Stone for a “gift of the gab”
  • Killarney National Park Lakes, waterfalls, Ireland’s tallest mountain range and wildlife galore: trust us, it will be an unforgettable journey

Northern Ireland

Hiking

Experienced travelers agree: the best way to experience the glories of the Irish countryside is on foot. Luckily for walkers, Ireland has established a nationwide system of long trails which take you to dramatic coastlines, forests, quaint villages, medieval monasteries, forests and castles. You can hike the entire length of each “Way” - or just a part of it, depending on your timetable and ability, privately or with an organized tour. Along the way, there are places to eat, sleep and chill in local pubs: the best of Ireland, literally at your feet. We encourage every ELI’er to walk at least a part of one “Way” during their stay!

  • Wicklow Way - Just south of Dublin - perfect for a weekend outing
  • Dingle Way - Western coves and beaches, one of the top-rated routes
  • Beara Way - Walks along the stunning Beara Peninsula
  • Kerry Way - One of the longest and most popular walks, beginning and ending in Killarney
  • Aran Islands - Accessible by ferry from Galway
  • Connenara - Unspoiled and remote: unforgettable sights and the “true” beauty of Ireland
  • Sheeps Head Way (County Cork) - Rugged hills, a lighthouse and a wild coastline
  • Burren Way - Includes the famous Cliffs of Moher, among Ireland’s most famous natural sites

 

Where Can I Go?