While planning my trip to Ireland, I was overwhelmed with how much I wanted to see and how little time I had to do it in. That said, you’ll never have enough time to see everything in a foreign country, but if your mindset is to hit the main attractions and experiences while in Ireland, I’ve compiled a solid set of guidelines.
Don’t limit yourself to Dublin!
Make sure you take some time to get out of the main cities and explore some smaller towns. Dublin has an extensive train system that allowed us to escape the city for an afternoon and check out the fishing village of Howth, but there are many other small towns on the outskirts of metropolitan areas that are worth a visit.
Putting the emerald in Emerald Isle
As this is much easier logistically while exploring a village than a city, get out of the village I just told you to visit and see some famous Irish greenery and landscaping! There are marvelous hills, valleys, and hiking trails available, even within distance of public transportation. Howth’s village was on the side of a hill, and my friend and I hiked out to the coastline to view the cliffs.
Trinity College Dublin
The world-renowned university is an amazing example of collegiate architecture, with an exquisitely green courtyard, the famous Campanile (Bell Tower), and Trinity College Library. For a small fee, you can explore the rows upon rows of medieval literature that will make you want to go back to school! Also housed in the college is the Book of Kells, a Latin manuscript of Gospel readings handwritten by 8th- century Irish monks. It’s definitely worth the entrance fee.
A walk through Galway
The city of Galway is much smaller than the capitol city of Dublin, and it’s refreshing. Exploring the markets and streets of Galway doesn’t have that rushed, big-city feel to it, and you can take the time to wander along the River Corrib and check out the coastline. 2 hours away by bus, Galway is completely doable as a day trip from Dublin.
Last but not least, the Cliffs of Moher!
Unbelievable views and heart-stopping drops to the Atlantic Ocean make this a must-stop while on a tour of Ireland. While the cliffs can become crowded during the height of tourist season, venturing away from the main cliff opposite the tourist center and towards cliffs without safety railings (but be careful!) significantly lessens the crowd.
There are so many incredibly sights in Ireland, but these five are my favorites and really encompass the spirit of Ireland. Enjoy, and happy traveling!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!