If you're planning a trip to the Emerald Isle and it's your first time visiting the country then you're in the right place. There are some amazing attractions to see and events to experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. It's hard to know about some of the hidden treasures if you're not familiar with the country and what it has to offer. In order to maximize your enjoyment of the time that you spend in Eire, here are the 20 best things to do in Ireland for first-timers.
20. Visit the Howth Cliffs
When you say you want to take the Howth Cliff Walk, the locals will know what you're talking about.The Howth Cliffs are north of Dublin just outside the Irish city of Howth. These are impressive cliffs and the town is well-worth seeing. You'll behold some spectacular views on your walk, and when you've completed the trip and taken your pictures, you can rest in town for some of the best fish and chips in the world.
19. Take a guided tour of Newgrange
Newgrange is a Unesco world heritage site. This ancient site dates back to prehistoric times and is a monument that was built in the year 3200 BC as a grand passage tomb. It dates back in time further than the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. The 5000-year-old site is a neolithic ritual center adn it bears significance by linking maritime people from the prehistoric age of Northern Spain, Denmark, the Western Isles, Brittany, and Portugal.
18. Visit the Hill of Tara
When you book a tour of the Hill of Tara, you get so much more information than if you go on an unguided tour. This is an ancient site in Ireland that is comprised of an archaeological complex. Keep an eye out for Lia Fail on the top of the hill because this was where ancient kings who ruled Ireland were crowned and the Hill of Tara was the high seat of the King in ancient times.
17. Drive the Cooley Peninsula
Either hire a rental car or take a guided tour of the Cooley Peninsula. This is an amazing area that is situated near the border to Northern Ireland. It's a beautiful location with a lot of outdoor activities offered throughout the summer months. Go down near the water and tour King John's Castle while you're there, and don't forget your camera because you'll want to capture the breathtaking views.
16. Visit Powerscourt House and Gardens
Another popular tourist attraction in Ireland is Powerscourt House and Gardens. Here you will find the location where a 13th-century castle was built, but after a fire destroyed the structure, it was extensively renovated. the Gardens are lovely and while you're in the area you can even enjoy playing a few rounds at the Powerscourt Golf Club or visit the Avoca Handweavers for more interesting things to see and do when in Ireland.
15. Tour Kilkenny Castle
No trip to Ireland would be complete without taking a tour of the famed Kilkenny Castle. It's located in an ancient quintessential Irish town, also named Kilkenny where the streets are narrow and you gain the sense that you've just taken a giant step backward in time. While you're there, you won't be far from Black Abbey which is another notable tourist attraction in the area. You can wander through the ancient streets for an experience that you'll never forget.
14. Visit the Giant's Causeway
The Giant's Causeway is located in County Antrim. This is one of the most stunning rock formations in the world. It's located on the coast of Antrim on the northern portion of Northern Ireland's coast. It's just three miles to the northeast of a small Irish town called Bushmills, so after you've completed your tour of the Giant's Causeway, you can stop in town and get something to eat or visit one of the quaint little pubs in the town for immersion in Irish culture.
13. Visit Hook Lighthouse
Another important attraction to see is Hook Lighthouse. It is located on Hook Head which is located in County Wexford at the tip of the Hook Peninsula. This is the oldest working lighthouse on the planet today. While you're there, you can even climb up into the light and if you want to know more, there is information about how the keepers of this lighthouse worked and lived through the ages from a historical and educational perspective
12. Tour Loftus Hall
While you're on Hook Peninsula, we highly recommend that you plan a visit to Loftus Hall. There is a tour available if you have the nerve. This is one of the most haunted houses in all of Ireland and the tour is reputed to be a scary adventure. After the tour, you can also check out the fairy gardens located on the outside of the hall to help you calm your nerves.
11. Visit Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey is yet another ancient historical site. It is located on the Welsh bank of the River Wye. This Abbey was originally erected on the ninth of May in the year 1131 by Lord of Chepstow, Walter de Clare. Now it exists as the runs of a 13th-century abbey as well as an old mill that has been overgrown. In addition to viewing the old ancient ruins, there are plenty of hiking trails along with viewpoints to watch the tide come in and go out.
10. See Colclough Walled Garden
While you're visiting Tintern Abbey, you'll find the Colclough Walled Garden right next door. This is a significant historical site in Ireland that also has its roots in ancient history. It is an enclosed garden that has been fully restored to give us a glimpse of what it might have looked like many hundreds of years ago. Spring and summer months are the best times to visit the garden because everything will be in full bloom at this time.
9. Tour the Waterford Crystal Factory
If you're a fan of fine crystal then some of the best in the world are manufactured in the country of Ireland. Take a trip to the city of Waterford and tour the Waterford Crystal Factory while you are there. You can learn the history of the company and discover how this fine crystal is manufactured. The entire tour only takes an hour of your time and it's truly a fascinating experience.
8. Visit the Medieval Museum
While you're in Waterford, you'll be near the Medieval Museum for a show that you will remember for a lifetime. The museum is situated at Cathedral Square in Waterford, and the museum is home to a 15th-century wine vault and was formerly a 13th-century choristers' hall. Here you can buy tickets to experience costumed reenactments of the plays that were performed at this venue centuries ago.
7. Tour the Viking Triangle
Another attraction to see while you're in Waterford is the Viking Triangle. This is a designated area that features Viking walls that were built more than a thousand years ago to wall off the area. It is a cultural and heritage designation that you won't want to miss out on while in Waterford.
6. Visit Curraghmore House & Gardens
Curraghnore House & Gardens is located in Waterford, Ireland. It is the historic residence of the 9th Marquis of Waterford adn it dates back to the year 1170. The house is surrounded by 2,500 acres which feature grazing fields, woodlands, and formal gardens. While there you can walk over King John's Bridge which is a stone-arched structure over the Clodagh River that was built in 1205. It is the oldest bridge still in existence in Ireland. We highly recommend that you sign up for a group tour to get the most out of your experience as knowledgeable tour guides will point out an in-depth description of the historical significance of the site.
5. Tour Lismore Castle
Lismore Castle was built in 1185 by Prince John as a sister to Ardfinnan Castle. Previously the site was one of the main monasteries and centers for learning where Lismore Abbey set, as far back as the early 7th century. The history of this castle goes back many centuries. A full guided tour is recommended to get the best information on the historical significance of this castle and the surrounding grounds. Incidentally, it is for rent if you can afford the high price. It is currently owned by nobles who take advantage of the opportunity to bring in a little extra revenue from tourists who go in with large parties and rent it out for a few weeks or months at a time.
4. See the Cliffs of Moher
One of the most highly recommended attractions in Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher. This is a must-see for any newcomer to the island. It will take about a half-day to complete a tour but it will be time well-spent. The cliffs are dramatic and there is an amazing visitor center that offers yet more interesting information about the area. While you're there don't forget to look for the puffins during spring and summer months.
3. Visit Killarney National Park
It's a great idea to visit the town of Killarney in County Kerry, but while you're there, make time to visit the Killarney National Park. This is Ireland's first national park and it was established in 1932 when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish Free State in that year. This i sone of the most beautiful places to see in all of Ireland and while here, you will learn a great deal about the history of Ireland and get a feel for the land and the culture. You can go on hikes while you're there if you enjoy walking.
2. Go to Muckross House
Muckross House is a must-see for all first-time visitors to Ireland. This historic site is a 19th-century mansion that is fully furnished and set among woodlands and mountains. While there visit Muckross Traditional Farms where you are welcome to dive right in and get hands-on experience learning how to make butter. You can also milk a cow, learn about how traditional Irish houses were built over 100 years ago, learn about Peat and how it was grown and used as fuel. At Muckross, you'll find a shop, cafe, and several working farms where tourists are always welcome and you can even take part in the processes at some of the locations. This is a great learning and experiential adventure for families of all ages.
1. Spend the night in an ancient castle
Although Lismore Castle is a little high for the average tourist, there are a lot of real and genuine Irish castles that are available for rental at more reasonable rates. For example, the Fairytale Mini Gothic Castle is available for a mere $115 per night. The castle was built in 1850 as the gatehouse for the Dover Castle Garrison. If you're interested in accommodations in a more ancient structure, then the Historic Cumbria Castle is available for a rental cost of $1,100 per week. This is actually considerably less than many hotels charge. The castle tower dates back in time to the era of the War of the Roses and it maintains many of the original features that existed during that time.
Written by Liz Flynn
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