17 Epic Things to Do In Ireland [2024 Irish Bucket List]

The Emerald Isle is a land full of beautiful sights and unforgettable attractions. Here are 17 of the best things to do in Ireland.

You could fill an entire book with things to do in Ireland and still have to leave plenty out.

I loved the six months I spent there. But it’s hard not to! Ireland quickly pulls you in with its unique charm, history, and natural beauty.

Today, I want to highlight its best bits.

This list is by no means exhaustive. But it should cover most bases.

Whether planning a trip or simply putting ideas on your Irish bucket list, here are 17 of the best things to do in Ireland.

1. Explore Dublin

trinity college campus in Dublin, Ireland
Immerse yourself in knowledge and history at Dublin’s Trinity College… Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Ireland’s capital city is a great place to begin your trip. It’s dynamic, vibrant, and full of must-do activities. A few highlights include:

  • Guinness Storehouse tour – Learn all about Ireland’s most iconic beer, including its origins and brewing process
  • Kilmainham Gaol – Explore Ireland’s most notorious (former) prison, ranked one of the best museums in the world
  • Trinity College – Tour Ireland’s oldest university and see the famous 9th Century Book of Kells
  • Temple Bar – Enjoy a hive of activity, including bars, galleries, buskers, open-air markets, and the eponymous pub

2. Catch a Gaelic Game at Croke Park

Croke Park, Dublin
Croke Park, Dublin, is one of Ireland’s most iconic stadiums. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Another popular thing to do in Dublin is watch a game of hurling or Gaelic football at Croke Park. The self-proclaimed home of Ireland’s Gaelic Games, Croke Park offers a uniquely Irish experience that any sports fan will appreciate. You can find a complete list of fixtures here.

3. Explore the Wicklow Mountains

Wicklow mountains, Ireland
Have an adventure in the breathtaking landscapes of the Wicklow Mountains! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

An hour south of Dublin is the Wicklow Mountains, a popular spot that showcases Ireland’s characteristic natural beauty. Expect mountains, lakes, valleys with rivers coursing through them, and grassy plains full of life and color.

As you’d expect, there are hiking and biking trails aplenty here. And don’t miss the chance to visit Glendalough. The “Glen of Two Lakes,” as it’s known in Irish, is one of the country’s most picturesque places, famous for the monastic settlement founded here in the 6th Century.

4. Visit Giant’s Causeway

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Experience the legendary coastal wonder of Giant’s Causeway… Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

An iconic location comprised of 40,000 interlocking columns, Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular attractions in Northern Ireland.

The location of this UNESCO World Heritage site is epic, too. Massive cliffs provide an atmospheric backdrop, and the stormy North Atlantic Ocean stretches to the horizon. Wild and windy walks blessed with dramatic coastal views are the order of the day here.

5. Slieve League Cliffs

Slieve League Cliffs, Ireland
Hiking along the stunning cliffs of Slieve League is another unforgettable experience in Ireland. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Talking of wild coastal views, head to County Donegal on the Republic of Ireland’s northwest flank to visit Slieve League. Rising 600+ meters from rough seas below, they’re some of Europe’s highest and most impressive cliffs – rivaling the famed Cliffs of Moher (see below).

When the clouds clear, the views from the top of Slieve League are outstanding. A head for heights helps, but anyone can appreciate the rugged natural beauty of this stretch of the Irish coast.

6. Go to Achill Island

Achill Island, Ireland
Escape to Achill Island for an epic retreat amidst rugged landscapes and pristine beaches…Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The few days I spent surfing and exploring in Achill Island were a highlight of my time in Ireland. I’d go back in a heartbeat. If you love nature, cozy pubs, and old-school charm, it won’t let you down!

I’ll talk more about the Wild Atlantic Way later, but Achill Island’s a fantastic stop along it. After crossing the bridge from the mainland, you’ll have access to enchanting and untouched natural landscapes.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be in their element. Expect beach walks, surfing, coastal hikes…you name it. Seriously, I can’t recommend Achill Island enough as one of the best things to do in Ireland.

7. Ring of Kerry Road Trip

Ring of Kerry, Ireland
See the beauty of Ireland’s landscapes and villages on the iconic Ring of Kerry Road Trip. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Ring of Kerry is a 179km (111 mile) circuit around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. Yet that description really doesn’t do it justice! This is arguably the country’s most scenic drive.

Think of it as a highlights reel of Ireland’s best bits. The route takes you up epic mountain passes, past lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, and along dramatic stretches of coast. Cute towns dot the circuit, too, including the likes of Killarney, where the Ring of Kerry technically begins and ends.

8. Visit Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael, Ireland
Explore the ancient monastic site of Skellig Michael for another memorable things to do in Ireland. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Anyone looking for an adventure should go to Skellig Michael. This striking island off the coast of County Kerry is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featured in two Star Wars movies (the Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) and has an ancient monastic settlement on top.

Skellig Michael is the definition of rugged. It’s isolated, too, taking about an hour to get there by boat. I’ve read that it’s only open to visitors from May to September. Furthermore, there are tight controls on how many people can go, so book months ahead to secure your spot.

9. Go to Galway

Galway, Ireland
Create unforgettable memories in Ireland with a visit to the vibrant and charming city of Galway! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Galway is a beautiful city on the west coast renowned for its colorful buildings and lively artistic vibe.

It’s a fun place steeped in Celtic culture and traditions. If you want to drink, dance, sing, and enjoy the best of Irish music, then go to Galway! Sure, it’s busy and touristy, but that all adds to the atmosphere.

10. Tour the Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
The Dingle Peninsula is a breathtaking part of the country. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Located on the southwest Atlantic coast, the Dingle Peninsula lives up to its reputation as one of Ireland’s most stunning destinations. It’s raw, rugged, and windswept, with jagged cliffs, verdant hillsides, sandy beaches, and turbulent waters.

Slea Head Drive on the Wild Atlantic Way is the route that takes you around the Dingle Peninsula. It’s a twisting, turning, and breath-taking loop that starts and finishes in Dingle Town. It’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Ireland.

11. See the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, a must-see destination in Ireland. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Welcome to one of Ireland’s most popular attractions. This dramatic stretch of coast feels like the end of the earth. Sheer cliffs drop like some impenetrable rock fortress to stormy oceans below.

A hiking trail around the cliff edge offers sublime panoramic views, but you’ll get that iconic “Cliffs of Moher” shot next door to the visitor center (which is worth checking out, too). Weather permitting, you can spend a happy few hours here just walking and enjoying the scenery.

12. Kiss the Blarney Stone

Visiting and kissing the famous Blarney Stone is one the most unusual (yet popular) things to do in Ireland. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

One of the more “unique” things to do in Ireland is climb to the top of a castle, lay on your back, grasp two metal handrails, and kiss a stone. Sounds mad, but people travel from around the world to do it! Known as the Blarney Stone, they say kissing it grants you the gift of the gab.

The stone itself is in the once-mighty Blarney Castle. Its impressive ruins and surrounding gardens are worth visiting regardless of how you feel about the legendary rock set within its walls.

13. Go Surfing

surfing at Lahinch - things to do in Ireland
Catch some waves along the west coast, a must-do activity in Ireland! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Despite the icy waters (particularly over winter), surfing quickly became one of my favorite things to do in Ireland. There are loads of beginner-friendly spots perfect for learning. But experienced surfers will also have plenty to get their teeth stuck into.

One of the best spots for beginner to intermediate surfing (albeit in my very inexperienced opinion) was a small town called Lahinch on the west coast. The waves were consistently good, and a bunch of surf schools made hiring gear simple and affordable.

14. Visit Ancient Stone Circles

Uragh Stone Circle in Ireland
Ireland is full of captivating stone circles that date back thousands of years… Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

I constantly felt like I was in a real-life fairytale in Ireland. It just feels old and enchanting – a vibe that having hundreds of stone circles to explore helped create. These awe-inducing attractions are dotted around the country like chicken pox on a child.

They’re often in remote and beautiful places, too. For example, one of the most impressive was the Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara Peninsula. It sits on a grassy knoll between two lakes, surrounded by mountains, and seems to align with a waterfall in the distance. I highly recommend paying it a visit if you’re in the area.

15. Explore Ireland’s Castles

Kilkenny Castle in Ireland
Age-old fortresses like Kilkenny Castle offer a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s rich history. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Stone circles aren’t the only age-old stone attractions in Ireland. There are immense castles to explore, as well.

You’ll find them all over the country. Some “only” date back to the 19th Century, others were built in the 16th or 17th, and the oldest have stood for over 800 years. Yet all of them are sights to behold. Here are a few of the most impressive castles in Ireland:

  • Kinbane Castle – A 16th Century ruin perched dramatically on a rocky promontory called Kinbane Head in Northern Island
  • Kilkenny Castle – Kilkenny’s breath-taking castle dates back to 1195 and has become a significant tourist attraction
  • King John’s Castle – Located in Limerick, this 13th Century Norman castle casts a dominant silhouette overlooking the River Shannon

16. Drive the Wild Atlantic Way

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
Driving the Wild Atlantic Way is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Ireland… Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Wild Atlantic Way is a famous 2600km (1600 mile) route along Ireland’s western coast. It starts (or ends, depending on which direction you travel) on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal and ends in Kinsale, County Cork.

Along the way, you’ll stop at many of the iconic destinations described earlier on this list, including the Cliffs of Moher, Achill Island, the Dingle Peninsula, Galway, and a significant portion of the Ring of Kerry.

In other words, if you want an efficient way to tick most of the best things to do in Ireland off your bucket list, plan a road trip around the Wild Atlantic Way!

17. Listen to Traditional Irish Music at a Traditional Irish Pub

Don’t miss the chance to listen to traditional Irish music over a pint! Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Dancing, singing, and drinking are three things Irish people do incredibly well. So do yourself a favor and stop in at a bar or two (or five) on your Irish adventures – preferably one with live music playing.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be sitting sipping a Guinness or an Irish whiskey when a local pulls a fiddle out of nowhere and starts a singsong. Otherwise, whenever you get to a new place, keep an ear to the ground or ask around if any music is playing at the local watering hole.

Ireland small group tours
Joining some tours in Ireland is a fantastic way to elevate the experience. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Highly-Rated Tours and Activities in Ireland

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Tours are a fantastic way to explore destinations like Ireland, where there’s so much to see and do.

Whether you join a free walking tour of Galway, ride a hop-on hop-off bus in Dublin, pay for a guided tour of Kilkenny Castle, or all of the above, you’ll be chaperoned to the “best bits” in a time-efficient manner.

This helps you make the most of every precious minute and ensures you don’t miss anything. Better still, having a guide means you learn much more about each place than you would traveling alone.

Each of the Ireland tours and activities above is highly recommended. Be sure to check them out.

Dublin Castle in Ireland
Want a hassle-free way to explore Ireland? A guided tour could be ideal. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Explore Ireland the Easy Way

Moving around, finding accommodation, and deciding what to do in a new place can be a pain – especially when you lack time and are exploring a country as laden with activities as Ireland.

If you want a more straightforward way to see the best bits, you could join one of G Adventures’ small group tours.

For example, their Highlights of Ireland tour ticks off a number of the best places on this list, including Giant’s Causeway, Galway, and the Ring of Kerry. They also have an Iconic Ireland tour that sticks to the Republic of Ireland and a Castles Folklore & Gaelic Traditions tour for families.

Each one takes you to a curated list of top Irish attractions and handles your transport, accommodation, and activities, too.

In other words, you get an epic trip to Ireland with zero hassle.

Never heard of G Adventures? Don’t worry; you’d be in good hands. This trusted tour company has been a leader in small-group adventure travel for almost 30 years.

They take people all over the world, using local guides to showcase the very best of each country. Expect unique experiences in stunning destinations, with logistics taken care of and a group of like-minded companions to share the adventure with.

Here’s a Reddit thread where people who have been on their tours discuss what they liked/disliked.

Click here to learn more about their trips to Ireland.

Enjoy the Best Things to Do in Ireland

As you can tell, there’s no shortage of incredible things to do in Ireland! With any luck, this list will help you decide how to spend your time there.

Whether exploring its lively towns/cities, driving around the Ring of Kerry, visiting Achill Island, or simply sipping Guinness at a pub, you’re sure to leave this beautiful country with some unforgettable memories.

The only thing left to do is decide when to visit Ireland

Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.