Ireland is a country known for it’s incredible scenery and rich cultural history, which has made it a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. It’s a destination which can provide more than just sweeping vistas although they certainly shouldn’t be discounted. Ireland has lots to offer to travellers, whether they want to spend time in nature or just relax and leave responsibilities, and itineraries behind.
5 Best Places to Visit in Ireland
1. The National Botanical Gardens
The National Botanical Gardens in Dublin were founded in 1795 and since then they’ve served a variety of purposes. From its original aim of promoting scientific approaches to agriculture, the gardens now see their purpose split between 6 values of conservation, education, science, reference, demonstration and recreation. So there’s something for everyone at the National Botanical Gardens whether you’re looking to see plant species that no longer exist in the wild in the gardens living collection, or just to enjoy walking around the grounds taking it all in.
2. Sean’s Bar
If all that walking made you thirsty then you might want to check out Sean’s Bar. From the outside, you might wonder what it is about Sean’s Bar that would set it apart from any other pub in Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter. Well, Sean’s Bar has a claim to fame that other bars might struggle to live up to.
The bar claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland and Europe, with an apparent establishing date of 900AD. Although some have disputed the bar’s actual age, in 2020 it was officially recognised by the Guinness book of world records who gave it the official stamp. I think we can all agree that this gives Sean’s Bar a unique appeal as a place to relax with a drink. The bar is also a live music venue so if you time it right, you’ll be able to enjoy a little extra atmosphere.
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3. St Colman’s Cathedral
Like any country with a lot of history behind it, you can find some incredible architecture in the Irish counties. A great example of this is St Colman’s Cathedral in Cork. With construction completed in 1919, the 4th tallest church in Ireland is a beautiful example of gothic revival architecture. It’s also the only church in Ireland that contains a Carillion.
The cathedral is still active and as covid-19 rates have begun to subside in Ireland, it’s now once again open to those who wish to attend mass which is held in the cathedral daily. If you’re interested in seeing the cathedral but can’t fit it in to your travel plans, the parish website live streams each mornings mass so you can get a taste of what you’d see if you attended.
4. The Cliffs of Moher
If you prefer your structural marvels to be more natural than man made however, you should check out the Cliffs of Moher. At 8 miles long and 700ft high (roughly 70 stories high) they’re truly a sight to behold, and form part of the UNESCO Global Geopark. While it is possible to walk to see the cliffs, and of course, they can be seen by boat if you happen to sail that way, the simplest way to appreciate them is from O’Briens Tower.
The tower was built in 1835, specifically to cater for tourists who wanted to view the cliffs, and it’s been serving this purpose ever since. You should also take the time to check out the specially designed visitors centre. It’s built into one of the hillsides at the cliffs and boasts a range of activities for those that want to learn more about the history of the cliffs.
The entry fee is low, and will also help to maintain the walkways and the visitor centre itself. The cliffs are also accessible to those with mobility issues with disabled parking spaces available, and electric vehicles on site to transport those with any difficulties to the viewing areas.
5. The Guinness Storehouse
Of course, we can’t talk about visiting Ireland, without mentioning Guinness. Ireland and ‘The Black Stuff’ are inextricably linked, and what better way to appreciate it, than by paying a visit to the home of Guinness itself?
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin was originally built as a fermentation plant for the Guinness brewery but today stands as a tribute to the brew itself. As well as relaxing in the rooftop bar, you can book several different experience packages that include tastings, and will let you know more about the history of Guinness and their founder, Arthur Guinness.
No matter how you choose to spend your time in Ireland, there’s always plenty of options for you, especially if you don’t mind a little travel.
Remember however, if you’re coming from a country outside the EU/EEA, you may need to obtain a tourist visa in order to visit the country.
Imogen Loveday is a writer for the Immigration Advice Service.