Single Parent Holiday Ideas Travel Blog

10 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

With its stunning scenery, ancient history, and friendly locals, Ireland is a country that should be on every family’s bucket list, whether you are travelling solo, as a single parent or with friends. There is so much to discover here: Along the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s 1600-mile-long coastal route, stunning peninsulas feature golden sandy beaches and rugged black cliffs, with rock formations dating back hundreds of millions of years. Just a little further inland rolling green hills and wild loughs surrounded by castle ruins and a landscape dotted with medieval towns give way to beautiful panoramic views. To ensure you don’t miss out on the top sights, here are our best 10 places to visit in Ireland:

Our 10 favourite spots for your Ireland itinerarypuffins in Ireland

1. Must-see: the Cliffs of Moher

There is a reason the Cliffs of Moher are the number one place to visit in Ireland and its most popular tourist attraction: The panoramic views are simply breathtaking. The visitor centre – complete with interactive games for the kids – gives you an insight into how the 300-million-year-old rocky coastline developed, but also has educational value for both adults and kids with fun facts about the flora and the fauna of this beautiful area. Don’t forget to ask for binoculars at reception before you enter the visitor centre. These will help you spot nesting birds in the cliffs or whales, basking sharks, and seals in the sea. If you are lucky, you might even spot a dolphin, as well as nesting puffins if you are visiting between late May and mid-July.

Whilst wildlife spotting may excite the kids, the main reason so many visitors flock to the Cliffs of Moher each year are the spectacular vistas. The majestic black cliffs are a truly breathtaking sight, and on a clear day you can see the Aran islands in the distance. Safe pathways let you walk to a number of viewing points in both directions. You could walk north all the way to the pretty colourful village of Doolin, but it will, most likely, take you 3 hours. If you have mobility issues on the other hand, the site is very much accessible and you can even ask to be taken for a spin around the cliffs on one of their new electric buggies.Cliffs of Moher, best 10 places to visit in Ireland

2. Take the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a scenic coastal route that follows the country’s rugged, western coast for more than 1,500 miles, from the remote, weather-beaten beauty of Malin Head in Donegal to the charming fishing village of Kinsale in Cork. You join the route, which is clearly signposted at any point in either a southerly or a northerly direction stopping at breathtaking viewpoints, lighthouses, ancient ring forts, stone circles, castle ruins, beaches, and pretty seaside towns along the way. You will see some of the best places in Ireland by just following the signs for the Wild Atlantic Way!

One of the prettiest and most popular sections of the Wild Atlantic Way are the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Skellig. The latter is nothing but a much less travelled extension of the Ring of Kerry taking you all the way to Valentia Island, the beautiful Ballinskelligs beach, and the town of Portmagee. If you have the time, you could take a boat trip from Portmagee to the Skellig Islands. If it’s nesting season for the Puffins, this is an experience not to miss!Calentia Island, Ring of Skellig, Ireland

The Ring of Kerry is the better-known route starting inland in Killarney and taking you all the way around to Kenmare. The towns of Killarney and Kenmare are not exactly must-sees in our view, but the beautiful scenery in Killarney National Park make a visit worthwhile: There are plenty of walking trails, castles, lakes and waterfalls here and if you are not mobile, you could always take one of the many jaunting cars waiting for customers outside Muckross Mansion and Ross Castle.

3. Explore the wild beauty of Connemara

Connemara is located in the western part of County Galway bordering the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a wild and mountainous region of mesmerizing beauty.

Some of the best places to visit here include the 2000-hectares Connemara National Park, which boasts slate-coloured lakes, heaths, bogland, and picturesque mountains. It is a mesmerising place for hiking and cycling, fishing, and horse riding. Other must-sees are Killary Harbour, the only fjord in Ireland forming a natural border between Galway and Mayo, the magnificent and tranquil Kylemore Abbey with its 6-acre Victorian walled garden, and the Alcock and Brown landmark at Clifden, which honours the landing place of the first direct transatlantic flight in 1919. Don’t forget to take the kids to some of the amazing beaches in Connemara, such as Dog’s Bay Beach and Lettergesh beach.Connemara National Park, Letterfrack, Ireland

4. Lose your heart in Dublin

Dublin is a must-see on any Ireland itinerary. The Irish capital brims with charm, culture, art, and character. Cobbled alleyways with countless authentic pubs and friendly locals give the city a village feel and add to its unique character. Dublin’s cultural and historical landmarks include the impressive St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, and Trinity College Dublin, the oldest surviving university in Ireland, which houses the Book of Kells.

Whether you are a die-hard stout fan or not, you should visit the Guinness Storehouse to learn about the story of Ireland’s most iconic beer. You can book different visitor experiences, which include a tour of the functional brewery and sampling a pint that has been expertly poured.

Needless to say, a visit of Dublin is not complete without live Irish folk music. You can watch some great street performers in Grafton Street and other corners of Dublin or visit one of the many authentic pubs playing live Irish music. The Temple Bar neighbourhood is popular with young British tourists, as well as the locals. Of all the best places to visit in Ireland, if Dublin doesn’t steal your heart, we don’t know what will!Dublin, Ireland

5. Visit the Newgrange tomb

The 5200-year-old passage tomb or ancient temple, as some archaeologists call it, can be found in Ireland’s Bourne Valley, just 26 miles outside Dublin. A World Heritage Site, it is several hundred years older than the Great Pyramids and 1000 years older than Stonehenge! And it truly is one of the best monuments of its kind: a grassy mound of an impressive 85 m wide and 13 m high and surrounded by no less than 97 large kerbstones and an intricately engraved Megalith at the entrance. A 19 m long passageway takes you into a cruciform chamber with two side chambers and another at the rear. The opening above the entrance is deliberately aligned with the rising sun on the mornings of the Winter Solstice on 21 December. The skill, time, and labour invested into building the domed monument, which still stands today without reinforcement must have been enormous, not least if you take into account that tools and weapons of that time were made solely of stone.

Needless to say. Newgrange is a place of great mystery and would have been an important place for spiritual ceremonies. We also know that it would have served as a burial site, whilst the perfectly arranged stones would have served as a solar calendar with winter solstice marking the beginning of the new year.

6. Come to cosmopolitan Cork

If your holiday takes you to the beautiful South, this city should definitely feature in your Ireland itinerary: Locals would most certainly say that Cork is the best place to visit in Ireland. After all, the citizens of the second largest city on the Emerald Isle only half-jokingly call it the “true capital of Ireland”.

Cork has a cosmopolitan feel about it, with its vibrant art galleries, quirky coffee shops and quaint pubs. The English Market, a food mecca where Corkonians have been trading and shopping since 1788, the Glucksman Gallery on the premises of the University College Cork, and the Crawford Gallery housed in the 18th-century Customs House are just a few of the must-sees in this thriving merchant city. The St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is another sight not to miss and just by St. Patrick’s Street, Cork’s main shopping street.

Cobh, a town on an island in Cork city’s harbour is another pretty sight with its colourful “Deck of Cards houses”. It is also known as an  embarkation point during Ireland’s mass emigrations and the Titanic’s final port of call in 1912 before its journey to New York.Cobh Cork, Ireland

7. Kiss the Blarney Stone

Irish storytelling was a form of entertainment in ancient Ireland. Without the Irish storytellers, much of Irish history, folklore, myth, and legend would have been lost. One such tradition that has been around for a few hundred years is kissing the Blarney Stone. The stone is set in a wall of Blarney Castle. Countless legends surround the origin of the Blarney Stone. As it happens geologists found out that the famous rock isn’t from a faraway place as legend has it but made of 330-million-year-old local limestone. What has survived is the belief that kissing the Blarney Stone will give a person the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness.

Blarney Castle itself is a large tower house, built by the McCarthy family between the 15th and 17th century with two towers and thick walls. The castle is surrounded by lovely gardens, which include a hidden poison garden with highly poisonous plants such as Ricin, Wolfsbane and Mandrake. The castle and gardens are open all year round and well worth a visit – not just to kiss the Blarney Stone and never again be lost for words!Blarney Castle, Ireland

8. Hop on a boat to the Saltee Islands

From Kilmore Quay, take a ferry or boat to the Saltee Islands, a pair of ancient islands, which are located 5 kilometres off the coast of Kilmore Quay, a village in County Wexford. The Great Saltee and the Little Saltee are uninhabited, with the exception of the family owning them. A protected habitat, they are home to over 200 bird species including Gannets, Puffins, fulmars, razorbills, gulls, and Manx shearwater, which migrate and/or nest here at various periods of the year. A sizable population of grey seals, which are charming to look at, also find refuge there in the autumn breeding around 20 pups a year. A daily ferry service from Kilmore Quay to the Great Saltee runs from April to October. You must pre-book your place well in advance especially in the peak summer months.Saltee Islands

9. Views from the Rock of Cashel

Another one of Ireland’s most visited attractions is the Rock of Cashel, also known as St. Patrick’s Rock, which is located in County Tipperary not far from Cashel Town. The ancient site in Golden Vale consists of a limestone outcrop, on which a group of medieval buildings sit. These tower 200 feet above the surrounding farmland offering amazing views. The oldest remaining buildings are a 28-m high round tower from the 12th century and a Gothic Cathedral from the 13th century. The site was the seat of the King of Munster but was later donated to the church.

10. Have it all in Kilkenny

 Only 50 minutes away from the Rock of Cashel, you will find the charming town of Kilkenny, with its maze of cobbled streets and alleyways. The medieval city really has it all: heritage and history at every turn, an iconic 12th century castle, beautiful woodlands and parks, and a discovery trail running through the city. If you have had enough of cathedrals, abbeys, and castles, don’t worry – in Kilkenny you can admire the architecture along the River Nore, shop till you drop for arts and crafts, sample some authentic Irish dishes or immerse yourself in the nightlife.Kilkenny in Ireland

Final words

If Ireland was not yet on your bucket list, we hope it is now! It truly has something for everyone: ancient history, gorgeous scenery, rare bird species and plenty of – sheep! The locals are super friendly, and we found that the roads were quiet even in the middle of August. This meant that we were able to stop often to admire the beautiful scenery and stroke a lamb, feed some goats, and admire donkeys and wild ponies. So, whether you are going on a road trip through Ireland or staying at a holiday cottage for your single parent holiday, expect it to be a stress-free experience.

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