Visiting Ireland falls on many people’s to-do lists. Perhaps it is the unbelievable scenery one gets from the place, or maybe the beautiful castles you can explore (with some hotels being based at the castles, you also have the opportunity to sleep in a castle. Imagine that!). There is also the infectious pubs and music that is sure to excite any tourist and of course, locals. These are just some of the things one can get up to while in Ireland and it is safe to say that perhaps one can get a little overwhelmed with where to start.
Driving across the country is something many choose to do. The country itself is not that large and the spectacular views will definitely make it worth it. But while you’re busy road-tripping across this beautiful land, you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on any fun stuff to do along the way. Yes, you might have an idea on some activities to do but trust us when we say – Ireland is full of adventure for the adventurous. We now bring you the 20 things to do when you’re road-tripping in Ireland, to make sure that you have the ultimate experience in the country.
20 Be Brave And Cross Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
We’re starting the list off with perhaps the most daring thing to do on the list because hey, You Only Live Once, right? If you’re the type who needs a bit of a thrill while out on vacation, then Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge might just be the perfect item to add to your Ireland visit. The rope bridge links the mainland to the island of Carrickarede, which means – rock of the casting. At first glance, this may look like any other suspense bridge but for the brave, you might be interested in knowing that the bridge is actually 98ft above the rocks below. So two words - good luck.
19 Horse Ride On Beaches In Sligo
Sligo is located within Connacht, a Western Province of Ireland so if you’re driving along that side of the country, you might not want to drive by too fast as there are plenty of things to do there. If you happen to be in the area in October, you can enjoy the Sligo Live, which is a festival which occurs annually. July is also the perfect time to be in the area as the Sligo Jazz Project is something to look forward to. If you’re more interested in heading out to the beach, then perhaps going horseback riding while watching the incredible sunset should be on your to-do list.
18 Experience Live Traditional Irish Music At The Temple Bar
Traditional Irish music is enjoyed not only by tourists but by locals as well. Dublin is the capital of Ireland and as a result, receives a lot of tourists. If you’re interested in having the perfect mixture of Dublin and Traditional Irish music, then you can head to one of the many pubs in the city which offer that, including The Temple Bar. This is a great opportunity to park your vehicle for a moment, mix and mingle with locals, enjoy the food and drinks, and of course, get to experience the Irish music that many love. This is a definite must-do for anyone looking to have an authentic Irish experience.
17 Explore The Titanic Museum
If you’re part of the millions of people worldwide who were captivated by this James Cameron classic in 1997, then heading to the Titanic Museum in Belfast will be an experience of a lifetime. The Titanic Museum is worth a stop. You will have the opportunity to explore the shipyard, walk its decks and explore more of this ill-fated ship that struck an iceberg and lost many lives. The museum has 9 interactive galleries and it has around 130 000 sq feet of floor space, so you will definitely get your money’s worth as you get to see the reinvented famous shipyard.
16 Visit The Ancient Newgrange Site
When people think of Ireland, there is plenty that first comes to mind. There is definitely the greenery, the scenery and the amazing pubs we’ve already mentioned. One thing you might not already know about Ireland is that it is home to a historic tomb that dates back to around c.3,200BC.
Newgrange is a passage tomb that is circular and made up of water-rolled stones from terraces. This Newgrange can be found in Ireland’s Meath County and it should definitely get recognition as it is older than the more popular Stonehenge and Egyptian Pyramids. Stop by this heritage site and appreciate some of the country’s history.
15 Have Fun Walking The Path Of Giants
This peculiar causeway can be found in Antrim, Ireland. Legend has it that the stepping stone columns were built by a giant named Fionn Mac Cumhaill because he wanted to fight against another giant, Fenian Cycle, and the pathway was built so that the two giants could meet. Geology tells us that 50 to 60 million years ago, the area experienced intense volcanic activity and the mix of lava and cooling of the lava on the sand resulted in the causeway. Whichever story you might choose to believe, park your car for a moment and have some fun on this Giant's Causeway as it is sure to be a fun stretch by the beach.
14 Cycle Along Great Western Greenway
Driving is great and all but sometimes you’re unable to fully experience a town or city while you’re locked up in your vehicle. This is perhaps the reason why some people decide to walk more. If you’re not really into walking but still want the fresh air associated with it, then maybe you should consider cycling for a moment.
The Great Western Greenway has amazing scenery, perfect to view with your bicycle. You will get to see the historic towns and learn a little about their history, experience the breathtaking bays, as well as appreciate some of the scenery that Ireland is well-known for.
13 Cool Down At Bloody Bridge
This is another bridge to experience in Ireland but don’t worry, unlike the death-defying Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge earlier mentioned, this one will not give you any anxiety. In fact, this bridge might just be what you’re looking for after a long day of driving and you’re interested in doing nothing more than just relaxing and learning a lot about the country’s historical battles.
Bloody Bridge can be found in the Mourne Mountains and is among the popular landmarks in the area. Just like you might have guessed, the Bridge derives its name from many incidents that occurred there that were less than “peaceful”. You can take a stroll there and appreciate the country’s history.
12 Explore Jerpoint Abbey
We’ve already mentioned how Ireland will give you not only beautiful scenery but unbelievable history. A trip to Jerpoint Abbey will definitely prove that to be true. The site offers ruins from the 12th Century so if you’re a history or archaeology fanatic, this is one stop you will absolutely want to make as you’re driving across Ireland.
The church is of Romanesque details. If you’re wondering why you should visit this particular site, according to Heritage Ireland, “In the transept chapels the visitor can see 13th to 16th-century tomb sculpture. The chief delight of the Abbey is the sculptured cloister arcade with unique carvings”.
11 Spot Some Whales In West Cork
According to Ireland.com, West Cork is described as “one of the last bastions of ‘old Ireland’; a pocket of pretty towns, deserted beaches and jutting peninsulas and island frontiers”. With a description like that, before even seeing the place or knowing what one can get up to there, we’ll understand if you are in a hurry to add this stop to your Ireland Itinerary.
There are villages in the area that you can explore so you can get to experience the Irish village life. If you’re tired of land and would like to head out to the waters, you can enjoy some whale watching in West Cork and the most amazing part is that to date, there have been 24 species of whales and dolphins found in the waters.
10 Excite Your Inner Nerd At Trinity College
So we’re halfway through the list now and with all the scenery, bike riding, rope on bridge crossing, giant causeway hopping and many other activities we’ve already mentioned, it is understandable for you to want to take a little bit of a break. Since you’ll be on holiday, a break doesn’t necessarily mean to sleep in all day – a break just means “do an activity that is not so physically demanding”. Well, you can achieve that by heading on out to Trinity College in Dublin and being exposed to an abundance of books, including The Book Of Kells, which is a manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament and dates back to the 9th century. This Book is in Latin so can also get to test your how good your Latin is.
9 Stop By Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is a must-see on your road-tripping adventure in Ireland. As you might have guessed, the castle is located in Dublin (of course). What you might not have been aware of though, is how it has served for centuries as the headquarters of British administration in Ireland. It was later handed to the Irish administration after the country gained its independence in 1922. If you’re in the city of Dublin, then make sure to book yourself a ticket and explore the castle as well as other fun activities in the area. An interesting fact is that numerous films and TV shows have been shot there, including The Tudors, The Medallion and Michael Collins.
8 Head To Skellig Michael - For The Star Wars Fans
If you’re road-tripping in Ireland and are interested in being transported to a galaxy far, far away, then perhaps heading out to Skellig Michael will fulfil that fantasy. Skellig Micheal is located in the Irish County of Kerry and it is known for its steep landscape. There is plenty to do on the island as Skellig Island explains, “Learn about the Island’s amazing 1500 year old monastic history, abundant wildlife and stunning coastal setting”. For the Star Wars fans out there, you might have seen a glimpse of the island in your favorite movie franchise. You’ll appreciate it as it is Luke Skywalker’s island exile of Ahch-To.
7 Explore Ring Of Kerry
If you’ve planned a trip to Ireland, then perhaps you might have already heard of the “Ring of Kerry”. If not, then you’ll definitely want to keep on reading so that you can have an awesome, fulfilling vacation. There are plenty of sights and activities to explore along this path so it is perhaps the perfect item on this list for a road-tripping adventure. The road takes you through 10,000 years of history and goes from the deep forest to the wild Atlantic. TheRingOfKerry details all the activities and sites to see, including the parks and nature along the path.
6 Don't Forget Saint Canice's Cathedral
This item on the list will be much appreciated by the spiritual and religious travelers. The Cathedral is also at times referred to as Kilkenny Cathedral. It is in Dublin and is the Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It dates back to the 13th century and has one of the medieval three round towers that can still be climbed in Ireland.
If you’re interested in reading and being more informed while at the Cathedral, there is a Library on site, which was established in 1693 and contains plenty of theological documents and artifacts from the 17th and 18th centuries. There is also burial site which has the graves of many of its previous Bishops.
5 Visit An Irish Pub
A visit to Ireland is simply incomplete without heading to an Irish pub. It’s like going to Africa and not experiencing a safari. It’s like going to Jamaica, the Bahamas, and many other beautiful islands and not going to the beach. In simple terms – If you go to Ireland and not visit an Irish pub, even if for just a couple of hours, then you’ve perhaps missed out on have an all-around, complete Irish experience.
The Irish are famous for their lively, fun and sometimes musical pubs and lucky for you, there is an array of pubs to choose from so you will be spoilt for choice. This is an awesome item to add onto your itinerary at the end of a long, site-seeing day.
4 Don't Forget To Take In The Views At Cliffs Of Moher
This article has mentioned a few times about the amazing views that one can expect at different places in Ireland. You can perhaps say that Cliffs of Moher is the ultimate must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy the Irish views. The Cliffs of Moher highlights that you will “see the rugged cliffs facing the mighty ocean, taste the salt air, hear the birds cry, feel the ancient rocks beneath your feet, smell the wind”. The Cliffs of Moher can be found at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way and just like all the images suggest, you will undoubtedly receive epic image after epic image.
3 Head to Little Museum Of Dublin
The Little Museum of Dublin is often described as a “hidden gem in Ireland” so if you’re looking for a special place to visit that is unique and extra special, then you definitely want to head out to this museum. You will definitely get your money and time’s worth as it is loved by both locals and tourists.
The Irish Times rated it as “Dublin’s best museum experience” and TripAdvisor also puts it top in the list of museums to visit in Ireland. A visit there will help you learn more about the beautiful country you’ve just explored and since it is “little”, make sure that you book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment as there is limited space available.
2 Quench Your Thirst At Guinness Storehouse
Okay, so we’ve already covered how a trip to Ireland is simply incomplete without heading out to a pub or two (or three, four…Who’s counting?) because Irish pubs are arguably some of the best in the world. Well, there would be no pubs without some beer, right? So it is perhaps safe to say, that a trip to Ireland is also incomplete without going to where this pub obsession all started. Guinness Storehouse comes at number 2 on the list because it is a must-see and experience while you’re in Dublin. This is a popular tourist attraction so expect to meet plenty of other visitors and maybe you can make friends as you explore the factory that covers seven floors shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness.
1 Photo Op Through The Dark Hedges
This item is number 1 on the list because we’re in a social media and digital era where a trip has to be filled with plenty of amazing pics to share. We’ve covered plenty of places that offer you amazing scenery in Ireland so you might think that you’re covered, but trust us, this is the ultimate photo op. in Ireland because it is simply majestic and needs to be captured - frame by frame. The Dark Hedges have beech trees along its path and has been a popular tourist attraction, also attracting the phenomenal HBO series Game of Thrones so get your phone out as you drive along this scenic path that you’ll remember forever.