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The Top Irish Tourist Attractions in 2018

If you ask us, everyone should visit Ireland at least once in their life.

 

We know we might be slightly biased but after the recent Lonely Planet 2018 award, for Belfast and the Causeway Coast, we think it’s fair to say 2018 is the year to make that happen!

 

To help you plan, or to nudge you will even more inspiration, we’ve listed the top Irish tourist attractions for 2018 below. Enjoy! 

The Wild Atlantic Way

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Over the last half decade Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has become a star attraction on the Emerald Isle. 

Whilst this glorious stretch of rugged coastline, stretching from Cork to Donegal, has always been popular with locals and tourists alike, it’s gained even more of a reputation since its official naming.

You can read more about the Wild Atlantic Way here. 

Cliffs of Moher

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Arguably the most popular tourist attraction on the Wild Atlantic Way, and most likely all of Ireland, are the Cliffs of Moher. 

You can find the cliffs in County Clare, a short distance from the likes of Galway, Limerick and Ennis, and when you do prepare to revel in the sheer scale of them!

At the highest point the Cliffs of Moher stand approximately 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean below so if you’re scared of heights…don’t look down!

Galway

As previously mentioned, Galway is just a short distance from the Cliffs of Moher and well worth a visit during your time in the west of Ireland. 

The city features the likes of Eyre Square and the Galway City Museum for tourists but is mostly known as being one of, if not the best, spots in the country for the arts and particularly live traditional Irish music. 

Ring of Kerry

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Still on the west, but quite a bit further south, is the incredible Ring of Kerry. 

This 111 mile loop around Kerry, featuring the likes of Killarney, the Gap of Dunloe, Molls Gap, Muckross Abbey and Skellig Michael will expose you to some of Ireland’s best natural sights, sounds and experiences on offer. Highly recommended at any time of the year but particularly during the summer months, even if it is busier.

You can read more about the Ring of Kerry here. 

The Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route, which can be found right at the top of Ireland’s north coast, is 120 miles of twisting, turning, incredible panoramic views right on the edge of the island. 

As you journey along the route you’ll stop in idyllic coastal villages like Cushendun and Carnlough, explore the glorious natural beauty of the Glens of Antrim and discover a few famous attractions along the road as well…

You can read more about the Causeway Coastal Route here. 

The Giant's Causeway

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One of those attractions, of course, is famous The Giant’s Causeway. 

For some The Giant’s Causeway is a natural wonder, something uniquely created by earths changing landscapes millions of years ago. For others it was hand built, by the infamous local giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, as a bridge to cross the Irish Sea towards Scotland.

The Giant’s Causeway welcomed an incredible 1 million guests in 2017! Join them and discover the real story for yourself and remember, this is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world that you can climb and clamber all over! 

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Just around the corner from The Giant’s Causeway, and still on the Causeway Coastal Route, you’ll find Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge! 

This bridge started out life approximately 350 years ago and was first built by local salmon fishermen so they could better reach the tiny island just off the coast. At that point the bridge was no more than a few wooden slats with one hand rail for safety!

Thankfully the rope bridge is now perfectly safe although it does tend to shake and sway in the wind… Are you brave enough to cross?

Old Bushmills Distillery

Old Bushmills Distillery, found just off the Causeway Coastal Route in the sleepy village of Bushmills, is Ireland’s oldest working distillery and one of the oldest in the world! 

The land on which the distillery was built and now operates was first granted a distilling license by King James I way back in 1608!

When you visit, you can tour around a proper working distillery, try a little taste or two and sniff in those gorgeous aromas. Also, keep in mind that every bottle of Bushmills Whiskey you see, no matter where in the world, comes from this very site! 

The Dark Hedges

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Ten years ago The Dark Hedges were virtually unknown to outsiders and tourists, enjoyed only by local photographers and those locals “in the know”. 

Nowadays, in large part thanks to an appearance in Game of Thrones and the rise of image sharing online, The Dark Hedges are famous worldwide and visited daily.     

This iconic avenue of Beech Trees were first planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century as a beautiful entrance to their Georgian mansion Gracehill House. 

Dublin

Follow us as, for our next stop, we head south and visit the capital city of Dublin. 

Ah Dublin, Ireland’s fair city and a place where you can easily lose a few days to the craic of Temple Bar, the drama of Croke Park, beauty of St Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park and the history of Kilmainham Gaol and so much more.

Dublin, Ireland’s largest city and home to countless Irish stars of music, sport and culture, really doesn’t need much of an introduction so go off and get exploring! 

Temple Bar

The Temple Bar district of central Dublin is famous or infamous, throughout Ireland, depending on your opinion of packed pubs, plenty of drinking, loud music and parties into the night. 

During the late 1980s and early 1990s the area, then in wreck and ruin, became home to independent traders, small businesses, artists and galleries due to low rents. This selection of bohemia then attracted more and more tourists, pubs and hospitality and nowadays the district is top of the list for most young tourists visiting the city.

Go along, join in the craic but beware, this isn’t your spot for a quiet drink! 

St James Gate Guinness Brewery

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Chances are, no matter where in the world you come from, you’ve seen or tried a pint of the black stuff. 

Well, at St James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin you have the chance to see where the magic first happened way back in 1759, pour your own pint of Guinness and take a few snaps beside the famous gate along the way.

Since the Guinness Storehouse first opened its doors in 2000 it has welcomed over 4 million guests! 

Croke Park

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Imagine the noise 80,000 Irish men, women and children, decked out in the colours of their counties, can create when the eyes of a nation are watching and personal pride is on the line… 

Those lucky enough to visit Croke Park on All Ireland Final day don’t have to imagine and you can get your own small taste of this experience by visiting Croke Park during your time in Dublin. 

The Book of Kells at Trinity College

For something a little calmer we recommend visiting the Book of Kells exhibition at Trinity College, Dublin. 

The Book of Kells, which comprises 340 folios and features the four Gospels of the New Testament, is famed worldwide for its beauty, intricacy and detail and derives its name from the Abbey of Kells where it resided for centuries.

Belfast

17086 Belfast City Hall

We’ll return briefly to the north to visit beautiful old Belfast! 

Belfast, home to the Titanic, George Best, Van Morrison, more recently Game of Thrones, and countless other historical and cultural icons, is a city fit to bursting with life these days.

Grab a pint and a cosy snug in the Crown Bar, wander the cobbled streets of Cathedral Quarter, marvel at the architecture of Queen’s University Belfast, climb Cave Hill, see an Ulster Rugby game, do a Black Cab tour, visit St George’s Market and grab a Belfast Bap…

We’re out of breath even thinking about it all! Must be a good sign…

Titanic Belfast

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Built in the shipyards of Harland and Wolff and opened in 2012, exactly 100 years after the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912, Titanic Belfast is a tourist attraction, museum and monument to Belfast’s most famous export.

There are multiple exhibitions within Titanic Belfast as guests start at the top of the building and eventually descend to the bottom exploring every part of the doomed Ocean Liners story. 

Cathedral Quarter

Much like Dublin’s Temple Bar district, Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is known as a hive of activity throughout the year.

Here you’ll find the best eateries, pubs, clubs and cafes that Belfast has to offer as well as plenty of craic on the cobbled streets! 

City of Derry

Still in the north but over in the west you’ll find the city of Derry on the banks of the River Foyle. 

Wander around the streets of this historic old city see the likes of Free Derry Corner, the Derry Walls, Tower Museum and the Peace Bridge. The craic is so good in Derry that it was voted a City of Culture in 2013! 

Ireland's Ancient East

Ireland’s Ancient East might not claim quite as many headlines as the Wild Atlantic Way or Causeway Coastal Route but don’t be fooled by this area of the country. 

What it lacks in headline grabbing views it more than makes up in history, depth and culture and it’s especially perfect for those looking to stumble somewhat off the beaten track. 

The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel is a hugely significant site in Ireland’s history and mythology. 

The site, found in Cashel, County Tipperary, features a walled castle, chapel and cathedral, amongst other buildings, and was once considering the seat of the kings of Munster.

It is also reportedly the place where Saint Patrick converted the king of Munster at the time to Christianity. 

Newgrange

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Newgrange is possibly the most underrated tourist attraction in Ireland…in our humble opinions. 

The Newgrange site, found within Ireland’s Ancient East, is a Neolithic monument, temple or chamber, which is older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids!

It is believed the site had a religious significance and was connected to the passing of seasons as the entrances are perfectly aligned for the Winter Solstice

Cork

We finish our journey around Ireland’s top tourist attractions for 2018 with a visit to the city of Cork, right down in the south of the country. 

Cork, home to “Corkonians”, is sometimes known as the “real capital of Ireland” and of course the county is known to many as the “Rebel County”.

It’s this distinctive mindset, gorgeous architecture and the general feel of a university city (Cork is home to University College Cork UCC) that makes Cork such a lovely spot for a visit. 

The English Market

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One of Cork’s many highlights is The English Market. 

A market of sorts has been in operation on the site since way back in 1788 but is now most famous for its mid-19th century architecture, still standing today, and the mix of local delicacies and artisan produce on offer.

Perfect for a lazy day or a foodie looking for their latest fix! 

Cobh

Cobh

A visit to Cork wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Cobh. 

Cobh, which is Irish for “Cove”, was once known as Queenstown from 1849 to 1920 but is now known primarily as being a huge centre for emigration during the 19th and 20th centuries.

It’s estimated that 2.5 million Irish men, women and children left Cobh for new worlds between 1848 and 1950.

The seaport is also famous for its quaint, colourful houses and huge St Colman’s Cathedral which sits on the highest point in Cobh. 

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 Phew! That’s us done, beaten, finished…

This is as definitive a list of top Irish tourist attractions for 2018 that we can make without disappearing off on a wild road trip around the country to find all the other places we haven’t mentioned!

We know there are plenty of glorious little nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered way off the beaten track but for the here and now, this list should get you started!

If you’re planning a visit to the Emerald Isle this year remember to say hello!

Thanks for reading our blog! As a thank you, you can get 10% off any Irish plot of land by using the code: BLOG10

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