Welcome to the greenest and most beautiful island on earth, the land of culture, history, and romantic landscapes one of the popular holiday destinations in Europe; Ireland. Despite its small size, Ireland could be a true sight for sore eyes, offering monuments and natural beauty in full bloom. If it is the first time to visit Ireland, don’t worry; we did the research for you. It was overwhelming because there is an ordinate number of historic places and tourist-attractions. We chose what we believe to be the best Irish landmarks that are definitely worth the visit.
1. The Blarney Stone
With no doubt, the Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions, built nearly 600 years ago. Go back in time to the Medieval Ages through a tour across the castle, with its rambling green gardens, dark dungeons, and passageways. It is also home to the famous Blarney Stone, attracting numerous tourists, who queue up to kiss this stone. All you have to do is find the legendary stone at the top of the tower, lean backward, and kiss the stone to be bestowed “the gift of the gab.”
According to an ancient legend, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the castle’s builder, was involved in a lawsuit back in the 15th century. So, the goddess Cliodhna advised him to kiss the first stone he sees before going to court. Surprisingly, he won the case and it’s been believed that the stone “has the ability to deceive without offending” since then. Millions of people have bought tickets to perform the ritual of kissing the Stone, including the world’s statesmen. However, I must warn you, the queues can be so long, so be patient and revel in the weather.
2. The Haunted Leap Castle
If you seek a paranormal experience or feel thrilled on hearing spooky, ghostly stories, this trip is certainly for you. The most haunted building in Ireland is known for its tumultuous history of murders within its walls. According to the myth, a man killed his brother, a priest at the castle’s chapel. That’s why it’s been named the “Bloody Chapel,” and the betrayed priest has inhabited the castle since then.
Leap Castle_Offaly (10) by Laois Cyclist:Flickr [link]
As you wander through the halls of the place, you can hear footsteps, whispers, and the sound of doors opened and closed. You would possibly feel the presence of someone or a weight pressing against your body. It is completely normal. They are the spirits of people who got murdered inside the castle. Some people claimed they could see an old man, two young girls, and a terrified woman who screams twice before disappearing. Another apparition, the red lady is always seen roaming the castle in a red dress, carrying a dagger. If you are brave enough, visit the supernatural spirits within the “Murder Hole Room.” But, please don’t provoke the spirits, especially the red lady. Exciting, right?
3. The Prehistoric Monument Newgrange
One of Ireland’s wonders, Newgrange passage grave dates back to the Neolithic period, so it is older than the pyramids and Stonehenge. You’ll be standing ahead of a monument built around 3200 BC. The larger stones are stuffed with megalithic carvings from circles, spirals, dot-in-circles, and more. Although historians couldn’t know exactly what its purpose was, it has considerable historic importance.
Some people believe that it had religious significance at that time. The foremost noted highlight is the “roof box,” which aligns with the sunlight, illuminating the tomb’s chamber in the mornings of the Winter Solstice. Guarded as the “great national monument of Ireland,” it must be included on any tourist’s bucket list.
4. The Mighty Cliffs of Moher
Get yourself to the cliffs of Moher and you will be stunned with the natural beauty, standing proudly above the Atlantic Ocean. The impressive cliffs are among the top tourist attraction sites in Ireland, with 1.5 million visitors annually. It’s not only a historic landmark but also a geological wonder. Its natural richness stretches for eight kilometres, offering magical views of Ireland’s West Coast. Enjoy a scenic walk across the trail to soak up the view; otherwise, you can take a ferry to view the cliffs from the water. Now, I am going to depict the scene; you are standing at a height of 120 metres in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean between the meadows of green grass.
Close your eyes and enjoy the atmosphere, as you hear the waves crash over and over against the shale and sandstone. On a clear, sunny day, you will be able to see the Aran Islands, the Twelve Pins, and Maumturks mountains. If you like cliffs, pass by the “Slieve League Cliffs,” which are the highest sea cliffs in Ireland.
5. UNESCO Site of Killarney National Park
If you’re an adventurous, wildlife lover, explore the first national park in Ireland, Killarney National Park. Considered as the natural treasure of the Kerry region, the park has a high ecological value that is worth mentioning. It is home to about 900 wild, red deer, the remaining native herd in Ireland. The diversity of its inhabitants, a wide variety of species, and native forests are what make this park unique. As you roam the park, you can see massive swathes of oak, yew, and ash forest.
You’ll also be mesmerized with the gorgeous Lakes of Killarney, as the water mirrors the tops of the Purple Mountains. To explore the 102.89 squared kilometres of the park, follow the winding lanes or the cycling paths. A boat trip is an interesting choice too. You are probably wondering what might exist in such a wide area. Count with me. You can visit the Dinis Cottage, Inisfallen Islands, Ladies View, Muckross House, the Old Weir Bridge, Ross Castle, and more. I’m excited already!
6. The Ring of Kerry
You can’t be in Kerry and not explore the very popular tourist attraction 179-kilometre-long Ring of Kerry. Hop into the car! We are heading to Ireland’s most scenic drive route. It’s actually much more than an ordinary driving route. It’s an iconic combination of history, majestic landscapes, and sweeping mountains, accompanied by the crashing waters of the Atlantic to complete the perfect picture.
The area boasts a diversity of wildlife, waterfalls, and lush green hills, in addition to the elegant villages. There are several activities over there from water sports, golf, horse-riding, and cycling to fishing. It is also the perfect place for history enthusiasts, as they can visit the Iron Age forts, Ogham Stones, and a few ancient monasteries, all wrapped in a picturesque landscape.
7. The Mysterious Murder Hole Beach
Without question, your holiday wouldn’t be perfect without a stunning beach. I can say with confidence that we are now at the most beautiful beach in Ireland; Murder Hole Beach. Although it is a private beach on the Rosguill Peninsula, it is totally worth the trip. Yes, that’s it. After a short hike, you will be greeted with a heavenly land of cliffs, hills, dunes, and beautiful caves.
So, what is with the name? – According to an ancient legend, the beach gained its name when a woman fell off its cliff in the 1800s. Others claim that the name originated as a result of the beach’s dangerous waves. Just don’t let the name scare you off and enjoy swimming in the hidden gem of Ireland.
8. The Glamorous Town of Dingle
Step into the Irish charm of the Dingle Peninsula at the southwest Atlantic coast. It is a fascinating destination that will never disappoint you, mixing natural beauty, history, and culture. National Geographic once described the area as “the most beautiful place on earth,” and I agree with no doubt.
Dingle by David Stanley:Flickr [link]
Dingle Peninsula is famous for its sandy beaches, cliffs, rolling hills, and mountains, including Mount Brandon, a known pilgrimage spot. The Conor Pass offers many beautiful panoramas to explore. You can also enjoy dolphin and whale watching activities through boat tours that get you close to Fungie, Ireland’s famous dolphin.
9. The UNESCO Site Skellig Michael
If you’re a “Star Wars” fan, you’ll immediately identify the Skellig Michael Island. Visiting the 1,500 years old Skellig Michael Island is a great addition to every Ireland itinerary due to its historical importance. It is the site of a monastery that was used until the 12th century and was home to several Christian monks.
Also, it was a pilgrimage destination way long before Christianity came to Ireland. Put on your comfortable shoes because we are going to climb the 600 steps to the top of Skellig Michael. Ready to conquer the steep steps?
10. Glendalough Monastic Site
The beautiful valley of Glendalough includes many examples of well-preserved medieval religious architecture. You will spot the historic round towers, cathedral, gateway, and many ancient churches, as well as the Romanesque building, the Priests’ House. Other monuments set a model of the monastic site, such as Reefert church, St. Kevin’s cell, the Caher, and more. Go rock-climbing at the slopes of Camaderry or follow one of the nine walking trails around the two lakes of Glendalough.
Let’s go hiking in another jewel of Ireland, Wicklow Mountains National Park. As you climb upward into the clouds, you can hear the glacial streams crashing against the rocks, and this is when you get a sense of tranquillity. Hiking through history? – Pick up the path and let’s go.
Ireland is considered a wonder for many travellers, with its green areas, ancient castles, massive forests, and mysterious ruins. While you are there, attend the Riverdance in Dublin, and enjoy some traditional Irish music and dance. You also might want to land at Sean’s bar, the oldest bar across the globe. As a thrill-seeker, I can’t skip the adventure of passing through Ireland’s famous rope bridge; Carrick-a-Rede. Tempted yet? Have you decided already that, Ireland is your next holiday destination?