Ireland offers visitors a diverse choice of beautiful scenery, history, peaceful towns and vibrant cities. This country is famed for its art and culture, with high regard in the literature and music worlds, and has an international reputation for being home to the best pubs in the world. You won’t have to travel far down any street in Ireland before finding a refreshing pint of Guinness, welcoming locals, and the famous Irish craic (the Irish word for fun).
Public transport in Ireland can be unreliable, especially in the more remote areas found throughout the country, but the road network is of a very high quality and can give you access to anywhere in the country. Multi-lane highways can be found throughout the country which make even the most isolated areas very accessible, that’s not to say that you won’t find yourself on picturesque country roads surrounded by Ireland’s rugged landscape. By hiring a car you’re giving yourself the freedom and flexibility to experience everything Ireland has to offer and considering Ireland is a small country you can reach any destination within a few hour’s drive.
Must-see places to visit when in Ireland
There are many sites and attractions in Ireland that would claim to be number 1, and rightfully so in most cases. Below you’ll find our list of the best sites in Ireland. Hiring a car means getting to many of these attractions is made as easy as possible.
Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland is Europe’s final guardian before the Atlantic Ocean and its west coast offers some of the most beautiful and stunning views in the world. The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined coastal route in the world and stretches for 2500km from Cork in the south to the heights of Donegal in the north. The route, which is designed to be enjoyed by car, travels along the rugged west coast passing by staggering cliff sides, golden beaches, majestic countryside and will allow you to stop in some of the most welcoming communities found in the small rural villages and towns in the whole of Ireland.
The Causeway Coast, another one of Ireland’s fantastic driving routes, is shorter than the Wild Atlantic Way but is equally as impressive. This route is located in Northern Ireland and spans from the port town of Larne and travels north along the coast of County Antrim. Touring this coastal route by car will give you the freedom to stop and enjoy many of the attractions along the route. You’ll find a adrenaline inducing rope bridge in Carrick-a-Rede and the ancient remains of Dunluce Castle. The coastal towns of Portrush and Portstewart are an excellent place to stop and relax, the latter is also home to the most famous motorcycle race in the world; The North West 200.
The Giant’s Causeway is located along the Causeway Coast but is a separate attraction in its own right. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Ireland and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in an isolated location on the northern coastline you’ll find a unique formation of rocks. Staring out onto the crashing waves of the Irish Sea there are tens of thousands of basalt columns whose formation was a result of volcanic activity thousands of years ago. On site you’ll find a dedicated visitor’s centre that will educate you on the science and history behind the Giant’s Causeway including the Irish folk story in which an Irish Giant built this rock
formation in order to cross the sea to fight a rival Scottish Giant.
The Boyne Valley is home to over 3000 years of Irish history. The area is situated north of County Dublin and crosses over the borders of counties Meath and Louth. There are multiple historic sites such as ancient megalithic tombs, the ancient meeting place of the various kings in Ireland, medieval castles, religious sites and the site where the famous Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690. The main attraction in the area is Newgrange, a megalithic tomb erected over 3000 years ago making it older than the Egyptian Pyramids, its intricate designs and engineering feats that can be uncovered in the dedicated visitors centre on site.
Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and should be atop your list when visiting Ireland. This city is steeped in history having been first founded by the Vikings over 2000 years ago and was a location of huge significance in Ireland’s fight for freedom from the British Empire, most notably the 1916 Easter Rising, an event that led the way for the formation of an Irish Free State. Aside from its fascinating history Dublin is a vibrant city that has something for everyone from an energetic social scene, wonderful entertainment, a delicious foodie scene and top quality shopping facilities. Notable tourist attractions in the city include the Guinness Storehouse, the home of Ireland’s most famous export, and Trinity College which is the oldest university in the country.
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a coastal driving route where you’ll find yourself travelling with stunning views of the Atlantic and offshore islands out one window and a truly beautiful mountainous landscape out the other. It is located in the south west of Ireland in County Kerry and stretches for 179km. It’s recommended that you start in the delightful town of Killarney and drive to Kenmare where the road will loop back to Killarney. Along this route you’ll pass through Killarney National Park which can only be described as one of the most beautiful locations in the country. Aside from the park there’s plenty to see and do along the way from stopping to relax at the beautiful lakes, surf at the sandy beaches or visit the quaint villages for a delicious bite to eat and a chat with the friendly locals.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country seeing over a million annual visitors. These cliffs are some of the highest in Europe standing at 214 metres above the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean below. The views from the cliffs are stunning as you can stare as far as the eye can see out into the vast ocean or look north to the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. There is a dedicated visitor’s centre on site where you can learn about the history of the cliffs and about the marine life that dwells beneath the waves. There’s even independent boats that will take you around the base of the cliffs for a different perspective on these staggering rocks and see some of the caves found along the bottom.
The Burren is a unique landscape found in County Clare and is visited by a huge number of visiting tourists and Irish residents each year. The landscape is made up of a limestone shelf and is mostly rock, hence the name Burren which translated means rocky place. The Burren spends most of the year barren but in the spring time it transforms as wildflowers emerge from the cracks to create a vibrant colourful scene.
Something for Everyone
Ireland is a diverse country with a lot to offer to visiting tourists and certainly something to suit any taste or need. The main allures in Ireland are the magnificent views throughout the scenic countryside and along the rugged coastline, the fascinating history spanning millennia and the traditional welcoming Irish culture.
The majority of Ireland’s top attractions are off the beaten track in remote locations so hiring a car is the most convenient form of travel. Even in the major cities and more accessible locales, a car is still the first choice taken by visitors and locals alike.