1. Cliffs of Moher
One of the best places to visit in Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher. Located on the west coast of the country, the Cliffs of Moher are not only a majestic sight, but also offer views across Galway Bay to the beautiful Aran Islands. Stretching 8km along the coast of County Clare, it’s best to start at the Visitor Centre and follow the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk from there. In good weather, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views, but perhaps the best view is from the top of O’Brien’s Tower. It’s at this stone tower that the cliffs are at their highest, standing 214 metres above the water. Down at the southern end of the cliffs you’ll find the 19th century Moher Tower overlooking the point known as Hag’s Head.
Getting there: Too far for a day trip by public transport, so the only good option is to take a guided tour or hire a car.
2. Giant’s Causeway
Although there’s plenty to see in the Republic of Ireland, who can resist crossing over to Northern Ireland to see the legendary Giant’s Causeway? This incredible landscape and World Heritage Site is understandably one of Dublin’s most popular day trips thanks to its unique appearance and entertaining legend. On arrival, walk over the iconic hexagonal basalt boulders that sit like stepping stones along the County Antrim coastline. Be sure to learn about the local legend that surrounds the site, a tale of the Irish giant Finn. Next, continue along this dramatic coastline on the Causeway Coastal Route and enjoy more of this magnificent scenery. Not far away you’ll find Dunluce Castle, a medieval ruin perched on a cliff for a picture-postcard view.
Getting there: Again, too far from Dublin for public transport, the best way to get to the Giant’s Causeway is either to drive or take a guided tour.
A visit to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is definitely one of the best side trips from Dublin. Not only is Belfast a fascinating destination in its own right, but a visit here will really add another dimension to your Irish experience. Birthplace of the famously doomed RMS Titanic, the story and legacy of this fateful icon of history can be explored at the Titanic Belfast Museum. In the city centre, take in some of the city’s historic architecture with the elegant City Hall and St Anne’s Cathedral. Take a trip to the Belfast Peace Wall and the surrounding streets for a collection of murals depicting the history between the city’s Catholic and Protestant populations. Of course, there are also museums dedicated to this contentious history, such as the Ulster Museum and the Republican Museum.
Getting there: There are regular bus and train services from Dublin to Belfast, with the journey taking around 2 hours each way. If you’d like a guide to take you through the city’s history, it’s best to book a tour.
4. Blarney Castle & Cork
One of Ireland’s most famous attractions and a classic day trip from Dublin is Blarney Castle in County Cork. This dramatic medieval castle is home to the world-famous Blarney Stone. Few visitors can resist the temptation to hang awkwardly upside down to kiss the stone and be blessed with the gift of gab. Afterwards, take a stroll around the castle grounds to see the Poison Garden, full of poisonous plants, and the Witch’s Cave rock formation. But Blarney Castle isn’t the only attraction in Cork. The county has beautiful countryside with green fields and views of the Galtee Mountains. There’s also the city of Cork, home to St. Finbarre’s Cathedral and the lively English Market.
Getting there: To get to Cork and Blarney Castle from Dublin, it is a 2 ½ hour journey on hourly trains to Cork. From there you can take a 20-minute bus ride to Blarney Village. Alternatively, a more straightforward option is to take a guided tour and leave the transport to them.
When it comes to things to see in Ireland outside of Dublin, the enchanting County Kerry is not to be missed. This county in the southwest of Ireland is bursting with memorable attractions to visit. A good starting point is the town of Killarney, as it’s the gateway to Kerry. Full of historic character, the highlight of the town is St Mary’s Cathedral. Just outside the town is Killarney National Park, which is centred around Lough Leane. On the lakeside you’ll find the medieval stone tower of Ross Castle and the charming gardens and mansion of Muckross House. Next, head out on the wonderfully scenic drive known as the Ring of Kerry, which showcases the countryside and coastline of the stunning Iveragh Peninsula. Along the way, be sure to stop in quirky Killorglin, where a goat is crowned Village King at the annual Puck Fair.
Getting there: Due to the distance and the fact that you’ll need a car to explore the Ring of Kerry, public transport is not recommended. Instead, either hire a car or take a guided tour of the region’s highlights.