The first time I visited Ireland, I told my friends and family back home that I understood why people believe in fairies. The whole country is such a stunning collection of lush green landscapes and charming cities that it’s easy to see why it inspires fairytales and folklore.
If you’re planning on visiting Ireland for the first time, the first thing you should consider is which version of Ireland are you looking to see? Would you like to reconnect with nature and spend time wandering through beautiful national parks? Are you looking for a quaint seaside escape filled with teahouses and local shopping? Or do vibrant cities with excellent dining, shopping, and cultural attractions get your heart pumping?
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Whatever you’re looking for in Ireland, you’re sure to find it with a bit of planning – and with the knowledge that some of the best adventures here are spontaneous, of course! If you’re ready for your very first trip to Ireland, consider planning your itinerary according to a few of our tips.
What should I do in Ireland?
One of the most exciting parts of any trip is figuring out what you’d like to do and see along the way! Ireland is extra fun, because there’s such a range of experiences to be had here. The first step, then is to decide what kind of trip you’d like to have!
When you visit Ireland, you can spend your time embarking on grand adventures like hiking and even swimming in the icy Atlantic Ocean. If that’s not your speed, what about a city break in Dublin or Cork, where you can spend cosy afternoons in pubs or strolling through parks and museums? History buffs are thrilled with Ireland’s ancient culture and ruins, while nature lovers can spend their trip driving along the Wild Atlantic Way or visiting pristine national parks.
If you’re trying to decide what to do in Ireland, picture your dream trip: you can find it here!
What should I pack for Ireland?
Ireland enjoys a relatively mild climate, meaning travellers should be comfortable visiting at any season. While summer doesn’t always see soaring temperatures, that also means that winter will often be mild and more comfortable.
However, Ireland has a well-earned reputation as a rainy and windy country, so it’s always wise to pack a few extra layers and some waterproof clothes. A sweater, even in the summer, is a must-have, and a waterproof jacket usually wouldn’t go amiss.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of exploring during your trip, a sturdy pair of waterproof shoes or boots will serve you well!
The best places to visit in Ireland
Ireland’s capital city and centre of nightlife, Dublin is a must-see for any traveller visiting Ireland for the first time. The city sits on the east coast, which means travellers can spend their days exploring cobbled streets filled with music, art, and culture, or head to the seaside and feel transported to another era.
If you’re a nature lover, make sure to check off St. Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park during your visit! These beautifully-maintained open spaces feel like a breath of fresh air, and worlds away from the city’s busy downtown.
The second-largest city in the Republic of Ireland, Cork is a hugely popular destination for travellers just starting out their journey here. Not only is Cork a starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way, one of Ireland’s most beautiful road trips, its city centre is a vibrant, colorful area full of great shopping, dining, and, of course, plenty of pubs and nightclubs to go around!
A short distance from Cork you’ll find Blarney and the famous Blarney Castle – here is where travellers come from all over the world to kiss the Blarney Stone. It’s said that kissing the stone gives travellers “the gift of the gab.”
Not just famous because of the Ed Sheeran song, Galway is a gorgeous harbour city on Ireland’s west coast that will take travellers on a journey through time. Visit Eyre Square, an 18th-century meeting spot surrounded by shops and the quintessential Irish pub, where you’ll often hear locals and visitors alike performing traditional music (those “trad tunes” Ed was talking about!)
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Visit Galway’s Latin Quarter for an extra dose of history – not only is this area filled with cosy cafes, art galleries, and local boutiques, visitors will also be treated to a glimpse of the city’s original medieval walls.
The Cliffs of Moher
Located in County Clare, the cliffs of Moher are an iconic part of Ireland, and no first-time adventure here would be complete without a visit.
Not only are these stunning sea cliffs, which run for 14 glorious kilometres across Ireland’s southwestern coast, absolutely beautiful, they’re famous for other reasons, too. The Cliffs of Moher have been used as filming locations for several iconic movies, including the cave scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Princess Bride!
Whether you visit for the stunning nature or to compare the scenery to your favourite movie stills, visiting the Cliffs of Moher is an absolute must!
Ireland can be so many different things to different people – it’s all about what you’d like to see, who you’d like to meet, and what you’d like to experience. There’s a reason so many travellers flock to Ireland each year – something about visiting here is like visiting nowhere else in the world, and, for many people, their first trip to Ireland won’t be their last!
If you’re looking for a specific itinerary on your first trip to Ireland, or if you aren’t sure where you’d most like to go and you’re looking for a bit of guidance, consider booking a group tour – not only will you have the knowledge and experience of your guide to show you the way, you’ll also save on accommodation, food, and attractions.
How would you like to spend your first trip to Ireland?