Top 10 things to do on the island of Ireland in 2023
Abounding in natural beauty, mountains, cliffs and dramatic coastlines, there is something to captivate even the most seasoned travellers on the island of Ireland.
It takes days, weeks really, to see the best of the greenest country in Europe, and trying to figure out what to do can be a bit overwhelming. So save some time and check out this list of just 10 don’t-miss things to do on your next trip to Ireland.
1. Seek adventure on the Wild Atlantic Way
Certainly one of the must-see areas for awesome scenery on an Irish holiday, the Wild Atlantic Way is also an unspoilt adventure playground and full of sustainable activities. Hop between charming coastal villages and incredible national parks, while enjoying any kind of outdoor pursuit you can think of. Surf the water, ride horses on the beach, spot whales, climb mountains, do a spot of forest bathing, cycle greenways, walk through eons of history and much more.
2. Steal away to an island
For the ultimate in remote experiences, escape to the tranquil and idyllic Rathlin Island, lying six miles off County Antrim and just a quick ferry ride from the seaside town of Ballycastle in Northern Ireland. You will soon fully appreciate the magic of this wild, L-shaped and unspoilt island. Walk the car free roads. Cycle for miles in solitude, watch out for seals in the bay. Explore lighthouses, visit the bird sanctuary, soak up the fresh sea air and sup a pint in the island’s only pub.
3. Try an ultra-luxury hotel experience
Once home to the Guinness family, the 800 year-old Ashford Castle in County Mayo has long been the hotel that presidents, royals and the famous choose for an iconic Irish experience. It has an exceptional reputation when it comes to luxury travel. Situated in a spectacular 350 acre estate, it’s full of sumptuous rooms and suites, amazing interiors, antique furniture, fine fabrics and unique features at every turn, all underpinned by ambitious sustainability practices. The ultimate indulgent experience in the west of Ireland.
4. Explore a magical dark sky
Connect with the ancient past and experience a magical link between astronomy and archaeology at Northern Ireland’s OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory. Fringed by Davagh Forest at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains in County Tyrone, the park is close to the Beaghmore Stones, a series of mysterious Neolithic stone circles. Explore the stories of the stones or go mountain biking by day, and stargaze away from light pollution by night.
5. Go green in an eco-destination
To keep your holiday carbon footprint to a minimum, head for the protected, moon-like and eco-friendly terrain of the Burren in County Clare. Along with the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren is part of a UNESCO Global Geopark, where sustainability, socially responsible, nature-based tourism and excellent eco-travel experiences are the norm. Stay in sustainable accommodation, eat locally sourced food and revel in any number of environmentally-friendly activities and experiences.
6. Play one of Ireland’s best golf courses
The island of Ireland is an iconic destination for golf – the choice of exceptional championship courses in spectacular locations is truly amazing. With world-ranked links and stunning parkland layouts, a golf trip is always an incredible experience. If you had to single out just one destination, Ballybunion Golf Club in County Kerry would be right up there. Home to two wonderfully challenging links courses, it’s ranked as one of the very best golfing experiences in the world.
7. Feel the energy of Celtic Ireland
Step back 5,000 years and experience prehistoric Ireland at Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the lush green paradise of the Boyne Valley. This area was once the territory of Ireland’s high kings and boasts a rich history and culture. The Stone Age passage tomb at Newgrange is part of the famous Brú na Bóinne complex, one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes. An immersion in this jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East is unforgettable.
8. Drive the Causeway Coastal Route
Combining stunning coastal scenery with a host of historic sites and picturesque towns and villages, the famous Causeway Coastal Route stretches 130 miles from Belfast to Derry~Londonderry into Game of Thrones® territory. A road trip like no other, it’s home to countless key stops, attractions and experiences. It could be The Gobbins, a white-knuckle cliff path walk at Islandmagee, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Game of Thrones® film locations or the Old Bushmills Distillery, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery.
9. Soak up the all-Ireland Fleadh
Ireland boasts many musical extravaganzas with something to suit everyone, but there is nothing to beat the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann or the All-Ireland Music Festival. The largest festival of Irish culture, music, song and dance in the world takes place this year in Mullingar in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Running from 6–14 August, it’s going to be special.
10. Discover Dublin’s Coastal Trail
Dublin’s long coastline is dotted with a raft of unexpected experiences and outdoor activities. The Dublin Coastal Trailhighlights these hidden gems. Take the DART rail line and it’s easy to discover castles, beaches, harbours, heritage and more all on foot. From Skerries to the north of the city down to Killiney in the south, find everything from incredible sea views and thrilling watersports to the freshest of seafood, cliffs, walks and culture on Dublin’s doorstep.