*This is a collaborative post.
There’s so much to say about the Emerald Isle that it’s hard to know where to begin. Add to this the other major problem of talking about Ireland – the huge number of interweaving cliches which dominate thought around it – and you can see why it is that many people find it difficult to get to the heart of it as a nation. But, as with anywhere, the best way to really get to know it is by visiting, and there are certainly many superb sights, delectable treats and lovely people to see and get to know. These, coupled with Ireland’s rich literary and cultural history, and you can see why it remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. But what should you see first if you do decide to visit?
It might sound like an obvious choice, but it would be strange to talk about the best sights in Ireland and not mention Dublin. It’s capital and largest city, Dublin is truly one of the major hubs of Irish culture, history and – of course – a centre of pubs. If you’re wondering what’s on in Dublin, you’ll be amazed at the number of things you can do and get involved in during your stay. Whether you are keen to visit St. Stephen’s Green, that stunning example of Georgian architecture, or you are keen to go and discover the prestigious Trinity College, there is so much to sink your teeth into that you could easily spend a fortnight just exploring the city centre. And let’s not forget the real star – the Guinness warehouse.
Whatever that image you have in your mind might be of Ireland’s natural and pastoral beauty – that is what you are likely to see best in Kilkenny. It’s a truly stunning natural landscape, and one which is well-known enough to be easy to visit, but not so overrun with tourists that you don’t feel you are seeing the real thing. Kilkenny very much is the real deal – the castle alone is worth the visit, and a visit to the National Craft Gallery could be the thing to get your creativity flowing. This town is equally suited to a one-day excursion or a relaxing week-long trip.
This is very much Ireland’s second city – and arguably the second most famous, after Dublin. However, the locals are happy to call it the ‘real capital’, and that very much indicates the kind of experience and culture you can expect to find in this gorgeous place. There is plenty to see and do, and you are unlikely to be bored at any time during your stay. It’s one of the better spots in Ireland for food, with an English Market which is known for its distinctly Victorian-like air and surrounding architecture. You could easily say you haven’t visited Ireland if you have never been to Cork.
These are generally going to be the three most enjoyable and incredible sights in Ireland, and they are all going to be worth visiting for their own merits.