Why visitors never want to leave Ireland?

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Ireland is a land of incomprehensible beauty where legend and reality mingle. This unique combination has resulted in visitors not wanting to leave the country. And, even if they reluctantly do, they always come back at the drop of a hat. Here’s a Complete Travel Guide on top things to see and do in Ireland.

Dingle Harbour, Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

A beautiful but a spine-chilling day welcomes me as I start exploring the world’s longest defined coastal route, the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. As expected, Sun has taken a rain check. Wrapped in multiple layers like an Eskimo, I get down from my bus to meet the most famous resident of Dingle. I am warned by the Failte Ireland executive, Peter,

Although, he is a very friendly host but don’t be disappointed, if he doesn’t turn up today. You know, he too can act moody at times.

For fifteen minutes my eyes keep gazing around like a love stuck puppy in a hope to see the funny guy. A bit of dejection kicks in as I start feeling my journey of 5000 miles from India may go futile. But after 15 minutes, something magical happens. He appears from nowhere and how. I not only get to see him but get a chance to even play the game of Hide-n-Seek. In case you are wondering who I am talking about. Well, this is about Fungie, a wild Bottlenose Dolphin, who visited Dingle’s Harbour in 1983 as a visitor and never returned.

Fungie at Dingle Harbour, Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Dingle Town, Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

And, it is not just Fungie who fell indelibly in love with Ireland, the whole world is struck with Irish Spell. This unflinching love for Ireland explains why it is officially the third most popular country searched on Facebook.

The land of luck, literature, and leprechauns has seen its fair share of famous visitors. Most come away with lifetime memories, but some take their love affair a notch higher: they buy castles, start playing the bodhran and hurling, acquire a taste for Tayto crisps, and develop a deep grá (love) for the sweeping landscapes. Only a stone can escape falling in love with this magical land, where the lush green landscape is speckled with whites from happy sheep.

Top things to do and see in Ireland: Watch the beautiful Sheeps

It is not surprising at all to know why Charlie Chaplin made Ireland his Summer home, Victoria and David Beckham took their vows in the sweeping Irish vistas, Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran found inspiration on the streets of Galway and Sarah Jessica Parker made Donegal her second home. The list of admirers of the Emerald Isle is long – 10.65 million to be precise. Yes, that is a record number of tourists who arrived in Ireland in just 10 months (Jan-Oct 2017) last year.

Waterville Village, Charlie Chaplin’s Summer Holiday home, Ring of Kerry, Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

So, what is it that makes every heart sing to the tune of, “I love Ireland”? Reasons are plenty. Let me share the most important ones:

1) Breath-taking scenery of Wild Atlantic Way

I love coastal drives for their larger than life expanse and rugged views but Wild Atlantic Way is a one-of-a-kind adventure and the road trip of a lifetime. Wild and untamed, free and unbridled this breath-taking route has some of the most dramatic and dazzling coastal views in the world! You can dive into the invigorating sea swells of a stunning 2,500km stretch of coast, snuggle in cozy tucked away Irish Pubs, find sanctuary in old monastic sites, indulge in hidden gastronomic gems of ancient fishing villages or simply embrace the scenic sea-salted shorelines at your own pace.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Torc Waterfall, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Stretching from Donegal’s Malin Head in the North to Cork’s Mizen Head in the South, this is the longest defined coastal drive in the world with nine counties and six regions. The best way to explore this route is by hiring a car.

Wild Atlantic Way Regions

Wild Atlantic Way Regions

Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic, Ireland

While I could only experience a part of this drive, here are must-visit destinations on the Wild Atlantic way:

Portsalon Beach, Co. Donegal: voted as the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world.

Mullaghmore Head, Sligo: great coastal cliffs and crashing waves that rise as high as 100ft (‘Prowlers’).

Achill Island, Mayo: Home to 5 blue flag beaches, many great walking tours, and some great country pubs.

Clifden, Galway: Nestled between the 12 Ben Mountains, the Atlantic Ocean, and bogland area, Clifden is one of Ireland’s most popular towns and is a great stop off point as you hit the halfway point for your trip.

Cliffs of Moher: The cliffs are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction and on a good day you see Aran Islands, Galway Bay and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry.

Skellig Michael, Kerry: A 1300-year-old monastery carved into the cliff and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island can only be reached by boat on a good day

Dursey Island, Cork: Accessible only through a 10-minute Cable Car ride (Ireland’s only cable car), it is home to some of the best sunsets in Ireland.

2) Rich History at every turn

In a country, as ancient and legendary as Ireland, there are 5000-year-old unforgettable stories waiting to be retold. If you are a History buff and love Castles, you would never want to leave Ireland. From the gothic to the stately to the haunted and the crumbling, there are castles to explore at every turn.

Malahide Castle, Dublin, Ireland

From Viking invaders to high kings, from monks to fleeing immigrants, from modern-day poets, saints and scholars to ramblers and fishermen; Ireland’s Ancient East pulsates with legendary tales and mighty battles. While there are innumerable sites to choose from, here are a few must-visit places:

Brú na Bóinne

40 km from Dublin in East Ireland, this prehistoric site built in 3200 B.C predates both Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge.

Blarney Castle

While you can find Irish castles in every county, Blarney Castle in County Cork (shown here) is one of the most visited castles in Ireland. And, when you visit don’t forget to kiss the Blarney Rock to get the gift of gab.

Blarney Castle, Ireland

Blarney Castle, Ireland

Dalkey Castle and Heritage Town

I travelled back in time when costumed actors entertained me as part of my guided tour of the 10th century Dalkey Castle. I particularly liked the work of the Archer, Cook & the travelling Barber Surgeon. Being a writer I loved the Maeve Binchy and other famous Irish Writers guided walk in the streetscaped heritage town of Dalkey.

Costumed actor at Dalkey Castle, Ireland

Things to see in Ireland: Dalkey Castle, Dublin, Ireland

Malahide Castle

A must-see if you are staying more than a day in Dublin, this charming castle only 30 mins train journey from the city centre has been beautifully maintained and restored. The high tea is to die for.

Malahide Castle, Dublin County, Ireland


Cahir, Kilkenny and Dunguaire Castles all evoke magical visions of fair maidens, brave kings, and frightful dungeons.

3) A dream destination for Adventure lovers

Ireland is a country made to order for Adventure seekers. There is a plethora of activities to choose from – surfing, sea kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing, caving, hiking, mountain biking and walking. Being an adventure buff, it wasn’t hard for me to choose #AdventureDublin from various FAM trips offered by Failte Ireland.

Capturing the beauty of the Irish countryside

And, I was super lucky to have a thrill-seeking group which had stomach for all kinds of adventure. Passing through the rugged countryside and gorgeous vistas, we indulged in all kinds of adventurous and heart-pounding pursuits. Here are some of them:


We started with Dublin’s most inspiring hike, Cliff walk to Howth Head, with Shane’s Howth Hikes. It was a surreal experience listening to the legend of an Irish Poet around the Aideen grave while walking through the evergreen hills incandescent with autumnal leaves cloaking the woods. After a short lung-infusing walk through the woods, we reached the Howth Summit to relish the breath-taking views of the Dublin Bay.

View from Howth Head, Dublin, Ireland

Another trek that I really enjoyed was with Hilltop Treks, where we passed through some of the most scenic parts of the Dublin Mountains with stunning views of Dublin City and the Irish Sea.

Walking or hiking is the best way to experience the beauty of Ireland


Zipit Forest Adventures satiates everyone’s adventure appetite – from bite-sized chunks to weekend warriors seeking the latest adventure. But don’t take it too easy. It does require a bit of stamina to climb the treetops, cross the wobbly wooden planks, walk on wires, swing through trees in cargo nets and fly on zip lines. However, you can choose from easy to difficult circuits.

Ziplining at Zipit Forest Adventure Park, Dublin, Ireland

Sea Kayaking

Fully geared with the wetsuits and equipment, we started kayaking from Bullock Harbour to the Dalkey Island with Jenny of Kayaking.ie. The waves were little rough and the water was icy cold. But it was one of most enthralling experiences I had in Ireland. We crossed through the colony of Seals to reach a 6000 years old uninhabited Dalkey Island that used to be the Viking base. Even though we arrived unannounced, we got a befitting welcome from the goats, rabbits and moss carpet. And, guess what. Sun did a cameo to make us witness one of the most mesmerising sunsets of our trip.

Kayaking at Dalkey Island, Ireland

Horse Riding

Being a Horse lover, I really had fun Horse riding in the Dublin hills with Kilegar stables. Killegar is one of Ireland’s longest established horse riding schools & livery yards, offering riding lessons, guided treks, pony camp and livery services.

Horseback Riding, Dublin, Ireland

Biking and Train Ride

While I preferred to explore the Malahide Castle and surrounding area on foot and road train, my friends biked through the scenic coastal route from the grounds of Malahide Castle to Portmarnock with the Irish Centre of Cycling! If you are in the area don’t forget to ride Toots, The Malahide Road Train, which is an award-winning, Hop On Hop Off, Tourism attraction with live commentary from a professional Failte Ireland Guide on board.

Biking, Dublin, Ireland

Malahide Marina, Dublin County, Ireland


At Portmarnock, I got a chance to try my hand at the traditional Irish sport of hurling, the oldest and the fastest field sport in the world, with the ball being hit at speeds up to 160 km/h. The coach from the Clash Gaelic Games helped us learn the skills of the ball (sliotar) and stick (Hurley) while sharing how culture, history, and mythology are entwined with the sport.

Hurling, Traditional Irish Sport, Dublin, Ireland


If you want to see the city at a relaxed but fun pace, hop on a Segway Tour in Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city. With plenty of highlights along the way, it’s a unique way to see the Park.

Segway riding in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland

Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland

4) Unrivaled Pub Culture

When it comes to a great pub, Ireland wrote the book. After all, Ireland has been exporting Pubs (commonly referred as Public Houses in Ireland) to the world at a breakneck speed since 900 AD. While the Pub culture in Ireland has a long-standing history, at its core is a sense of camaraderie, friendship, and fun commonly referred as ‘craic’. For centuries, an Irish Pub has remained the most important social outlet for feasts, weddings, funerals, wakes, christenings, birthdays and any other celebrations you can think of.

Johnnie Fox’s, Irish Pub, Dublin County, Ireland

Also, they are not just a place to have alcohol – they are a talent breeding ground. These social grounds have produced many great writers like James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan. The traditional Irish Music and Dance makes Irish Pub experience even more irresistible and authentic. Even a person like me who has two left feet couldn’t stop swinging to the tunes of “Trad session” (musical evening) combined with ceilidh (traditional Gaelic dancing).

Merry Ploughboy Pub Trad session, Dublin

Traditional Irish Dance Show at Merry Ploughboy copy

With so much going in favour of Irish Pubs, it is not surprising to know why Ireland produces the best Stouts and Whiskeys in the world. And, when it comes to stouts, Guinness is not only the most common beer in Ireland but also something of a national symbol.

Here are the 10 must visit Irish Pubs in Ireland:

  1. Cobblestone, Dublin: Great Trad Music
  2. Long Hall, Dublin: Listed Victorian-era bar
  3. Merry Ploughboy, Dublin: An award-winning Irish Music & Irish Dance show
  4. Sean’s Bar is a pub in Athlone: Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to AD 900
  5. Johnnie Fox’s, Glencullen: Ireland’s ‘highest’ and one of the oldest pubs
  6. Shire, Killarney: Lord of The Rings themed pub
  7. Murphy’s, Killarney: Family owned traditional Irish Public House
  8. M. Reiddy’s, Killarney: Famed for quirky interiors with little nooks and crannies
  9. Matt Molloy’s, Westport, Mayo: Owned by renowned flutist Matt Molloy of the Chieftains
  10. O’Connell’s, Galway: A traditional-style pub with tons of energy

Highest Pub in Ireland

And, don’t forget to raise a pint-or two-to Ireland’s favourite tipple. The Guinness Storehouse and its St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin welcomes over 1-million visitors each year to their on-site stout producing plant. Brewing over 3-million pints daily, the Guinness Storehouse gives a behind-the-scenes look at their thirst-quenching enterprise.

5) Reel to Real life Film Locations

From Hollywood blockbusters to captivating television series, the spectacular scenery and historic buildings of Ireland have been the backdrop of more Hollywood movies than you could shake a wooden spoon at. The Emerald Isle has doubled as anything from Roman Britain to post-apocalyptic Northern England. And Dublin put on a solid make-up to substitute London, Berlin and even Boston!

Whether it is Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, The Quiet Man, Braveheart, Far and Away, P.S. I love you, Ryan’s Daughter or The Field; the Emerald Isle has given us some of cinema’s most enduring moments. If you are a movie fanatic like me (which I think everyone is) then you would totally love exploring Ireland through Hollywood’s lens. Movie locations in Ireland are extremely common. Thanks to tax incentives and stunning landscapes.

Here are some of the film locations you can see in real life:

  • Game of Thrones has been extensively shot in Northern Ireland. Some iconic locations include the Antrim plateau, the Dark Hedges, Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Larrybane, Castle Ward, Inch Abbey and Downhill Strand.
  • The iconic scene at the end of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was shot at Skellig Michael in Co Kerry
  • The cliffs of Moher have appeared in Harry Potter and The Princess Bride (1987)
  • One of my favourite movies – PS I Love You (2007) – was shot in Wicklow Mountains National Park, the Sally Gap, Blessington Lakes and Whelan’s Bar on Wexford Street in Dublin
  • The Oscar-winning Ryan’s Daughter (1970) was shot at the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry
  • Another classic and an academy award winner The Quiet Man (1952), was filmed in the lush countryside of Mayo
  • History Channel’s epic Vikings series is majorly filmed in County Wicklow in the east of Ireland
  • ‘Hellboy II’ and Jackie Chan’s The Medallion was shot at Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast in County Antrim
  • Michael Collins (1996) and The wind that shakes the Barley (2006), The Italian Job (1969) were all shot in Dublin
  • Ancient East’s Trim Castle in County Meath was used for several battle scenes in Braveheart (1995) and in Saving Private Ryan (1998)

So, these are some of the top things to do and see in Ireland that makes every heart go ga-ga over Ireland. When are you visiting this windswept land of postcard beauty?

Irish Countryside

Interested to know more about Ireland, don’t forget to read Things to know before you visit Ireland

Have you ever visited Ireland? If yes, I would love to hear from you.

Inspired? Pin these to your Pinterest boards


I was in Ireland to attend TBEX Europe 2017 where I was a featured Speaker. I was hosted by Tourism Ireland. Everything expressed above is based on my personal experiences and conversations I had in the country. Images used are either shot by me or provided by Ireland Tourism with due permissions.


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  • Lisa says:

    I love everything about Ireland, so it’s so nice to read that it’s the 3rd most popular country on Facebook! Everything you mentioned, from the landscape to the pub culture is just so inviting, and the people are always so friendly. Totally understand why people never want to leave!

    • Thanks a lot, Lisa for your kind words. Ireland is one country that I had high hopes with and I must say it surpassed all of them. I spent three weeks there and I still feel it was way too less for a country as beautiful as Ireland is. I can’t wait to return.

  • Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women says:

    As someone who loves being in nature, Ireland has so much to offer. There is just no denying the beautiful and lush greenery that abounds. The activities you have highlighted including hiking just give you a wonderful experience. The photos you have included here are just lovely and I really do hope to be able to visit one day.

    • Hey Nicole,

      I am so glad my post on Ireland inspired you further to visit Ireland. It is truly an amazing place, where one time visit is not enough. There’s so much to see and do. I hope you get to visit it soon.

  • Danijela says:

    Look at your pictures, it sure looks like a fairy-tale land! A mixture of legends and reality, as you’ve put it. 🙂 Beautiful landscapes!
    Didn’t know that Ireland was the third most searched country on Facebook, and to tell you the truth – had no idea about so many celebrities deciding to have houses there. Well, no wonder, look at it! 🙂

    • Actually, even I had no idea until I visited the country. The place is so incredible you can’t stop raving about it to the world. No surprise last year 600 bloggers created 4 billion Twitter impressions during a week-long travel conference. Isn’t that crazy?

  • Danik says:

    Totally love this post. As I live on the island next door (UK) I used to see Ireland as the UK set many centuries ago. When I did a road trip last year, I fell in love with the place. Love the scenery and rugged coastline. Not a big fan of Dublin mind you, got too international now and not Irish as it was on my first visit. Becoming a huge tourist trap. But outside Ireland, I had one of my best experiences in Europe. Loved the place. 🙂

    • I absolutely agree with you. Even I spent most of my time outside Dublin. The coast is just too gorgeous and people what should I talk about them. They are so good. I can’t wait to go back

  • Leah says:

    This is an outstanding guide to Ireland! I did a fantastic road trip around the country, but didn’t get to the Surf Coast or Northern Headlands. Looks like it’s time I return.

    • Hey Leah,

      It’s so good to know that you did a roadtrip around Ireland. That is the best way to explore the country. I was there for three weeks and even I touched a tip of that country. Like you, I too can’t wait to go back.

  • Ireland is truly an inspiration for many creative souls: writers, photographers, poets and musicians! With such surreal landscapes like those at the Wild Altantic way and Torc waterfall and Cliffs of Moher, who wouldn’t want to return from such blissful escapades! As a road trip lover, A trip down the wild Atlantic way is on my bucket list for all the gorgeous pitstops and of course the legendary historic sites: towns and castles!

    • You are absolutely right, Divyakshi! Ireland is a dream come true not just for any traveler but for anyone. It is a place, you would never want to return from. the landscape is beautiful that you can’t take your eyes off and the history so rich you can’t stop time traveling to the past. It is a must visit place!

  • Medha Verma says:

    I did not know so many films were shot in Ireland! I am so happy to have come across your post at this time because I am planning a visit in June and I have been looking for posts to help me plan the perfect itinerary. Your pictures are absolutely stunning and even though the sky is overcast in most of them it does not take away from the immense beauty! I will be renting a car and driving as well but I have hardly 10 days so I won’t be able to follow your suggested itinerary but I will definitely cover some of the places you’ve mentioned.

  • Bhusha says:

    Sadly I missed Ireland when I was in UK! My friends did visit and somehow I was held up with something else that weekend. Still I regret not going there. Hope future takes me to Ireland…
    I’d really want to just hire a car and go on a roadtrip on the wild atlantic way! Ofcourse the English, Irish & Scottish are known for their stunning castles!

  • Heidi says:

    YES, Ireland is one of those places. I know we just always talk about returning. It’s such an amazingly beautiful country. I’ve added your post to my pins since you had a few things on the list that we haven’t seen yet. I see you got to see the Cliffs of Moher with some blue sky. It was drizzling when we were there but still absolutely amazing.

  • Kate says:

    Your photos make me miss Ireland terribly! We have visited the Wild Atlantic Way once, briefly, to see the Cliffs of Moher and hang out in Doolin–and you’re right, we definitely didn’t want to leave! I think of planning a trip back all the time. When we make it happen, I’m definitely going to try to see Fungie–how cute is he?! So glad you had such a magical experience getting to see him.

  • Aditi says:

    Ireland sits on my bucket list somewhere, but wasn’t on top, but looking at your post, i think it has really ranked up, the cliffs and the atlantic way and the castles always attracted me, and your breathtakingly beautiful pictures are now compelling me to plan it soon

  • Iulia says:

    I love this post sooooo much! And I love Ireland. I only got the chance to visit Dublin, but I have made a vow that I would return to Ireland, sometime in this lifetime and spend more time there. I have heard so many great things about the island and, with your post, all my thoughts were confirmed 🙂 I have bookmarked this for future reference. And I love your photos. That lady is awesome…. not to mention that cutie pie of a dog (forever love!)

  • Nisha says:

    I just started loving Ireland after reading your article here 🙂 🙂 I never knew Charlie Chaplin made Ireland his summer home. Only recently I had visited his permanent home in Switzerland after being exiled from USA. I am saving this page 🙂 🙂 🙂 as I am sure I will need it when I visit Ireland.

  • Cool fact to know that Ireland is the third most popular country searched on Facebook. Totally agree that it’s one of those countries which pulls you back time and time again – I never wanted to leave on my first trip! I personally fell in love with Ireland for it’s nature and scenery, and we’re big on the outdoor adventure, so the hiking in particular is something I could spend a lifetime doing! I didn’t realize that hurling was a big Irish sport – will have to see if I can join a game next trip!

  • Ami says:

    The two things that always attracted me to Ireland are its landscapes and its castles. Both of these are surrounded by funny and interesting Lores that make the place even more interesting. Nice to know that there is plenty of adventure activities that awaits here. That definitely ups its place in my bucket list

  • Juliette S says:

    So jealous you got to to go on the Adventure FAM trip! I loved my trip to Ireland and quickly fell in love with everything it had to offer. I had never been before so I didn’t know what to expect but very quickly began to understand the appeal – and yep, didn’t want to leave! The history, the landscape, the charm – it all works together to create an incredible destination.

  • Indrani says:

    Ireland is incredible for several reasons. Lucky you could see Fungie the bottlenose dolphin. So many other facts you mentioned too is new to me. This post was a learning experience for me.

  • Lauren says:

    I 100% agree with this! I spent 3 weeks in Ireland and I didn’t want to leave. From the beautiful scenery to the friendly people, I didn’t want to go home! I can’t wait to return. The Shire is definitely at the top of my list of favourite pubs 🙂

  • Manjulika Pramod says:

    I really loved the introduction about Fungie, a wild Bottlenose Dolphin, who visited Dingle’s Harbour in 1983 as a visitor and never returned. I am sure no one wants to leave Ireland. I have heard a lot about it and that road trip is the best way to explore. Have a friend there. Your post makes me want to go and visit her soon for Wild Atlantic Way, for the heritage, for the castles.

  • Eva says:

    I love Ireland, but I have yet to explore more of this beautiful Island. Your post has given me some more much needed inspiration and I hope to be able to put this plan soon into action. Especially horsebackriding I imagine a great way to see more of Irelands beautiful landscapes. And now I really want to take a cinegraphic tour to see some of those movie locations of Game of Thrones and Star Wars <3

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