Ireland is a beautiful country with ancient history, rolling green hills, dramatic landscapes and it can feel downright magical. Whether you’ve been to Ireland before or you’re just visiting for first time, this ultimate bucket list for Ireland will inspire and amaze you.
Will you tick off all of these Ireland bucket list items in one go? Probably not – but it’s just an excuse to go back, in my opinion. Would I return to Ireland? 110% and then some. There’s something special to me about the landscape, the history, the accents… the Guinness. Which brings me to point one.
Ultimate Bucket List for Ireland
1. Visit the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is a must-see even if you aren’t a huge Guinness fan just because it’s fascinating to read about the history and the process of actually making the beer. There are interactive exhibits, awesome videos and at the end you get to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. And then drink it. In a beautiful room with 360 views. Yes, yes and yes.
2. Visit Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is a must even if you only have one day in Dublin. The castle has been around for over 800 years and although it’s not the most grand of all Ireland castles, but it has a rich history and is still used today for things like the inaugurations for the presidents of Ireland and state dinners.
3. Have a drink in Temple Bar
This riverside neighborhood in Dublin is famous for its bars and cobblestone pedestrian streets. Make sure to hit one of these many places for lively, Irish folk music, all the Guinnesses you could want.
However, if you’re not a drinker there’s still plenty for you in Temple Bar. Try one of the many boutique stores or restaurants from a variety of cuisines.
4. Walk Ha’penny Bridge
Dublin doesn’t have as many ‘iconic’ sites as somewhere like London, but Ha’penny Bridge is one of them and you should take your time photographing it because I do not understand how it stays so white. (Seriously, they can’t possibly clean it every day. 🤔)
5. Explore Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel is probably my favorite thing in Ireland if I’m honest and I would highly recommend you put it at the top of your Ireland bucket list. The Rock of Cashel’s history is amazing and dates back to the 12th century.
It’s said the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit (across the valley) after St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave. Satan took a bite out of the mountain and spat it out and created the Rock of Cashel.
6. Tour Holy Cross Abbey
I know what you’re thinking. There are so many abbeys in Ireland, why should this one be on my bucket list? I hear you, but Holy Cross Abbey in Tipperary is a beautiful monastery dating back 1168 and the best part – almost no tourists.
Amazing, right? You can take tours of the abbey or simply visit on your own time and have a look around.
7. Frolic Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Oh, and also stay away from the fertility chair. I realize this deserves some explanation. Bunratty Castle is a 15th century tower house and I basically walked in and was feeling some serious King Arthur vibes, minding my own business and decided to have a sit. I mean, we’d done a lot of walking. Turns out that was next to the fertility stone and the tour guide then wouldn’t leave me alone.
This is why I don’t like tours. Nonetheless, the castle and the folk park were pretty awesome and the castle had great views of the surrounding hills and river.
8. Be Amazed by the Cliffs of Moher
Frankly no bucket list of Ireland would be complete without the Cliffs of Moher on it because even shrouded in mist and fog, they’re still one of the most majestic things I’ve ever seen. They run for 14 kilometers and you can see them stretch for miles.
Quick PSA here. I do beg of you – please be careful. I saw so many people dangerously close to the edge of the cliffs trying to get the perfect Instagram shot. The risk isn’t worth it, I promise you. The cliffs are just as beautiful from a safe distance from the edge.
9. Wander Cahir and Cahir Castle
For all of you Game of Thrones fans out there (sorry, mom, still not me) this castle’s gate was used for the sound of castle gates in the show. I literally didn’t even know this was a thing, but apparently it is and this is the gate they used.
Other than that, this castle is so pretty and quiet and the town is lovely. Like Holy Cross Abbey, Cahir Castle is also relatively quiet and there weren’t too many tourists. Opening in 1142, you can still see cannon balls wedged into the side of the castle.
10. Marvel at Swiss Cottage Cahir
I had no idea ‘ornamental’ houses like this were a thing but apparently they were when this was built in 1810. Think of it as a country estate for rich people looking to escape the city. A way for them to show off, if you will. But, you got me, it’s beautiful.
11. Walk the Streets of Medieval Kilkenny
Kilkenny is such a cool city and I even saw a guy digging up bones from the 12th century. Just on the side of the road. If that’s not history, I don’t know what is.
12. Pretend to be a Princess at Kilkenny Castle
Ireland has no shortage of castles (seriously, all the castles), but seeing as this is the ultimate bucket list for Ireland, it’s got to include it! Another 12th century castle with a beautiful interior that feels less medieval and more ‘hand me my boa, dahling.’
13. Learn how Waterford Crystal is Made
I had no idea what process went into producing crystal items from glasses to glass ornaments, vases and jewelry. No idea. Taking a tour of the Waterford Crystal factory was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever done in my life. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone blowing red, molten glass.
14. Experience the Real Ireland at Jim of the Mills Pub
Ever wished you could just enjoy some lively, Irish music with the locals like you were in someone’s living room? Well, you can.
Maybe not his living room, but Jim of the Mills Pub opens every Thursday and all of the local musicians come together to just have fun, play together and have a pint.
15. Take a Scenic Drive Over the Vee
The ‘Vee’ here refers to a hairpin turn in a V-shape in the Knockmealdown mountains, but it isn’t the road that’s special here, it’s the spectacular views. Don’t wear a hat as it might blow away and be gone forever. I could barely stand straight and fighting the wind to take my photos was a real feat.
With that being said, the views were amazing and there’s something really moving and peaceful about standing on that mountain, alone overlooking incredible views and breathing that fresh air.
16. Go Whiskey Tasting
Perhaps Guinness isn’t your drink of choice and you’re more of a whiskey person – well great news, Ireland’s got a lot of that too! You will have plenty of options if you choose to take a whiskey tour.
17. Admire the Colors of the Seaside Town Cobh
This beautiful, colorful town was the last port of call for the Titanic and is also home to the Titanic Experience. Personally, I didn’t love the Titanic Experience that much, but the town itself is beautiful and I would love to have had more time there. (We got lost. Had to ask some people at a farm for directions. Oops.)
18. Learn About Ireland’s History
If there’s anything you take away from this post, the one thing you should do is take the time to learn about Ireland’s history.
I’m not talking about the cool folklore and what year castles date back to, but the hardships of the people of Ireland, the potato famine and what caused so many to flee the country. There’s so much history in this small country and the people are so kind so take the time to learn their history and let that be the most important part of your trip.