Find and book unique accommodations on Airbnb
Guests agree: these stays are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.
For a small island on the fringes of western Europe, Ireland’s culture ripples far beyond its craggy shores. This is the storied home of many of history’s most celebrated poets, rock bands that conquered the charts, and, of course, the foamy stout poured on every continent. And yet despite this ubiquity, Ireland is so often misunderstood. Sure, it has castle ruins and stone cathedrals galore, but it’s anything but stuck in the past. For every beloved old pub and literary landmark in Dublin, you’ll find as many inventive restaurants putting a fresh spin on Irish cuisine and ground-breaking venues where a new generation redefines Irish creative identity.
Outside the capital, each of the Republic of Ireland’s four provinces — Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster — certainly deliver the pastoral landscapes along with plenty of surprises. The culinary city of Cork claims on-trend bars, food halls, and even a museum dedicated to butter. On the rugged Atlantic coast, the Cliffs of Moher won’t disappoint sightseers, but you can also skip the crowds and chase outdoor adventures in wild national parks such as Ballycroy and Killarney. The longer you spend on this rainy rock, the more you realize how lucky the Irish really are.
Go by car or go by transit? That’s the main question Ireland poses to travelers. While it might take you a little longer to get from place to place, the republic’s system of trains, buses, and ferries efficiently covers the small island. Trains connect Dublin — home to the island’s busiest airport, Dublin Airport (DUB) — to most major towns and cities. Intercity buses offer dependable service to smaller destinations. When you want to get out to Ireland’s wilder areas, a car will come in handy as long as you’re comfortable driving on the left side of the road.
Ireland is truthfully quite drizzly, especially in winter. But its climate is also mild year-round. In fact, you’re likely to read it in the local news whenever temperatures dip below freezing or exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). Summer brings the most pleasant weather and, of course, the most crowds. The peak months of July and August are the sunniest, warmest, and driest. It’s the time of year for outdoor festivals, including gatherings dedicated to the republic’s alternative music as well as its active Irish trad folk music scene. Spring and fall are generally quieter and more overcast, with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day in March, celebrated with lively parades across the country.
In Dublin’s city center, it’s easy to lose track of time wandering through the historic sites and museums, but don’t miss the action on the streets. Take a stroll along Grafton Street to visit local shops and the famous buskers known to perform here year-round. This pedestrian-only thoroughfare links St. Stephen’s Green to Trinity College. Its popularity means the street often gets crowded, though skip over a few blocks and you’ll find independent cafes and designer shops in areas like the Creative Quarter, emanating from Drury Street.
This is arguably Ireland’s most photogenic road trip. From the cinematic landscapes of the Inishowen Peninsula south to colorful fishing ports in County Cork, the Wild Atlantic Way traces Ireland’s West Coast for 1,500 miles (2,414 km). Along the way, you’ll pass sea cliffs and coves; festive cities like Galway and Limerick; and beaches where cold-water surfers paddle out into the foamy waves. You could tackle it on one grand tour, but you’ll get a truer sense of the local scene when you slow your roll and focus on one segment at a time.
Perched on top of a grassy hill and surrounded by the rolling pastures of the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel stands among Ireland’s most dramatic and significant architectural sites. This was once the seat of power for the Kings of Munster. Legends also say this is where Saint Patrick baptized King Aengus in 432 C.E. Come here to see the castle-like cluster of medieval structures, dig into Irish history, or simply admire the sweeping views of County Tipperary.