Top 10 Things to Do in Ireland

Known as the Emerald Isle, the Irish landscape is filled with verdant rolling hills laid out alongside craggy coastlines. Travelers are attracted to this country for its beauty, but also for its rich and often troubled history as well as the ancient Celtic culture. From exploring galleries to traversing the grounds around your Ireland inn to touring Medieval castles, there's something to do no matter which city you visit during your Irish vacation, but be sure to check out these must-do activities:

1. Visit the National Museum of Archaeology

 Museum of Archaeology Ireland

Located in Dublin on Kildare Street, the National Museum of Archaeology lets you feast your eyes on artifacts that date back as far as 7,000 B.C. The institution, which was established in the late 19th century, contains one of the most impressive collections in the world. Explore the Medieval Ireland display that reveals what life was like in the 12th through 16th centuries, and stop by the "Kingship & Sacrifice" exhibition that shows off Iron Age bodies and artifacts discovered in the bogs. Admission to the museum is free, but you can pay a little out of pocket to join in on a guided tour. Another highlight is "The Treasury," where you'll see stunning pieces of Medieval and Celtic art.

2. Tour the Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Beer lovers won't want to miss out on a trip to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the producer of the country's iconic beverage. The storehouse, which is the only part of the brewery that's open to the public, is situated in a grain house shaped like a massive glass of Guinness. Guests are welcome to tour the grounds with the help of a guide. You can expect to see the floor show that spans 170,000 square feet and showcases interactive exhibits, audiovisual displays, and educational demonstrations that teach you about the history of the beer and the production process. Afterward, make your way to the top—the head of the pint—seven stories up and take a seat at Gravity Bar. This establishment gives you a spectacular view of the city below and lets you enjoy a Guinness in the open air.

3. Explore the National Gallery

National Gallery Dublin

Those staying in Dublin should take some time to check out the National Gallery, a renowned institution that has a focus on Irish art but also features works by a variety of European masters. It's divided into four wings: the North, Dargan, Milltown Rooms, and Millennium. Start at the ground floor to look through the bronze statues and chandeliers of the Dargan wing. Make your way up to see galleries of Italian art, such as Caravaggio's famed "Taking of Christ," and continue on to the Irish and British works of the Milltown Rooms. After that, you'll come across works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Seville, and other creators from Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.

4. Stop by Trinity College

Trinity College Dublin

While visiting school may not seem like an ideal vacation idea, Trinity College is one of the most pleasant landscapes in Dublin. Appreciate the Georgian architecture and beautiful landscaped grounds. The college's main entrance, the Front Gate, was built back in the 1750s and displays statues of two renowned poets: Edmund Burke and Oliver Goldsmith. If you sign up for a guided tour, this will be your starting point. Continue on to discover the Regent House, Campanile, campus chapel and dining hall, Graduates' Memorial Building, and the beloved Old Library.

5. Check out Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is located in the heart of Kilkenny City. It's among the most popular landmarks in Ireland, dating back to the late 12th century. The first building erected here in 1172 was made of wood, but it was replaced with a stone castle about two decades later. That stone structure had four towers, though only three still stand today. During a 40-minute tour of the site, you will spend much of your time in the Long Gallery, a wing dedicated to displaying portraits of the Butler family who lived here more than 600 years ago.

6. Wander Around Kells Priory

Kells priory

Kells Priory is completely open to the public, a 3-kilometre marked footpath around the site will expose you to the on-site village, ruins, and river. The priory dates back to the 1100s, though many of the ruins are from the 1600s. You'll find the remnants of an old Augustinian abbey as well as parts of homes and chapels.

7. Hike at Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park

For an athletic adventure during your Ireland visit, take a hike through Connemara National Park. Just southeast of the village of Letterfrack, it stretches across nearly 8 square miles. Start at the visitors center to learn about the geology, plant life, and animals of the area and to pick up a map before you head out to see the expansive heath, mountains and bogs. Make your way along the trails on your own or register for a guided nature walk that lasts up to three hours.

8. Eat a Traditional Meal

Irish Food

While you may enjoy an old-fashioned breakfast from the comforts of your Ireland B&B , but you can find delights such homemade soda bread, Guinness pie, and boxty in town. In Dublin, for instance, the locals flock to O'Neill's Pub, which has been serving authentic fare for more than three centuries. For a more modern experience, try The Pepper Pot, which combines contemporary flavors with old techniques. For example, you can order the establishment's unique take on Guinness pie—it features pumpkin seed bread and is topped with rich cream cheese and smoked salmon.

9. Discover Saint Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s cathedral

Dublin's Saint Patrick's Cathedral is set on sacred land (believed to be where baptisms by St. Patrick himself, took place.)The current structure is only 800 years old and has gone through many renovations, but the original church was erected back in the 5th century. During your visit through the lush green space outside the cathedral (it's hard to believe this landscape was once a slum until was cleared out in the late 1900s). The grounds also contain the burial spots for the author of "Gulliver's Travels," Jonathan Swift, who served as the cathedral's dean in the early half of the 18th century.

10. Learn About Irish Heritage at Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham gaol

Visitors interested in Irish history may want to visit the Kilmainham Gaol. Tour the old prison, which was built in the 1790s, and learn how it played a huge role in the country's struggle for independence from the English. Revolutionists such as Thomas Francis Meagher and Charles Stewart Parnell were prisoners here, as were soldiers captured during the Civil War. Today, it's unoccupied and quite eerie, especially once you reach the execution area where more than a dozen inmates lost their lives.