Ireland is undeniably a dream destination, and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. With its rugged landscapes, charming towns, and fantastic culture, it’s no wonder that this destination is so popular. Even better, you’ll find plenty of famous landmarks in Ireland, either if you take a road trip or just a short visit in Dublin, so there’s a lot to see!
Exploring the diverse regions of this country and the Irish’s iconic landmarks can make for a captivating adventure. You’ll get to experience unique cultural experiences, witness breathtaking vistas, and learn all about the country’s rich history.
This guide is going to take you through the most popular Irish landmarks and what each one has to offer. To make this guide easier to follow, I’ve split up the article into four separate regions; Dublin and the East Coast, The South and Southwest, The West and Northwest, and Northern Ireland. Each category offers its own unique charm and fascinating landmarks to explore in Ireland, so what are you waiting for?
From Castles to Cliffs: Famous Landmarks In Ireland Overview
Four Regions You Will Find the Most Famous Landmarks in Ireland:
Dublin and the East Coast Famous Landmarks
1. Trinity College, Dublin
Starting in the capital city of Dublin, Trinity College is undoubtedly one of the most iconic places to visit on the East Coast. It’s one of the oldest universities in the country, as it dates back to 1592. The college is located on a 47-acre campus and is home to advanced facilities and beautiful buildings.
The highlight of any visit to Trinity College has to be the ‘Book of Kells‘ which is located within the on-site Trinity Library. It’s a gospel book that dates back around 1,200 years and is one of the city’s most popular attractions. This fast-track guided tour will allow you to visit the campus and offers access to the Book of Kells.
2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
If you’re looking to visit Dublin landmarks then you can’t miss out on St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s Ireland’s largest cathedral and was built between 1220-1260 so dates back around 800 years. In fact, it’s one of the only buildings left from Dublin’s medieval city which makes it a must-visit. Of course, the cathedral is striking from the outside but just wait until you see its interior. In my personal option, it is one of the most stunning cathedrals in Europe!
Boasting beautiful stained glass windows, ornate archways, and hanging flags, it will certainly take your breath away. Guided tours of St. Patrick’s Cathedral are available daily, or you can opt for a self-guided tour. With the latter, there’s a free app that you can download.
3. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
Even if you’ve only got one day in Dublin, you need to visit Kilmainham Gaol. Today it’s a museum, but it was once a former prison that was home to thousands of people. Some of these individuals were charged with only minor crimes, while others were involved in some of the country’s most historic events.
You’ll explore via guided tour and it’s best to book your tickets in advance to secure a spot. While walking around, your guide will tell you all about the prison and the role that it’s played in Ireland’s history. Not only that, but you’ll get to hear specific stories about the inmates, some of which were jailed because they fought for Ireland’s independence.
4. Dublin Castle, Dublin
Dating back to 1204, Dublin Castle is naturally one of the most historical landmarks in Ireland. Until 1922, the seat of England was found here but the castle changed government hands once Ireland gained its independence.
If you visit the castle on a guided tour, then you’ll get to visit the state apartments, Chapel Royal, and The Medieval Undercroft excavations. You’ll also come across a striking tower that dates back to the 13th century. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public but you can still admire its exterior. However, one of the highlights has to be the Castle Gardens as there’s a lot to see within the grounds.
5. The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
The Guinness Storehouse is one of the most iconic Dublin landmarks! Honestly, no Dublin itinerary is complete without visiting here so make sure it’s on your list. On the guided tour, you’ll get to learn all about Ireland’s iconic beverage and its brewing process, and the advertising campaigns that made this drink so famous.
Make sure you book your entrance ticket in advance for this place as it gets really busy. For the best experience allow at least 1.5 hours for your visit, and take some time to enjoy your free pint at the end of the tour. From the rooftop bar, you’ll be treated to striking city views.
6. Newgrange Tomb, County Meath
There are plenty of incredible Irish landmarks to visit, but Newgrange Tomb should be right at the top of your list. It’s located at Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre which is also home to the tombs of Knowth and Dowth. Each of these tombs are prehistoric as they were built around 3200 BC. What’s even better, is that you can head on a guided tour within two of them.
From Dublin, you can go on this Boyne Valley tour. Not only will you get to explore Newgrange, but you’ll also visit the Monastery of Buithe, Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, and Muiredach’s High Cross.
7. Hill of Tara, County Meath
Although not as famous as some of the other Irish landmarks in this guide, the Hill of Tara is incredibly intriguing. Located within Boyne Valley, the Hill of Tara has been in use for around 5000 years. However, the myth is that this place was once the residence of the High King of Ireland, which tends to be what it’s known for.
This amazing Celtic tour from Dublin includes the Hill of Tara, the ancient Loughcrew Celtic Tombs, and the Hill Of Uishneacht. You’ll have an expert guide with you at all times, who will teach you all about the history of each place.
South & Southwest Irish Landmarks
8. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
The Rock of Cashel is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland. Located on a dramatic outcrop within the Golden Vale, the scenery of this place is breathtaking. The Rock of Cashel is also known for its historical significance as it’s over 1,000 years old. Many of the buildings still survive to this day including Cromac’s Chapel which is home to the country’s only surviving Romanesque frescoes.
This day tour from Dublin will take you to several Irish landmarks including the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, and Cork City. It’s well worth the money and your admission tickets are included.
9. Blarney Castle & Gardens, County Cork
Next up there’s Blarney Castle & Gardens, which can attract over 400,000 visitors every year. The castle was built over 600 years ago by Cormac MacCarthy, and has been made famous by the iconic ‘Kissing Stone’. The legend has it that if you kiss this stone, you’ll be gifted eloquence and persuasiveness. The grounds here are huge, and there’s a lot to see so just take your time, and make sure you reserve half-day to explore the beauty of this place!
On this day trip from Dublin, you’ll get to visit Blarney Castle, as well as make several stops along the way. This includes Cahir Castle and the Rock of Cashel, and you’ll learn plenty about the region’s history from your guide too.
10. Mizen Head, County Cork
If you’re after rugged landscapes and breathtaking scenery, then you need to visit Mizen Head. It’s Ireland’s most southwesterly point and to get there, you’ll have to walk along a trail that starts from the Mizen Head Visitor Center. In total, a round-trip journey will take around 1-2 hours. Be prepared for jaw-dropping vistas, and the opportunity to spot marine life in the waters below including seals, dolphins, and whales.
This full-day tour from Cork will take you to Mizen Head and will allow you to explore more of West Cork. On this tour, you’ll also get to visit Gougane Barra National Forest, Bantry, and Clonakilty.
11. Ring of Kerry, County Kerry
Ireland is known for its iconic road trip routes and the Ring of Kerry is no different. The route is around 111 miles (179 km) in total and makes up part of the much larger Wild Atlantic Way. There are plenty of iconic Irish landmarks to visit along the Ring of Kerry including the Gap of Dunloe, Moll’s Gap, and Torc Waterfall.
For the best experience, you’ll want to drive yourself as this allows you complete flexibility. The route takes around 3.5 hours to drive without stopping, but you’ll want to allow much longer than this so you can visit places along the way. However, you can opt for a guided tour from Killarney or from Cork if you don’t have your own transport.
12. Skellig Islands, County Kerry
The Skellig Islands are located off the coast of County Kerry and there are two of them; Skelling Michael (also known as Great Skelling), and Little Skellig. The larger island of Great Skelling is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland as it’s home to one of the country’s only UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
On top of this island, you’ll find a 6th-century monastery that used to be home to the monks of St Fionan. However, once living conditions became too wild, the monks moved to the mainland. Today, the monastery is still an awesome place to explore and this area is also known for its variety of birdlife.
13. Muckross Abbey, County Kerry
Muckross Abbey is thought to date back to the 6th century and in turn, the country’s beginnings of Christianity. Located within Killarney National Park, this Abbey is free to visit, and better yet, it doesn’t attract crowds like some of the other more famous landmarks in Ireland. While here, explore the chancel, graveyard, and the ancient yew tree which is located within the Abbey.
A great way to appreciate Muckross Abbey is by heading out on this self-guided bike tour. After picking up your bicycle, you’ll have a map/route that will show you all the best places to visit in the surrounding area including this historical building.
14. Dun Chaoin Pier, County Kerry
A must for any Wild Atlantic Way itinerary, Dun Chaoin Pier offers some of the most spectacular views in the country. Also known as Dunquin Pier, this beautiful place is located at the end of a small bay along the Dingle Peninsula. There’s actually a ferry crossing here that runs to the Blasket Islands although the road down is extremely narrow.
Surrounded by rocky cliffs and offering epic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, this isn’t a place you want to miss. The natural beauty here is unparalleled, so allow some time to simply relax and enjoy the views. Don’t forget your camera either!
West & Northwest Famous Ireland Landmarks
15. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher are undeniably one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland. Home to an iconic coastal walk that will take you along the cliff edge, the scenery here is striking. Not only that, but you’ve got a great chance of spotting marine life in the waters below.
For the best experience, you’ll want to allow at least a couple of hours here. That will give you enough time to visit the viewpoints, walk along the coastal trail, explore the visitor center, and shop for souvenirs. For those who are short of time, this day tour from Dublin will take you to the cliffs, Galway City, the Burren, and Kilmacduagh Abbey.
16. The Burren National Park, County Clare
Covering over 1,800 hectares and home to fascinating landscapes, you don’t want to miss out on visiting Burren National Park. You’ll find a variety of unique flora here too, and the best way to experience this place is by taking a hike. There are several hiking trails including Knockaunroe Turlough, Mullaghmore Loop, Slieve Carran, and the Nature Trail.
This awesome full-day tour from Galway will allow you to explore the Burren and its surrounding attractions. This includes the Cliffs of Moher, Dunguaire Castle, the Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb, and the Poulnabrone Dolmen. However, if you’re not short of time, then you’ll want to spend longer exploring this incredible national park.
17. Aran Islands, County Galway
If you have a spare day then you should spend some time exploring the Aran Islands. There are three of them; Inis Mór (Inishmore), Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), and Inis Oírr (Inisheer), and it’s up to you which one you visit. Inishmore is the largest and there’s a lot to see on this island, so it’s the best option if you’ve got a full day free.
If you’ve not got much time in Ireland, then you can always combine a visit to two of the most famous landmarks in Ireland. This awesome day tour from Galway includes a visit to Inisheer, a Cliffs of Moher cruise, and a visit to the cliffs themselves.
18. Galway, County Galway
Galway is undeniably one of the best (and most popular) cities in Ireland. Famous for its traditional music, local culture, and delicious food, this amazing place has so much to offer. Honestly, there are so many fascinating things to do in Galway including the Salthill Promenade, Galway City Museum, and the Latin Quarter. Thanks to its location, it’s also a great base for exploring the Connemara Region.
For a unique experience, check out this Galway food tour. It lasts for around 2.5 hours and will take you to some of the best foodie spots in the city. You’ll even come away with an awesome goodie bag!
19. Connemara National Park, County Galway
The Connemara National Park covers an impressive 2,000 hectares and is famous for its spectacular scenery. You’ll also have the chance to spot a variety of flora and fauna here including the Connemara pony, deer, foxes, and otters among others. However, the highlight of this national park has to be its hiking trails, especially the Lower and Upper Diamond Trails.
This Connemara tour from Galway includes a 3-hour stop at the national park. This will give you plenty of time to visit Kylemore Abbey, look out for wildlife, and hit up one of the shorter hiking trails. You’ll also get to admire the stunning scenery as your guide drives you along.
20. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway
Kylemore Abbey is located on the outskirts of Connemara National Park and is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland. For the past 100 years, this 1,000-acre estate has been home to a Benedictine order of Nuns. However, the Abbey dates back to 1868 so there’s more history to it than that! The building itself is striking, but you’ll want to spend some time exploring the gardens and grounds too.
This fantastic 8-hour Connemara tour will take you to Kylemore Abbey, as well as the village of Cong, Killary Fjord, and Lough Nafooey. This way, you’ll get to explore the whole region if you don’t have much time.
21. Benbulben Mountain, County Sligo
Benbulben is one of Ireland’s most iconic mountains thanks to its unique shape. From its flat-topped summit, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Wild Atlantic Way. Although the mountain can be admired from afar, you’ll want to hike the Benbulben Loop Trail which takes around 1.5 hours in total.
As you make your way along the trail, you’ll want to look out for wildlife and historic attractions. This includes the Fringed Sandwort and Drumcliffe Cemetary. You can always bring a picnic along for this hike, and then tuck in once you reach the top. That means you can admire the views while you eat!
22. Dún Briste, County Mayo
Dún Briste is an impressive sea stack that’s located off Downpatrick Head. Standing at 150 feet (45 meters) tall, it’s quite the sight, especially since it was originally connected to the mainland via an arch until 1393. Aside from the striking views, you can also spot a variety of sea birds here including puffins and kittiwakes.
While at Downpatrick Head, make sure you walk along the coastal trail. If it’s a clear day, you’ll see right over to the Staggs of Broadhaven Islands. There are also church ruins that you can admire so make sure you stop here if you’re traveling along the Wild Atlantic Way.
23. Slieve League Cliffs, County Donegal
No trip to Ireland is complete without visiting Slieve League Cliffs. At a towering 1,972 feet (601 meters), Slieve League is the highest cliff in Ireland and one of the highest in all of Europe in fact. The views here are out of this world so make sure you’ve got your camera ready, because the views are stunning!
For the best experience, head to the Slieve League Cliffs Centre first. Then, you’ll want to walk along the trail and visit some of the viewpoints that can be found here. You’ll honestly feel like you’re standing at the edge of the world, especially as you’ll get to see the power of the Atlantic Ocean below you.
24. Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal
While exploring County Donegal, make sure you head to Fanad Head Lighthouse. After a ship was wrecked here in 1811, the lighthouse was built to guide sailors and it’s still in use today. You can actually walk right up to the top on a tour and admire the striking views.
While here, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for seals and dolphins, so why not bring a picnic if the weather’s good? There are also three accommodation options here if you’re looking to stay overnight. However, these can often book up well in advance so just keep that in mind.
Northern Ireland’s Famous Landmarks
25. The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
One of the top most famous landmarks in Ireland, The Giant’s Causeway is a place not to be missed. This site is home to over 40,000 basalt rock columns, which were formed some 60 million years ago. The Giant’s Causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, and it can get extremely busy. If you can, try to head there when it first opens if you’re not visiting on a tour.
This Giant’s Causeway day trip from Belfast includes transport and a local guide, and you’ll get to visit other destinations along the way. This includes Carrickfergus Castle, Cushendun Caves, the Dark Hedges, and Ballintoy. However, if you’ve got more time then you should walk the incredible Causeway Coast Way!
26. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim
While in Northern Ireland, you can’t miss out on the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge! This rope bridge has been around since 1755 when it was erected by salmon fishermen. To reach the bridge, you’ll need to walk along an easy coastal trail along the Causeway Coast Way, offering stunning views of Rathlin Island and the Scottish Isles (on a clear day).
Although probably not suitable for those with a fear of heights, walking over this rope bridge is an exhilarating experience. It’s suspended nearly 100 feet (30 meters) above the Atlantic Ocean, and you can even spot marine life swimming in the waters below. Allow at least 1-2 hours here, but preferably longer if you can.
27. The Dark Hedges, County Antrim
The Dark Hedges is an avenue of beech trees that was made famous by Game of Thrones. The Stuart family built the trees in the 18th century, but today this location is more commonly known as the ‘King’s Road’. Thanks to the popular TV show, the Dark Hedges are now one of the most photographed locations in Ireland which means it can get pretty busy here. Luckily, the road has been closed off to traffic.
This awesome Giants Causeway day trip also includes a visit to the Dark Hedges, the Giants Causeway, Cushenden Caves, and Dunluce Castle.
28. The Titanic Quarter, Belfast
The Titanic Quarter is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland and for good reason! It’s located along the Maritime Mile and is home to various visitor attractions. The most popular of which is Titanic Belfast. This incredible place documents the tragic history of RMS Titanic which was built right here in the city. There are plenty of experiences to be had here, and the attraction is well worth the entrance fee.
If you can, book your Titanic Belfast tickets in advance to secure your spot. This place gets extremely busy, so get here when it opens and that way, you can make the most of your visit.
29. Mourne Mountains, County Down
The Mourne Mountains are classed as an area of outstanding beauty and it’s not hard to see why! They’re the highest mountains in Northern Ireland and can be explored on foot, by bicycle, or in a car. If you’re driving, then you’ll want to head along the Mourne Coastal Route as the views are rather impressive.
If you’re cycling then check out the Mourne Mountains Cycle Loop which is considered to be one of the country’s great rides. With a total distance of 45 miles (72.5 km), there’s a lot to see along this route. You’ll also find plenty of fantastic hiking trails within these mountains including Slieve Donard, Slieve Binnian, and Bearnagh and Meelmore.
30. Derry, County Londonderry
Last but certainly not least is the city of Derry (often referred to as Londonderry). It’s the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and is known for its food scene, award-winning museums, and being home to the iconic TV show ‘Derry Girls’. Within Derry, you’ll find Ireland’s only completely intact walled city, which is surprising considering the city was severely impacted by the ‘Troubles’ – a period of conflict within the country.
Check out this private guided tour if you’re looking to learn more about Derry’s conflicts and historical sites. You’ll also get to see popular landmarks such as Free Derry Corner, the Peace Bridge, and the Bloody Sunday Memorial.
Famous Landmarks in Ireland Conclusion
As you can see there are plenty of beautiful and historical landmarks in Ireland! No matter where you visit in the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to iconic destinations. Honestly, it can often feel quite overwhelming when trying to decide where to visit, which is why I’ve put this guide together.
From the famous Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland to the towering Cliffs of Moher in County Galway, there are many interesting sites to visit. For those exploring the South, don’t miss out on Blarney Castle in County Cork, and you’ve also got the capital city of Dublin in the East. Here, you’ll find various historical places so don’t rush your time in this city.
If you’ve got any further questions about famous landmarks in Ireland then just leave a comment below. For those who’ve already been, what is your favorite place to visit?
If you are planning a trip to Ireland, then here are some other guides for you:
- How to Visit Dublin in a Day
- A Perfect 2-day Dublin Itinerary
- Wild Atlantic Way Route Planner
- Wild Atlantic Way Itinerary
- Top Things to Do in Clifden, Ireland
- How to hike the Cliffs of Moher
- How to Hike the Causeway Coast Way
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Galway
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