In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, it only makes sense for me to write an article about how great the country of Ireland is. It’s green, pretty, and 70% of the Irish are always drunk. What’s not to love about it?
I’ve been to Ireland twice and still haven’t seen nearly enough of the country. Even though it’s relatively small as far as countries go, it’s definitely worth visiting. Ideally, I think you would need at least a week to be able to properly see Ireland. You need more time to really get to explore, but I get it… sometimes schedules just don’t allow for it.
So if you’re trying to find some reasons to make it to the Emerald Isle, look no further than this post of 17 reasons to visit Ireland. Get it? Cause St. Patrick’s Day is the 17th? Go ahead, proceed.
The Irish know what they’re doing when it comes to Guinness. It tastes amazing and can be found everywhere in Ireland. I never tasted a Guinness until I went to Ireland for the first time and let me tell you, that drink was life changing.
Because Guinness is such a popular drink around the world, Dublin has its own Guinness Storehouse. It’s open to the public and has a ton of different interactive exhibits. However, you don’t actually get to watch the beer being made (probably a trade secret). Don’t let that deter you from going though. I went and really enjoyed learning about the history of Guinness and its importance to the Irish people. Plus, you can even pour your own pint and get a certificate that says you are approved to pour Guinness.
A close second to Guinness is the infamous Jameson Whiskey. So if you’re like me and don’t know nearly enough about alcohol, you may be wondering why you sometimes see it spelled ‘whiskey’ and sometimes ‘whisky’. There’s a reason behind that.
If you want the FULL explanation, hit up the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin for an amazing museum that gives you the deep history and lots of whisky. But I’m going to give you the fast Readers’ Digest version. Basically, back when Irish whisky (mostly Jameson) was becoming popular, other companies kept trying to recreate the amazing whisky. Jameson was getting irritated with this, so they decided to put an extra ‘e’ in the title to show that it was in fact made in Dublin. Eventually this secret was uncovered but that’s the reason why there is a difference. So if you see something in your travels that says ‘authentic Dublin whisky’, you know that it’s a fake and to get outta there.
Dublin is home to the Jameson Distillery, where you can get up close and personal with the whiskey itself. I’ve never been but the distillery has great reviews and you can learn more here!
3. Delicious and Hearty Food
When you think of Ireland, you probably don’t think of food. But the island nation actually has some amazing and tasty dishes. My personal favorite is Irish coffee. Yes I am aware that it’s just coffee Jameson. No, I don’t care at all. But a full spread of an Irish Breakfast is really good and hearty. They’ve got potatoes, meat, eggs, sausage, and virtually everything you could want.
Overall, traditional Irish cuisine is very hearty. Stew, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and haggis are seen at many restaurants. And how could anyone forget the infamous corned beef and cabbage?
4. Coastal Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are some of the most spectacular cliffs in the entire world. They’re actually Ireland’s most popular natural tourist destination and it’s extremely easy to see why. If you’re there on a sunny day, you can see for miles and miles. When you look west, the next bit of land is actually America. Pretty crazy when you think about it. But if you’re there on a rainy day like me, I hope that the clouds clear and you can at least see some of the cliffs because they’re gorgeous!
One thing that’s great about the Cliffs of Moher is that they can easily be done in a day trip from Dublin. You can literally get from one side of the country to the other in a few hours and still have plenty of time. It’s great. If you decide to do the day trip option, you can check out my earlier blog post on it here. Many of the tours also stop off in other small villages so it’s a great way to see more of the Irish countryside.
5. Blarney Stone
Chances are you’ve heard of the Blarney Stone, but do you know what it actually is? According to legend, kissing the Blarney Stone gives you the gift of gab. Whatever that means. It’s supposed to mean that when you kiss it, you have eloquence and the skill of flattery. I’ve never kissed it… which I might need to do to help my gift of gab. Aside from the castle and the Blarney Stone, there’s not much else to do out there. So I do recommend going to kiss the Blarney stone but you’ll have time in your day for more than just that.
6. Giant’s Causeway
Ireland never fails to impress with its wide array of scenery. This Giant attraction is actually in Northern Ireland, which is a separate country that belongs under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. The Giant’s Causeway was created after a volcanic eruption and has these extremely unique columns that look like a wild staircase. I definitely recommend visiting here when you are in Ireland because once again, you get to see a lot of countryside, you can go to another country, plus look how gorgeous this is!
As you go through the countryside, you will find castles. Heck, you’ll even find a castle in Dublin! But Ireland is really full of castles and ruins. They’re everywhere you look, and it’s so casual. Like wow, I wish I grew up with dozens of castles in my backyard. A lot of the castles are in ruins, which is a bummer. Regardless, you can still check out those ruins and imagine yourself as Celtic royalty.
Some castles are still fully functioning and if you look hard enough, some of them are even hotels or AirBNBs! How cool is that to be able to spend the night in a castle. My favorite castle in Ireland is in ruins but it’s so picturesque, I can’t get enough of it.
The Irish music scene is booming. Whether it’s simple street musicians or full-out raves, there’s something for everyone. Ireland is really ramping up their festivals and there is a variety from which to choose. I haven’t been to any, but some of the coolest ones I’ve found are Fleadh Cheoil, Castlepalooza, the Dublin Irish Festival, and Temple Bar Tradfest.
If you’re in Ireland, there’s a pretty good chance you go through Dublin at some point. That’s where the international airport is, plus it’s the capital of the country. Unlike a lot of old European towns, Dublin doesn’t really have an ‘old town’. The closest thing to an old town is the Temple Bar District. Sadly it’s kind of touristy, but it’s still a fun and energetic area of town.
Leprechauns are the most famous of Irish folklore but they aren’t the only crazy creatures. Before the Christians invaded Ireland, the natives had a very strong and rich mystical culture. A lot of the Celtic mythology made its way into Irish literature. These legends have transcended their way into modern life and some of these stories have even made it to different countries. But when you go to Ireland, don’t go to the Leprechaun Museum in Dublin. It was €12 and too overpriced and definitely not worth it.
11. Adventure Activities
Ireland and surfing aren’t frequently used in the same sentence, but Ireland’s west coast is home to some great waves. I don’t surf so I honestly can’t speak from experience, but I’ve had friends who have surfed there and loved it. Additionally, everything I read on the Internet kept saying how great Ireland’s waves were. Even if you aren’t a fan of surfing, there are still lots of water sports around the island to keep you entertained. You just might want to wear a wetsuit, since the waters can get pretty cold!
12. Prehistoric Monuments Brú na Bóinne
I definitely didn’t know that Ireland had prehistoric monuments before I started doing my research. Brú na Bóinne is a huge prehistoric national landscape that has been around since before 3300 BC. That makes it older than the Great Pyramid of Giza! Brú na Bóinne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is another one of Ireland’s greatest attractions. If you’re a history buff, or simply want to learn more about Ireland’s prehistory, definitely go check out this awesome site!
13. The People are So Friendly
I lived in Germany both times that I traveled to Ireland. And as much as I love us Germans, we are not the most outwardly friendly group of people. Nobody smiles on the street and the service industry is polite and nothing more. So when I went to Ireland, I was blown away at how friendly they were. There was no reason or need for these people to be friendly but they just wanted to visit and be my best friend. It stressed me out, but I was welcomed by these friendly people.
14. Stunning Landscapes
I’m convinced that Ireland really does have it all. There are rolling hills, crazy cliffs, and landscapes that literally look like the surface of the moon. Surprisingly, it’s not even a large island! Renting a car is going to be the best way to explore Ireland. If you’ve got the time, an Irish road trip is a great solution. Even if you can’t rent a car or don’t have time, I highly recommend venturing into the countryside at least some point during your time in Ireland to get a better feel for the country. Plus, if you want to take a detour, you’re in charge of your own car so you can go completely at your own pace.
15. Trinity College
Why should you go to a college while in Dublin? Well, you should go because Trinity College just isn’t any regular university. To begin with, it has the Book of Kells, an illustrated Gospel book from 800 AD. It’s extremely old and is absolutely beautiful! For those of you who aren’t big fans of an old book, how about a room full of them? The Long Room is the biggest library in Ireland and is a part of Trinity College. Harry Potter fans will even recognize it as the backdrop for a few scenes from the movies. It’s actually one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions but if you go during the off-season, you’ll have it practically to yourself!
16. You’re Probably Irish!
This statistic threw me for a complete loop. Apparently the Irish immigrated so far across the globe that a majority of Americans have some amount of Irish ancestry. I know I have a little bit, which I guess makes a lot of us related? If you haven’t found a reason to go to Ireland yet, this one should definitely convince you of how amazing of a country it is!
17. St. Patrick’s Day
Do I need to say more? Ireland gave us one of the best holidays of the year, St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a huge celebration in Ireland and if nothing else gives everyone an opportunity to get drunk no matter what day of the week it is. The Irish call it “Paddy’s Day” and go all-out by wearing green and shamrocks.
So have I successfully given you reasons to go to Ireland? Are you convinced? Hopefully I was able to do so, because it’s an amazing country and always worth a visit. If you’ve been to Ireland before, let me know in the comments and tell me what your favorite part was!