Looking to get away but don’t know where? Here are our picks for the top five places in Ireland to explore and uncover unique local experiences.
The home of Oscar Wilde and Guinness needs no introduction. The “Emerald Isle” has long attracted visitors with its lively cities, majestic landscapes, and engaging culture. But planning a trip to Ireland is no easy task when there are so many great places to stay. In this guide, discover five of the top spots to base yourself for exploring the best Ireland has to offer.
After selecting a place to stay, you can find a diverse range of accommodations online at Rentola Ireland. This holiday rental platform brings property owners and guests together for stress-free stays in Dublin, Galway, and all over Ireland. It’s a great resource for romantic couple accommodations and family-friendly homes, both in the city centers and beyond. While the following list doesn’t cover all of the wonderful places to stay in Ireland, it will hopefully serve as inspiration for planning an unforgettable trip to the “Emerald Isle”.
As the Irish capital and the entry point for most visitors to the country, Dublin understandably tops this list of the best places to stay. The city is packed with attractions, such as the Guinness Storehouse, where you can discover the story behind Ireland’s most famous brew, and iconic architectural landmarks like the 121-meter-high Spire.
For a cultural fix, Dublin boasts some of Ireland’s top museums, including EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, Dublinia, and the Museum of Modern Art. In the evenings, you can listen to live music amidst the cobblestone streets of Temple Bar or discover the city’s diverse culinary scene at a plethora of outstanding restaurants. Families can head to Phoenix Park with its herd of wild deer and zoo filled with animals from across the globe.
Recently designated as a European Capital of Culture, Galway is rapidly asserting its place as one of Ireland’s top places to stay. It lies on the banks of the River Corrib on the country’s west coast and centers around a well-preserved medieval core. You can spend your days wandering the cobblestone streets of the atmospheric Latin Quarter, home to many of Galway’s most beautiful old buildings as well as stores selling locally made handicrafts and knitwear. Be sure to admire the majestic Galway Cathedral and delve into the past at the Galway City Museum with its antique vessels and agricultural equipment.
Galway is also the perfect base for exploring the Wild Atlantic Way, as it’s located roughly halfway along its 2,500-kilometer-long route. Head north from Galway to explore the mountains, heaths, and forests of Connemara National Park, or make the short drive south to discover the glacial-carved landscapes and archaeological sites of The Burren.
Straddling the banks of the River Shannon, Limerick lies just over an hour’s drive south of Galway and is a great place for a family-friendly Irish holiday. It was founded by Vikings back in the 9th century and flourished as a port, with many of its historic wharves now transformed into cultural spaces. In Limerick, you’ll find great places to dine, engaging museums, and the sprawling green space of People’s Park.
No visit to Limerick is complete without exploring King John’s Castle, where you can take a step back in time to experience life in the medieval period. In addition to hands-on activities, there are multimedia projections and animations that kids will love. Occupying a historic custom house is the Hunt Museum, whose ethnographic treasures are best experienced by kids on the Discovery Trail. Limerick is also home to Jurassic Par, a miniature golf course with glow-in-the-dark holes and a life-like T-Rex.
On the south coast of Ireland is the country’s second-largest city, Cork, which occupies an island between the branching River Lee. It’s a cosmopolitan city that is slowly garnering a reputation as one of Ireland’s coolest destinations, with trend-setting eateries and live music venues that ignite throughout the week.
During a stay in Cork, you can pick up artisan breads, freshly caught fish, and gourmet chocolates at the undercover English Market or get your retail fix on St. Patrick’s Street. Just a short stroll away is one of Ireland’s most magnificent churches, the Gothic Revival-style St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. In Fitzgerald Park, you’ll find leafy walking trails, a duck-filled pond, and the Cork Public Museum, while the Cork City Gaol offers an insight into life for inmates during the 19th century.
Located where the Garavogue River meets Sligo Bay, this charming town is an idyllic destination for history buffs and literary enthusiasts. It holds close ties to the poet W.B. Yeats, whose life and legacy are showcased at the Sligo County Museum. Sligo also makes a good base for hiking to the iconic, flat-topped summit of Benbulben, which offers magnificent views across the area.
You can spend an afternoon wandering around the medieval ruins of Sligo Abbey and marveling at the megalithic monuments of Carrowmore, which date back to the 4th millennium BC. If you’re into art, then The Model is not to be missed. This contemporary arts center is home to the Niland Collection, an impressive assembly of 20th-century Irish art.
From the bustling, modern city of Dublin to the quaint charm of Sligo, Ireland offers a variety of places to stay that cater to all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re interested in history and culture, stunning natural landscapes, or lively nightlife, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country. So start planning your trip to Ireland and get ready for an unforgettable experience! Sláinte! (Cheers in Irish) Happy travels