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Ireland travel guide: The best things to do and see in Ireland
Destinations & Inspiration

Ireland travel guide: The best things to do and see in Ireland

Lydia Altman
By Lydia Altman - 16 minute read

Ire­land has some­thing for every­one. With the most beau­ti­ful land­scapes, vibrant cities such as Dublin and Belfast and plen­ty of fam­i­ly-friend­ly activ­i­ties, you can expe­ri­ence every­thing from a peace­ful walk­ing hol­i­day through to a thrilling whirl­wind of social­is­ing and eat­ing out — bet­ter still, why not com­bine the two, and top them off with a stun­ning home exchange?!

The best things to see and do in Dublin

A trip to Ire­land wouldn’t be com­plete with­out a vis­it to the cap­i­tal city of Dublin. Famous for its cul­tur­al her­itage and charm­ing hos­pi­tal­i­ty, the city ben­e­fits from beau­ti­ful Geor­gian archi­tec­ture and pic­turesque parks such as St Stephen’s Green — which com­bine to make it the most per­fect city. It is also extreme­ly well-known for the renowned lit­er­ary fig­ures that have come from here such as Yeats and Joyce (to name but a few). No sur­prise then that it was dubbed a UNESCO City of Lit­er­a­ture in 2021.

Some of the key attrac­tions in Dublin that you should see are The Lit­tle Muse­um of Dublin, Dublin Cas­tle and the Nation­al Muse­um of Ire­land. Trin­i­ty Col­lege is prob­a­bly the best spot to start your tour of Dublin. Inside the col­lege you can vis­it the extra­or­di­nary per­ma­nent exhi­bi­tion of the 9th cen­tu­ry Book of Kells.

Dublin city centre

The buzzing streets of Dublin

If you fan­cy a great shop­ping trip, take a stroll down the famous Grafton Street where you will find a broad range of bou­tiques such as Brown Thomas and after­wards, stop for a cof­fee at the famous Bew­ley’s Café, which has been a Dublin insti­tu­tion at this loca­tion since 1927. If you’re on a shop­ping spree, it’s well worth tak­ing a slight diver­sion to the arty Pow­er­scourt Town­house Cen­tre, with its design­er shops and trendy places to eat. Dublin is also known for its great Irish whiskey tast­ing expe­ri­ences which you can enjoy at dis­til­leries such as Jame­son Dis­tillery or choose your own favourite with the Every­body Hates a Tourist guide to whiskey dis­til­leries in Dublin.

If you’re look­ing for a home swap in Dublin, our mem­bers have many gor­geous options to choose from such as this love­ly fam­i­ly home which is based right in the city cen­tre. If you decide to stay here, the host rec­om­mends some great restau­rants and bars such as Locks and The Head­line Bar.

Ireland’s best cities (other than Dublin!)

Ire­land has oodles of famous cities to choose from such as Cork, Gal­way and Belfast! If you’re head­ing to Cork, the sec­ond largest city in the Repub­lic of Ire­land, you’ll find plen­ty of things to do such as vis­it­ing the St. Fin Barre’s Cathe­dral and Blar­ney Cas­tle. The famous Eng­lish Mar­ket locat­ed in the heart of Cork is one of the world’s old­est munic­i­pal mar­kets, and is a big lure for locals and tourists alike. After a morn­ing spent explor­ing the mar­ket, why not stop for a bite of fresh local food at Far­m­gate Restau­rant? Our mem­bers have some great options for home swaps in Cork such as this love­ly fam­i­ly home near the city cen­tre. The host rec­om­mends a num­ber of fun local spots such as Eco restau­rant and South Coun­try Bar for some Irish singing!

There are plen­ty of things to see such and do in Belfast such as The Titan­ic Muse­um and St George’s Mar­ket, which is the last sur­viv­ing Vic­to­ri­an cov­ered mar­ket in Belfast! Most impor­tant­ly, take a day trip to the breath­tak­ing Giants Cause­way. To get here, enjoy the 11-mile bus jour­ney from Col­eraine, cycle route 93 or book with a tour group through Trip Advi­sor. For Game of Thrones fans, there is a whistlestop tour of GoTs most icon­ic scene loca­tions! If you need some­where cosy and homey to go back to after a long day of explor­ing, our mem­bers have lots of love­ly home swaps to choose from. This fam­i­ly home locat­ed in the cen­tre of Belfast is near to all the main attrac­tions. Unpack your bags (to work up an appetite!) and head to Il Pira­ta, Neills Hill or Made in Belfast for a tasty treat. Or if you’d rather just go for a drink, give The Mer­chant a go!

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

Enjoy rural Ireland

If you’re head­ing to Ire­land to enjoy the scenery, then look no fur­ther than The Cliffs of Moher. As Ireland’s most vis­it­ed nat­ur­al attrac­tion, they’re just a 1.5 hour dri­ve away from Gal­way, (where our mem­bers have a lot of great home swaps to choose from) or you can vis­it from Dublin on a day trip! For more infor­ma­tion on the area, check out a guide to the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk that was cre­at­ed by trav­el blog­gers Trav­el? Yes Please! If that’s giv­en you a taste for an amaz­ing nat­ur­al get­away, and you’re look­ing for some­thing that’s just as awe-inspir­ing, then vis­it the Ker­ry Cliffs where you can even camp!

You can start any­where along the 111-mile-long scenic route, but many peo­ple choose to start at Ken­mare or Kil­lar­ney — where our mem­bers hap­pen to have some love­ly home exchanges. This mag­nif­i­cent home in Kil­lar­ney has stun­ning views, so after a long day of walk­ing you can enjoy even more of Ireland’s nat­ur­al beau­ty. Make sure you stop for din­ner at Garret’s for some deli­cious home-cooked food!

Ireland’s beautiful coastline

You might not think of Ire­land as a des­ti­na­tion for a beach hol­i­day – but you’d be wrong to dis­count Ireland’s stun­ning beach­es and white sands as the ide­al back­drop for some sea­side escapades! The pret­ti­est part of Ireland’s coast­line is hot­ly debat­ed – as an island, they’re sur­round­ed by the sea after all! – but IB4UD (Ire­land Before You Die) has come up with a fan­tas­tic round-up of the best and most beau­ti­ful beach­es in Ireland.

This delightfully unique property is located in a former church.

This delight­ful­ly unique prop­er­ty is locat­ed in a for­mer church.

The sea­side vil­lage of Strang­ford didn’t make this par­tic­u­lar list, but if you fan­cy ven­tur­ing off the beat­en track, then this incred­i­ble home swap in a con­vert­ed church could be just what you’re look­ing for. Dat­ing back to 1845, the church is a pro­tect­ed his­tor­i­cal build­ing and is well locat­ed for great shops, bars and restau­rants. Castle­ward (AKA Game of Thrones’ Win­ter­fell) is next door, while a fer­ry ser­vice links the home with Porta­fer­ry, which is locat­ed on the Ards Peninsula.

Try as we might, it’s impos­si­ble to come up with a defin­i­tive list of the best things to see and do in Ire­land. Stun­ning scenery, a rich his­to­ry and a warm wel­come away you – plus a drop of Guin­ness and whiskey! Acquaint your­self with the best Irish whiskies before your trav­els, and book your­self into the Guin­ness Store­house in Dublin for an unfor­get­table tour. If you’re plan­ning a wider explo­ration of UK (and why wouldn’t you – these coun­tries are all so excit­ing!) then you might find our round-up of the Top UK Love Home Swaps of 2020use­ful. If you’re still mak­ing your mind up on where you want to go, our trav­el guide to Scot­land and Eng­land trav­el guide should also come in handy. And of course, don’t for­get that we love to hear from our mem­bers. Share your tips on trav­el­ling in Ire­land through our social media chan­nels using our Love Home Swap hash­tag — #welove­home­swap or head to our friend­ly Face­book groups to share hints and tips. If you need a lit­tle help in plan­ning your itin­er­ary around Ire­land, then get in touch with us today.