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It’s difficult to pin down what the best things to see and do in Ireland are. This is a country that has  gloriously stunning countryside (we’re looking at you, Dingle Peninsula), while there’s plenty of fun to be had in cities such as Dublin. Keen to explore picturesque villages, white sand beaches, stunning food and a proud cultural history? Ireland has this in abundance – and luckily for you our members are ready to enhance your travels with a home swap. So read on for our suggestions on the top things to see and do in Ireland.

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. Consider booking the Book of Kells tour on Planet Ware to avoid the queues!

 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.

 

The buzzing streets of Dublin

 

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!  

 

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!

 

The Cliffs of Moher

 

 Connemara National Park is also in the region, and it’s the ideal spot to stretch your legs with some amazing hikes. For a great insight into the area, check out Culture Trip’s Top 10 Beautiful Hiking Trails in Connemara. Our members have many spectacular home swaps in Galway, like this beautiful waterfront property Boasting impressive views of Clifden Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the three-bedroom property is both spacious and cosy, with sliding doors leading from the dining room onto the patio. On the doorstep of The Wild Atlantic Way, there are great walks directly from the property, and there are oodles of fantastic eateries to try such as Marconi Restaurant.

 

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.

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.

 

This delightfully unique property is located in a former church.

 

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 2020 useful. 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.

 

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