The Top 10 Sights of Ireland

  • 01 of 10

    Newgrange and Bru na Boinne

    Passage tomb at Newgrange.
    ••• Sean Caffrey/Getty Images

    Talking about the best sights of Ireland can be difficult in a country with so many famous attractions. Beauty, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder, but these amazing sites are among the country's most universally loved. So let us start of with a biggie:

    This is not a single sight, though, but a complex historic landscape on the banks of the Boyne, dotted with prehistoric monuments. The largest are Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Newgrange and Knowth can only be visited by tour, starting from the modern visitor centre. Be there early and plan for a half day (at least) to take in the whole experience. Newgrange is located in County Meath, in the Province of Leinster. The nearest airport would be Dublin Airport.

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  • 02 of 10

    The Hill of Tara

    The Lia Fail Standing Stone, Tara, County Meath, Ireland
    ••• This stone was reputed to "scream" when the rightful High King touched it. George Munday / Design Pics / Getty Images

    The ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland and one of the Irish royal sites, now little more than immense earthworks covered with grass. The excellent audiovisual show in the disused church will help in understanding the importance of this site. The Hill of Tara is fascinating - though you need a bit of background knowledge. This site is also located in County Meath, in the Province of Leinster, a short distance from Navan. The nearest airport again would be Dublin Airport.

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  • 03 of 10

    Dublin City

    Campanile in Trinity College, Dublin City, Ireland
    ••• David Soanes Photography/Getty Images

    Best explored on board of one of the numerous bus tours or on foot, Dublin is a relatively small city, feeling more like a jumble of villages at times. It is, however, rich in history, as well as full of sights and museums. Dublin's top attractions alone can keep the tourist busy for a whole week! Avoid the city centre on Saturdays, when half the population of Ireland seems to go shopping here! Dublin Airport is outside the city proper, a bus ride into town will take about half an hour.

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  • 04 of 10

    Glendalough

    Round Tower and Graveyard in Glendalough Early Monastic Site, County Wicklow, Ireland
    ••• George Munday / Design Pics / Getty Images

    In Glendalough, the valley of the two lakes, you will find one of the most important early Christian sights here. And its setting is simply beautiful, in a valley beside tranquil lakes. Lovers of history and/or architecture can indulge in a massive round tower, the quaint St Kevin's Kitchen (actually a church) and a cathedral (a ruin, but still imposing enough), all in an ancient monastic setting. Lovers of nature can simply enjoy the walks along the lakes. Glendalough is located in County Wicklow, in the Province of Leinster, a short distance from Dublin. The nearest airport would be Dublin Airport.

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  • 05 of 10

    Sligo and Area

    Benbulben Mountain
    ••• Mick Hunt / Getty Images

    The town of Sligo itself is decidedly underwhelming, but the surroundings make more than up for it. Knocknarea has the (reputed) grave of Queen Maeve on top, and spectacular sights to enjoy, after a steep climb. Carrowmore is the largest stone age cemetery in Ireland. Drumcliff sports a (truncated) round tower, a medieval high cross and the grave of W.B.Yeats right next to the spectacular table mountain of Ben Bulben. All these are located in (what a surprise) County Sligo, in the Province of Connacht. The nearest airports would be either Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport, or Belfast - all are roughly the same distance away.

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  • 06 of 10

    The Giant's Causeway

    Giant's Causeway, county Antrim, Northern Ireland
    ••• Joe Daniel Price / Getty Images

    The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's top sight and accessible by car and shuttlebus (if the fairly steep final mile seems too daunting). Strangely regular basalt columns point the way towards Scotland, seen on the horizon on good days. Travellers with some time on their hands are advised to take in the nearby Old Bushmills Distillery, connected by steam train. Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway are located in County Antrim, in the Northern Irish part of the Province of Ulster. The nearest airport would be Belfast.

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  • 07 of 10

    The Lakes of Killarney and the Ring of Kerry

    Ross Castle on the Shores of Lough Leane, Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland
    ••• George Munday / Design Pics / Getty Images

    If you want to experience spectacular coastal scenery, breathtaking mountain landscapes, ancient monuments and the tranquil old-world-charm of Killarney's lakes, castles and houses, this is the place to go. Bear in mind that thousands of tourists will have the same idea - the best time here can be had both sides of the summer months. Killarney is located in County Kerry, part of the Irish Province of Munster. The nearest airport would be Cork Airport or Killarney (European flights only).

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  • 08 of 10

    The Cliffs of Moher

    Cliffs of Moher in County Clare
    ••• Peter Unger / Getty Images

    An undulating landscape suddenly ends in a sheer drop of more than 650 feet, straight down to the Atlantic. You have reached the Cliffs of Moher. One of the most spectacular coastal areas in Europe. The visitor centre has been rebuilt on a grand scale - which explains the high price of a visit. The Cliffs of Moher can be found in County Clare, in Ireland's Province of Munster. The nearest airport would be Shannon Airport.

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  • 09 of 10

    The Burren

    Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare, Ireland
    ••• Design Pics / Gareth McCormack / Getty Images

    Wedged between the rough beauty of the Aran Islands and the bustling university city of Galway, the near featureless desolation of this limestone plateau has often been likened to a moonscape. Ancient monuments and bizarre rock formations abound. Some spectacular sights can be taken in by driving around the Burren next to Galway Bay. The Burren can be found in County Clare, in Ireland's Province of Munster. The nearest airport would be Shannon Airport.

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  • 10 of 10

    Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

    Bunratty Castle & River Raite, Co Clare, Ireland
    ••• Design Pics Inc / Getty Images

    The tower house, or castle, of Bunratty was built in 1467 by the O'Brien family and has been renovated with no expenses spared. A medieval banquet is offered in the evenings, complete with period entertainment. During the day the adjoining Bunratty Folk Park allows a glimpse into Ireland's past. Very much sanitized in places, but worth a leisurely stroll. Bunratty can also be found in County Clare, in Ireland's Province of Munster. The nearest airport would be Shannon Airport, just around the corner.