Ireland is one of the United Kingdom's most beautiful countries, located within the North Atlantic across the North Channel from Great Britain. Visitors can explore the historic sites of the "Emerald Isle" as part of day trip excursions from meccas like Dublin, including the unique archaeological sites of the Boyne Valley, which date back five millennia. Major cities like Belfast and Cork are home to cultural attractions, fine dining destinations, and interesting museums, including the preserved attractions of the Titanic Quarter, which honor the ill-fated 20th-century ocean liner. Six national parks preserve stunning natural wonders like the Lakes of Killarney, while UNESCO World Heritage Sites protect regions like the picturesque Cliffs of Moher and the volcanic Giants Causeway. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.The Boyne Valley
4.The Cliffs of Moher
9.Glenveagh National Park
10.The Great Western Greenway
13.Killarney National Park
14.The Marble Arch Caves
16.The Shannon Blueway
17.Slieve Gullion Forest Park
18.The Barrow Way
20.Wicklow Mountain National Park
20 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in Ireland
- The Boyne Valley, Photo: Richard Semik/stock.adobe.com
- Belfast, Photo: Guilherme/stock.adobe.com
- Blarney Castle, Photo: Madrugada Verde/stock.adobe.com
- The Cliffs of Moher, Photo: Elena Schweitzer/stock.adobe.com
- Connemara, Photo: Irina Schmidt/stock.adobe.com
- Cork, Photo: Madrugada Verde/stock.adobe.com
- Galway, Photo: gabe9000c/stock.adobe.com
- Giants Causeway, Photo: Lyd Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Glenveagh National Park, Photo: Irina Schmidt/stock.adobe.com
- The Great Western Greenway, Photo: lisandrotrarbach/stock.adobe.com
- Howth, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- Kilkenny, Photo: Julia Mashkova/stock.adobe.com
- Killarney National Park, Photo: Lukasz Pajor/stock.adobe.com
- The Marble Arch Caves, Photo: Adam/stock.adobe.com
- Northern Ireland, Photo: Irina Schmidt/stock.adobe.com
- The Shannon Blueway, Photo: watcherfox/stock.adobe.com
- Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Photo: Stephen/stock.adobe.com
- The Barrow Way, Photo: M.Byrne/stock.adobe.com
- Waterford, Photo: Richard Semik/stock.adobe.com
- Wicklow Mountain National Park, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: SBphotos/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Croke Park
Croke Park is a historical, enormous stadium venue that offers guests of all ages the opportunity to go behind the scenes and explore. See a show, brave the skyline, or just browse the museum… it is easy to spend all day at the stadium and still feel like there is more to see.
Croke Park is part of the Gaelic Athletic Association (also known as GAA), which is the largest sporting organization in the country of Ireland. The park was designed specifically to help represent the more unique of Ireland’s national games, namely Gaelic football and hurling, and has been in use since 1884. In November of 1920, the park was the site of Bloody Sunday (commemorated in a U2 song), when 15 people were killed by the Royal Irish Police during the Irish War of Independence.
After being redesigned in the 1990s, the stadium can now hold up to 82,000 people at a time (the third largest European stadium) and regularly hits capacity during tournaments. At one point, the park held the world record for most people in attendance (although this record was broken in 2012 and again in 2016). The park has also seen the flames from the Olympic torch as it passed through the stadium in 2012.
While Croke Park encompasses a huge and diverse range of attractions, it is recommended that guests to the park start out by touring the museum and/or taking the Croke Park tour.
The GAA museum is often considered the true “heart” of Croke Park. The museum was designed to immerse guests in the fascinating history of the park and the Gaelic games, taking them from the ancient Irish times through modern day Irish sports. Not only does the GAA museum seek to teach guests about the history of those uniquely Irish sports, but it also showcases the myriad of ways in which the Gaelic Athletic Association has contributed to the sporting, cultural, and social heritage of Ireland.
Guests should make sure to see the original Liam MacCarthy (for hurling) and Sam Maguire (for Gaelic football) Cups, the Hall of Fame (with photos of Irish greats like Noel Skehen and Mick O’Dwyer), and the floor that is entirely dedicated to the games in current times. There is also an Interactive Game Zone, where guests can try Gaelic football and hurling for themselves.
The museum is two stories and will often feature temporary and traveling exhibitions in addition to the permanent ones. Additional information about all of the exhibitions is located on the museum website.
The GAA museum is often closed on match days, so it is strongly recommended that all guests contact the museum before a planned visit to verify that they will be open. Admission is required at a standard fee for adults, a reduced fee for students and seniors, a further reduced fee for children, and a family discount for two adults and either two or three children.
After visiting the museum, guests can take one of the frequently offered stadium tours. These tours include admission to the museum as well as an all-access pass through the stadium while learning about its history. The tour takes approximately an hour and a half, with one hour of that being the actual tour and the additional time being spent with the introductory film shown prior to the tour (called A Sunday in September).
It is strongly urged that guests wear comfortable shoes and dress seasonally appropriate. There is plenty of walking required with this tour, including ramps and steps. Escalators are available; however, elevators are not. The tour is considered completely wheelchair accessible. All tours are subject to change on match days, and entry onto the pitching mound is strictly off limits. Additional ticketing is required, which can be purchased either at the park or through the website.
One final area to visit during a stop at Croke Park is the exciting and beautiful skyline tour. Not for the faint of heart, as the skyline at Croke Park stands 17 stories tall, guests are welcome to brave the suspended walkway which comes out directly over the pitching mound. Skyline tours last about two hours, which includes a mandatory health and safety briefing.
Guests are strongly urged to dress appropriately (which includes no skirts, dresses, or high heels). Cameras are always welcome, but guests should be advised to always keep a tight hold on them. Additional ticketing is required, and children must be at least 1.2 meters (just under 4 feet) tall. Student and family discounts are also available.
The staff at Croke Park strives to make every field trip to the stadium the most exciting experience for students.
? Primary Schools - For primary school students, the staff at the park offers both interactive experiences and guided tours to both engage and educate. They offer a student’s version of the tours that are offered on a regular basis - the museum tour, the stadium tour, and the skyline tour. The majority of these tours last about two hours and admission are offered at a significant group discount. One teacher is permitted free for every ten students on the field trip. Bus parking is allowed onsite, and students can have a picnic either inside or outside in one of the designated areas (which includes complimentary coffee and tea for all teachers). Pre-visit resources will be provided to teachers ahead of time and all visits will include a trip to the gift shop as well as the Interactive Games Zone.
? Secondary Schools - Slightly older students can also benefit from a trip to the stadium, which offers all of the above-mentioned benefits with slightly more educational background. There is also an additional tour, which combines highlights of all the tours, and focuses on the events of November 21st, 1920. Students are also welcome to visit the archives at the stadium. Lunch can be purchased at the on-site cafe, and bus parking is available. Teachers would benefit from looking over the pre-visit resources as well and can contact the staff at the stadium if they are interested in specifying any tour to the specific educational needs of their class.
Due to the massive size of the stadium, special events are frequently held on site. From famous touring acts like the Rolling Stones to hosting the Special Olympics, guests should check the website prior to a visit. Tickets are often not available at the doors and parking is significantly impacted during these events.
Many famous people also visit the stadium. In the past, the stadium has welcomed Queen Elizabeth the Second as well as a former vice president of China. Although this does not happen frequently, tickets sell quickly.
The stadium also focuses very heavily on bringing cultural events in. Recently, the GAA celebrated 125 years in explosive fashion, complete with fireworks, light shows and live music. The interactive calendar on the website maintains an up to day list of all of these events.
In addition to the many special events, Croke Park is a popular destination for a variety of meetings and events. The staff seeks to be one of the premier meeting places, and they focus on providing excellent service in their over 5,000 square feet of space (which has one awards for being some of the best built events spaces). The stadium has hosted a huge variety of events in the past - including the All Ireland Business Summit, and the Irish Youth Music Awards/National Day. Catering is provided on site, which makes the stadium a one stop shop for any event (no matter how big or small). Weddings of all sizes are also welcome. Contact the staff at the stadium to submit an inquiry for booking.
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Dining and Shopping
The dining and shopping options are almost endless at Croke Park. Stop by one of the many different restaurants and sports bars - like Eighteen84 or Leather and Ash - for a sit-down bite to eat or have a more open terrace experience at Dineen Hill 16. There are multiple shops as well, providing a wide range of gift options like apparel, posters, or sports memorabilia. Guests can also visit the museum gift shop, which has a large range of more historical souvenirs as well.
Croke Park, Jones’ Rd, Drumconda, Dublin 3, Ireland, Phone: +353-18-19-23-00
Attraction Spotlight: Kilmainham Gaol Museum
This former prison in Kilmainham, in Dublin, Ireland, houses a fascinating museum that guests can make it through in just under an hour and a half. Learn about the history of the prison system in Ireland, as well as learning other architectural, cultural, and political facts about the local area as well as the country in general.
The Kilmainham Gaol museum is run by the Office of Public Works (part of Ireland’s government agency body). Many famous Irish revolutionaries, especially those involved in the Easter Rising of 1916, were eventually executed by the British in Kilmainham Gaol. It was built in 1796 and originally called “New Gaol,” as it was the newer of the prisons built in County Dublin. The museum was established in 1971 and welcomes thousands of visitors on an annual basis. It has won multiple awards, including a Traveler’s Choice Award from Trip Advisor.
Due to the history of Kilmainham Gaol, the majority of the exhibitions located at the museum are related to the history of the prison.
Guests will start their tour by entering one of the two chapels located on the inside of Kilmainham Gaol. The two chapels represent different faiths - one Catholic and the other Protestant. However, only the Catholic chapel is currently open to the general public. Located on the first floor of the museum, the walls have been painted red (the Protestant chapel has blue walls). One of the more impressive pieces in the chapel is the wooden altar, which was created on site in 1882 by a carpenter from Belfast named James Lalor (he was a prisoner at the time). Mass was held every Sunday and was often the only place the prisoners were allowed to see each other and socialize. One famous piece of history to occur in the Catholic chapel was a wedding in May 1916 between Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett a few short hours before his execution.
The West Wing of the prison is the only surviving architectural piece that remains in its original state and is the oldest part of the museum. Many notable prisoners were incarcerated here - many for political reasons as well as many arrested as part of the Vagrancy Act. It is dark, dank, and gloomy.
The East Wing of the prison was far more recently built, almost 100 years later in 1860s. Designed by John McCurdy and modelled after Panoptican (by Jeremy Benthem), this wing is light to the West Wing’s darkness. The East Wing has also been a famous setting for filming movies, like In the Name of the Father, and Michael Collins. It is also home to a few different exhibits:
? Prisoner crafts - A small section and exhibit of the museum is dedicated to prisoner crafts, which are on display in an enclosed area. These crafts include hand carved crucifixes and other religious artifacts, eating utensils, and other wood carvings.
? Madonna mural - Famously painted by Grace Gifford (Plunkett), this beautiful and colorful mural was painted on the wall of the cell she was incarcerated in during the Civil War.
The final piece of visiting the museum is to see the Stonebreakers’ Yard, which is the famous of the yards located within the Gaol. It was originally used for prisoners doing hard labor, and there are a few photographs scattered across the yard showing the type of manual labor that was performed. The yard was also where prisoners were executed, and those prisoners are commemorated with two crosses and a plaque with their names.
Guided tours of the museum are available, lasting around an hour in length. Due to their popularity, these tours must be booked in advance as they routinely will sell out and there are no more than 35 guests allowed on a tour at a time. Guests who book a guided tour should arrive at the museum no less than fifteen minutes prior to their scheduled tour time.
Admission is required to access the museum (this admission will include a guided tour, although it is not a requirement to enter). There is a discount on tickets that are booked in advance.
Guests will enter through the Courthouse entrance. There are currently no official parking facilities for visitors, but parking is available nearby at the modern art museum (roughly a five-minute walk). Bus parking is available.
Students are always welcome to visit the Gaol, and guided tours are available that are each tailored specifically to the interests and requirements of each classroom group. In addition to the historical aspect of the prison museum (learn about the prisoners and their history, the historical changes related to different periods of time, and learning about the history of the prison system), curriculum can also be tied to design and art themes (students can learn all about the architects that designed both wings of the prison, identify different styles of architecture, use critical thinking and visual skills).
The staff at the museum has designed each program to support specific aspects of Ireland’s Leaving Certificate (part of the history curriculum required for students to graduate). This hits on aspects of architecture, cultural and social issues that are requirements for receiving the certification.
Specialized tours for students are also occasionally provided during Heritage Week and other school holidays. These field trips must be booked in advance by contacted the museum staff directly. Group rates are permitted and are steeply discounted from general admission fees.
The website also offers a variety of teacher’s resources so that teachers can best plan their field trips. These guides are printable as well, and it is recommended that teachers view them, print them out, and contact the museum staff to coordinate a visit.
Field trips to the museum are recommended for students no younger than 10 years of age due to the material discussed during a visit.
There is a small cafe that is located near the museum in the courthouse, on the first floor of the building. There are also many different dining options located a short walk from the prison museum as well, and include a variety of different casual, fast food, or sit-down dining experiences.
Kilmainham Gaol Museum, Kilmainham Courthouse, Inchicore Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland, D08 RK28, Phone: +353-14-53-59-84
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Attraction Spotlight: Guinness Storehouse
Visiting the Guinness Storehouse is often a once in a lifetime dream experience, especially for beer lovers. Guests will spend over an hour perusing the grounds and exhibits and can both start and end their visit with a fresh Guinness stout (provided they are of legal drinking age, of course).
The Guinness Storehouse opened in 2000 and has since welcomed more than four million visitors through its front doors. It is located in Dublin, Ireland. The building where the storehouse is located was built originally in 1904 and was used as a beer fermentation building until 1988.
The Guinness Storehouse is a huge, seven story building built around an enormous glass atrium that has been designed in the shape of a Guinness pint.
On the ground floor, where guests will enter, there are exhibitions about the four main ingredients of a Guinness beer - water, yeast, hops, and barley - as well as a history of the founder of Guinness, Arthur Guinness.
The other floors go into detail about the history of the brand’s advertising as well as an interactive experience that teaches guests about the importance of responsible drinking. There is also a wing that has been newly opened that features a live installation that talks about how brewing is done in the present day.
Self-guided tours of the storehouse generally last about an hour and a half, but guests are welcome to stay as long or as little as they like (visits may last longer when guests take advantage of the experiences or dining options).
Guided tours are also available for groups that contain more than six people. These tours are led by an experience Guinness tour guide that leads visitors through the building, pointing out important artifacts and explaining the history of the storehouse and the brand in depth. There is an additional cost for guided tours and they can be booked in advance.
The attractions at the Guinness Storehouse are generally made up of a variety of different “experiences,” which work a lot like themed tours. Below is a selection of the available experiences listed on the website.
? Guinness Academy - The Guinness Academy is an interactive experience held at the storehouse that teaches guests over the legal drinking age how to pour what is considered the “perfect” pint of Guinness with a foolproof six step process that is said to be as legendary as Guinness itself. The process, although only clocking in at a brief 119.5 seconds, can be tricky and there are huge margins of error between step one (the iconic “surge”) and step six (the eventual settle). Become a Guinness pouring hero with the Guinness Academy.
? The Tasting Experience - Guests will be taking through a multi-sensory and interactive tasting journey that introduces them to the many various levels of flavor in the iconic stout. The Tasting Experience will help visitors appreciate every last velvety smooth sip.
Tickets may be booked in advance of a visit (it is recommended because it reduces the wait time at the front door). Guests who do choose to book their tickets prior to visiting will receive a 10% discount on admission cost and will be able to skip right to the front of the admission line.
The entire building is wheelchair accessible. Parking is available for free just a short distance from the storehouse as well.
There are many different special events offered at the Storehouse. The website maintains a comprehensive interactive calendar which includes date, time, cost, and details about each event. Below is a selection of some of the most popular.
? Guinness Supper Club - The supper club event is one of the more fun events held at the storehouse, as it combines beer and food in a unique way and introduces guests to a variety of food and drink options in their own luxury box. Each reservation comes with a five-course tasting menu of tapas, multiple pints, and a meet and greet with the chef.
? International Stout Festival - The Stout Fest, held in early November, includes tasting sessions (including a stout brewed for that weekend only), music, entertainment, and more. Each admission ticket also includes an entry to the “Golden Ticket” raffle, where one lucky guest will win a once in a lifetime behind the scenes tour of the storehouse.
? Saint Patrick’s Festival - Where better in the world to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day than at a beer storehouse in Dublin? The storehouse goes all out for the holiday with food, beer, live music and entertainment, and other fun surprises.
The venue is also available for guests to rent out for their own special events and event spaces at the storehouse can handle anywhere from 10 to up to 2000 guests at a time. Catering is available as well, which includes bar services. Contact the staff at the museum for additional information or to book a special event. Be aware that, due to the popularity of the storehouse, events may book quickly, and the wait time can be long for reservations.
Dining and Shopping
There are a multitude of delicious dining facilities for guests visiting the storehouse, all of which also serve fresh Guinness pints. Visit either the Gravity or the Connoisseur Bar or check out one of the four restaurants at the storehouse - the Brewer’s Dining Hall, 1837 Bar and Brasserie, Arthur’s Bar, or the Cooper Cafe. There is also a gift shop at the storehouse, selling a selection of Guinness themed merchandise like apparel, pint glasses, and home goods like metal signs.
Guinness Storehouse, St James’s Gate, Dublin 8, Ireland, Phone: +353-14-08-48-00
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