6 of the Best Cities to Visit in Ireland

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland

Updated On: March 31, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

When most people think of Ireland, they think of its friendly people, great sense of humour, incredible history, culture, and more. Ireland may be a small country compared to others worldwide, but it isn’t short of great things for you to discover.

Each city in Ireland offers something unique from the next one. No matter where you are, North or South of Ireland, you’ll fall in love with the Emerald Isle’s undeniable beauty and welcoming nature. From ancient castles and gardens to modern estates and attractions, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Join us as we explore 6 of Ireland’s best cities for locals and tourists. Scroll down to read through the list, or click on one of the highlighted sections below to skip ahead!

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland Belfast min
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Many cities in Ireland are popular with locals and tourists.
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland

1. Galway

First on our list is the beautiful wonder of Galway City, located on the stunning west coast of Ireland. Galway has often been touted as one of the most engaging cities in Ireland. You’ll find some of the best unspoilt natural landscapes here and a fascinating and rich history.

The city has always had close links to the Irish language and culture, with significant music and dance traditions. It’s also the biggest city in Ireland, with the largest population of native Irish speakers. The city is also known for its artsy side, as many streets are covered in unique artwork that makes strolling around Galway a delightful experience.

You’ll find a variety of brilliant Irish pubs here known for their great atmosphere and live music. Spending a night socialising in a traditional pub is an unmissable opportunity to enjoy a drink and immerse yourself in Galway’s culture.

Eyre Square

A must-do while in Galway is to visit Eyre Square. This lovely public park is located right in the heart of the city. In 2006, the park underwent a massive redevelopment, making it an area where many people can relax and enjoy the greenery. Walking around Eyre Square, you’ll find a unique break from the city.

However, shops are still nearby for those who enjoy a bit of retail therapy!

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland Galway Bay min
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Galway is a beautiful destination.

Galway Market

If you want to get a taste of Galway, then head to the Galway Market. Galway Market has been trading in the city for centuries, making it a staple tourist attraction. You can browse through a variety of 100 stalls that sell souvenirs, from local foods to arts and crafts.

It’s a great place to meet locals, shop, and experience Galway’s culture.

Dungauire Castle

If you want to explore some of Galway’s fascinating history, check out Dungauire Castle, an impressive 16th-century castle. Throughout the year, there are a variety of medieval banquets that take place within the castle’s stone walls.

These banquets include theatrical performances where visitors can enjoy delicious food and drinks while enjoying the entertainment. The castle was built in a very picturesque location. From this magnificent structure, visitors can admire views out to Galway Bar.

2. Dublin

Dublin is next on our list of the best cities to visit in Ireland, a city no one could forget! Dublin, the country’s capital city, is the largest city in Ireland and the most popular among tourists. It’s probably the most multicultural city in Ireland, and there is an endless list of great things to check out in Dublin.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Things to do in Dublin

The city is full of character and Irish charm, making locals and tourists alike want to return for more. From its cobbled streets to classic pubs to its famous attractions and architecture, Dublin is a city that won’t let you down.

The Guinness Storehouse

If you ask anyone what Ireland is famous for, I bet a lot of people will immediately think of Guinness. With this in mind, a trip to Dublin wouldn’t be complete without visiting the iconic Guinness Storehouse.

At the storehouse, guests can learn more about the famous drink, its exciting history, and how it is made. Visitors even get taught how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness! Once your tour of the storehouse is complete, make sure to check out the Gravity Bar and have a pint!

Visiting the Guinness Storehouse is easily one of the best experiences in Ireland if you’re a fan of the world-famous Irish beer.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | A video tour of the Guinness Storehouse

Book of Kells

Dublin is full of exciting and thought-provoking history you shouldn’t miss out on. One of the city’s most iconic pieces of history is the world’s oldest book, located at Trinity College. Visiting the library and seeing the book is a must-do while in Dublin. The book is considered one of Ireland’s best cultural treasures.

The Trinity Library, where the book is kept, is also worth exploring in its own right. The library is unique and incredible, thanks partly to its beautifully designed and memorable architecture.

The library holds an impressive six million printed volumes on its shelves, including journals and manuscripts. Book lovers, this will be heaven for you!

Trinity Library is so remarkable that it was used as an inspiration for the Hogwarts Library in the popular film series Harry Potter. After you visit the library, watch the film to see the similarities!

Kilmainham Gaol

Another famous top attraction in Dublin is the largest unoccupied prison in Europe. The historic gaol has a fascinating history with many interesting and exciting stories. Guests can experience these stories told through the guided tours of the prison.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland Kilmainham Gaol min
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Kilmainham Gaol is the largest unoccupied prison in Europe.

The tales described by the knowledgeable guides give visitors a real insight into what happened there all those years ago. Guests at the gaol will also explore all the different parts of the prison, as not much has changed since it closed its doors and became the relic it is today.

For history buffs, touring this historic structure is one of the best things to do in Dublin, Ireland.

3. Limerick

Limerick is next on our list of the best cities to visit in Ireland. It’s a beautiful old city that embodies the spirit and culture of Ireland. The quirky city of Limerick is known as Ireland’s first-ever city of culture.

It is not difficult to find pieces of art and culture in Limerick; the city hosts various events throughout the year. Additionally, the city is also renowned for literature. Many famous Irish authors, including Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt, have come from here. Others include novelists Kate O’Brien and Michael Curtin.

Limerick is one of Ireland’s best cities because of its inviting atmosphere. The city’s scenic landscapes and historic attractions further add to its charm. And let’s not forget its food scene, which includes award-winning restaurants! Limerick is a city starting to create a name among tourists, making it a must-visit destination in Ireland.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland Limerick Castle min
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | King John’s Castle was built in the 13th century.

King John’s Castle

Limerick is full of incredible architecture that will wow anyone who visits. That’s why visiting King John’s Castle is one of the most fascinating things to do in the city. The castle is probably Limerick’s most photographed site, and we understand why! It is undeniably beautiful.

The castle site has recently undergone a massive redevelopment, which has made the attraction even more popular. The castle was first built in the 13th century, and this revamp has helped to make it more accessible and visitor-friendly.

Ireland is known for its brilliant castles, and King John’s Castle is one you must see up close to capture its beauty and craftsmanship truly.

As mentioned above, Limerick is an artsy place full of culture. So, we can’t forget to mention one of the city’s best art galleries: the Limerick City Gallery of Art! Going to this gallery and exploring its displays is a great way to see some fantastic contemporary art.

Here, guests will find one of the most impressive Irish art collections from the 18th century to the 21st century. One of the famous collections found here is the National Collection of Contemporary Drawings.

The Limerick City Gallery of Art is a real treat for art lovers and anyone interested in exploring Irish Art.

Frank McCourt Museum

Limerick has always been renowned for telling stories and for creating great museums. The Frank McCourt Museum is dedicated to the successful Irish-American author who wrote the likes of Angela’s Ashes and won a Pulitzer Award for his work on the book.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Many cities in Ireland are scenic to explore.

Frank McCourt was born in New York, but his family returned to Limerick when he was five. From there, he grew up on the Emerald Isle and would grow up to become one of the most famous Irish people in history.

At this museum, visitors will get the opportunity to learn about Frank’s intriguing life and the inspirations behind his writing. The museum features an exhibit that shows Limerick during the 1930s and a replica of Frank’s childhood home. 

The Frank McCourt Museum is one of Limerick’s most fascinating places. If you are nearby, make sure to explore the memorabilia and life stories that are told within its walls.

4. Belfast

The capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast, is the second largest city on the Emerald Isle after Dublin. Although less-visited than the southern capital city, Belfast is one of Ireland’s best cities thanks to its impressive culture and friendly atmosphere.

Many people will know Belfast for its unforgettable history, but the city thrives with modern innovation and is vibrant to explore. The streets are full of life and incredible architecture, making it a popular destination with tourists and locals looking for a city break.

Belfast Ireland
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | The iconic Big Fish sculpture in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The city offers a great mix of old and new, where you can admire its fascinating history and iconic landmarks alongside newer attractions. Belfast is an exciting place known for its nightlife, culture, and TV and film industry success. 

Belfast is a city with endless things to do and sites to see. Whether in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, it is the perfect city to visit and explore.

Cathedral Quarter

The Cathedral Quarter is one of the most popular areas in Belfast. Located in the centre of the city, it is bursting with life. Here, you will find all the best bars and restaurants in the town and a great art scene.

The Cathedral Quarter is where you want to head for a night out in the town if you plan to visit, research, and get to know all the great bars surrounding the area!

The Cathedral Quarter in Belfast is a great place to walk around and appreciate some of the city’s most fantastic artwork on display. Located in this area is the Mac Theatre, one of the best art centres in Europe.

Guests can check out three different galleries and watch live performances at the theatre. The Cathedral Quarter is one of the best parts of Belfast for tourists and locals. It offers something for everyone and is a must-see while visiting Northern Ireland.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | The Cathedral Quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Titanic Museum

One thing that people around the world associate with the city of Belfast is the infamous Titanic, the transatlantic ocean liner. Harland and Wolff built the ship and her sister, the Olympic, in the city. Visitors can still see remnants of their construction in Belfast: the two gigantic yellow cranes marked with the iconic H&W logo. The cranes have been nicknamed after biblical characters, with the more significant known as Goliath and the shorter crane called David.

Belfast was once known as the shipbuilding capital of the world. Although the story of the Titanic ended in tragedy, Belfast still celebrates its maritime heritage and the outstanding achievement of constructing the massive ship.

Located in the city’s Titanic Quarter, the Titanic Museum explores Belfast’s shipbuilding history, the ill fate of the Titanic, and how the tragedy inspired change within the industry. 2016, the museum was voted the ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction‘. It’s a unique experience; visitors get to explore the construction of the Titanic and the stories of the victims and survivors.

Touring through the Titanic Museum is a sombre. Still, a hopeful journey that celebrates the city’s history looks ahead to the future of maritime travel and honours the victims who met a tragic fate on the Titanic.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | A video tour of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland

St. George’s Market

To get a feel for Belfast’s culture, visit St. George’s Market. It is the largest outdoor market in Northern Ireland and a delight to wander around. At St. George’s Market, visitors can sample some of Belfast’s best delicacies and learn more about the people who call the city home.

There is a massive variety of stalls to check out at the market, including ones selling fresh fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, gifts, vintage artefacts, and more! The market has a great atmosphere that welcomes all who visit. It is the perfect place to stroll around, have a snack or coffee, and experience the culture of Belfast.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | St. George’s Market in Belfast, Northern Ireland

5. Westport

Next on our list of the best cities to visit in Ireland is the gorgeous city of Westport, located in County Mayo. Westport is a colourful, lively, romantic city that draws in locals and tourists. Although it isn’t as big as other cities, Westport’s charm is unmissable.

Westport has plenty to offer visitors, from its picturesque views to its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The city has many attractions that make an overnight stay an unforgettable experience.

Westport House and Garden

Westport House and Garden is one of Ireland’s much-loved Heritage attractions. This stunning estate and lush green space has existed since the 16th century. With impressive gardens leading up to the estate, the house is just as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.

In Westport House, you can explore over 30 rooms and immerse yourself in the estate’s history. The interior is intricately decorated, and the antique architecture is awe-inspiring.

The history of Westport House began when Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Connacht, ruled the land. The house was built on the foundations of one of her many castles. You can still explore parts of the castle today in the dungeons.

Westport Bay Ireland
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Westport Bay in County Mayo, Ireland

Adventure Island

Adventure Island is one of the most fun attractions to visit in Westport. It is a family-friendly location where children and adults will have an unforgettable experience. At Adventure Island, guests can try many exciting water activities, including sea safari boat rides, surfing, and kayaking.

On land, the activities at Adventure Island include horseback riding, biking, mountain trekking, and archery tag. The park is about trying something new and stepping outside your comfort zone. For anyone looking for a unique experience, visiting Adventure Island is an excellent break from visiting the usual tourist attractions in Westport.

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick is one of Ireland’s most holy mountains, and it is known for its link to Saint Patrick. Legends say that Saint Patrick climbed to the top of the mountain and fasted there for 40 days.

The top of the mountain stands at 764 metres high, and the route to the summit is about 7 kilometres long. Along the hiking path, many great viewing points provide scenic vistas of the Irish countryside. It is lovely to stop and appreciate the beauty on your way, with views from Clew Bay.

6. Kilkenny

Kilkenny is the final entry on our list of the 6 best cities to visit in Ireland. Kilkenny is a beautiful medieval city located between Dublin and Cork. The city is also called Ireland’s Ancient East and is known as a place filled with legends and stories. Kilkenny is brimming with culture, attractions and fun everywhere you turn.

6 of the Best Cities to Visit in Ireland
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 in Kilkenny, Ireland.

Many Irish people believe that Kilkenny is one of the best cities in Ireland ever! Its history and culture are palpable, and the country’s best storytellers are here. Kilkenny treasures its past and keeps a strong connection with it, especially its medieval history.

Kilkenny Castle

One of Kilkenny’s most popular attractions is the alluring 12th-century Kilkenny Castle, which dramatically dominates the city. The castle offers a stunning blend of architectural styles, and its long-established rose garden has 20 hectares of beautiful grounds to walk through.

Visitors can explore Kilkenny Castle at their leisure with self-guided tours. However, it is essential not to forget that the summer months are when the castle is busiest; the halls can get crowded when too many people visit.

The castle’s two main wings have been restored to their 19th-century style and glory. They include a library, drawing room and the Long Gallery. It’s one of the few castles in Ireland that has been restored and is now fully furnished, with tours available for visitors.

Best Cities to Visit in Ireland Kilkenny min
Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | Kilkenny has many attractions surrounding its medieval roots.

Medieval Mile Museum

The Medieval Mile Museum brings to life the fascinating medieval history of Kilkenny. The museum is located in a 13th-century church, adding to its allure. The museum is home to Kilkenny’s civic treasures, including exhibits showcasing Ossory High Crosses and impressive stone-carved tombs. An incredible 800 years of history are on display within the museum.

Various modern technologies have been incorporated within the museum’s exhibits, such as interactive screens and projectors, that offer visitors a great learning experience about the city’s past. There are also displays showing the evolution of Irish sculptural traditions dating from the Neolithic period to modern times.

The Salt Yard

Although they are not commonly thought of at attractions, Kilkenny is home to two Michelin Star restaurants, one being The Salt Yard. The Salt Yard is a signature part of Kilkenny’s evolving food scene, where great food and hospitality go hand in hand.

The Salt Yard offers a buzzing atmosphere paired with delicious food and drinks prepared by professional chefs. The restaurant is known for its contemporary tapas, which are made with traditional Spanish cooking styles and blend Spanish and Irish ingredients.

The main chef here is Spanish, and the owner lived in Spain for a few years. Upon their return to Ireland, they brought back the fantastic methods and flavours found in Spanish cooking. They created an inspiring and delicious restaurant that brought the essence of Spain to Ireland.

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Best Cities to Visit in Ireland | The iconic H&W cranes in Belfast

The Best Cities to Visit in Ireland are Full of Spirit and Adventure!

Although there are many other excellent cities to visit across Ireland, this is the end of our list of the 6 best cities to visit in Ireland. While these may have some of the country’s best attractions, you will be warmly welcomed no matter where you are on the Emerald Isle!

Ireland is known for its culture, welcoming locals, and fascinating history. Each of these cities proves that Ireland is a multi-dimensional destination full of fun, adventure, history, and not just the land of serene rolling hills.

Some other great places worth visiting in Ireland are Derry, Cork, Waterford, and Killarney. Have you visited any of the cities on this list? Tell us about your travels and experiences in the comments below!

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