The Irish countryside is one of those rare places that combines epic mythos with whimsy: the same land that holds the regal and ancient history of the Celts and the tribes before them also spawned the quirky leprechaun.
Regardless if you're looking for history or mythology, you're certain to find beauty in the Irish landscape. Fewer places in the world are so brilliantly green, and all the rain makes everything feel pristine. The Emerald Isle has many beautiful places to explore, but here are five to get you started.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are Irelands’ most-visited natural attraction, and with good reason. The regal and awe-inspiring cliffs stand at a lofty 702 feet at their highest point and run for five miles along the Atlantic shore. Be sure to make your way up to the top of O’Brien’s Tower to get a commanding view of the patchwork of Irish farmland behind you and the misty grey Atlantic ahead. It's truly an incredible sight to behold that no trip to Ireland should be without.
For all the mystics, geologists, adventure enthusiasts, and lovers of Led Zeppelin out there, you can’t miss Giants Causeway. Formed from an ancient volcanic eruption, the Causeway is made up of about 40,000 basalt hexagonal columns that rise up almost 40 feet overlooking the ocean. Roam the mythical site and keep your eyes peeled for the Giant’s Boot, the Organ, Chimney Rocks, and other unique formations.
Ring of Gullion
The Ring of Gullion isn’t made of gold, but rather 40 million-year-old stone. Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Ring of Gullion is an ancient geological formation that now provides visitors with breathtaking scenery along with exciting outdoor pursuits. You can ride horses, go hiking, or go swimming in the nearby lake. Like much of Ireland, there are also ancient castles and old churches nearby worth exploring. For the history buffs, you’ll definitely want to check out the world-renowned archeology there, as they are constant discovering new monuments, relics, and tombs.
“More cliffs?” you may ask. Well, yes, but while these cliffs are not as famous as the Cliffs of Mohair, they rise almost three times higher into the sky. The Slieve League is actually a mountain that reaches just about 2,000 feet and contains a series of cliffs and precipices that fall into the Atlantic. Wait for a clear day to hike up and down the peaks or take an archeology tour. The trip will likely be more relaxing than the Cliffs of Mohair, as there are less people, and the Slieve is run by a small family. There’s a cozy café serving classic Irish dishes and a cute craft story with lots of handmade trinkets for souvenirs.
Located in County Kerry in southwest Ireland, Carrantoohill stands an ominous watch over the landscape. 1,038 meters (3,406 ft) high, this mountain is the tallest in the Emerald Isle. It's most often climbed from the north-east side, along a ridge up the Devil's Ladder. There are lots of tours that will take you up the mountain with guides pointing out things you may not notice on your own such as Celtic burial grounds that pre-date the Egyptian pyramids. On a clear day, the summit offers an incredible view over the water and expansive landscape.