The Emerald Isle is, quite easily, one of the most beautiful places on earth. It gets its gem-based nickname from its rolling, plentiful, green pastures. My family hails from the island and I love visiting whenever I get the chance. I figured, since I have such a deep connection to the country, and since the most popular of Irish holidays—St. Patrick’s Day—is drawing nearer, I could list a few charming places to visit in Ireland.
Located in County Antrim in the north of Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is a series of 40,000 polygon basalt rock columns. Undoubtedly one of the north of Ireland’s most beautiful, natural creations, the causeway is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The tens of thousands of columns all vary in size—with some stretching as high as roughly 40 feet tall—and shape—ranging from hexagonal to boot shaped. The causeway is also notable for its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage site—one of only three in Ireland. And if the site itself isn’t enough to entice you, be sure to take the Belfast to Giant’s Causeway excursion, where travelers visit multiple popular Irish locations and hear the myths and legends surrounding the area. Whether you decide to use a tour guide or not, Giant’s Causeway is sure to offer one of Ireland’s most unique attractions.
Cliffs of Moher
Probably Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction, the Cliffs of Moher are a series of cliffs running 4 miles along Ireland’s coast, from the village of Doolin to Hag’s Head. The cliffs were created by a large river delta roughly 300 million years ago and reach a maximum height of 702 feet over the Atlantic sea. The cliffs have been made famous through pop culture, having been featured in a variety of media, from films like The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to music videos like Maroon 5’s Runaway video. Because of their multiple appearances in pop culture, and their sheer beauty, the cliffs draw in a whopping one million visitors a year.
For a deep look into ancient Ireland’s roots, make sure to visit the Aran Islands. Known for their traditional Irish villages and culture, the Aran Islands are one of the best ways to go back in time, so to speak. The locals even speak Irish as their primary language, with English as their secondary. The islands also feature the incredibly popular tourist attraction: Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric, 14 acre hill fort located on the largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore. Consisting of three massive stone walls and a series of jagged, upright stones meant to deter invaders, Dún Aonghasa is by far the largest of the forts that populate the islands, and makes for some of Aran’s—as well as Ireland’s—most breathtaking views. The islands are quite popular for bike rides.
Regardless of where you go in Ireland, you’re sure to become steeped in its history and culture. These are just a few beautiful places that can provide an insight into the island’s culture, as well as some of the most astonishing scenic views on Earth.