Twelve Things to do in Ireland

Hopping from one tourist attraction to the next, in the company of other visitors, is not a good way to experience any country. This list is not about famous places, just suggestions for some things to do in Ireland that will make for memorable experiences or that you can’t really do anywhere else.

None are specific to any location or region, you should manage to do most of them in any typical trip around Ireland. Enjoy!

1. Drink a Pint of Guinness

by Katie Killary

by Katie Killary

Well, maybe a half pint would do – it’s an acquired taste!

2. Attend to a Traditional Music Session

Not some fancy show put on for tourists – ask in any town where the best free sessions are and go someplace where musicians play for little more than the sheer joy of it.

3. Take a walk along the Banks of a Canal

There is something peaceful and beautiful about canals, with their locks and barges and still water. It’ll do your spirit good.

Royal Canal, by IIja Klutman

Royal Canal, by IIja Klutman

4. Eat Black Pudding for Breakfast

Yes, it’s made from blood. Yes, most visitors push it to the side of the breakfast plate and leave it there. But you gotta try it at least once. It is delicious, I promise you!

Black pudding, by Irish Typepad

Black pudding, by Irish Typepad

5. Climb a Round Tower

Follow the monks of old and climb to the top of a Round Tower. The climb may be a bit scary but the view from the top will be spectacular.

Round Tower, Kilkenny, by Lynn Fennell

Round Tower, Kilkenny, by Lynn Fennell

6. Buy Lunch at a Farmer’s Market

Buy enough locally grown fresh food, home baking and delicious homemade fudge and lemonade for a picnic lunch. Eat it somewhere beautiful.

Clonakilty Farmer's Market, by David Yo

Clonakilty Farmer’s Market, by David Yo

7. Go Horseracing

The Irish are horse mad and race meetings are very much a family affair, fun, sociable and friendly. A lot of them are held in the evening in summer.

Racing on the beach at Laytown by Paul Wa

Racing on the beach at Laytown by Paul Wa

8. Visit a Bog

For generations peat bogs provided the turf that warmed Irish homes. They are flat, brown and at first glance a bit dull. Look closer.

Sligo Bog by Jim Ronan

Sligo Bog by Jim Ronan

9. Attend a Festival

There is pretty much non-stop partying at some festival or other all year round. Find one that is of interest to you, go along and join in.

Galway Arts Festival by Saoire O'Brien

Galway Arts Festival by Saoire O’Brien

10. Go Underground

Ireland’s limestone cave systems with their stalagmites and stalactites and subterranean rivers are a wonder and many are open to the public.

Dunmore Cave by Mark Heard

Dunmore Cave by Mark Heard

11. Catch a Ferry to an Island

There are Islands dotted all around the coast, each of them special in their own way. Go by ferry rather than plane to enjoy the marine wildlife on the way.

Aran Islands Ferry by Benjamin Harris

Aran Islands Ferry by Benjamin Harris

12. Bring a Bit of Ireland Home

You can buy all you like in stores – but find a beautiful pebble or a shell or a pinecone and you’ll be taking home a special reminder of a day in Ireland.

Shells at Magilligan Point by Jasmic

Shells at Magilligan Point by Jasmic


Published: January 14, 2009 | Updated: March 31, 2017

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  • Joey says:

    Great tips there, i travelled to Ireland afew years ago, and i absolutely loved it, found the people very friendly and informative, and myself and my companions had a very entertaining holiday. Going back hopefully next year. The scenery is breathtaking, so i would advise renting a car, and hitting the coastal areas aswell. Summer time is great as there’s an aray of differnt festivals happening in towns all over the country, we really like Galway!!

  • Lorie says:

    Great suggestions, Katherine! My mother and I were in Ireland for nearly 4 weeks in 2007 and am now anxiously waiting until September when we’re going back for another few weeks. 

    We managed to do a few things on your list the first time around and look forward to even more this year. And I have a couple of comments to make about your suggestions:

    1.  If you’re not a beer drinker (I’m not), you still have to taste Guinness. I was really honest with a bar tender, told him that I’m not fond of beer and asked for the smallest glass of Guinness possible (along with the whiskey I really wanted). He was very understanding and I had my chance to taste it. So just ask!

    3.  Canals — oh yes!

    4.  Black pudding — I definitely was uncertain about this one but, unlike the visitors you mention, wouldn’t think of just leaving it on the plate. Much to my surprise, I really liked it and often wished there’d be more than just the one small piece on the plate!

    11.  Catch a ferry to an island — an unforgettable experience and one that shouldn’t be missed. We spent a couple of days on Inis Meain last time and plan to visit Tory Island in September. Both the ferry itself and the island — get off the tourist track and experience a different part of  Ireland.

    12.  Bring a bit of Ireland home — for me, it was a couple of stones, and they’re much more meaningful than all the souvenirs from shops.

    And my own suggestion to add to your list — keep a journal!

  • […] help you plan your trip, DoChara has an excellent list of things to do in Ireland, including eating black pudding, visiting a bog […]

  • Peter says:

    Nice to see you back!
    Interesting how many things you don’t do when you live here!
    Round Tower… reminds me, there’s one (well a tower anyway) that’s supposed to be very old near me open Saturdays only….never been. Always meant to see it,  tomorrow no doubt!
    Peter in Dublin

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