“shtory dude. I’m home in the summer. Bringing Miray. Any chance ye’d shoot me over a guide or something. But fill it with unique things to do in Ireland. None of that touristy sh*t”.
The text above woke me up at about 4:30 in the morning a few weeks back.
I get this kind of request a fair bit. But generally not at stupid-o-clock in the morning.
The above was from a friend living in Istanbul who’s planning a visit to Ireland with his wife, Miray.
Anyway, the following day I spent an hour or so trawling through Google for unusual and unique things to do in Ireland.
Something that struck me in the first 7 or so minutes was that the vast majority of ‘guides’ out there are listing things that aren’t really unique or unusual.
There’s an absolute mountain of clickbait wafting around when it comes to that search term. And that kinda thing annoys me more than it should.
50+ Unusual and Unique Things to do in Ireland (The Non-Clickbaity Version)
What actually makes something ‘unique’? In my opinion, a unique or unusual Irish experience is one that:
- Never (or rarely) graces the cover of tourist guides/ad campaigns
- You can’t really experience anywhere else
- Is generally a little off the beaten track from the major tourist sites
- Is absolutely CLASS (slang for amazing for anyone unfamiliar with the term) and guaranteed to deliver an experience you’ll remember
It’s time for me to stop talking – here’s what I believe are the most unique and unusual things to do in Ireland (in no particular order – bar number 1).
1 – Give your head some R&R and explore the Beara Peninsula in the process
When was the last time that you completely disconnected from the internet?
I genuinely can’t remember. Maybe when I was 14 and in third year in school (before BEBO became a thing).
I’m nearly 30 now and I can say with reasonable confidence that I haven’t missed a day of being online in some way since then. 16 years of being online. F**k!
Being constantly connected can make it hard to be in the moment. You get caught up in other peoples lives and, for many people, what happiness means and what’s really important in life get completely lost or skewed.
The most unique thing to do in Ireland, for me, is to switch off as it’s so rarely done.
This summer I’m going to make a point of visiting Dzogchen Beara in West Cork (pictured above). Dzogchen Beara offers those that visit an ideally quiet and serene environment.
Spend a few days here (it’s pretty cheap), switch off and use it as a base to explore the magnificent Beara Peninsula.
Look after your head. And don’t forget, if you ever feel like you or someone close to you is struggling, you can find a wealth of info on support services on www.mentalhealthireland.ie
2 – Discover the story behind ‘the Darkest Place in Ireland’
The earliest mention of Dunmore Cave dates back to a 9th-century Irish triad poem, where it’s chillingly referred to as ‘the darkest place in Ireland’.
In 928 AD, Dunmore cave witnessed the slaughter of 1,000 people at the hands of the Vikings.
The tragic event, which is documented in the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, was backed up in 1973, when the bones of 44 people were found in Dunmore Cave, and in 1999, when items made from silver and copper-alloy were discovered
The silver ingots and conical buttons were part of the discovery and dated back to 970 AD.
3 – Walk along ‘Ireland’s Great Wall’ for charity
I first heard mention of the Mourne Wall when a friend took part in the Mourne Wall Challenge for charity a few years back.
If you’ve never heard of it, the Mourne Wall Challenge is a strenuous 30km, roughly 9 hour walking route that runs every July in aid of a charitable cause (here’s info on this years event).
You’ll find the Mourne Mountains in County Down.
This mountain range is the highest and the most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, boasting endless adventure opportunities for the more seasoned hillwalker.
The wall you can see above is a 22 mile hand-built stone wall that stretches through the magnificent Mountains of Mourne.
4 – Climb the big ass stone staircase on Arranmore Island
Often, the most unique things to do in Ireland are the little hidden gems that rarely make it onto the big flashy tourism ads. Arranmore Island definitely slots into the category of ‘Hidden Gem’.
At around seven square miles in size, Arranmore island is the second largest of Ireland’s inhabited islands, and it’s the biggest of Donegal’s islands.
For those looking to explore, the island has many marked trails that’ll take you past an ever-changing tapestry of natural beauty, from sandy beaches to craggy cliffs.
And steps. A big ass staircase of stone steps that look like something plucked from a land that time forgot.
5 – Head off ‘Caving’ and explore the unknown world below the Burren
Up until about 5 minutes ago I’d never heard of caving.
To be honest, as someone that’s mildly claustrophobic, this frightens the sh*te out of me.
Caving (also known as ‘potholing’ or ‘spelunking’ is where you go exploring caving systems.
Epic Ireland take explorers in search of an adrenaline boost to the Burren’s caves in Clare.
These caves are thousands of years old and are have more active stream caves than anywhere else in the country.
You enter the cave via a hole hidden in a forest (bricks would be sh*t) and from there you’ll be introduced to the enchanting world that exists under Clare’s lush green fields.
6 – Sail around ‘Ireland’s teardrop’
Those that visit Cork and follow our West Cork road trip guide will be taken on what I’ve always believed is one of the most unique tours Ireland has to offer.
Over the course of a day, you’ll sail through the spectacular waters of Roaringwater Bay, in search of whales and dolphins, before arriving to Ireland’s most southerly Gaeltacht Island – Cape Clear Island.
On the way back to the mainland, you’ll be taken around Fastnet Rock.
I heard the story of where Fastnet Rock earned the name ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’ many years ago, and it never left my mind.
Fastnet Rock (known as Carraig Aonair in Irish – translates to “lonely rock”) lies roughly 6.5 kilometres southwest of Cape Clear Island, off the coast of Cork.
Fastnest earned the name ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’ as it was the last part of Ireland that 19th-century Irish emigrants saw as they sailed across to North America. Many for the last time.
7 – Dodge the crowds at Glendalough and soak up Lough Ouler (Ireland’s Heart-Shaped Lake) from above
You’ll find Lough Ouler in the Wicklow Mountains, at the side of Tonelagee Mountain, the 33rd highest mountain in Ireland and the 3rd highest peak in the Wicklow Mountains.
It’s from the summit of Tonelagee that you’ll be treated to a view of Ireland’s unique heart-shaped lake.
If you’re visiting Wicklow and giving our 1-day Wicklow guide a lash, you could swap out one of the longer activities and add this to the list.
Living in Dublin? This is a lovely hike if you’re looking to escape the city for a while.
8 – Get consumed by the stars at the Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve
The next stop on the list takes us to a little corner of Kerry that has been designated Ireland’s very first International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association.
It’s also one of only 3 Gold Tier Reserves on the planet, and the only Gold Tier Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere. Sounds cool, but what does it mean?
It means that on a clear night the sky in this part of Ireland is scattered with astronomical sights that you can gander at with the naked eye.
You can kick back without any equipment and be treated to a show that’ll knock the breath from your lungs.
Find out more about Ireland’s dark sky reserve here.
9 – Go kayaking in the Connemara caves
The chances are that you’ve driven through or done a bit of hiking in Connemara. If you haven’t, you should definitely give it a lash some time soon.
This is a little different and I saw it first when a friend posted about it on Instagram a couple of months back – kayaking through Connemara’s caves.
I didn’t even know Connemara had caves.
This unique coastal kayaking journey takes you completely off the beaten path, in and around the stunning Connemara coastline, taking in fabulous sea caves, sea arches and along the magnificent cliffs near Cleggan head.
10 – Visit the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world in Mayo
Beneath the boglands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields – the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world.
The Céide Fields consist of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs.
The magnificent stone walled fields, which extend over thousands of acres, are a whopping 6,000 years old.
6,000… mad stuff!
You can easily pair a visit here with a trip out to Downpatrick Head to see the big aul sea stack known as Dun Briste.
11 – Have a gander at the Kilbrittain Whale
In January 2009 a fin whale beached itself on the strand in Kilbrittain in Cork.
Unfortunately, this magnificent creature didn’t survive. Its autopsy was later filmed by Channel 4 for the National Geographic.
Cork County Council decided to have the skeleton of this enormous mammal displayed in Kilbrittain. Permission was granted by the Department of Agriculture and The Department of The Environment.
It’s skeleton is now on display for all to see.
12 – Sink a pint or two in the highest pub in the land
I’m gone well beyond the days of knocking back Jagerbombs in a nightclub until 5 in the morning, but I love a solid pub experience that’s a litte bit different to your run-of-the-mill gastro/fancy pub.
The more unique the better.
Top of Coom in Kenmare, Co. Kerry, is officially the highest pub in Ireland, situated a whopping 1045ft above sea level. An ideal day would involve wedging in a heap of exploring around Kerry in the morning and afternoon and then wiggling in a night in this pub for the evening.
The video above is an absolute beaut that aired a few years back when the pub reopened. If you can make out every word of what’s being said, I’ll gladly treat you to a pint myself.
13 – Take a stroll along the most dramatic walk In Europe
The original path opened in 1902, and was widely regarded as one of the most unique things to do in Ireland, immediately amazing and captivating visitors.
60 years later the Gobbins was abandoned and it wasn’t until 2015 that it reopened after a hefty £7.5 million investment.
Those that visit will be taken on a trek along an often narrow and uneven path that wraps around some of Antrim’s beautifully craggy basalt cliffs, across spectacular bridges, up and down rugged staircases carved into the cliff face and into caves that were once home to smugglers and privateers.
Tranquil, isolated and painfully beautiful, this little island lies around 15 km off off the coast of County Mayo, nestled between the islands of Inishbofin and Clare.
14 – Take a ferry to an isolated prison that’s home to a place once known as ‘Ireland’s Hell’
A short ferry ride from the little fishing village of Cobh lies a 103 acre island that’s been used as a place of worship, defense, confinement and punishment.
Spike Island was originally the site of a monastic settlement, but for over 200 years it has been dominated by the star fort named ‘Fort Mitchel’. In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been host to a 6th century Monastery, a 24 acre Fortress, the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times and centuries of island dwellings.
A ‘Punishment Block’, built in response to the murder of a warder in 1856, was made up of 28 solitary confinement cells and housed the most dangerous prisoners on the island.
Each prisoner was heavily chained and clothed in black from head to toe, with a veil hiding all but their eyes. There were several suicide attempts and the Punishment Block was the main reason that Spike Island was described as “Hell on earth” by many.
15 – Hop (safely) off a cliff into the Atlantic
Another one for the adrenaline junkies.
Ever fancy diving off a cliff (safely!) into the icy Atlantic Ocean? Well this one will be right up your alley.
According to the lads at Epic Ireland, coasteering is a combination of swimming, climbing, scrambling, jumping and traversing the coastline.
They offer an activity in Connemara where you’ll be getting up close and personal with Mother Nature. Hit play on the video below to check it out.
16 – Enjoy a 360 view of Donegal from Horn Head
This place is missed out by many people that visit Donegal.
Horn Head is a peninsula that’s not far from the town of Dunfanaghy and is part of Sheephaven Bay.
The view you’ll be treated to here is just out of this world.
There are two viewing points where you can get out at and admire the scenery that surrounds you; the first is on the north side and here cliffs dominate.
The second overlooks Dunfanaghy with Muckish and the Derryveagh mountains providing the perfect backdrop.
For those that want to walk it, John O’Dwyer provides a fantastic guide in the Irish Times here.
If you’d prefer to avoid the walk (which we’ll be doing for this trip), the drive around Horn Head is also fantastic.
Check out our Donegal road trip guide if you fancy exploring more of the area.
17 – Spend a night in one of Ireland’s unique rentals
Gone are the days that B&Bs, hotels and hostels were the only places that you could spend a night in Ireland.
Thanks to the likes of AirBnB, there are an almost endless number of unique places to stay in Ireland.
From thatch cottages to hobbit pods (yes, they’re a thing), these days you have your pick of many a weird, usual and wonderful Irish rental.
If you spend a little time searching, you can find a load of different places to stay that offer incredible views, like from the hot tub of this place in Kerry!
18 – Experience a natural underworld of rivers and waterfalls at the Marble Arch Caves
The Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh are a series of natural limestone caves found near the village of Florencecourt.
At around 11.5 kilometres in length, the caves form the longest known cave system in Northern Ireland.
Those that nip along to the Marble Arch Caves will experience a natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers, while gorgeous cave formations glisten all around.
The tour takes visitors on a short walk down through the Marble Arch National Nature Reserve, before taking a short 10 minute underground boat journey and then a 1.5km walk through the showcave.
Expect stalactites, spectacular walkways, huge caverns, a subterranean river and lots more.
Definitely a little hidden gem.
19 – Experience Dingle Bay from the sea (on one of those stand up board yokes!)
I love Dingle. It’s a corner of Ireland that I’d love to spend a proper chunk of time in, rather than the usual 2-3 days.
I’ve explored Dingle by car and by foot, but never by sea.
There are several companies now offering tours of the Dingle Peninsula via the Atlantic – on Stand Up Paddles (SUPs) – the photo above is from Wild SUP Tours.
If you’ve ever visited the Dingle Peninsula, you’ll know that it’s home to many a jagged cliff that awe and amaze when viewed from the land.
Gawking at them from sea level as they tower above you and alongside you is a different experience altogether.
20 – Drive the stretch of road that, according to my aul lad, is the best drive in ireland
For as far back as I can remember, my Dad has told me (on about 9,000 different occasions) that the best drive in Ireland can be found ‘out west’.
This incredible drive is known as the ‘Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive’ and up until three years ago, I never understood why he raved about it so much.
Then we drove it together and it all made sense.
Ever inch of this stretch of road and the scenery that envelopes it just hugs the soul. If you’re visiting Ireland, or just looking to explore more of the island, you need to take a spin along this stretch of road.
21 – Check out an ancient Irish cottage that’s fit for a Hobbit king in Tipperary
I’ve always thought that the Swiss Cottage looks like something whipped straight from the pages of a J. R. R. Tolkien novel.
However, although the Swiss Cottage looks like somewhere that Frodo or one of the lads from the Lord of the Rings would live, it’s actually what’s known as a ‘cottage orné’, or an ‘ornamental cottage’.
Built in the early 1800s by a lad named Richard Butler, the Swiss Cottage in Tipperary was originally part of Lord and Lady Cahir’s vast estate, and was mainly used for entertaining guests.
Definitely an unusual place in Ireland to add to your itinerary if you’re visiting this neck of the woods.
22 – Find out what the craic is with Waterford’s Magic Road
It was early one morning on a rickety aul school bus during my first year in school that I first heard a story about Waterford’s ‘Magic Road’.
Six of us were squished into the buses dusty and graffiti-riddled back seat, warily listening to a story that was being told by… lets call him ‘Tony’.
The story revolved around Tony’s family taking him on a weekend away to Waterford, where his Dad took him to a ‘Magic Road’ that pulled the car backwards up it.
Did we believe him? No.
But… despite the disbelief, Waterford is home to a ‘Magic Road’. Sit back. Hit play on the video above. And have your mind blown
22 – Boot a ball around the most unique GAA pitch in Ireland while exploring a gorgeous little island
Perched on top of towering cliffs and steep hills, Inishturk Island juts out of the wild North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Mayo, reaching 621ft at its highest point.
Surrounded by grassy hills on all sides, Inishturk’s GAA pitch almost looks like something that was knocked up in photoshop.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you visit Inishturk just to see the GAA pitch. There’s loads of other things to do on the island. This should be part of your itinerary, though.
23 – Have a gander at Inis Mór’s wormhole
You may have seen some videos online of the Red Bull Cliff Diving series that took place on the Aran Islands – the wormhole on Inis Mor is what the divers were jumping into…
Although it looks like the hole was cut with some colossal industrial instrument, the wormhole on Inis Mór did in fact form naturally.
It’s located just south of Dún Aonghasa, and can be reached by taking a stroll east along the cliffs.
A perfect addition for those of you looking to explore some of Ireland’s islands!
24 – Drive the semi-terrifying (depending on the weather) Torr Head Scenic Route
For those of you that like taking ‘alternative routes’ and aren’t scared of driving along a narrow road, this ones for you.
The ‘alternative route’ to Ballycastle in Antrim clings to the coast and takes you along narrow roads and up steep hills high above the sea.
If you’re a nervous driver, or if you’re driving a large vehicle like a caravan or a mobile home, this route isn’t for you.
The route will take you to Torr Head (you can see Scotland from here), on to Murlough Bay and on many a narrow road towards Ballycastle.
I did this when it was sunny (see the video above) and it was amazing. I did it about two years later and it was foggy. Visibility was nearly zero. Bricks were shat…
If you follow our Causeway Coastal Route road trip guide, you’ll spin along here.
25 – Have the buzz at Killorglin’s Puck Fair
I’m yet to experience Puck Fair. But every summer I see photos and videos from it of people having a session and the fear of missing out hits me.
This is possibly the most unusual thing to do in Ireland. Definitely the islands most unusual festival, anyway (it’s also Ireland’s oldest festival!).
If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Isn’t that that mad festival down in Kerry that has something to do with a goat?!’ then yes, you’re right.
On August 10th, 11th and 12th each year, the festival or fair at Puck takes place. The first day of the festival is known as ‘the gathering’, and involves the Puck goat being enthroned on a stand in the town square (the horse fair is also held on this day).
The second day of Puck is known as the ‘Fair day”’ and it’s here that a cattle fair is held.
On the last day of Puck (‘the scattering day’) the goat is removed from his stand and his reign as king Puck finishes. He’s then eaten by all in attendance… that’s a joke – he’s returned to the wild Kerry mountains.
26 – Visit Conolly’s Folly in Kildare
Connolly’s Folloy looks like a set from an Indiana Jones movie, but it is in fact a beautiful old structure that can be found in Kildare.
Constructed in 1740 at the height of the famine, Connolly’s Folly was built so that the local farmers could make some money while working on its construction and not go hungry.
Reaching a height of 140 feet, this structure was commissioned by Katherine Conolly (widow of William Conolly, a prominent member of the Irish House of Commons).
and its arches and obelisks are decorated with stone eagles and pineapples… yes, pineapples.
27 – Cruise beneath the Cliffs of Moher in a little ferry
The best way to see the Cliffs of Moher is by sailing below them.
The lads at Doolin Ferry offer a tour that’ll take you over to Inis Oirr Island and then back beneath the Cliffs of Moher on the return journey.
I’ve been to the cliffs twice before and loved each visit, but this is just a different ball game altogether.
You get surprisingly close to the cliff face, and it’s only when you approach from below that you truly appreciate the sight of the 700 foot cliff that’s towering above you.
Couple the view with the fact that you’re on a relatively small boat that’s swaying side-to-side thanks to the choppy Atlantic Ocean and you’re in for a treat.
This is easily one of the most unique things to do in Clare and definitely, in my opinion, the best way to see the Cliffs of Moher.
28 – Nurse a pint in the oldest pub in Ireland
It’s crazy to think that for over 1000 years a pub smack bang in the middle of Ireland has been catering to the needs of weary travelers and locals alike.
You’ll find Sean’s Bar a short stroll from the River Shannon, and a stone’s throw from the castle in Athlone Town.
The pub dates back to 900AD, a fact that was verified during an excavation in 1970 that exposed walls consisting of ancient wattle and daub, dating back to the 9th century.
While one of the original walls that was discovered during the excavation remains on show in Sean’s, the rest, along with coins that were also discovered at the time, now sit inside Dublin’s National History Museum.
29 – Drive the narrow and slightly mental road at Conor Pass
It’s rare that a road bothers me in any way.
I love the narrow country roads that you encounter across Ireland, and I’m never (normally) in any way apprehensive about driving along them.
Until I drove Conor Pass for the first time recently, that is.
Conor Pass runs from Dingle out towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory, and is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, standing a whopping 410 m above the sea level.
The tight, narrow road snakes alongside the mountain and weaves its way along sharp cliff faces on one side and an enormous drop to the other.
Driving the Conor Pass was one of my highlights from my last trip to Kerry.
Yes, had a semi oh-shit moment when I met a van coming towards me with no intention of stopping and I had to reverse back around the mountain on a road barely wider than the car, but it was amazing.
You can pull in at the side of the road before the pass and admire the views around you.
On a busy day, this’ll be a nervous drivers nightmare, but just take your time and drive carefully.
30 – Grab one of the best views in the land on the Coumshingaun Lake Walk
While many people visiting Ireland visit Waterford City, few tend to make it out of the city.
Which is a shame, as you’ll catch one of the best views in Ireland in County Waterford if you take the time to head off on the Coumshingaun Lake Walk.
The lads at Dungarvan Tourism have prepared a fantastic guide this walk – their website is a cracking resource for those looking for more info.
For those of you that fancy checking this out while exploring more of what the area has to offer, here’s a 2-day Waterford road trip guide.
Photo by Muddy Boots
31 – Watch the sun set from Valentia Island (my favourite place in Ireland)
I’d never heard of Valentia Island in Kerry up until about 3 years ago.
I was in a pub in Portmagee having dinner and the lad serving recommended I nip across and see it at sunset.
Here’s the view that awaited.
This picture was taken from the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs side of the island.
If you have the chance, get here from sunset. I was the only person here when this was taken. And on subsequent visits I’ve had the whole place to myself.
32 – Stop swiping right and head to Lisdoonvarna for the Matchmaking Festival
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is definitely another very unique thing to do in Ireland – especially if you’re in search of a husband or wife!
It’s said that the tradition of matchmaking began in Lisdoonvarna when visiting gentry came to ‘take the waters’ and wanted to match their children with someone suitable from the upper classes.
Parents would bring their kids together at social gatherings, sporting events and musical evenings in the hope that courtships would blossom.
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is now over 160 years old attracts up to 60,000 people from all over the world.
33 – Visit this crumbly cliff-side castle in Antrim (and it’s not the one you’re thinking of!)
Kinbane Castle is another place that just rocks you a little (no pun intended).
For me, places like this have the power to completely halt me in my tracks. It’s hard not to take a moment and wonder Ireland must have been like back in 1547 when this castle was built.
To say the location is dramatic and other-worldly would be doing Kinbane Castle a colossal injustice.
Built on a small rock promontory called Kinbane Head which extends out into the sea, the scenery surrounding the castle is just breath-taking.
Isolated ruins, jagged cliffs and the powerful Atlantic Ocean combine to make this a place that’ll cement itself in your mind.
34 – Dodge the crowds at the Cliffs of Moher and visit the Kerry Cliffs instead
I’ve yet to visit the Cliffs of Moher when it isn’t insanely busy.
If you’re after somewhere that’ll still take your breath away and that won’t be packed (I’ve been here twice in the past 2 years and there were less than 10 people there on both occasions) then the Kerry Cliffs are a great alternative.
The Kerry Cliffs were formed over 400 million years ago and you’ll find them a handy 3km from Portmagee.
Expect a cool and powerful Atlantic breeze along with views of the Skellig Islands.
35 – Spin along the winding road at the Glengesh Pass
Glengesh pass is another wonderfully unique Irish road.
It meanders through the seemingly endless mountainous terrain that connects Glencolmcille to Ardara, with more twists and turns than my stomach cares to remember.
As you approach Glengesh from the Glencolmcille side, you’ll come across a little van selling coffee, with a bench close by.
Stop off here and you’ll get some great views of the valley below.
36 – Spend a night in a castle… that won’t banjax your bank account
Spending an night in an Irish castle doesn’t have to break the bank.
OK, if you choose to stay in the one Kanye West stayed in, then it probably will, but there are plenty that come in at a reasonable enough price.
One of the most frequent messages I get from tourists from the states revolves around staying in an Irish castle.
I stayed in one recently (for transparency, I didn’t pay for the room), and a night would normally start from €165. it’s steep. But definitely an experience that’s worth doing once.
More and more castles have been popping up on the likes of AirBnB over the past couple of years, and there are also plenty of castle hotels in Ireland where you can spend a night.
37 – Watch the whales have the absolute craic in West Cork
Whale watching. In Ireland. Yep, it’s a thing.
To-date, a whopping 24 species of the world’s whales and dolphins have been recorded in Irish waters.
In recent years over 12 cetacean species have been seen in in the unpolluted waters of West Cork, making them a prime area for whale and dolphin watching in Ireland.
Back in 1991, Ireland’s biologically diverse waters were declared a whale and dolphin sanctuary, the very first of its kind in Europe.
38 – Ogle at the largest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere
When you’re adequately satisfied and buzzed from copious amounts of caffeine and sugar, head off on the tour (book it when you arrive).
The Doolin Cave is home to the largest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere.
Known as ‘The Great Stalactite’, it hangs from the ceiling like some giant cone-shaped chandelier.
Particularly mesmerising when you think it formed from a single drop of water many years ago.
The tour itself packs a punch, taking visitors to the natural entrance of the cave, a stream sink at the base of a cliff face, through the main chamber where a guide turns on a light to illuminate the Great Stalactite.
Definitely worth a visit!
39 – Get battered by the wind at the wildest place in Ireland
In my mind, places like Brow Head are what exploring Ireland is all about; experiencing the islands beauty in its rawest form.
No fancy visitor centers. No crowds. Just nature, as it was intended.
I was recently perched at the top of the steep hill at Brow Head in West Cork, gazing down the narrow grass lined road that leads to Crookhaven.
Visit this place. It’s an experience and a half.
Here’s what it’s like when it isn’t raining cats and dogs.
40 – Have an aul gawk at Napoleon’s toothbrush
This definitely falls into the ‘unusual things to do’ list…
So, the chances are that you’ve heard of Napoleon… but have you ever heard of Barry Edward O’Meara?!
O’Meara performed Napoleon’s first medical operation, extracting a troublesome wisdom tooth and subsequently became his friend.
They were so close that Napoleon gifted him with some personal effects which included a toothbrush.
You can check them out in a hallway of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on Kildare Street in Dublin. Bizarre or what.
41 – Climb ‘Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven’ (Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Mountain Walk)
I did the walk along Cuilcagh’s boardwalk twice in 2018 and I’d happily do it several more times this year.
It’s a handy drive from where I live in Dublin and the views that you’re treated to from the top are pretty damn special.
While this still falls into the ‘unique things to do in Ireland’ category, more and more people are doing it
The one thing to watch out for is parking. It can be pretty tight if you don’t arrive early – so look to arrive before 9 if you’re visiting on the weekend.
At 665m high, Cuilcagh is by no means the tallest in Ireland, but it packs a mighty punch with breathtaking views at every turn on a clear day.
42 – Dodge Dublin’s modern bars and spend a night in a pub steeped in history
If you’re visiting Dublin and you fancy a pint, don’t give into temptation and visit Temple Bar first.
Sure, drop by later to grab a picture (and an extortionately expensive pint), but take a bit of time out to visit a Dublin pub that boasts a tonne of history.
One such pub is the Oval (there’s several more).
The story behind Dublin’s Oval Bar is mighty impressive. In the years that led up to 1916, the Oval Bar became a haunt for members of the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers.
On Easter Monday, 1916, the Irish Volunteers captured the General Post Office (GPO) and proclaimed the Irish Republic.
The week that followed brought devastation and untold destruction to the city of Dublin and the Oval. On the Wednesday, the HMS Helga II sailed up the River Liffey and shelled Liberty Hall and the GPO. A blazing inferno engulfed the city centre, with many buildings, including the Oval, utterly destroyed.
The pub’s owner, John Egan, set about rebuilding the pub and it was able to re-open its doors for business in 1922. Just in time for the civil war… although it shut its doors – the building remained unharmed.
This is one to throw onto your Irish bucket list as you’ll need a bit of time (18 days minimum) to complete it in style.
A road trip right the way around Ireland is the stuff of dreams.
If you’ve some time on your hands and fancy exploring some of the best that Ireland has to offer, here’s a detailed 18-day Irish road trip guide that you can follow.
44 – Soak up the northern lights from Donegal
You won’t find the greatest show in the world on Broadway or in London’s West End.
It’s not airing at 9 p.m. on Sunday night on HBO and, contrary to popular belief – you don’t have to board a plane to check it out.
Over recent years, thanks to strong solar wind activity, the skies above Ireland have played host to the shimmering beauty that is Aurora Borealis (aka the Northern Lights).
The result – mind-boggling beauty.
If you’re hoping to get a glimpse of them, you can sign up for alerts with the lads at Astronomy Ireland.
This’ll be a crap-they’re-going-to-be-visible-tomorrow-lets-hope-in-the-car-and-go type of thing, but if that’s the only way I’ll see them, then that’s fine by me.
45 – Visit the most haunted building in Ireland
You’ll find the towering structure known as Loftus Hall on the wild and windy Hook Peninsula in County Wexford.
It’s a large, old mansion house that was built in the mid-1300’s during the time of the black death, by the Redmond family.
According to legend (read more here), the daughter of one of the families that owned Loftus Hall over the years witnessed the devil during a game of cards.
It’s said the the family grew embarrassed by their daughters state, and decided to lock her away in a room in the house.
She remained in that room until she passed away in 1775, and it is from then that her ghost is said to have begun to haunt Loftus Hall.
46 – Spin along one of the most overlooked (and scenic) road trip routes in the land
The stretch of coastline that sits between Tramore and Dungarvan is known as the Copper Coast.
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful, unspoilt scenic drives in Ireland, it’s often one that gets overlooked by those visiting Ireland.
Declared as a European Geopark in 2001 and a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2004, the Copper Coast boasts a beautiful, ever changing landscape with seemingly endless rolling hills and steep cliffs.
As you spin along the Copper Coast you’ll pass many a golden beach and quaint village. If you’re visiting Waterford, make sure to lash this onto your itinerary.
47 – Have a ramble around the abandoned Menlo Castle
You’ll find Menlo Castle, a gorgeous ruin of a 16th century castle, just outside Galway City on the banks of the River Corrib.
Once owned by the richest family in Galway in 1592, all that remains now are the ivy covered walls.
The castle is a half-hour walk or a short drive from the center of Galway. When you arrive, walk to the end of the dirt road and climb over the locked gate.
After that it’s possible to go inside and explore but BE CAREFUL.
48 – Take a spin along Ireland’s bendiest road
The road at Healy Pass, which was constructed in 1847 during the years of the famine, looks like a giant snake from above, slithering its way through the two highest summits in the Caha mountain range.
Cafe aside, Healy Pass is a corner of Ireland that looks like time passed it by and forgot all about it, leaving it untouched and unspoiled – magic.
When I visited recently, I met 2 or 3 other cars, max, and from talking to people who live in the area, it’s easily missed/over-looked.
Drive the road and pull in (where possible) at the top for a view.
49 – Take a ride on Ireland’s only cable car
One of the most unique things to do in West Cork is to jump aboard the cable car to Dursey Island.
Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the choppy waters of the Dursey Sound.
The cable car runs 250m above the sea and takes just 10 minutes to transport explorers from the mainland to the most westerly of West Cork’s inhabited islands.
When you reach the island, have a ramble around and enjoy spectacular views of the Beara Peninsula.
51 – Take in the best view in Connemara from the top of Diamond Hill
Something I’ve heard said on many occasions is that to truly appreciate the beauty of Connemara, you need to see it from above… and not through the eye of a drone.
Enter Diamond Hill.
Hit play and check out the view ?
For those of you visiting the area, there are two walks to choose from;
The Lower Diamond Hill walk
This trail measures around 3 km and has modest climbs along the route.
You’ll enjoy fantastic views of the surrounding Connemara countryside, coastline and islands over the course of the 1 – 1 and a half hours that it takes to complete.
The Upper Diamond Hill trail
This is a continuation of the Lower Diamond Hill walk which takes you up to the summit of Diamond Hill. For those that fancy giving this a shot, the entire circuit of the Lower and Upper trails measures around 7km and should take between 2.5 – 3 hours.
At the summit, you’ll be treated to panoramic views across all of Connemara. Expect to see the Twelve Bens mountain range, Tully Mountain and Mweelrea to the North.
52 – Drive the coast road to the most colourful village in Ireland
I love this drive.
It hugs the coast and takes you along many a quiet road en route to the colourful little village of Eyeries.
Take your time on this drive and stop whenever the notion takes you.
Here’s what awaits you in Eyeries.
53 – Visit the oldest library in Ireland and walk in the steps of Bram Stoker and James Joyce
You’ll find the oldest library in Ireland just behind St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Founded wayyyyy back in 1707, Marsh’s Library holds roughly 25,000 books and 300 manuscripts.
As you wander around this little hidden gem, keep an eye out for bullet holes in the bookcases, which made their mark during the Easter Rising when the hotel next door was being occupied.
Over the years, Marsh’s has had a lot of famous visitors. The likes of Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift and James Joyce have all been here and you can see their signatures in the visitor book.
Definitely one of the most unique things to do in Dublin.
And that’s a wrap.
I hope you’v enjoyed the above guide. If there’s anything that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments section below!