Ireland is one of the dreamiest destinations for iconic landmarks, so much so that people travel from across the globe to snap a photo of famous castles, historic jails, and natural wonders, many of which are unique to Ireland. Despite being a bite-sized island country, Ireland packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do, and many visitors underestimate just how many fantastic landmarks there are to discover – both the ones they know about and the ones they learn about along the way.
As someone who has grown up in Ireland, I can safely say that many of us natives take these famous landmarks for granted, but when we see them through the eyes of a visitor, we see how truly remarkable they are. From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to areas of outstanding natural beauty, these are some of the most famous landmarks in Ireland that you need to know about.
The Most Famous Landmarks In Ireland
1. The Guinness Storehouse – County Dublin
The Guinness Storehouse is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland and undoubtedly the most famous in Dublin City. This is the hub of Guinness, the world’s most well-known and much-loved Irish stout, which honestly hits differently when tasted at the source.
The storehouse offers interactive tours, allows you to pour your own perfect pint, and boasts sweeping views of the capital from the rooftop Gravity Bar, which is the cherry on top after an informative discovery. Since opening in 2000, the iconic Guinness Storehouse has welcomed over 22 million visitors, 2 million of whom visited in 2022.
2. The Cliffs of Moher – County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland’s best-known landmarks for great reason. Movie fans will already know this iconic natural attraction was used in many films like Leap Year, The Princess Bride, and Harry Potter, so many visitors who come to Ireland want to see it up close and personal.
The cliffs are not the highest in Ireland, but one of the most striking. It is common to take a boat tour beneath the cliffs to get a glimpse of them from all angles and have the chance to witness an abundance of wildlife that calls these cliffs home. Visiting the cliffs is a truly marvelous experience!
3. The Blarney Stone – County Clare
While Blarney Castle and Gardens is one of the top attractions in Ireland, the famous landmark visitors are eager to see is the Blarney Stone, which is set to boast magical powers. Millions of people have flocked worldwide to kiss the famous Blarney Stone – but why?
As legend has it (and plenty of Irish legends about it), kissing the Blarney Stone gives the gift of the gab or the gift of eloquent speech. Kissing the Blarney Stone is not easy, however, and visitors need to be helped to position and lean backward on the parapet’s edge, which is not for the faint-hearted. Over the years, celebrities, world politicians, members of the royal family, and literary giants have all come face to face with the Blarney Stone to gain the legendary gift of the gab.
4. Trinity College – County Dublin
Trinity College, or Trinners as locals know it, is not your ordinary University, and many visitors to Dublin place this famous landmark firmly at the top of their must-see list. Not only is this building captivating from the get-go, but the Trinity College library is like something from a Harry Potter novel and is indeed ‘insta worthy’ in this era that we live in.
Notable Trinity College alums include Oscar Wilde (author of The Picture of Dorian Gray), Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels), and Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), as well as scientists William Rowan Hamilton and Ernest Walton. Trinity College is ranked as the best University in Ireland and one of the best in Europe, but it is also widely regarded for its stunning architecture and fascinating legacy.
5. Kylemore Abbey – County Galway
Kylemore Abbey, located in the stunning region of Connemara in County Galway, is like something out of a fairytale. Perched on the edge of Pollacapall Lough, this historic building has been home to a community of Benedictine nuns for the past 100 years and, over the years, has become one of the famous landmarks in Ireland for many reasons.
Not only is this monastic abbey stunningly beautiful, set in 1,000 acres of Connemara countryside but its history and legacy continue to attract international and local visitors annually. This landmark is a place of spirituality, beauty, and hospitality, which makes it a charming place for visitors of all ages to Ireland to experience.
6. Mount Carrauntoohil – County Kerry
One of the most famous landmarks in Ireland is Mount Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, which attracts many hikers and enthusiasts. Located on the famous Ring of Kerry, another iconic Irish attraction and scenic driving route, this steep mountain makes up part of the majestic Mcgillicuddy’s Reeks Mountain range.
This region, in general, is one of the top hiking locations in Ireland, but those looking for a challenge always have Mount Carrauntoohil at the top of their list. Conquering Ireland’s highest mountain can be done individually or as part of a guided tour, and once you reach the summit, the views are sensational.
7. Keem Bay – County Mayo
Keem Bay has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland, so of course, it has become one of Ireland’s top attractions throughout the years. This stunning beach on Achill Island, County Mayo, not only attracts tourists from around the world but has recently been a filming location for the hit movie Banshees of Inisherin featuring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Keem Bay is a stunning place to witness local sheep roaming the surrounding green hills or basking sharks in the sea, and this is also the starting point to the Croaghaun cliffs, the highest in Ireland and the third highest in Europe. One of the best views of Keem Bay is from the top of the narrow cliffside road that winds its way down to the beach – an iconic picture postcard spot.
8. Skellig Michael – County Kerry
Speaking of hit movies, Skellig Michael is well known for being a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, which has seen visitor numbers skyrocket. The incredible monastic Island, which houses a 6th-century clifftop monastery, welcomes over 11,000 visitors yearly.
The only way to reach this incredibly unique Island is by boat during the summer months, followed by a steep climb up stone stairs along the cliff face. The Island is home to abundant wildlife, attracting plenty of enthusiasts who want to glimpse Atlantic puffins, gannets, and peregrine falcons, to name but a few birds, as well as grey seals in the surrounding waters.
9. Seans Bar – County Westmeath
One of the top landmarks in the midlands of Ireland has to be Seans Bar, which holds a very special Guinness World Record. This is the oldest pub in Ireland, dating back to 900AD, and it is often considered the oldest pub in the world since no older pub has been discovered yet.
It is for this reason that Seans Bar is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland, and a visit here is well worth it to experience authentic Irish pub culture, have a fantastic pint of Guinness, and meet those who have been calling this watering hole their local for years.
10. Dunquin Pier – County Kerry
Located along Slea Head on the famous Dingle Peninsula, Dunquin Pier is one of the top stop-offs for anyone road-tripping or cycling this iconic route. One of the main reasons this has become such a famous landmark in County Kerry and along the Wild Atlantic Way is because of the fantastic coastal location and exciting perspective.
Looking down on Dunquin Pier from the narrow road above is the best view, framed by the huge cliffs surrounding it. This pier is more than just a launching point for the Blasket Island ferry; its winding walkway makes for a stunning photo opportunity, which visitors can love to snap when in the area.
11. The Rock of Cashel – County Tipperary
Many visitors to Ireland are interested in delving into the country’s history, and one landmark stands out for them when planning to visit the most famous sights across the country. The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary is an unmissable spot, not only for the dramatic photo opportunity it provides but also because of its historical significance.
Atop the famous rock, several captivating monuments date back to Medieval times, offering visitors a chance to return to the Irish Medieval period. From the round tower to the high cross, this cluster of medieval buildings is one of the top reasons why tourists flock to this region of Ireland – there is nowhere quite like it in the country.
12. Temple Bar – County Dublin
When visitors come to Dublin, they have one location on their mind: Temple Bar. This quarter is iconic with its cobblestoned streets, colorful pubs, street musicians, and abundance of eateries. It might be one of the city’s most expensive areas, but it still attracts plenty of tourists and locals.
Within Temple Bar, many flock to the iconic Temple Bar Pub, which is a landmark in its own right, and there are plenty of quirky shops to browse, making this area charming. With the backdrop of pub music, the chatter of people walking around, and the smell of delicious food, it’s no wonder people crave the atmosphere of visiting Temple Bar.
13. Newgrange Passage Tomb – County Meath
Believe it or not, the Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb is older than the Pyramids of Egypt and is located in County Meath, Ireland (my home county). The region is known as Irelands Ancient East because there are many incredible historic sights to behold, including the Hill of Tara, Knowth, and Dowth, to name but a few.
The sight attracts over 200,000 visitors yearly, and one of the busiest times is during the winter solstice December 21st, when a magical event takes place. On this day, the passage and chamber are filled with light as the sunrises, marking an incredible event visitors book years in advance to witness.
14. Ring of Kerry – County Kerry
The Ring of Kerry has to be one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland and is one of the top scenic drives visitors embark on if they are limited on time. For those with more time, the Ring of Kerry can be combined with the lesser-known neighboring Ring of Beara in County Cork and The Wild Atlantic Way towards County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland.
The Ring of Kerry is well known for its stunning coastal views, Killarney National Park, many idyllic coastal towns, and delicious locally caught seafood. Some of the top places visitors love to stop along this route are Valentia Island, Waterville, Sneem, and Kenmare, all of which offer unique characters and vibes.
15. Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) – County Dublin
Dublin has a wide range of the most famous Irish landmarks, many of which have historical significance, and one of the main ones that captivate tourists is Kilmainham Gaol. This former jail, now a museum, once housed thousands of men, women, and children for all kinds of crimes.
It is well known as the jail that played a massive role in momentous events in Irish history, housing many people who fought for Irish Independence. From the 1798 rebellion to the 1916 Easter Rising, the Anglo-Irish War (1919-21), to the Irish Civil War (1922-23), all these important events have a chapter in the story of Kilmainham Gaol.
16. Wild Atlantic Way – West of Ireland
Ireland’s answer to ‘Route 66’ is the Wild Atlantic Way, the longest-defined coastal route in the world. Stretching from County Donegal to County Cork, this extensive coastal route of 2,600km (1600 mi) passes through some of Ireland’s best regions, including Connemara, The Burren, The Dingle Peninsula, and The Ring of Kerry.
The route has an abundance of Discovery Points leading to natural attractions, greenways, historic sites, and islands, making this the most famous scenic drive in Ireland, no matter how much time you have. Along the route, visitors can witness wildlife, sweeping coastal views, glorious white sand beaches and embark on plenty of hikes or nature trails, so it is a landmark that appeals to all ages and interests.
17. Slieve League Cliffs – County Donegal
The Slieve League Cliffs located in County Donegal are much higher than the famous Cliffs of Moher, and in recent years, they have garnered more attention, having previously been somewhat of a hidden gem. These incredible cliffs feature several white sandy coves and viewpoints that allow visitors to view them from many perspectives.
While the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare reach a maximum height of 214m (702ft), the Slieve League Cliffs reach 601m (1971ft) and are the second highest sea cliffs after Croaghaun cliffs (688m or 2257ft) on Achill Island. While the cliffs are often regarded as The Wild Atlantic Ways’ best kept secret’, you can still expect crowds during the peak season, but much less than the Cliffs of Moher.
18. Cobh – County Cork
One of the top reasons many people visit Ireland is to retrace their ancestry, with many having relatives who fled Ireland by ship to seek a better life in North America and beyond. Cobh is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland because it was the last port of call for the Titanic, a ship deemed unsinkable, bound for New York in 1912.
Cobh is also renowned for its’ deck of cards‘ style colorful houses, one of the most iconic Irish pictures taken by tourists and locals alike. The idyllic coastal town is steeped in history, boasts stunning scenery, and features a Titanic Museum, a fascinating interactive experience for visitors eager to learn more about the tragic events 1912.
19. The Phoenix Park – County Dublin
The Phoenix Park in Dublin is no ordinary run-of-the-mill city park; it is one of the largest enclosed parks in Europe and is famous for its free-roaming wild fallow deer, which can be spotted all around the area. The Park is also home to Áras an Uachtaráin, the Irish president’s residence, Dublin Zoo, Farmleigh House, and Tea Rooms.
Phoenix Park is a typical place for recreational activities, socializing, and enjoying picnics, and tourists love having the option to rent bikes here to explore the area. Within the Park are several historical monuments, Ashtown Castle, The Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden, and even a prehistoric burial chamber; plus, this is a common location for massive concerts and events like the Dublin City Marathon.
20. Kilkenny Castle – County Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, eager to learn more about the incredible history of Ireland, which has been so well preserved. This 13th-century Victorian castle is situated in the heart of bustling Kilkenny town, and one reason it is so special is that few other buildings have been continuously occupied for 800 years.
The landmark is popular for nature lovers who enjoy strolling through the lakeside and through the woodlands, rose garden, and its fifty acres of parkland. For those passing through Kilkenny, this is a must since it offers a fantastic look into the history of Kilkenny Castle and the powerful legacy of its former residents.