Ireland’s 10 most POPULAR counties and their BEST attractions

Ireland’s 10 most popular counties and their best attractions.

Ireland is a country of stunning landscapes, a rich culture, and some of the friendliest people in the world, so it’s no wonder people from around the world are drawn to the Emerald Isle.

With pristine beaches, abundant wildlife, rugged mountainous terrain, and bustling cities, Ireland has everything, but some counties are more popular than others for a reason.

This article will dive into the most popular counties and their best attractions that make them stand out in the Emerald Isle.

10. County Wicklow – the Garden of Ireland

A long shot of two hikers in Wicklow Mountains National Park.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Known as the Garden of Ireland, County Wicklow is home to the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Powerscourt Waterfall, and Avoca Handweavers – the country’s oldest handweaving mill.

Some other notable attractions are the Wicklow Way long-distance trail and stunning Glendalough, to name but two.

9. County Clare – cliffs, music, and surf

The Cliffs of Moher extending out into the Atlantic. County Clare is one of Ireland's 10 most popular counties.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

County Clare is the place to visit if you want to feast your eyes on the incredible Cliffs of Moher, listen to traditional Irish music in Doolin, or soak up the otherworldly views of the Burren National Park.

In addition, visitors cannot miss Bunratty Castle and the vibrant surf town of Lahinch, two top spots to discover.

8. County Antrim – historic sites and a fabulous coastline

A long shot of a single hiker overlooking the water at the Giant's Causeway.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Poo l/ Kyle Brickley

Home to the famous Giant’s Causeway, which is located along the beautiful Causeway Coast, County Antrim is a county packed full of iconic landmarks.

County Antrim is a destination for adventure, from Bushmills Distillery and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge to filming locations for Game of Thrones like the Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle.

7. County Donegal – raw natural beauty

A long shot of two hikers enjoying the view from Mount Errigal. Donegal is one of Ireland's 10 most popular counties.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Poo l/ Gareth Wray Photography

County Donegal is one of Ireland’s ten most popular counties and is home to some of the best beaches in the country.

As well as visiting the many pristine beaches, some of the best landmarks in Donegal include the majestic Mount Errigal, the surfing town of Bundoran, and the Slieve League Cliffs – among Europe’s highest sea cliffs.

6. County Sligo – Irish charm and great surf

A shot of W.B. Yeats's grave in Sligo. The tombstone quotes his poem 'Under Ben Bulben: 'Cast a cold eye / On life, on death. / Horseman, pass by!'.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Lukasz Warzecha

Sligo is one of Ireland’s top surfing destinations, but it is also the county that inspired W.B. Yeats with its Irish charm.

This is the place to discover incredible formations like Benbulben, watch surfers take on the waves at Strandhill Beach, and visit the grave of Yeats – one of Ireland’s literary greats – in Drumcliff Cemetery.

5. County Mayo – adventure and history

A long shot of two hikers enjoying the view from Croagh Patrick. Mayo is one of Ireland's 10 most popular counties.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

County Mayo offers visitors a diverse range of attractions, so it is no wonder this is one of the country’s most visited regions.

Well known for Croagh Patrick – Ireland’s holy mountain – the ancient Ceide Fields, and the fabulous island of Achill, Mayo is one of Ireland’s best destinations.

4. County Kerry – majestic landscapes

Water rushing through Killarney National Park with mountains in the background.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Hu O’Reilly

County Kerry is located in the country’s southwest and is one of Ireland’s ten most popular counties for its magical landscapes, incredible coastal views, and mountain ranges.

The top attractions in Kerry include Killarney National Park, the Dingle Peninsula, Skellig Michael, and the glorious Slea Head.

3. County Galway – music, festivals, and a vibrant atmosphere

An aerial view of Inis Mór and the Atlantic Ocean. Galway is one of Ireland's 10 most popular counties.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Lukasz Warzecha

County Galway is well known for its vibrant festivals, lively music and the energetic atmosphere of Galway City.

People flock from across the world to visit the county’s best attractions, like the Aran Islands, Connemara National Park, and Eyre Square in Galway City, which is iconic for shopping, cafes, and music venues.

2. County Cork – rich culture and stunning landscapes

Buildings of purple, orange, yellow, grey, cream, red, and green in Kinsale.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Fáilte Ireland

County Cork is world famous for its spectacular scenery, rich culture, and culinary delights, so much so that it has attracted many celebrities over the years.

Some of the country’s best attractions include the colourful town of Kinsale, the English Market in Cork City, and Cobh – the last port of call for the Titanic.

1. County Dublin – excellent shopping and historical attractions

The inside of Kilmainham Gaol including the entrances to several of its cells. Dublin is one of Ireland's 10 most popular counties.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Chris Hill

Dublin is one of the most popular counties to visit, mainly because it is a hub for long weekend trips, luxury bus tours, sports events, shopping adventures, and stag/hen parties.

Whatever your interests, Dublin has incredible attractions, including Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Gaol, and quaint seaside towns.

Ireland’s ten most popular counties are well worth a visit. Whether you seek unspoilt nature, an authentic cultural experience, or an active adventure, Ireland truly has it all!

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