Planning a trip to Ireland but looking to discover something out of the ordinary? If so, these are the ten most unique things to do in Ireland.
Ireland is one of the world’s premier holiday destinations. It deserves to be on every globetrotter’s bucket list, with a mild yet varied climate, a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and breathtaking examples of natural and manufactured beauty.
Whether you want to enjoy spring gardens on a summer holiday or sip an authentic Irish coffee in the middle of winter, Ireland is an ideal getaway no matter what time of year it is.
If you plan on visiting it anytime soon, be sure to try out at least one of the ten most unique things to do in Ireland showcased below.
Unique facts about Ireland:
- The Irish language, or Gaeilge, is still spoken by 2% of the population and is growing in popularity.
- Irish folk music and Irish dancing are beloved traditions that have influenced music around the world.
- There are many historic ruins and castles in Ireland, dating back to the Middle Ages and beyond.
- The Irish people have a reputation for being friendly, hospitable, and welcoming to visitors.
- Ireland is famous for its stout beer, Guinness, which has been brewed in Dublin at the Guinness Storehouse since 1759.
- Irish food and cuisine is hearty and comforting, featuring dishes like shepherd’s pie, Irish stew and coddle.
- Irish literature has produced many great writers, including James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett.
Above the River Boyne in County Meath lies one of the world’s oldest known astronomical observatories: the Newgrange prehistoric monument. Not only is Newgrange one of the oldest examples of our study of the universe, but it’s also one of the most mysterious.
Beyond knowing that the monument aligns with the winter solstice, not much else is known about the purpose of Newgrange. It was built around 3200 BC as a part of a larger burial complex, and it’s older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
Address: Newgrange, Donore, Co. Meath, Ireland
9. Get a taste of Egypt at the Howard Mausoleum, Co. Wicklow – the final resting place of an influential Irish family
Speaking of pyramids, did you know that Ireland has its very own pyramid? The Howard Mausoleum in Arklow, County Wicklow, is a 30 ft (9 m) pyramid erected in 1785 as a final resting place for the Howards, a wealthy and influential Irish family.
Situated at the highest point of Kilbride Cemetery, the pyramid has breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Despite being a lot smaller than the Egyptian pyramids, you can see it from over 3.21 km (2 miles) away as it creates an unexpected yet stunning silhouette.
Address: Old Kilbride Cemetery, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
8. Enjoy classic whiskeys at the Old Bushmills Distillery, Co. Antrim – one of the most unique things to do in Ireland
With an average of over 120,000 visitors per year, the Old Bushmills Distillery is one of the best whiskey distillery tours in Ireland. It’s the world’s oldest distillery still in operation today, and the various whiskeys it produces are known as some of the finest in the world.
Many people will recognize the Old Bushmills brand, as it’s been featured prominently in many forms of pop culture. From product placement in major films to workplace lingo in law professions, Old Bushmills Whiskey is practically a cultural cornerstone of Ireland.
Address: 2 Distillery Rd, Bushmills BT57 8XH
Sean’s Bar was reportedly established all the way back in 900 AD, making it the oldest drinking hole not just in Ireland but also in Europe. The trouble is that no one actually knows the exact year when it opened, and there’s simply no way to tell at this point.
The only thing we know for sure is that it’s most definitely the oldest pub in Ireland. It’s also one of the cosiest pubs you’ll ever find, with a warm atmosphere and friendly locals. It is located in the town of Athlone, on the western border of County Westmeath and is one of the best pubs and bars in the area.
Address: 13 Main St, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, N37 DW76, Ireland
Valentia Island is home to one of the longest sets of dinosaur tracks ever discovered. In the northeast corner of the island, steep and twisting roads give way to the Connecticut River, where you’ll find the incredibly well-preserved footprints of the Tetrapod.
Interestingly, the Tetrapod was one of the first animals to make the evolutionary transition from water to land. That means it played a significant role in the evolution of all land mammals.
Knowing this fact makes visiting Valentia a worthy addition to any bucket list and one of the most unique things to do in Ireland.
Address: Co. Kerry, Ireland
You can find Doolin Cave on the western outskirts of The Burren in the midwest region of County Clare. It became famous after it was discovered to hold one of the world’s largest free-hanging stalactites, officially known as the ‘Great Stalactite’.
Doolin Cave was initially notoriously difficult to explore, consisting of narrow chambers connected by tight crawl spaces. After an excavation project made the entry more accessible, visitor numbers skyrocketed, and the cave is now a regular tourist attraction.
Offering a truly unique perspective, the Doolin Cave is not only one of the best caves in Ireland but also one of the most unique things to do in Ireland.
Address: Craggycorradan East, Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
Spike Island holds many secrets. Many have referred to it as ‘Ireland’s Alcatraz’, owing to the fact that it was once used as a prison. An imposing fort now covers the majority of the island, but there are still many hidden mysteries to be found.
In 2020, archaeologists unearthed a secret staircase during a routine excavation. According to old prison records, secret staircases aren’t the only thing that’s concerning; mass graveyards lie hidden somewhere on the island, just waiting to be discovered.
Address: Spike Island, Co. Cork, Ireland
Kilkee Cliffs can be described as one of the hidden gems of Ireland. Like Doolin Cave, the cliffs are in County Clare. If you’re in the area, there’s no sense in seeing one and not the other, especially if you consider how majestic the views from Kilkee Cliffs can be.
It’s hard to overstate how picturesque the landscape around Kilkee Cliffs is. To give you an idea of the kind of beauty we’re talking about, Kilkee Cliffs is one of the only cliffs in the world with a flawless, five-star rating as a tourist attraction on TripAdvisor.
Address: Moveen West, Co. Clare, Ireland
If leprechauns and fairies pique your interest, visit the National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland. Situated on Jervis Street in Dublin, the museum is the first of its kind and the only place to gain insight into Ireland’s most famous mythological figures.
The museum offers two guided tours, namely day tours and night tours. Day tours are child-friendly, while night tours explore the darker side of Ireland’s mythology.
Aside from leprechauns, the museum also features various other figures from Irish folklore, making this one of the most unique things to do in Ireland.
Address: Twilfit House, Jervis St, Dublin, Ireland
Of all the traditional Irish dishes you should try, Colcannon is definitely one of the most exciting. The main ingredients (mashed potato and cabbage) may not be much to write home about, but there’s an Irish Halloween tradition that gives this dish a reason to shine.
You can place various items inside a dish of Colcannon, bringing new meaning to the phrase “be careful what you eat”. According to tradition, these items are directly linked to your fortune. Finding a ring, for example, means that you’ll get married within a year.
Your questions answered about visiting Dublin!
What things are unique to Ireland?
Ireland possesses distinctive characteristics such as a cultural Celtic legacy, a distinct Irish language, magnificent natural landscapes and shorelines, and a reputation for hospitality and warmth.
What is the #1 thing to see in Ireland?
The Cliffs of Moher are widely considered to be the #1 thing to see in Ireland because they offer some of the most stunning and awe-inspiring views in Ireland.
What unique things do Irish people do for fun?
Irish people have a variety of leisure activities for fun, such as playing traditional Irish music in pubs, and attending sporting events such as Gaelic football or hurling matches.
What is Ireland famous for?
Ireland is famous for several things, including its beautiful natural landscapes, Celtic culture and heritage, influential figures in fields such as literature, music, politics, and science, its historic castles and ruins, and for its famous stout, Guinness.