The Republic of Ireland is one of the most charming countries you can visit in Europe because you can find some of the best cities and towns on the continent on the Emerald Isle.
Cities in Ireland are known for their history, culture and hospitable locals, and you’ll find yourself welcomed in eagerly across the nation, whether you are in the bustling capital or in the most rural of destinations.
Cities in Ireland are also full of diversity, and amongst ramshackle streets dating to the medieval or Victorian eras, you’ll also find modern town centers, skyscrapers, and beautiful public spaces.
Irish cities are never quite overwhelming either, and while Dublin might have a population of over 500,000 people, the rest of the towns and cities in the country are rarely as busy and bustling as the capital, and all are within easy reach of the beautiful, quiet countryside too.
To inspire your trip, here are the best cities in Ireland to visit!
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)
15 Cities in Ireland That Are Worth Visiting
Dublin is the capital and the largest of all the cities in Ireland, and is the historic and cultural center of the country, it’s an unmissable destination. Found on the east coast, Dublin is the easiest city to travel to in Ireland, and it’s a transport hub and the gateway to the rest of the island.
The capital dates back to the Viking era, and you can find an array of historic attractions to visit in the city, from medieval castles to Victorian buildings.
Travelers won’t want to miss out on a tour through the Guinness Storehouse to learn how one of the world’s most famous beers is produced, while whiskey lovers will want to call in at the Jameson Distillery.
Our top recommended tours in Dublin:
- Skip the Line: Guinness Connoisseur Taste Experience at the Guinness Storehouse
- Book of Kells Early Access Tour with Dublin Castle
- EPIC-The Irish Emigration Museum – Admission
- Jameson Distillery Bow St. Experience
Cork is the second largest of the major cities in Ireland, and it’s found in the south-west of the country, with a population of just over 200,000 people. Cork has something for everyone, and it’s a city that’s teeming with vibrant culture, intriguing history and importantly, one of the best food scenes in the country.
Visit the bustling English Market, an undercover food market that’s been serving up delicacies for hundreds of years to get a taste of the culinary offerings in Cork, before eating and drinking your way around more traditional pubs and restaurants throughout the city. There are a lot of things to do in Cork.
This has always been a fiercely independent city, and you can learn about the important role played by Cork in Irish rebellions, and eventual independence at the old prison and at the local history museum.
Our top recommended tours in Cork:
- Award-Winning Smoked Salmon Tasting and Private Smokehouse Tour with a Local
- Cork City Cycle Tour – Experience the beautiful and historic City by bike
- Cork Food and History Tour
- Cork City Cycle Tour – Experience the beautiful and historic City by bike
- Blarney Castle Tour from Cork including Cobh
The busy city of Limerick is found on the banks of the River Shannon, as the waterway extends into the Shannon Estuary.
It’s long been an important city, given its strategic location on the west coast, with sheltered access to the Atlantic, and Limerick is the site of the imposing St Jonh’s Castle, a remarkably well preserved Norman castle that was built to defend the city.
Limerick is best acquainted with the short poems that share the same name as the city, and you’ll find plenty more culture here too. Visit the local museums and cathedrals, and explore the local markets and art galleries to get a feel for what visiting Limerick is all about. You will surely enjoy your time while exploring the things to do in Limerick.
Our top recommended tours in Limerick:
- Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle
- King John’s Castle Admission Ticket
- Bunratty Castle and Folk Park Admission Ticket
Galway is one of the best cities in Ireland to visit on the west coast, as the charming destination overlooks the Wild Atlantic Way and is close to some of the country’s most famous natural attractions.
Galway is within easy reach of the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, it’s a boat ride across stormy seas from the remote Aran Islands, and it’s a short journey from the rugged nature of the Corrib River.
You can explore the old Latin Quarter of the city itself, as well as visiting countless museums and castles too.
Our top recommended tours in Galway:
- Galway Food and Drink Walking Tour
- Galway to Cong Full Day Tour
- Half-Day Tour: Connemara Wild Atlantic Way Guided Beach Horseback Ride
- Burren Guided Walk
Located in Munster, on the southeast coast, Waterford can claim to be the oldest of the cities found in Ireland. Waterford was founded by Vikings in the 9th century AD, and since then it has grown into Ireland’s 5th largest city and an ever-growing tourist destination.
Waterford has some great Viking museums, but the city is best known for its crystal making industry, which you can learn more about at the House of Waterford Crystal.
Our top recommended tours in Waterford:
- House of Waterford Crystal Guided Factory Tour
- Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum: Admission Ticket
- Epic Tour of the Viking Triangle
- Waterford Greenway Cycling Experience
Just north of Dublin, you can visit another of the oldest cities in Ireland. Drogheda dates back to the first Viking raiders who began to settle along the coast in the 9th century AD, and the city is a real treasure trove of historic buildings, old town walls, and crumbling fortifications.
Nearby, you can visit ancient Celtic monuments constructed thousands of years ago, and nearby tombs and hill forts that are equally as dated.
Dingle is less a city and more of a small town, but it’s still one of the best places to visit in Ireland. Dingle is situated on the Dingle Peninsula along the Wild Atlantic Way, and this colorful, ramshackle town is one of the most picturesque along the west coast.
In Dingle, you can visit charming distilleries and ancient, Celtic sites, before exploring the dramatic coastline or visiting the local aquarium.
Our top recommended tours in Dingle:
- Dingle Dolphin Boat Tour
- Exhilarating Rib experience – Dingle sea safari
- Dingle Peninsula Private Day Tour
- Dick Macks Brewhouse brewery tours & beer tastings
Close to Dingle, you can find Killarney, which is one of the original touristic cities in Ireland. Killarney has been inviting visitors to its many attractions since the Victorian era, and here you can find a small city surrounded by history, heritage, and natural beauty. Those are great options you can choose from to decide on your things to do in Killarney.
Visit the Killarney National Park, to discover waterfalls, lakes and old castles and abbeys. Explore Victorian mansions, local museums or venture further afield to travel along the extensive tourist route known as the Ring of Kerry, which starts and ends in Killarney.
Our top recommended tours in Killarney:
- The Gap of Dunloe Adventure Day Tour from Killarney
- Experience A Magical Evening At Celtic Steps The Show
- Ring of Kerry Tour from Killarney including Killarney National Park
- Carrauntoohil Guided Hiking Tour
Shannon is found on the west coast, close to Limerick, which is one of the largest cities in Ireland. Shannon isn’t quite as big as its neighbor, and being a ‘New Town’, it lacks the history too. It is, however, a great place to see more of contemporary Irish life in person.
You can visit the nearby Bunratty Castle in the countryside if you are looking for history though, while in Shannon itself you’ll find a great number of restaurants and bars to explore.
One of the best cities in Ireland to visit is Kilkenny, which is famed for its magnificent medieval castle, that’s one of the best-preserved in the country.
Kilkenny began to boom after the Norman invasion when the extensive Kilkenny Castle was constructed to protect the growing settlement. You can explore the turrets and towers of the formidable fortress, before seeing all the rest of the great attractions that are also found in Kilkenny.
Our top recommended tours in Kilkenny:
- Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny Entrance Ticket
- Kilkenny City and Rock of Cashel Day Trip from Cork
- Kilkenny Ghost Walking Tour
- The Kilkenny Way: Ultimate Hurling Experience
- Kilkenny Segway Private Tour – 2 Hours
Wexford is another great place to visit in Ireland, particularly if you’re interested in medieval history. Wexford is another Viking town, and you can find an array of ancient monasteries and abbeys within the vicinity.
One of the best things to do is to visit the excellent Irish National Heritage Park, where you can learn about thousands of years of Irish traditions, in an open-air setting that goes back as far as the prehistoric era.
Situated on the south coast, just a short journey from Cork, the small town of Kinsale is a must-visit destination in Ireland. You can make an easy day trip from Cork, or spend as much time as you care to along the coast here because there’s plenty to do.
You can enjoy striking views and beautiful hiking, while history buffs can explore the array of coastal forts and crumbling castles that are found overlooking the ocean.
Our top recommended tour in Kinsale: Surf Lesson for Couples in Kinsale
On the north-west coast of Ireland, Sligo is one of the largest urban areas along the Wild Atlantic Way, and a great place to explore. From Sligo, you can visit crumbling medieval abbeys and hike or road trip in the shadow of impressive mountains and spectacular natural scenery.
Sligo has a long, long history and you’ll find ancient, prehistoric tombs and monuments in the countryside, where you can learn more about the early inhabitants of Ireland.
This is also Yeats Country, where the famous Irish poet spent much of his time, and you’ll be able to see the romantic inspiration he garnered firsthand in the rugged coastline, sandy beaches and rural idylls of Sligo.
Our top recommended tours in Sligo:
Clifden is a small town that makes a great base for venturing into the wild countryside of the Connemara region, on Ireland’s west coast. Walk to the top of Monument Hill when you first arrive for panoramic views over the town.
You will be able to see towards the mountains on one side of Clifden and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
Visit the local castle, explore Connemara National Park and enjoy the untouched wilderness that is found along the west coast.
Our top recommended tours in Clifden:
- Wild Atlantic Way Self-Guided Bike Tour from Clifden
- Electric biking on scenic Wild Atlantic Way from Clifden
Also found on the west coast of Ireland, Tralee is another popular tourist destination along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Visit the Kerry County Museum to learn more about the town’s history and heritage, before enjoying the great many local restaurants and pubs and the excellent food and drink on offer.
Really though, Tralee is yet another great base from which to explore the coastline and the countryside, and you’ll find excellent hikes and road trip opportunities nearby.
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