The most beautiful cities in Ireland: Top 10

Beautiful Ireland may be affectionately called the “Emerald Isle” thanks to its stunning natural landscapes, but its cities also fascinate! We introduce you to the 10 most worth seeing!

From Galway in the west to Dublin in the east, from Belfast in the north to Cork in the south, Ireland is full of exciting cities that you should definitely check out when you travel here. And the best part: Each of them comes with its own special features! In our article we take a look at the 10 most beautiful places on the island!

1. Dublin, Province of Leinster

The capital of the Republic of Ireland starts the list: Dublin on the east coast of the country. It doesn’t matter whether you’re here in March for St. Patrick’s Day through the pubs and admire the city from its greenest, but also most exuberant side, or prefer to go on a sightseeing tour at quieter times of the year – Dublin is always worth a visit. Some of the attractions that you should definitely put on your must-see list here are Dublin Castle in the city center, Phoenix Park, which is also adjacent to Dublin Zoo, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Also interesting, especially for the beer fans among you, is a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, and those who prefer good Irish whiskey should take a look at the Jameson Distillery in Smithfield.

2. Galway, Province of Connacht

At the same geographical level, but at the western end of the island, you will also find Ireland’s second most famous city: the more rural Galway. There is also plenty to explore here, from historic buildings such as the 16th-century Lynch’s Castle, now a bank, to the city’s beautiful cathedral and the Spanish Arch, which once formed part of Galway’s city walls. However, the city is particularly well known for its traditional way of life, which includes local culinary delights as well as the relaxed atmosphere in the pub with live Irish music. Incidentally, you can also take some great trips from Galway, for example to the Cliffs of Moher, about half an hour’s drive south of the city.

3. Sligo, Province of Connacht

We stay in the same province but head a little further north to the beautiful port town of Sligo. Along with Connacht, Sligo is the most important town on the west coast of Ireland and is best known for its rich culture, ranging from music to stage theater and literature. For example, the Sligo Jazz Festival takes place here every July, but festivals and shows with baroque and traditional Irish music are also regularly held here. Sligo is also known for its Yeats Summer School, named after the famous Irish poet WB Yeats and his brother, Jack Butler Yeats, which attracts visitors from all over the world every year and offers numerous readings, lectures on literature and other events. Finally, the cultural program is rounded off by great stage companies from Sligo, such as the Blue Raincoat Theater Company or the Hawk’s Well Theatre.

4. Belfast, Northern Ireland

We continue to the northeast of the Emerald Isle and thus actually to another country: Belfast in Northern Ireland is the next stop on our tour through the most beautiful cities in Ireland, but unlike all the places mentioned so far, it does not belong to the Republic of Ireland, but to Great Britain. Belfast experienced some difficult and often violent times during the turmoil of the Northern Ireland conflict in the late 20th century – but since the turn of the millennium at the latest, the city has undergone a brisk change and has meanwhile become another idyllic must-see destination become an Irish island. Some places that you should definitely put on your bucket list here are, for example, Belfast Castle, the city’s botanical gardens, Belfast City Hall and a number of museums that are interesting in terms of exhibitions and architecture, most notably the Titanic Museum and the Ulster Museum . And then of course you would also be quite quick from here to the famous Giant’s Causeway …

5. Londonderry (Derry), Northern Ireland

And one more Northern Ireland city deserves its place in our top 10 most beautiful cities in Ireland: Londonderry. The city, which is often just called Derry for short, is located on the River Foyle, near the border with the Republic of Ireland, and is particularly interesting for all friends of historical architecture. For example, you can marvel at the chic Guildhall and the old city wall of Derry with its seven gates, the Derry Walls, pay a visit to the beautiful St. Columb’s Cathedral or continue your education in an exciting way in the Tower Museum. The Bogside is also home to striking street art, and just outside of town, step back in time to BC and be enchanted by Irish creation myths at the Grianan of Aileach ring fortress.

6. Kilkenny, Province of Leinster

Finally, the next city worth seeing in Ireland takes us to the south-east, in the province of Leinster. Kilkenny is characterized by one thing above all: its wonderful medieval buildings. Probably the most famous of these is Kilkenny Castle from the 12th century AD, which lies directly on the River Nore, is surrounded by an idyllic park and looks straight out of a fairy tale. There are also some atmospheric places of worship to check out here, notably the Cathedral Church of St Canice, St Mary’s Cathedral and the Black Abbey, which takes its name from the Dominican monastic order of the Blackfriars, or “black monks”. Finally, there are many interesting museums to see in Kilkenny; St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum and the late 16th and early 17th century Rothe House and Gardens are particularly recommended for archaeological finds and more from local history.

7. Tralee, Province of Munster

Anyone who has been interested in Ireland and its customs for a long time has heard of the Rose of Tralee Festival – which has its origins here. Dating back to a 19th-century ballad, the Rose of Tralee Festival is essentially a giant beauty, or rather personality, pageant, as it is the character of the contestants that is judged rather than their appearance. The festival is celebrated around the world each August, but the main venue remains Tralee itself, and a glass wall in the town park commemorates the names of each ‘Rose of Tralee’ winner.

8. Limerick, Province of Munster

The next city on our list also shaped a world-renowned phenomenon: the famous Limerick rhyme. Poetry is not the main reason why you should visit this fantastic place in the province of Munster – instead, it primarily delights with its beautiful buildings, most notably King John’s Castle on the small city island of King’s Island. Also on King’s Island is the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral with its distinctive spire and the Widows Alms Houses – restored historic homes from the late 16th century. Via the Thomond Bridge in the west of King’s Island or via Bridge Street in the south, you can also get to the other interesting districts of Limerick, where other interesting historical, cultural and architectural sights await.

9. Cork, Province of Munster

Cork, in the south of the province of Munster, is the penultimate point on our list of Ireland’s most beautiful cities. Cork sits directly on the River Lee, which splits the city in two and forms Lough Mahon at its centre. Today the city is best known as a university town, but it has a long and, above all, rich history. The founding of Cork dates back to the 6th century, in the 10th century the Vikings expanded the town and subsequently served as an Old English stronghold and important hub in the War of the Roses until it was finally burned down completely during the Irish War of Independence. Today, many sights, some of which have been restored, can be visited in Cork, such as the Cork City Gaol or Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral. When visiting here, you should also take a trip to nearby Blarney Castle with its famous Blarney Rock.

10. Waterford, Province of Munster

Finally, we go back to a place that is particularly important for Ireland: The oldest city in the country, Waterford, founded in 914. The oldest city? Wasn’t it said that Cork dates back to the 6th century? That’s right, but like many other settlements of that time, it received city rights only later, namely in the 12th century. Waterford is the oldest official city on the Emerald Isle, and as such offers a lot of exciting museums, including the Waterford Museum of Treasures, the city’s Medieval Museum and the Bishop’s Palace. Waterford is also known for its glass and crystal production, which you can take a closer look at, for example, in the House of Waterford Crystal.

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