The 5 best cities to visit in Ireland

The 5 best cities to visit in Ireland

by Laura Jones

Updated May 12, 2022

Planning a trip to Ireland and wondering what cities to visit? Dublin is an all-time favorite but there are so many more Irish cities waiting to be explored on the Emerald Isle. Ireland is youthful but has heaps of history and its cities are crammed with centuries-old historical sites that sit comfortably alongside avant-garde cafés serving some of the world’s best vegan cuisine. 

One of the great things about Ireland for native English speakers or learners, is that they speak English (with a delightful accent), so it’s easy to travel there. Let’s dive into the five best cities to visit in Ireland. 

  1. Dublin
  2. Galway
  3. Cork
  4. Kilkenny
  5. Limerick

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1. Dublin

It’s probably not a surprise to find Dublin first on the list of cities in Ireland to visit. But if you haven’t been, you might be wondering why everyone raves about the Irish capital.

Dublin mixes history, culture and cool in a way that a lot of other cities don’t quite manage. Wandering the charming cobbled streets of the Temple Bar district, you’ll find lively pubs with folk bands playing traditional music, trendy boutiques and contemporary art galleries.

You can’t miss the world-famous Guinness Storehouse while in Dublin, where you can taste Ireland’s most iconic drink and learn more about the history behind it. Or you might want to learn more about Ireland’s history with a trip to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum to understand more about Ireland’s huge diaspora. If you happen to be there during St. Patrick’s Day, don’t miss Dublin’s annual, epic parade and if you want to learn more about Dublin before you go, watch one of these Irish movies.

2. Galway

Over on the west coast, you’ll discover the harbor city of Galway, one of the most popular cities in Ireland. Galway is young and bursting with energy. If you’re into history, you’ll want to visit Galway Cathedral. Check out the medieval Kirwans Lane and pop into the free Galway City Museum.

For fresh air and views over the water, you can stroll along the Salthill Promenade. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll discover colorful pubs and cafés lining the old streets.

3. Cork

If you head down south, you’ll reach the city of Cork. It’s one of the biggest cities in Ireland and is said to be the food capital. In the English Market, you can get some delicious local produce and admire the ornate architecture, while in the many traditional pubs and modern restaurants, you’ll find everything from rock oysters to hand-brewed ale. 

If you’ve had your fill of food, go up to Blarney Castle where you can, according to legend, get the gift of the gab by kissing the famous Blarney Stone. You might also want to visit the City Gaol Museum, which manages to combine surprisingly pretty architecture with a gruesome history. 

4. Kilkenny

Medieval Kilkenny is one of the best cities to visit in Ireland for history buffs. You can explore the 12th-century Kilkenny Castle and take a walk through its lush parklands and then continue exploring along the Medieval Mile down to the 13th-century St Canice’s Cathedral. 

After dark, you’ll get to see another side of the city as you visit pubs to listen to live music or head to a traditional Irish restaurant. You could even visit the Michelin-starred French restaurant at Campagne.

5. Limerick

The final city on our list is lovely Limerick. There’s a waterside, Norman castle, the 12th-century St Mary’s Cathedral, where you can watch free lunchtime and evening performances, and the atmospheric Georgian Quarter. You can also go to the restored Milk Market, where, depending on the day, you’ll find artisanal produce, vintage clothing and antiques. 

If you’re ready to leave Ireland’s cities behind and discover some of its picturesque countryside, Limerick is a great starting point for a trip to the famous Cliffs of Moher, where you’ll have picturesque views over the Atlantic Ocean.


Planning a trip to Ireland?

If you’re heading to Ireland any time soon, your first port of call is likely to be wonderful Dublin. But, once you’ve explored the vibrant capital city, you’ll definitely want to make time to get out to visit more of Ireland’s charming places like foodie heaven Cork or lively Galway.

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Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.

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