The most stunning places in Ireland

Donegal

Crack open any guidebook about Ireland, and you’ll be flooded with descriptions and images of its countless attractions, both natural and man-made. A touristic map of Ireland is a pincushion of sights and destinations, but the space in between is most of the time worth a look too. There are lots of places in Ireland that don’t necessarily have anything in the way of traditional attractions, but they have the ability to capture the attention of passers-by with their simple beauty. So if you just feel like walking,  cycling or driving through a scenic landscape and stopping every once in a while to admire the scenery, here are some of the most stunning places in Ireland.

Donegal

Donegal is the favorite place in Ireland of many people who visit the country regularly, and even among the Irish you will find plenty of enthusiasts who are firm in their belief that Donegal is the most striking place on the Emerald Isle. The dramatic landscape of Donegal, with its jagged coastline, low mountains and loughs, and its relative remoteness (the locals call it ‘the forgotten county’ because of its economic and geographic isolation) make is a great place to explore.

Sligo

County Sligo is not the most popular tourist destination in Ireland, and Sligo town is generally considered to be small and quiet and rather underrated. But despite the fact that it is often overlooked, Sligo town has good shopping centers and restaurants, and the surrounding scenery is absolutely amazing, especially on the coast. There are some interesting attractions in the neighborhood too: the tomb of W.B. Yeats, Carrowmore and the mythical tomb of Queen Maeve.

Clare Island, Co Mayo

Clare Island is a mountainous piece of land at the entrance to Clew Bay, and although there is not much on the island except for a hotel, some B&Bs and a yoga retreat, it is a paradise for hikers and walkers. There’s a ferry making daily trips to the island from Roonagh Pier near Louisburgh, and hikers can get maps of the island together with their ticket.

Killary Harbour, Connemara

photo by Michael Clarke

Killary Harbour is actually a fjord in Western Ireland, forming a natural border between Co Galway and Co Mayo. With only two small settlements and seemingly unending expanses of mountains and water, Killary has some of the most dramatic and inspiring landscapes in the country.

Gap of Dunloe, Co Kerry

The Gap of Dunloe is a scenic and narrow mountains pass between Macgillycuddy’s Reek and Purple Mountain, and it is also one of the most stunning places in Ireland. The narrow, winding road leading through the gap is not that great for cars, but a cyclist or a walker will have great fun in this beautiful place.

 

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