The Emerald Isle, visions of Guinness and ever-green landscapes may well represent the Ireland that we know and love. But nothing exemplifies true Irish culture more than the quaint and picturesque villages. We’ve found a few charming towns not far from Dublin that are there to be discovered:
Kinsale, County Cork
Tourism Ireland / Tim ThompsonThis fishing village located on the southern coast is known as one of the prettiest towns in Ireland. Kinsale is full of colourful shops and pubs, and is surrounded by 17th-century fortresses, which serves up spectacular views from the harbour. There’s Charles Fort to the southeast and James Fort on the opposite bank, both a walkable distance from the town. It’s also a great place to enjoy seafood, with many restaurants serving up fresh, local fish.
Drive from Dublin: Approx. 3h, 284 km
Killarney, County Kerry
Tourism Ireland / © Brian Morrison PhotographyLocated in the southwest, Killarney is bigger in size and is also more frequented by tourists – and it’s no wonder why. The town is one of the main stops along the scenic drive of Ring of Kerry and the start and finishing point of the 200-kilometre Kerry Way walking trail. But the main attraction is Killarney National Park, which covers over 10,000 hectares. There’s extraordinary buildings to explore, like the 15th century Ross Castle, which looks out over Lough Leane Lake, and Muckross House and Gardens, a 19th century mansion.
Drive from Dublin: Approx. 3h 40m, 308 km
Westport, County Mayo
Tourism Ireland / Pawel Sadowski1 Located on Clew Bay, an inlet in the Atlantic Ocean, Westport is a perfectly picturesque destination, with a beautiful 18th-century Georgian town centre, stone bridges over the banks of the Carrowbeg River, and tree-lined streets. There’s the Great Western Greenway, a 42-kilometre walking and biking trail. Linking Westport and Achill Island, the trail used to be an old railway route. Also known as the hub for water activities, travellers can spend time fishing, surfing, sailing, windsurfing, snorkelling and kayaking.
Drive from Dublin: Approx. 3h, 251 km
Dingle, County Kerry
Tourism Ireland / John HessionThis small port town on the southwestern coast offers up breathtaking views of the rugged–yet–beautiful Dingle Peninsula. The 42-kilometre Slea Head Loop, which runs from Dingle town and carries on along the peninsula, makes for a scenic drive or bike ride. Steeped in Irish culture, most of the villagers still speak primarily in Gaelic and traditional Irish music can be enjoyed from any one of the many pubs. Sea life is another major draw, dolphins are regularly spotted in the bay.
Drive from Dublin: Approx. 4h, 346 km
Birr, County Offaly
Tourism Ireland / Liam MurphyFull of history, Birr is Ireland’s best example of a Georgian town, as intact 18th-century buildings and structures are central to the town’s appeal. The architecture of the Georgian homes and the many gothic-style cathedrals make it feel like stepping back into a different era. Birr Castle Demesne and Historic Science Centre, one of Ireland’s top attractions, recounts the town’s innovations in the fields of engineering, astronomy, horticulture and photography through 18th-century artefacts. Birr remains a bustling town, full of shops, cafés and pubs along its main street.
Drive from Dublin: Approx. 1h 45m, 140 km
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