Irish bucket list: 32 things to do in Ireland before you die

St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the start of the Irish tourism season, so no better time to showcase the very best of Ireland, as Tom Breathnach compiles his list of 32 activities, across 32 counties
Irish bucket list: 32 things to do in Ireland before you die

Beyond the Trees Avondale is one of Ireland's newest visitor destinations Picture: beyondthetreesavondale

Beyond the national celebrations and the wetting of the shamrock, St. Patrick’s Day traditionally also marks the launch of the new tourism season in Ireland — so what better time to dream of a few staycation plans? Our 2023 bucket list features exciting new openings across the island as well as some iconic favourites, fun-filled festivals and off-the-beaten track surprises to enjoy in every county.

Galway | Corncrake Festival

This quirky nature gathering celebrating one of Ireland’s most endangered birds takes place in a of most gorgeous and unspoiled part of the country, the island of Inishbofin. Midnight walks here are a highlight.

May 26-29;

Clare | Loop Head Lighthouse

The Irish Landmark Trust offers self-catering lighthouse experiences across the coast but Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, on the remotest fringes of the Wild Atlantic Way, offers perhaps the most iconic of all. €572 for two nights.

Tipperary | Tea at Cashel Palace

Afternoon tea in the Queen Anne Room
Afternoon tea in the Queen Anne Room

Reopened just 12 months, Cashel Palace ranks as one of Ireland’s most iconic stays. It’s a premium destination and afternoon tea here makes for a tasty intro.

Served in the sumptuous Queen Anne Room, locally inspired delights feature savouries from Blackwater smoked salmon and Tullahay Farm cream cheese sandwiches to a blue and yellow ‘Tipp Roll’ loaded with lemon curd.


Wexford | Strawberry picking

What could taste more like summer in the sunny Southeast than strawberry picking in Wexford. From June, Wheelock Farm Village outside Enniscorthy opens its farm to visitors where you can load punnets of berry goodness for a fun activity.

Kilkenny | Foodie Tour

One of Ireland’s food-friendliest cities has just launched its own food tour. Stroll through its medieval streets while enjoying this guided gorge of the county’s top food and craft producers.

Monaghan | Poetry Break

Nostalgia is in so why not lose yourself in a poetic escape to the rolling drumlin landscape of Monaghan? The newly opened Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen celebrates the life and work of one of the country’s most beloved scribes — without the trauma of a Leaving Cert.

Cavan | Discover Cloughoughter

One of the most iconic scenes of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, this lush lakeland island dotted with a 13th century castle is a true kayaker’s dream. You can paddle up with a kayak from a local outfit or better still, guests of Cabü cabins can swan in there by boat.

Fermanagh | Five star cottage

Love luxury? Then check into Northern Ireland’s only five star cottage, Keenaghan Cottage, in the heart of the county’s dreamy lakelands. Opened during the pandemic, it is flush with traditional touches, from inglenook fireplaces to boutique bedrooms, all within its centuries-old walls.

Antrim | Spot a puffin

Rathlin Island is not only spectacular for its cliffs, lighthouses and dolphins sightings but it’s also home to an outstanding RSPB sanctuary where a colony of these colourful birds gather every spring/summer. Get there via the puffin bus from the main pier.

Derry | Ring in Halloween

Voted the best place in the world to celebrate Halloween, Derry, with its annual festival, is establishing itself as the capital of Halloween. This year, it takes place Oct 28 to 31 meaning now is a great time to book a hotel before those rates get too spooky.

Carlow | Canoe the Barrow

Today there’s a leisure labyrinth of Ireland’s blueways and greenways but Carlow’s Barrow Blueway remains one of the most undiscovered. Outfits such as Go With The Flow offer day excursions as well multi-way wild camping through the lush Leinster waterway.

Westmeath | Spa sunset

Lough Ree sunsets are one of Ireland’s finest spectacles and all the better if you can experience them during a wellness break. Wineport Lodge with its stunning lakeside setting and newly refurbed spa makes for one of the most bucket list breaks in the country with rates from €260.

Wicklow | Peak at Avondale

Take your visit to the Garden County to new heights with a trip to the spectacular Beyond The Trees attraction which is enjoying its first spring season. This 1km treetop walk crescendoes with a 360° platform high above the forest floor. Afterwards, take the massive slide 38m back down to terra firma.

Mayo | Achill Film Festival

Achill Island’s staying firmly in the spotlight this year with its second international film festival taking place on the island, May 11-13. Expect a movie buff’s dream of domestic and foreign films with lively panel discussions.

Roscommon | National Famine Museum

The National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, Roscommon
The National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, Roscommon

This new museum which just opened last year brings the parallel worlds of Strokestown Park’s aristocratic landlords and their impoverished tenants during the Famine to life through state-of-the-art exhibits.

Sligo | National Surf Centre

Does this make it official? With the National Surf Centre set to open this summer in Strandhill, it surely marks Sligo as Ireland’s surfing capital. The centre will feature a surf shop, changing facilities, as well as providing a base for three independent surf schools.

Longford | Centre Parcs

Centre Parcs has catapulted Longford’s tourism status from that of Ireland’s least visited counties to now being a premium family destinations but But don’t overlook their smaller apartments for couples’ breaks too.

Leitrim | Honestly Kitchen

It’s slow food with a twist. Set in a former KFC outlet in Carrick-on-Shannon, the Gavin family’s Honestly Kitchen offers excellent organic produce from the family farm as well as, yes, Ireland’s only organic drive-thru!

Louth | Sea Louth Trail

A small county but a big fish. The Wee County’s coast is home to some of the country’s best seafood and now you can experience it via a new food trail which takes in scores of restaurants and producers, from oysters farms to the finger-licking chippers.

Cork | Whale watch

What could be more bucket-list than experiencing Cork’s incredible marine life this summer? Whale Watch West Cork offers fun, conservation-focussed tours off Baltimore where everything from fin whales to porpoises could wind up on your Insta grid. Stay over in West Cork for a more regenerative escape in every sense.

Limerick | International Rugby Experience

The much anticipated International Rugby Experience is set to open in Limerick this spring. Showcasing the sport from grassroots to the world stage, a world-class immersive experience awaits in an attraction heralding a new era of tourism for the Treaty City.

Tyrone | Stargaze in the Sperrins

 OM Dark Sky.
OM Dark Sky.

Set deep in the Davagh Forest in the heart of the Sperrins, OM is a new observatory and dark sky park putting Tyrone in a dazzling new light. Set in one of the island’s only accredited reserves, it features state-of-the-art kit enabling you to experience the twinkly skies ... whatever the weather.

Down | Start the NI Spirits Trail

2023 sees the launch of a new spirits trail which connects ten of the finest distilleries across NI. Brendan Carty’s Killowen Distillery set in the heart of the Mourne Mountains is one of my favourites but visit all ten and you’ll receive a special souvenir!

Kildare | National Stud

In racehorse country, what could be more fitting than a visit to the new Horse Racing Experience at the National Stud. Follow the life of a racehorse from the stud to the winning enclosure — a visit culminates in a simulated horse race for you and your group.

Armagh | Cider Tour

 Visitors learn a little of the heritage of apple growing in Armagh and are then told more of the history of the McKeever farm
Visitors learn a little of the heritage of apple growing in Armagh and are then told more of the history of the McKeever farm

Armagh and apples go hand in hand and with that goes gazillions of gallons of delicious Orchard County cider. Long Meadow is just one ciderie offering tours and tastings — better still put Armagh’s September Food & Cider festival in your diary.

Laois | Escape to the County

Laois is dotted with dreamy country estate escapes from Ballyfin to CastleDurrow. For a great value break, check-out a stay at Roundwood House, a gorgeous palladian country house offering excellent dining near the foothills of the Slieve Blooms.

Waterford | Tóg sos in Ring

Make a break to the Gaeltacht with a twist. An Rinn in Waterford is home to the gorgeous Solás na Mara where you can enjoy traditional seaweed baths at its relaxing pier settings.


Kerry | Killarney Brewing

Boasting the shiniest new pot stills in the land, Killarney Brewing & Distilling Company’s brand new visitor centre, is the Ring of Kerry’s latest must visit attraction. Enjoy a tour, or visit the bar which offers Irish craft beers, cocktails and local dishes overlooking the Reeks.

Meath | Emerald Park

Tayto Park is now Emerald Park
Tayto Park is now Emerald Park

It’s back... and rebranded. Ireland’s family-friendly wonderland formerly known as Tayto Park reopens as Emerald Park this month, featuring its rides to suit all adrenalin levels, from its junior friendly steam train to its signature Cúchualainn rollercoaster.

Dublin | The Dean Townhouse

Take a break to the capital with the city’s newest hotel offering.

The Dean Townhouse, which adjoins the existing Dean hotel, features 49 rooms with a fresh new signature design and a swit-swoo cocktail bar.

From €165;

Offaly | Cruise the Shannon

Winding up the Shannon towards the ancient site of Clonmacnoise is one of the most incredible experiences you can enjoy in Ireland.

Make the dream come to life with operators such as Silvercraft who hire out cruisers from Banagher.

Donegal | Crolly Distillery

A brand new distillery set in the Gaeltacht village of Croithlí, this is the first successfully distilled whiskey in Donegal for more than 180 years. The gorgeous facility set in a former doll factory is open for tours and tastings.

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