The best cities to visit in Ireland
Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is packed with history, and cities in Ireland guarantee a warm welcome. Dublin and Belfast are busy with a real "big city" feel, whereas the smaller cities in the west or south of Ireland offer a wholly different visitor experience. This is a relatively small and compact country, so it's easy to sample the delights of several cities in Ireland during one vacation.
What makes Ireland's cities unique?
The natural starting point for a tour of the cities of Ireland is Dublin, the capital. Dating back to the 7th century, it's certainly not short on historical sites such as Dublin Castle and the famous Trinity College University. Over the border in Northern Ireland, there's a more gritty feel in Belfast. It’s a no-nonsense, industrial town, famous for its warm welcome and links to the Titanic tragedy. Ireland's other cities are smaller and more laid-back, so take in a few on your vacation to get a sense of the different kinds of cities in Ireland.
The top cities in Ireland to include in your trip itinerary
These are some of the best cities to visit in Ireland.
Explore history in Dublin
History buffs should put Dublin right at the top of their priorities. Stroll though over a thousand years of history on its streets, where old walls and architecture still stands today. And don't miss the stunning medieval illuminated manuscript of the Book of Kells, proudly displayed in Trinity College.
Learn about industrial history in Belfast
Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland, and its population grew thanks to the ship-building trade here. In fact, Belfast built the Titanic, and the visitor center right on the docks takes you back to the early 20th century when it set sail for New York City, never to return.
See Georgian splendour in Limerick
Limerick, on the west coast of Ireland, is known for its elegant Georgian architecture, particularly around the Newtown Pery area. Elsewhere, history goes back even further, as the likes of Lough Gut offers a glimpse of life 6,000 years ago, with reconstructed Iron Age houses on the edge of a lake.
Indulge in food and fun in Galway
Galway is a young, vibrant city with a population swelled by students during term time. The nightlife in this part of Ireland is legendary, as is the food scene—come here if you love oysters. There is a huge range of restaurants and food trucks selling everything from Irish classics to world street food.
Meet medieval Kilkenny
One of Ireland’s smallest cities, Kilkenny has a warren of narrow and winding streets that date back to the Middle Ages. They are now home to dozens of craftspeople who weave, create jewellery or do glass blowing. Don't miss the chance to visit the castle or the Medieval Mile Museum, a perfect introduction to the history of the city.
Tips for planning a city break in Ireland
Part of Ireland's appeal as a destination is its compact size. A two-week trip gives you ample time to visit all the major cities and some of the beautiful nature here too. Driving between the cities is the best option, with spring and summer being the best time for a visit.