The cities of Ireland have a lot to offer visitors, from stunning scenery and quaint villages to bustling cities full of life. You will have heard of Dublin and Belfast. But why stop there? There are fantastic cities across the country, each with its own personality and quirks. Because you can’t see ALL of Ireland’s cities on just one of our tours, we’ve put together this guide to what we think are the absolute best cities in Ireland. With a metro population of approximately 1.9 million, Dublin is the capital city and largest of the Republic of Ireland. Here in this article, we have collected some of the cities in Ireland to visit are discussed below.
List of Famous Cities in Ireland
If you are moving across the country to the west coast, you will arrive in Galway, a city known for its vibrancy, fresh sea air and medieval buildings. Take a stroll down Shop Street to feel the beating heart of this bohemian town. You’ll see buskers, dancers and acrobats entertain the crowds. You’ll hear Irish/Gaelic spoken on many lips. Glasses of stout are raised in traditional and friendly pubs. Pass under Spanish Arch and learn about Galway’s rich history at the City Museum.
This largest city in Ireland is a must-visit destination for fans of the arts. Art exhibitions and gallery shows run throughout the year. Wild parades featuring larger-than-life magical creatures are a fixture of the Galway International Arts Festival. This most bohemian of Irish cities was designated a European Capital of Culture for 2020.
Proudly located in the south of Ireland, Cork is the second-largest city in the Republic of Ireland (locals will tell you it’s the real capital). Cork is built on the Lee. This wide river cuts and winds through the centre, lending any exploration of downtown Cork a romantic feel, as you criss-cross the city’s many stone bridges. Pick up some provisions at the English Market and then have a picnic in Fitzgerald Park. Ring the Shandon Bells at St. Anne’s Church. Or scrub up on your Irish whiskey knowledge at the Jameson Whiskey Experience. Located just outside the city, world-famous Blarney Castle offers you the chance to kiss the Blarney Stone.
This city to visit in Ireland has a darker side too. Discover a hidden history of rebels, rioters and prison life at Spike Island. Ireland’s Alcatraz is dramatically sited on an island in Cork Harbour. In 1850, this was the world’s largest prison. Today, it’s a modern visitor experience, open to all.
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Much like limericks, the popular city to visit in Ireland itself is quirky and locals have a great sense of humour as well as an amazing accent. The street food and street art scenes tend to surprise visitors to Limerick in their breadth and quality. Located in the ‘midwest’ of Ireland, where the mighty River Shannon opens onto its tidal estuary, Limerick is rich with history. It is nicknamed the Treaty City because it was the venue for the peace accord that ended the Williamite War of the late 17th century. Discover the rich tapestry of Limerick’s history for yourself at venues such as the ancient ruins of Lough Gur, Saint Mary’s Cathedral or King John’s Castle.
Rugby, hurling and rowing are the sports of choice among locals here. If you’re in town for a Munster rugby match, do not miss the chance to savour the atmospheric Thomond Park stadium in full voice. Otherwise, kick back and experience live music in one of the city’s many traditional pubs. Or just take a nice bike ride through the Ballyhoura Forest.
Galway is a place of amazing and lively atmosphere, supreme scenic beauty, a great list of places to visit, and some amazing pubs and restaurants. This picturesque location in the province of Connacht is historic, and a treat to the eyes and mind. This important city in Ireland is often used as the starting point for a trip to this beautiful side of Ireland – the west. But the city is no less of a destination in itself. With a great number of outdoor activities and buzzing neighbourhoods, Galway is sure to get your senses up and running. With supremely picturesque places like the Wild Atlantic Way, the Connemara National Park, and iconic sites like the Spanish Arch and the Galway Cathedral.
Make a stop at the historic Galway Museum, which has a great collection of items, artefacts and art which takes you through the various periods of Galway over the centuries. Galway’s famous streets like the Quay Street and Galway’s Latin Quarter are an absolute joy. Energetic and bustling, with hordes of people and plenty of places to shop and eat, and street performers providing the perfect entertainment. Galway’s scrumptious options to eat will make your stay even more worth the while. So don’t think too much, because a few days in this city will have you totally energised!
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Since peace returned to Belfast in the late 1990s, Northern Ireland’s capital has undergone an astonishing transformation. Just two hours south of Dublin, Waterford is not just first on our list; it’s also Ireland’s first city. Dating back to the medieval period (around 900AD), Waterford’s history is inextricable from the tale of the Vikings. Just as in the rest of Ireland, Norsemen initially arrived as invaders. Later arrivals stayed and intermarried to become traders in Ireland’s first urban settlements.
For a glimpse of the past, step inside 800-year-old Reginald’s Tower, first built by the Vikings. Rebuilt in the 12th century by Anglo-Normans, it’s now a museum housing a vast selection of historical artefacts. While in this beautiful city in Ireland, you could also pay a visit to the nearby House of Waterford Crystal. Some of the finest crystal in the world has been produced here since it was founded in 1947.
6. Derry City
The second-largest city in Northern Ireland, Derry doesn’t lack in charm or things to do. Once the poster child for conflict in the region, Derry today is one of Ireland’s coolest places to visit—locals especially recommend scaling the 17th-century city walls and searching for authentic souvenirs in Derry’s adorable Craft Village.
But the city doesn’t shy away from its past—our trip planners tell us that Derry does an excellent job remembering its harder days through museums like the Museum of Free Derry, and of course, the gorgeous Peace Bridge that stretches across the River Foyle. If you’re looking for an Irish getaway that features incredible nature, romantic coasts, and (of course) amazing food and music, locals suggest visiting Derry. Nestled along Ireland’s gorgeous Atlantic Way, this famous city in Ireland offers a wealth of activities—and tons to see nearby as well.
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7. Galway City
The charming college town of Galway City is home to 79,934 people (though that number expands significantly when the Galway Races are in town). Centered around Eyre Square, the small but lively city runs along the banks on the River Corrib and stretches out towards Galway Bay. It is counted in one of the cities to see in Ireland. The city is a popular stop for live music, and many of the area pubs have triad sessions every night of the week. Walkthrough the Spanish Arch and enjoy the medieval lanes, or visit the Cathedral where Christopher Columbus is said to have sat in the pews before setting sail for the new world there is plenty to do in Galway.
In a green fertile valley just beside the River Lagan, Lisburn city sits southwest of Belfast. As received its city’s status in 2002 from Queen Elizabeth during her Golden Jubilee Celebrations, Lisburn has the peppy step of a young city. It is ideal for those wishing to enjoy a combination of rolling countryside and urban life within easy commuting distance of Belfast and the surrounding areas. The friendly staff in this award-winning tourist information centre in Lisburn are always on hand to help make your stay more enjoyable. Specialty coffee houses and honest-to-goodness home bakeries, such as Windsor and Jeffers, are great stop-offs along the way, while the Yellow Door Deli is the go-to spot for fresh local ingredients. If you are looking for such kind of popular city to visit in Ireland.
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Just two hours south of Dublin, Waterford is not just first on our list; it’s also Ireland’s first city. Dating back to the medieval period (around 900AD), Waterford’s history is inextricable from the tale of the Vikings. Just as in the rest of Ireland, Norsemen initially arrived as invaders. Later arrivals stayed and intermarried to become traders in Ireland’s first urban settlements.
For a glimpse of the past, step inside 800-year-old Reginald’s Tower, first built by the Vikings. Rebuilt in the 12th century by Anglo-Normans, it’s now a museum housing a vast selection of historical artefacts. If you are traveling to this best city in Ireland you could also pay a visit to the nearby House of Waterford Crystal. Some of the finest crystal in the world has been produced here since it was founded in 1947.
Kilkenny is located in the south-east of Ireland, about 90 minutes from Dublin. It’s a small but perfectly formed and charming place to spend a few days. Like a lot of other cities in Ireland, Kilkenny is medieval in origin. Its heydey was the Norman era when Kilkenny was Ireland’s capital. This rich history greets you at every corner. The downtown Medieval Mile trail leads from sprawling Kilkenny Castle to hilltop St. Canice’s Cathedral. Between these two historic landmarks, you’ll find amazing shops, galleries, restaurants and pubs (see above video of the Hole In The Wall).
Kilkenny is probably the best place in all of Ireland to learn about hurling. No, not that kind of hurling. This is a 3000-year-old sport with mystical, ancient roots. At the Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience, you can learn the history of the sport at an excellent museum before learning some hurling skills for yourself and catching some classic matches over lunch.
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All of the above-mentioned cities are the major cities in Ireland to visit where you can stay on your trip and can explore more about this nation deeply. Ireland is rich in cultures, history, and some famous monuments. Hope the post on top cities in Ireland to visit is beneficial to you kindly read our other blogs also if you want to know more about Ireland.