After spending ten days road tripping around the Irish countryside, I've had an opportunity to experience the most beautiful Ireland landscapes that the island has to offer.
Even though the Emerald Isle seems to have an infinite amount of natural beauty, I still put in quite a bit of research and planning time to ensure I could visit all of these places within my relatively short travel window.
Ten days makes for a great vacation, but when your goal is to experience an entire country you'll find that time doesn't stretch quite as far as you'd like!
In this post I'm going to highlight the most beautiful landscapes of Ireland that I encountered during my travels across the country.
Along the way I'll be sure to include travel tips, locations and links to some of the more detailed guides I put together on many of these places.
You'll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I'm still happy you're here!
What landscapes is Ireland known for?
Many people who have never visited Ireland expect to see lush green countrysides and rugged coastal cliffs. And while these are two of the natural landscapes you're sure to encounter during a visit to the island, it has so much more to offer beyond that.
Ireland is also home to prominent mountains like Croagh Patrick and Benbulben. These two make for great hiking options. Additionally there are a number of beautiful mountain settings you can experience by car such as Doo Lough or Conor Pass.
But the most overlooked landscape setting that Ireland has are the beautiful white sand beaches. Almost every day we traveled between towns along the Irish coastline and there was always a beach to stop at to stretch our legs and dip our feet in the turquoise Northern Atlantic water.
If you're looking to enjoy the different landscape locations covered in this post in video form, be sure to check out my best Ireland landscapes drone compilation available on my YouTube channel!
1. Slieve League, Donegal
Slieve League are some of the highest sea cliffs in all of Europe and despite their wild nature, aren't too difficult to reach if you find yourself in northwest Ireland.
I used The Gateway Lodge in the town of Donegal as my jumping off point for this adventure, it was budget friendly and had an excellent restaurant on site. But you can also check out other lodging options in Donegal here.
From Donegal I'd suggest setting out for Slieve League in the early evening so you can make it to the viewing area by sunset. Be sure to make a quick pit stop at the Assaranca roadside waterfall on your way out as well.
I have a ton of tips for how to enjoy this area to its fullest. If you read my full post covering what to expect when visiting Slieve League I'll cover how to reach the upper car park without hiking and how to reach a hidden viewing area that most visitors overlook.
Hint, it's where I took the above photo!
2. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
No trip to Ireland is complete without a stop at the iconic Cliffs of Moher. Although these aren't the tallest sea cliffs in Ireland they're certainly the most visited and for good reason. Their prominence, accessibility and great hiking trails make these a popular stop for travelers.
My advice to anyone visiting the Cliffs of Moher is to align your visit with sunset. The cliffs face west which means they'll be cast in beautiful light as the sun fades below the Atlantic Ocean.
Not only will the lighting be fantastic, but you'll likely arrive after the visitor center operating hours which means you won't have to pay to park or enter!
Even better, the hoards of visitors who arrive on tour buses from Dublin will have already left for the day which means fewer crowds to contend with.
There are a few small towns near the cliffs that make for great jumping off points. We stayed at the Cliffs of Moher Hotel in Liscannor and really enjoyed our accommodations that came at a budget friendly price.
3. Clew Bay, views from Croagh Patrick
This view of Clew Bay can be enjoyed only if you're willing to make the rigorous hike up Croagh Patrick near the town of Westport.
The mountain is known for its religious significance where St. Patrick once fasted for 40 days. Visitors flock here every year to make the 4.5 mile (7.2 km) roundtrip journey to its summit where St. Patrick's Chapel now resides.
The hike is extremely steep so this one is quite a bit more challenging to complete than the distance would suggest. If you're planning to hike Croagh Patrick during your trip to Ireland be sure to check out my complete day hike packing list to ensure you don't leave anything behind that might come in handy on this one.
But if you're up for the challenge you can enjoy some of the best views in County Mayo of Clew Bay which sits below. Just be sure to hike on a clear day otherwise your view could be obscured by clouds.
We really enjoyed our stay in Westport and you can find plenty of affordable lodging options in this hidden gem of a town.
4. Doo Lough, County Mayo
If you road trip across an entire country, you're bound to encounter at least one epic location that you didn't know existed. And for me that place was Doo Lough Lake in County Mayo, Ireland.
My brother and I were moving from Westport down to the town of Liscannor where we'd view the Cliffs of Moher that evening for sunset. We mapped a not so direct route for our drive that allowed us to enjoy more time driving near the coast to the west of Westport.
The terrain leading up to Doo Lough is spectacular, rugged and barren, but in such a charming and beautiful way.
While we had noted a few stops we wanted to make along the way, we had completely overlooked Doo Lough Lake and the surrounding mountains.
There isn't a ton of development out this way, but if you find yourself in a position to make this detour it's an amazing drive and the views from this area really stuck with me.
5. Dunquin Pier, The Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula pretty much has it all when it comes to beautiful landscapes of Ireland. While there are a few areas on the peninsula I could have named the most beautiful, for me, Dunquin Pier takes the cake.
You can read all about the route I took through the Dingle Peninsula, which will also highlight locations such as Conor Pass, the town of Dingle, Inch Beach and more.
Nothing screams beautiful Irish landscape like rolling green fields that fall precipitously down sheer coastal cliffs into the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean and that's the exact feeling you get when visiting Dunquin Pier.
My only regret about this stop is that we couldn't be here for sunset. Since the cliffs face west it's prime real estate for sunset photography. Perhaps on a future trip!
The Dingle Peninsula can be enjoyed thoroughly by road tripping through the area or by booking accommodations in the town of Dingle. If you're planning to road trip Ireland like we did, which I highly recommend, be sure to book your rental car far in advance using a comparison tool to ensure you get the best price.
6. Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giants Causeway is a renowned coastal region and National Trust site in Northern Ireland which houses unique geological formations framed by picturesque coastal cliffs.
The stunning coastline combined with the volcanic basalt columns located near the sea easily make it one of the most scenic landscapes I encountered during my adventures across (Northern) Ireland.
This is another prime sunset watching location and before working down to the rock columns you can enjoy some truly epic hiking along the tops of the surrounding cliffs.
According to folklore, the basalt rock columns originated as gigantic stepping stones created by the giant Finn MacCool, aimed at crossing into Scotland to answer a challenge to duel with the giant, Benandonner.
After experiencing the beauty of this area firsthand, it's understandable how the unique geological characteristics here have become woven into ancient Irish tales.
You can read about the full scoop on the Giant's Causeway here where I'll cover everything to know before you visit. If you're traveling up to Northern Ireland from Dublin, you should also check out my post on visiting the Dark Hedges. This is a fringe stop for some, but if you're a Game of Thrones Fan you'll probably find it more interesting!
There are a number of small towns that dot the Northern Ireland Coast which make for great jumping off points. During my visit I stayed at the charming Cul Erg House & Kitchen located in nearby Portstewart which has a good variety of accommodations to choose from.
7. Skellig Michael Island, Portmagee
Located off Ireland's western coast near Portmagee is Skellig Michael Island. This UNESCO World Heritage site captivates both travelers and Star Wars enthusiasts with its dramatic landscape and ancient settlements.
The island's rugged beauty and unique appeal has been popularized by its appearance in the Star Wars movies. However, embarking on a journey to Skellig Michael Island requires careful planning as it’s not easily accessible.
During my trip, our boat’s captain revealed that nearly 40% of the boats planned for Skellig Michael Island tours have to cancel their trips owing to the notoriously volatile weather conditions in Ireland.
Even if you successfully land on the island you'll need to climb over 600 ancient stone steps to reach the top as you tread carefully along near vertical cliff drops.
Be sure to check out my detailed guide to visiting Skellig Michael if you plan to include this stop on your Ireland itinerary.
That post covers tons of useful information like when to visit, where to stay in Portmagee (we stayed at The Moorings hotel near the dock) and what to pack to ensure you have a successful afternoon enjoying the ancient ruins and seabirds that call this island home.
If you're lucky, you'll even have the chance to view adorable puffins up close in their natural habitat!
8. Dog's Bay Beach, County Galway
Dogs Bay Beach is a stunning, crescent-shaped beach situated in Connemara, County Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. Just approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the charming village of Roundstone, this remote beach is known for its pristine white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and serene atmosphere.
During my visit to the Emerald Isle we made a stop at Dog's Bay Beach when traveling from Westport to the town of Liscannor. While in Westport we had climbed Croagh Patrick and then we used Liscannor as our home base for exploring the nearby Cliffs of Moher.
While there are small towns closer to Dog's Bay, your best option is probably to incorporate this stop like we did or as a day trip from the nearby city of Galway. Galway has a ton of hotels and activities to choose from making it a more practical jumping off point than villages such as Roundstone.
9. Benbulben, Donegal
Known for its unique shape and prominence, Benbulben dominates the horizon if you're exploring anywhere just north of the town Sligo in Western Ireland.
Not only is Benbulben worth hiking around, or to the top of, but the surrounding area is covered with iconic Irish bliss as endless rolling green fields fade into beautiful beaches that line the nearby coastlines.
After enjoying some of the Benbulben Forest Walk be sure to make your way over to the beautiful Streedagh Beach before heading out like I did to cool off.
I visited Benbulben in the morning before checking into The Gateway Lodge Hotel in the town of Donegal. But if you're looking to spend more time in the area around Benbulben consider booking a room in nearby Sligo.
10. Carrick-a-Rede, Causeway Coastal Route
Here you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a short hike (about 1 km or half mile each way) out to a rope bridge that connects one of the islands to the mainland.
The hike out to the bridge and back is mild and wonderfully scenic as you hug the coastline out to the island. On one side you'll see tons of sheep grazing the countryside and on the other you can enjoy views of the endless rugged coastline.
When I started my hike that morning visibility was super low due to foggy conditions. But by early afternoon the clouds parted and I was able to enjoy views like this from the rope bridge area and during my hike back.
During my visit I stayed at the Cul Erg Bed & Breakfast located in the nearby town of Portstewart. Portstewart has a number of hotel options to choose from, just be sure to book well in advance since this is a popular vacation town during the summer months!
When is the best time to visit Ireland?
You'll want to plan your trip to Ireland when the days are long, weather is warm and there is less precipitation. I would suggest planning your trip to Ireland sometime between May and June to benefit from all of these factors.
We visited near the end of May which also allowed us to avoid peak summer travel season on the island. I think we broke some kind of record because we went a full ten days without seeing a single drop of rain!
June through August will also make for a beautiful time to explore the island, just be mindful that you'll have to contend with more crowds and higher prices for rentals and accommodations.
Even though I planned this trip over six months in advance, lodging options already felt a bit picked over through most of the cities we visited. Outside of the major Irish cities, the smaller towns don't have a ton of accommodations to choose from and they can book up well in advance.
What is the prettiest place in Ireland?
Trying to settle on naming one part of Ireland the prettiest is an extremely difficult task, but if I had to pick one area, I would vote the Dingle Peninsula as being the prettiest.
Why did I pick the Dingle Peninsula? Because the peninsula has a little bit of everything that comes to mind when you think of Ireland.
Considered part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the peninsula is home to its namesake town Dingle. Dingle is a quaint little coastal Irish town that gets flooded with tourists and activity during the summer months.
Minutes from town you can enjoy epic mountain views from Conor Pass, rolling green countryside in every direction, rugged coastal cliffs, ancient Irish ruins like the Gallarus Oratory or swimming at the pristine Inch Beach.
The Dingle Peninsula offers visitors a little bit of everything that Ireland has to offer and for that reason I'm naming it the prettiest place in Ireland!
If you're visiting Ireland the best way to explore the island is by mapping out an epic road trip and not staying holed up in capital, no matter how many great things you can see Dublin. Be sure to rent your vehicle well in advance since prices can soar during the busy summer tourist season.
You can search for great deals on rental cars using RentalCars which allows you to compare prices across different rental agencies to ensure you get the best price!
Why is the landscape of Ireland so green?
Ireland is so green due to a combination of climate related factors. The Gulf Stream flows across the Atlantic Ocean and up towards Ireland bringing warmer air and ocean water to the region. This helps regulate the temperature which results in mild winters and summers that aren't excessively hot.
Additionally, Ireland receives abundant rainfall throughout the year. The western part of the country typically gets more rain than the east due to its exposure to the Atlantic Ocean. This ample supply of rain ensures that the soil remains moist and fertile, thus enabling grass and other plants to flourish.
Why is Ireland so beautiful?
Ireland captures peoples hearts because it has such a wide breadth of incredible landscapes. For starters, the island is covered in an infinite amount of vibrant green countrysides. Along the perimeter are thousands of miles (and kilometers!) of rugged coastal cliffs home to a wide variety of seabirds and wildlife.
Many visitors expect to see the lush green fields and dramatic coastlines, but Ireland's best kept secret are the white sand, turquoise water beaches that pepper the shores.
The island is also home to prominent mountains such as Croagh Patrick or Benbulben that you can climb. If mountain treks aren't you thing then there are plenty of stunning mountain passes that can be made by car such as Conor Pass or Doo Lough.
If the natural beauty isn't enough, the ancient ruins that are littered literally everywhere across Ireland only add to its foggy mystique.
The major points of interest are great, but even traveling between different parts of the island is a beautiful experience in its own right.
Feeling inspired to plan a trip to the Emerald Isle?
Hopefully you enjoyed this post covering the most beautiful Ireland landscapes and don't forget to watch my YouTube video featuring drone footage I took from all of these places during my travels!