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Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Popular Tourist Spots in Ireland

Posted on Apr 10, 2017 by Dawn Rainbolt

So, you’ve got a hankering to visit Ireland, and you want to make sure you visit all of its greatest sites. But, you also want to avoid the crowds and visit the Emerald Island in different way than most visitors. Below, find an alternative way to visit a few of Ireland’s popular places!

Cliffs of Moher

It’s one of those places that, as a first-time visiter, you must witness firsthand. Despite being 7km long (that’s longer than 5k road race!), most people visit the Cliffs of Moher from the same point: the Visitor’s Centre by the parking lot. This means that there are generally crowds on the cliffs on either side of the centre – and far fewer people on both ends.

So, the best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher and have them all to yourself is to approach from the northern end. Enter via the small but quaint Doolin Village where you can park your car in the village and walk to the coast along the cliff walk. Take the narrow coastal pathway and follow the cliffs along their edge as far as you’d like before turning back. You’ll see some other people about, but you’ll avoid the vast majority of the crowds.

Another alternative way to visit the Cliffs of Moher is by boat – instead of staring out at the sea from the cliffs, you’ll stare up at the cliffs from the sea below.

Visiting by boat will give you a new perspective on the massive size of the Cliffs of Moher. Get the best out of your Cliffs of Moher experience by Hiking the Burren, Connemara & Aran Islands – or, try Biking Connemara & the Aran Islands

Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Ireland landmarks

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher from Doolin village is a much quieter outing!

Giant’s Causeway

Another unique rock formation in Ireland is the Giant’s Causeway. Not only is it beautiful, but it has a popular and intriguing folklore tale about two giants attached it.

While an amazing place, it’s far easier to appreciate the Giant’s Causeway when you’ve got the coastline to yourself. So, the best time to visit is in the early morning (before 9 am).

Because of the way the coastline faces, watching the sun rise over the Giant’s Causeway is the icing on the cake. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but you’ll see the Giant’s Causeway in the best light – the stones are lit up by the early morning light, and it is a great place to watch the sun rise over Ireland!

Giant's Causeway - sunrise - alternative way to visit Ireland

Visiting the Giant’s Causeway at sunrise.

Dingle Peninsula

The majority of people who visit the Dingle Peninsula (and the Wild Atlantic Way, for that matter), do so by car. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that – the Irish themselves tend to drive a lot – but a more interesting and alternative way to visit this beautiful peninsula is by bike.

Avoid the coach tour and instead, see the peninsula in a much richer way – from a bike saddle!

Biking through Dingle will give you the flexibility to stop along the way to take photos, go for a short hike or visit any beaches, villages or pubs along the way. You can easily check out any of ancient, megalithic sites (like the Gallarus Oratory, the Dunbeg Fort, or any of the other sites), or simply sit out by the ocean.

When you’ve arrived at Sea Head, you can hike out to the point to stand at the western edge of Europe and look out over the waves towards North America. It wouldn’t be quite the same, slower-paced experience by car!

Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Ireland

Standing at Slea Head, Overlooking the Blasket Islands and the Atlantic Sea

Ring of Kerry

Another popular route is the Ring of Kerry. It tends to attract crowds which can take away from your experience on this beautiful peninsula. The Ring of Kerry is essentially a ring loop road that takes in the coastal regions of the Kerry Peninsula.

So, an alternative way to visit the region is to hike the mountains within the Ring of Kerry instead of driving along the ring road. 

Many tourists zip by the beautiful mountains in their cars with hardly more than a photo from their car’s window. By strapping on the hiking boots and heading out into the mud, you’ll quickly leave the roads behind to find Kerry’s wilder side. The ‘slower’ pace means that you’ll get to see Ireland up close – its mountains, its rivers, its coastlines, its ruins, its farms. By using your own two feet to explore the peninsula, you’ll fully immerse yourself in Kerry’s landscape.

5 Alternative ways to visit Ireland's tourism spots

Hiking the undisputed queen of Irish mountains, Carrauntuohil, Ireland’s tallest peak.

The Jameson Distillery (and more!) 

Irish whiskey is popular worldwide – and most people who come to Ireland would like to visit a distillery, learn more about how whiskey is made, and do a whiskey tasting. Popular brands like Jameson attract the most visitors, with the Jameson Distillery in Dublin getting the most attention. While a good experience, the attraction is often crowded, taking away from your experience.

If you want to get to heart and soul of Irish whiskey, an alternative way to visit a Jameson distillery is to visit the Jameson Distillery Middleton in East Cork, where Jameson has brewed whiskey since the early 17th century (even today, it is brewed in the New Middleton Distillery. Do a whiskey tasting at the end in order to taste the different varieties you’ve just learned about! 

Ireland and whiskey go hand-in-hand, and there are no lack of distilleries here. For a step off the beaten path, try visiting the Teeling Distillery in the heart of Dublin, The Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland (not far from the Giant’s Causeway), or the Dingle Distillery on the Dingle Peninsula near Dingle Town.

If you can’t make it to any of the distilleries, most hotels provide whiskey tastings, and whiskey can always be bought in local pubs, though it won’t be the same experience!

For an exciting way to visit the Middleton Jameson Distillery and other world-renowned gastronomy of the south, see our sample tailor made itinerary, Cork & Kerry Gastro Tour

Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Irish landmarks - Jameson Distillery

Barrels at the Jameson Distillery Middleton in East Cork

See some of our featured trips here.

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20th Apr - 26th Apr 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7106 place(s) leftBook Now
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27th Apr - 3rd May 2019 Hiking the Mountains of Connemara and Mayo €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
4th May - 10th May 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
4th May - 10th May 2019 Bike Tour - The Kerry Peninsulas €1,9958 place(s) leftBook Now
11th May - 17th May 2019 Hiking The Kerry Mountains €1,9958 place(s) leftBook Now
18th May - 24th May 2019 Hiking the Mountains of Connemara and Mayo €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
25th May - 31st May 2019 Bike Tour - The Kerry Peninsulas €1,9958 place(s) leftBook Now
1st Jun - 7th Jun 2019 Bike Tour - Connemara & the Aran Islands €2,0103 place(s) leftBook Now
1st Jun - 7th Jun 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
1st Jun - 7th Jun 2019 Hiking the Mountains of Connemara and Mayo €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
8th Jun - 14th Jun 2019 Hiking The Kerry Mountains €1,9958 place(s) leftBook Now
22nd Jun - 28th Jun 2019 Bike Tour - The Kerry Peninsulas €1,9958 place(s) leftBook Now
22nd Jun - 28th Jun 2019 Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal €1,7106 place(s) leftBook Now
22nd Jun - 28th Jun 2019 Hiking the Mountains of Connemara and Mayo €1,7108 place(s) leftBook Now
29th Jun - 5th Jul 2019 Bike Tour - Connemara & the Aran Islands €2,0108 place(s) leftBook Now
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About the author

Dawn Rainbolt

American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture, intriguing history, ancient castles, cheery locals and sweeping landscapes of Ireland.

Read more articles by Dawn


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