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Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Popular Tourist Spots in Ireland

By Dawn Rainbolt, Marketing Executive
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So, you’ve got a hankering to visit Ireland, and you want to make sure you visit all of its great sites.

But, you also want to avoid the crowds and visit the Emerald Island in a different way than most visitors. Below, find an alternative way to visit a few of Ireland’s popular places such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Giant’s Causeway and more.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher as seen from the Liscannor side.

So, the best way to visit the Cliffs of Moher and have them all to yourself is to approach from the end. From the north, 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.

From the south – probably the least-known route – starts of Liscannor. Perhaps a little bit longer of a walk, start by the old signal tower and walk to the Visitor’s Centre from there. As you approach the centre, there will be more people, but for the most part, your walk will be relatively uncrowded. It’s about 5km each way (on flat, easy terrain) from the car park to the Visitor’s Centre and back. Another option is a local taxi who can take you back to the start, as well as a shuttle (only available to people who’ve booked it and have Visitor’s Centre ticket.

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 & Island Hopping – Ireland’s West Coast – 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

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

Visiting the Giant’s Causeway at sunrise.

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!

Dingle Peninsula

Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Ireland

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

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!

Ring of Kerry

5 Alternative ways to visit Ireland's tourism spots

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

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.

The Jameson Distillery (and more!)

Top 5 Alternative Ways to Visit Irish landmarks - Jameson Distillery

Barrels at the Jameson Distillery Middleton in East Cork

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. 

Meet 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 and sweeping landscapes of Ireland. Armed with a Masters Degree in Tourism Marketing and a love of writing and photography, she is Wilderness Ireland's Marketing Executive since 2017.”

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