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Only in Ireland – 25 unique experiences to discover
Experience unique and wonderful places you won't find anywhere else.
Plunge into a saltwater lake, take a ride across the Atlantic on a cable car, and follow in the footprints of dinosaurs on a scenic island. For a small country, Ireland is bursting with one-of-a-kind places you won’t find anywhere else.

Explore the hidden gems on your doorstep and discover incredible things you can do only in Ireland.

Find unique experiences in Ireland’s Ancient East

1 | Take on the epic wooden rollercoaster in Emerald Park

Scream at the top of your lungs on the biggest wooden rollercoaster in Europe with an inversion at Meath’s Emerald Park. Standing at 32m tall, Cú Chulainn is named after one of Ireland’s greatest mythological warriors, and a ride on this rollercoaster is no less thrilling than the stories of old. 

Refuel with a tasty crisp sandwich back at ground level before making a splash on the epic Viking Voyage water ride at Ireland’s largest theme park.

Aerial image of people riding the wooden rollercoaster at Emerald Park in County Meath
Explore new heights at Emerald Park.

2 | See the oldest solar observatory in the world at Newgrange 

Newgrange is famous for the Winter Solstice, but did you know this magnificent monument is the oldest known solar observatory in the world? Walk around the mysterious stone chamber in Meath and step back in time to the Neolithic era when Ireland’s most celebrated passage tomb was built in 3,300BC. 

Access inside the chamber at Newgrange varies throughout the year, so which makes this experience popular amongst all visitors, so, be sure to book your ticket in advance online.

Sunset behind Newgrange in County Meath
Explore ancient grounds at Newgrange.

3 | See the pyramids in Wicklow 

Visit Wicklow and admire the great pyramid of the Howard Mausoleum in Arklow in the grounds of Old Kilbride Cemetery. The extraordinary burial tomb is inspired by the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Snap a picture of the “largest pyramid tomb beyond the banks of the Nile” then make your way across the cemetery to another Egyptian-influenced mausoleum, owned by the same family laid to rest inside the Arklow Pyramid.

4 | Tour Ireland’s only blackcurrant farm 

Wexford may be known for its sweet strawberries but a visit to Ballykelly Farm in Drinagh is sure to give you a taste for its tasty blackcurrants too. Check out Ireland’s only commercial blackcurrant farm and take a tour with its owner Des and his two adorable golden retrievers, Molly and Sofie.

Discover the inner workings of the family farm and learn how these Irish berries became part of Wexford’s cultural history on this one-of-a-kind foodie experience.

5 | Visit the oldest operational lighthouse in the world 

See the oldest operational lighthouse in the world in Wexford and find out why Hook Lighthouse was once voted number one on a Lonely Planet list of the world’s best lighthouses. 

Drop by the visitor centre, hear real life stories of the lighthouse keepers who protected seafarers from the jagged rocks, and take in stunning views of Hook Peninsula. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins jumping in the sea.

Calm waters near rocks and lighthouse on Hook Head
Take a trip to Hook Lighthouse.

6 | Hold a snake in Ireland’s only reptile zoo

Come face to face with giant pythons, snapping turtles and American alligators at Ireland’s only dedicated reptile zoo. Learn about these amazing animals at the National Reptile Zoo in Kilkenny. You can even hold a tarantula or pet an iguana during the hourly Animal Encounter sessions with a trained reptile wrangler. 

Experience adventure in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

7 | Find the world's oldest licensed distillery in Kilbeggan 

Visit the world's oldest licensed distillery dating back to 1757 in Westmeath. Learn how whiskey was once made and see these ancient techniques still in action today on the Kilbeggan Distillery Tour.

Taste a range of single malts and savour the experience of bottling your very own whiskey straight from the cask. Wet your whistle then stop by the Pantry Restaurant for a hearty lunch.

Thirsty for more? Ireland is home to plenty of must-see distilleries, so, squeeze in a few of the country's top distillery tours and experiences on your next adventure.

A glass of whiskey at Kilbeggan Distillery Experience
Discover the oldest distillery in Westmeath.

8 | Climb Ireland’s largest treehouse at Birr Castle Demesne 

Explore Birr Castle Demesne, one of the most unique places in Ireland where science, history and nature collide. Stroll around the glorious Offaly gardens and find the tallest box hedges in the world.

Check out the largest treehouse in the country, wander over to the Historic Science Centre to see the Great Telescope and discover the new cutting edge I-LOFAR facility – a trip to Birr Castle Demesne is full of wonders you won't find anywhere else.

Two people standing in front The Great Telescope at Birr Castle Demesne, Offaly
See the Giant Telescope at Birr Castle Demesne.

9 | Enjoy a pint in the oldest pub in Ireland 

Where better to sink a creamy pint than at the oldest pub in Ireland? With a fantastic location in the heart of the country, Seán’s Bar in Athlone has been around since 900AD, and the pints have only gotten better with time.  

Get a selfie in front of the tavern’s bright blue exterior and enjoy the electric atmosphere at this authentic Irish pub.

People standing outside Sean's Bar on a sunny day in Athlone, Westmeath
Savour a pint at Ireland's oldest pub.

10 | Make a splash at the largest indoor water park in Longford 

Book a short break in Longford Forest. Stay in a stylish woodland lodge at Center Parcs, the first resort of its kind in Ireland, and make a splash at the country’s largest indoor water park. Swim in the subtropical pool, ride the incredible Tropical Cyclone or chill out in the heated whirlpool.

Inside the indoor swimming pool at Center Parcs in County Longford.
Go for a dip in the swimming pool at Center Parcs.

11 | Tour the oldest unexcavated royal site in Europe

Once the seat of the legendary Queen Medb of Connacht, Rathcroghan is the oldest and largest unexcavated royal site in Europe. Take a guided tour of this ancient landscape where the people of Connacht gathered to celebrate, feast and inaugurate kings.

Climb to the top of the Rathcroghan Mound and explore the wealth of archaeological sites dotted across the land. Then journey to the Otherworld through the fabled 'Gate to Hell' at Oweynagat – the birthplace of Halloween.

An flat-topped circular mound covered in grass at Rathcroghan in Roscommon
Climb to top of Rathcroghan Mound.

Explore hidden gems along the Wild Atlantic Way

12 | Discover Ireland’s only island distillery 

Discover the unique setting of Cape Clear Island Distillery. The Gaeltacht region off the coast of Cork is the home of Ireland’s only island distillery. Take the ferry from Baltimore to enjoy the island’s famous hospitality and soak up the unbeatable views of Fastnet Rock. Bring home a bespoke bottle of gin as a souvenir of your visit.

Fastnet Lighthouse on a clear day with blue skies and calm water all around
Soak up the views of Fastnet Rock from Cape Clear Island.

13 | See the trains at West Cork Model Railway Village

Ireland’s only model railway village, West Cork Model Railway Village, is a must-visit when in the Rebel County. Watch the miniature trains travel along the tracks and discover how people lived and worked in days gone by when the historic West Cork Railway Line operated during the 1940s.

Book a seat on the Road Train and enjoy a leisurely trip through the picturesque streets of Clonakilty for the full experience.

Aerial view of the West Cork Railway Village in County Cork.
Check out the model village in West Cork.

14 | Swim in Europe’s only inland saltwater lake 

Avid sea swimmers flock to Lough Hyne for a dip in its calm waters but the West Cork lake is more than a great place for a swim. The only inland saltwater lake in Europe, Lough Hyne is also Ireland’s first designated Marine Nature Conservation Reserve. The unique and tranquil environment has a fascinating ecosystem where purple sea urchins and bioluminescent algae thrive.

Don’t miss the night tour with Atlantic Sea Kayaking to see the bioluminescence create a trail of light behind you as you move through the lake.

A group of people night kayaking on Lough Hyne in West Cork
Paddle across Lough Hyne at night.

15 | Travel to Dursey Island by cable car 

Escape from West Cork to Dursey Island in style on a Dursey Island Cable Car - Ireland’s only cable car - and admire the breathtaking views as you fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The short but sweet adventure takes 10 minutes but make a day of it and bring a packed lunch to enjoy on the Dursey Island Loop.

Journey from one end of the island to the other, keeping your eyes peeled for rare birds visiting from Siberia and America. Allow four to five hours to explore every nook and cranny before venturing back to the cable car at the end of the 14km trail.

View of Dursey Island Cable Car crossing the water from Beara Peninsula, Cork
Fly across the water in Ireland's only cable car.

16 | Take a tour of Skelligs Chocolate Factory

Go behind the scenes at Skelligs Chocolate and watch chocolatiers at work in the only open plan chocolate factory in Ireland. Make a pitstop in Baile an Sceilg (Ballinskelligs), just off the Ring of Kerry, and see how the experts create their delicious chocolatey treats. Don’t leave without tasting some of the mouthwatering samples for yourself – did we mention they’re free?

17 | See dinosaur footprints on Valentia Island 

You know all about Jurassic Park, but have you ever seen dinosaur footprints in real life? Journey to Valentia Island in Kerry and discover the fossilised tracks, thought to be at least 350 million years old.  

Scientists believe the tetrapod footprints represent the transition of life from water to land, making them the oldest reliably dated evidence in the world of amphibians on land.

Looking out to the sea and islands from Valentia Island, County Kerry
Follow in the footprints of dinosaurs to Valentia Island.

18 | Board a Boeing 314 replica in Limerick

Head to Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum in Limerick where the iconic Irish coffee was born in 1943. Taste the original hot beverage in the former centre of the aviation world and board a life-size Boeing 314 – the only existing B314 replica. Find out what it was like to pilot a flying boat across the Atlantic and test your skills in a realistic B314 flight simulator.

Climb aboard a life-size B314 replica in Limerick.
Climb aboard a life-size B314 replica in Limerick.

19 | Go kayaking on Ireland’s only fjord 

Hop in a kayak and paddle across Ireland’s only fjord at Killary Harbour. Formed by glaciers thousands of years ago, a trip to this beautiful spot is one of the most unique things to do in the heart of Connemara. Experience a thrilling day on the water with Killary Adventure Company or admire the landscape from the historical Green Road that runs alongside the fjord.

Two people kayaking across Killary Harbour in Galway.
Enjoy kayaking in Killary Harbour.

20 | Dive underwater at Galway Atlantaquaria

See what lies beneath the surface at Galway Atlantaquaria and explore the largest native species aquarium in the country. Meet conger eels and Irish sharks, get up close and personal with spider crabs and starfish in the Touch Tanks, and find the biggest indoor fin whale skeleton in the world. 

Learn about Ireland’s unique underwater life and after, take a stroll along Salthill Promenade and breathe in the fresh sea air.

A small fish resting on a rock inside Galway Atlantaquaria in Salthill, Galway
See the amazing sea life at Galway Atlantaquaria.

21 | Visit the Céide Fields

Discover the most extensive Stone Age site in the world beneath the wild boglands of North Mayo. A 10-minute drive from Ballycastle, the incredible Céide Fields are the oldest known stone walled fields on the planet where the remains of houses and megalithic tombs are preserved under a blanket of peat.

Explore the land where an ancient farming community lived almost 6,000 years ago then make your way across the road for spectacular cliff and coastal views.

Visitors walking to the Céide Fields Visitor Centre in County Mayo.
Take a step back in time at Céide Fields.

Find world class art and culture in Dublin

22 | Discover the oldest known public gallery of modern art

While away an afternoon at Hugh Lane Gallery, the world’s first known public gallery of modern art. Enter through the blue double doors on Parnell Square and immerse yourself in the celebrated collection of art. See contemporary masterpieces by Monet, Degas and Harry Clarke, and stumble upon Francis Bacon's studio preserved in the exact manner he left it.

A couple admiring the modern art installation outside of the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin city.
Admire the modern art on display at the Hugh Lane Gallery.

23 | Visit the world famous Marsh’s Library 

Lose yourself in a good book at Marsh’s Library. Just a few minutes from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the world famous library is the oldest public library in the country.  

Unchanged since it first opened in 1707, spend time inside the historic building in the heart of Dublin. Browse the original oak bookcases filled with literary treasures, see the bullet holes from the Easter Rising, and check out the 18th century “cages” built to stop readers from stealing the rarest of books.

The wooden interior and leather-bound books of Marsh Library in Dublin
Check out rare books in Marsh's Library.

24 | Challenge yourself on Europe’s first escape boat 

Take on Europe’s first escape challenge built on a boat at Escape Boats at Grand Canal Dock in Dublin City. Grab your friends and test your teamwork as you decipher a series of puzzles in time to escape from the sinking ship. After, treat yourself and fellow crew members to well-deserved drinks and Pan Asian cuisine at East Restaurant, a short stroll away.

Escape Boats
Escape Boats

25 | Spend time in the only butterfly house in Ireland

Brush up on your lepidopterology in Ireland’s one and only butterfly house. Step inside the Cambridge Glasshouse at Malahide Castle and marvel at these colourful creatures. With over 20 species fluttering about, the butterfly house is a hidden gem in North Dublin.

Three butterflies resting on people's hands in the Cambridge Glasshouse at Malahide Castle and Gardens, Dublin
Find a dazzling display of butterflies at Malahide Castle.
Plan your next adventure in Ireland

There’s so much to explore on our incredible island. Choose from these amazing experiences then check out our Great Irish Bucket List for even more unique things to do. How many you can tick off the list?

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