Ireland's top ten tourist attractions in 2013 - Where to go and what to see in Ireland



Bantry House, Banty, County Cork
Bantry House, Banty, County Cork

The Titanic Quarter in Belfast and in particular the new Titanic Museum stole the show in 2012. And while the 100th anniversary of that ill-fated voyage has passed, I think this superb visitor attraction will be just as popular in 2013. And while you are in Belfast, I would highly recommend taking a Black Cab Tour of the city, as it will give you a great (and neutral) insight to and understanding of the ‘troubles’. 
My pick of the other Top 10 Visitor Attractions has to include a few timeless favourites like Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, County Clare and the Museum of Country Life, County Mayo, because they are both excellent pocket histories/introductions to Ireland’s culture and tradition, as well as being great days out for old and young alike.

In the wake of 2012’s dramatic final (and replay) of Galway V Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Hurling championship, a visit to Croke Park Museum and a tour of the holy ground, will be on a lot of people’s to-do list next year. And only a (head) stone’s throw away from there is the award winning Glasnevin Museum and graveyard tour is not to be missed. 

I loved Mizen Head Lighthouse when I visited last summer (on a fantastic day) ditto Bantry House, magnificent and Gairinish Island also in Cork. It was totally magical as was Castle Ward and Mount Stewart Gardens on the Ards Pennisula in Northern Ireland.

1. The Titanic Museum, Belfast which opened in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of that tragic maiden voyage. The whole world is familiar with this event and this specially designed museum commemorates all of the above and more.

It really is excellent but please do book your tickets online as it is a very busy attraction and visitor numbers are limited per hour. Also, there can be long queues for the Shipyard Ride so don’t worry about skipping it and moving on, it’s good but short. 

Another tip, the Galley restaurant on the ground floor is chock-a-block, so book afternoon tea upstairs in the salon by the Grand Staircase, so you can enjoy it in peace and comfort at the end of your tour. Or else hop a cab downtown to the Crown Liquor Salon, for a beef in Guinness pie and a pint! 

2. Bunratty Castle & Folk Park Bunratty, County Clare 

If you have only time to ‘do’ one visitor attraction in Ireland this is it! Bunratty has everything, a grand castle with medieval banquets, Irish cottages, farmyards, whole streets with traditional pubs, shops, and even a school where you can take lessons or join in a bread-making session. 

It is a great value all-day out for couples and families, which you can combine with a trip to the Cliffs of Moher nearby for more savings.  

3. Museum of Country Life Castlebar, County Mayo is another visitor attraction, I cannot recommend highly enough and it’s free! Although it has been open now for 11 years, not many (Irish) people know about it, much less visit it. Which is amazing considering you could happily spend all day here finding out how people lived in rural Ireland not so very long ago.