The sights, sounds and textures of Ireland are as surreal and mesmerizing as they are comforting and rejuvenating.
The terrain varies from misty mountain ranges and rugged hills to low central plains. Colossal sea cliffs jut out from frothy waves like massive slices of cake fit for a giant. Occasionally, the rocky towers surrender to sweeping golden or white-sand beaches.
Sheep can be heard baaing in the distance across a patchwork of stone walls and green paddocks, and the shrill of blackbirds echoes from the bush.
There’s a fascinating and alluring energy found in Ireland’s natural landscapes. We invite you to invigorate your senses… breathe in the salty air, feel the wind at your back and bask in the breathtaking views.
Are you a nature lover? Click below to discover our Top 5 Reasons to Visit Ireland for Nature Lovers.
#1 Dramatic Cliffs
Formed over 300 million years ago, and made famous by the big screen movies and TV series, Ireland’s impressive sea cliffs are the country’s the most beloved landmarks.
The Cliffs of Moher, found along the Wild Atlantic Way, remain the most recognized and popular natural attraction in Ireland. There are still many others, however, that are lesser known yet just as magnificent, such as The Kerry Cliffs, The Fair Head Cliffs (Antrim), The Croaghaun Sea Cliffs (Achill Island), The Cliffs at Loop Head (Clare), The Cliffs at Mizen Head (Cork), and The Cliffs At Bull Rock Island (Cork) and others! Photo: Cliffs of Moher
#2 Stunning Beaches
While Ireland’s iconic towering cliffs may be top of mind for visitors, perhaps a little less known is the abundance of stunning beaches that offer a soothing contrast to its rugged, wind-swept counterparts.
From secluded half-moon coves to exposed golden shoreline outstretching for miles, Ireland’s beaches will surprise and delight you. Reminiscent of picture-postcards from New Zealand and Tasmania, each beach is as different and beautiful as the next.
Though it’s arguably a personal and subjective opinion, some of our favourite beaches include: Ballydonegan Beach, Derrynane Beach, Fanore Beach, Malin Beg, Ventry Beach, Inch Beach and Magheramore Beach. Photo: Ballydonegan Beach
#3 Flora and Fauna
Believe it or not, there’s far more than clover carpeting the cliffs, mountains and hillsides of Ireland. While most of Ireland’s wildflowers are also found in Britain and Northern Europe, over 800 of these species are native to Ireland. Encounter Dog-rose, Irish Eyebright, Colt’s Foot, Primrose, Early Dog Violet and swathes of bright yellow Gorse. Admire tufts of papery, pink flowers called Thrift (or Sea Pink) adorning cliffs and roadsides.
Of the 3,800 native plant species, seventy-five percent of these are represented in the flora of the Burren in County Clare. This area is famous for the wildflowers found on its limestone pavements, and Irish peat bogs are still some of the most extensive left in Europe. Count up to 22 of Ireland’s 27 native orchid species in the Burren region.
The Great Blasket Island is home to an abundance of wildlife. Take a boat out to explore the over 1,100 acres of unspoiled mountainous terrain.
Best viewed and appreciated on foot, Ireland’s fauna includes 27 mammal species and over 450 recorded bird species. On the Dingle Peninsula, keep an eye out for otter, badger, Red fox, Irish mountain hare and Irish stoat. Ireland’s largest land mammal, the Red Deer, can be found in Kerry County in the mountains above Killarney. Off the West Kerry coast, watch for whales, dolphins, Atlantic puffins and an array of sea birds. And, along the West Cork coast, spot Harbour and Atlantic Grey Seals at any time of year.
#4 Forty Shades of Green
Ireland owes its nickname as ‘The Emerald Isle’ to its mild winters and damp summers, which result in a vibrant year-round greenness. It was this lush Irish countryside that inspired American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash to pen the song “Forty Shades of Green” in 1959 during his visit to Ireland. Photo: Slea Head, Co. Kerry
Green, green, forty shades of green
I close my eyes and picture
The emerald of the sea
From the fishing boats at Dingle
To the shores of Donaghadee
I miss the river Shannon
And the folks at Skibbereen
The moorlands and the meddle
With their forty shades of green
#5 Outdoor Adventures
Immerse yourself in Ireland’s mystical mountain ranges, rolling hills, meandering country lanes and panoramic coastal vistas one step or peddle at a time. Ireland’s climate is moderate, and the sunshine, when it appears, intensifies the already beautiful colours of the landscape. The very best way to see and appreciate this enchanting land is on foot or by bike; but, be prepared to take your time, for there is no such thing as a tiresome journey in Ireland.
Discover spectacular glacial valleys and lakes hiking the Wicklow mountains, or explore traditional Irish towns and stunning views on a multi-day Kingdom of Kerry hike, combing the infamous Kerry Way and Dingle Way hikes. Pick up the speed on two wheels and cycle the Ring of Kerry route or, if more experienced, enjoy an 8-Day Self-Guided Beara Way Cycle through rugged coastal and inland landscapes and quiet villages off the tourist track. The opportunities for active outdoor exploration in Ireland are endless. Photo: Lough Tay, Co. Wicklow