Filled to the brim with iconic attractions, and possibly even more so with iconic clichés, Ireland presents a cultural and sightseeing smorgasbord, all packed into a very compact and accessible island.

Ireland offers the best of sophisticated urban experiences, mixed in with an amazing array of outdoors walking, cycling & sightseeing. Starting in Dublin, you have one of the world’s homes of pubs, with a pub crawl through the Temple Bar district a must-do. In between the Guinness-worshipping (including the Guinness Storehouse museum), pop into any of the incredible historical sights that abound throughout Dublin, but make sure you don’t miss Trinity College and the Book of Kells in the most beautiful library in the world.

Once you’ve managed to extract yourself from the streets of Dublin, you’ve got options in every direction. Moving gradually in a southerly direction, medieval Kilkenny and its castle is one of the most popular destinations in the country, while the nearby Rock of Cashel is the most spectacular archaeological site in Ireland. Cork is the dynamic cultural heartland of the south-east, while nearby Blarney Castle is a great chance to tick off one of your Irish cliché bucket list items. Further afield, the beautifully situated Killarney is the kick-off point for the famous Ring of Kerry, a 180km jaunt around the Iveragh Peninsula full of ruins, beaches, castles and the stunning landscapes that Ireland is famous for.

Winding your way up the west coast you find the true wild Ireland, full of remote beaches and windswept barren headlands, all complemented by equally wild weather. The unbelievably high and sheer Cliffs of Moher headline the offerings, and in the midst of this, the university town of Galway is a welcome refuge of cafes, pubs, culture and a great music scene. The adjacent Aran Islands provide more spectacular landscapes and some of the oldest Irish ruins. Further to the north, the atmospheric wilderness of County Donegal is also home to surfing in Ireland, and is a great place to lose yourself for a few days.

Throughout Ireland you’ll have a few staples. Green rolling hills, castles and abbeys (both operating and abandoned) and ancient ruins will follow you wherever you go. And, a pint of Guinness or dram of whiskey will be the perfect companion to the hearty fare for which Ireland is well renowned.

Image by Adam Machowiak, Shutterstock