Figuring out where to stay in Ireland is the sweetest dilemma you will have during your trip because there are so many beautiful places to visit in the country.
But while it may seem overwhelming (after all, there are many different areas in the country), don’t worry — we’ll help you figure out where the best place is to base yourself during your trip, depending on what you want to see.
Why You Should Visit Ireland in 2023
Ireland is a magical place to visit no matter when you go. It is the home of some of the world’s most famous literary works, music, and culture.
For lovers of history and culture, its cities are unparalleled treats, while a quick trip outside major metropolitan areas brings you to areas of wondrous natural beauty. Its cities are major centers of history and culture.
The biggest city and capital, Dublin, is packed with important sights. Visit austere St. Patrick’s Cathedral, explore the surprisingly colorful Dublin Castle, and don’t skip Trinity College for the Book of Kells, a world-famous illuminated manuscript.
Dublin is a vibrant city whether you are interested in literature, Irish music, or just having a pint in the famous Temple Bar. According to many visitors, the real Ireland starts outside of Dublin.
You can explore the bohemian atmosphere of the country’s smaller cities, such as Galway. The countryside is dotted with spectacular castles and ruins, such as the famous Blarney Castle.
Plus, spending time in the countryside gives you a chance to get to know Irish culture by catching a traditional music session at a local pub or chatting with friendly locals.
The natural beauty is one of the primary draws for people wanting to visit this storied country.
Famous landscapes such as the sheer Cliffs of Moher attract the most visitors, but wherever you go in Ireland, you’re almost guaranteed to find beautiful vistas. Scenic routes such as the Ring of Kerry take you past dramatic coastline, misty hills, and craggy landscapes.
There is so much to see in Ireland that you could spend your whole life just trying to go from place to place and see what there is to offer.
Picking the right place to base yourself ensures that you can make the most of your trip. Keep reading for more information about where you should stay when visiting the island country.
The Best Places to Stay in Ireland
Our top 5 picks for the best areas to stay in Ireland include:
- Dublin: Best area for first-time visitors, history, and culture
- Galway: Best area for culture, nightlife, and young visitors
- Killarney: Best area for adventure tourism and nature
- The Aran Islands: Best area for traditional Irish lifestyles and hardy travelers
- Dingle: Best area for the beach and for traditional Irish culture
Where to Stay in Ireland: Best Areas & Hotels
Ireland has many areas that are worth exploring, so it is hard to narrow down where travelers should go. The few we highlighted are some of the most famous areas of Ireland, perfect for the first few times that you visit.
These areas also have some of the best places to explore. Keep reading to learn more about where you should stay when you visit.
Dublin, Ireland’s capital, is the place to stay if you are just visiting Ireland for a short while or if it is your first time in the country. The capital is home to the country’s most iconic landmarks and some of its most important historic sights.
Plus, the capital is a great place to get a taste of Irish culture. Dublin has some of Ireland’s most famous sights.
You can visit Trinity College, locations popularized in pop culture such as Sally Rooney’s books, and see the famous medieval manuscript, The Book of Kells, and the Long Room.
On a lighter note, you can visit the Guinness Storehouse, learn about the production of this famous brew, and even sample some yourself. Dublin is packed with important history and culture.
You can visit the city’s many museums, such as EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, or the somber Kilmainham Gaol, which commemorates the victims of British colonialism in Ireland.
Many of Dublin’s national museums, such as the National Gallery, are free to enter.
Dublin is not just learning about history — it is one of the most fun cities in Ireland and absolutely packed with culture. You can catch a show at the theatre or browse the many independent bookstores — this is the city of literary greats such as James Joyce, after all.
At night, grab a drink at the touristy but famous Temple Bar or catch a show at the many independent music venues, where you could be watching the next Hozier.
Dublin is the best place to visit to get a taste of what Ireland has to offer, but that taste might leave you wanting more. Especially if you are coming to Ireland to explore its beautiful nature, you may want to limit how much time you spend in Dublin.
Things to Do
- Visit the Guinness Storehouse and see how the world’s most famous pint is made.
- Visit Trinity College’s Long Room, home to The Book of Kells.
- Check out EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, named one of the best museums in the world.
- Have a drink in Temple Bar, Dublin’s most famous pub.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy simple seafood at the hole-in-the-wall Fish Shop.
- Snag a reservation at Spitalfields, a local favorite gastropub.
- Enjoy traditional Irish food at The Old Mill Restaurant.
Dublin Budget Hotels
- House Bedrooms Dublin. This quirky hotel has unique décor and friendly service, including a cocktail for all arrivals — plus, it also operates a nightclub if you want to experience the nightlife.
- Dergvale Hotel. This simple family-owned hotel boasts comfy rooms in a great location near the city center.
Dublin Mid-Range Hotels
- Trinity Townhouse Hotel. Set in a historic Georgian building, this hotel offers traditional-style décor, including authentic restorations and modern amenities such as air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms containing power showers.
- Stauntons on the Green Hotel. This picturesque hotel in an old Georgian mansion boasts comfy rooms with private bathrooms, a gorgeous garden, and an Irish breakfast for all guests.
Dublin Luxury Hotels
- Anantara The Marker Dublin. This luxurious hotel in Dublin’s business district welcomes guests with an infinity pool, rooftop lounge, spa, fitness center, and luxe rooms with LED TVs.
- The Merrion Hotel. This is Dublin’s most famous hotel for a reason, thanks to the iconic historic façade, plush rooms including marble bathrooms, and luxe amenities including a pool.
Ireland’s quirky second city on the western coast, Galway, should be known for much more than the Ed Sheeran song that it inspired. Galway is Ireland’s cultural capital and is home to dozens of festivals, shows, and musical acts.
Thanks to its large student population and its status as a magnet for young travelers, it also has a great nightlife. The city of Galway used to be a quiet center for fishermen.
You can see the legacies of this maritime past while walking along the Salthill boardwalk or visiting the Galway City Museum. Galway’s other important historic landmarks include the Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch.
The best thing to do in Galway is to take in the life of the city. Visit the colorful, lively Latin Quarter for great restaurants, quirky shops, and bars that fill up at night and offer drink specials.
You can catch a play or movie at one of Galway’s theaters, such as the Town Hall Theatre, or visit the small galleries dotting the city center.
If you time your visit right, you may even see one of Galway’s many cultural festivals, such as the Galway Comedy Festival, Galway Culture Night, or the International Arts Festival for Children. There is something for everyone in Galway.
Galway’s location on the west coast means that it is an easy day trip to visit the natural wonders of Ireland, such as the Cliffs of Moher or Connemara National Park.
If you want a varied vacation with a little nature and a little culture, Galway is your best choice. However, it is a smaller city than Dublin, so those hoping for big-city adventures will probably be a bit bored.
Things to Do
- Check out the many festivals, gallery shows, or musical acts on any given night.
- Take in the views of Galway Bay from Salthill (and walk along the boardwalk if the weather is in your favor).
- Go on a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy creative takes on Irish classic food at Ard Bia.
- Try Irish high tea at The Secret Garden.
- Enjoy steak and seafood at the Brasserie on the Corner.
Galway Budget Hotels
- Black Cat. This simple inn in Salthill, a suburb of Galway, welcomes guests with stylish, comfortable rooms and its very own restaurant.
- The Snug Townhouse. This comfy, colorful hotel is located right in the center of town but has soundproof rooms, modern décor, and private bathrooms for guests.
Galway Mid-Range Hotels
- The Dean Galway. This stylish independent hotel has unique décor for its rooms, plus shared amenities such as a pool and rooftop restaurant/bar.
- Skeffington Arms Hotel. Feel like you’re traveling back in time at this delightfully vintage hotel, with its own stylish cocktail bar and modern amenities in the rooms, such as TVs.
Galway Luxury Hotels
- Park House Hotel. This hotel is located right on Galway’s central Eyre Square and welcomes guests with plush designer rooms and a tasty hotel restaurant.
- Glenlo Abbey Hotel. Located outside of Galway in a renovated historic abbey, this hotel is truly like no other. You can play golf, try your hand at falconry, or just admire the historic interiors, including the stunning restaurant inspired by the Orient Express.
Killarney is just a few hours away from the cities of Dublin or Galway (nothing is very far away in small Ireland), but it feels like a world away. Located in County Kerry, Killarney feels like a different, wilder Ireland.
It is the perfect base for people who want to spend most of their time in Ireland exploring nature. Killarney is right next to Killarney National Park, the oldest national park in Ireland.
The Park contains some of Ireland’s most spectacular landscapes, such as the mountains of McGillicuddy’s Reeks, dozens of lakes and waterfalls, miles of hiking trails, and more.
It is perfect for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities. There are other natural wonders close to Killarney besides the national park.
It’s also a popular starting point for driving the Ring of Kerry, a famous road trip route that passes through the scenic coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula. There are numerous stunning locales that also take a quick day trip from town, such as the Ladies View viewpoint.
The town of Killarney itself contains lots of charm and historic buildings, such as Ross Castle and nearby Muckross Abbey.
After a long day exploring the national park, grab a pint from a local pub and chat with some locals. While it may not have the lively cultural scene of Galway or the big city atmosphere of Dublin, that is what some visitors are looking to get away from.
Things to Do
- Drive (or cycle) the scenic Ring of Kerry.
- Explore the stunning landscapes of Killarney National Park.
- Visit the austere ruins of Ross Castle.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy some authentic Irish fare at Bricin Restaurant.
- Enjoy upscale takes on local seafood and fish at The Mad Monk.
- Treat yourself to fine dining takes on Killarney food at Treyvaud’s Restaurant.
Killarney Budget Hotels
- Failte Hotel. Feel right at home at this cozy inn right in the center of Killarney, and be sure to join the locals for a pint at the popular in-house pub.
- Killeen House Hotel. Stay at this comfy country home and enjoy great food at the in-house restaurant and free range of the grounds.
Killarney Mid-Range Hotels
- The Victoria. Guests at this elegant hotel will feel welcomed in an aristocratic country house thanks to the stylish décor, beautiful views, and great service, including bike rentals.
- Loch Lein Country House. It’s hard to beat the views from this hotel, but the tasteful lounge and elegant rooms certainly try.
Killarney Luxury Hotels
- The Ross. Guests at this upscale boutique hotel can enjoy excellent service, a stylish bar, and even a room with a fireplace.
- The Killarney Park. The most stylish hotel in town, this place boasts a spa, pool, restaurant, and even rooms with their own fireplaces to welcome guests.
4. The Aran Islands
There are only a few places left where the stereotypical view of historic Ireland is found — old stone cottages, windswept green fields, and chunky sweaters worn by people who still speak Irish Gaelic.
The Aran Islands are one of those last vestiges of old Ireland and a truly stunning place to visit. The islands of Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer are reachable by ferry from Galway but feel a world away from the city.
All of the islands are small enough that you can explore the rugged landscapes by bike or by walking the looping trails.
Admire the craggy coasts (and take a dip in the cold water if you dare) or see ancient sites such as the old stone walls of Inishmore or the druid fort of Dun Aonghasa.
The Aran Islands are also a great place to learn more about traditional Irish culture. Locals still offer pony and trap tours.
Catch a traditional music session at one of the local pubs or buy Aran Islands sweaters made by locals as a souvenir. The Aran Islands are a unique travel destination but are not the best place for luxury travelers.
The amenities on the island are just as sparse as the landscape sometimes. For those who don’t need five-star accommodations, a trip here will be one to remember.
Things to Do
- Hang out on the beach, such as Kilmurvey Beach, and try to spot the local seal colony.
- Explore the sparse ruins, such as the druid forts or the Seven Churches.
- Rent a bicycle and explore the islands at your own pace.
Where to Eat
- Enjoy traditional Irish pub food with musical accompaniment at Joe Watty’s Bar and Seafood Restaurant.
- Visit adorable Teach Nan Phaidi, a locally run café with great Irish food.
- Check out upscale takes on local cuisine at Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites.
The Aran Islands Budget Hotels
- Ard Mhuiris B&B. This cozy B&B is located in a beautiful spot and has comfy rooms and breakfast, but reviewers have the most praise for the friendly owner.
- An Creagan Rooms. Visitors to this gorgeous cottage enjoy great rooms with views, free toiletries, and parking spots.
The Aran Islands Mid-Range Hotels
- Seacrest B&B. This elegant bed and breakfast has well-appointed rooms, a sun terrace perfect for enjoying breakfast, and even vegan options.
- Ard Einne House Bed & Breakfast. This vintage-feeling bed and breakfast has comfy rooms with TVs and a lounge complete with a fireplace and bookshelves, perfect for warming up after a cold day of exploring.
The Aran Islands Luxury Hotels
- Aran Islands Hotel. The plushest hotel on the island, this accommodation option offers help with organizing activities and delicious breakfast — if you can tear yourself away from your spacious room or private chalet.
- Aran Thatch Cottage. For an authentic experience, rent your own traditional thatch cottage, complete with two bedrooms, a garden, and a picnic area.
Nestled in southwest Ireland, the Dingle Peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean. It is the perfect destination for exploring Ireland’s rugged coastline (although you have to be a brave soul to take a dip in the cold Atlantic waters) and to learn more about Irish culture, as it is one of the bastions of the Gaelic language.
The cliffs and scenic turns that make up the Dingle Peninsula are the main draw for visitors who come out here.
The best way to see it is by driving or cycling one of the scenic routes, such as the Dingle Peninsula Drive or the Conor Pass. The coast is full of spectacular viewpoints and beaches, including the pristine sands of Coumeenoole Beach, whose waters are deceptively treacherous.
The town of Dingle itself has plenty of sights. Admire the historic landmarks nearby, such as the medieval Eask Tower or the bright Dingle Lighthouse.
The town stretches along Dingle Harbour, which sadly no longer has its favorite resident dolphin, but is a popular departure point for boat tours. In the town, check out the local pubs or attend a traditional music concert at St. James’s Church.
Around Dingle, you can find many examples of things that are stereotypically Irish, from fairy forts to sheepdog shows.
Take a few days to explore the peninsula at a leisurely pace — unless you are the type of person who likes the big city life. That is one thing you won’t find in Dingle (and the locals like it that way).
Things to Do
- Drive one of the scenic routes, such as the Slea Head Drive, to see the spectacular landscape.
- Visit the Dingle OceanWorld Aquarium, Ireland’s largest aquarium.
- Take a photo next to the Fungie the Dingle Dolphin statue — or go on a boat tour from the harbor to spot his real cousins.
Where to Eat
- Try the freshest seafood and fish at The Boatyard Restaurant.
- Enjoy an upscale twist on local seafood at Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant.
- Have some American-style comfort food at Dingle Diner.
Dingle Budget Hotels
- Ocean View B&B. In a small town on the Dingle Peninsula, this B&B offers excellent views of the coastline and even better service from the hosts.
- Duinin House B&B. This B&B is different from the others thanks to its modern, freshly renovated rooms and spacious common areas, including a conservatory.
Dingle Mid-Range Hotels
- O Neill’s Bed and Breakfast. This gorgeous yet simple bed and breakfast offers comfy rooms, tasty breakfast including local mackerel, and a great location in the center of Dingle town.
- Heatons Guesthouse. This upscale B&B includes TVs in every room, a private bathroom with a bath, and airy, welcoming décor.
Dingle Luxury Hotels
- Dingle Skellig Hotel. This spacious hotel is one of the most luxurious in Dingle, with its own fitness center, pools, and even a spa.
- Greenmount Hotel. This family-owned elegant country home welcomes guests with spacious rooms, complete with their own TVs and bathrooms, Irish breakfasts, and even packed lunches for easier adventuring.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|🏆 Best for First Timers||Dublin|
|🎉 Best for Nightlife||Galway|
|🌳 Best for Nature||Killarney|
|🥾 Best for Hardy Traveler||The Aran Islands|
|☘️ Best for Cultural Experience||Dingle|
Visitors to Ireland certainly have a lot to see. But regardless of the area in which you choose to stay, you’ll find that there’s something for all tastes and budgets. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!