10 Irish Attractions Off the Beaten Path (A Local’s Guide)

Exploring Ireland means so much more than flying into Dublin, grabbing a pint, kissing the Blarney Stone, and going home. Ireland is a land of jaw-dropping beauty, shimmering seas on all sides, and astounding diversity for its small scale. There are countless Irish attractions that are world-famous and draw tourists from around the globe. But we’re also quite fond of showing you OUR Ireland, the REAL Ireland beyond that typical tourist track.

While we could never write down all of our favourite off-the-beaten-path attractions in Ireland, we’ve decided to share these top 10 to whet your appetite. In truth, getting off the beaten path is actually quite easy here in Ireland. With so many remote areas compared to several fairly well-worn tourist tracks, much of this Emerald Isle is just waiting for you to come explore!

If you’re keen to see our favourite spots, hear our stories, and truly experience what it means to be Irish, then come join us on a small group tour of Ireland. We’d love to have you! 

Group on tour

For now, let’s (virtually) explore the top 10 Irish attractions that are off the beaten path…

1. World Class Cliffs at the Aran Islands (County Galway)

The stunning Aran Islands rest off the west coast, easily accessible by ferry from Galway. We like to visit the largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore during our Irish Island Adventure Tour

Exploring the Aran Islands by bike or on foot is best so you can really slow down and appreciate the wonder of these remote places. We recommend you make your way to the cliff-top fort at Dún Aonghusa if you visit Inishmore. Dare to peek over the edge with a 100m drop beneath!

Our guides also bring our guests to some of the less explored gems, like the Seven Churches and Poll na bPéist – the Serpent’s Lair! This was the spectacular Red Bull Cliff Diving location in 2017. Imagine taking the plunge from the cliffs into the giant sea pool!

Whilst the islands are easy enough to access via ferry, they’re still not on the common tourist track for Ireland. For those of you seeking lesser-known locations and a true Irish experience, you’ll want to add the Aran Islands to your Ireland bucket list!

2. Hook Head Lighthouse (County Wexford)

If you are lucky enough to find yourself travelling through the Sunny South East, we always encourage our guides and guests to make the trip out to Hook Head Lighthouse! 

This is the oldest lighthouse in the world and worth veering off the beaten path for a ramble up the 115 steps to the top. Guided tours are super interesting and you will learn all about life in the tower 800 years ago during Medieval times. The views are also guaranteed to take your breath away!

You can explore Ireland’s Ancient East on a self-drive itinerary or ask us about a private tour taking in the Ancient East and linking up to the Wild Atlantic Way.

3. Skellig Michael (Skellig Islands)

Skellig Michael made its big-screen debut in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and it hasn’t looked back since. This off-the-beaten-path attraction in Ireland isn’t the easiest to access, but it’s well worth the effort. 

The two remote Skellig Islands are located off Ireland’s southwest coast, with Skellig Michael being the larger of the islands. A boat trip lasting anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on conditions, is how you can reach the island. From there, you can traverse 1,000-year-old steps to marvel at the jaggy cliffs and historic structures. 

Our most popular tour, Ireland to Island, takes in the Skelligs and is truly an unforgettable experience. Your jealousy-inducing photos will include cute close-ups of puffins and jaw-dropping rugged scenery as you climb your way to the top.

If you’re keen to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, check out our Overland Ireland Guide To Visiting The Magical Skellig Islands so you’re properly prepared for the adventure!

Skellig Michael

4. Glenveagh National Park (County Donegal)

Ireland’s second-largest national park is so hauntingly beautiful — you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another land! Not many travellers take the time to explore this little piece of heaven in County Donegal, but we do! It has everything you would want during an Ireland trip: a castle tour, walking trails, cycling, and even a bit of fishing. If you ask nicely, your host might fry up your catch when you get back!

The breath-taking walking trails take in views of the Derryveagh Mountains, the Poisoned Glen, and Errigal Mountain. Take it at your own pace and leave refreshed, ready to explore the rest of Donegal.

5. Ring of Beara (Counties Kerry & Cork)

You’ve all heard of the Ring of Kerry, and we’re huge fans here at Overland! But if you’re really looking to get off the beaten track and away from the tourists, then you may want to consider the Ring of Beara instead. 

Located near the Ring of Kerry, the Ring of Beara circles the Beara Peninsula, which is part of both County Cork and County Kerry. The wild, remote beauty is truly astonishing. You can also explore incredible history, like the mind-boggling Uragh Stone Circle right in the middle of the peninsula. 

6. Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park (County Kerry)

Back to County Kerry, let’s head to Killarney National Park! Within this park, you can quickly escape the road to see Torc Waterfall dropping 60 feet into what’s known as The Devil’s Punchbowl. 

Given its proximity to the road and Insta-worthy scenery, this spot is gaining traction on the typical tourist track. This is a good one if you’re not keen on fully remote areas, but still want to see lesser-known Irish attractions.

Torc Waterfall

7. Belleek Castle (County Mayo)

There are so many outstanding castles in Ireland, and we’ve written about them before! But Belleek Castle is a unique one to explore. Situated in lesser-visited County Mayo, visiting Belleek is certainly off the beaten path, even for the Irish! But we think County Mayo is one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland for its remote, tranquil beauty. 

At Belleek Castle, you can explore fossils alongside antique weaponry and more. And, guess what? You can even stay in the castle overnight! The event spaces are particularly stunning. 

Add this castle to your Ireland bucket list and then we’ll customise your private tour or self-drive tour to include it!

8. Howth Cliff Walk (County Dublin)

Looking for an easy day trip from Dublin? Nearby Howth is a beautiful seaside spot you won’t want to miss. 

The Howth Cliff Walk offers scenic views of the coastline and an idyllic lighthouse, too. It’s an easy way to escape the hubbub of Dublin for a bit if you haven’t got much time but want to explore more off-the-beaten-path Irish locations.

After working up an appetite, pop into Crabby Jo’s for some delicious seafood and a pint of the Black Stuff. There is a Dart (Train) service to take you back into the city late afternoon.

9. Slieve League Cliffs (County Donegal)

Of course, we think you should visit the Cliffs of Moher during your Irish adventure! But if you’re looking for a lesser-known option, the Slieve League Cliffs might be right up your alley. Dramatic, scenic, and truly set apart from the tourist crowds, take the trip for a real adventure. 

You might also want to check out Our Irish Bucket List For Adventure Lovers if you love getting outdoors and away from the crowds! 

Slieve League

10. St. Michan’s Mummies (Dublin)

Last but not least, we wanted to give you something off the beaten path right in Dublin itself! At St Michan’s Church, you can actually see mummies. Yes, walking down into the crypt is a bit eerie, but this is definitely a less touristy spot, which is hard to find in Dublin these days. Go check it out and frighten your pals!

What do you think? Have we surprised you with some off the beaten path attractions in Ireland? If you’re keen to explore the REAL Ireland, we’d love to have you. Check out our small group tours of Ireland or just get in touch so we can chat about your Ireland travel dreams. You can also join our Facebook group for fun events and conversations with fellow Ireland lovers!