When you imagine visiting Ireland you picture small villages, lively towns, and miles and miles of rugged coastlines! Cities and bustling urban settings are usually not on the bucket list of your average visitor to Ireland.
But Ireland’s cities are quite different to most other countries’ cities; they are more like big towns as opposed to large cities void of personality! After Dublin, Cork is the largest city, and it has a population of only 200k! Galway is even smaller, with 80k people living there.
On all our Overland Ireland Tours, we make a stop or two in our favorite cities along the Wild Atlantic Way, in Northern Ireland and, of course, on the Ancient East Coast! Here is a list of the best Irish cities and things you can look forward to seeing on our small group tours of Ireland and our self-drive tours of Ireland.
Visiting Belfast in Northern Ireland
This is the capital of Northern Ireland and it’s fast becoming one of our most popular stops on the Ultimate Tour of Ireland. It is steeped in Irish history with its troubled past and now thankfully peaceful times! There is so much to see and do in Belfast. The Black Cab history tour is a big hit with guests as it allows them to get a personal history of the city. You also cannot leave Belfast without taking a trip to the Titanic Experience. Learn all about the doomed ship and the personal stories of the passengers on board.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you can take a trip to some of the iconic filming locations and take a few jealousy -inducing photos for the folks back home!
Visiting Galway on Ireland’s West Coast
There is a great reason why so many of our tours make a stop in Bohemian Galway! It gained the award for The European Capital of Culture for 2020. The city is famous for its cultural and arts events, many festivals including the Oyster Festival, street music, dancing, and general ‘craic’ (fun). They say every night is a Friday night in Galway. You can lose yourself in one of the many pubs serving up creamy pints and lively traditional music sessions. Strike up a conversation with a local; you’ll never hear the same story twice. On tour, we also take our guests on a gourmet historical walking tour of the medieval city! This is an experience not to be missed!
Visiting Cork in Southern Ireland
As Ireland’s second largest city, Cork is often referred to as the ‘Real Capital of Ireland’ and there is great rivalry between Corkonians and people from Dublin. On the High Life Self-Drive Tour of Ireland you will experience the delights of Cork! It has the best reputation for its foodie scene and you’ll be able to gorge yourself in one of its many fantastic restaurants and visit the famous English market in the city centre for some local delicacies.
Many of our other tours explore the wider Cork county, with unforgettable visits to the neighbouring Kinsale, Cobh, and Ballycotton! Our experiences include walking tours, boat excursions and distillery visits — all within a short spin of each other.
A castle visit and a brewery tour founded by monks awaits you on your Ancient East Self-Drive Tour. You will find another exciting thing to see around every corner of Ireland’s most cosmopolitan city! Like most Irish cities, everything is within walking distance and we always conveniently choose centrally located accommodation.
If you are lucky enough, you may be treated to entertainment from one of Kilkenny’s many festivals. One of our favourites is the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. Dozens of top comedians from around the world travel to Kilkenny to entertain the masses! You will be treated to the best of Irish and international humour!
Visiting Waterford – The Viking city
Waterford is located in the sunny south east of Ireland! They say that you get the best weather here in the entire country! We always tell our guests to pack everything from sunscreen and swimming togs to hiking boots and raincoats because we can experience all four seasons in one day! But yes, Waterford is famed for its sunshine, so make sure and put it on your bucket list when you visit the Emerald Isle! A trip to Waterford is not complete without a visit to the Waterford Crystal Centre! See first hand how the beautiful glassware is sculpted by local masters.
Derry/Londonderry – The Walled City
This is possibly one of Ireland’s most underrated cities but we at Overland HQ love it! We are always excited to bring guests here and know that they will have an excellent time! Because we make sure guests stay right in the city centre, exploring Derry could not be easier!
One of our friends up north will take you on a historical walking tour of the city. It is fascinating to be brought through the history of the troubles right up to the peace the city knows today. At night, the city boasts some of the most fantastic food and drinking experiences in all of Ireland. A trip to the Walled City Brewery is a real treat! Taste some original ales and pair them with delicious tapas before turning in for the night and continuing on your tour. If this sounds like a treat, check out our Wild West and Northern Ireland tour.
There are more cities in Ireland, and we’re not saying that only the ones on this list are worth visiting; this is just our short list of highlights. We hope this guide has been helpful and that one or two readers are more enthusiastic than ever to come to Ireland. If you have any questions about the tours mentioned in this guide, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. What are you waiting for? Plan your dream Ireland adventure with Overland Ireland!