The Real Hidden Gems: 30 Under-the-Radar Irish Towns You Need to Visit

Do you ever dream about strolling through a charming French village like Belle with a basket filled with fresh bread? Or do you long for the cozy, pub-filled charm of a village similar to Beauty and the Beast’s hometown?

Well, forget the fairytale castles—Ireland’s hidden gem towns can offer an even more authentic Disney Princess experience! 

In our list, we’ll show you the best Irish towns bursting with local culture, stunning scenery, and friendly faces. Get set to explore the coolest Irish towns out there!

1. Adare

Address: Adare, Áth Dara, Co. Limerick, Ireland

Adare boasts a rich history dating back to the 13th century. Its name, “Áth Dara” in Gaelic, translates to “The Ford of the Oak,” hinting at its location along the scenic River Maigue.  

History geeks will appreciate the 13th-century Desmond Castle, a testament to the region’s medieval past. You also shouldn’t miss the Holy Trinity Abbey Church, with its impressive stained glass windows.

2. Doolin

Address: Doolin, Dúlainn, Co. Clare, Ireland

Doolin sits on the edge of the Burren, a unique karst landscape known for its otherworldly rock formations and rare wildflowers. Just a short distance away, the iconic Cliffs of Moher rise majestically from the Atlantic Ocean with breathtaking panoramas. 

Doolin is also the gateway to the Aran Islands, where ancient Gaelic culture and dramatic coastlines await. These pubs come alive every night with the sounds of fiddles, bodhráns, and uilleann pipes played by local musicians.

3. Kinsale

Address: Kinsale, Cionn tSáile, Co. Cork, Ireland

Kinsale’s rich past comes alive through its well-preserved 17th-century Charles Fort, a star-shaped fortress offering stunning panoramic views. The town is also a haven for seafood lovers, with freshly caught fish and shellfish on menus across its restaurants.

Here, you can also explore the 16th-century courthouse, now the Kinsale Regional Museum, and delve into the town’s fascinating past, including the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.

4. Westport

Address: Westport, Cathair na Mart, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Designated as a heritage town, Westport boasts colorful shopfronts lining tree-lined streets that hug the Carrowbeg River.  Elegant stone bridges connect the two sides, creating a picturesque scene from a postcard.

Here, you can hike the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick, cycle along the Great Western Greenway that stretches to Achill Island or explore the hidden coves and beaches dotting Clew Bay’s 365 islands.

5. Dunmore East

Address: Dunmore East, Dún Mór, Dunmore, Co. Waterford, Ireland

Dunmore East’s heart revolves around its picturesque harbor, a haven for fishing boats and yachts. It also boasts stunning natural beauty, with dramatic cliffs hugging the coastline and offering breathtaking views of the endless ocean. 

The remnants of a Norman Motte, a type of feudal fortification, stand watch over the harbor. You might even spot playful pods of dolphins or curious seals basking on the rocks.

6. Roundstone

Address: Roundstone, Cloch na Rón, Co. Galway, Ireland

Standing at the foot of Errisbeg Mountain, Roundstone overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and Roundstone Bay. The village boasts a colorful array of traditional Irish cottages, with pubs serving fresh seafood and local music.

Once a major center for mining and shipbuilding, it’s now known for its art scene. Local craftspeople showcase their talents in studios and galleries, specializing in Connemara marble jewelry, traditional knitwear, and handcrafted instruments like the bodhrán.

7. Kenmare

Address: Kenmare, Neidín, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Kenmare, nicknamed “The Little Nest,” is a charming town waiting to be explored. Foodies will delight in the town’s renowned culinary scene, with pubs serving hearty Irish fare alongside innovative restaurants.  

The dramatic scenery of the Kerry mountains surrounds Kenmare, while Kenmare Bay offers kayaking, boating, and wildlife-watching opportunities. Hikers can embark on scenic trails, including some of the renowned Beara Way.

8. Inistioge

Address: Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland

Inistioge is a charming little village nestled in Ireland’s scenic Nore Valley. It boasts a well-preserved medieval core, with narrow streets lined with colorful houses. 

Inistioge is known for its well-preserved Georgian architecture, with grand houses lining the main street. The Woodstock Estate, a Palladian mansion overlooking the village, is a must-see.

9. Howth

Address: Howth, Binn Eadair, Dublin, Ireland

Originally a tiny fishing village, Howth’s charm lies in its picturesque harbor, which bobbles with colorful boats, narrow streets lined with traditional pubs, and friendly locals. The surrounding peninsula offers a walker’s paradise. 

Here, you’ll find the Howth Castle, which overlooks the harbor and offers a glimpse into medieval life. There’s also The Ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, a testament to the area’s religious heritage. 

10. Baltimore

Address: Baltimore, Dún na Séad, Co. Cork, Ireland

Baltimore is a charming fishing village with traditional Irish pubs, craft shops, and seafood restaurants lining a quaint harbor. It served as a pirate haven in the 17th century and a center for traditional Irish culture for centuries.  

Here, you can explore the ancient monastic ruins on Sherkin Island and go birdwatching on Cape Clear. You can also hike the scenic trails along the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and go whale watching off the coast.

11. Cashel

Address: Cashel, Caiseal, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Its crown jewel is undoubtedly the Rock of Cashel, a cluster of medieval buildings perched dramatically on a limestone outcrop. This complex includes a Gothic cathedral, a round tower, and a 15th-century castle, offering a glimpse into Ireland’s rich past.

Cashel’s heritage comes alive at the Cashel Folk Village. Here, thatched cottages and interactive exhibits transport visitors back in time. Visitors can learn about the skills and customs of the era and try their hand at churning butter.

12. Allihies

Address: Allihies, Na hAilichí, Cloan, Co. Cork, Ireland

You can explore the remnants of the old mines in Allies or visit the Allihies Copper Mine Museum to delve deeper into the area’s mining heritage. You might even spot a rare blue mineral called langite, a unique byproduct of the mines.

You can also hike the scenic trails that weave through the Slieve Miskish Mountains, rewarding you with panoramic vistas of the coastline. The Ballydonegan Bay, a sheltered haven with a sandy beach, is perfect for a relaxing afternoon. 

13. Cong

Address: Cong, Strandhill, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Cong was the backdrop for the 1952 classic film “The Quiet Man,” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Today, a statue commemorating the film’s lead actors stands proudly in the village square, offering a perfect photo opportunity.

The village also sits on the banks of the majestic River Cong, offering scenic walks and opportunities for fishing or boating. For a refreshing escape, you can take a hike on the Cong Nature Trail and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Irish landscape.

14. Glaslough

Address: Glaslough, Glasloch, Co. Monaghan, Ireland

Glaslough’s crown jewel is undoubtedly Castle Leslie, a sprawling 1,000-acre estate encompassing a grand Victorian mansion, now a luxury hotel. The castle’s rich history is intertwined with the Leslie family, who played a pivotal role in shaping the village. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can embark on scenic hikes through the surrounding countryside. In contrast, history buffs can embark on the self-guided Glaslough Heritage Trail, uncovering the stories of the village and the Leslie family.

15. Dingle

Address: Dingle, Daingean Uí Chúis, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Dingle’s harbor is a constant source of activity, with fishing boats bobbing on the water and boat trips whisking visitors away to explore the dramatic coastline or the mystical Blasket Islands.

Slea Head Drive, a winding coastal route, offers breathtaking panoramas at every turn. History buffs will be enthralled by ancient sites like Gallarus Oratory, an early Christian church, and Dun Beag Fort, a prehistoric promontory fort perched on a clifftop.

16. Carlingford

Address: Carlingford, Cairlinn, Co. Louth, Ireland

Carlingford boasts many historical sites, including the imposing 12th-century King John’s Castle, a formidable reminder of the town’s Norman past. You can explore the exhibitions at the Carlingford Heritage Centre, housed within a medieval church.

The area is also renowned for its water sports, including kayaking, canoeing, and sailing. Foodies won’t be disappointed either—Carlingford is famous for its delicious oysters, freshly harvested from the lough and a must-try for visitors.

17. Cobh

Address: Cobh, An Cóbh, Co. Cork, Ireland

Cobh’s crown jewel is the Titanic Experience Cobh. Housed in the building that served as the White Star Line ticket office, this interactive museum sheds light on the fateful story of the RMS Titanic. 

Cobh boasts many historical sites, such as St. Colman’s Cathedral, a magnificent neo-Gothic landmark dominating the town’s skyline. Spike Island, a former fortress with a fascinating military past, is also accessible by ferry. 

18. Portrush 

Address: Portrush, Antrim, Ireland

Families flock to the golden beaches of Portrush, with the aptly named East Strand a particular favorite. You can build sandcastles, paddle in the waves, or simply soak in the sunshine.  

Watersports like surfing and kayaking are popular options for the adventurous. History lovers will appreciate the architectural gems scattered throughout the town, with the ruins of Dunluce Castle perched dramatically on the cliffs, which is a must-see.

19. Killaloe

Address: Killaloe, Cill Dalua, Knockyclovaun, Co. Clare, Ireland

Often referred to as a “twin town” alongside Ballina on the opposite bank, Killaloe was also once home to the seat of power of the High King Brian Boru, with the remnants of his Kincora fortress standing sentinel over the town.

St. Flannan’s Cathedral, a 13th-century masterpiece with intricate stone carvings, is a must-see. Anglers will be spoilt for choice with excellent coarse and pike fishing opportunities on the lough.

20. Clifden 

Address: Clifden, An Clochán, Co. Galway, Ireland

Often referred to as the “Capital of Connemara,” Clifden offers a unique blend of Irish charm and cosmopolitan character. The town is a delightful maze of colorful shopfronts, traditional pubs with lively music sessions, and friendly cafes. 

Beyond the town center, the Twelve Pins mountain range provides a stunning backdrop, while the Owenglin River flows through the town and out to the scenic Clifden Bay.  You can take a boat trip on the bay to spot marine life like seals and dolphins.

21. Leighlinbridge

Address: Leighlinbridge, Leithghlinn a Droichid, Co. Carlow, Ireland

Leighlinbridge offers a unique blend of medieval heritage, scenic walks, and a friendly atmosphere. The show’s star is undoubtedly the 14th-century Valerian Bridge, a stunning five-arch structure that’s one of the oldest functioning bridges in Europe. 

You can also stroll across the bridge and soak in the views of the gentle River Barrow or delve deeper into the town’s past by exploring the imposing ruins of Leighlinbridge Castle.

22. Enniskerry

Address: Enniskerry, Áth na Sceire, Knocksink, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Enniskerry is particularly renowned for its selection of art galleries, which showcase the works of talented Irish artists. The area is surrounded by the beauty of Wicklow National Park, often called the “Garden of Ireland.” 

The centerpiece is Powerscourt Estate, a landscaped garden named among the top three in the world. You can also explore the Italianate terraces, wander through the Japanese gardens, or be mesmerized by the Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s highest.

23. Ardara

Address: Ardara, Ard a Rátha, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Ardara’s unique quality lies in its rich heritage and outdoor adventure blend. History buffs can delve into the town’s past at the Ardara Heritage Centre, housed in a former courthouse, or explore the remnants of an ancient ring fort. 

The Owenea River, renowned for its world-class salmon and trout fishing, snakes through the town, while stunning beaches like Maghera Beach and the silver sands of Malin Beg lie just a short distance away.

24. Dalkey

Address: Dalkey, Deilginis, Co. Dublin, Ireland

Dalkey is a haven for literature enthusiasts. James Joyce famously spent time here, and the town even boasts a museum dedicated to his life and works. 

The annual Dalkey Book Festival, a renowned literary gathering, takes place every June, attracting bookworms worldwide. History lovers will also love exploring the ruins of Dalkey Castle, a 14th-century stronghold that once guarded the port. 

25. Glengarriff 

Address: Glengarriff, An Gleann Garbh, Cappyaughna, Co. Cork, Ireland

Glengarriff is a charming village nestled on the shores of Bantry Bay, offering a tranquil escape and beautiful scenery. A short boat trip brings you to Garnish Island, where you can wander through Victorian-era Italian Gardens and immerse yourself in history.

On the mainland, the enchanting Glengarriff Forest, known as the “Rough Glen,” is home to extensive oak and birch groves, adding to the area’s natural beauty. Its magical atmosphere provides an ideal setting for exploration and outdoor activities.

26. Lismore

Address: Lismore, Lios Mór, Co. Waterford, Ireland

Founded around the 7th-century Lismore Abbey by Saint Mochuda, Lismore flourished with the addition of the medieval Lismore Castle in the 12th century. One of Lismore’s most captivating features is its architectural heritage. 

The majestic Lismore Castle, once a residence of bishops, now houses the Duke of Devonshire’s Irish estate. The crumbling Ballysaggartmore Towers, with their Gothic flair, stand as a testament to a bygone era. 

27. Carnlough 

Address: Carnlough, County Antrum, Ireland

With a population of just over 1,500, Carnlough offers a peaceful escape into a postcard-perfect Irish landscape. The village is a delightful collection of colorful houses lining a sheltered harbor. 

Bobbing fishing boats add to the tranquil atmosphere. A limestone bridge, built for the Marquis of Londonderry, gracefully arches over the main street, adding a touch of history to the scene.

28. Birr

Address: Birr, Biorra, Townparks, Co. Offaly, Ireland

Birr boasts a carefully preserved Georgian heritage, evident in its wide streets and elegant buildings with fanlight windows lining John’s Place and Oxmantown Mall. This architectural charm earned Birr the designation of an Irish Heritage Town.

But Birr’s crown jewel is Birr Castle Demesne, a sprawling estate in the Parsons family for 14 generations. You can explore the gardens, which boast over 1,000 species of shrubs, and the Leviathan telescope, once the largest in the world. 

29. Eyeries

Address: Eyeries, Na hAoraí, Co. Cork, Ireland

Eyeries’ crown jewel is its location.  Sitting at the foot of Mount Maulin, the highest peak in the Slieve Miskish range, the village boasts breathtaking views of Coulagh Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  

Every year, the third weekend of July transforms Eyeries into a vibrant hub of activity.  The Eyeries Family Festival explodes with live music, bustling market stalls overflowing with local crafts and produce, and a variety of fun activities for all ages. 

30. Bunratty Village

Address: Bunratty, Bun na Raite, Co. Clare, Ireland

Bunratty Village’s crown jewel is Bunratty Castle, a 15th-century fortress with looming towers and a rich past. As you enter the castle, you’ll be transported back in time with its period furniture, tapestries, and nightly medieval banquets.

Bunratty Folk Park, sprawling over 26 acres, is an open-air museum that recreates life in 19th-century Ireland. You’ll witness demonstrations of old-world crafts, like baking bread in a turf oven, and experience the warmth and hospitality of a bygone era.