The 15 Most Scenic Places in Ireland

With so many scenic locations to choose from, we’ve asked some of Ireland’s best photographers and travel Instagrammers to share their favourite scenic places in Ireland.

It’s not called the Emerald Isle for nothing – Ireland is a land of snow-capped peaks, craggy cliffs and world-class beaches. Thrown in the candy-coloured fisherman’s cottages, the tradition-rich villages and the buzzing cosmopolitan cities, and it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular spot for a good photograph. With so many scenic locations to choose from, we’ve asked some of Ireland’s best photographers and travel Instagrammers to share their favourite scenic places in Ireland.

Most beautiful places in Ireland:

Donegal

Donegal. Image: Danny Watchorn

Donegal came out on top of the most scenic places in Ireland, hat-tipped by photographers for its scenery, beaches and – best of all – solitude. Here’s what Irish photographers love about Donegal:

Danny Watchorn (@dannywatchorn)

For digital and portrait photographer Danny, nothing compares to Donegal’s rugged coastal views. He says: “Donegal has some of the best beaches you’ll find anywhere in the world. It’s a bit out of the way compared to other famous coastal landmarks, like the Cliffs of Moher in Clare and not as well known as the Ring of Kerry, so you’ll often have the viewpoints all to yourself. It makes for great photo opportunities.”

Tom Deasy (@Tom_tours)

Travel photographer and video editor Tom is besotted with a handful of locations in Donegal, including the Slieve League Cliffs and the Poisoned Glen. Describing how the region stole his heart, he says: “It’s something special. Nowhere in Ireland does beaches like Donegal does, they feel almost tropical at times.” 

Melanie May (@maymelanie)

Ireland-based travel, food and wine writer Melanie is also fond of Donegal. She describes it as: “One of my favourite places to visit in Ireland. A road trip through this county is a rollercoaster of a ride along the winding roads of the Wild Atlantic Way. My favourite spot is Silver Stand Beach, which is one of the most scenic and dramatic beaches in all of Ireland. The secluded bay, with its golden soft sand, is surrounded by imposing green cliffs that seem to tumble down onto the beach and into the sea. It’s like something from the Caribbean when in fact it is just hidden away at Malin Beg (Malainn Bhig) in southwest Donegal.”

Gareth McCormack (@Garethmccormack)

When photographer Gareth McCormack thinks about his favourite places in Ireland, he has a specific location in mind – Fanad Head Lighthouse. He describes it as: “One of the world’s most photogenic lighthouses, with an end-of-the-world feel and incredible backdrop. The surrounding area is really beautiful too, with some amazing and deserted beaches.”

Achill Island, County Mayo

Croaghaun Cliffs, Achill Island, Mayo. Image: Florian Meyer

Florian Meyer (@floadventures)

For Dublin-based photographer Florian, it’s all about the Croaghaun Cliffs on Achill Island. They’re some of the highest sea cliffs in Ireland and Florian describes them as “the most majestic place in Ireland”. He also has a soft spot for Minaun Heights, where on a clear day you can enjoy views over Blacksod Bay and Clare Island. Describing the spot, he says: “It’s the best place in the country for sunset.”

Danny Watchorn (@dannywatchorn)

Another of Danny’s favourite spots is Achill Island. Speaking about the ancient island, he says: “It’s got something for all outdoor enthusiasts. Great beaches for sea swimming and surfing, a lake for kite surfing and kayaking, some challenging hikes and some stunning sunset viewpoints, all with easy access for those who prefer not to climb uphill.”

Ger Duffy (@thegerduffy

West Ireland-based photographer and videographer is a fan of Keem Bay’s rugged beauty and describes it as: “The most beautiful place on earth”. He says: “It’s an experience from the get-go. The initial steep, nerve-wracking ascent along the edge of the Achill Island cliffs is a sketchy one for those afraid of heights! But once you get over it, the payoff is huge – just around the corner you’ll get to see Keem Bay in all its glory. What always hits me first is the contrast of the white sandy beach and cool blue waters jumping out against the surrounding area of mountain slopes. There’s a beautiful clean beach nestled between steep mountains, with sharks and dolphins in the sea.” 

Wicklow

Lough Ouler, Wicklow. Image: Brian Fox

Shane O’Neill (@mrshaneoneill)

Irish landscape photographer Shane O’Neill might be based in County Kildare, but for him, nothing beats Wicklow. He says: “The Wicklow Gap has a special place in my heart. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, the landscapes are beautiful and it’s a fantastic drive, even if you don’t stop to admire it all even further.”

Brian Fox (@brianfoxphoto)

Dublin-based photographer Brian is passionate about landscape photography, so it’s no surprise that he’s a fan of Wicklow. He says: “Wicklow earns its name as the garden of Ireland for a reason. I love how close it is to Dublin too. Wicklow National Park offers the perfect escape from the city and it’s just a 30-minute drive away.”

Dingle, County Kerry

Dunquin Pier, Dingle, Kerry. Image: Éadaoin Fitzmaurice

Éadaoin Fitzmaurice (@bandeadd)

Digital creator Éadaoin is based in Dublin, but can’t get enough of Dingle. She says: “If you want to experience true Irish culture, Dingle is a must. There’s no better place in the country to nurse a creamy pint of Guinness while being tucked up in a snug. Hop from pub to pub and find out what makes Ireland tick as you listen to live traditional Irish music, chat to locals and soak up an atmosphere that Irish pubs abroad will try to replicate, but will never succeed.”

West Cork

Mizen Head, Cork. Image: Melanie May

Melanie May (@maymelanie)

West Cork is famous for its rugged peninsulas and beaches, but for travel journalist Melanie, it’s also the perfect place to take a drive. She says: “With its weather-beaten landscape infused with wildness, it is a breathtaking place for photography enthusiasts. Make sure you drive along the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and take a walk along the old sheep trail to the lighthouse, which is perched 76 metres above the Atlantic ocean at the point where land and sea do battle.” She recommends Mizen Head, Ireland’s most south-westerly point, too. 

Downpatrick Head, County Mayo

Dun Briste sea stack, Downpatrick Head, Mayo. Image: Gareth McCormack

Gareth McCormack (@Garethmccormack)

Travel photographer Gareth describes the Downpatrick Head as: “A miniature version of the Cliffs of Moher, without the crowds and hassle. Just offshore is the improbable Dun Briste sea stack, which is beautiful. On a low tide, there’s an adventurous scramble along the bottom of the cliffs to get to the amazing sea cave.”

Dalkey Island, County Dublin

Dalkey Island, Dublin. Image: Sam McAllister

Sam McAllister (@Sam.Travel)

Dalkey Island is located off the coast of South Dublin, named after the Viking word Dalk Eyja, meaning Thorn Island. The thorn-shaped island is a favourite spot for Travel Photographer Sam, who says: “A local ferryman can bring you across for a few euros and you disembark onto an island that feels frozen in time. It’s full of wild goats, rabbits, an ancient church, and even a martello tower. It’s as far away from Dublin as you can get, while still being just 30 minutes from the city centre.

Rossbeigh Beach & Glencar, County Kerry

Rossbeigh Beach, Kerry. Image: Matthew Murphy

Matthew Murphy (@matthewmurphy)

For County Kerry-based travel photographer Matthew, his favourite spot for taking photos is close to home. Describing the area, he says: “My favourite locations for photography are Rossbeigh Beach in Glenbeigh and Dun Chaoin in Dingle. Another place on my list is Glencar in County Kerry, which is where I grew up so I am no stranger to there. Glencar is such a hidden gem. It has been growing in popularity recently with people exploring the drive along Ballaghbeama Gap and the stunning views from Ballaghisheen Pass.” 

Sligo

scenic places Ireland
Sligo. Image: Eadaoin Fitzmaurice

Éadaoin Fitzmaurice (@bandeadd)

Éadaoin swears that one of the most underrated locations in Ireland is also one of the best spots for a photograph – and it’s located in the wild county of Sligo. Describing why Strandhill is so special, she says: “I love the dramatic landscapes, sweeping vistas, incredible beaches for surfing and the fact that it’s home to many famous Irish mythological sites. Landing in Strandhill, you hear the powerful waves crashing against stony beaches while breathing in the unbeatable freshness of the famous local seaweed. A short walk from the beach is an incredible tapas restaurant called Stoked, which I’d highly recommend.”

Connemara, County Galway

scenic places Ireland
Connemara, Galway. Image: Tom Deasy

Tom Deasy (@Tom_tours)

Hiking enthusiast and nature photographer Tom also raves about Connemara as one of the most scenic places in Ireland. He describes it as the perfect destination for someone who loves scenic views and says: “Not only do you have epic hikes like Diamond hill and Tully mountain you have historical places such as Kylemore Abbey and Marconi station near the beautiful town of Clifden. Places like this are not for everybody but I love to wander, explore and learn about these rich historical settings.”

Doolin, County Clare

scenic places Ireland
Image: Shutterstock

Shane O’Neill (@mrshaneoneill)

Travel photographer Shane loves nature, but as far as villages go Doolin is a must-visit for him. He says: “Doolin is just gorgeous. The village is full of lovely restaurants and busy pubs. The Cliffs of Moher are only a hike away and the Doolin Bay is truly mesmerising on a calm and sunny morning or a dark and stormy evening. The nightlife in the village is also a great way to end a long day of adventure.”

The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry

scenic places Ireland
Gap of Dunloe, Kerry. Image: Tom Deasy

Tom Deasy (@Tom_tours)

Another top location to make it to Tom’s list is the Gap of Dunloe, a valley that formed 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last ice age as a result of a “glacial breach”. Describing the geological marvel, he says: “I’m not even 100% sure what it is about this area but it is easily my top place not just in Ireland but the world, I just find it so peaceful and relaxing. For me, whether it’s walking through these valleys or hiking the surrounding mountains, it feels like I’m stepping back in time. Honestly, there’s no place in the world like it.”

Doolough Valley, County Mayo

Image: Ger Duffy

Ger Duffy (@thegerduffy

Not many people have visited Doolough Valley, and for photographer Ger, that’s a good thing. He says: “For me, as I drive through Doolough Valley, I feel as though I’m in a movie. It’s a winding road through an untouched valley with towering mountains on either side interlocked with stunning lakes. Make sure to stop at the Famine Memorial and look down through the valley. I literally can’t put it in words, just do and you’ll then understand what I mean! Take some time to read the history of what happened here during the Famine and it gives you a real sense of place too.”

Allihies, County Cork

scenic places Ireland
Image: Shutterstock

Shane O’Neill (@mrshaneoneill)

The village of Allihies is located on the western tip of the Beara Peninsula and is famous for its candy-coloured houses and sparkling seaside views. For Shane, it’s an idyllic seaside spot. He sums it up saying: “The village, beach and nearby cliffs are just incredible. On a sunny day, the place is an absolute paradise.” 

Waterford

scenic places Ireland
Coumshingaun Lough, Waterford. Image: Brian Fox

Brian Fox (@brianfoxphoto)

Landscape Photographer Brian’s final top tip is Waterford. He describes the seaport as: “A place with so much to offer, including a Unesco Global Geopark, a picturesque glacial lake and some of the darkest skies in the country – perfect for astrophotography, which always keeps me coming back for more”. 

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