There are some corners of Ireland which the rising tide of tourists is yet to discover. Today we reveal some of the best.

Record numbers of tourists have been heading to Ireland this year, with a 3% growth in arrivals in the first five months of the year. Visitors come to Ireland from all around the world, but North America is a particularly strong market with an increase of 23% during the period. Australians are taking more holidays here too, as are tourists from mainland Europe, especially German, Italy, France and Spain.

With nearly a million tourist arrivals each month, is the appealing tranquillity of the Emerald Isle under threat?

With nearly a million tourist arrivals each month, is the appealing tranquillity of the Emerald Isle under threat? Well, unless you’re only there to drink the Guinness at the Dublin brewery tour or see the Book of Kells, probably not. All the same, if you are looking for peace, quiet and solitude, try these off-the-beaten track locations.

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County Sligo, perfect for hermits!

Dunquin, County Kerry

The Gaeltacht village of Dunquin is all about big skies and fabulous scenery. It’s set between the Atlantic Ocean and the hills of the Dingle Peninsula. On good days, you can see out to the Basket Islands. This is a lively community, with a great pub scene – CAMRA was founded here at Kruger’s Bar. For walkers, you have direct access onto the Dingle Way, with its 179km trail around the peninsula.

The Copper Coast

Drive 30 minutes outside of Waterford in south-east Ireland and you’ll find the Copper Coast. The coastline stretches from Tramore to Dungarvon and looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. This stretch of coast got its name from the copper mining industry that once dominated it, and you’ll see nods to this industrial past in eerie abandoned relics dotted along the drive. The coastline is also a coppery colour, and when the sun is shining the cliffs and sea stacks glow a deep red. The stretches of beach here are some of the quietest in Ireland, and the villages you’ll drive through are just lovely. Dunhill Castle offers wonderful views of the River Anne, dates back to the early 1200s and is free to visit.

The narrow country lanes roll across hills and wind around mountains.


If you’ve come to Ireland in search of the craic, but Dublin’s Temple Bar just doesn’t do it for you, head up to Sligo in the north of Ireland. While the town is known for its literary history and rugged countryside beyond the city walls, the music scene here is one of the best in the country. It seems that every pub in town has live music or open mic nights. Buskers will entertain you from every corner as you explore the friendly town. Being located on the River Bonet, salmon fishing is popular, while the nearby town of Strandhill has some of the best surfing waves in Ireland.

Allihies, on the Beara Peninsula

The Ring of Beara

The Ring of Beara is not strictly off-the-beaten track, but it’s a more overlooked option than the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula. The Ring of Beara sits on its own peninsula in the south-west corner of Ireland. The narrow country lanes roll across hills and wind around mountains. Forget about getting from A to B quickly; you’re bound to get stuck behind a farmer moving his sheep or cattle between pastures. The houses in the villages you pass through are all colours of the rainbow, especially in Allihies.

Does off-the-beaten track also mean far from good healthcare? Read our guide to health services in Ireland (and 11 other countries) in our brand new guide, Healthcare Abroad.

Slieve Bloom Mountains, Co. Laois

This mountain range in Ireland’s midlands is one of the country’s most underrated and unexplored beauty spots. If you’re a fan of outdoor pursuits like cycling, walking or horse riding, Slieve Bloom Way is an absolute must. Epic scenery in every direction and not a tour bus in sight!

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