Ireland is fast becoming a popular option for international students from around the world. In 2018, it was home to over 23,000 foreign students, and every year that figure grows.
But what is there to do when you’re a student on a tiny island like Ireland?
Lots, in fact. The country is steeped in stunning nature, culture and history that competes with some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Still not convinced? Have a read of our 10 favourite things to do if you’re living and studying in this charming country.
1. City Bike Tour
The fastest way to get to know any city is to do a tour. But instead of walking, add a bit of excitement to your trip and hop on a bike instead.
You’ll get a local guide who knows the city like the back of their hand, and who’ll take you to all the local hotspots that you’d never find yourself.
After your tour, you’ll feel right at home. It’s the perfect start to studying abroad in Ireland.
2. Visit Belfast’s famous murals
While you’re in Ireland, you should go and visit Belfast. Though Belfast isn’t part of Ireland (it’s Northern Ireland and part of the UK), it’s only a three-hour train journey away.
The city has a notorious history of political instability due to conflict between Catholics and Protestants. It’s home to some of the most famous political murals in Europe, and you can go on a walking tour and see them all.
Some of the better tours allow you to hear first-hand stories from political prisoners, and you’ll be given insider knowledge by a local, certified guide.
3. Drive the Causeway Coastal Route
One of the best things to do in Ireland – if you (or a friend) happen to have a car – is to take a road trip.
Ireland is filled with sandy beaches, stunning nature, fishing villages, lakes, cliffs, rock formations, forest parks, and castles – oh and there’s the small fact that the Atlantic Ocean stretches along the west coast.
One of the best ways to see Ireland in all its glory is to drive through the countryside. Try the Causeway Coastal Route; it’s been voted one of the world’s top drives.
With a best friend along for the ride, what else do you need for an unforgettable weekend?
4. See the winter solstice at Newgrange
There’s a good chance you won’t get to see the winter solstice at Newgrange, but we have to tell you about it anyway because it’s just that good.
This ancient lightshow takes place at the same time, on the same date every year – and it has done for the past 5000 years.
Out of the tens of thousands of people who apply, only 50 people get entry access each year, and it’s the lottery that decides who gets to see it.
But Newgrange is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s available for you to see at any time of the year. This passage tomb, which is older than the Egyptian pyramids, is well worth seeing.
5. Surf in the Atlantic Ocean at Donegal Bay
Surfing is usually reserved for hot climates like Sydney or California, but in Ireland the ocean is there for the taking – so it’d be rude not to.
Donegal Bay is a popular surfing spot, and with its golden beach, sand dunes and coves, it’s often named one of the world’s best places for surfing.
6. Go trekking
If you’re in the mood for stunning scenery, take some time out of your studying and go for a trek.
With over 950 developed trails, you have hundreds of scenic routes to choose from. All you need are some hiking boots, light gear (which you might be able to rent rather than buy), and clothes that you keep you warm.
7. A horse-ride on the beach
Who doesn’t love horses? And who doesn’t love the beach?
In Ireland, you can mix these two loves and have a horse-ride on the beach. Gallop along the (not so) sun-kissed sand at sunset and take advantage of being so close to the coast.
If you don’t feel too confident on horses, you can ask for a slow walk or a steady trot. They have beach-rides available for people at all levels.
8. Dublin International Film Festival
Every year, Dublin celebrates the best of Irish and international cinema with the Dublin International Film Festival.
If you love non-Hollywood film, this is a festival for you. Famous people are likely to make an appearance too, so get your selfie stick ready.
9. St Patrick’s Day festival
In Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is St Patrick’s Week, with a festival that lasts an entire 5 days. It’s a national holiday and the celebrations lead up to the annual parade, where an estimated half a million people are thought to squeeze into Dublin’s city centre.
The festival celebrates Ireland’s heritage and culture, and you’ll notice everybody dressed in (and painted) green, as well as a city-wide family of leprechauns with a pot of gold at the end of their rainbows.
10. Fish and chips at Leo Burdock’s
Having fish and chips at Leo Burdock’s is a tradition upheld even by politicians and celebrities from across the world. (Check out their wall of fame if you don’t believe us).
It’s Dublin’s oldest chippy and was even around during the world wars. Though the food is great, the shops are usually tiny so prepare to grab and go.
With companies like Facebook, Apple and Google choosing Ireland as their headquarters, it’s clear little island has tons to offer.
If you’re ready to start your academic journey in Ireland, contact our admissions office so we can help find the perfect university for you.
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Want to know more?
Here’s our suggested reading list:
30 Fun Things To Do In Dublin, Ireland (Plus What To Avoid) – Expert Vagabond
These are the top 10 most scenic hikes in Ireland
Dingle Horse Riding Trail Options
Dublin City Bike Tours
County Donegal – Ireland