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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Ireland (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Dublin, Ireland

Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to Ireland (Plus, Itineraries)

By Joshua Wood, LPC


Summary: If you're thinking about relocating to Ireland but haven't decided on a particular city or town yet, taking a discovery trip to explore several sought-after expat locales can offer valuable perspectives. Check out these recommended destinations for your exploratory journey in Ireland.

Embarking on a Look-See trip to Ireland is a crucial step for anyone considering relocating to the Emerald Isle. This reconnaissance mission allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to explore various cities and towns firsthand, assessing factors such as lifestyle, cost of living, and community vibe. It's an opportunity to envision daily life beyond the tourist experience, making informed decisions about where to settle down and start a new chapter.

Recommended Itineraries

For a 10-day trip, consider starting in Dublin, then moving on to Cork, Limerick, and Galway, with day trips to smaller towns and rural areas. A 20-day trip allows for a more extensive exploration, including the aforementioned cities plus Waterford, Kilkenny, Sligo, and Donegal, with side visits to the likes of Dingle, Westport, and Kinsale. These itineraries offer a blend of urban and rural living, showcasing the diversity of Ireland's landscapes and communities.


Dublin, the capital city, is a hub of economic activity with a vibrant cultural scene, making it a top choice for expats and digital nomads. With a population of over 1 million, it offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle with easy access to the sea and mountains. The cost of living is higher here, but so are the opportunities for employment and networking. Expats appreciate the blend of historical charm and modern amenities.

Travel Tip: While in Dublin, don't miss the chance to visit the Guinness Storehouse, where you can learn about the iconic beer's history and enjoy panoramic city views from the Gravity Bar.


Cork, known as the "Rebel City," offers a more laid-back atmosphere compared to Dublin. It's a cultural hub with a strong sense of community, popular among expats who prefer a smaller city vibe. The cost of living is more affordable, and the city is close to scenic coastal towns and the rugged landscapes of West Cork. Cork's population is around 210,000, providing a balance between city life and easy access to nature.

Travel Tip: Sample the local cuisine at the English Market, a food market in the heart of Cork city that has been serving the community since 1788.


Limerick, with a population of about 94,000, is an emerging tech hub with a rich medieval history. The city is undergoing regeneration, attracting expats with its affordable cost of living and growing job market. Limerick is also close to Shannon Airport and the natural beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Travel Tip: King John's Castle, situated on 'King's Island' in the heart of medieval Limerick, offers an immersive historical experience with stunning views over the River Shannon.


Galway, the "Cultural Heart of Ireland," is known for its lively arts scene and youthful energy, thanks to its large student population. The city has a small-town feel with a population of around 80,000 and is a gateway to the scenic landscapes of Connemara and the Aran Islands. Expats and digital nomads are drawn to its creative atmosphere and relatively low cost of living.

Travel Tip: Visit the bustling Galway Market, held near St. Nicholas' Church, to experience local artisanal products and the vibrant community spirit.


Waterford, Ireland's oldest city, offers a blend of ancient history and modern living. With a population of about 53,000, it's known for its crystal ware and Viking heritage. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city has a growing tech industry. Expats enjoy the friendly atmosphere and proximity to beautiful beaches and the Comeragh Mountains.

Travel Tip: Explore the Waterford Treasures, a trio of museums in the Viking Triangle that tell the fascinating story of Waterford from its foundation in 914 A.D.


Kilkenny is a medieval town with a strong craft and design heritage, making it attractive for those seeking a creative and historical environment. The cost of living is lower than in Ireland's larger cities, and the town's population of around 26,000 ensures a close-knit community feel. Expats enjoy the rich cultural festivals and the blend of old-world charm and contemporary living.

Travel Tip: Don't miss Kilkenny Castle, a symbol of Norman occupation and a testament to the town's storied past, set in extensive parklands.


Sligo is a small town with a big reputation for its stunning natural beauty, including Benbulben Mountain and a rugged coastline. With a population of about 19,000, it offers a peaceful lifestyle with a lower cost of living. It's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Travel Tip: Visit the Sligo County Museum and Art Gallery to delve into the local history and view works by the famous poet W.B. Yeats, who drew inspiration from the Sligo landscape.


Donegal, located in the northwest, is known for its wild natural beauty and strong Gaelic culture. The region includes several towns such as Letterkenny, Buncrana, and Donegal Town, each offering a unique experience. The cost of living is among the lowest in Ireland, appealing to those seeking a more affordable lifestyle. The area is perfect for those who love outdoor activities and a slower pace of life.

Travel Tip: Explore the dramatic cliffs at Slieve League, some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.



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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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