Ireland Cruise Ports – Discover the Magic of the Emerald Isle

Planning a cruise that visits Ireland? Discover some of the cruise ports that may be on your itinerary with some tips on what you can do in each of those destinations.

Ireland may not jump out as a cruise destination but it is often included on cruises around the British Isles and Northern Europe. Exploring by cruise gives you a unique perspective on this enchanting island nation.

Known for its incredible landscapes, rich history, vibrant culture, welcoming people and of course the famous pint of Guinness, Ireland is a county you’ll want to return to again and again.

Here are some of the popular cruise ports in Ireland along with some suggestions of what to do during your date in port.

At a Glance: Ireland Cruise Ports

  • Cobh (Cork)
  • Dublin
  • Galway 
  • Killybegs
  • Waterford

Cobh (for Cork)

Once named one of the top 25 most beautiful small towns in Europe by Condé Nast Traveler, Cobh is a port stop you’ll wish you had a little more time in. 

Located just 15 miles from Cork, on the southwest coast of Ireland, Cobh has fascinating history. As the departure point for many of the people who emigrated to North America between 1848 and 1950, the town played key role in the Ireland’s emigration story.

It was also the last port that the RMS Titanic called into on her ill-fated journey across the Atlantic. 

Tip | You can learn more about Ireland’s emigration history and the Cobh’s connection with the Titanic at the Cobh Heritage Centre

Maritime history aside, there is much to explore in this pretty seaport and the surrounding area. The city of Cork is just 30 minutes away while a little further out you’ll find some of the spectacular natural beauty Ireland is renowned for.

Popular things to do on a port stop in Cobh include

  • Exploring Cobh and/or Cork 
  • Discovering the past of Spike Island
  • Taking a day trip to Blarney Castle or Killarney and its scenic national park.

Read more | A guide to Cobh cruise port – tips, attractions and more

Dublin

image of a bar in Temple Bar,. Dublin, Ireland with a red exterior and flowers and hanging lights on the brickwork above.

Dublin is a very popular city break destination in Europe. However, it also makes for a cruise stop to remember. 

As the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is a lively city steeped in history and packed with galleries, museums, parks, shops and of course many pubs. Don’t miss Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, St Patrick’s Cathedral or Dublin Castle. 

If you’d like to experience some Irish pub culture, you can pretty much find a pub or bar on every corner. There is also the tourist hot spot of Temple Bar, where along the cobbled streets you’ll find a variety of pubs and restaurants. 

However, you decide to spend your time in this port, it is sure to be a memorable day. Just be careful you don’t miss the ship!

Dingle

Located on the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, Dingle is a delightful stop on a cruise. The picturesque coastal town is known for its colourful houses and shop fronts, the breathtaking scenery on its doorstep and its resident dolphin.

For a relaxed day in port, stroll around the town taking in the harbour views, explore the arts and craft shops or sample the atmosphere in one of Dingle’s 50 pubs.

Alternatively, tour the Dingle Distillery to learn how whisky, gin and vodka are produced and of course, sample it. Visit the Dingle Crystal Factory for an immersive experience on the craft of hand-cut crystal, the designs of which are influenced by the area’s beauty and history. 

To explore some of the captivating scenery around Dingle, look out for shore excursions around the Dingle Peninsula and the Wild Atlantic Way.

Read more | Discover things to do in Killarney for an unforgettable Irish escape

Galway

image of small fishing boats in a bay in front of a row of colourful houses

Located on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is known for its dramatic coastal landscapes, lively music scene and its welcoming residents.

Wander around the vibrant streets, where you can pick up some local souvenirs for gifts or as a reminder of your visit. You can also learn more about this part of Ireland by visiting one of the many museums, art galleries or heritage sites in the city.

Galway is the festival capital of Ireland with events all year round, covering everything from arts, music, comedy and food. So, it is worth checking if your visit coincides with one.

Popular day trips and shore excursions from Galway include tours to the Cliffs of Moher, a day in Connemara and a visit to the Burren and Aillwee Cave. If you enjoy being in the great outdoors and taking in some majestic scenery you’ll be spoilt for choice in Galway and the surrounding area.

Tip | Visit Galway Tourism for more on what you can see and do in this magical city.

Killybegs

The dramatic coastline of Donegal is home to Killybegs, the largest fishing port in Ireland and a fairly recent addition as a port of call for cruise ships. Its Irish name means ‘little cells’ in a reference to early monastic settlements in the area.

A popular shore excursion here is the Hidden Gems tour which takes you around the rugged coastline of South West Donegal where you will enjoy stunning views and learn more about the history of the area. Other activities you can do while in port in Killybegs include fishing trips, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

If that all sounds too energetic you can explore the town’s restaurants and sample some fresh seafood for a more relaxed day.

Waterford

Thought to have been founded by the Vikings in the 9th century, Waterford is Irelands oldest city.

The Viking Triangle is the part of Waterford that was once surrounded by city walls. Today, it is home to the Waterford Treasures, a cluster of museums where you can learn more about the history of the city. Highlights include the Medieval Museum and its collection of artefacts and Reginald Tower which is the oldest civic building in Ireland.

However, despite its interesting history, most people probably know Waterford for its famous crystal.

Founded by George and William Penrose over 200 years ago, the dazzling crystal creations are sold all around the world. At the House of Waterford, you can take a factory tour to find out how it all began and how they make their designs. There is also a retail shop with the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world if you’d like to take home a souvenir of your visit to Ireland. 

If you are not a history buff or into crystal, Waterford still has plenty to offer, from a nature park to plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants. 

Further afield you can explore the countryside, coastal scenery and beautiful beaches of County Waterford. 

The Last Word

Each of these Irish cruise ports provide a glimpse into Ireland’s natural beauty, heritage and vibrant culture. All of which makes a cruise around this enchanting island a truly memorable experience. 

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