Ireland's Top Ten Best Places for Photo Opportunities

When it comes to photography, the Emerald Isle has so many perfect locations for that iconic shot. So for fantastic photos and a few tips to guide your hand, focus up. Here's a snapshot of Irish tourism's top 10 photo opportunities on the island.

Giant's Causeway at Sunset - Photo by Chmee2

The Giant's Causeway

You may as well start with the big one in Northern Ireland -- the 40,000 polygonal-shaped stones of Giant's Causeway. This is fabulously photogenic territory and a mecca for snappers of all abilities.

Best time of year: May to October, but you'll get a great shot at any time
Best time of day: evening for the sunsets, as the sun bathes the stones in a nice light
Suggested shot: low angle on the stones looking west
GPS coordinates: 55.2410868821635 -6.5119743322168823

Tip: watch out for waves, they'll provide drama in your shot, but don't get caught in one.

The Dark Hedges

Not far away from the Giant's Causeway is this wondrous avenue of trees and a Game of Thrones filming location. It's one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland, so you'll have to pull out all the stops to be different.

Best time of year: late autumn when the interlocking tree branches are barest0 -- and spookiest
Best time of day: early morning as the sun lights up the avenue of trees
Suggested shot: the top of the Bregagh Road looking downwards
GPS coordinates: 55.13264492551144 -6.378024814013088

Tip: use a 200mm or 300mm lens to push the background back and lengthen the road.

Ballintoy Harbour

Also figuring in Game of Thrones filming, this pretty fishing harbour is a chance to capture a slice of Westeros as well as a true piece of Irish coastal heritage.

Best time of year: April to May or September for the light and boats in the harbour
Best time of day: evening as the setting sun lights up the harbour
Suggested shot: outside the teahouse looking across the harbour
GPS coordinates: 55.24422772108181 -6.369355914476955

Tip: walk up the winding road for another angle on the harbour, a 24mm lens will capture the whole harbour in shot.

St James Gate

The iconic site in Dublin where the brewing magic happens. The Guinness sign here is a must-photograph when you are in the city.

Best time of year: any time
Best time of day: mid-day may be best, as the space in front of the Guinness Storehouse will be in light
Suggested shot: at Market Street South for the main Guinness Gate sign, but others can be found on Prim Street around the corner
GPS coordinates: 53.341587361251705 -6.286236939314449

Tip: the main gates are open during the day but go early or late when the gates are closed and the full Guinness sign is revealed.

Slea Head Drive

Slea Head curves along the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, one the most scenic and stunning parts of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. Great for atmospheric images.

Best time of year: summer is good but autumn storms can provide real dramatic shots
Best time of day: morning is best for light
Suggested shot: a portrait shot of the cliffs guarding Coumeenoole Beach and looking towards the Blasket Islands
GPS coordinates: 52.10959859930462 -10.4656255220209

Tip: on the drive out from Dingle town, the beehive huts at Drumquin Harbour and Ventry Bay are good subjects too.

Kylemore Abbey

Much-photographed across a reedy lake with a backdrop of wooded hillside, this magnificent fairy tale castle in Connemara, County Galway, begs to be captured on camera time and time again.

Best time of year: the mountain behind the Abbey is full of colour with rhododendrons in the spring and in the autumn has the colour of the changing leaves
Best time of day: early morning as you can have the reflection of the Abbey on the still lake
Suggested shot: the Abbey is best shot at an angle with the mountain as a backdrop -- a position by the lake will work
GPS coordinates: 53.5617 -98881

Tip: the Gothic church at the Abbey, described as a 'cathedral in miniature' also provides a photo opportunity.

Fanad Head Lighthouse

A spectacular coastal photo op in County Donegal created by the headland's uninterrupted clash with the Atlantic Ocean.

read more about photo ops in Ireland at
Best time of year: April-May or October
Best time of day: the light is good late afternoon
Suggested shot: panorama -- walk down to the left of the old barracks towards the Coast Guard station to look back at the lighthouse framed against the eastern sky
GPS coordinates: 55.27666751133538 -7.632805106524074

Tip: watch out for stormy weather as the crashing waves on the rocks can prove dangerous.

Rock of Cashel

The seat of the Kings of Munster before 1101, 'The Rock' is abundant in Celtic atmosphere. A fascinating and visually stunning site with lots of opportunities to capture a perfect portrait of ancient Ireland.

Best time of year: with the lush green valley to the north-west, summer provides a great opportunity
Best time of day: evening light with the Rock and buildings framed against the western sunset
Suggested shot: Take Junction 7 off the M8 and head into town via the R639 and at Palmers Hill -- you get a great uninterrupted shot of the Abbey
GPS coordinates: 52.52405127110532 -7.886520621660793

Tip: be aware that ongoing restoration work means you'll have to be creative with angles.

Powerscourt House and Gardens

Another goldmine of photo opportunities -- the highest waterfall in Ireland, gardens, parkland, wildlife and the house itself. Keep clicking because Powerscourt is unforgettable.

Best time of year: early summer when the gardens look at their best
Best time of day: mornings, as most of the garden is in sun
Suggested shot: stand on the terrace with the house behind you looking south to reveal the gardens and the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance
GPS coordinates: 53.18453215742802 -6.186753806952083

Tip: as an alternative, venture to the bottom of the garden past the ornamental pond to photograph the house from below.

Cliffs of Moher

Everyone wants to grab the definitive image that portrays the rugged beauty of these cliffs, one of Ireland's most iconic natural wonders. Your picture could be wild, wet and misty, or sublime, sunny or blue filtered. It's up to you and your camera.

Best time of year: April to June or September and October
Best time of day: evening time for sunsets as the waning sun lights up the cliffs with a yellow-orange light
Suggested shot: a shot from O'Brien's Tower looking south
GPS coordinates: 52.97174506511849 -9.431730506304347

Tip: go in the evening when there are fewer visitors and better light.

Learn more about Visiting Ireland

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July 28, 2015

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