A version of this piece was originally published in Fórsa Magazine
Though the glamour of hopping into a convertible and driving into the sunset on the Continent may be possible, travelling aboard may not simply be feasible for everyone, especially with those with children in tow.
But the truth is, you don’t need to look too far to have a memorable holiday right at home in Ireland. Next time, instead of jetting off to far-flung places, consider tearing down the road, jumping on the train or the bus and explore the vast variety of landscape that our home country has to offer. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Beara Peninsula in Cork
Head down to the south west of Ireland to a part of incredible land that juts out into the sea. The Beara Peninsula forms a section of the Wild Atlantic Way and it’s no wonder it made the cut.
Featuring a gloriously varied landscape with mountain passes, lush greens, and coastline, it’s a feast for those who love the outdoors. Drive along the “Ring of Beara” which follows the roads for about 148 km and if you dare, head on Ireland’s only cable car across the water onto Dursey Island.
The Fermanagh Lakelands
Mountain breezes, amazing walks, and breath-taking scenery will have you captivated in Fermanagh. If boating is your thing, try your hand at angling, canoeing, kayaking or simply cruise along the waterways. Want to go further in your adventure? Explore the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark. The area also offers an abundance of accommodation ranging from your classic chalets to bubble domes in Lough Finn where the sky will be your ceiling.
The Glen of Aherlow in Tipperary
Considered to be one of the county’s most scenic locations the Glen of Aherlow is a lush valley that connects the Galtee Mountains, the River Aherlow and the wooded ridge of Slievenamuck. Cycle, walk, golf or fish in the valley – no doubt you’ll be inspired.
With brilliant opportunities to bask in the open air, the land boasts the Glen of Aherlow Nature Park (adjacent to the famous Christ the King white statue) and a variety of prehistoric and early Christian sites like St Pecaun’s Holy Well. A warm welcome awaits you with its people in the surrounding local restaurants, pubs, and guesthouses.
Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht in Kerry
The Kerry Gaeltacht goes beyond Dingle, and this quaint townland and countryside of Irish speaking people are not to be missed. The area is a natural playground for those who love walking, horse-riding, cycling and for those who adore walking on unspoiled long stretches of beach where you could be the only soul on it. Hike Mount Brandon, head to the farmer’s market, indulge in Dingle Gin or simply lay on the sand on Béal Ban with the Atlantic at your feet with the stunning view of the Three Sisters (An Triúr Deirféar) mountains as your backdrop.
Nore Valley in Kilkenny
Discover the Nore Valley in the Midlands! If you’re feeling like getting those boots on, why not try out the route on the Nore Valley walk from Kilkenny city to Inistioge and follow the River Nore. This amazing walk is divided into three sections each offering showcasing what the county has to offer: Kilkenny to Bennetsbridge, Bennetsbridge to Thomastown and finally Thomastown to Inisitoge. For children, Nore Valley Park has plenty to offer with Crazy Golf, go-karting, a maze, pet farm, and tractor rides. You can camp or take a lodge on site too. For the foodies, Kilkenny is well known for having an abundance of food trails with Taste of Kilkenny highlighting the best food producers and brilliant places to eat out.
Strandhill in Sligo
A secret tucked into the west of Ireland, Strandhill right by the sea is a slice of heaven and perfect for those who love water sports. Only 7km from Sligo, it’s part of the surf coast on the Wild Atlantic Way and for good reason too.
Large open bays, stunning cliff walks, and even luxurious seaweed baths, it has so much to offer. Play a round of golf, hop into a kayak or try “stand up” paddleboarding. The famous people’s market takes place every weekend in Sligo airport’s hangar and it’s a foodies’ delight with fantastic places like the Sweet Beat Café and Pudding Row.
Boyle in Roscommon
Head to Boyle to experience a place that steeped in history with the famous Georgian restored mansion King House and Boyle Abbey, an impressive monastery that was founded way back in the 12th century. Nearby, the Lough Key Adventure Centre is a fantastic outlet for kids and teenagers who want to zip line their way around and disappear into the trees with tree-top walks and bog garden trails. From woodland safaris, and electric and manual bike trails, to boat tours and Boda Borg (a 47-room challenge filled with interactive and quest-based puzzles!), you’re spoiled for choice.
Dunmore East in Waterford
Explore the many beaches and coves or simply relive childhood memories building sandcastles and hunting crabs. The popular fishing village is serene and offers ample opportunities to sail.
Take the spectacular scenic drive from Dunmore East and on your way discover some of the delights of Ireland’s heritage like the megalithic tombs of Harristown and Cill Aodha’s 12th-century church. To see local talent head to The Cliff Gallery where a special experience awaits featuring local artists and creators of photography, textiles, woodwork, ceramics, jewellery, and fashion.
Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal
An Irish speaking Gaeltacht this should be on your must-visit spots in the country. Right on the Atlantic coast up in Donegal, Gaoth Dobhair sits near Donegal’s highest peak, Mount Errigal. With old Irish customs and things like Irish music and theatre, Gaoth Dobhair has the Irish language in the heart of its people.
Just 20km from Gaoth Dobhair is Glenveagh National Park with a total area of over 40,000 acres. It’s the largest National Park in the country and home to a diverse and unspoiled landscape.
Hook Peninsula in Wexford
Seen as the pinnacle point in the east of the country, this glorious landscape stretches out from the scenic southeast corner of Ireland. Offering a myriad of things to do, there’s something here for all the family. Visit Johnstown Castle, take a tour of the haunted house at Loftus Hall, take gardening lessons, fire some arrows with archery lessons or go diving with the sub-aqua club. No visit is complete without a visit to Hook Lighthouse with over 800 years of light keeping. It’s still fully operational today!
We’re spoiled for choice here, so what are you waiting for? You can see more posts on Ireland here and if you like this post, don’t forget to pin it!