Here are ten outdoor experiences in Ireland that everyone should try at least once.
The Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park takes in the rugged Nephin Beg mountain range, wild bogland and a coastline with views across to Achill Island. Its looped walks range from forest strolls to mountain hikes, or you can take the Claggan Mountain Boardwalk to see where the bog meets the sea.
As a Dark Sky Reserve, this place gets even better after sunset. The lack of light pollution means that you’ll see the stars and the night sky as you’ve never seen them before.
You don’t have to be a seasoned mountaineer to climb this iconic peak in Gweedore, but you’ll feel like you’ve just climbed Everest when you get to the top. It’s a moderately challenging hike, but the views of the Poisoned Glen, Altan Lake and the Derryveagh Mountains are worth every bead of sweat.
It’s tradition to traverse the narrow path from the summit to the second peak, but it’s not essential if you don’t have a head for heights.
There’s nothing quite like skimming across the surface of a lake on a kayak to make you feel at one with nature. They say that there’s a lake for every day of the year in Cavan so why not head there and hit the water with Rural Adventure Tours.
Their exciting kayak tours include a journey out to Clough Oughter Castle, a mysterious ruined castle on a tiny island in the middle of Lough Oughter.
There’s something otherworldly about the Burren’s karst landscape that makes it unlike anywhere else in Ireland. Its unique limestone formations mean that it can support rare plants and flowers that are never usually found in this part of the world.
Take a walking tour and see some rare wildflowers with your guide and get a deeper appreciation of what makes this place so unique.
Aside from its beauty, what’s remarkable about Cavan Burren Park is that it remains relatively unchanged from prehistoric times. So you can see fossils embedded in the rocky landscape and find large rocks that were left in strange places by melting glaciers.
The park’s walking trails showcase the region’s ancient tombs, unusual geologic features and stunning views, so it’s a hiker’s paradise.
If you’ve always wanted to see a dolphin in its natural habitat, you need to go to where the Shannon meets the Atlantic Ocean at Carrigaholt in Co Clare. This area is home to around 200 bottlenose dolphins, and the dolphin encounter rate is among the best in the world.
A dolphin-watching tour with Dolphinwatch is a chance to get up close to these extraordinarily intelligent creatures as they swim, jump and play in the water beside you.
One of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, Fanad Lighthouse has been guarding the mouth of Lough Swilly for over 200 years. This photogenic lighthouse was voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, and a visit here should be on everyone’s bucket list.
A journey to this corner of Donegal is also a great excuse to explore the area’s other charms, which include seemingly endless beaches, towering sea cliffs and breathtaking coastal views.
Covering 480km and passing through the counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan, the entire Kingfisher Trail might seem a bit daunting.
However, there are also shorter sections to try if you want to ease yourself into it. The figure-of-eight route takes in lakelands, canalside tracks, laneways, rolling hills and mountain climbs so it gives you a real flavour of each county as you cycle through it.
Ireland may be famous for its beaches but not many beaches that can compare to Curracloe Beach in Co Wexford. This epic beach is 28km long, running continuously from Cahore Point to the mouth of the River Slaney.
Famously used as a location for the movie Saving Private Ryan, there are dozens of entry points to the golden sand beach, and its sheer size ensures that you’ll always be able to find a quiet spot for yourself.
What makes Clara Bog stand out is that it’s one of Ireland’s most famous raised bogs and a haven for rare plants, birds and wildlife. It’s easy to get around the bog on the raised boardwalk and enjoy a looped walk of this exceptional habitat.
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for snipe, curlews, lizards and otters and its other shy inhabitants on your visit.
The scenery in Ireland is second to none. Get out there and explore the natural wonders of our incredible island, starting with these ten unmissable outdoor experiences.