Outdoor activities on the island of Ireland
Take amazing landscapes, add in lots of adrenaline-fuelled activities and you've got yourself quite an adventure! Welcome to the great (and green) outdoors...
Ready for an adventure? The island of Ireland has got the lot. You can walk and hike through legendary landscapes such as the Mourne Mountains, cycle on majestic greenways, and make a splash in any number of water-based activities along breathtaking coastlines. And that's just for starters...
Adrenaline junkies can head straight for the likes of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in County Roscommon, where zip-lining through the forest and kayaking on the lake are top of the agenda. In Carlingford Adventure Centre in County Louth, laser combat, water trampoline, and frisbee disc golf are just some of the innovative thrills you can try out.
You can also go slow and enjoy a destination at your own pace. From boating around the Fermanagh Lakelands to exploring the otherworldly beauty of The Burren National Park in County Clare on foot, slow travel enthusiasts can take a step back and immerse themselves in Ireland's natural beauty.
Enjoying outdoor activities is a great way to travel sustainably, too. Forage for seaweed with The Sea Gardener in County Waterford and see a sheepdog in action on Glenshane County Farm in County Tyrone – just two of many uniquely Irish ways to get off the beaten track and reconnect with nature.
Take a walk on the wild side
Walking is the quickest and simplest way to venture outdoors in Ireland! And with mild weather and a richly varied landscape of beaches, bogs, and rolling green fields, it's the perfect way to get up close and personal with the island's famously beautiful environments.
In Northern Ireland, The Gobbins Cliff Path – a dramatic coastal walk through pathways and tubular bridges that hang above sea caves and lashing waves – is a must. The Giant’s Causeway Clifftop Experience is also a stunning way to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For more hardcore hikers, the Wicklow Way is a paradise of mountain trails. The ultimate challenge? That'll be the tallest mountain on the island of Ireland, Carrauntoohil, in Kerry's MacGillycuddy's Reeks. The Slieve Blooms in counties Laois and Offaly are a hidden gem – peaceful peaks rising from the island's central plains.
Take to the water!
With ocean waves, flowing rivers, and glistening lakes, the island of Ireland is a water wonderland. Make a splash by sea swimming at iconic locations such as the Forty Foot in County Dublin or the Blackrock Diving Tower in County Galway. The waters here are cool, clear and undeniably refreshing.
If water sports are more your thing, we've got you covered. Bundoran in County Donegal is known as Ireland's surf capital but Lahinch in County Clare isn't far behind. Both spots offer BIG Atlantic waves. Clew Bay in County Mayo is a popular place for windsurfing. Whereas kayaking and canoeing are best done on Ireland's lakes and waterways, such as Lough Derg in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands.
Like the water but don't like getting wet?! Cruise along the Shannon – the longest river on the island of Ireland – on a self-drive boating holiday to remember. Or rent a barge and glide along the Grand Canal to experience peace and tranquillity like never before.
On your bike
Bike lover? You're in for a two-wheeled treat in Ireland. Greenways, which are designed for cyclists, are the big draw here. The Great Western Greenway from lively Westport to Achill Island takes in majestic views on the west coast, while the Waterford Greenway runs from Waterford city to the seaside town of Dungarvan along the rugged Copper Coast.
For mountain biking, Rostrevor in County Down has off-road trails of varying difficulty, some with exhilarating single-track descents! Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails in County Limerick is also an exciting place to ride. Tear around 98km of forest trails, boardwalks, rocky sections, and tight bends.
A gentler cycling experience can be found with city bike schemes, such as dublinbikes and Belfast Bikes. It's a fun and handy way to see more of these historic cities. Simply hop on and off at whichever landmarks catch your eye!
5 great hidden gems
City Kayaking of Dublin City allows you to explore Dublin’s most famous river and take in its iconic city centre landmarks from a different angle. The Music Under the Bridges live music sessions are enhanced by the acoustics and atmosphere of the river. Tours are coordinated with the tides and suitable for all levels of experience.