Watch autumn leaves change colour
Visit our spectacular National Parks and find a stunning viewpoint to watch forests and landscapes change colour. Here’s some of the best places in Ireland to see the autumn leaves in shades of glorious rust and burnt orange.
Bright green leaves fade and fall to the forest floor, revealing the white bark of the silver birch trees in Connemara National Park. This amazing corner of Galway is an ideal spot for native trees to flourish. Admire towering sessile oak, majestic sycamore and delicate wych elm and discover how these magnificent trees prepare for winter by shedding their leaves.
The vast and open boglands of Mayo’s Wild Nephin National Park morph from rich and lush greens to an incredible medley of purples, oranges, and yellows. Walk along the raised boardwalk and soak up incredible views. Stay until night falls and gaze up at the velvety sky as twinkling stars appear before you.
Hop on your bike or take a short stroll from the city centre to one of Europe’s largest urban parks and discover over 350 different varieties of plants. Make your way to the wooded pastures near the Ashtown and Castleknock Gates in Phoenix Park to marvel at fine examples of lime, ash and chestnut trees turning all shades of the colourful autumn spectrum.
Gaze up at the Northern Lights in Donegal
As autumn arrives, nature lovers head to remote parts of Donegal to see the night sky dance as the Northern Lights reach down from the Arctic Circle. The sun at this time of year makes atoms in the sky change state and fills the sky with incredible purples, greens, and blues.
As Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head is the best place for stargazers to come and experience the Northern Lights. Make your way over to Caffe Banba the following morning and revive yourself with a coffee at the very tip of Donegal.
Explore rugged Fanad Head, stopping to take in views of striking Fanad Head Lighthouse before waiting for night to fall, when the skies light up in spectacular shades. Meet lightkeepers during the guided tour and ask them all about the aurora borealis in Donegal.
Sail to peaceful Tory Island off the north west coast of Donegal and enjoy the Northern Lights without any light pollution. This beautiful island has a rich history of saints and Viking raids. Time your trip for early autumn and look out for the striking white and black feathers of razorbills hunting for fish out at sea.
Watch whales and deer in the wild
During the autumn months in Ireland our wildlife flourishes, making it the best time of year to see some of the majestic animals that call Ireland home.
Walking through dense forests and spotting glimpses of wild deer is such an incredible experience. These powerful animals gracefully glide through the woods, proudly looking over the land. Travel to Kerry where herds of deer roam high in Killarney National Park and stroll through the gorgeous open woodland in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
Visit the coastline of Cork and Kerry and book in for an unforgettable whale watching experience. This is the ideal time of year to spot fin, minke and even humpback whales on a tour with Union Hall’s Cork Whale Watch and Kerry’s Blasket Islands Eco Marine and Whale Watching Tours.
Enjoy seasonal autumnal cuisine
As autumn arrives in Ireland, it brings with it some of our finest homegrown ingredients, inspiring chefs around the country to create seasonal dishes and memorable menus.
Harvesting fresh seafood from the Wexford coast, the team at La Côte serve contemporary cuisine that changes with the seasons. The renowned restaurant in Wexford Town has an unmissable tasting menu of trout caviar, grilled lemon sole and blue cheese panna cotta, or grab something to go from their food truck, The Cheeky Cod.
Discover one of the most popular restaurants in the midlands at Tullamore’s The Blue Apron Restaurant. Inspired by his Turkish routes, Chef Kenan has embraced Irish cuisine and crafted dishes of succulent slow roasted pork, Imam Bayildi and fresh hake fillet. Book in for a meal and you’ll soon see why the reviews are so good.
Having worked in multi award winning restaurants, Conor and Charlotte, the owners of The Courthouse Restaurant in Carrickmacross, have since opened their own renowned eatery. Their creative menu is based on seasonal ingredients, it features favourite dishes of beef and fish paired with autumnal veggies like courgette, cauliflower, and parsnips. Book your table well in advance and don’t miss out on the midweek deals.
Snap the perfect autumn photo
Capture your favourite moments of autumn and enjoy a photography workshop with the pros. Photographers love this time of year, snapping amazing landscape photos and taking advantage of the striking weather.
Visit the rugged coast of Sligo and learn how to improve your landscape and seascape photography from one of the top photographers in the country at Gareth McCormack Photography. Gareth leads workshops over the weekends in Enniscrone or reserve your spot on a weeklong tour of the northwest, photographing the region in its autumnal glory.
Explore the best of County Kerry with your camera, photographing the beautiful scenery of Dingle Peninsula and Killarney National Park. The experts at Dingle Darkroom talk you through all the technical aspects including how to frame an image perfectly, shoot awe inspiring sunsets and master all your camera’s settings.
Escape to an idyllic forest retreat
Cabu by the Lakes, Cavan
Imagine waking up to birdsong in a remote forest cabin in scenic Cavan, opening the curtains to reveal a light fog lift from a scenic lake. Head outside to stroll along a carpet of golden leaves as squirrels scamper past, stocking up for winter. That’s the type of morning that makes Cabu by the Lakes one of the best places to experience autumn in Ireland.
Put another log on the fire and cosy up with a good book, or paddle across the lakes in a kayak and bask in the tranquil, serene atmosphere. After, take time to explore the enchanting woods of Killykeen Forest Park, where Cabu is based. End the day with a hearty meal and craft beer or mocktail and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
Escape to Mount Falcon Estate with your nearest and dearest for an unforgettable getaway in County Mayo. Snuggle up in a luxurious woodland cabin on the grounds of the 100-acre estate and watch the seasons change outside your window.
Feel the rush of the autumn air on the bike trails beyond the cabin, or hear the leaves crunch beneath your feet on the Woodlands Hawk Walk as you stroll through the private woods with a trained hawk on your hand.
Plan a birdwatching getaway
Autumn gives us all a chance to catch glimpses of the powerful and beautiful birds of prey that patrol our skies. It’s the prime migrating time for birds, so pack up your binoculars and a flask of tea and head for the outdoors.
One of the most successful wildlife reintroductions in recent times has seen the regal golden eagle nesting once again in Donegal’s Glenveagh National Park. Hike along the Lakeside Walk and watch birds fly over the mountain peaks and Glenveagh Castle. Keep your eyes peeled, these zippy predators can dive from the air at speeds over 200 km/h.
Nesting in small patches of the east coast, red kites are instantly recognisable thanks to their white heads, triangle shaped tails and red colouring. Swooping from great heights in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, they’re mainly scavengers, but have been known to hunt mice, voles and pigeons. Walk up to the slopes of Djouce Mountain on the raised boardwalks for a better chance of seeing them.
The wide open expanses of moorlands in East Clare make for ideal hunting grounds for hen harriers. Plan a visit to The Burren and spot these birds soaring through the sky, surveying all below before quickly closing in on their prey. During breeding season, the males try to impress the females by performing a ‘sky dance’.
Watch the stately birds fly high in the sky before turning and plummeting towards the ground in a series of magnificent twists and turns, it’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss.
Autumn is a truly special time to get outdoors in Ireland when the landscape and wildlife are stunningly vibrant. Get even more great ideas for your autumn holiday on our Nature and Wildlife page.