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Cruise holidays and boat trips: 10 fun water adventures
Plan an incredible cruising holiday. / Go cruising on the River Shannon.
Cruise holidays on the River Shannon, energetic sailing camps in Carlingford, sea safaris in West Cork and barge trips along Kildare’s ancient canals, it’s time to explore Ireland by water.

Read on for 10 incredible trips on the water.

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1Cruise holidays on the River Shannon

A cruise along the River Shannon is a wonderful way to see the natural beauty of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Head south from Carrick on Shannon to Banagher on a Carrickcraft cruiser, stopping off for a scenic forest picnic or a visit to one of the world's most famous monastic sites, Clonmacnoise in Offaly.

Check out Silver Line Cruisers for a journey along Lough Ree and Lough Derg. Hop on board in Banagher and discover the delights of your fully-fitted boat. Choose a cruiser that suits your group and enjoy a short break or two-week holiday, exploring pretty towns and villages along the way.

If you’re after a luxury break, hire the Royal Mustique A from Emerald Star for your Shannon cruise and sail in style. Emerald Star is part of Le Boat, a company that provides epic boating canals across Europe and Canada. 

Want to travel north instead? Check out the Shannon-Erne Waterway with Lough Ree Cruisers, sailing through old world canals and the gently winding Woodford River to Lough Erne.

Boats on the River Shannon on a clear day with a mountain in the background
Plan a bucket list holiday on the River Shannon.

2Short sailings on the Shannon

Sit back and relax as the crew leads the way on a skippered Shannon cruise. Plan an evening trip with Moon River Cruises for a night out with a difference. The one-hour round trip from Carrick on Shannon shows you ancient sights and spectacular scenery. Enjoy live music and a tipple or two from the bar, as you take in the stunning views from the comfy, fully heated cruiser.

For a special occasion, a staycation on the Shannon Princess is sure to impress. Dine in the spacious saloon with panoramic views and the sunsets from the rooftop deck are unforgettable. Enjoy five-star service and delicious food as you travel from Athlone to Killaloe, stopping off at Birr Castle Demesne, picturesque Portumna and Galway City.

From Athlone, discover Barracuda Boat Trips, cruise to Clonmacnoise or plan a one-hour trip to the lakes of Lough Ree. Book in for an evening dining cruise, chill out on a relaxing fishing trip or choose the power boat experience and embrace the major adrenalin rush.  

Headstones and a tower at Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly
Travel back in time at Clonmacnoise.
3Amazing barge trips

Experience Ireland’s waterways at your own pace on a leisurely barge trip. 

With a skipper as your guide, enjoy a canal boat tour from Sallins in Kildare with Highlights include a stop on top of the impressive Leinster Aqueduct that carries the Grand Canal over the River Liffey. The cruises are exclusive to your group and it’s a unique trip to experience with family or friends.

Three people onboard a barge with a backdrop of green fields and trees
Book a barge trip with friends.
4Dublin Bay Cruises

Take a trip out to Ireland’s Eye, leaving from the fishing village of Howth on Dublin’s north coast with Ireland’s Eye Ferries, stopping off to explore the picturesque island for an hour or two.

Book in with Dublin Bay Cruises and choose from five sailings a day between Dublin city centre, Dún Laoghaire and Howth. Enjoy a 75-minute trip that’s packed with interesting landmarks and marine life. There’s a bar on board too so you can warm up with a steaming coffee or kick back with a creamy pint to watch the sun set over Dublin Bay.

A woman sitting down looking out at the stunning views of Howth Head.
Soak up the stunning scenery.
5Watersports in Dublin’s Docklands

From April to October, try paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking or sailing at Surfdock Watersports in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dockyard, five minutes from the city centre. With kids camps, adult classes and group days out, you’re guaranteed great fun on the water as you explore the capital’s iconic sights.

A group of people stand-up paddleboarding in Grand Canal Dock, Dublin
Get out on the water in Dublin.
6Cruise of Clew Bay

From Westport in Mayo, explore spectacular Clew Bay with Westport Cruises. Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley, who features in many an Irish folklore tale, is thought to have once ruled these waters. Legend says that you’ll find 365 islands in Clew Bay, one for each day of the year, with Clare Island the largest of them all.

The journey brings you by the bay’s 400-strong seal colony as you gaze at panoramic views of Croagh Patrick. Keep an eye out for Dorinish Island, or Beatle Island as it’s better known, formerly owned by John Lennon. He had planned to build a house on the beautiful, tranquil island and later, retire there.

An aerial view of Clew Bay, Westport, Mayo
See the stunning islands of Clew Bay in Mayo.
7Scenic tour of Dingle Bay

Friendly seals, basking sharks, colourful puffins and graceful dolphins are just some of the wildlife to look out for on your Dingle boat trip with Dingle Dolphin Tours. Bask in breathtaking views of the rugged Kerry coast and breathe in the fresh sea air. Listen as a knowledgeable guide shares the fascinating history of local buildings including the old boatyard and hospital, and the famine towers.

A boat on the water with a backdrop of vast mountains in Dingle, Kerry
Admire the gorgeous views of Dingle Bay.
8Boat trips on Bantry Bay

Travel to pretty Glengarriff in Cork and get out on the water with Bantry Bay Charters. Bring the little ones on a marine tour to spot Atlantic Grey Seals, dolphins, and whales. Book in for a sunrise or sunset tour to watch the sky light up in stunning colours or choose the bespoke ‘Day on the Bay’ and create your perfect water adventure. Cruise down to Dursey Island, go snorkelling, and catch some fish for lunch with the help of the experienced team.

9Sea safari in Baltimore

Book in for a sea safari in Baltimore, Cork where you’ll spot all kinds of sea life. Look out for whales basking in the waters, dolphins prancing through the air and sea birds flying overhead. The coastal sightseeing tour with Baltimore Sea Safari is a great opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of this coastal village, ask your guide to tell you the story of the white-painted Baltimore Beacon that stands guard at the harbour.

Make sure you try out the onboard hydrophone for listening to the sounds of the sea, it’s bound to be a hit with the kids.

Two people sitting down looking at the West Cork coastline
Marvel at the spectacular scenery in Baltimore.
10Countrywide sailing camps

Brush up your skills or learn something totally new with a five-day sailing and windsurfing course at The Oysterhaven Centre in Cork. Approved by the Irish Sailing Association, you’ll come home from your holiday with a sailing certificate to show for your efforts. Popular with children from ages 11-17, this is the perfect summer activity for kids and teenagers who love the water.

Or head to scenic Oranmore in Galway, where Galway Bay Sailing Club hold courses of various lengths including energetic camps and weekend lessons. If you’re in the east coast, take a summer course at Carlingford Sail Training Centre and get to grips with the basics of sailing while enjoying mesmerising views of the lough and magnificent Slieve Foy.

A group of people sailing on Carlingford Lough, Carlingford
Sign up for a sailing summer camp.

From scenic boat trips to incredible cruise holidays, there’s so much to see and do on Ireland’s waterways. Discover our On the Water page now and get even more inspiration for your next staycation.

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