View MapView Map
HomeHow to explore the Shanno ...
How to explore the Shannon Estuary Way
Get to know the scenic Shannon Estuary Way.
Winding through counties Clare, Limerick and Kerry, the Shannon Estuary Way covers 207km of some of the most historic sites and beautiful natural landscapes along the Wild Atlantic Way. Whether you’re wandering polished manors and gardens or spotting dolphins along the shores of the River Shannon, a day (or two) spent along the Way is full of surprising discoveries.

Here are some must-see spots to add to your itinerary along this scenic route.

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12.
1Stock up on treats in Limerick city

At the very root of the Shannon Estuary Way lies busy Limerick city, with a slew of historic landmarks and a thriving food scene. Visit the medieval structure of King John’s Castle and see how you would’ve fared at the once popular courtyard games of its time.  

You’ll need some snacks for the rest of your journey, so if you’re starting your venture on a Friday or over the weekend, squeeze in a visit to the famous Milk Market on Cornmarket Row and pick up some goodies.  

People trying foods in the Milk Market in Limerick city
Treat yourself to local flavours at the Milk Market.
2Go back in time in Bunratty

Make your first pitstop in Bunratty village and check out Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, one of the country’s most well-known landmarks. Built on land that was originally a Viking trading camp in the 10th century, admire the restored castle before getting involved with the actors and musicians re-enacting everyday life in the 1900s in the adjacent Folk Park.  

Bunratty Castle in County Clare
Roam the former Viking trading camp at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
3Get a hole-in-one in Shannon

Named after the river itself, Shannon town only came to be in the 1960s to accommodate the workers of Shannon Airport nearby. Now, the town boasts a range of activities for those passing through. Bring along your golf clubs and tee off at the championship golf course at Shannon Golf Club. Or, if you’ve ever dreamt of becoming a pilot, visit the Shannon Aviation Museum on Link Road and take a virtual flying lesson.  

4Taste local flavours in Ennis

Reach Ennis, the capital of Clare, and immerse yourself in 6,000 years of the town’s history. Just 4km from the heart of the town lies Clare Abbey. Marvel at the monastery’s remains, from the 12th century main church structure to the 15th century chapels and towers. 

If your visit happens to fall on a Friday, check out the Ennis Farmer’s Market at Roslevan Shopping Centre to shop local and organic produce and delicious baked goods.   

Two women shopping in Ennis, County Clare
Enjoy the shopping scene in Ennis.

Just down the road in Ballynacally, visit Shannon Estuary Way Retreat, an environmentally conscious well-being centre where you can cleanse your entire body in their outdoor sauna, cool off in the ice bath and feast on a delicious, organic meal.

5Find inner peace in Kildysart

Take a relaxing break in Kildysart and head over to Retreat Yourself to join in on a SUP-ing or kayaking lesson. Once you’ve found your inner peace on the water, take it back to the shore for a yoga lesson.

6Hit the hay in Labasheeda

Close out a busy day of travel with a night of peaceful relaxation. Rest up by an open fire in one of the Shannon View Farmhouse’s range of rooms, from a suite in the main farmhouse to the cosy outhouse conversion. Or opt for a night of glamping at Beds of Silk, also based in Labasheeda village.

Chill out in one of their six luxury huts, which are all decked out with their own private bathrooms, kitchenettes, BBQs and more. If it’s available, sink into a hot seaweed bath in the most exclusive room on the grounds. 

In the morning, stop by Charm Bee pottery shop and café for a caffeine hit and if you fancy, you can even craft your own piece of pottery to keep as a souvenir.

7Sail the waves in Kilrush

Pay a visit to Kilrush, a great coastal spot with a range of water activities on offer. Visit West Coast RIB Adventures and hold on tight while soaking up views of hidden coves, sea stacks and panoramic views of Scattery Island on one of their guided boat tours. You might even spot the estuary’s resident group of bottlenose dolphins amongst the waves.

Scattery Island in County Clare
Enjoy panoramic views of Scattery Island.

Take a closer look at Scattery Island with Scattery Island Tours. Following an expert tour guide, learn about the supposed ancient burial place of St Senan, admire the island’s six church ruins and look out for the birdlife that call Scattery Island home.

Back on the mainland, Vandeleur Walled Gardens, with its old stone walls, 170-hectares of beautiful woodland and Victorian-style glasshouse, serves as a central hub for the area’s history. Have a go of the interactive audio-visual experience and learn the story of Kilrush, or browse the local artwork and artisan jewellery on sale in the gift shop before grabbing a bite to eat in the Woodland Bistro.

Aerial view of the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush, County Clare
Take a relaxing stroll around the extensive Vandeleur Walled Gardens.
8Attend a mock trial in Tarbert

Continue your adventure along the Shannon Estuary Way with a quick 20-minute trip across the river with Shannon Ferries from Killimer to Tarbert.

If you’re a fan of crime and courtroom dramas, stop off in Tarbert and pay a visit to Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse and Jail Museum. Witness a live re-enactment of a court case from the 1830s, explore the actual jail cells once inhabited by the accused and learn a fact or two about early 19th century Irish law. 

Exterior view of Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse and Jail in Tarbert, County Kerry
Get insight into 19th century Irish law at Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse and Jail Museum.
9Live like a knight in Glin

Known for its ties to ancient knights, Glin town sits right on the shoreline of the River Shannon and still hosts elements from its Anglo-Norman history. Follow in the footsteps of knights gone by on the Glin Heritage Trails – Knight’s Walk, which covers everything from the Glin Demesne to Glin Castle. 

A man on the Glin Heritage Trail - Knight's Walk in County Limerick
Soak up the beautiful views to be found on the Glin Heritage Trails - Knight's Walk.
10Spot a pod of dolphins in Foynes

Make your way to the seaport town of Foynes. If you’re looking for a bit of fresh air, wander along the Foynes Shannon Estuary Walk, which weaves through a number of scenic paths along the riverside – you may even spot a bottle-nosed dolphin or two.  

Another feather in the cap of Foynes is its Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, which stands on the town’s original terminal. Browse the maritime collection in the restored control tower, learn about the town’s significance in the aviation world between 1939 and 1945 and grab a bite in O’ Regan’s restaurant on-site before hitting the road. 

A boat in the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum in Foynes, Limerick.
Admire the vintage aircrafts on show at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum.
11Meander medieval sites in Askeaton

Once you’re back on track, you’ll find yourself in the town of Askeaton, which claims to be the oldest town in all of County Limerick. Learn about the town’s history at the 12th century settlement of Askeaton Castle, or visit the 14th century Franciscan Friary just north of the town centre, one of the most intact ruins of a medieval abbey in the country.  

12Walk on the wild side in Kilcornan

Before circling back to Limerick city, make one final stop in the small town of Kilcornan and get in touch with nature. Venture to Stonehall Wildlife Park and say hello to the variety of furry and feathered creatures that call it home, from adorable meerkats to formidable ostriches. Or lace up your hiking boots and delve into the depths of Curragh Chase Forest Park and admire the sky-scraping trees surrounding you.  

If you fancy a slight detour, drive a few kilometres south to Adare. The town is best known for beautiful Adare Manor, where you can book yourself in for a pampering session in the spa.  

Aerial view of Adare Manor in County Limerick
Pamper yourself with a chilled out day in Adare Manor.
Discover more of the Wild Atlantic Way

Continue your exploration of the west and discover all the fun there is to have on the Wild Atlantic Way.  

More to discover
The great outdoors7 great loop walks in Clare

As you trek through natural beauty with deserted beaches, villages and spectacular cliffs and seascapes, it’s easy to see why County Clare is a popular spot amongst avid walkers. Explore scenic trails from the tip of Loop Head Peninsula, north along the coast to Ballyvaughan and inland to Dromore.

Mail Icon SVG

Subscribe now to receive destination inspiration, travel tips, upcoming events and all the best things to do around Ireland.