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10 world famous experiences to discover in Ireland
Visit beautiful Ballymastocker Beach.
From Clare’s magical coastal landscape to the hidden lakeside treks of Leitrim, see how you can do the very same things in Ireland as you would on an overseas holiday.

Don’t miss out because you’re not going abroad this year, here are ten unmissable Irish adventures to put on your list.

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1Stroll along one of the best beaches in the world

You don’t have to go to the Golden Cape of Zlatni Rat in Croatia to find expansive golden strands when there’s outstanding beaches at home in Ireland just waiting to be discovered.

Ballymastocker Bay in Donegal was voted the second-best beach in the world by Observer Magazine. Stop at the viewpoint for sensational panoramic vistas, a postcard perfect scene that’s quintessentially Irish.

Swim in the shimmering blue sea and bask in the breathtaking views of Lough Swilly and the Knockalla Hills. Trek across the golden sand dunes and top it off with a visit to the charming harbour town of Portsalon.

2See spectacular waves on the west coast
Surfer with a massive wave behind them in Sligo
See big breaks crashing at Mullaghmore Head.

Mullaghmore Head in Sligo is Ireland’s ultimate ‘Big Waves’ destination, where daredevil surfers come to catch giant breaks. The soaring waves at this scenic hotspot are the Irish equivalent of Nazaré in Portugal.

Experienced and professional surfers can take on the challenging crests but if you want to stay on dry land, it’s an amazing spectator sport.

Watch the dazzling ocean ebb and flow along the white strand and look out for lofty Benbulben (Benbulbin) in the distance. Find Prowlers 2km from Mullaghmore Head, where swells have reached record-breaking heights including a wave of 55m, that’s almost as high as the Rock of Cashel. Take a trip to see them in action and admire how the experts use jet skis to navigate the majestic waves.

3Experience the best diving in Europe

Did you know that one of the best diving spots in the world is in Ireland? Jacques Cousteau, the famous conservationist, naval officer, and ocean explorer, named Kilkee Bay in Clare as the best place in Europe for diving.

Dive into the clear blue waters Kilkee is famous for and marvel at the marine life as sunlight dances on the surface above you. Spot sea urchins, colourful shrimp, and vibrant coral as you pass through hidden caves and crevices.

Choose from beginner dives suitable for novices and daring routes aimed at advanced divers, the diving at Kilkee Bay is as good as you’ll get abroad.

4Come face to face with exotic animals
Giraffes walking across a field in Fota Island, Cork
Did you know that Ireland is home to exotic animals?

Stay close to home this summer and make amazing memories on a trip to Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.

Hear the kids squeal with excitement as they meet their favourite animals and plan your visit around feeding time which takes place twice daily. Go on a behind the scenes tour to learn from a knowledgeable warden or book in for the family experience.

Watch kangaroos hop from place to place, enjoy the playful antics of the Humboldt penguins, check out the Cheetah Run and see the noble lions. Jump onboard the Park Tour Train, don’t miss the giant giraffe slide, and make time to feed the ducks, they are VIP residents at Fota.

5Take a cruise on an incredible river

People often go abroad to experience cruises like the Canal du Midi in Southern France, forgetting about the epic boating holidays here at home. Hire a self-drive cruiser this summer and take a bucket list holiday on the longest river in Ireland, the River Shannon.

Start your cruise in the picturesque town of Banagher, journey north to see Athlone Castle and stop off in charming Glasson. Or begin your holiday in Portumna and head south towards the pretty village of Terryglass, known for its sensational sunsets. 

Experience Lough Derg, a haven of serenity, and soak up the stunning scenery with colourful marinas and remote islands along the way.

6See one of the world’s ancient wonders
Sunset behind Newgrange in County Meath
Find tombs older than The Pyramids here in Co. Meath.

People travel abroad to see the Great Pyramids of Giza and the standing stones of Stonehenge but Newgrange in Meath is older than both of these ancient wonders. Travel back in time and discover Ireland’s Stone Age history on a trip to Brú na Bóinne. The magnificent passage tomb dates back to the Neolithic period making this prehistoric site over 5,000 years old.

Go on a self-guided tour around the mysterious monuments, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Enjoy unbeatable views of the Boyne Valley and plan a return trip around the Winter Solstice in late December, when the sun directly passes through an opening in the roof and illuminates the passageways of the grand chamber.

7Go glamping in the heart of Ireland

France is always a popular place for camping holidays, but glamping is now a major travel trend and Teapot Lane in lovely Leitrim is the epitome of luxurious camping. Plan a romantic escape for two and stay in a treehouse tucked away in the woods. Get cosy by the wood burning fire, relax on the swing chair and stock up the wine fridge, there’s a reason why this spot gets stellar reviews time and time again.

For bigger groups, choose from cosy yurts, vintage caravans, and picturesque cottages. Embrace the great outdoors and explore the epic hikes and walks of this area including the Benbulben Forest Walk, a short drive from Teapot Lane.

If you're planning a family holiday, check out Battlebridge on the banks of the River Shannon, there's lots of open spaces for the kids to play and a children's playground on site.

8Check out an epic walking trail

The Camino de Santiago in Spain is a popular holiday destination for avid walkers but not everyone knows there’s incredible long-distance walking trails in Ireland too.

The Beara Breifne Way, a 500km route, runs from the Beara Peninsula in Cork to beautiful Blacklion in Cavan. Walk the Beara Breifne Way and follow in the footsteps of Cam Sullivan O’Beara, a chieftain who led his army on a 14-day march in 1603. Delight in the soothing peacefulness of this unspoiled region and admire its tranquil lakes and hidden trails.

Once you complete the way, order your Beara Breifne Way passport, a souvenir that captures your journey along this historical route.

Beara Way
9Climb to the top of a lighthouse
Calm waters near rocks and lighthouse on Hook Head
You don't have to go far to visit one of the best lighthouses in the world.

Wexford's Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world, similar in age to the Tower of Hercules in Spain, and according to Lonely Planet, it’s the “granddaddy of all lighthouses”.

Travel to Hook Head and look up in awe at the staggering height of the iconic black and white building, its light has acted as a guiding beacon for over 800 years. For an unforgettable experience, book in for the walking tour of the grounds and learn about the lighthouse’s rich history from a local guide.

Enjoy a magical start to your day with a coffee from the outdoor coffee dock and watch as the splendid rays of the sun take shape over the Atlantic Ocean, or relax by the sea with homemade cakes from the café.

10Discover one of Europe’s largest enclosed parks

Visitors to Amsterdam love the cycling paths of Vondelpark but Phoenix Park in Dublin is on another level entirely.

A tranquil oasis on the outskirts of energetic Dublin city, discover its glorious grounds where wild deer frolic in the green grass. Stop by the Wellington monument, the largest obelisk in Europe at 62 metres tall, and stare in awe at its staggering height.

Take a scenic stroll in the People’s Gardens and after, head over to Farmleigh House and grab a takeaway coffee from the Boathouse Restaurant overlooking the ornamental lake.

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Plan a special holiday at home to enjoy time with your nearest and dearest and for more inspiration for great trips in Ireland, check out our epic staycation guide.

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