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9 unmissable outdoor adventures
See the beauty of Wild Nephin National Park.
There’s nothing quite like escaping to the great outdoors, leaving the world behind and finding a fantastic location or experience that you can’t wait to tell your friends about. You might think that you know all the hotspots in Ireland, but there’s always a secret beach or a secluded waterfall that you’ve yet to visit.

Here are nine outdoor experiences in Ireland that everyone should try at least once.

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1Visit Ireland’s newest national park in Ballycroy, Co Mayo

The Wild Nephin National Park takes in the rugged Nephin Beg mountain range, wild bogland and a coastline with views across to Achill Island. Its looped walks range from forest strolls to mountain hikes, or you can take the Claggan Mountain Boardwalk to see where the bog meets the sea. 

As a Dark Sky Reserve, this place gets even better after sunset. The lack of light pollution means that you’ll see the stars and the night sky as you’ve never seen them before.

People walking through Wild Neohin National Park in County Mayo
Ramble the expansive grounds of Wild Nephin National Park.
2Climb Errigal in Co Donegal

You don’t have to be a seasoned mountaineer to climb this iconic peak in Gweedore, but you’ll feel like you’ve just climbed Everest when you get to the top. It’s a moderately challenging hike, but the views of the Poisoned Glen, Altan Lake and the Derryveagh Mountains are worth every bead of sweat. 

It’s tradition to traverse the narrow path from the summit to the second peak, but it’s not essential if you don’t have a head for heights.

Mount Errigal reflecting onto a lake with the moon in the sky
Admire majestic Errigal.
3Search for wildflowers in the Burren, Co Clare 

There’s something otherworldly about the Burren’s karst landscape that makes it unlike anywhere else in Ireland. Its unique limestone formations mean that it can support rare plants and flowers that are never usually found in this part of the world. 

Take a walking tour and see some rare wildflowers with your guide and get a deeper appreciation of what makes this place so unique.

The Burren in County Clare
Marvel at the unique limestone formations in the Burren.
4Take a hike in Cavan Burren Park

Aside from its beauty, what’s remarkable about Cavan Burren Park is that it remains relatively unchanged from prehistoric times. So you can see fossils embedded in the rocky landscape and find large rocks that were left in strange places by melting glaciers. 

The park’s walking trails showcase the region’s ancient tombs, unusual geologic features and stunning views, so it’s a hiker’s paradise.

A person walking their dog through Cavan Burren Park in County Cavan
Enjoy a relaxing walk through Cavan Burren Park.
5See the home of Europe’s largest group of bottlenose dolphins

If you’ve always wanted to see a dolphin in its natural habitat, you need to go to where the Shannon meets the Atlantic Ocean at Carrigaholt in Co Clare. This area is home to around 200 bottlenose dolphins, and the dolphin encounter rate is among the best in the world.

A dolphin-watching tour with Dolphinwatch is a chance to get up close to these extraordinarily intelligent creatures as they swim, jump and play in the water beside you.

Dolphinwatch Carrigaholt
6Visit Fanad Head Lighthouse, Co Donegal

One of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, Fanad Lighthouse has been guarding the mouth of Lough Swilly for over 200 years. This photogenic lighthouse was voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, and a visit here should be on everyone’s bucket list. 

A journey to this corner of Donegal is also a great excuse to explore the area’s other charms, which include seemingly endless beaches, towering sea cliffs and breathtaking coastal views. Discover the best beaches in Donegal with our detailed article dedicated to this glorious coastline.

Waves crashing against the rocks at Fanad Lighthouse
Visit Fanad Lighthouse in Donegal.
7Cycle the border counties on the Kingfisher Trail

Covering 480km and passing through the counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan, the entire Kingfisher Trail might seem a bit daunting. 

However, there are also shorter sections to try if you want to ease yourself into it. The figure-of-eight route takes in lakelands, canalside tracks, laneways, rolling hills and mountain climbs so it gives you a real flavour of each county as you cycle through it.

8Get active in Co Wicklow

There’s nothing quite like skimming across the surface of a lake on a kayak to make you feel at one with nature. You can practice your paddling skills at Alive Outside in Wicklow, but it's just a taste of the activities they offer.

You can channel your inner Robin Hood with some archery, go wild on the splashdown slide or test yourself on the same obstacle challenge confronted by the contestants on Ireland's Fittest Family. 

Enjoy the active outdoors in Co Wicklow.
Enjoy the active outdoors in Co Wicklow.
9Walk on Ireland’s longest beach

Ireland may be famous for its beaches but not many beaches that can compare to Curracloe Beach in Co Wexford. This epic beach is 28km long, running continuously from Cahore Point to the mouth of the River Slaney. 

Famously used as a location for the movie Saving Private Ryan, there are dozens of entry points to the golden sand beach, and its sheer size ensures that you’ll always be able to find a quiet spot for yourself.

Curracloe Beach in County Wexford
Stretch the legs on the sandy strands of Curracloe Beach.
Explore more of the great outdoors

Now is the time to get out there and explore the natural wonders of our incredible country. Check out more unmissable outdoor adventures in Ireland.

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