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11 incredible Irish summer holidays in 2021
Climb staggering sea cliffs this summer.
Take a leisurely cruise, go mud surfing or experience an energetic trad session. Travel writers are always raving about Ireland and you won’t be short of stunning experiences on our incredible island.

Whether you’re looking for relaxing days by the beach or lively city breaks, now is the time to book a memorable summer holiday.

1Island retreats

Set sail on the ferry from Dunquin Pier in Kerry and admire the epic scenery as you travel towards Great Blasket Island. Spend the day on the looped walks and watch the seals on Trá Bán. Settle in for the night in a cosy cottage and wake up to the sound of the ocean.

Further up the coast are the Aran Islands, just off Galway Bay. On Inishmore (Inis Mór), see the magnificent Dún Aonghasa, visit John Millington Synge's Cottage and Museum on Inishmaan (Inis Meáin), and experience the strong community spirit on Inisheer (Inis Oírr).

Or journey to Mayo and marvel at the raw landscape of Achill Island. Splash in the sea at Keem Bay or rent a bike and explore the quiet country roads. Feel the salty air hit your lips on the Dooagh Loop Walk, conquer the Croaghaun sea cliffs, and learn all about this fascinating island at the Achill Experience and Aquarium.

People swimming at Keem Bay, Achill Island, Mayo
Take a dip at Keem Bay on Achill Island.
2Camping and glamping

Tuck yourself into a secluded yurt with a night of luxury camping at Portsalon Glamping in Donegal. Enjoy an evening toasting marshmallows and snuggling up by the fire pit.

Visit Connemara and discover Clifden Eco Camping. Make it a holiday to remember with Atlantic views and a private beach sporting golden sand dunes. With crystal-clear bathing waters nearby, this is a great place for all kinds of sea borne activities.

Head to the midlands for a lakeside retreat at Cabu by the Lakes deep within the woodlands of Killykeen Forest Park. Check into cabins or boathouses perfect for family fun, romantic breaks, or solo adventurers.

Travel to Leitrim and book into Beirnes of Battlebridge. The craic is always great at the award-winning pub on-site or if you’d rather a more intimate experience, spend a quiet night camping on the banks of the River Shannon.

Escape to another world entirely with a break in the Blackstairs Mountains. Take the foraging workshop and stay overnight at Blackstairs Ecotrails Shepherds Huts. A short walk from your hut, you’ll find the communal barn with a library, fully equipped kitchen and comfy loft area to enjoy the incredible scenery.

Red campervan on Garretstown Beach, Co Cork
Spend a night camping in Ireland this summer.
3River cruises and barge trips

If you’re looking for a relaxed day out on the water, consider booking a Canal Boat Tour from Kildare to Dublin. Cruise over the Leinster Aqueduct and see the 250-year-old canal lock that still works today.

Further west in Leitrim, weave down the Shannon and Erne waterways with Carrickcraft. Stop at one of the picturesque villages on the river banks, cycle around the quiet country roads and break for a scenic picnic.

People on board a barge getting ready to set sail in Sallins, Kildare
Take a wonderful barge trip.
4Vibrant city breaks

Discover colourful city scenes in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny, Galway and Dublin. Book a Cork Fab Food Trail and meet the producers behind some of the country’s best artisan goods. From stargazing to climbing towers, discover all there is to do in Cork City.

Plan a break in Limerick City. Tour King John’s Castle and experience the hustle and bustle of the Milk Market with a stroll down Cornmarket Row.

In Waterford City, live as a Viking warrior for a day at the King of the Vikings VR experience and walk around the winding streets of the oldest city in Ireland.

Journey to Kilkenny and get an insight into the city’s rich history at the Medieval Mile Museum. Walk around the glorious rose garden at Kilkenny Castle and later, enjoy the buzzing nightlife with great restaurants and welcoming pubs.

For history buffs, a lively walking tour of Dublin with expert local guides is a must, or shop until you drop on Grafton and Henry Street. From scenic parks to top-class theatre and welcoming restaurants, there's plenty to love in our capital city.

When in Galway City, spend an evening on Quay Street. Listen as the tunes of local buskers carry on the fresh sea breeze, drop into Taaffes Bar for an epic trad session and feast on fish and chips from McDonagh’s with a seat in Spanish Arch.

A street with brightly painted buildings, greenery and bunting in Galway City, Galway
Spend a few days in Galway.
5Travel the Ring of Kerry

Get behind the wheel and take an epic road trip on the Ring of Kerry. Drive around the circuit of the Kerry coastline and spend a few days in the heart of the Iveragh Peninsula. Stop off in the Gap of Dunloe, see dinosaur footprints on Valentia Island and walk along the golden sand of beautiful Derrynane Beach – you’ll never want to leave.

A boat gliding by a golden beach and rocky coves in the distance
Discover the spectacular Ring of Kerry.
6Walk on the wild side

Explore the countryside with the lush Irish landscape as your backdrop. Experienced walkers should plan to take on The Wicklow Way. The six-day trek goes by remote lakes and mountains, but a public road is never too far away.

A person dressed in hiking gear walking down a country laneway lined with trees
Challenge yourself to walk the Wicklow Way.

Travel to the spectacular Suck Valley in Roscommon, part of the Beara Breifne Way. Discover the 105km looped walk which crosses the border into Galway and follows river valleys, bogs, and side roads, or plan to take on one of the shorter sections, taking you from one quaint village to the next.

Or test your mettle and walk the entire length of the 700 km historic Beara Breifne Way from Cork to Cavan. Order a special passport and collect stamps at each completed section; a fitting souvenir of the 14-day hike across the spectacular Beara Peninsula, the banks of the River Shannon and the picturesque lakelands of Leitrim and Roscommon.

Discover the Slieve Bloom Way in Offaly. The 75km waymarked trail starts and ends at the Glenbarrow trailhead in Laois. Trek through scenic foothills and enchanting forests, making your way into Offaly. You can tackle this hike in three days or choose a smaller section by starting in the village of Kinnitty.

For shorter walks to suit the little ones, visit the Rock of Dunamase in Laois. It’s a popular place for family strolls and the views from the summit are magnificent. Take a short spin to Emo Court after and explore the woodland walking trails. Feed the ducks at the lake and let the kids play in the gardens.

People taking photos with a backdrop of gardens and woodland in Emo Court
Explore the gorgeous gardens at Emo Court.
7Cycle away

Bring your bike or rent some wheels to travel on Ireland’s gorgeous greenways. Keen cyclists love winding around the Comeragh Mountains and following the Waterford Greenway with its great views of the River Suir.

See the Nephin Beg Mountains and majestic Clew Bay on Mayo’s Great Western Greenway. Prop your bike aside for a warm meal and visit Newport Harbour, renowned for its superb fishing.

Cycle the railway line on the Limerick Greenway. This 19th-century line follows much of the Limerick to Tralee route and takes in views of rich green fields, stone bridges, and ancient historical ruins.

A cyclist admiring the incredible coastal views on the Waterford Greenway
Marvel at the amazing scenery.
8Romantic castle nights

Live like royalty with a luxury overnight stay in one of Ireland’s luxurious castles. Visit magical Waterford Castle on a private island, starting with a ferry ride to the hotel. Play a round of golf on their scenic course and if you really want to treat yourself, book into one of the five impressive suites.

Further north is the splendid Castle Leslie Estate in Monaghan. Unplug and unwind in the castle rooms free from distraction and get cosy by the open hearth. Enjoy a screening in the private cinema room or book a relaxing massage in the Victorian Treatment Rooms.

Bask in panoramic views at Ballynahinch Castle in Galway. This 700-acre estate has looped walking trails and magnificent riverside suites with king-sized four-poster beds. Plan a hike to nearby Diamond Hill and soak up the stunning Connemara scenery with glass like lakes and majestic mountains.

A castle reflected in a lake with a backdrop of mountains in Connemara, Galway
Stay in a castle for a night.
9Beach breaks

Pack a picnic and plenty of sun cream for days on the beach. Perfect for family holidays or those who want to try the surf, a trip to Brittas Bay in Wicklow is worth adding to your list.

The sheltered cove of Dunmore East in Waterford is also a local favourite. Snorkel, swim and explore the hidden coves and sea caves.

Make your way to the expansive strand of Inchydoney in Cork where the nearby Lodge and Spa has easy access to the beach. Popular with windsurfers and bathers, float in the sea or take a brisk stroll.

Further north is Enniscrone Beach, one of Sligo’s finest strands. After a walk on the beach backed by glorious sand dunes, enjoy a long soak in one of the nearby seaweed baths.

A view of the golden beach and blue waters of Inchydoney Beach
Marvel at Cork's spectacular coastline.
10Lighthouse life

Built in 1806 by the Marquis of Sligo, Clare Island Lighthouse is the most northerly point of the island. Stay overnight and experience an evening to remember in this historic, adults-only accommodation. With incredible island views and historical landmarks, don’t forget to bring your camera on a visit to Clare Island.

You can also book a break in Fanad Lighthouse’s charming cottages at the tip of Donegal. With views of Lough Swilly, serve up a barbeque on the patio or warm up by the fire as the wind blows from outside.

On the south-east coast, find Wicklow Head Lighthouse which has been safeguarding the coast since 1781. It sleeps four, it’s dog-friendly, and there’s 109 steps to the kitchen where the views are simply breathtaking – a night here is a once in a lifetime experience.

Two people taking photos of Fanad Head Lighthouse
Wake up to the sound of the ocean.
11Active family breaks

If you want an active break away, book into the Killary Adventure Centre in Connemara. Take part in cool activities like laser combat, water skiing and cliff jumps and stay overnight in their hostel or family accommodation.

The Eclipse Activity and Adventure Centre in Kerry has self-catering cottages and fun activities like bog runs, mud surfing and fly fishing. This 90-acre estate boasts incredible views of the MacGillycuddy Reeks mountains.

For a more lavish short break, the Delphi Resort with its outdoor adventure centre has not only 300 acres of land but also an onsite bar, restaurant, and luxury spa. Plan an overnight stay in their comfortable four-star accommodation.

If camping is more your style, head to Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in Roscommon. Kids love the canopy tree trail and thrilling ziplines while families can team up for the Boda Borg challenge.

Travel to Louth and discover epic outdoor activities at the Carlingford Adventure Centre. Challenge yourself to the high ropes course, bounce on the water trampoline or go canoeing on Carlingford Lough. Later, book into the on-site hostel or check out one of the self-catering style holiday homes.

People wearing safety gear walking across ropes at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Roscommon
Get your adrenalin pumping at Lough Key.
Plan your summer holiday

Take your pick from these amazing experiences across Ireland and start planning your big summer holiday in 2021. Check out our great Irish bucket list and get even more inspiration for your next staycation.

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