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Find the top nature and wildlife experiences in Ireland
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As a small island nation, Ireland has an abundance of wildlife and is the proud home of the largest urban park in Europe – Phoenix Park. Escape to the wilderness, enjoy the exhilarating Copper Coastline or head to Lough Boora and Wexford Wildfowl Reserve for a spot of bird watching.

Here’s our list of the top nature and wildlife experiences in Ireland.

1National Parks and Wildlife Services

There are six National Parks in Ireland each with stunning terrains. Take a trip to the Burren National Park in County Clare and you’ll be in awe of the astonishing karst landscape or head to Killarney National Park in Kerry to see the mountains sweep down to the lake shores.

Head to Mayo’s Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park and discover 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog. Experience Wicklow Mountain’s 20,000 hectares of mountain scenery, rich in biodiversity and perfect for hikers.

Every part of Connemara National Park in Galway is graced with natural beauty. Heather covers the mountainsides and purple moor-grass dominate the terrain. Go further north and see Donegal’s Glenveagh National Park, described as heaven on earth with rugged mountains, lovely lakes and native oak woodland.

2Phoenix Park, Dublin

Europe’s largest urban park is in Dublin city and the Phoenix Park is home to the President of Ireland in Áras an Uachtaráin. Aside from its diverse flora of sweeping grasslands and towering native trees, the Phoenix Park also has large herds of fallow deer which are seen roaming the open expanses. Deer have called the park home since the 17th century. 

Open all year round, the park has sports fields, cycling and walking routes and Dublin Zoo which is one of the oldest zoos in the world.

3Shannon Callows, Co. Offaly

In Ireland’s midlands, north of Lough Derg and the River Shannon, is a shallow gradient which regularly floods its banks. This wet grassland is known as the Shannon Callows, an area renowned for its flocks of wild birds, feathered migratory visitors and biodiversity. 

One for bird lovers, this area has large concentrations of waders with lapwing, redshank, curlew, sandpiper and godwit living there.

4Cavan Burren Park
Explore the walking trails at Cavan Burren Park.

Geological and archaeological features are gently revealed in this beautiful open and natural space at Cavan Burren Park. Head to the Cavan Burren Park and experience the peacefulness, delightful birdsong and gorgeous views of Cavan.

There’s a visitor centre here with information on how the landscape was formed and stories of the history of this scenic area. After, take time to explore the park on one of the five marked walking trails.

5Lough Boora Discovery Park, Co. Offaly

Discover a slice of Irish history at Lough Boora Discovery Park. Take the Mesolithic Loop through lush wetlands and keep an eye out for the flocks of whooper swans, skylarks, hares and foxes. 

This serene trail hugs the shores of Lough Boora before crossing an old railway embankment and the eastern bank of the canal before reaching the Mesolithic site.

6The Wexford Slobs and Wildfowl Reserve

The internationally acclaimed Wexford Slobs and Wildfowl Reserve sees as much as 35% of the world’s population of Greenland white-fronted geese each winter, along with other species such as snow, bean and brent geese. A must for bird watchers, Iceland’s whooper swans also migrate here as well as Bewick’s swans from Siberia. 

Take a moment to enjoy nature up close as the delicate and musical calls of the birds float through the air as they bask in their natural environment.

7Saltee Islands, Co. Wexford
Visit Wexford and discover the coastal view of the Saltee Islands.

Just off the Wexford coast are the Saltee Islands of Great and Little Saltee, a haven for an impressive array of birds from gannets and gulls to puffins and Manx shearwaters. 5km off the coast of Kilmore Quay, the islands are an important stopping off place for thousands of migrating birds.

It’s not just birds that live here, the Great Saltee has a breeding population of grey seals, one of the very few in eastern Ireland. Up to 120 of the playful animals are here during autumn with up to 20 pups born every year. The Saltees are among the most ancient islands of Europe with the bedrock between 600 and 2,000 million years old.

8Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Stretching between Tramore and Dungarvan, this section of coast called the Copper Coast is an UNESCO Global Geopark. Its name comes from the 19th-century copper mines in the area and has 25km of spectacular coastline. 

Explore the scalloped beaches, coves and rugged headlands of this part of Waterford. This is an impressive natural landscape with its rocks weathered by the sea, volcanoes, deserts and ice sheets over the millennia.

9Dolphin Watch, Co. Clare

Set sail out onto the Atlantic Ocean at Carrigaholt and see Europe’s largest pod of bottlenose dolphins with Dolphin Watch. Hop aboard the passenger ship to spot these majestic creatures while the boat cruises across the ocean. 

There are roughly 200 dolphins living here at the mouth of the Shannon; children and adults love the thrill of seeing them up close as they play in the clear waters.

10Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours, Co. Cork
Go whale watching in West Cork.

Spend time at sea with Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours. These epic excursions out on the Atlantic take visitors out to some of the best places to spot whales and dolphins on Cork’s coast. Share the clear blue waters with breaching humpback whales, feeding fin whales and bow-riding dolphins as the boats chug alongside. You’ll definitely need your camera for this adventure.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of Ireland’s flora, fauna, and unique landscapes, starting with these enjoyable experiences. Our Things to Do page features more of the incredible wildlife and nature across Ireland, get out there and see these fascinating wonders for yourself.

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