Here’s our list of the top nature and wildlife experiences in Ireland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover a slice of Irish history at the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With so many options available across the breadth of the country, there’s no better time to go out in nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of Ireland’s flora, fauna and unique landscapes than today.