Ireland is known as the Emerald Isles because it is famous for its beautiful, diverse and green landscapes. Ireland features dramatic coastlines with lovely beaches, historical ruins and mountains. Regarding outdoor activities in Ireland, there are loads – you can walk the cliffs, kitesurfing on the beach or even go on a whale-watching boat! Here are some of the best outdoor activities in Ireland.
The Wicklow Way
The Wicklow Way is a 131-kilometre long-distance trail that crosses the Wicklow Mountains. The trail runs from Marlay Park in Dublin through County Wicklow and ends in the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. The Wicklow Way combines easy accessibility with a wide variety of scenic experiences. This includes mountains, upland lakes, glacial valleys, fast-flowing mountain streams, forests and farmland.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are sea cliffs located at the southwestern edge of County Clare, Ireland. These are one of Ireland’s favourite visitor experiences: the cliffs tower over the rugged West Clare coast. The pathways are paved and safe, and you can view the famous Cliffs on Europe’s western frontier and enjoy the stunning vistas over the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands.
Killarney National Park
In the southwest of County Kerry is an expanse of rugged, mountainous country that sweeps down to the Lakes of Killarney. Stretching across 10,000 hectares lies Killarney National Park, with its combination of mountains, lakes, woodland and waterfalls. Twinned with Glacier National Park in Montana, USA, Killarney National Park has been designated as a biosphere reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for its work in conservation and research.
Wormhole on Inis Mor
The Wormhole, Poll na bPéist or The Serpents Lair – is one of the more unusual sights you’ll see on the Aran islands. It is located on the west side of Inis Mór Island, about 1.6 km south of the famous cliff fort of Dún Aonghasa. The almost perfect rectangular shape of this natural tidal pool was formed naturally in the limestone rock that dominates the landscape of the islands and the nearby Burren. This peculiar rock formation features underwater channels that connect to the sea.
Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland. It is on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, close to the centre of Ireland’s highest mountain range, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. The MacGillycuddy Reeks of Kerry are Ireland’s highest mountains and include the only three peaks in Ireland over 1000 metres, Corrán Tuathail at a lofty 1039 metres, Binn Chaorach at 1010mtrs and Caher standing at 1001 metres.
Kitesurfing in Sligo
Rosses Point is one of the closest beaches to Sligo Town for kitesurfing. The beach is accessible year-round. You could do some lessons where the instructor will introduce you to the sport and teach you various safety rules and skills on the land before going to the water.
The Stairway to Heaven
Cuilcagh is a mountain on the border between County Fermanagh and County Cavan. With a height of 666 metres, it is the highest point in both counties. A steep climb is required to reach the viewing platform, which provides breathtaking views. The first part of the walk passes through a limestone landscape, continuing along the gravel vehicle track. The landscape starts to change to a blanket bog where the flat-topped ridge of Cuilcagh Mountain is visible on the horizon.
The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns resulting from an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the north coast of Northern Ireland. The Giant’s Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau. The dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland located northwest of Connemara in County Galway. Connemara National Park covers 2,000 hectares of scenic mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. Some of the National Park’s mountains, namely Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range.
Benbulben is sometimes referred to as Ireland’s own Table Mountain. The trail begins in a forest area before opening out to provide close-up views of Benbulben’s head. Later in the walk, panoramic views of Donegal Bay are also available, with the mountains of Donegal, including Slieve Liag, highly prominent, as well as Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle.
Whale Watching in West Cork
West Cork, on the Irish south coast, attracts minke, fin, and humpback whales to feed in its waters every year. You can take a trip on a purpose-built whale-watching vessel. Every spring, minke whales, Ireland’s smallest baleen whales, return to the West Cork coast to feed.