Things to do in Ireland combine sightseeing, exploring and a great deal of walking, as many of the ancient castles, great houses and natural wonders are set a good distance away from local transportation or roads. For an organized active trip tailored to families, kids or couples, there’s a great deal to choose from, including wild, adrenaline-rush pursuits or eco-tourist packages to areas of supreme natural beauty. Caving and rock-climbing are popular.
A leisurely game of golf on one of the many first-class courses is the choice of many visitors, along with sailing, river cruising, fishing and horse riding. The best way to see Ireland’s countryside and the lakes is on foot or by cycling, with glorious views opening out at every turn. For an amazingly different perspective, paragliding, hang-gliding and helicopter tours can be arranged.
Looking beyond the obvious is the secret for discovering the true beauty of Ireland, with the region known as the Burren, set in the north of County Clare and south Galway a unique place to start. Its amazing limestone formations, ecological diversity with alpine, tropical and arctic flora and extended walking trails make it a haven for eco-tourists who enjoy rambling. Burren Tours guides visitors around ancient ring forts, castles, tower houses and rugged coastlines.
The Irish Republic is a golfer’s paradise, with a chance to play golf on any number of world-renowned courses. Portmarnock Golf Club, located just outside Dublin on a peninsula, has a wonderful links surrounded by water on three sides. The strong winds from the Irish Sea offer a unique challenge even to experienced golfers, and stunning Lahinch Golf Club on the west coast has been popular for its greens for over 100 years.
Another magical way to explore the countryside is by cruising along the River Shannon, the longest waterway in Ireland. The river winds through beautiful scenery and past historic towns and villages. Dolphin-watching excursions along the Shannon Estuary are fun, and trips to the foot of the spectacular Cliffs of Moher give a new perspective to the breathtaking view. Silver Line Cruises can tell you more.
A love of horses is born in the Irish, and exploring the country on horseback is an unforgettable experience. Equestrian Holidays Ireland has riding centers all over, as well as guided tours, accommodation, horseback riding lessons, cross country treks and more. If you’d rather bet on a horse than ride it, there are no less than 25 race tracks where you can watch some of the world’s finest compete to place.
Caving and rock-climbing are increasingly popular adventure sports, with locations in County Clare’s Burren, County Cork’s Mitchelstown Caves and County Kerry’s Crag Cave offering varying levels of difficulty in their underground caverns. The climbing season runs from March to October and Outdoors Ireland can help set you up with mountaineering, rock climbing, caving, abseiling and orienteering courses or packages.
Seeing the sights by bike on a cycling tours through Connemara Adventure Tours is an enjoyable way to see the more traditional regions of the republic. Tours include weekend escapes and short breaks up to full eight-day routes. A gourmet option includes a nightly stop at an award-winning restaurant, with the next day’s cycling canceling out the excess calories.
Watery pursuits include scuba-diving to wrecks and stunning underwater rock formations. Above the surface, surfing take advantage of the strong winds and tides to give great wave breaks along the northwestern coastline. Scubadive West offers lessons and trips to the best dive sites in Ireland, while Seventh Wave Surf School introduces newcomers to the wild sport.