Looking to get active on your Irish vacation? You’re in luck! Ireland’s dramatic landscape lends itself nicely to the pursuit of outdoor activities.
Ireland is a country of sheer mountains and cliffs set against rugged coastlines. When you combine this with largely unpopulated stretches of countryside, you’ve got the perfect setting for an adventure filled vacation.
We’ve listed a few fun outdoor things to do in Ireland. Of course, all of which makes a pint in the pub later, taste all the better.
Cycle the Greenway, County Mayo
Stretching 42km from Westport to Achill Island, the Greenway cycle track follows the old railway line. Originally a railway line that opened in 1895, only to close again 42 years later in 1937 in favour of the new road system. In 2011 it was reopened, this time as a cycle route that takes in arguably the best views of West Mayo.
Bikes to cycle the Greenway can be rented in Westport, Newport and Achill. Shuttle buses operate between these towns.
Zip by grazing cows and sheep. Follow meandering streams that make their way to pristine loughs, whilst surrounded by the backdrop of the Nephin Mountains and Clew Bay on either side of you.
While the whole Greenway is stunning, it is really the stretch from Newport to Achill that impresses with its stunning views of mountains, sea and lakes.
Hike Connemara – Diamond Hill
Connemara, with its rolling mountains, lakes & ancient bogs – it really is the Irish landscape at its most dramatic.
One of the best ways to soak in this area of unspoiled beauty, is with a walk on Diamond Hill, in the Connemara National Park.
There are several walks here that lend themselves nicely to different fitness levels. These range from a short leisurely stroll on the Forest Trail, to a more exertive hike along the Upper Diamond Hill trail.
If the weather is clear, those who take the Upper Diamond Hill trail will be treated to an impressive sight.
From the summit, look northeast towards Kylemore Abbey. On a clear day, Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connaught can be seen peeking through from the north. To the north-west the views of the Twelve Bens are simply stunning. The summit of Diamond Hill is also the perfect viewing point to take in the rugged coastline below, with views of the islands of Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark.
Horse-riding Ventry Beach, County Kerry
Ever dreamt of galloping along a beach in Ireland’s wild west, with the wind in your face and the spray of the sea in the air? You can with Long’s Horse Riding Stables on Ventry Beach.
Located on the Dingle Peninsula, and a family run business, Long’s have been taking out guests horse-riding on the stunning Ventry Strand for two generations.
They use a native horse breed called an Irish Cob, which was previously used by the Irish travelling community to pull their wagons from town to town.
The horses have a great temperament, and are easy to manage for beginners and more advanced riders alike. What makes the area so special is the combination of sandy beaches and rugged mountains – a world away from the rush of urban living.
Sea Kayaking in Dingle Harbour, County Kerry
The best way hands down to explore Dingle harbour is by sea kayak. Noel from Irish Adventures takes everyone from beginners to experienced kayakers, and has a wealth of fascinating knowledge about the Dingle area.
From the shelter of Dingle harbour, Noel’s kayak tours will explore the sea caves (weather dependent) just outside the harbour. Keep your eyes peeled for Fungi the dolphin – probably the most famous inhabitant of the town!
Hiking in Annascaul, County Kerry
One of the most scenic mountain hikes on the Dingle Peninsula, the Annascaul hike is a beautiful valley walk up a glaciated ‘U’ shaped valley.
The trail head starts at Annascaul lake, where the Garryvagh river that runs along the valley feeds into. Follow the trail as it as it gradually rises up through the valley.
Sheer mountains surround you on both sides, and sheep undaunted by the rough terrain dart around the hillside.
As you rise up the valley, you’ll get a truly a postcard perfect view below.
Horse-riding on Dunfanaghy Beach, County Donegal.
Seen as Ireland’s undiscovered corner, the North West is gradually being recognised for its beauty, and in turn becoming a bit of an outdoor playground.
One way to embrace the area’s outdoor beauty, is by horse-riding along Dunfanaghy Beach.
Dunfanaghy Stables is run by husband and wife John and Ellen McDaid, who both come from families with strong horsing ties. All their staff have an equal passion for horses, which shows through in their knowledge and care for their horses, and their desire to pass this on to their guests.
They cater for kids up to adults and grandparents, and all levels of experience. Definitely a highlight of horse-riding on Dunfanaghy beach, is galloping through the water with the Donegal scenery all around you.
Surfing in Castlegregory, County Kerry
Ireland has become increasingly popular as a surf destination. The Atlantic swell ensures beaches on Ireland’s west coast benefit from ideal surfing conditions year round.
Though we’ll admit, it is a bit chillier than other surf destinations – so wetsuits are advisable.
Castlegregory on the Dingle Peninsula is one place to make the most from these swells. Known as Ireland’s longest beaches, like most strands in Kerry, the views don’t disappoint.
The sandy nature of the beach, creates nice beach break – ideal for beginners. Jamie Knox Surf School with their friendly helpful staff, offer rental and lessons for surfing, windsurfing and stand-up paddling. They provide wetsuits too, so no need to worry too much about the cold.
Hiking the Giants Causeway, County Antrim
You’ve probably heard of the famous Giants Causeway, with its iconic basalt columns on the Antrim coast.
You may not have heard of the Causeway hike. A 40 minute walk leading into the Giants Causeway, at the very end you’ll reach ‘the Shepherd’s Steps’ – one hundred and thirty two steps that drop down to the Giants Causeway.
From there you can explore the famous basalt columns. A 30 minute walk will bring you back to the start. There is always an option to check out the whiskey distillery of Bushmills afterwards, which is only a 5 minute drive away. The perfect reward after your walk.
Cheat: If you’re feeling lazy after reaching the Giants Causeway, there is a shuttle bus that costs £1 to get you up that last hill!
Cycling in Killarney National Park, County Kerry
Biking is one of the best ways to see the park, as you can easily cover more ground than on foot.
Jay from Spinin.ie offers guided bike tours of Killarney. Full of knowledge and genuinely just a nice guy, who has been taking Vagabond guests around the National Park for many years.
The paths in the park are relatively flat, so even if you haven’t been on a bike in years, this is well worth doing.
Jay has an unrivaled knowledge of local history, culture, geology, flora and fauna. He schedules plenty of stops on his tours to share his wealth of knowledge and for you to take plenty of photos too! Some of the sites visited in the park include: the lakes, Muckross House and Abbey and Torc waterfall.
Hiking the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
Ireland’s number one visitor attraction every year is the famous Cliffs of Moher. This geological marvel does live up to expectations.
We recommend going before 10am or after 4pm, to beat the day tours (this is what we do at Vagabond Tours). Most people will hang around the visitor centre, but there is a lovely 5 kilometres walk (10 kilometres there and back) along the coast. It will bring you to a place called Hags Head. On our Vagabond Tours, we drop our guests at this point and they walk into the visitor centre.
From the Cliffs of Moher on a clear day, you can look at and see the Aran islands and Galway Bay, with the mountains of the Maum Turks and Twelve Bens to the north in Connemara. On a really clear day you might even be able to see as far south as the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. Trust us, such views are best seen to be believed.
Check Out Our Adventure Tours of Ireland
If you’re looking to get active on your Irish vacation, we recommend checking out our Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland listed below. They combine multi activities with the perfect mix of history and culture – all lead by our expert local guides.
You can check out our tours below, or get in contact with us on: firstname.lastname@example.org