8 Grand Adventures You Can Have in Ireland

Ireland has had a big opportunity to shine in the adventure travel industry, and the country pulled it off spectacularly. Those of us who travelled Ireland often in the past already know that the country has excellent adventure opportunities. After all, the island is surrounded by stunning coastline and wide-open ocean. Then there’s the Wild Atlantic Way –  Ireland’s longest defined coastal route, from Donegal to Cork on the west coast. And elsewhere in Ireland: mountainous landscapes, unlimited hiking, and everything in between.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ireland, hiring a local adventure guide isn’t a bad way to get started. Especially when you’re looking to try something new, like kayaking or stand-up paddling. If you’re seeking big adventure, this Ireland adventure guide will get you started while you learn to appreciate Ireland’s quirky ways.


Ireland has a very dramatic terrain, ranging from bulbous mountains to craggy coastline to wide-open fields and boggy marshlands. If you’re an avid hiker, you are in Ireland hiking trekking heaven. Believe me.

One of our personal favourites is The Dingle Way. It’s just one of over 30 long-distance trails, completing a circuit 179-kilometres long. It begins and ends in Tralee. Of course, you don’t have to hike the entire thing, but you can opt to do certain sections of the trail. The landscape here is stunning: you’ll find the foothills of Slieve Mish, the shoulder of Mount Brandon, endless pastoral farmland, and the beautiful Slea Head coastal area. There’s a lot to take in.

Other notorious hiking routes include the Beara Way, Wicklow Way, Sheep’s Head Way, and the Kerry Way. You’ll find hikes for all skill levels in the beautiful Connemara region, as well as in the Antrim Glens. Remember that the weather in Ireland can change quickly: it’s best to prepare for a diverse range of temperatures, and heavy precipitation! Ireland isn’t known as the lush “Emerald Isle” for nothing.


Stand-Up Paddling

I tried stand-up paddling (SUP) for the first time while I was in Sligo, Ireland. Sligo is a little piece of Ireland where most tourists don’t venture, but it was my favourite place in the entire country. A Facebook acquaintance took me out on the River Bonet for my first paddle, and it was the most wonderful day. SUP is a very sociable sport, so while you’re drifting along taking in some of the epic scenery you likely wouldn’t see otherwise, you’re bound to make a handful of friends in the process.

For those who are unfamiliar with the sport, it’s traditionally Hawaiian, but it’s spreading worldwide. Boards for beginners are little bigger than your average surfboard, and you use just one paddle to steer.

SUP is getting increasingly popular around the country, though, so if you’d like to try the sport elsewhere you’ll find several opportunities for doing so in places like Dublin or County Clare.




Ireland is an incredible place for kayaking. Why? You have everything your heart may desire, whether you want to hit some whitewater rapids, some ocean waves, or some calm and restful lakes.

Kayaking the lakes is especially a popular activity, seeing as how Ireland has an abundance of them. The Lakelands area is worth noting for its wildlife viewing possibilities, and for its incredible, encompassing silence. Georgian mansions and eco lodges dotting the landscape aren’t hard on the eyes, either. The area is completely covered with rivers, canals, and estuaries. Fermanagh’s Upper and Lower lakes (and its 154 islands) is perfect for serene paddling.

And of course, if you prefer canoeing, all of the above apply too.


Believe it or not, surfing is a big deal in Ireland…especially in County Sligo. Did I mention it’s my favourite place?

Surfing in Ireland has been around for ages, but it’s really only gathered steam lately. The surf around Sligo is particularly good, thanks to a number of favourable conditions, and professional surfers from all over the world come here to train or compete. Strandhill is one particular town where you’ll find a scene that looks like it’s straight out of a surf magazine: pubs and cafes lining the waterfront, massive stretches of beach, huge waves, and plenty of surfers out there in the thick of it all. And no, the cold does not seem to be a discouraging factor for these people.

Another great surf spot in the Sligo area is Mullaghmore, where you’ll find pros alongside amateurs all competing for waves. If you don’t have any prior experience, though, a surfing lesson is always recommended.


Being an island, it only makes sense that sailing and boating are big activities in Ireland. It’s even home to the oldest yacht club in the world, known as The Royal Cork Yacht Club, found in 1720.

Cork is also home to the second largest natural harbour in the entire world: Cork Harbour. Did you know that Ireland even once had a pirate queen, known as Grace O’Malley? She navigated the coasts in the 16th century and commanded a whole fleet of ships. How’s that for girl power?

Ireland’s unique coastline makes for some excellent sailing, and you can either opt for a sailing tour or (if you’re licensed) take charge of your own sailboat. We promise the views are worth it.

Fishing and Angling

Recreational fishermen LOVE angling or fishing in Ireland because of its varied, rugged (and often empty) coastline. And there’s another reason why angling here is loved: hardly anyone does it! Why? Who really knows. More fish for you.

Shore fishing never fails to impress even the most experienced fishermen. It’s true that you’ll find many of the same species here that you might find in North America, but it’s all just so bountiful. At the Shannon Estuary, for example, you’ll find everything from Pollock to wrasse to rays. In places like Tralee, on the Dingle Peninsula, you might even snag a stingray or a tope from one of the area’s beaches. In County Down, the quantities of dogfish, mackerel, and Pollock are sometimes overwhelming. You could fish all day, with great success.


Winding roads, paths snaking through mountains and hills, coastal routes that take you along the Wild Atlantic Way and beyond… Ireland was made for cycling! You may take one look at the highway closely following the edge of a cliff and decide it’s not worth it, but we urge you to keep going. The experience is worth it. And once you get out into the countryside, you’ll find deserted rural roads leading to abandoned castles, fortresses, and more.

One of the benefits of cycling around Ireland is that you get easy access to many of the main attractions, like the Giant’s Causeway and the mountainous area of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks (yes, that is actually a real place). The highest peak in Ireland is found here, known as Carrauntoohil.

Another exciting option: an unused railway line known as The Great Western Greenway running from Newport to Mulranny in County Mayo has been reopened as a cycling and walking trail. It’s recently been extended to cover Achill Island and Westport, and it offers some of the most remote, rugged terrain you’ll find in the country.

You don’t necessarily have to rough it the whole time either. If you’re not camping out, it’s quite easy to find comfortable B&Bs along any route. What better way to end a day of strenuous cycling than falling into a soft bed?

Horseback Riding

Equestrian sports in Ireland are big, and when you’re itching to do some horseback riding, there’s no better place than a place that’s all drama. You can find numerous Ireland horseback tours while you’re traveling, whether it’s jumping or trail riding or long distance trips. Horseback riding is a big part of Irish culture – the Connemara is a famous breed, after all.

With the right horse, riding in the country with its stonewalls, open fields, and pleasantly rolling hills all make for a wonderful horseback experience. And it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, you’re sure to find something that suits you just fine.

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