8 Must-Do Outdoor Activities in Ireland

Updated On: September 06, 2023

Hikers admiring the view in Dublin Ireland

Ireland is well known for its extraordinary landscapes, its fabulous mountains and its many activities. It is the best destination for lovers of adventure, thrills and nature. Here is a list of 8 must-do outdoor activities while traveling in Ireland.

1. Kitesurfing: An Adventure Sport

Ireland is well known for kitesurfing. In fact, the famous kite surfer Bruno Sroka, three-time World Cup winner and the first person to have successfully crossed from France to Ireland while kitesurfing in 2013, considers Ireland a great kitesurfing destination. This very stimulating and rewarding activity attracts more and more tourists every year.

Indeed, the most famous place in Ireland for this activity is the Hooked Kitesurfing in Duncannon, County Wexford. It is known not only for Kitesurfing but for the many other activities they offer (power kite, children’s activities, kitesurfing lessons even for beginners). On the other hand, you have other places in Ireland to go kitesurfing such as Achill Island in County Mayo, in the north-west of Ireland in particular at Keel Lake or Bigstyle in Louisburgh at Croagh Patrick.

Ireland activities kite surfing
Kite surfing is a popular activity in County Wexford

2. A Hike in County Wicklow

Well known for mountains and its extraordinary landscapes, County Wicklow offers you  multiple choices of hiking locations whether you are beginner or experienced. For beginners, you can take a sunset hike on Tonelagee overlooking the amazing Lough Ouler Lake, one of the most scenic lakes in the country. You can also enjoy hiking the Glendalough Lake, a 6th century monastic site, nestled in the Wicklow Mountains.

For the more experienced, the iconic Wicklow Way which is a 127km circuit. It is one of the first longest distance hiking trails in Ireland and the most popular in the country, featuring views of  magnificent landscapes.

Finally, if you are a true hiker, enjoy an unforgettable experience at the highest peak in the Leinster region. Lugnaquilla is the highest mountain in Wicklow at 925m and with a trail 10-16 km up and down, its spectacular view is breathtaking. You will enjoy the view of the Pointed Sugarloaf Mountain, Dublin and Wicklow Mountains and the beaches of Ireland.

Ireland Activities hiking
A hike up Sugarloaf takes about 2.5 hours: Photo by Laura Danova on Unsplash

3. Travel the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a route that runs along the west coast of Ireland from north to south for more than 2,500 kilometers and presents unforgettable places along the way. The Atlantic Way can be traveled by car, bicycle or on foot. It is an incredible journey of beauty thanks to the magnificent panoramas of the impressive Irish coasts. Stretching across the west coast of Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way passes through nine counties and three provinces and it takes a week to circle through them all. We therefore recommend that you do part of the route if you only have time to discover essential tourist sites:

The beautiful coastline of Donegal
Donegal’s coast marks one end of the Wild Atlantic Way: Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
  • First, the Malin Head in Donegal is the northernmost point of mainland Ireland and marks one end of the Wild Atlantic Way.
  • In the Donegal region, there is also Fanad Head Lighthouse, voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. The region has all the wild beauty typical of Donegal.
  • Do not miss the view of Mizen Head, a cape in southern Ireland located in County Cork.
  • Connemara National Park also offers an exceptional landscape.
  • Finally, located southwest of the Burren in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are among the most beautiful cliffs in Ireland that stretch over 8 km long and up to 214 meters high.
wild Atlantic way
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4. Scuba Diving & Snorkeling: An Incredible Experience

The diving carried out along the Irish coast is wonderful. The most popular site is on the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula, where the Atlantic Ocean meets Mount Brandon. Here, you can admire an exceptional landscape.

Sligo with its wonderful coastline is also a great place for scuba diving and snorkeling in Ireland. There is plenty of marine life to be discovered along the shallows of the Wild Atlantic Way. Another great snorkeling site is the famous Solomon’s Hole located on the Hook Peninsula in Wexford.

On Achill Island, Keem Bay in County Mayo is also a great place for snorkeling. This is an official Blueway Dive Trail and Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Spot. Its waters are rich and there is plenty to see: crabs, fish, sand lance and much more.

A person scuba diving in the ocean illustration

5. Enjoy Ireland’s Only Cable Car to Dursey Island

Dursey Island is an island located at the southwestern tip of the Beara Peninsula in County Cork. This small island is connected by a cable car which is the only cable car to cross the open sea water in Europe. It is an island with no shops or restaurants, but its landscapes are exceptional. The cable car has been open since 1969 and it was once used to transfer people, sheep, cows and other supplies to Dursey Island from the mainland. You will be able to enjoy an incredible view of the ocean and a moment of change of scenery on the island.

cable cars ireland acrivites  illustration
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6. Climb Ireland’s Most Beautiful Mountains

Whether in Ireland or Northern Ireland, the mountains are quite impressive. You can enjoy rock climbing at Dalkey Quarry located in Dublin by descending a 20-meter-high vertical cliff. You will see impressive views over Dublin Bay and to the south over the Wicklow Mountains. Located in County Sligo you will find the 526m Benbulben Mountain which offers panoramic views. You can admire Donegal Bay and BlueStacks Mountain. Located in County Kerry, Carrauntoohil is the highest peak in all of Ireland at over 1,038 meters above sea level and sits at the center of the MacGillycuddy’s Reek Range. It is therefore essential to enjoy an ascent along this mountain with its magnificent natural landscape.

The Mourne Mountains are a granite mountain range located in County Down in Northern Ireland. They are the ideal place for biking and hiking, camping and rock climbing. The highest mountain in the massif is Slieve Donard, 849 meters high. It is the tallest and most spectacular mountain range in Northern Ireland.

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The Mourne Mountains are made of granite: Photo by Rory McKeever on Unsplash

7. Mountain Biking: Ballyhoura & Rostrevor

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Located in County Limerick, Ballyhoura Mountain Bike trails is the largest mountain bike trails in Ireland. The trails cover 90 km and give you panoramic views of Ireland’s most beautiful hills and forests.

In County Down you will find another very well-known track in Ireland for this experience. Indeed, it is the Rostrevor mountain bike trails with 27 km of red track and 19 km of black track. Rostrevor is considered the best place for top level mountain biking in Ireland.

8. Water Sports in Dublin: Sailing and Wakeboarding

watersports illustration

Water sports in Ireland are very popular with Irish people and also by tourists. Dublin is also increasing its offers in water sports, particularly sailing and wakeboarding. These water sports are a must-have when traveling to Ireland for adventures in skill, adrenaline, and a lot of fun. We recommend that you stop by Dun Laoghaire, one of the best places in Ireland for sailing. Then after, in the city center, you have the opportunity to enjoy a wakeboard session.

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