Every person has their own idea of the perfect vacation. Some people might prefer a quite luxurious staycation at a five-star hotel, while others might want to go discover the wildest jungles! When there is a big group of people or family going on vacation, it gets tough to satisfy all their needs unless you visit Lough Derg!
Lakeside trips are uncontested! Do you want to swim? Done! Do you want to relax by the water and read a book? Done! Do you want to go on a hike? Do you want to stay in the hotel and just watch TV? Done and done! Lakes are the perfect spot for family or group vacations. There are always plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy. No boring time in sight!
In Ireland, there is no better lake to visit than Lough Derg. From family activities and resorts to hiking trails, festivals, and more, Lough Derg is the perfect spot for your next vacation.
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8 Things to Do at Lough Derg
Lough Derg is located between counties Clare, Tipperary and Galway, Ireland. It is very close to the towns of Killaloe and Ballina, both very vibrant Irish towns with lots of events, activities, bars, restaurants, and markets to visit.
The lake stretches for around nine square kilometres and is surrounded by mesmerising Irish nature that offers hiking trails, camping grounds, and perfect spots for picnics with friends and families. The lake’s shining surface is ideal for swimming and many other water activities.
As we said, Lough Derg has countless activities to offer. Whether you’re visiting alone, with friends, or with your family, you will find the perfect activity for all of you! So, without further ado, let’s learn more about all the awesome things that you can do at Lough Derg!
1. Take an Early Morning Swim
You have travelled from wherever you came from and made it all the way to the beautiful lakeside shores of Lough Derg. What next? Swimming, of course! You will not be able to resist the shining waters of Lough Derg Lake, and you shouldn’t even try to! Lough Derg Lake is a perfect spot for a dip in the water to refresh and energise your body.
In our opinion, the perfect time for a dip in the lake would be early morning. Yes, you can swim at any time of the day, and it will still be fantastic. However, nothing can be compared to an early morning swim when the lake is at its calmest and the weather is nice and crisp. Take your swim trunks and goggles and bathe in the sun rays of Lough Derg’s beautiful sunrise. It’s an experience worth waking up early, trust us!
2. Go Paddling in the Blueway Trails
Are you not a swimming person, but would still like to do water activities? You’re in luck! Recently, a new set of trails for paddling, canoeing, and kayaking has opened at Lough Derg. Blueways trails are probably some of the most mesmerising water trails you will ever see in Ireland! Whether you are just starting to find your way in the water or a professional looking for new routes to discover, Lough Derg has your back!
The Blueway trails offer a fantastic view of the entire area surrounding the lake. From the nature and tree-lined shores to the harbours and bays and other small islands that dot the area, you can see it all from your mini-boat! The best thing about the Blueway trails is that anyone can enjoy them. Whether you are looking for an idle boat ride in the lake, just relaxing and enjoying the scenery, or you are looking for an adrenaline rush and adventure, you will find a suitable trail for you!
3. Go Hiking in the Woodlands
Maybe you are not a dip-your-toes-in-the-water kind of person, and that is okay. Lough Derg still has a lot to offer for land people. The best activity to do on land is, of course, hiking! Don’t worry; you don’t have to walk extremely long trails for hours and get winded. There are plenty of looping trails you can take a leisure walk through with your friends or family or even alone.
Hiking is the perfect activity to discover the nature and woodlands of Lough Derg. There are many walking tours available in the area. Group walking and hiking tours are excellent for people who want to discover the area, learn about its history and visit new places while getting some steps in. If you are a seasoned hiker, though, and you’re really here for the sport, then try the East Clare Way or the Lough Derg Way for a more challenging hike.
4. Take a Bike Ride Around Lough Derg
Another land activity that is very popular in Lough Derg is biking! You can bring your own bike or rent one from the service centres in the area. There are plenty of trails around Lough Derg for beginners, professionals, and anyone in between. Whether you want to bike idly and look around or you want to do it for sport, Lough Derg is a perfect place.
Our favourite trail is the one that loops around the entire area of Lough Derg! It will take you around a whole day to finish the trail, and you can stop at various towns and villages on the way. This bike trip can be really fun for friends or couples as they can enjoy the day together as well as stop for drinks or lunch.
More experienced bikers can find more challenging trails in Lough Derg as well. We recommend the climb to Tountinna, north of Ballina. The climb is pretty tiring, so we have warned you! Make sure to have plenty of water on you and maybe some snacks and energy bars. The view from the top is worth every drop of sweat, so enjoy it!
5. Visit the Nearby Towns and Villages
After a long day out in the sun and swimming by the lake, visiting the towns is the perfect way to end your day! Very close to the lakeside is the town of Ballina and Killaloe. Both towns are very vibrant, with an abundance of cafes, bars, pubs, and restaurants to visit with your friends and family. The town is also a centre for water-based activities if you still haven’t gotten enough.
Both towns are full of historical sites and are rich in culture. You can take a tour across the towns and visit the 13th-century St. Flannan’s Cathedral. If you visit in the morning, you will be lucky to find the Farmer’s Market in full swing! Full of fresh produce and local vendors, the Farmer’s Market is an excellent spot for shopping for gifts and trying local dishes and snacks.
There are many other towns to visit besides Ballina and Killaloe. In Scariff, you can see the historic Water Tower built in 1851. You can also have lunch at Garden Cafe, which is known for only using locally sourced produce to make its signature vegetarian dishes. You can also visit Kilnalahan Abbey in East Galway, one of the most unique abbies in Irish history.
6. Join the Festivities all Year Round
Lough Derg is a venue for festivities all year round! From music concerts to theatre plays to sports competitions and kid-friendly activities, festivities never stop in Lough Derg. Summertime is obviously the peak season to catch as many festivals as possible in the area. However, no matter when you decide to visit, you will indeed find some fun to attend alone or with a group.
Irish Traditional Music
This autumn, there are plenty of events taking place in the lush green landscape of Lough Derg. Every Monday, Thursday and Sunday, you can watch traditional Irish music performances in various venues along the Lough Derg shoreline.
Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival
Lough Derg is a place of tales and legends, and to celebrate its rich literary heritage, you can visit the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival in October of every year. The festival celebrates writers and artists from all over the world while focusing on the rich heritage and history of the area.
Spleodar Halloween Arts Festival
We did not forget about the little ones! This October, Nenagh Arts Centre celebrates Halloween with plenty of activities and fun events for children. The centre will have plenty of arts and crafts activities for children to enjoy, from lantern-making to face painting. Don’t miss out on the storytelling event where your children can learn more about the area’s history!
7. Visit Inis Cealtra/Holy Island
Holy Island is one of the most visited sites on Lough Derg. The island is called Inis Cealtra, which means Holy Island in English. It is one of the most historic islands in Ireland and contains the ruins of five churches as well as a graveyard with graves that date all the way back to the 8th century!
The island is also said to be associated with Brian Boru, the high king of Ireland from 1002 until 1014 AD. You can reach the island by boat, and you can take a day tour around the island where you learn about the rich history of Holy Island.
8. Finish Your Trip with a Sweet Treat!
Do you want your very own Charlie and Chocolate Factory adventure? Then head to Wilde Irish Chocolate Factory for a tour of the facilities! This chocolate factory is only a fifteen-minute drive from Killaloe and is worth the drive! The factory offers a tour for families and children to see how their favourite sweet treats get made from the freshest produce Lough Derg has to offer.
As you take your tour of Wilde Irish Chocolates, you will have the opportunity to sample their delicious treats and even buy as much chocolate as you want! We recommend bringing as much pocket money as you can because you will not be able to resist buying all their flavours!
Ireland is a beautiful country full of surprises for visitors! If you haven’t been before, we sort of envy you because you will get to experience all that beauty with fresh eyes. From castles to vast green lands to beaches and gorgeous lakes like Lough Derg, you’ll never get enough! Plan your next trip and keep Lough Derg and its vast number of activities in mind. It’s the place for a great vacation!