11 Unique Outdoor Adventure Activities in Ireland

Updated January 11, 2019

The following is a guest post by Cal Bailey, who runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road, you can read his latest post on choosing a sleeping bag for your travels.

Unique Things to Do in Ireland

With its rolling green hills and pastures, gorgeous beaches and Ireland is a place of rugged natural beauty. More people than ever before are flocking to this beautiful country to immerse themselves in nature, explore the beautiful scenery, and take advantage of all of the walking and cycling outdoor adventures available.

However, there are also plenty of other unique things to do in Ireland involving the outdoors. So don’t worry – even if you’re not up for climbing cliffs or biking trails, there are plenty of other outdoor adventure activities in Ireland awaiting you!

Next time you’re in the Emerald Isle don’t just visit the cities and towns, check out these outdoor things to do in Ireland and choose one (or more!) that takes your fancy!

Kayak around the Ring of Kerry, Co Kerry

Visitors to County Kerry often jump in a car and drive around the Ring of Kerry, but by doing so they’re missing out on one of the best and more adventurous ways of seeing it: kayaking. Kayaking across Killarney’s Lough Leane and down the adjoining River Laune, you’ll lay your eyes on the famous Macgillycuddy’s Reeks; if you’re lucky, you might spot nesting eagles too. Dare you ride the rapids while you’re here? That depends on how much adventure you want!

The Ring of Kerry offers 15 miles of kayaking adventure, which is surely enough to fill a day or two!

Outdoor Adventure Ireland - Kayak the Ring of Kerry

Stay in a yurt in County Leitrim

Although this isn’t physically taxing, it’s certainly an adventure – especially if you’ve never stayed in a yurt before. Teapot Lane Luxury Yurt Camp in Leitrim has built yurts and tipis so that you can have a novel stay out in Irish nature. The yurts are well designed and inviting, with communal indoor cooking facilities in case it rains, which might happen – well, this is Ireland!

When you’re ready to explore, head for the foothills of Benbulben (book a guided walk if you wish); on another day, you’ll head in the opposite direction and find yourself on some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. Here you can take surfing lessons, or if you want to relax, get a massage in the cottage treatment room instead.

Outdoor Adventure Ireland - Glamping in Ireland

Raft along the River Boyne

Ireland is a rainy country, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s what makes it one of the greenest places on earth! In the Boyne Valley you’ll find plenty of adventure activities, and another benefit of all the rain is that the rapids of the River Boyne keep flowing. Once the water reaches a high enough level, you’ll throw yourself onto a raft and whizz by ancient castles and abbeys. You’ll be taking in the historic landscapes, albeit at high speed! Book a place for your group when the weather is right and you’ll have an unforgettable adventure!

Catch the waves in Bundoran

Surfing is a popular activity all around the world, but in Ireland, it’s quite a special experience. There’s only one way to find out why that is: get down to Bundoran Surf Co at Tullan Strand and sign up for one of their classes or surf camps. These are very popular, especially during the school holidays, so take that into consideration when booking. Tackling the waves can be a challenge, but it’s a really fun one. Bundoran Surf Co will make sure you have the best chance, even if you’re a total beginner.

Outdoor Activities - Surfing in Ireland

Camp out at Wild Atlantic Camp in Creeslough, Co Donegal

In Co Donegal you can find the Wild Atlantic Camp nestled between Creeslough and Dunfanaghy. This place fully embraces the concept of glamping, so no stone has been left unturned for your novel comfort within the welcoming local nature. Go along with your significant other or a friend, and make the most of their fully furnished cozy wooden pods. Sit outside in the fresh Irish evening air, relaxing in a rattan chair and surrounded by the glow of fairy lights around your pod and you’ll feel like you’re in a different world.

Go foraging for seaweed in West Cork

The Japanese eat seaweed as a staple part of their diets, but in the West, we often forget how nutritious it is. Seaweed is an important source of iodine, and it’s also used as a medicine and a fertilizer in Ireland. Now you can go on a foraging trip in Ireland to find seaweed, prepare it and eat it. Book on with Atlantic Sea Kayaking in West Cork and they will take you out to islands and inlets with their seaweed expert. On the deserted shores of Rabbit Island you’ll be able to find and harvest kelp and dulse and make interesting culinary dishes and deserts like seaweed scones and wrack-infused soup.

Outdoor Adventure Ireland - West Cork

Shimmy up some trees in Slane, Co Meath

Get a bird’s perspective on life by doing some tree climbing in Slane. Most people haven’t climbed a tree since they were kids, so this activity brings a sense of nostalgia. The activity is for people of all ages above 8. At Rock Farm you are totally welcome to climb right to the top of an ancient oak tree, and you’ll be fully supported by the team and of course the safety equipment. Abseil back down again and feel the exhilaration of an unusual physical accomplishment!

See some wildlife on a mountain bike trek at Ballyhoura

The Ballyhoura mountain bike trails are something special; for one, this is the largest trail network of its type in the country, with 98 km of trails that include forest road climbs. Bike your way along narrow, twisty tracks, up and down hills, over boardwalks… and take on a few rocks while you’re at it. Some challenges are fun!

The forest is not at all impacted by the trails, and neither is the wildlife, so this makes a great adventure activity for wildlife lovers. Amongst the trees of this dense forest, you’ll spot creatures such as red squirrels, deer, and nesting hen harriers.

Outdoor Activities Ireland - Mountain Biking in Ireland

Visit the island of Inistrahull in Co Donegal

Another activity for wildlife lovers is a trip out to the island of Inistrahull. Located six miles north of Malin Head you can find this 114-acre island. It has been deserted since 1928 when the last human inhabitants left, but the island is now home to some happy wildlife including wild deer and eider duck.

In terms of buildings, what’s left is a lighthouse, some ruined dwellings and old field systems. All are worth exploring and photographing! You can get to the island easily from Malin Head, Bunagee or Portaleen.

Be a Tough Mudder at Loughcrew Adventure Centre in Oldcastle, Co Meath

You’ve got to be a tough one in the first place to take part in tough mudder, unless you like a huge challenge!

Tough Mudder is an event designed by British Special Forces; it’s an obstacle course with a difference. The whole thing takes place in an extremely muddy environment, so you’ll have to make your way across 18 muddy kilometres of obstacles including barbed wire, ice baths, and shock wires. Ouch!

There’s nothing easy about this, but it is certainly an adventure, and the exhilaration of making it to the end is unbeatable! If this sounds like fun, keep an eye on the Facebook page for event dates and register yourself in advance.

Tough Mudder in Ireland

Go zorbing in Westport

Zorbing is a unique activity indeed – suffice to say you’ll need plenty of energy and your faculties intact if you’re going to do it. Get down to Westport House and you’ll basically strap yourself into a giant, transparent ball with water inside it; you’ll then launch yourself down a huge hill. As you might expect, it’s great fun, and you’ll be laughing yourself silly right to the bottom. The hill itself has been specially constructed for a heightened zorbing experience, and it’s one you certainly won’t forget.

That should be enough outdoor adventure activities in Ireland to keep you going for a year, but of course, there are always more! Ireland never runs out of beautiful scenes and fun activities, awe-inspiring nature, and friendly people… so it’s one place you should go out of your way to visit! Have fun!

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