Is your New Year's resolution to get outdoors and get active in 2020? Maybe you're aiming to see more of the country's great attractions?
If you're looking for ideas, we've got you covered. You'll find castles, islands, hikes and cycles on the list of 20 great Irish places to see in 2020.
Off the beaten track
The 12th century Cistercian Monastery is open from March to September. Read more about visiting Boyle and surrounding areas in our blog series - What The Locals Say.
Ardmore Round Tower
Ardmore is one of Ireland's hidden gems. The beautiful looped cliff walk is the highlight of any trip to the Waterford Village. Check out our first blog of 2020 if you're heading to Waterford this year. What The Locals Say - Ardmore Round Tower was written by proud Ardmore woman Saundra.
Rock Of Cashel
Cashel is conveniently situated just off the motorway between Cork and Dublin. If you're passing make sure to stop in for a visit to one of Ireland's most iconic castles.
Kilkenny Castle sits in the heart of the city and is a must visit spot if you are in the area. The gardens and surrounding park is open to the public and the basement houses the Butler Gallery which holds frequent exhibitions put on by the Kilkenny Art Gallery Society. Check out our What The Locals Say blog about a visit to Kilkenny.
Spike Island in County Cork, houses a remote monastery and was formerly the world's largest prison. Today you can get the ferry across and explore musuems, exhibitions, guided tours and scenic island walks.
This island lies off the coast of Kerry and is defined by its unusual twin peaks and valley known as Christ’s Saddle. It houses a 7th century monastery and is famous for its huge variety of birds including gannets, puffins, razorbills and grey seals. It was used as a location for the recent Star Wars films, making it an even more popular attraction. Tours to the island are generally available between the months of May and October as weather disrupts travel the rest of the year.
Devenish lies at the south end of Lower Lough Erne in Co. Fermanagh. It was the site of a 6th century monastery, which was raided by Vikings and burned in the 12th century, but it flourished again in the Middle Ages. The church, abbey and round tower ruins remain. Take a ferry to Devenish and experience this beautiful tranquil island.
Hiking & Cycling
The Waterford Greenway is a wonderful day out. Explore the spectacular 46-kilometre off-road cycling trail along an old railway line that stretches between Waterford and Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
The stunning Croagh Patrick is well worth a visit for the views over the magnificent Clew Bay and Mayo countryside! This mountain has been a place of pilgrimage for over 5000 years and is most famous for it's pilgrimage in honour of St. Patrick who is said to have fasted here for 40 days. Each year thousands of pilgrims still walk up the mountain barefoot on what is known as Reek Sunday.
The MacGillycuddy Reeks
If it's a hike or views that you're after, you won't go wrong in the heart of beautiful Kerry. Ireland's highest peak, Carrauntoohil, is part of the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Range.
Blarney Castle & Gardens
Blarney Castle is the home of the famous Blarney Stone. According to legend, if you kiss the stone you will receive the gift of the gab. Built nearly six hundred years ago, the stunning Blarney Castle and gardens have been attracting attention ever since. Have a read of our post 6 Things to Know before visiting Blarney Castle
Castletown is the largest and most significant Palladian style country house in Ireland. The house is set amongst the beautiful 18th century parklands of Celbridge, Co.Kildare. The grounds are open daily all year round, and are free to enter and explore. Well worth a visit if you are travelling in the area!
Sliabh League, sometimes known as Slieve Liag, is a mountain on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal. At 596 metres, it has some of the highest sea cliffs in Ireland. Although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Slieve League's cliffs reach almost three times higher.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are stunning sea cliffs located at the edge of the Burren region in County Clare. They stand at an amazing 214 metres and run for 8km along the coast. There is a lovely walk along the top of the cliffs and an an eco friendly centre built into the hillside adjacent to the cliffs which houses exhibitions that bring the cliffs to life.
Be sure to arrive early, when you visit the Passage Tomb that's older than the pyramids of Egypt! Newgrange gets extremely busy and you cannot book advance, so arriving first thing in the morning is your best chance to see this stunning tomb. If you've some extra time the passage tombs at nearby Knowth and Dowth are also well worth a visit.
The area around Lough Gur is rich in archaeology and folklore dating back to the Stone Age times. The Stone Circle at Grange nearby is the largest in Ireland. The fantastic Heritage Centre holds an exhibition with over 6000 years of history and has modern interactive facilities including audio guides, listening centres and an archaeological dig.
Have you visited the oldest working lighthouse in the world? The guided tour is top class and the views are breathtaking.
Find out more here - What The Locals Say - Hook Lighthouse.
If you're interested in ancient history, the Ceide Fields is must visit. The 6,000 year old site is described as 'the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world' on the Heritage Ireland website. The award winning visitor centre is pretty impressive too. While you're visiting you're only 20 minutes from the stunning views of Down Patrick Head.
The Burren is an area of unique beauty and environmental interest in Co. Clare. The limestone landscape is home to some of the rarest and most diverse flora in Ireland. The Burren National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Burren. There are free guided walks daily but they must be booked in advance. A must visit especially in summer when most of the flowers are in bloom.
Not to be missed, the Giant's Causeway is truly one of Ireland's favourite attractions. Whether the basalt columns were formed through the rapid cooling of lava from an underwater volcano, or created by giant Fionn MacCumhaill, the symmetry of the rocks on the rugged coastline never fails to intrigue visitors to this unique spot.
What do you think? Where have you visited before? Where did you Love? Or not so much? Where could be have added to the list?
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