If you want to get off the beaten path and explore the places that the crowds don’t even think about, I have just the place for you. Skip the commercialized version of Ireland, and check out County Limerick instead. The peaceful, rural beauty of County Limerick is just waiting to be discovered, but shhh… keep it secret or everyone will want to come here.
Surrounded in rugged mountains, the quaint countryside of County Limerick is dotted with sleepy villages and the kindest locals around. You’ll find complete strangers striking up conversations with you, which is perfectly acceptable. This area of Ireland may have the best customer service in the whole country! Along with the friendly people, County Limerick has some pretty incredible things to offer such as: mountain biking, horse riding, ancient monuments, historic castles, lovely walking paths, golf courses, cozy villages and lots of space to explore… with out all the crowds.
Don’t just take my word for it, all of my recommended things to see and do get top reviews on the acclaimed TripAdvisor website.
Located in the heart of County Limerick, is one of my favorite hostels Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel in Kilfinane. Conveniently perched next to the mountain biking trails in the Ballyhoura Mountains, this new hostel was custom designed by Seamus, a fellow hosteller, and feels more like a modern hotel. I’m planning another trip to this hostel in autumn with my husband and our son.
I cannot recommend a more comfortable and welcoming place to rest your head in County Limerick, but if you need more convincing, check out all of the five star reviews on TripAdvisor. After all, this hostel was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015.
What could make staying at Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel even better? The charming Molly’s Restaurant and Takeaway just down the street! The prices are reasonable and the food is better than mum’s (but please don’t tell her I said that). Irish home cooking and hospitality at it’s finest. The proof is on TripAdvisor.
And so, without further ado, the best things to do in County Limerick:
One of Europe’s best bike trails with over 98km of track right here in Ballyhoura! There are trails for all skill levels, from beginners (people like me) to the professional. Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel can arrange reduced cost bike hire (€30 per day) with the local company Ballyhoura Trailriders to save you money. Check out the great reviews for Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trail on TripAdvisor.
From a gentle stroll to a serious hike, there are dozens of routes to choose from. On clear days, some trails offer views into Cork, Kerry, Clare and Tipperary! The trails are marked and easy to find. For a list of walking trails in the area, see the local walking website. Check out the impressive reviews for Ballyhoura Walking Trails on TripAdvisor.
One of my favorite activities in County Limerick is a leisurely ride through the countryside, breathing in the fresh Irish air and enjoying the panoramic views. Ballyhoura Horsetrails offers 1 hour, 2.5 hour, or 5 hour treks in the beautiful Ballyhoura area. They also offer 2.5 hour and 5 hour pub rides, and ‘Hack & Tack Club’ for kids on Saturdays. Check out the exceptional reviews for Ballyhoura Horsetrails on TripAdvisor. They were awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015.
Lough Gur is a horseshoe shaped lake and one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. There is an interpretive center to explain the 130 ancient monuments in the area. Since the majority surround the lake, I just went for a relaxing stroll and visited them all. The largest standing stone circle in Ireland, Grange Stone Circle (2000BC) is a sight not to be missed. Also, there are remains of Stone Age houses, graves, early Christian churches and a Norman castle. Local folklore has it that there is a submerged town beneath the lake. Fascinating! If I only I knew how to dive. Check out the phenomenal reviews on TripAdvisor. Lough Gur was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015.
Terra Nova Gardens
A half acre of paradise located in the Golden Vale of County Limerick, Terra Nova is packed full of interesting plants and garden features. Winner of the ‘Best Garden in Ireland’ this garden has been featured in many books, newspapers, magazines and radio. Also, there is a small self-service tea house, a plant nursery and a brand new gift shop. Admission is by appointment only, click here for more information. Whilst I’m not much of a garden person, I was quite impressed and enjoyed the visit very much. Check out the outstanding reviews for Terra Nova Gardens on TripAdvisor.
Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum
This museum blew me away! I am a huge history buff and simply could not get enough of this place. Housed in the original terminal buildings, the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum transports you back to the time when Foynes was the center of the aviation world from 1937-1945. Located in the village of Foynes on the river Shannon, this is the world’s only flying boat museum. The on-site Brendon O’Regan Restaurant is the birthplace of Irish Coffee and was considered one of the best restaurants in Ireland during the time. The Irish coffee demo and tasting is a must! Note: They have an airshow 26 July 2015 at 3pm. Awarded the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award for 2014, you can see why with all of the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.
Village of Adare
Founded in the 13th century along the river Maigue, sits the idyllic village of Adare. With it’s original thatched cottages, Adare is known as Ireland’s prettiest village, and quite possibly the cutest village I’ve ever seen. There are loads of things to see and do in this pint-sized town such as visiting ancient monasteries, golfing, shopping, and dining at one of their superbly reviewed restaurants. Or you can always aimlessly stroll the streets imagining you live here. I won’t judge. All awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015, are the Adare Manor Golf Club, Adare’s Old Creamery Gift Co., Adare Heritage Centre and Old Trinitarian Abbey.
Old Irish Ways
Located in the heart of the Ballyhoura region, Old Irish Ways is a folk heritage museum that opened in 2008 as a way of preserving the past for future generations. I really enjoyed this place and was beyond impressed with their collections. Exhibits include artifacts and collectibles which were used as part of everyday life. From implements used on the farm to old appliances used in the kitchen to items from the schoolhouse, a stroll through this museum will stir up thoughts of yesteryear. You can see I wasn’t the only ones fondly reminiscing of days past, read some reviews for Old Irish Ways on TripAdvisor.
The Milk Market
If you make it to Limerick City, you must stop by the Milk Market! It’s a foodie paradise! It’s a vibrant, outdoor marketplace that sells a massive variety of things such as local produce, cheeses, fresh spices, homemade crepes, fresh-baked bread, crafts, secondhand jewelry and even yoga on Sundays! Try the fresh-made donuts! The market is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tip: Go in the morning as some of the vendors start closing up as early as 1pm. Check out all the happy reviews on TripAdvisor. The Milk Market was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015.
King John’s Castle
Touring this castle made me feel like Maid Marian! Located on King’s Island in Limerick City, this 13th century castle is newly renovated and brings to life over 800 years of local history. King John was the brother of Richard the Lionheart, associated with the legends of Robin Hood and the Knights of the Round Table. This is one of the best preserved Norman castles in Europe and the new visitor center, with it’s interactive exhibits, is top notch. Afterwards, I recommend you relax in the charming café and take in the views of the river Shannon and the castle courtyard. Tip: You can save €2 on admission if you purchase a ticket online. Check out the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. King John’s Castle was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore County Limerick today!