There is so much talk about eating seasonally. Why not take that same approach to…
There’s a lot to love in Limerick, Ireland. From the ancient sport of hurling to King John’s Castle towering over the River Shannon, it truly feels like a quintessential Irish destination. One of the best things to do though? Explore the colorful villages and incredible nature that surround this city! When it comes to day trips from Limerick, you can plan to do everything whether it’s seeking out epic views or spending a few hours at some more unique landmarks. Check below for some ideas.
5 Day Trips from Limerick, Ireland
Adare Village is less than thirty minutes south of Limerick and easily one of the prettiest places to visit in Ireland. It’s located along the River Maigue and has been around since the 1200s, though the current iteration was built around the 1800s. Full of thatched cottages and stone walls, it looks like something straight out of a fairytale. Here are some notable places you won’t want to miss.
Situated right in the heart of Adare Village, Adare Manor once belonged to the Earl of Dunraven and is now one of the top luxury resorts around. It was actually built fairly recently in the 1800s. Back then the 2nd Earl of Dunraven could no longer enjoy an active outdoors lifestyle because of gout. To distract from the pain, his wife encouraged him to completely remodel the more humble Georgian-style Adare House. Not only did this allow the earl to focus his attention on a new project, the building of the manor provided labor for the surrounding village during a particularly rough time in Irish history.
What you see today is the result of this construction project. Designed in a Gothic Revival style, the manor is particularly special as it’s one of the few examples of a calendar house. This means it has 365 windows, 52 chimneys, 7 stone pillars, and 4 tours. If you visit, see if you can count all the windows from the outside!
While it’s, of course, a luxury to stay here, you can still visit during the day and experience one of Adare Manor’s many onsite activities. Play a round of golf on their expansive course, join a walking tour to learn more about its history, and dine in one of its onsite restaurants. I, myself, got to enjoy their afternoon tea, which is one of the most delightful afternoon tea experiences in the world. Pretend you’re royalty while sipping from a teacup in the magnificent Gallery and sampling from an array of world class pastries. And if you’re not in the mood for tea, try asking about their botanical gin and tonic.
Erected around the 13th century, Desmond Castle was a fortress that protected Adare for centuries. Right on the banks of the River Maigue, it allowed residents to control traffic and more easily keep out any potential intruders. It was dismantled in 1657 under the orders of Oliver Cromwell and is now mere ruins. You can book a tour through the Adare Heritage Center to learn more.
The Three Monasteries
For such a small village, Adare is home to not just one monastery but three – the Augustinian Friary, Franciscan Friary, and Trinitarian Abbey. The Augustinian Priory, like Desmond Castle, sits along the River Maigue and is a great example of a medieval church. While it was once home to the Augustinian Order, it’s now a protestant church. The Franciscan Friary dates back to the 1400s, though all that remains is its ruins. It has the unique distinction of being surrounded by Adare Manor Golf Club, so be sure to check out it if you plan on playing a round. Meanwhile, the Trinitarian Priory is right next to the heritage center and is the only Trinitarian monastery in Ireland. While it was somewhat destroyed under Henry VIII, it was restored under the first Earl of Dunraven and is still used as a Catholic parish.
2. Lough Gur
Lough Gur is County Limerick’s crown jewel. Located between Herberstown and Bruff, this horseshoe-shaped lake is not just picturesque, it’s an important archaeological site. Mysteriously rich in both folklore and nature, it’s absolutely worth the short drive from Limerick.
Start off at the visitor center to learn more about all that’s been discovered around the lake. The oldest are megalithic remains from around 3,000 BC. Using what archaeologists have found (and are still finding today), the center has exhibits that trace human history in Ireland from the Neolithic era all the way through the Modern era.
Once you’ve learned everything about the area, head out of the center and follow the trail nearby to see more, including a great view point. You can then drive around the lake to see a number of unique landmarks, the best of which is the ancient Grange Stone Circle.
In nicer weather, you can rent kayaks and head out onto the lake itself!
3. The Burren
Ireland isn’t just all rolling green hills and misty mornings. Sometimes, the scenery can look like something you’d find on the moon. Take the Burren, for example. Looking across its moon-like landscape, you’ll be greeted with miles of craggy rocks with small bursts of plants and flowers creeping through the cracks. This land was forged millions of years ago at the bottom of the ocean and still influences the local community today. About 1 ½ to 2 hours away from Limerick, it’s well worth spending the day exploring.
Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark
The Burren is roughly split between two parks – Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and Burren National Park. The former is part of the European Geoparks Network and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also, of course, home to one of the most captivating cliffs not only in Ireland but in the world.
There are a slew of walking and cycling trails to make the most of your visit or you could, of course, just go straight to the cliffs for those epic views.
The Burren Smokehouse & The Roadside Tavern
No matter what you do on your day trip from Limerick to the Burren, make sure to stop into The Roadside Tavern for a meal and a pint. Built in 1865, it’s been owned by the Curtin family since 1893 and is one of the oldest pubs in the Burren. Expect some seriously delicious smoked Irish organic salmon and Burren brewery beer.
If you want to take a step further, book a tour of The Burren Smokehouse. You’ll get a peek behind the scenes at how the Curtin family still maintains organic practices right down to the food they feed their salmon and the salt they use.
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir, check out the idyllic Burren Perfumery for some beautifully unique scents and cosmetics. It’s located right at the center of the Burren and is a small, family-owned business that gets all its perfume inspiration from its surroundings. Everything is created and packaged onsite so they can be as sustainable as possible.
When you visit, check out their Team Rooms. Relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while sampling some herbal teas from their garden and organic lunches and sweets.
4. Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum
Located in the charming village of Foynes, Foynes Flying Boat Museum is a very fun museum that’ll bring you back to the golden age of aviation through the 1930s and 40s. Only forty minutes from Limerick, Foynes once played a crucial role in establishing commercial transatlantic flying and was one of the continent’s most important air bases. It was here in 1939 that Pan Am’s “Yankee Clipper” became the first commercial passenger flight to successfully make it from the US to Europe.
Back in those days, people actually flew flying boats. not simple aircraft carriers. And they landed in the River Shannon, not a paved runway! They only made twelve of these flying boats, and traveling in one was the height of aviation luxury. The likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Hope, Humphrey Bogart, and more boarded these flying boats for a cool $375 USD.
Don’t miss the Irish Coffee Centre when you come. Made with Irish whiskey, hot coffee, sugar, and topped with cream, modern Irish coffee was invented at Foynes Air Base when Chef Joe Sheridan added whiskey to the coffee for passengers who were so inclined. Come try an Irish Coffee or even join a master class where you can learn to make your very own.
5. Bunratty Castle & Village
Another fantastic day trip from Limerick has to be Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. Twenty minutes away in County Clare, you’ll get to experience both the most complete castle in Ireland and what a 19th century Irish village would’ve been like. First built in 1250 AD as a defensive fortress, Bunratty Castle sits on what was originally a Viking trading camp. The present structure is actually the fourth iteration of the castle built by the MacNamara family.
Surrounding the castle is the folk park, which is a “living” village spread over 30 buildings. Get a taste of 19th century Irish life while wandering through different streets, rural farmhouses, and brightly colored village shops. Be sure to keep a lookout from some “local residents,” who’ll be happy to tell you all about life back then.
There you have it – some absolutely charming day trips from Limerick to make the most of your trip. Any places you’d add? Let me know below!