Top 5 best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure

Renowned for its stunning landscape, Ireland is a haven for lovers of the great outdoors. Here are the five best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure.

No matter what age you are, the great outdoors have something to offer everyone. Whether that be the peaceful tranquillity of an escape from city life or the adrenaline of a new adventure, the natural world has something you will love.

From hiking in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to taking part in water sports on stunning loughs, Ireland has an abundance to offer lovers of outdoor adventure.

While the weather may not always be ideal for being outside (what can we say, we are known for our rather wet climate), the incredible landscape and natural environment definitely make up for it.

So, if you’re looking to get out in the great outdoors, experience an adrenaline rush from a new adventure, or just get out and explore the Irish countryside, here are the five best counties in Ireland for an outdoor adventure.

5. Co. Galway – visit Connemara to “experience the real beauty of Ireland”

County Galway is one of the best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Boasting breathtaking coastlines thanks to its location on the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as stunning countryside, County Galway has plenty to offer when it comes to outdoor adventure.

Connemara National Park in the heart of County Galway is a must-visit if you’re a fan of the great outdoors.

If you fancy taking to the water, why not try out kayaking, water-skiing, wakeboarding, or stand-up paddleboarding on the scenic Killary Fjord, the only fjord in Ireland.

Or suppose you fancy heading into the hills by foot or by bike. In that case, you can head to the Derroura Mountain Bike Trail, enjoy Diamond Hill hiking, or the Twelve Bens mountains where you can enjoy incredible views of everything Connemara has to offer.

4. Co. Mayo – from cycling and walking to hiking and watersports

County Mayo is a great spot for cycling, walking, and more.
Croagh Patrick, Mayo

From the iconic Great Western Greenway, which follows the train line from Westport to Achill railway line, to Ireland’s undisputed ‘holy mountain’, Croagh Patrick, there is plenty to feed your outdoor desires in County Mayo.

Whether you fancy snorkelling at Keem Bay on Achill Island, taking in the views at the Croaghaun Cliffs, or kite surfing on the flat-water lake at Keel, there is something for everyone in Mayo, so it had to make our list of the best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure.

3. Co. Down – home to the highest peak in Northern Ireland

County Down is one of the best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

From hiking in the breathtaking Mourne Mountains to kayaking on Strangford Lough, County Down has so much to offer that it had to make it onto our list of the best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure.

Whether you’d prefer mountain biking in Rostrevor and Tollymore Forest Park or sailing in Bangor or Ballyholme, you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy in County Down.

However, the ultimate outdoor adventure in County Down, if not Northern Ireland, has to be a day spent in the Mourne Mountains.

Known as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Mournes have so much to offer – including Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland.

2. Co. Donegal – a bit of something for everyone

County Donegal has something for everyone.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The most northerly county on the Emerald Isle boasts some of the best outdoor adventures in the whole of Ireland. Not only does this popular holiday spot have some of the country’s best beaches, but it also has several other natural attractions.

For a great day of hiking, head to the stunning Mount Errigal – the sunrise from here is unbeatable. Or to take in the best of the Irish scenery, check out Glenveagh National Park, the second-largest national park in Ireland.

For something a little different, check out the stunning Donegal coastline at the Slieve League Cliffs. At almost 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level, these cliffs are amongst the highest in Europe.

If being in the water is more your thing, this coastal county offers everything from surfing and paddleboarding to coasteering and windsurfing.

1. Co. Kerry – home to the highest peak in Ireland

County Kerry is one of the best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Topping our list of the five best counties in Ireland for outdoor adventure is the beautiful County Kerry.

Not only is County Kerry home to the iconic Ring of Kerry loop and Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohil Mountain, but there is also plenty to do for lovers of the outdoors in this versatile county.

The Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range will be the first port of call for many adventure lovers on a trip to County Kerry. Still, we also recommend stopping off at Killarney National Park where you can take a boat out on the lake, visit Torc Mountain and Waterfall, and enjoy a day on the iconic lakes of Killarney.

Boasting some of the most scenic natural landscapes in Ireland, a trip to County Kerry is sure to keep even the most restless of outdoor adventurers occupied.

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