The Irish countryside is one of the best places to travel solo. It has a thriving tourism industry, but the authenticity of culture hasn’t been spoiled by the many tourists who pass by. Most of them will pop in and out on a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, but there’s a lot more to discover. Here are my top 10 things to do in County Clare.
Listen to traditional Irish folk music
Clare is known for having the best pubs for Irish folk music. Even in small villages like Doolin, world class musicians come down to the pubs every night to put on a show. Whether you’re in Ennis, Shannon or somewhere more rural, make sure to ask around for the best place to go for a drink and some music later on.
Hike the Cliffs of Moher
From Doolin, there’s an easy trail to follow along the Cliffs of Moher that takes you directly to the Visitor’s Centre. Those who aren’t comfortable hiking solo can join one of the many walking groups from Doolin who do this trail every day. Hiking the Cliffs of Moher was one of my favourite travel memories. I’m already counting down the days until I can go again!
Discover Bunratty Castle
Near both Shannon and Ennis is the 15th century tower house known as Bunratty Castle. The Castle and adjoining park have a wealth of history for tourists to discover. Both are open to tourists, and go beyond a house museum, as the park includes a village street, pet farm, fairy trail, walled garden and cafe. There’s no shortage of things to see and do at Bunratty Castle.
Horseback ride through the countryside
If you’re not a keen walker but you want to see more of the Clare countryside, a horseback riding tour is perfect. Ride horseback along the West Coast beaches and take in views of the Burren, Connemara Mountains and Aran Islands. This is a great way to see what Clare has to offer in a short amount of time.
Surf in the summer
There are a few popular surf spots in Clare, though none more than Lahinch. If you’re new to the sport worry not, there’s a surf school located at Lahinch. Here, tourists can perfect their surfing skills and try their hand at catching some Irish waves. Known worldwide for its waves, it’s not to be missed!
Explore the Burren
The Burren is a geological area with a truly one of a kind landscape. Built of limestone beds, the Burren is wide and open, home to diverse wildlife and lichen and the perfect place for a day out walking. The Burren National Park has seven walking trails, but the foodie travellers won’t want to miss the weekly Food Trail!
Go splunking at Doolin Cave
The Burren’s limestone landscape makes the area a goldmine of caves. The Doolin Cave is known worldwide as having the largest hanging stalactite that is open for public to visit. It’s a highly accessible wonder, after a quick walk down a mineshaft visitors enter the cave and are greeted by the stalactite. Only 10 euro, easy to access by bike or car from Doolin, and there’s a lovely little cafe as well! Doolin Cave was a sweet surprise for me the last time I visited Clare. If you’re not planning on visiting Doolin, there are plenty of other caves in the region, such as the Aillwee cave, to explore.
Find love at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
Of all the things to do in County Clare, this is an unusual but popular choice. The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival has gained worldwide attention and sells out every year. It’s the biggest offline matchmaking festival in the world, and those who attend have nothing but high praises to sing. It occurs each September and features a lot of music and dancing alongside traditional matchmaking games. It was on my travel bucket list, but unfortunately (?) I met my fiancé before next September had rolled around!
Sail on the Shannon Estuary
The Shannon Ferry is a fantastic way to take in all the views this part of Ireland has to offer. While you might hike the Cliffs of Moher, take a horseback riding tour along the beach and walk through the Burren, there’s no view quite like the one from the water. Starting in Killimer, sail along the Shannon Estuary from County Clare straight to the Kingdom of Kerry. In the summer, you might just spot some dolphins swimming alongside you. The ferry is also popular around sunset, for obvious reasons.
Visit the Aran Islands
If you’re keen to see the Cliffs of Moher from the sea, there’s no better way than the Doolin to Inis Oirr ferry. Like most tourist attractions in Clare, this trip runs seasonally so make sure to visit between mid-March and October. The ‘Doolin 2 Aran‘ ferries offer a variety of cruising options, so you’re sure to find one that suits your interests and travel needs.
Here are some places to find more information on County Clare:
Want to see more from County Clare? Watch my vlog below!