Outdoors Activity Breaks in Ireland

From Kayaking to Horse Riding, Ireland offers the perfect outdoors activity break

Perhaps you've heard of the never-ending coastline, a phenomenon based on the principles of fractal mathematics. It's the concept that the more jagged a coastline is, the longer it is. Ireland, as small as it seems, has a coastline over 5600 kilometres (3500 miles) long, a fact we'll get to again at the end when we talk about coasteering.

Ireland offers so much for anyone seeking outdoors activities. And by taking the ferry from UK to Ireland, you can load up your car with bikes, surfboards, climbing gear, kayaks...You name it!

Travelling to Ireland from UK couldn't be easier. There are numerous ferry routes available (see our list on the right) and many of the ferry tickets are affordable, especially if you compare prices and deals using our booking and comparison engine below. Taking the car on any holiday will always give you an extra bit of freedom, but it is especially useful in Ireland, which has so much to offer, but where driving is easy and enjoyable.

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Ferries to Dublin / Dun Laoghaire

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  • Holyhead to Dublin / Dun Laoghaire
  • Liverpool to Dublin
  • Liverpool Birkenhead to Dublin

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Ferries to Dublin

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Ferries to South of Ireland

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  • Swansea to Cork
  • Pembroke to Rosslare
  • Fishguard to Rosslare

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Ferries to South Ireland

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Inland Activities

First, though, let's go inland. The countryside is green and gorgeous and there are so many ways to traverse it. You can take a bicycle, a horse or your own two feet and explore to your heart's content. Walking will demonstrate to you over and over why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. The countryside is beautiful and can be enjoyed all the more at the slow pace of a pair of feet. If you want to challenge your leg muscles, the highest peak, Carrauntoohil, is only a bit over a thousand meters, but so much of the terrain is gently sloping, you won't even notice the changes in elevation - unless you try climbing the cliffs and crags.

Cycling in Ireland

When you bring your car over on the ferry, you can also pack your bicycle. Or, if you prefer, you can rent a bike in Ireland. Tourist companies will rent you a bike and give you maps with indicators of good routes and comfortable accommodations, but bring your own rain gear. Bicyclists have plenty of room to spare barrelling along the country roads, with little competition from traffic.

Horse Riding

Horseback riding in Ireland is as traditional and romantic a getaway as you can imagine, whether you're a beginner or an old hand. You can get lessons, go on short afternoon or morning rides or go on multi-day treks to castle ruins and the Irish back-country. The Connemara Trail on the west coast of Ireland is simply spectacular, taking you from seaside beaches up into the hills and back again.


Walking is the slow casual way to explore Ireland, starting from just outside the major cities and working your way up into the highlands filled with flowers and verdant grasslands among towering crags of rock. The Connemara is not just for horses - you can walk yourself to exhaustion there and then settle in a meal and a good night's sleep in Galway. There's the Kerry Ring and the Dingle Peninsula in the southwest, both perfect for walking tours, and the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin in County Wicklow for the more adventurous. You'll be able to find excellent marked walking trails in every county in Ireland.

Activites by the Coast

Let's head back to the coast and talk about activities on or near the sea. Because of the sheltered harbours, clean water and dramatic coastline, kayaking and sailing are both very popular. In fact, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world, the Royal Cork Yacht Club, founded in 1720, occupies a honoured post in the harbour of the city of Cork. Steady breezes all around Ireland make sailing a dream. Take a lesson or two while you're visiting.

Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is another maritime alternative you might want to try in Ireland. Schools and rental facilities are dotted all over the south and west coasts. Once you learn how to handle one of these compact craft, you'll be able to explore the inlets and seaside cliffs as you please or have a local guide show you the best sights.

Sea Kayaking in Ireland


You probably did not know this, but some of the best surfing in Europe is off the coasts of Ireland. Though the water may be cold and rough, surfers seem to take these natural rigours as a challenge. For surfing, visit the town of Bundoran in County Donegal - you'll find boards, wet-suits and lessons galore.


Now that we're back at the coast, let's talk about coasteering. Think of it as a combination of orienteering and extreme hiking. The goal is to make your way around Ireland by traversing the coastline all the way around or as far as you'd care to try. And you let nothing stand in your way. Cliff? Climb it or rappel down it. Inlet? Swim it. Rough terrain? Deal with it. Think of coasteering as a wild mixture of swimming, climbing, diving and practically every other type of traversing method mankind has used to cross over forbidding terrain. Obviously, this sport is not for everyone. You'll need safety equipment and understand the proper precautions, you'll have to take some training beforehand and you should prepare alternate plans and be ready to use them if the first or second course of action fails. Don't forget to bring a local guide so you don't get trapped in a tidal cave.

Combine Ireland's incomparable countryside with every other type of outdoor activity you can imagine, everything from rock climbing to scuba diving to wind surfing, and you'll get a once-in-a-lifetime experience exploring and playing on every part of the island. Or maybe you'll be so entranced that you'll be coming back year after year after year.

Compare Ferries to Ireland - all operators, routes and prices

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We compare all Irish ferry operators to find you the cheapest tickets and fares for ferries to Ireland, including Stena Line Ferries, P & O Ferries, Irish Ferries, Norfolkline Ferries and Fastnet Line Ferries. Click here to compare Ferries to Ireland or click on the links below for more information about each Irish ferry operator...