Horse and rider on a beach
Horse and rider on a beach

Unique Things to Do in Ireland for Your Bucket List

If you’re excited about visiting the Emerald Isle and seeing its jaw-dropping scenery, unspoiled beauty spots along with its centuries-old castles, you won’t be disappointed.

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If you’re looking for some adventure while you’re there, you’ll find that too.

Here are some unique things to do in Ireland that will satisfy the curious traveler.

1. Collect Seaweed Off the County Kerry Coast

Make your way to the County Kerry coast and enjoy a day of collecting seaweed with John Fitzgerald of Atlantic Irish Seaweed.

Located off the Ring of Kerry on the Wild Atlantic Way, Fitzgerald and his wife Kerryann, have been offering seaweed workshops and discovery courses since 2009.

Spend the day along the shore close to the Derrynane Beach gathering different types of seaweed and learning about the story of seaweed and how it has been used throughout the generations by Irish people.

Fitzgerald will tell you that Ireland’s rocky coastline and its climate, warmed by the Gulf Stream, is a favorite spot for seaweed species, with over 600 of the world’s seaweed found in Irish waters.
The rocks on Derrynane Beach on the Kerry coast, where seaweed is plentiful. Photo: Leamus for Getty images.

Afterward, enjoy a feast of delicious seaweed dishes or join in a hands-on workshop.

Not to be Missed in the Area: Skellig Michael (take the ferry from Portmagee (1/2 hour drive from the beach area) to this iconic monastic settlement).

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Discover the Goodness of Wild Irish Seaweed

2. Rafting on the Ancient River Boyne

Ireland’s River Boyne, located in County Meath, is a river rich in historical, archaeological, and mythical heritage.
The beautiful Boyne River in Ireland's Ancient East. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.

It is the place where the infamous Battle of the Boyne was fought and where Ireland’s high kings once lived.

If the water levels are high, you’ll go racing past the iconic attractions, Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth.

What better place to go on a rafting adventure and experience one of the unique things to do in Ireland?

Book your tour with Boyne Valley Activities.

Not to be Missed in the Area: The Bru na Boinne Visitor Centre, which you must visit before seeing the ancient monument complex.

Fly-Drive to Dublin from $499 per person (includes airfare, 6+ nights accommodation & rental car)

3. Kayak at Dusk in West Cork

Most people opt to go kayaking during the daylight hours.

However, kayaking at night is a popular and unique adventure in West Cork that you might want to consider.
Kayaking at night in West Cork. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.

The unique Starlight/Moonlight trips are run by Atlantic Sea Kayaking and take place at dusk or one hour before darkness.

Enjoy a paddle on Lough Hyne or in Castlehaven Bay.

Both tours cost €75 per person, but so worth it, according to the organizers who cite the joys of being on the water at this time of day, including “the sounds of the seabirds coming to roost, the sunset, the rising moon, the aromas of honeysuckle and gorse on the breeze, and the panoply of stars overhead…”

Tours are not available until early spring. You must be 18 and over to participate.

Not to Be Missed in the Area: Garnish Island – a tranquil island setting with a walled garden and Martello Tower.

4. Go Back in Time to the Great Blasket Island

Three of Ireland’s best-known writers in the Irish language, Peig Sayers, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin (Sullivan), and Tomás Ó Criomhthain (O’Crohan) were born on the Great Blasket Island, part of a rugged six-island archipelago off the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.

an old building with the beach and ocean in the background Experience the Great Blasket Island
The ruins of what were once homes on the Great Blasket Island. Photo: Noel O'Neill for Getty Images.

If you get the chance, be sure to get experience the uniqueness of this very special landscape forgotten in time and largely uninhabited except for a few residents in the summer.

Residents lived on this windswept island until the middle of the 20th century when the Irish government evacuated the last of them. You can see the remains of the island’s small fishing village when you visit.
A view of The Great Blasket Island from the ferry, one of the unique things to do in Ireland. Photo: Kim Leuenberger for Tourism Ireland.

Take the ferry from either the Dunquin Pier, the marina in Dingle, or Ventry Pier. Nearby you’ll find a wonderful museum, known as the Blasket Island Centre, a place that chronicles the history of the islands, as well as their unique fishing heritage.

5. Explore County Donegal’s Rugged Scenery on Horseback

Explore the beaches, bogs, mountains, and more in County Donegal thanks to Dunfanaghy Stables, which offers horse-riding tours of this unique landscape.
Horse riding on the beach with horses from the Dunfanahy Stables. Photo: Courtesy of Martin Fleming, Failte Ireland.

There are a wide variety of horses available to suit all horse-riding abilities, even little Shetland ponies for the youngest riders, as well as beautiful Connemara ponies suitable for older riders.

“Donegal from the Saddle” is a weeklong trail that explores the region, taking riders through different terrain, including high into the mountains as well as galloping over Donegal’s many deserted beaches.

Not to be Missed in the Area: The Horn Head Loop – a circular drive with magnificent views of the Donegal coast.

6. Climb a Sea Stack in County Donegal

If you’re comfortable with climbing, scaling a sea stack might be a bit of a challenge.

However, you’ll be in good hands with Iain Miller of Unique Ascent, a Falcarragh resident who guides the curious to the top of Donegal’s many sea stacks using kayaks and ropes to access these amazing natural wonders.

large rocks in the water unique things to do in Ireland
The Crohy Head Sea Arch off the Donegal coast. Photo: Susanne Neumann, Getty Images.

Donegal is a rock climber’s paradise, with over 100 sea stacks off its coast. Miller, an experienced mountaineer, rock climber, and marine engineer, acts as a guide for those who want to climb sea stacks and mountain summits or explore the remote islands off the coast.

These truly unique outdoor experiences are open to everyone and are developed around participants’ fitness levels, weather, and sea conditions. Prior climbing experience is not required.

Not to be Missed in the Area: Glenveagh National Park and Glenveagh Castle

Read More: Ireland’s Parks in World’s Top 11

7. Caving in County Fermanagh

Considered to be the finest and most extensive caves in Britain and Ireland, the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh is a unique underworld just waiting to be explored.

a passageway in a cave unique things to do in Ireland
Explore the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh, one of the unique things to do in Ireland. Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland.

The series of natural limestone caves, about 7 miles long, were originally formed from three rivers that drained off the nearby slopes of the Cuilcagh Mountain.

Conditions are of course dependent on the weather, but all going well, you’ll be able to see the cave system’s amazing subterranean rivers, winding passages, and lofty chambers and hear about the early explorers of the caves who dared to brave the unknown.

The Marble Arch Caves are part of a UNESCO Global Geopark.

Not to be Missed in the Area: Florence Court – a beautiful 18th-century home and National Trust property. It was also the location for the movie “Miss Julie” starring Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain.

Experience Ireland's North Atlantic Coast on a 5-Day Small Group Tour from Dublin

8. Supping in County Leitrim

Supping, otherwise known as Stand Up Paddling, is a popular activity across Ireland, especially in the summer months.

While it may take a little getting used to at first, there’s no need to rush with this unique adventurous activity.

In fact, it’s all about taking it slow.

The Shannon Blueway in County Leitrim is the perfect place to try this novel sport.

The Leitrim Surf Company specializes in guided stand-up paddleboarding safaris on the blueway.

Two of their popular paddleboarding tours include “The Drumshamazon,” a two-hour exploration of the blueway along the Drumshanbo canal between Lough Allen and Acres Lake, in addition to the “Battlebridge,” another two-hour tour that will take you near Leitrim village.

Not to be Missed in the Area: The Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo Visitor Experience

9. Surfing in County Sligo

The Wild Atlantic Way is a haven for surfers, with many of them choosing County Sligo as their base.

a woman on a surf board in the water unique things to do in Ireland
Learning to surf by instructors in the Sligo Surf Experience. Photo: ©Andrew Kilfeather_Sligo Surf Experience for Failte Ireland.

There are two locations in Sligo where the waves are worth riding.

One is Mullaghmore, which is among the top 10 big wave destinations in the world, and the other is Easkey, which is farther south along the coast.

While you’ll need to be a professional surfer to brave the waves in either location, you can become acquainted with the sport by taking surf lessons with the Sligo Surf Experience in Strandhill.

Not to be Missed in the Area: Climb Knocknarea, the reputed home of Connaught’s Queen Maeve.

10. Get Up Close to a Hawk at Ashford Castle

Are you fascinated by hawks?

At Ireland’s School of Falconry, you’ll have the opportunity to fly a Harris hawk around the beautiful grounds of Ashford Castle in a one-hour private Hawk Walk, a true one-of-a-kind unique experience to top off your Ireland vacation.

a man holding a hawk unique things to do in Ireland
A falconer with a falcon at the Irish School of Falconry at Ashford Castle. Photo: Payton Walter, Wikimedia Commons.

There are 23 hawks at the castle’s falconry, each with their own distinctive Irish names.

Many visitors to the falconry have talked about the privilege of holding such a beautiful and powerful bird.

An extended walk is also available, which provides for more flying time and greater insight into the world of hawks.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this whole experience is learning to launch one of the birds, only for it to return to your gloved hand again.

flowers in front of a castle unique things to do in Ireland
The grounds of Ashford Castle. Photo: Mustang_79 for Getty Images.

Handlers are always close by to ensure the safety of all.

Rates are €130 for one participant, €200 for two, €240 for three, and €280 for four.

Not to be Missed in the Area: Treat yourself to the Lord & Lady Ardilaun Traditional Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle (a pricey €75 per person but worth it), a tradition since 1868, followed by a visit to The Quiet Man Museum.

Would you be interested in the above-mentioned unique things to do in Ireland? Let me know in the comments below.


Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

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