Irish Explorations this St. Patrick's Weekend

Irish Explorations this St. Patrick's Weekend

It's a famous day of celebration, but it doesn't always need to be spent in the pub... here's some epic destinations in Ireland which are a pretty cool way to spend St. Patrick's weekend...

Ireland is home to plenty of stunning locations that are perfect for outdoor adventure. You can get lost in the mountains, get out on the water, or just chill on one of our stunning  beaches, there is something for every kind of adventurer.

The Mountain and Ocean are at the heart of Bleubird, and Ireland has got some pretty impressive spots. Here’s where we reckon you should check out this weekend, it can always be rounded off with a lovely pint of the black stuff...


The Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains

Image credit: Ben Mackay


Starting off closest to our base are the majestic Mourne Mountains, which provided the setting inspiration to Belfast-born writer C.S. Lewis when he was writing the well-known and loved children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Speaking on this stunning landscape, Lewis said, “I have seen landscapes, notably in the Mourne Mountains and southwards, which, under a particular light made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge.

“I yearn to see County Down in the snow, one almost expects to see a march of dwarfs dashing past. How I long to break into a world where such things were true.”

If the idea of experiencing real-life Narnia doesn’t convince you to visit, then we don’t know what will!

This breathtaking mountain range, which sweeps down to the Irish Sea, is home to some of the highest mountains in the north of Ireland, including Slieve Donard, Slieve Bearnagh, and Slieve Binnian. These challenging hikes offer some of the most spectacular views you can imagine, sweeping down over the surrounding mountains, the nearby coastline, and the Irish countryside sprawling out into the distance.

There are also some great swim options dotted about. You can enjoy a taste of the ocean or jump right into one of the many loughs hidden around the Mourne Mountains; the options are truly endless.

Check out…

  • Hike Slieve Donard (9.2 km out and back, challenging trail) – highest mountain in Northern Ireland, epic views over the Irish Sea, the eastern coastline, and the surrounding countryside
  • Hike Slieve Bearnagh (10 km out and back, challenging trail) – incredible views over the central Mournes and the surrounding landscape
  • Hike Slieve Binnian (11.2 km loop walk, challenging trail) – epic views over Silent Valley and the southern Mournes
  • Kilbroney Forest Park – various walking trails ranging from easy to more challenging routes, purpose-built mountain bike and downhill trails
  • Take a dip in the water at Murlough Bay, Loughshannagh, Bloody Bridge
  • Castlewellan Forest Park – mountain biking, walking trails, and paddleboarding and kayaking on the lake

The Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Image credit: Tina Kuper

Located in the southwest of Ireland, County Kerry is otherwise known as the ‘Kingdom’, thanks to its majestic natural beauty. Home to the country’s three highest peaks, this county is truly unrivalled when it comes to romantic landscapes and possibilities for outdoor adventure.

At 179 km (111.2 miles) in total length, there is loads going on along this scenic circular route. From sweeping coastal stretches to rolling green countryside, rural villages, and quaint port towns to wild and rugged islands, a few days spent exploring this southwest gem offer an adventure you won’t forget.

Some highlights of this route include the majestic Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, which are home to Ireland’s two highest mountains, Carrauntoohil and Cnoc na Péiste. Now, we think conquering one of Ireland’s peaks is a truly epic way to spend the most romantic day of the year. It’s also worth checking out Killarney National Park, the Skellig Islands, Rossbeigh Strand, Derrynane Beach, and much more. 

Aside from taking in the stunning scenery of the Kingdom County, February is a good time of the year to focus on what’s above. The Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve is located on the Iveragh Peninsula and, thanks to its secluded and rural location, is incredible for stargazing.  The longer nights at this time of year mean you’ll have more time to gaze at the stars… pretty romantic, ey…

Check out en route…

  • Drive the Ring of Kerry (179 km circular route) – epic scenery, quaint towns, sweeping beaches, and more

  • Hike Carrauntoohil (12 km, strenuous hike) – Ireland’s highest mountain

  • Hike Mount Brandon (9 km Faha Route, moderate to strenuous hike) – Ireland’s third-highest mountain

  • Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve – Free to visit, perfect for stargazing

  • Visit Killarney National Park – Home to Torc Mountain and Waterfall, Killarney Lakes, various bike routes, Ladies’ View, Ross Castle, and Muckross House.

  • Cycle or hike the Gap of Dunloe (22 km out and back) 

  • World Class Beaches and Surf – Castlegregory, Inch Beach, Coumeenoole Beach, Banna Strand, Derrynane Beach, Rossbeigh Strand, Ballybunion Beach, Dooks Beach, and many more.

The Wicklow Mountains

Wicklow Mountains

Image credit: Eugene_remizov

Moving East…

While Dublin may be more commonly known as the urban hub and capital city of the Emerald Isle, the wider County Dublin and County Wicklow areas offer some stunning natural scenery and plenty of opportunities for adventure.

The Dublin and Wicklow Mountains have a great range of hiking trails suited to all abilities. It can be an easygoing stroll for the whole family or a longer, challenging trek such as Lugnaquilla. There is loads of choice when it comes to stunning mountain trails. 

Seeing as it’s the Valentine’s weekend, it would be rude not to mention Lough Ouler…the heart-shaped lake sits below Tonelagee, the third-highest peak in the Wicklow Mountains.

Not far from the city is Dublin Bay which has plenty of swim spots. Bray, Greystones, and Dun Laoghaire are just a few if you fancy a cold water dip or a wintery beach walk. If you’re about, you need to check out Forty Foot or Vico Baths for a true Irish experience. Just make sure you’ve got one of our Nordic Robes on hand to warm you up post-dip… 

If you want something a little more adrenaline-fuelled, this area is home to one of the best mountain bike parks in Ireland. Glencullen Adventure Park (The Gap), which sits on the border of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, has 16 downhill trails with something to suit all abilities. Elsewhere, you can find the incredible Ballinastoe Mountainbike Trails or the natural routes located around the foothills of Little Sugarloaf.

Check out…

  • Hike the Great Sugarloaf (2.7 km out and back, moderate trail) – epic views over Dublin Bay and the County Wicklow countryside
  • Hike Lugnaquilla (13 km out and back, strenuous trail) – amazing views of the surrounding Dublin and Wicklow countryside, across to Welsh peaks on a clear day
  • Glendalough – famous lough set in a valley surrounded by picturesque mountains. Spinc Trail offers amazing views.
  • Lough Ouler – the famous heart-shaped lake
  • Hike Djouce Mountain (7.4 km out and back, strenuous trail) – amazing views of the surrounding Wicklow Mountains
  • Bray Head Walk (9.8 km loop trail, moderate) – coastal views of Dublin Bay
  • Brave a cold water dip – Forty Foot, Sandycove, and Vico Baths
  • Avondale Forest – stunning views over the Wicklow countryside
  • Mountain Biking – The GAP, Ballinastoe Mountainbike Trails, Ticknock
  • Cycle or walk the Blessington Greenway (5.5 km trail, relatively easy)
  • Winter beach walks – Brittas Bay, Killiney Beach, Silver Strand Beach, Greystones Beach, Bray South Promenade, Magheramore Beach



Image credit: Instagram / @aish_a_ling

County Donegal is Ireland’s most northwesterly county, stretching out into the rugged Atlantic Ocean and marking the starting point of the much-travelled Wild Atlantic Way. This location means two things: 

  1. The landscapes and coastlines here are some of the wildest and most rugged you will find across the whole of Ireland. 
  2. It enjoys notoriously unpredictable weather conditions all year round.

Similar to County Kerry, Donegal is much quieter during the winter months. So, visiting at this time of year means you’ll be able to enjoy some of the county’s most iconic spots without the crowds, although you may face harsher weather… but that’s all part of it!

There are many reasons to check out this corner of Ireland in winter, however, Donegal is also the perfect location to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. If this is on your bucket list, you will have the best chance of seeing this spectacular natural light show between the months of September and April.

For your best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis in all its glory, we recommend heading to the northern headlands, where there are relatively low levels of light pollution. Popular spots include Malin Head, Dunree Head, Fanad Head, the Rosguil Peninsula, Glencolmcille, and Slieve League.

Check out…

  • Slieve League Cliffs – among the highest sea cliffs in Ireland
  • Hike Mount Errigal (5.3 km out and back, moderately strenuous) – amazing views over the Derryveagh Mountains, a great place to catch a romantic sunset
  • Glenveagh National Park – plenty of outdoor trails and walking routes to suit all abilities
  • Donegal’s best surf spots – Rossnowlagh, Bundoran, Pollan Bay, Dooey Beach, Tullan Strand, Marble Hill
  • Stop off at Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head.
  • Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights – best chance at the northern headlands between October and April. Check the Aurora Forecast here.
  • Chase waterfalls – Assaranca Waterfall, Glenevin Waterfall, the ‘hidden’ waterfall near Killybegs
  • Drive the Inishowen 100 (160 km scenic drive along the Inishowen Peninsula).


Connemara National Park


Image credit: Miles Iwes

Finishing up is Connemara National Park in County Galway - pretty special. The Twelve Bens mountain range has plenty of opportunities for beautiful walks and hikes through the Irish countryside.

Diamond Hill is one of the best hikes in the area, with panoramic views of the surrounding islands off the west coast, the Twelve Bens, Kylemore Lough, and Mweelrea. This two-hour loop walk follows gravel paths and a wooden boardwalk and steps making for a relatively strenuous hike that is well worth it when you get to enjoy the view from the summit.

If you’re looking for a coastal adventure, there are lots of options in Connemara. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the area include the fantastic Gurteen and Dog’s Bay, Glassilaun Beach, Coral Strand, and Omey Island, which all offer idyllic backdrops for a winter beach walk or dip in the water.

Check out…

  • Drive the Sky Road (12 km scenic loop near Clifen) – incredible views of the surrounding cliffs, mountains, and coastline
  • Hike Diamond Hill (7 km, challenging trail) – spectacular scenery of the surrounding Connemara countryside and islands off the coast of Galway
  • Hike Tully Mountain (4 km out and back, moderate trail) – amazing views over the Renvyle Peninsula, Inishbofin Island, and the Twelve Bens
  • Stroll around Cong and Clonbur Woods (6 km, easy forest walk) – scenic woodland walk surrounded by a vast array of flora and fauna
  • Check out Killary Fjord – one of just three fjords in Ireland
  • Surf the waves – Dunlaughin in Ballyconneely
  • Head to the beach – Gurteen and Dog’s Bay, Glassilaun Beach, White Strand, Coral Strand, Omey Island
  • Inishbofin Island (30-minute ferry journey from Cleggan village) – dramatic landscapes and scenic walking trails.
  • Sea kayaking, coasteering, snorkelling, and more with Connemara Wild EscapesReal Adventures Connemara, and Killary Adventure Company
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