Enrich your itinerary with these unmissable experiences in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands.
Brought to you by DiscoverIreland.
Summer is just around the corner, and if you're looking for ways to discover more of our amazing country without spending the world, we've got you covered.
In Ireland, we are blessed to have some of the world's most picturesque destinations on our very doorstep, and they make for incredible short breaks away. Our country is home to beautiful gardens, breathtaking scenery and picture-perfect landscapes that are free to explore whenever you are. Gather your friends, pack a picnic and take advantage of the gorgeous countryside in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands.
From slow rambles through nature to more challenging hikes with unparalleled views, unwind and disconnect with an enriching and affordable day out in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands this summer. Here are just a few of our favourites dotted around:
On the banks of the Awbeg River in north Cork stands Doneraile Estate, an estate of rich history, literary significance and astounding beauty. Doneraile Estate dates all the way back to the 1720s and was occupied by the St. Leger family until 1969 when it eventually came under the stewardship of the Office of Public Works [OPW]. What's more, the area is believed to have inspired part of Edmund Spenser's epic poem and allegory The Faerie Queen.
The sprawling parklands are completely free to explore, but guided tours of Doneraile Court and Gardens are also available, with tickets on sale at the house's front door.
Planning a short trip to Cork? Add the historic estate of Annes Grove Gardens in Castletownroche to your itinerary. Ramble through the grounds and you'll find a stunning assembly of exotic plants and flowering shrubs as well as insights into the estate's history.
Take a moment to unwind with a walk along Annes Grove Gardens' flowing stream, or simply relax in the tranquil nature of the peaceful grounds.
If you're looking for a short, relaxing hike that still offers spectacular views while visiting Co. Limerick, then the Clare Glens Loop Walk is ideal.
There are two easy routes for all abilities, a 2km and a 4km loop, but both will guide you through the dense forest and to a red sandstone gorge. As you stroll through the woods, enjoy the sights and sounds of the crystal clear rivers, and keep your eyes peeled for the stunning waterfalls that punctuate this hike.
Are you heading to the Rebel County this summer? Enhance your trip with a visit to The Donkey Sanctuary in Mallow, Co. Cork. The mission of this sanctuary is to transform the quality of life for the donkeys in their care, which becomes apparent as you visit the grounds.
Head out on a sanctuary walk, stroll through the picturesque grounds and meet some of the Donkey Sanctuary's beloved residents. Admission is free, but the sanctuary always welcomes donations.
A brilliant way to enhance a short trip away is to explore your surroundings by bike, and Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails offer some of Ireland's most beautiful routes. Make your time even easier by downloading the Ballyhoura Trails Guide App before your visit.
Satisfy your need for speed with a spin through Ireland's most extensive mountain bike trails. The routes, which feature twisty turns and tough rocky sections, is free to explore if you have your own bike, but bike rentals are also available from Ballyhoura Trailriders Mountain Bike Hire, starting at €40.
Situated in the idyllic Limerick countryside is Lough Gur Pottery Studios. For just €60 per person, you and your friends can make a group booking and learn the art of pottery, before taking home a mug of your own creation. During a relaxing session, you'll get to grips with the basics of this art form while crafting your very own ceramic. Let your imagination flow during this unique workshop, and at the very end, pop your piece of pottery in the kiln, and it will be sent to you once it has been fired and glazed.
This session also includes unlimited tea and coffee as well as a slice of cake, guaranteeing a truly relaxing experience.
For more ideas on how to make the most of your short break in Ireland, visit discoverireland.ie
Brought to you by DiscoverIreland.
From beautiful gardens, breathtaking scenery and picturesque landscapes, Ireland's Hidden Heartlands has plenty for you to explore for free this summer.
So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to plan an adventure in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands.
The Leave No Trace principles help us make as little an impact as possible on the incredible Irish landscape as we explore the outdoors this summer and beyond. Keep outdoor areas safe, clean and free from waste/hazards, and help protect the natural environment. Love this place, leave no trace.
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