Hugging the River Shannon, Limerick is a lively, rejuvenated city brimming with historical and heritage hotspots as well as super shopping and sporting experiences.
Limerick impresses with its medieval and Georgian architecture, marvellous museums and ancient castles. Fusing harmoniously with this rich culture is all things edgy; street art sits alongside galleries, traditional food markets trade beside trendy restaurants and cosy pubs rub shoulders with contemporary coffee shops.
Just a 15-minute drive from Shannon airport, Limerick is a gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, but it would be remiss to not linger longer in Limerick and soak up the lively atmosphere, cultural fun and exhilarating experiences the city and its surroundings have to offer.
Here are 10 great reasons to make a break for it to Limerick.
Do you love to bag a bargain or do you lust after labels? Are you more high street or high end or somewhere in the middle? From vintage to Valentino, Penneys to Prada, Limerick has got it all when it comes to shopping experiences.
O’Connell Street and Cruises Street is where you’ll find all the well-known high-street shops and Catherine Street is home to beautiful boutiques where you’ll find more unique pieces. Thomas Street and Bedford Row are also great for those who like to shop till they drop.
The Crescent Shopping Centre in Dooradoyle lies three-kilometres out of the city centre (drive, walk or catch the bus) and it is “the biggest and most successful shopping complex outside of Dublin”. With 90 shops, plenty of cafes and restaurants and a cinema, there’s loads to do here for the whole family, even those who don’t like shopping! Come on Fridays for the Farmers Market, which sells an array of local produce like fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, baked goods, fresh fish, hot food, and health and beauty products.
If food shopping is more your bag, head over to the marvellous Milk Market on Mungret Street in Limerick City centre. This all-weather, all-weekend food market is a haven for gourmands and epicureans. Taste the flavours of Limerick and discover the very best of fresh local produce and food and drink. There are nearly 50 stalls and 21 shops that tempt you with fabulous food offerings and horticultural products.
Treaty City Brewery
Travel can be thirsty work, so take a trip to Treaty City Brewery for some liquid refreshment alongside some learning. Located in the middle of the Medieval Quarter, in a 250-year-old historical building, the tour of the artisan craft brewery takes you on a journey through the history of brewing in Limerick, which dates back to the 1700s. You’ll also hear about the brewing process and ingredients used to make Treaty City craft beer. Of course, you’ll get to quench your thirst during a beer tasting where you’ll try three seasonal brews. Sláinte!
Visit Lough Gur
There is 6,000 years of history and culture to be discovered at Lough Gur, which is located 20km outside of Limerick City.
Lough Gur and its surrounds is a remarkable region of archaeological interest with sites dotted across the landscape that represent every major period of human history in Ireland. In the area, physical evidence of occupation has been found from the Neolithic period, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Early Christian era, Medieval era, Early Modern and Modern eras.
Near to the shores of Lough Gur, you’ll find Grange Stone Circle, the largest stone circle in Ireland, and The Standing Stone wedge tomb. You’ll also find Knockfierna fairy hill and other legendary sites including Slieve Phelim, Harps of Cliú and Slievenamon.
At the Lough Gur Heritage Centre an engaging and interactive exhibition explains the history and artefacts found at Lough Gur and you can also pick up a map and audio-guide which leads you on an adventure through the woods and up the 110 fairy steps and around the Lough. There are information markers along the trail and a Tricky Tree Trivia Quiz to complete too which helps you identify the different trees. As you can tell, this is a terrific place for children of all ages. You could spend all day in the area uncovering the archaeological gems.
Looking for some extreme sports action or just a relaxing trip on the water? NevSail Watersports has got you covered. Get a grip at its indoor rock-climbing wall or plunder the mighty River Shannon in a kayak learning about the local history and enjoying the landmarks and wildlife as you paddle along. Get vertical on the water with a Stand-Up Paddle Board trip to King John’s Castle. You’ll master the art of SUP’ing on the flatwater before heading off and catching your first waves with your instructor by your side. It is a fun way to explore Limerick and you really get a unique perspective of the city.
Thomond Park Museum
Rugby fans won’t want to miss a trip to Thomond Park Museum, the main home of Munster Rugby. Here, you can follow in the footsteps of the Munster Rugby heroes and go behind the scenes of this historic stadium.
A tour of the stadium gives you access to places usually reserved just for the players. Take a seat in the dressing room, walk down the tunnel, go pitch-side and into the dugout. It’s a great way to live out those dreams of playing for the team.
You’ll then uncover the history of Munster Rugby in the museum and you can test out your skills in the interactive game zone. Go on, give it a try! The Thomond Park Museum is a great place to keep children entertained and a wonderful activity to do in the wet weather.
Hook & Ladder Cafe
Worked up an appetite? Looking for some hearty, healthy, homemade food? Head to Hook and Ladder on Sarsfield Street where your tastebuds and tummy are in for a treat.
On the menu, you’ll find a lovely long list of local food producers that supply the kitchen as well as delicious dishes and freshly baked goodies.
Classic comfort food features predominately - fluffy pancakes and waffles for breakfast, burgers and BLT for lunch, cakes and cookies for afters - with plenty of vegetarian and healthy options too as well as a great pre-teen menu. There is something here for everyone, even those with a picky palate.
Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trail
Looking for a thrilling two-wheeled adventure? Want to explore the region by peddle-power? Well, you are in luck, because the brilliant Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trail starts less than an hour’s drive away from Limerick City.
Ballyhoura has the largest mountain bike trail network of its kind in Ireland and is an adventure playground for those who enjoy off-road cycling. There are trails to suit all abilities ranging from the Greenwood Loop (a moderate 6km jaunt) to the Castlepook loop (a 51km demanding ride). Whichever trail you choose, you’ll be surrounded by magnificent scenery as you peddle through the forests of the Ballyhoura Mountains, tackling tight twisty tracks and turns before whizzing down undulating hills. You’ll have a smile on your face the whole time.
If you’d rather stay out of the saddle, two looped walking trails start and finish at the main trailhead near Ardpatrick.
If you go down to the woods today, you are in for a treat as the Glenstal Woods loop walk gives beautiful views into north Limerick, south Tipperary and of Keeper Hill (Slievekimalta) - the highest peak in the Shannon region.
The 15km loop is gentle and scenic with a 300-metre ascent. You start and finish in Glenstal Wood Carpark near the town of Murroe and you should allow about 4 hours to complete it.
The walk takes you through natural woodland, which is blanketed with vibrant rhododendron in the late spring and early summer and makes for a spectacular sight. You should also look skyward as this is hen harrier territory and you might just spot one circling around looking for prey.
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The Good Room Bistro, Adare
For great food and coffee head to The Good Room in Adare, a picturesque village just 17km outside of Limerick City. The Good Room combines a cafe, bistro and bakery with a menu featuring dishes inspired by ingredients that are farmed, foraged and reflect the seasons.
In the morning, breakfast is a bounty including fresh scones, porridge, a traditional full Irish and lighter options. Lunch is a lovely selection of organic salads, hot and cold gourmet sandwiches and burgers and pasta dishes. Brunch is a fancier affair with brioche French toast, fluffy pancakes, classic eggs dishes and more substantial offerings.
The bakery is brimming with showstopper cakes, buns, bread, bakes and all manner of truly scrumptious treats that you can take away and perhaps enjoy as a picnic in the park nearby.
Limerick City Walking Tours
Immerse yourself in Limerick’s story and culture on a Limerick City Walking Tour, which starts outside the Limerick City Art Gallery on Pery Square. The morning walking tour focuses on the history of the city and introduces you to the characters and villains who, over the centuries, have called Limerick home. You’ll also discover the sons and daughters of modern Limerick; the writers, musicians, statesmen, poets and patriots of Treaty City. You’ll also find out why Limerick is known as the Treaty City - a refresher in case you missed school that day.
In the afternoon, there is a children’s theatre tour during which stories and characters are brought to life by players in period costume and there is a Where’s Wally? competition, too. It’s immersive, engaging and fun for the whole family, and those under 5 year’s old go free of charge. So make sure you pack your walking shoes!
As you can see, Limerick is the perfect location to combine a city break with a country escape. Soak up the lively city atmosphere, cultural riches and food and shopping experiences and then head out to the nearby hills for some exhilarating outdoor pursuits and historic hotspots. With its family-friendly activities and plenty of things to do come rain or come shine, Limerick ticks all the boxes for a memorable getaway.
With 2020 being the year for discovering the best activities and attractions on our island, why not make a break for it to Limerick? Whether you're into shopping or sport, markets or mountains, walking or wheelies, you'll find all of these experiences and more in Limerick and its surrounds.
Limited capacity and procedures may be in place at visitor attractions, sites, and restaurants so, you are encouraged to book ahead to avoid disappointment!