County Clare is a pretty special place to refresh your spirits. The sea, lands and lakes all combine with a rich historical tapestry to create the backdrop for a memorable trip. The county is wonderful for families, couples, solo travellers and outdoor enthusiasts. Clare offers so much in its contrasts and diversity that the biggest decision you need to make is where to begin!
If you start in Ennis, you can take it all in. Ennis is one of the country's most picturesque towns. Its history, combined with its narrow streets and characterful buildings, make this town somewhere special. Visitors particularly enjoy exploring its history, great music and entertainment, unique shops, cosy cafés and top-class restaurants.
Ennis is also a great base to explore the wonderful experiences the county has in store for you.
Nearb, you can enjoy historical attractions including ancient Quin Abbey and the world-famous Bunratty Castle and Folk Park – a real family favourite.
Head north to amazing attractions – the jewel among them is, of course, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. Formed millions of years ago, its geology, flora, cliffs, caves, archaeology and history set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty. Don’t miss the 214-metre high Cliff of Moher, standing firm against the power of the Atlantic Ocean.
The sheer scale and dramatic impact of the cliffs never cease to amaze and delight in equal measure. You can explore the Burren’s underworld at either of its two wonderful caves – the Aillwee Cave or DoolinCave. Take in a day trip to the beautiful Aran Islands, easily reached by ferry from Doolin Pier.
West Clare is an area of unspoilt, natural beauty. It is wedged between the Shannon Estuary and the Atlantic, which has carved out giant natural sculpture formations from the coastline, and then trimmed them with safe beaches and old-world fishing villages.
Check out Loop Head and its panoramic cliff views, or the Victorian charm of Kilkee, or take in the market town atmosphere of Kilrush before taking a boat trip to Scattery Island – one of the most important sites of early Christian Ireland. For a unique experience, go dolphin watching from Carrigaholt or Kilrush.
If you love the coast, head to Clare’s Wild Atlantic Way. Once you come down from the magnificent views from some of Europe's best-loved sea cliffs, you can chill out at any of Clare’s seven coastal blue-flag beaches at Cappagh Kilrush, Fanore, Kilkee, Lahinch, Spanish Point, White Strand (near Doonbeg), or White Strand (near Miltown Malbay).
You can also take to the water and get active with swimming, sur?ng, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, sea angling or diving all available along this beautiful coast.
East Clare is part of the Hidden Heartlands, and has a visitor-friendly environment with towns and villages like Scarriff, Tulla, Killaloe, Mountshannon and Feakle all creating a rural village atmosphere. This part of the county is dotted with almost 40 lakes and for an unmissable lake experience, get along to the Lough Derg Blueway and the Shannon Waterway.
The area is loved by water enthusiasts who can enjoy cruising, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding and quality angling. It also has two of Ireland’s few blue-flag inland beaches at Ballycuggeran (Killaloe) and Mountshannon. While there, take in a boat trip from Mountshannon to Inis Cealtra (Holy Island) which is noted for its early monastic settlement dating to the late 7th Century.
Clare is a haven for anyone interested in active pursuits and in addition to all its water activities, back on land, you can enjoy some wonderful walks along the sea, river and lakes, including some excellent hill and cliff-top walks. Other activities include cycling, horse riding, shore angling and golf.
Thanks to nature, Clare has ten top-class golf courses, including two 18-hole links courses at Lahinch and Doonbeg. Co Clare is great for children. They love the beaches, folk parks, caves, pet farms, boat trips, water activities, forests, castles… and more.
For more information on the wonders of Clare, check out visitclare.ie