Of course! National Parks in the Republic of Ireland and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Northern Ireland are beautiful places to enjoy the unique flora, fauna and wildlife of the island of Ireland.
Bursting with beauty, Glenveagh National Park
in County Donegal is a great place to start. Not only is it home to Ireland’s largest herd of red deer, but there are otters and even golden eagles here, although sightings are rare. But what you do get to see is exceptional scenery at every turn: tumbling streams, rugged mountains, navy-coloured lakes and gorgeous oak trees make this a wonderful place to escape into nature. There are lots of walking trails here, from small strolls to bigger hikes, but the most popular is the Lakeside Walk, which brings you alongside the rippling waters to the 19th century Glenveagh Castle.Connemara National Park
in County Galway boasts a whopping 2,000 hectares of tobacco-toned bogland, mountains, grassland, heath and woodland. And while it’s temping just to look around, don’t forget to look up, too: from skylarks, robins and chaffinches to birds of prey such as kestrels and the occasional peregrine falcon, there’s plenty to see. There are four walking trails here, from the 0.5km Ellis Wood Nature Trail to the 3.7km Upper Diamond Trail. Afterwards, make sure to pop in to nearby Kylemore Abbey.
For a completely different landscape, The Burren National Park
in County Clare is not to be missed with its stark, pale grey limestone rock that tumbles down to the ocean. The Burren is an international phenomenon, primarily because it’s one of the few places you’ll find native Arctic plants growing alongside Mediterranean species. It’s a really special place and captivates visitors with its food, culture, traditional music and friendly locals. Don’t miss the fantastic Cliffs of Moher, which are near here, too… Both are a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Fancy some scenic views during the day and at night? Then Ballycroy National Park
in County Mayo is the place. Many people may know Ballycroy as home to one of the last intact bog systems in Ireland and western Europe, making it both an important scenic and scientific place. But what you might not know is that Ballycroy is also a hotspot for stargazing, and was Ireland’s first Dark Sky Park
. On a clear night, some claim the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye!
Next up are Northern Ireland’s spectacular landscapes – Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Spend the day exploring one of Northern Ireland’s Antrim Glens, the most beautiful of which is Glenariff Valley, situated in Glenariff Forest Park
, in County Antrim. This gorgeous spot has stunning panoramic views, river walks and impressive waterfalls. A Waterfall Walkway stretches three miles around these spectacular falls, passing the renowned Ess-na-Larach Waterfall.
And finally, be sure not to miss a trip to Giant’s Causeway
. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway is a point of historical interest and natural beauty. Explore the clifftop paths that give a bird’s eye view of the Causeway, with trails for every ability. Or take a closer look and explore the Blue Trail which leads you directly to the stones themselves. This famous place in Northern Ireland absolutely lives up to its reputation!
Do any of our community members have a favourite landscape in Ireland?