15 Spectacular Things to Do in Shannon, Ireland

ViaHero
Updated March 27, 2020

A beautiful town on Ireland’s west coast, Shannon shines with swoon-worthy natural wonders, a bustling pub scene, and incredible ancient sites. We asked some Irish locals what to do in and around Shannon. With their help, we created this guide to 15 things to do in Shannon, Ireland.

For personalized advice on things to do in Shannon, work with a local to plan your trip. They'll create a guidebook full of local tips, expert advice, and hidden gems. Learn more

#1: Feast like a king at Bunratty Castle

Once home to royalty, knights, courtesans, (and even Vikings, long ago) Bunratty Castle is the perfect setting for a medieval banquet. Devour a four-course meal in the great hall, where you’re serenaded by medieval musicians. Before you head in for the grand banquet at sunset, be sure to explore the Bunratty Castle Park, a 26-acre recreation of 19th-century Ireland, complete with 19th-century pubs, barbershops, and a fairy trail. 

Local tip: Make your reservations far in advance—the €45+ tickets go quickly and aren’t sold in July. 

#2: See Limerick’s rugby team do battle

Rugby Things to Do in Shannon Ireland
Rugby in Limerick | royskeane/Flickr

To see County Clare through the eyes of a local, root on a rough-and-tough rugby game! Locals tell us that a fun activity in Limerick—just 20 minutes from downtown Shannon—is cheering for the home team, Munster. They’re one of the most famous rugby teams in Ireland! Locals say their fans bring crazy energy to every match. 

Local tip: Munster plays from September through May, so you’ve got plenty of time to see these incredible athletes in person. 

#3: Take the ultimate day trip to the Cliffs of Moher

A 50-minute drive from Shannon proper, a trip to the Cliffs of Moher stands out as one of the most essential things to do in Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are 700-feet tall and offer dramatic views of the crashing Atlantic waves.

Get a unique perspective on the Cliffs of Moher. Our local trip planners can suggest their favorite places to catch a view, explain how to get there, and give advice on what to wear (Ireland's weather can be temperamental). 

#4: Travel back to prehistoric times at Craggaunowen Park and Castle

A throwback to humanity’s distant past, Craggaunowen Park and Castle is a Shannon staple. The centerpiece is a 15th-century castle tower next to a reconstructed ancient island settlement, complete with massive straw huts (crannogs), cooking pit, and fort. Locals say this hodgepodge of Irish history is one of the coolest places to visit in Ireland—check out the battle reenactments. 

#5: Trek the rolling hills of the Shannon Region Walking Trails

Walking Trails Things to Do in Shannon Ireland
Walking in Ireland | mcelwaineb/Pixabay

For spectacular views of Ireland’s green hills and mountains, locals suggest hiking through the Shannon Region Walking Trails. They note that there are 89 possible walking routes to choose from—our Irish trip planners can help narrow down which paths are best for your skill level and schedule. They note that the two most well-known paths, Templecronan Loop and Lough Avalla Farm, are easy 4-mile walks that lead you through old Celtic farms, churches, and holy wells. 

#6: Test your sailing skills on Barley Harbor

A hop, skip, and jump from the Shannon Airport, Barley Harbor is so peaceful that you’d never know you’re close to civilization. The harbor’s calm waters are ideal for first-time sailors or experienced sea dogs who want to kick back.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly things to do in Ireland, locals say that renting a boat or joining a local cruise are both fairly inexpensive ways to see Shannon’s marshes, mountains, and castles, with additional costs if you want to stay overnight on the boat.

#7: Tiptoe through the Sally trees in Cratloe Wood

The site of several invasions and clan wars, the Cratloe Wood is now a serene multi-acre forest known for its massive oak trees and Sally trees, a unique type of Irish willow. Locals say the easy 1.2-mile hike through the Cratloe Wood is a true must-do in Ireland, especially with the area’s incredible views of the Gatlee and Ballyhoura Mountains. Our trip planners suggest getting to the park early for a chance to see foxes, badgers, and more woodland wildlife. 

Local tip: If you really want to go off the beaten path in Ireland, Shannon locals recommend exploring the Cratloe Woods House, a 300-year old mansion rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Máire Rua O'Brien. 

#8: Kayak the smooth waters of River Shannon

River Shannon Things to Do in Shannon Ireland
River Shannon | Luke Maurice Curley/Flickr

With 239 miles of gorgeous aquatic views, you may not have time to see the entirety of River Shannon—but kayaking through the River Shannon Estuary is a fantastic place to start. Locals suggest starting at Loch Luimnigh, where playful dolphins may swim alongside your kayaks. They note if you travel to Ireland in the summer months, you might even see a whale surface nearby. 

#9: Collect handmade souvenirs at the Ballycasey Craft Centre

The Ballycasey Craft Centre is tucked away in a 1700s-era homestead, complete with the quaint stone walls, tile roofs, and hanging flowers. Boasting everything from handmade pottery and candles to sweaters, jewelry, and cakes, the local artisans at Ballycasey make unique crafts that you can’t find anywhere else, even in other incredible Irish cities like Dublin or Cork. Pick up a souvenir for friends & family back home!

Local tip: Make sure to visit on a weekday, as many of the shops are closed on the weekends. 

#10: Get a hole-in-one at the Shannon Golf Club

With over 6,000 yards of golf courses, the Shannon Golf Club illustrates Ireland’s love of this historic game. Even if you’re not keen to putt around all day, the clubhouse restaurant serves hearty Irish fare with panoramic views overlooking the nearby lake and marshes. 

Local tip: If golf is your game of choice, Ireland is a great place to play. There are plenty of spectacular places to tee off, from all the way in Northern Ireland to southern Cork—the key is to make reservations at least two weeks in advance since many locals love to play too. 

#11: Have a dram at the world-famous Durty Nelly’s

Durty Nelly's Things to Do in Shannon Ireland
Durty Nelly's | Thomas Schlosser/Flickr

Durty Nelly’s is one of the most popular pubs in Ireland, and for good reason—this bar can boast 400 years of history!

Within walking distance of Bunratty Castle, locals note that Durty Nelly’s also happens to be close to some of Ireland’s best places to stay, like the Beachpark Country House and Treacys Oakwood Hotel—just in case you have a few too many. 

#12: Catch a local band at McIntyre’s Pub

With its iconic yellow-and-red facade, McIntyre’s Pub is easy to find and hard to leave. Our Irish trip planners tell us that local bands play wild tunes every Friday and Saturday night—so kick up your heels and dance, or put your feet up and have a Guinness.

Since McIntyre’s Pub is right next to Shannon Harbour, locals note you can also grab some excellent, fresh seafood for dinner. 

Local tip: If you love Irish music (and Irish ales), then think about visiting Galway. About an hour north of Shannon, a cool thing to do in Galway is catching a local band. 

#13: Learn an Irish dance at the Doolin Folk Festival

Since Shannon is in County Clare, you’ve got the perfect excuse to go to County Clare’s party of the year—the Doolin Folk Festival. Hosted every June in the nearby village of Teergonean, the Doolin Folk Festival is a must-see for its small-town vibes, Irish dancers, and local music. 

#14: Wander the strange, moonlike cliffs of Burren

Burren Things to Do in Shannon Ireland
Burren | Gabriela Avram/Flickr

The otherworldly landscape of the Burren Geopark is adjacent to the Cliffs of Moher, yet it flies under most tourists’ radars. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Burren’s cliffs have been compared to the moon’s craters, with limestone outcroppings, massive boulders, and strange dunes. The Burren Geopark is also part of the Atlantic Way, a coastal road that tops many Ireland bucket lists. 

Local tip: If jaw-dropping natural wonders are your thing, you’ve got to visit the Giant’s Causeway (just outside of Belfast), the volcanic Ring of Gullion in Newry, and the sacred western mountain of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. 

#15: Taste the finest whiskey in County Clare 

Okay, that claim might be up for contention. But locals say that the whiskey distilled at County Clare’s Knappogue Castle will become one of your favorites! As the whiskey is made on the 15th-century castle grounds, Knappogue Castle stands out as a must-go in Ireland for its medieval scenery, authentic whiskey, and classic Irish hospitality. 

Local tip: You can actually stay the night in Knappogue Castle.

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