Summer 2021 – Fact Sheet – Wild Atlantic Way
What’s Open Wild Atlantic Way
This summer is going to be another staycation season as foreign travel will not be possible for most of us. The OPW runs a number of Ireland’s most important visitor attractions and to encourage people to visit them they are giving free entry for this year. The following is a list of these attractions by county and we have included a few which are independent of the OPW. Some have not reopened fully and may only allow access to outdoor areas but indoor access may become possible as the Covid vaccination program is rolled out further. We have included links for booking access we offer on Activity Days.
Ireland has six national parks, each with its own unique features, five of which are on the western side of the country. Wicklow is the only national park in the east of the country. So with fewer overseas visitors around why not get out and enjoy these wonderful sites and our national treasures. Get planning a trip with the help of Activity Days Ireland.
The information has been divided up into 3 blogs for ease of use. Don’t forget to look at our blogs on the best beaches of the Wild Atlantic way and Lighthouses of Ireland to visit.
- Wild Atlantic Way – Cork to Donegal
- Ancient East and Dublin – East Coast
- Hidden Heartlands
Summer 2021 Fact Sheet on Wild Atlantic Way
Doneraile Court, Mallow
Gardens and parklands open. Public toilets with Covid Protocols. Cafe takeaway only. House open Thursday to Sunday with self-guided tours and it was renovated in the last few years. Doneraile is a great parkland for a walk suited to buggies and has a children’s playground. There are sika deer and Kerry cows roaming through the parklands. The Park is five minutes drive off the N20 Cork to Limerick Road.
Fota Arboretum, Cobh
Garden open as normal just before Great Island. Why not visit Fota Wildlife Park and add a boat trip on Cork Harbour or a trip to Spike Island. Both need to be pre-booked.
Spike Island, Cork Harbour, Cobh
Spike Island in Cork harbour was a fort, prison, and naval base. Winner of the Best Attraction in the World award for 2019. It’s a treat for the family with a boat trip to the island – needs to be pre-booked.
Cork City Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork
Open in Fitzgerald Park. It features displays and details on the history of Cork City, toilets and a take-away cafe.
Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork
Free entry and no booking required. Re-opened with two new exhibitions – the Zurich Portrait Prize exhibition and Tell No Tales – photos of the War of Independence sites in Cork city.
Butter Museum Cork
Unique Museum in Cork celebrating the long history of the Dairy industry. Open Tue to Saturday in the Shandon area. Can be combined with a Cork Food History Tour from July.
Blarney Castle, Cork.
Blarney Castle has welcomed tourist for centuries to kiss the Blarney Stone. The Gardens have welcomed Cork people during the past few months. There are garden trails, loop walks, a Children’s playground, picnic areas, a Sculpture park and so much to see and do on the grounds of the Castle. Great for all the family to visit, and a great source of Instagramable photo opportunities.
Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co Cork
Access to outdoor spaces, visitor centre and exhibition. This large diamond-shaped fort overlooking the entrance to Kinsale Harbour is great fun for kids and adults alike.
Garinish Island, Glengarriff, West Cork
Killarney National Park, Killarney, Kerry
Ireland’s national parks are open and Killarney has beautiful walks to suit all ability levels with some easy ones from the town down to Lough Lein. Take a look at the loop walks on the Killarney list here. Go horse riding or enjoy a guided walk in the national park.
Ross Castle, Killarney
Escorted tours of Ross Castle, on the banks of Lough Lein, Killarney. Take a boat trip across the lake, hire a bike and cycle back through the Black Valley (must be pre-booked).
Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney.
Muckross House and its gardens are open and the Open Farm re-opens on June 1st. The house and grounds offer spectacular views of Lough Lein. The large gardens are lushly planted and there is a cafe for take-away food and toilets.
The Skellig Islands made famous recently by Star Wars are not opening to visitors in 2021. However, the Eco Boat Trips are a great way to see the two islands up close. There is also an option to take a Charter Nature and Whale Watching trip which needs to be pre-booked.
Derrynane House and Garden
The house, once home to Daniel O’Connell, is open for self-guided tours only. Gardens open. There is a large beach behind the house and great walks in the area.
Open as normal.
Blasket Islands & Visitor Centre, Slea Head, Dingle
Visitor centre closed for refurbishment. Viewing point open with spectacular views, a great place to get wonderful photos. A loop walk starts at the car park in this blog- not suited to children as it is close to the cliffs. Access to Blasket Islands and beaches nearby. Sea Safari from Dingle to see the area can be pre-booked for groups.
Desmond Castle, Newcastle West
Self-guided tours of the building, gardens open.
Access outdoor only.
Outdoor spaces only – great fun for children.
Hunt Museum, Limerick city
Reopening on June 1st with an exhibition in the garden.
King John’s Castle, Limerick city
Reopening on May 31st. Entry fees apply.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Open and you can pre-book tickets for the 26 acre Folk Park in which the castle sits. Cafe open, musicians and folk trail open and castle and farmhouses reopen on May 31st. Entry fees apply.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are open to visitors but the visitor centre is not open to the public in 2021.
Galway City Museum
Opening on May 18th with exhibitions on the Galway Revolution and Galway hooker boats.
Dún Aonghusa, Inis Mór, Aran Islands
Access to outside spaces only and visitor centre closed. Take a boat trip from Doolin or Galway to the Aran Islands for a day trip to remember.
Ionad Cultúrtha an Phiarsaigh, Connemara
Self-guided tours outside. Escorted tours inside the cottage for small numbers.
Connemara National Park
North of Clifden is the stunning Connemara National Park.
Castle open for self-guided tours to a limited number of people. Outside spaces open.
National Museum of Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar
Family-friendly exhibitions on life in the olden days. Exhibitions on cycling in the country and many more aspects of country life. Located in a parkland setting with a lake and a thatched roof cottage beside the car park.
Ballycroy National Park, Westport.
Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park is one of Ireland.s 6 National Parks located in northwest Mayo. The park established in 1998 covers 15,000 hectares and features one of the largest blanket bogs in Europe. Nephin Beg mountain range dominates the landscape and there is a one-way system in place on paths. It’s a great park for hiking and walking with a map here. The Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail is 8km south of the national park. Camping can be pre-booked in the park.
No details on re-opening yet
Parke’s Castle, Dromahair
External areas only open
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Sligo
The visitor centre is closed but all outside spaces are open.
Glenveagh National Park, Donegal
This stunning national park is free to enter and, at 169 km2, is the second-largest. It’s great for walking and exploring. Toilets at visitor centre car park. Castle is closed and tea room open for takeaway 10 am -5 pm. Map here.
Glencolumcille Folk Village
Glencolumcille Folk village is a thatch-roofed replica of a village showing daily life in centuries past.
Glebe Gallery, Churchill
Gardens and parklands open, but house and gardens closed. The artist Derek Hill lived here for nearly 30 years, beside Lough Gartan east of Glenveagh National Park.
Doagh Famine Village, Inishowen Peninsula
On the Inishowen Peninsula in North Donegal beside Five Finger beach is an outdoor museum telling the story of a village from the 1840s to the present day. Fun for all the family and great guided tour and talks.
Malin Head is Ireland’s most northerly point with walks on the cliffs, a blowhole and an old signal station. To see the best of Donegal take a look at the blog on Donegal here
If we left out any places which are open to visit please let us know so can add to
the information. Activity Days Ireland offer the best local guided activity
for all the family – pre-booked online with confidence.