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

County Cork 

Best in Cork

Doneraile Park, Co Cork

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.

 

Best in Cork

Spike Island Cork

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 Gardens

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

Island open with ferry Friday to Sunday. Bryce House open for self-guided visits from May 21st. Cafe open. Book a place on the ferry here, a boat trip on Bantry Bay or a night kayak trip.

 

County Kerry

Best in Kerry

Killarney National Park, Kerry

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).

Best in Kerry

Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney, Co Kerry

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.

 

Skellig Islands

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.

Ardfert Cathedral

Open as normal.

Best Beaches Kerry

Great Blasket Island beach, Co Kerry.

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.

 

County Limerick

Desmond Castle, Newcastle West

Self-guided tours of the building, gardens open. 

 

Askeaton Castle  

Access outdoor only.

Best in Limerick

Lough Gur, Co Limerick

Lough Gur  

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.

 

Irelands most spectacular Cliffs

Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare

Co Clare

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.

 

 

County  Galway

Galway City Museum

Opening on May 18th with exhibitions on the Galway Revolution and Galway hooker boats.

Wild Atlantic Way Galway

Derrygimlagh Loop Walk in Connemara

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.

Wild Atlantic Way what to do

Museum of Country Lilfe Display, Castlebar, Co Mayo

Portumna Castle 

Castle open for self-guided tours to a limited number of people. Outside spaces open.

 

County Mayo

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.

Places to visit Wild Atlantic Way

Ballycroy National Park Map, Mayo

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.

Ceide Fields 

No details on re-opening yet

Roscommon

 

Boyle Abbey

Open outside.

County Sligo

Best in Sligo

Parkes Castle on edge of Lough Gill, Sligo

Parke’s Castle, Dromahair 

External areas only open

 

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Sligo

The visitor centre is closed but all outside spaces are open. 

County Donegal

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.

Walking in Ireland

Doagh Village, Fanad Peninsula, Donegal

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

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.

BEst of Donegal

Malin Head Map

Click here if you would like to advertise on this site.