The May Bank Holiday is almost upon us, and for many, this can be the signal of the summer holiday period. Schools are off, the evenings are getting longer, the days are getting warmer (well, hopefully getting a tad warmer here in Ireland anyway), and a long weekend lies ahead.
If you’re currently looking for things to do this Bank Holiday weekend, why not hop in the car and spend a night or a few days somewhere nice in Ireland? Head off and explore a new town or city, and look forward to a last-minute weekend break with friends and family. Here are seven destinations to consider for your last-minute bank holiday break around Ireland.
7 Irish Destinations to Consider for a Bank Holiday Break
1. Derry City, Co Derry
While most of the attention in Northern Ireland over the Bank Holiday weekend goes towards Belfast and the build up to the city’s marathon, the popular city of Derry is well worth considering for a last-minute break. Derry City is Ireland’s only completely walled city, with 1.5km of walls just waiting to be explored. A tour of the city’s walls will see you encounter many of its famous sites including the Tower Museum, the Guild Hall, St Columb’s Cathedral and the Peace Flame, while you’ll also come face to face with some impressive cannons.
While exploring Derry be sure to check out many of the city’s famous bars, which will no doubt draw a crowd over the weekend – the Walled City Brewery should be high on any visitor’s list of places to see. The May Bank Holiday weekend also sees the return of the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival, with five days of music and over 200 acts across over 70 venues. A trip to Derry will also have you well placed to continue north to explore the famous Causeway Coastal Route, giving you plenty to see and do over the weekend.
2. Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
Staying in Northern Ireland and the popular town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. Fermanagh is famed for its lakes and Enniskillen is the perfect base to enjoy a weekend of adventure on the water. From water-based activities and tours of the lakes, you’ll have lots to keep you occupied around Enniskillen.
When you’re done with water, get ready to explore some of Enniskillen and indeed Fermanagh’s most popular attractions including Enniskillen Castle and Museum, Coole Castle, Belle Isle Cookery School and Florence Court, and if you want to venture further afield, Crom Estate and Belleek Pottery are well worth checking out. The impressive Marble Arch Caves are also only a short 20-minute drive from Enniskillen so you will have plenty to keep you occupied either on land or water.
3. Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
The gateway to Wicklow, the stunning village of Enniskerry is the perfect base to set off and explore the Wicklow Mountains this Bank Holiday weekend. If you’re feeling energetic, be sure to tackle one of the many popular walking routes in the mountains, and take the time to explore the stunning ancient monastic site of Glendalough.
When you’re done exploring the Wicklow Mountains and National Park return to Enniskerry and make the impressive Powerscourt Estate your next stop. Home to Ireland’s highest waterfall and the magnificent Powerscourt was voted among the top 10 best houses in the world by Lonely Planet and is considered by many as the jewel in Wicklow’s crown. Complete your Bank Holiday weekend break by heading to the seaside and the picturesque town of Bray.
4. Dingle, Co Kerry
One of Ireland’s most popular towns, Dingle is well worth making a last-minute trip to. The area is simply breath-taking, with the rugged mountains and scenic coastline dominating the landscape. Explore this famous peninsula by car via the Slea Head or Conor Pass Scenic Drive, or visit the inhabited Blasket Islands.
Head off on foot and explore Mount Brandon and the wonderful panoramic views that await you at the top, or if you simply want to relax, then hop onto a boat and explore Dingle by sea and keep an eye out for its most famous resident, Fungi the Dolphin. When it comes to relaxing to the beat of the Bodhrán and some trad sessions while enjoying a pint of stout, there are very few places in Ireland that can rival Darling Dingle.
5. Westport, Co Mayo
Escape to Ireland’s west coast this May Bank Holiday weekend by checking out the lively town of Westport. With activities aplenty, Westport draws a crowd across the year, but from May right through to the summer months you can expect the town to be rather busy. Westport is a great destination for cycling enthusiasts, and a short break will give you plenty of opportunities to cycle the 42km Great Western Greenway cycle route, Ireland’s longest off-road cycling and walking trail.
Westport Adventure Centre and the Blueways will give you even more activities to try out, and if you want an environment to just get away from it all and allow for some peaceful time of reflection, consider making the small trip to Croagh Patrick or the picturesque Clew Bay. Westport has a vibrant nightlife with bars like Matt Molloy’s, Cobblers and Cosy Joe’s sure to draw a crowd this Bank Holiday weekend.
6. Bundoran, Co Donegal
Escape to Donegal this weekend and Ireland’s surf capital, Bundoran. Try your hand at a spot of surfing with one of the many surf schools in the town. There are also a number of popular walking routes to help you explore the Donegal coastline in more detail, while the Fairy Bridges and Wishing Chairs are also among the many popular attractions in this part of Donegal.
If you’re travelling with kids, Bundoran Adventure Park, Dizzy Dens and Waterworld are sure to keep you entertained for the weekend, while the many bars, cafes and restaurants will mean you won’t have too far to go to get fed and watered!
7. Carlingford, Co Louth
Last up is the town of Carlingford in the Cooley Peninsula. We recently shared a 48-hour guide to visiting Carlingford, and if you’re looking for a last-minute Bank Holiday break in Ireland, then look no further than this charming town. Popular with cyclists and walkers, Carlingford is an area to explore this Bank Holiday weekend, with walking routes providing great views of the Mourne Mountains in County Down and the wider Cooley Peninsula.
Nestled in its own wee corner of Ireland, Carlingford has so much to offer visitors on a weekend break. From the historic sites of King John’s Castle, Taffe’s Castle and The Thosel, to Carlingford Adventure Centre and boat tours of Carlingford Lough and the Cooley Peninsula, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied in this historic town. And when you’ve finished exploring the town and nearby Cooley Peninsula, visit one of the towns many bars, which will no doubt attract large numbers this weekend.
You can also check out the latest last-minute Bank Holiday weekend breaks around Ireland by visiting www.expedia.ie/last-minute-deals.
Images via Faílte Ireland