When it comes to a short break, cities often jump to the top of the list, whether it be Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Galway, or a cheap European city break. There’s good reason for this as city breaks often provide a wider variety of attractions and things to do. Here in Ireland though we’re blessed with so many great destinations on our doorstep, that short breaks don’t need to just be confined to the cities, as large towns and even counties have so much to offer holiday goers.
One county, in particular, that is just waiting to be explored over the coming months is the Lakeland county of Fermanagh. To give you an idea of what you can expect in Erne Country, here’s a 48-hour guide to wet your appetite.
48 Hours in Fermanagh
Day 1: Explore Lower Lough Erne
A trip to Fermanagh isn’t complete until you’ve enjoyed a tour of the stunning Lough Erne, so this means splitting your 48-hour break into two trips of Lough Erne, starting with Lower Lough Erne on day one. Enniskillen is perhaps the best location to stay in to enable you to explore both the Upper and Lower Lough Erne, although Fermanagh has many picturesque towns and villages to consider staying in.
Begin in Enniskillen
Before setting off to tour Lower Lough Erne, begin your Fermanagh getaway by getting to know Enniskillen town. Visit the popular Buttermarket in the heart of the town. This restored 19th-Century Dairy Market is home to 19 art, design and craft stores, as well as a popular cafe, making it a great place to begin your Fermanagh adventure.
From here, make the short trip across Enniskillen town to the recently renovated Enniskillen Castle. This 16th-Century Castle is located on the banks of the River Erne and is home to the Fermanagh County Museum and the Inniskillings Museum, both providing lots of information on the rich history of Fermanagh and indeed the many popular castles near Enniskillen. The Fermanagh County Museum also provides great insights into the county during both the Great Famine and World War Two.
Onwards to Devenish Island
From Enniskillen Castle, make the short drive to Devenish Island (approximately 7-10 minutes) and explore the ancient ruins of one of Ireland’s finest monastic sites. The island is only accessible by boat, making a trip to Devenish your first boat trip of your trip. Devenish Island was founded in the 6th Century and has seen its fair share of activity over time, including a Viking raid in 837 AD as well as being burned in the 12th Century.
From Devenish Island, head west towards Tully, and visit the impressive Tully Castle, a fortified house set on Tully Point. A visitor’s centre is located in a restored farmhouse, with exhibitions sharing local stories relating to Tully Castle.
Visiting the Cliffs of Magho and Belleek
From Devenish Island, make the Cliffs of Magho your next stop, and marvel at the spectacular views over Lough Erne, as well as great panoramic views of Mullaghmore in Sligo and Slieve League in Donegal. The Correl Glen Nature Reserve which lies near to the cliffs is also worth a visit.
When you have finished taking in the stunning views from the Cliffs of Magho in West Fermanagh, continue towards the village of Belleek, home of the world-famous Belleek Pottery. Celebrating 160 years in 2017, Belleek Pottery is one of Fermanagh’s most important cultural visitor attractions, allowing visitors to experience the traditional methods used over generations to make this famous pottery.
Next Stop: Boa Island
If you love mystery, then on leaving Belleek head for Boa Island. Boa Island is named after Boadhbh, the Celtic war goddess. The island is linked at either end by causeways to the mainland. This is the home of the iconic Janus figure. At the west end of the island is a sign to Caldragh Cemetery. A bumpy road leads to a graveyard, once the site of an ancient church.
Call it a Night in Enniskillen
Leave Boa Island and make your way back to Enniskillen Town. If you’re still looking for things to do, consider stopping off at Castle Archdale and exploring the woodlands in this country park, while the towns of Kesh, Irvinestown and Ballinamanard all provide plenty of options for a quick break on route back to Enniskillen. Spend the evening relaxing by the shore of Lough Erne in one of the many pubs and restaurants in Enniskillen.
Day 2: Time for Upper Lough Erne
As you leave Enniskillen on day two, head south to explore Upper Lough Erne and begin your day by exploring the 18th-Century Castle Coole. Walk the picturesque gardens and lake at your own leisure or enjoy a guided tour of the house. Enniskillen Golf Club is located near Castle Coole.
Next up: Castle Balfour and Crom Estate
From Enniskillen, head to the nearby town of Lisnaskea and explore Castle Balfour, a 17th-Century built by Sir James Balfour. Not far from Lisnaskea is the National Trust’s Crom Estate, recognised as an important nature conservation site, a beautiful lakeside demesne on the shore of Upper Lough Erne home to ancient woodland and freshwater habitats.
Time to Hit the Water
There’s no more relaxing or tranquil way to enjoy beautiful Lough Erne than by enjoying a cruise of exploration on the Inishcruiser from Share Discovery Village just outside Lisnaskea town. Weaving through the intricate network of the lake’s many islands, the Inishcruiser takes in glorious views of Fermanagh’s rich, unspoilt countryside. Another popular boat tour of Lough Erne is the Erne Water Taxi, which offers a three-hour tour of both the Upper and Lower Lough Erne, along with a series of smaller tours.
Time to Enjoy the Great Outdoors
With your tour of Lough Erne over, take the time to explore Fermanagh on foot, with the popular Cuilcagh Way walk one of the best ways to enjoy this amazing landscape. With amazing views of Cuilcagh Mountains and Lough Erne, this walking route is part of the Marble Arch Geopark, so if you have time to spare, be sure to explore the magical Marble Arch Caves, on the Fermanagh/Cavan border.
Last Stop: Florence Court
Before returning to Enniskillen following your walking trails of Cuilcagh, make a quick stop at Florence Court, another of Fermanagh’s popular National Trust properties. Florence Court is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in Ireland and is home to one of the most fascinating collections of furniture in Ireland. With beautiful gardens and some 15km of walking trails, if you’ve still got energy, Florence Court will keep you busy. From here, make the short drive back to Enniskillen where you can call it a night.
Before departing Fermanagh, be sure to visit Sheelin Irish Lace Museum & Lace Shop, a treasure trove of antique Irish lace items, and other vintage textiles and clothing. Back in Enniskillen enjoy a leisurely walk along the Castle Basin Promenade or climb the 108 steps in Coles Monument for specular panoramic views of Enniskillen town. Relax with a well-earned drink in one of the town’s many bars before calling it a night.
Book Your Fermanagh Break Today
Has the above itinerary got you considering a trip north to Fermanagh? Check out the latest Fermanagh hotel deals and book your Lakelands holiday today.
Images via Fáilte Ireland