10 outdoor activities for family fun in Munster

The best family-friendly walks, cycles and outdoor adventures from coastal routes to forest walks across the province
10 outdoor activities for family fun in Munster

Walkers can enjoy a series of looped trails from Knockadoon Pier in east Cork.

Knockadoon, east Cork

Ballycotton may draw the majority of east Cork’s walkers but the Capel Way Coastal Trail, located in the most remote fringe of the region, remains a true local favourite. 

Thanks to the efforts of the Knockadoon Enhancement Project, walkers can now enjoy a series of looped trails from Knockadoon Pier, with sights including Capel Island and Signal Tower with the longer Glen walk option taking in Glenawilling Beach too. 

Views are something else too — from the Waterford coast to the Comeragh and Knockmealdown mountains over to Ballycotton in the west. After looping back to the pier, head to the Lobster Pot food-truck for a stash of delicious fish and chips. 

knockadoon.com

Greenway, Co Waterford

The Waterford greenway is a 21km route from Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan.
The Waterford greenway is a 21km route from Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan.

Have you cycled Waterford’s now iconic greenway yet? This idyllic Déise detour has been a tourism game-changer for the region, with its largely flat and tarred course making it the perfect soft-adventure activity for families. 

The 21km Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan route is punctuated with several landmarks like the Durrow and Kilmacthomas viaducts and the 400m Ballyvoile tunnel, while the sweeping coastal views approaching Dungarvan will stop you in your tracks (just keep to the left). 

The greenway is also sustaining a veritable peloton of bike hire outfitters in the area; I toured last week with Garvan Cummins aka the Greenway Man who offered a great service and is on hand for any issues en route. 

When you arrive in Dungarvan, try trending AndChips and local favourite Genoa’s for a well earned lunch. Bikes for €15 (adults) and €10 (kids) 

thegreenwayman.com

Suir Blueway, Tipperary

What Tipperary lacks in coastline, it makes up with blueways. Opened just last year, the Suir Blueway meanders 56km across South Tipp but if you’re a family that prefers terra firma, it offers a great cycling route too. 

The trail from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel takes in 21kms of riverside pedalling and Treacy’s Blueway Bike Hire in Carrick offer you the option to drop your bikes in Clonmel too. 

Once you get there, try on some medieval costumes at the Tipperary Museum of History (Covid Charter in place) before heading to Hickey’s Bakery in Clonmel which lays claim to being home to Ireland’s original barm brack. It’s almost Halloween, after all. 

tipperary.com

Glengarriff, west Cork

Glengarriff’s resident seals basking on rocks at lower tide.
Glengarriff’s resident seals basking on rocks at lower tide.

It must be something in that micro-climate but there’s something extra enchanting about the flora surrounding gorgeous Glengarriff in west Cork. 

The Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, just 1km outside the village, offers five marked walking trails from the 15 minute Waterfall Walk to the testier Esknamucky walk (90 minutes). 

Trekking here is an absolute treat as besides Killarney, you’re in the best habitat for oceanic oak woodland and the park’s website has a handy downloadable map to impress the kids with some facts en route. For some coastal vibes, be sure to head to the Blue Pool amenity area while you’re here. 

It features a number of very short (if hilly) loops where you’ll be able to spot the Glengarriff’s resident seals basking on rocks at lower tide! 

Glengarriffnaturereserve.ie

Doneraile Park, north Cork

OK, you may not be able to take your leaf-peeping road-trip to New England this “fall” but Doneraile Forest Park will offer you a little flavour of Vermont in north Cork this autumn. 

The estate features miles of buggy-friendly walking trails where you can admire wildlife from deer to red squirrels and waterfowl all under a rusting canopy of beech, larch and oak trees. 

The park also features an excellent children’s playground which should tire out little feet if the strolling doesn’t. 

Free entry; doneraileestate.ie

Ross Castle,  Killarney

The Ross Castle Loop in Killarney is a family-friendly 5km walk which takes you from the impressive 15th century keep tower into the Killarney Demesne and back
The Ross Castle Loop in Killarney is a family-friendly 5km walk which takes you from the impressive 15th century keep tower into the Killarney Demesne and back

Kids love castles, not least at this time of the year when there’s an added spook factor. 

The Ross Castle Loop in Killarney is a family-friendly 5km walk which takes you from the impressive 15th century keep tower into the Killarney Demesne and back.

There’s a car park located at the castle from which you follow the banks of Lough Leane towards the magic of Killarney National Park in autumn. 

Noelle’s is a nice spot in the town to load up on pancakes afterwards while the Killarney Ice Cream Shop offers the best value scoops in town. 

Killarneynationalpark.ie

Burren Nature Trail

Few places brings those science and nature classes to life like a trip to the Burren. The Burren National Park features a 1.5km looped walk which meanders through meadows, woodlands of ash and hazel and those iconic limestone pavements. 

The National Park has an app where you download an interactive map too. Afterwards, treat yourself to some hot chocolate or fudge at the ever-welcoming Moher Cottage or enjoy lunch at Doolin’s family-friendly Stonecutter’s Kitchen. 

burrennationalpark.ie

Flaggy Shore, Co Clare

One of the dreamiest walks along the Wild Atlantic Way is surely the Flaggy Shore — so much so that even Seamus Heaney wrote a poem about it. 

From New Quay, follow the coastal trail which takes in sights like Lough Muree and Finavarra Martello tower before taking a welcome pitstop at Linalla’s ice-cream parlour, made with milk from the family’s own dairy farm. 

Continue along Finavarra cross and beautiful Muckinish Bay before sampling some delicious seafood at Linnane’s Lobster Bar in New Quay.

Long Strand, west Cork

Explore the incredible sand dune formations at Long Strand, Clonakilty Co Cork. Picture: Denis Boyle
Explore the incredible sand dune formations at Long Strand, Clonakilty Co Cork. Picture: Denis Boyle

Ask a West Corkonian to recommend their favourite local walk and Long Strand in Castlefreke tends to stick up out of the pack. 

Start by parking up in the village of Rathbarry before taking a series of Coillte woodland trails (passing a gorgeous lagoon) before emerging out onto Long Strand.

From there, you can explore the incredible sand dune formations, beach-hop to nearby Owenahincha and enjoy some of the spectacular ruins like Lord Cabery’s Cross. 

Fuel your adventure with a visit to the Fish Basket which serves delicious, locally-sourced seafood fare. 

thefishbasket.ie

Lough Derg Blueway

If you like your activities on the water, Munster’s largest lake should float your kayak. Operating out of beautiful Killaloe, My Next Adventure run a number of guided kayaking excursions around Killaloe’s charming waterways. 

To rest-up afterwards, you can board a Killaloe River Cruise whose trips of the river and lough bring a real taste of the Rhine to the Shannon. 

For lunch stops, think pizzas at Tuscan Bistro, The Piper’s Inn for great gastro pub grub or the wonderful Wooden Spoon Café who offer delicious picnics to-go. 

discoverloughderg.ie

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