Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

Bunratty Castle - Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
Bunratty Castle

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The Shannon Region is one of the most beautiful places you can possibly visit in Ireland, with the long Shannon River snaking its way through the mid-west, creating an earthly small-town vibe, dripping with nature and history. The atmosphere reflects an incredible sense of tradition and history and every part of our trip was filled with eye-opening cultural experiences that taught us things we never thought we’d learn about the Shannon Region. It is, simply put, an area dotted with castles and an array of cultural experiences, there is breathtaking natural beauty and a relaxed atmosphere that looms over the entire region. While exploring Shannon, you can almost hear the Irish ballads and stories being told in the background as you visit the ruins of tower houses, castles and the medieval towns. There are plenty of natural landscapes to relish, along with a blend of Irish craic and experiences! Here are the best things to do in Shannon, Ireland.

What to do in Shannon Ireland

Visit the Bunratty Castle

This castle exceeded our expectations in every way – a true live example of how medieval castles and life were like back then. It is actually the most complete medieval fortress in Ireland dating back to the 1425, and even back then it was built on an old Viking Camp that dates back to the year 970. The feeling of walking back through such pure and raw history was incredible and its soaring stone walls, the stained glass, the vertiginous staircases all added to its medieval splendor.

The castle was a feast for the eyes, and we were able tosee 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries and all types of medieval art. You can walk along the dungeons, explore the great hall, and take in all the marvelous medieval architecture to give you a glimpse of 15th century Irish life. The castle also offers a medieval-style banquet later in the evening!

For opening hours and tickets check here.

You might also be interested in: Great Castle Hotels to stay in Ireland

Explore the Bunratty Folkpark

After a tour of the castle we were able to experience exactly what life was like back then in rural Ireland in the Bunratty Folkpark which acted as a living, open-air museum. This inclusive park contained an accurate recreation of a village back then in a rural setting including farmhouses, a church, an old school and so much more. Most of them were moved stone by stone to this park from every corner of the country. You could visit the various farmhouses there, or watch a weaving demonstrations or even bake food.

What truly added to that experience was the costumed characters who were there for the sole purpose of recreating the past and showcasing the traditions and lifestyles of Ireland back then. We had the change to learn to speak Gaelic by the schoolteacher and to play the bodhran, a traditional handheld frame drum that comes from Ireland.

Don’t forget to stop at the cafe for a tea or a hot chocolate with marshmallows and the most delicious scones I have ever tasted that you can actually see them being made inside the park daily.

For opening hours and tickets check here.

Delicious food at Durty Nelly’s

Being in Shannon is basically one authentic Irish experience after the other, there won’t be a place you’ll go without feeling like you’ve traveled back a few hundred years and got transported straight into medieval Ireland. Durty Nelly is a beautiful old pub that dates back to 1620 and is one of the most famous pubs in Ireland offering a truly authentic Irish experience. The history is actually one of the most famous things about the pub – Durty Nelly was supposedly a real person who used to provide comfort and assistance to the travelers and was the keeper of the toll bridge. The warm welcome that is talked about over and over in the story is still felt until today thanks to general atmosphere with the live music in the background and the special meals. Apart from the great food, drinks and the incredible vibe, they even taught us to how pull our own pint of Guinness!

For more information click here.

Craggaunowen Prehistoric Park and Castle

One of the finest open-air museums, and possibly the finest in Ireland, this site takes you about 1500 years back in time to truly discover how they people of Ireland’s prehistoric and early medieval years lived. Nestled in a picturesque woodland , it’s truly a bewildering experience to just walk across a little wooden bridge into Ireland’s Celtic past. There you can learn all the age-old traditions, how present day Ireland has been shaped by those traditions, wander around the rolling countryside, watch wild animals like goats, soy sheep and wild board and check out the original artifacts for an inclusive authentic experience.

Craggaunowen Castle- Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
Craggaunowen Castle

Things you can check out:

Craggaunowen Castle – A 16th century medieval castle that was built in 1550 still stands until today with a beautiful backdrop of the lake offering panoramic vistas of the countryside along with interesting rare animals.

Craggaunowen Castle- Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
Craggaunowen Castle

Brendan Boat – St Brendan was according to a munuscript the first man to cross the Atlantic and discover America before Columbus. In 1976 Tim Severin built this boat following the description of the manuscript  and sailed across the Atlantic to the Newfoundland to prove that the boat was strong enough to make this trip possible.

Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
Brendan Boat
Fulacht Fia – This part is a recreation of a cooking ground that were used by hunters quite a long time ago in the Bronze Age.
Craggaunowen Prehistoric Park -Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
Fulacht Fia

Togher – A road dating back to A.D 148 to facilitate traveling.

Ring Fort – A reproduction of a farmhouse

Craggaunowen Prehistoric Park- Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

What made the whole experince unique and entertaining was the interact with the characters who explained the Iron Age, and guided us around the entire area all while demonstrating their different skills.

Craggaunowen Prehistoric Park- Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

For opening hours and tickets check here.

Evening banquets in a castle

When you’re visiting in a city for the first time, you’re usually curious to know not only what you can do in the morning but also how lively/eventful the nightlife is – that’s completely understandable. One of my favorite things about Shannon is that its nightlife is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Forget about going for a drink at a bar, Shannon offers an out-of-this-world (literally!) experience when it comes to evening activities. You can attend real-life medieval banquets at different castles and truly immerse yourself in an authentic Irish night.

Knappogue Castle -Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
Knappogue Castle

Banquet at Knappogue Castle

Standing amidst beautiful green fields, you can attend the banquet at Knappogue Castle. First, you are greeted at the main door of the castle by an Earl’s Butter, and then you walk a little more and you’re greeted by the Ladies of the Castle who help you proceed to the Dalcassian Hall. This is when dinner is served and you get to enjoy incredible food, mingle with guests, and have an incredible night of enjoy music of the harp, medieval chorales, and witty recounts of history – all with a goblet of mead (honey wine) in hand!  We had such a fun night at the Knappogue Castle. Our four course meal accompanied by wine was delicious and all the staff made the whole experience unique.

Banquet at Knappogue Castle-Things to do in Shannon, IrelandApart from the Banquet at the Knappogue Castle that we attended there are more options available:

Bunratty Medieval Banquet

You can end your tour of the Bunratty Castle with a splendid medieval banquet where noble lords liver and have a night full of fun, fine food and wine! For two and a half hours, you can watch a kilted piper play traditional tunes, relish in the cozy candle-lit bench-seating that replicates the medieval experience perfectly, and enjoy the night of endless medieval festivities.

Dunguaire Banquet

Right by the shores of Galway Bay, you can have a banquet at the Dunguaire Castle where you can listen to a brief history about the Castle introduced through a musical, savor a delicious four-course meal, and enjoy the authentic Irish entertainment celebrating the works of some of the best Irish literary writers.

Traditional Irish Night

You can go to the Corn Barn at Bunratty Folk and instead of a fancy banquet, you can celebrate an evening with high-spirited Irish music, watch some folk dance, and even learn some of the traditional dance moves – all while eating home-cooked traditional food, and enjoying the entertainment. The dinner starts first, then it’s followed by a 40 minute show of dancing, music and instrumental ballads. The whole evening is the text-book definition of craic (fun and entertainment in Irish)

Knappogue Castle -Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

 

The banquets are very popular, so to avoid disappointment booking in advance is highly recommended.

For opening hours and tickets check here.

Visit the town of Limerick

Limerick is an underrated travel destination, and it dates as far as the 12th century; this lively city is pleasant, quiet, and offers a lot of different things you can do! There are dozens of galleries, King John’s Castle, Georgian architecture everywhere, and some state-of-the-art street art scene with yearly festivals.

Limerick- Things to do in Shannon, Ireland
street art in Limerick

Top Things to Do:

Lough Gur – The largest stone circle in Ireland Western Europe.

King John’s Castle – This majestic castle was built between 1200 and 1210 and towers beautifully over the river Shannon. Instead of just walking around and normally enjoying the architecture and relics of a castle, the castle itself comes to life with exhibitions and art interpretive activities. You can check the touch screen technology, 3D models and much more that will tell the tales of siege and warfare and the exhibitions go even as far as having ghostly projections.

King John’s Castle Limerick - Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

You can also take battlement walks, check out pre-Norman houses, or interacting with the characters who bring the history and the castle to life by re-telling and demonstrating the ancient tales. After you’re done learning and exploring, you can unwind at the courtyard offering panoramic views of Limerick City.

King John’s Castle Limerick - Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

For opening hours and tickets check here.

St. Mary Cathedral – A beautiful cathedral dating back to 1168 has a long and eventful history and is still used as a place of worship.

Hunt Museum – A museum containing over 2000 pieces of ethnographic treasures.

Escape Room – For a little bit of a chance, we decided to try one of the escape rooms at Escape Limerick! We chose the Troubled Waters where we had to pretend that pirates hijacked a ship, it was sinking and we had only one hour to escape using the clues and solving puzzles before the 60 minutes were over. Luckily to us, we did escape before the time was up!

Escape room Limerick -Things to do in Shannon, Ireland

For opening hours and tickets check here.

Cliffs of Moher

Even though we did not get a chance to explore the Cliffs of Moher, we definitely recommend that you do as they are only 1 hour and a half away! Stretching downwards to the Atlantic for almost 200 meters, the Cliffs of Moher are one of the top destinations in Ireland, if not the most popular. Attracting over 1 million visitors annually, the cliffs are a work of art by nature, a breath-taking natural sight of majestic cliffs rising proudly out of the sea. There are five different rock layers visible in the cliffs, dramatic geological shapes and thousands of sea-birds that have made the cliffs their home. The Cliffs have been featured in so many movies and documentaries before, and you’ll realize their familiarity the minute you get there. Right in the middle of the cliffs is a center you can go to with a restaurant that offers panoramic views of the sea, and an exhibition with interactive technological screens and films that explain how the cliffs came to be and the different wildlife that live there.

Where to stay in Shannon area:

Limerick Strand Hotel

We stayed at the Limerick Strand Hotel a wonderful hotel, close to major attractions like Thomond Park, Limerick Mill and King John’s Castle. The Limerick Strand Hotel boasts wonderful riverside views, award-winning dining that surpassed all our expectations – specifically at the Terrace Bar & Café, a delicious breakfast and top-notch service. We were very lucky as we had the chance to meet the executive chef Tom Flavin who showed us how to make sourdough. We had a room on the executive floor with one queen-size bed and two singles with large glass windows offering panoramic river views, plenty of room to pack and unpack, and unlimited amenities.

Click here for more information and to see the latest prices.

Shannon is quite an underrated and under-visited region, and we had a lot of fun exploring a culture so deeply in a way that we did not expect. Usually, on our travels, we get to explore culture and history through visiting museums and galleries and having the stories being told to us, but Shannon gives this inclusive experience that makes you feel like you instantaneously traveled back in time and helps you experience everything first-hand.

Many thanks to Shannon Heritage for organizing this amazing trip for us and showing us an impressive part of Ireland.

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