5 Irish experiences to cross off your bucket list this summer

From moonlit kayaking adventures to relaxing yoga retreats, everyone should try these amazing experiences at least once


As the country begins to reopen, most of us are reentering society with fresh enthusiasm, eager to break free of our previously homebound lives and embark on new adventures.

Hotels, glamping sites, water sports, cookery courses and more are available for booking and are great, safe experiences to try this summer.

These five bucket list worthy activities are highly underrated and the perfect way to take advantage of our newly found freedom.

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1. Go starlight kayaking on a glow-in-the-dark lake

It’s a wonder that this experience isn’t more popular with the flocks of tourists traversing the Ring of Kerry. The gorgeous Kenmare Bay in Co Kerry opens into the Atlantic Ocean and is home to tons of marine life like seals, scallops, sea anemones, wrasse, dogfish, pipefish and phytoplankton. The phytoplankton are what give the bay its bioluminescent glow — a truly magical experience at night.

Guests can book evening kayaking excursions through Emerald Outdoors for €65 per person, all equipment included. Each experience lasts two-and-a-half hours and must be booked in advance online or by phone on (083) 031 7011. It is a surreal experience and definitely something every Irish person should try at least once in their life.

2. Take a cookery course in Ballymaloe 

A cooking experience you will undoubtedly relish (sorry!), Ballymaloe Cookery School is reopening their hands-on cooking classes this summer. On August 7 and 20, guests can reserve a half day garden workshop course in a safe and socially distanced environment. The experience teaches guests how to grow ten different winter vegetables at home. While you are there, be sure to tour the on-site organic farm, gardens and glasshouse.

The cookery school is located in Shanagarry, Co Cork, and teaches beginners and amateurs alike time-saving techniques and tasty recipes for winter vegetables. It’s a great way to start off a weekend stay in Ballymaloe. The experience is from 9.30am to 2pm and costs €95 per person. There are also afternoon cookery classes available to book regularly, after which guests will get a copy of all recipes and tastings of all dishes at the end of the demonstration. This course lasts about three-and-a-half hours and costs €80 per person.

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3. Sleep under the stars in a bubble dome

In Co Fermanagh, Finn Lough offers a unique, romantic escape for couples this summer. The lakeside glamping site has semi-secluded bubble dome accommodation with 180 degree, transparent walls, so you can fall asleep gazing at the stars. Each room has a spacious bed, ensuite bathroom, Nespresso machine, fluffy robes and daily breakfast.

Guests can top off their relaxing getaway with a trip to the spa, complete with a saltwater float pool, sauna, aromatherapy cabin, bayside hot tub and fireside relaxation suite. There is also fishing, kayaking, boats-for-rent, cycling and walking trails in the surrounding woodlands, where nature enthusiasts can find red squirrels, badgers, deer and otters. Booking available now for summer stays.

4. Stay in Ireland’s oldest coaching inn

Hunter’s Hotel in Wicklow is Ireland’s oldest coaching inn. It was developed from a 17th century forge at Newry Bridge (now Newrath Bridge) before becoming an inn run by a succession of landlords in the 18th century. The inn served the old coach road to Dublin, providing shelter to weary and well-known travellers like Charles Stewart Parnell.

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The Hunter/Gelletlie family gained ownership of the hotel in 1825 and have been its owners for nearly 200 years, passing it down as time goes on. Now, guests can be transported back in time by staying in the charming boutique hotel with antique furnishings and gorgeous gardens on the banks of the River Vartry. As well as daily meals, the hotel offers traditional afternoon tea with homemade scones, cakes and sandwiches. Nearby activities include horse riding, birdwatching, Powerscourt House and Gardens, Glendalough and Wicklow’s Historic Gaol. 

5. Recharge on a yoga retreat in Co Galway

After the anxieties of lockdown, a yoga retreat may be the perfect way to unwind and re-centre. Burren Yoga Retreat in Cappaghmore, Co Galway has reopened, resuming their top-notch yoga retreat experiences. As the name suggests, the yoga centre is located in the breathtaking Burren Geopark, and in addition to daily yoga classes, it offers gourmet, vegetarian food, optional cooking classes, outdoor activities, meditation sessions and accommodation. 

From August 21-27 and August 28-September 3, a Hatha yoga and meditation retreat is available, with meals, accommodation, guided outings and cuisine sampling from local restaurants included. From September 11-13, instructor Niamh Jones is offering a yoga bootcamp (Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yogalates, and Meditation), giving your body a complete toning, stretching and detoxing from the inside out. Retreats cost from €845. Visit their website  for more retreat options and to make a booking now.

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