Shannon Airport is the first glimpse of Ireland many visitors receive, and it makes a pretty powerful initial impression. Nestled in a landscape of stunning greenery, within easy reach of renowned attractions from Bunratty Castle to the Burren, Shannon makes a remarkable gateway to the West.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher
reached the final stage of the New 7 Wonders of Nature Campaign 2011, and it’s easy to see why. Take a deep breath if you’re wobbly around heights, as the Cliffs of Moher are the tallest cliffs in Europe, soaring 400 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs can get a bit crowded in the summer, so, for an alternative view, take the Cliffs of Moher cruise.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Drive 12km from Shannon on the N19 and you’re at one of Ireland’s most famous attractions: Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
. The Norman castle features regularly among the country’s top 10 visitor attractions, and it has been restored to a remarkable standard. You can take a trip back to medieval times with a tour of the castle, attend a medieval banquet, and see how ordinary Irish people lived centuries ago through the folk park exhibits.
Foynes Flying Boat Museum
Next on your list of places to visit should be the Foynes Flying Boat Museum
, one of the most unusual museums you will ever visit, and less than a half-hour’s drive from Shannon. It offers some intriguing insights into the history of the 1940's and the Flying Boat era, featuring a full-size replica of a Flying Boat, flight simulators, and a holographic exhibition. Sample an Irish Coffee in the place where head chef Joe Sheridan invented it in 1943.
If you like the water, you’ll love Lough Derg, Ireland's so-called Pleasure Lake. The tranquil, non-tidal waters create a wonderful setting for a relaxing cruise. With tuition and safety advice, you can captain your own luxury cruiser along the river Shannon, taking in most picturesque scenery along the lakeshore. There’s more to Lough Derg than boats, however. You can picnic on the serene banks, bike or walk a range of looped trails, and access everything water-related - from fishing to water skiing.
On Your Bike
The Shannon Region was made for cycling. Whether you prefer to potter along quiet country roads to seaside coves, stopping along the way to picnic by a lake or a river, or whether you’re a hard-core mountain biker who prefers to careen through forests on near-vertical tracks, you’ll find routes around Limerick and Clare to suit you. Scenery varies from pastoral lowlands, to rugged peaks, and dramatic coastlines, making it a cyclist’s paradise. Indeed, Ballyhoura
, about an hour’s drive from Shannon Airport, has the longest network of bike trails in Ireland - incorporating 98km of forest road climbs, twisting hilly singletrack, tight turns, and technical rocky sections. Don’t worry if you’re not super-fit, though - you can start with the gentle 6km Greenwood loop.