There’s an almost endless number of things to do in Carlingford, which makes it the perfect spot for a weekend away with friends or family.
This mighty little town can be found on the spectacular Cooley Peninsula, nestled between the chilly waters of Carlingford Lough and the mountain of Slieve Foye.
Known for its medieval buildings, outdoor activities, oyster farms, and energetic nightlife, Carlingford is the perfect place to spend an active weekend with friends.
In the guide below, you’ll discover a heap of different things to do in Carlingford at any time of the year. G’wan – dive on in!
The best things to do in Carlingford
- Kick-start the day with a fine breakfast in Ruby Ellen’s Tea Rooms
- Climb Slieve Foye (one of my favourite things to do in Carlingford)
- Whittle away an evening at the Carlingford Brewing Company
- Rent a bike and spin along the Carlingford Greenway
- Spend a night with friends right by the water
- Go zipping about the place in the Carlingford Adventure Centre
- Grab a post-adventure pint in PJ O Hare’s pub
- Throw on your hiking boots and ramble along the Tain Way
- Kick back in a gaff with a view that’s perfect for a group getaway
- Plan your trip around the Carlingford Oyster Festival
- Have a gawk at King John’s Castle
- Take the scenic route on the Carlingford Ferry
- Test your nerve at the Skypark
- Head off in search of the Last Leprechauns of Ireland
1. Kick-start the day with a fine breakfast in Ruby Ellen’s Tea Rooms
We had breakfast in Ruby Ellen’s a few months back and it was only deadly).
There’s a solid variety of options to pick from, the orange juice is fresh and tangy and the coffee is so strong you could stand your spoon up in it.
A great spot to fuel up before a long walk or cycle.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best things to do in Louth at any time of the year (hikes, history, cosy pubs and more).
2. Climb Slieve Foye (one of my favourite things to do in Carlingford)
Slieve Foye is the highest peak in the Cooley Mountains and it’s the perfect place to spend an active morning or afternoon.
As you get stuck into the belly of the climb (which isn’t overly strenuous but good fitness levels are needed) you’ll be treated to a gorgeous panoramic view out over Carlingford Lough.
The walk here took us around 2 and a half hours. We probably could have finished it a little quicker, but we spent a good chunk of time admiring the view.
You can do a loop walk here that follows red and blue arrows along tarmac and forest roads, grassy tracks and mountain paths.
Traveller Tip: Here’s a detailed guide to the Slieve Foye Loop that you can follow on your visit.
3. Whittle away an evening at the Carlingford Brewing Company
The Carlingford Brewing Co. was set up in 2015 and has been brewing beer since July of 2016.
Over the course of the tour, you’ll be told the tale of Donn Cúailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley, before being taken through the towns famous landmarks that inspire their beers.
You’ll also get to sample some of the tasty beers that get brewed there.
If you’re in need of a feed you can also give their delicious wood-fired, stone-baked pizzas a lash.
Traveller Tip: A visit here is one of the best things to do in Carlingford if you visit the town on a wet Saturday afternoon.
4. Rent a bike and spin along the Carlingford Greenway
The Carlingford Greenway follows the route of a disused railway line and offers cyclists spectacular views from the edge of Carlingford Lough.
The greenway, which opened in 2014 connects Carlingford to Omeath (by 2021 it’ll connect Omeath to Newry) is 7km long and can take from 2 and a half to 3 hours from start to finish (depending on pace and stop-offs).
Over the course of your spin here you’ll encounter fields packed with grazing sheep, old railway crossings and a couple of bridges along with plenty of views of the stunning scenery that surrounds the area.
5. Spend a night with friends right by the water
If you’re looking for a unique base to explore Carlingford from, book a few nights at the incredible Wood Quay.
This place is located right next to Carlingford village and it’s finely plonked, as you can see above, next to the water.
There’s a nice big seating area that looks out onto the Lough and there’s a lovely, cosy interior where you can kick back in the evening. See more here.
6. Go zipping about the place in the Carlingford Adventure Centre
I really need to give this a go…
If you, like me, have ever wanted to zip through a load of trees while enjoying unbeatable views of Carlingford and the Mourne Mountains, then this’ll be right up your street.
You’ll find Ireland’s longest treetop zip line park in If you visit Carlingford Adventure Centre.
Get the adrenaline going 90 on over 1km of Ziplines, with 15 separate Zip Wires and 18 Suspended Challenges (some of which are up to 45 feet tall!).
7. Grab a post-adventure pint in PJ O Hare’s pub
The Anchor Bar, known locally as ‘PJ’s, is a solid spot for a post-hike, post-cycle, or post-milling-about-up-in-the-trees pint.
Located in Carlingford village this traditional bar is popular with locals and visitors alike.
There’s a packed music calendar if you’re looking for somewhere with live tuneage in the evening, and they also boast an award-winning menu.
Eat, drink, and be merry!
8. Throw on your hiking boots and ramble along the Tain Way
This walk takes you through an area that’s steeped in history and legend.
From the Cattle Raid of Cooley (a battle between Queen Meabh of Connacht and Cú Chulainn over the Brown Bull of Cooley) to many a passage grave, portal tomb and castle, this walk will keep your feet and eyes occupied from beginning to end.
The Táin Way is a 40km (25-mile) circular route that starts and finished in Carlingford.
I know a couple of people that have done this over the years and most did it over a Saturday and Sunday.
After leaving from Carlingford, you’ll climb along the northern slopes of Slieve Foye before making your way across Clermont Pass, to reach the village of Ravensdale.
From here, the route passes along a ridge between Carnawaddy and Castle Mountain before crossing back along Slieve Foy and on to Carlingford.
9. Kick back in a gaff with a view that’s perfect for a group getaway
I spent a night in this place a few years ago with a group of friends. Not only is it a stone’s throw from the village, it also offers a mighty view of the Lough and beyond.
This is another place that’s perfect for a weekend away with friends or family, as the house is fully decked out to accommodate a big group.
If you arrive when the weather’s fine, you’ll have a nice big terrace area where you can whittle away an evening while enjoying the view above. See more here.
10. Plan your trip around the Carlingford Oyster Festival
I’ll be honest, the thought of eating one of those yokes turns my stomach, but I’d love to try one… OK, love is probably stretching it a bit, but the Carlingford Oyster Festival looks like good craic.
Taking place over five days, the oyster festival takes place every August, usually at the beginning of the month (2019 dates: August 8th – 12th).
You can expect everything from live music (the Furey’s are opening this year’s festival) and food, to a lovely girls competition (called the ‘Oyster Pearl Competition’) and much more.
The event is also packed with things to keep the kids occupied, like a magic show, face painting, a teddy bear’s picnic, free kayaking in the harbour, a kids funfair, bouncy castles, and much, much more!
11. Have a gawk at King John’s Castle
Built by Hugh de Lacy, King John’s Castle offers stunning views out over the lough towards the Mourne Mountains.
According to legend, King John stayed here for three days back in 1210 AD.
The castle was the first stone building that was built in Carlingford and it was here that the town grew.
Grab a coffee in the town and take a ramble up here for a look around.
12. Take the scenic route on the Carlingford Ferry
You’ve seen Carlingford from the town and the mountains, now it’s time to see it from the lough.
Hop aboard the Carlingford Ferry (15-minute drive from the centre of Carlingford) and take the scenic route from Greenore (Louth) to Greencastle (Down).
The trip only takes 15 minutes but the scenery that you’ll be treated to on the way is out of this world.
13. Test your nerve at the Skypark
This looks brilliant! And it’ll be perfect for those of you looking for things to do in Carlingford with a group of friends!
If you fancy testing your nerve, a visit to Ireland’s largest aerial adventure course is a must.
Boasting the longest aerial adventure course in Ireland, SkyPark is home to over 30 challenges including cargo nets, skateboards, giant log swings, and monkey bars.
A solid option for those of you visiting Carlingford and looking to do something active that doesn’t involve hiking.
14. Head off in search of the Last Leprechauns of Ireland
Carlingford isn’t just about climbing mountains and flying about the place on ziplines.
It’s is also where you can visit the final (you heard me, the VERY LAST) 236 leprechauns in all of Ireland.
Below Slate Rock on Carlingford Mountain lies an ancient tunnel system that leads into a cavern at the folklore park near Ghan Road.
Visitors can head off on a tour that includes storytelling, an introduction to the area and a brief history of the current state of leprechaun welfare by the ‘Leprechaun Whisperer’ himself.
Even if myths and legends aren’t your thing, the kids will love this!
What things to do in Carlingford have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that there’s plenty of other brilliant things to do in Carlingford that we’ve unintentionally missed in the guide above.
Know somewhere that we should add? Let me know in the comments section below! Cheers!