Contrary to what you’ll read in a lot of online guides, there are LOADS of things to do in Leitrim (and not just in the buzzy town of Carrick-On-Shannon).
Whether you’re a solitude-seeking creative hoping to find a place to pen your next novel, or an outdoors enthusiast hoping to find the next best thing in Irish adventure-sports, Leitrim has something to tickle every fancy.
Although Leitrim is the county with the smallest population in Ireland, it boasts an abundance of natural beauty, outdoor adventure trails and stunning geographical formations, all of which are guaranteed to quench your thirst for green fields, beautiful scenery, and lovely country towns.
The best things to do in Leitrim
Known to GAA fans as the ‘Wild Rose County’, the land in Leitrim is rich in natural beauty, national heritage and endless exploring opportunities
Here are the best things to do in Leitrim for those of you planning a visit.
1 – You can kick back and listen to the music of the water crashing down at Glencar Waterfall in the morning
A visit to Glencar Waterfall, most notably made famous by W.B. Yeats in his poem ‘The Stolen Child’, needs to be at the top of your to-do list.
Grab a cup of coffee in the little cafe near the car park and take the short stroll up to the 50ft waterfall.
It’s particularly impressive to visit and photograph after heavy rainfall (a requirement which shouldn’t be too difficult to meet in Ireland..)!
2 – And spend the afternoon gliding along the Shannon in a rented boat
Renting a small sleeper boat on the River Shannon for a few nights is an extremely underrated way to see the inland waterway sights of Ireland.
The route from Lough Derg through Leitrim was once the medieval highway from the Atlantic, and it served as a means for traders of all kinds to sell their wares.
Several boat companies, like Emerald Star, rent out boats of varying sizes – most sleep between 2 and 7 – and are entirely self-catered.
This is one of the best things to do in Leitrim if you’re looking for something a little different to add to your itinerary.
3 – Followed up with a post-adventure pint in the 200-year-old Stanford Village Inn
Our next stop takes us to the Stanford Village Inn, located in the little village of Dromahair, for a post-adventure pint.
I spent an evening here around 4 years ago with a group of friends, and we’ve been chatting about visiting again ever since.
The reputation that the pub has garnered over its impressive 200 years in business has been well deserved.
4 – Start your morning in style with a ramble around the 17th-century Parke’s Castle on the banks of Lough Gill
This restored early 17th-century plantation era castle in Leitrim holds a wealth of historical tales and insights to life in Ireland in days gone by.
For visitors hoping to learn more about Irish history and the connections to British rule, Parke’s Castle is a must-see.
Facilities include a visitor center and optional guided tours.
5 – Or just dive into the action with a visit to the lads at Lough Allen Adventure
If you’re looking to move away from visitor centers and guided tours and become one with nature, then a spin out to the Lough Allen Adventure center is a must.
Those of you that opt to head to Lough Allen can expect a day packed with:
- Hiking and more
All while glamping amidst the luxurious scenery Leitrim has to offer.
6 – Worried about the rain? Shtop! Hop into the swimming pool (or jacuzzi) at Aura Leisure in Carrick-on-Shannon
If the rain is lashing down and you’re looking to get out of the house/hotel/B&B/hostel, a visit to Aura Leisure in Carrick-on-Shannon for a swim is hard to bate.
Hop into the 25m Swimming Pool for a few lengths and then chill in the jacuzzi or steam room after.
7 – Or visit the folks at the Leitrim Surf Company who’ll get you up close and personal with the Shannon Blueway
If you still think SUP is the best way to ask a friend what’s happening, then you clearly haven’t been keeping up to date with the latest in outdoor activities…
Blame that terrible joke on a severe lack of caffeine…
Stand-up Paddling Boarding is the specialty of the Leitrim Surf Company, whose tours take SUPpers out on the Shannon Blueway between Acres Lake and Lough Allen.
A visit to these lads promises an active afternoon of trying out new skills and seeing the country from a different angle – even if that ends up being from the water!
8 – If mobility’s an issue (or if you don’t fancy walking) you can go batin’ around the place on an Electric Bike
Hire an electric bike from the Electric Bike Trails base in Leitrim Village and take yourself on a speedy trip through the otherwise slow-moving countryside.
This environmentally-friendly, family-run business is passionate about sharing the beauty of Leitrim in a sustainable and accessible way for all.
The best part? These easy-to-use bikes leave no trace, and you get to carve out your own route instead of following a guided tour!
This is easily one of the best things to do in Leitrim with kids.
9 – And for those fond of food, a visit to the Oarsman will tick all yer boxes (sure, if it’s good enough for the lads below…)
Carrick-on-Shannon’s award-winning gastro pub and restaurant, the Oarsman, has been treating the area to top-quality cuisine for over 15 years.
A favorite of visitors and locals alike, this should be top of the list for all foodies (or hungry huairs like myself) visiting Leitrim.
Sure look, if it’s good enough for Ant and Dec…
10 – A visit to the North Leitrim Glens, one of Ireland’s few true hidden gems, can’t be missed
This touring route can be traversed via car, bike or on foot, and it offers travelers the opportunity to take in what’s been coined as ‘The Real Ireland’.
The route passes through stunning areas of Fermanagh, Leitrim and Sligo, in an off-the-beaten-track tour of rural Ireland.
Perfect for those of you yearning to non-touristy things to do in Leitrim that pack a mighty punch.
11 – Nor can a bit of time spent walking around the 200-year-old St. George’s Heritage Centre
You’ll often hear St. George’s Heritage Centre referred to as ‘Carrick-on-Shannon’s Heritage gem’.
At over 200 years old, the church and its grounds are steeped in ecclesiastical history (history of the Catholic Church).
Visitors will also have the opportunity to check out several exhibits and ancient artifacts that are on display here too. The grounds also make for a wonderful afternoon’s walk.
12 – For those after an evening of craic, drinks and music, a night in Anderson’s Thatch Pub is exactly what the doctor ordered
“The Thatch” as it’s referred to locally, is another renowned hub of traditional Irish music, with live music rocking every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Dating back to 1734, it’s also of great historical interest and has been featured in an endless number of travel guides.
It also looks incredible.
There’s something immensely special (and Irish) about a thatch pub.
13 – If you fancy skipping the pub, you can have a Post-Adventure Coffee in Lena’s Tea Rooms (the cakes also look class!)
After all that exploring, pint-testing and shenanigans, it’s always good to have somewhere to wind down and digest the new experiences.
Lena’s Tea Rooms is a cosy spot to stop off along the Shannon for afternoon tea.
Coffee and cakes are served in antique fashion and with an emphasis on the bespoke side of interior design.
A classy finish to a hard day exploring.
Things to do in Carrick-on-Shannon
Let’s clear something up from the start – there’s plenty of things to do in Carrick-on-Shannon besides spending the day in a pub.
The town has earned a reputation as the stag and hen capital of Ireland, but those that fail to look past this will miss out on plenty of exploring opportunities.
You’ll find the town on the shores of the majestic River Shannon. An anglers paradise thanks to its 41 lakes, Carrick-on-Shannon also boasts something to do for every type of tourist.
14 – Jump aboard a Moon River Cruise and soak up the scenery from the water
Since it’s launch in 1995, the Moon River tour has become one of the top things to do in Carrick-on-Shannon, carrying over 30,000 passengers each year.
The Moon River seats 110 passengers and boasts a full bar along with coffee, tea and snacks.
Kick-back, get fed, have a tipple (if you fancy) and enjoy the scenery as you tip along the river.
15 – Pick up something fancy at the Leitrim Design House
Our next stop takes us to the Leitrim Design House, located in The Dock – a beautiful 19th Century courthouse building in the heart of Carrick On Shannon.
This gorgeous riverside gallery overlooks the River Shannon and represents over 200 artists.
16 – Or something VERY fancy at Leitrim Crystal
Fancy seeing some crystal being created by a master craftsman?
Then lash Leitrim Crystal onto your itinerary. It’s here that proprietors Ken and Sandra Cunningham design, cut and engrave masterpieces.
Perfect for those of you looking to bring home a piece of Leitrim with you.
17 – Get educated: Learn about a dark period in Ireland’s history at the Workhouse Attic Memorial
As you walk down the path from Carrick’s Main Street up to Summerhill towards St. Patrick’s Hospital, you’ll notice a series of bronze plaques with ‘To the Workhouse’ engraved upon them.
These will guide you to the Workhouse, where you’ll have the opportunity to be transported back in time to see what an original 1843 famine era Workhouse was like.
These kinds of attractions are always worth etching out time in your itinerary for.
They offer a deep insight into Ireland’s history that many of us tend to forget, and that many more have never heard.
Things to do in Leitrim – wrapping up
That’s a wrap on our guide to Leitrim.
If there’s something else that you’d recommend doing, pop a comment in the comments section below.
We’d love to hear from you!
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.