Howaya! In this guide, you’ll find heaps of things to do in Louth during your visit.
Officially Ireland’s smallest county, Louth is situated just North of Dublin on Ireland’s east coast, which makes it the perfect place to spend a night or two if you’re flying into Dublin and making your way up north.
This little corner of Ireland rarely gets the recognition it deserves.
Things to do in Louth (that are actually worthwhile doing)
I’ve broken this guide up into the following sections. If you want to jump straight to one, just click it:
- Things to do in Carlingford
- Things to do in Drogheda
- Things to do in Dundalk
- Places to visit across the wider county
Things to do in Carlingford
The mighty little town of Carlingford 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.
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 (Irish slang for brilliant!).
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.
2 – Climb Slieve Foye (one of my favourite things to do in Louth – you’ll grab one of the best views in the county here)
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.
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.
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 – 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!).
6 – 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!
7 – 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.
8 – 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!
9 – 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.
10 – 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.
11 – Test your nerve at the Skypark
This looks brilliant!
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.
12 – 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!
Things to do in Drogheda
Drogheda (pronounced ‘draw-ha-da‘) is one of the oldest towns in Ireland.
While the majority of Drogheda is located in Louth, the southern fringes of this historic town are in County Meath.
Most of the things to do in Drogheda that you’ll find below are from the Louth side, but one or two from the Meath end may have slipped in.
13 – Kick-start your day with a coffee from Moorland’s
Moorland’s Cafe has been keeping locals and tourists caffeinated since the 1940s.
In a time when the Costas and Starbucks of the world dominate, it’s rare (and pretty damn impressive) to hear of a cafe operating this long.
Grab a coffee and a Chester Cake to-go and head off in search of medieval Drogheda.
14 – Have a nosey at St. Laurence’s Gate
St. Laurence’s Gate was built back in the 13th century as part of the walled fortifications of the medieval town of Drogheda.
Originally one of ten gates into the town, it used to lead into the Friary of St. Laurence and it’s now regarded as one of the finest of its kind to be found in Europe.
A lovely bit of medieval Ireland that stands proudly to this day.
15 – Visit the Boann Distillery (opening to visitors in 2019)
Drogheda’s Boann Distillery is set to launch a new tourist attraction in mid-2019.
If whiskey is your thang (yes, thang…) a guided tour around this place should be on your list of things to do in Drogheda during your trip.
Over the course of the tour, you’ll learn all about the craft of distilling before relaxing in the cosy whiskey snug.
There’s also a restaurant en route.
16 – Discover the story of Oliver Plunkett (and visit his shrine at St. Peter’s Church)
It’s inside the beautiful St. Peter’s Church on West Street in Drogheda that you’ll find the head of St. Oliver Plunkett, a 17th-century Irish saint.
So, what’s the story with himself and how did his head end up in Drogheda?!
Well, Plunkett was accused of plotting a French invasion by the Privy Council of England. He was arrested in Dublin in December 1679 and imprisoned in Dublin Castle.
The saint was falsely accused and tried for conspiring against the state by allegedly plotting to bring 20,000 French soldiers into Ireland.
The trial collapsed after the prosecution’s witnesses, who were wanted men, failed to turn up to court.
However (and I’m cutting out a lot of history here so do read more on St. Oliver Plunkett before your visit) he was declared guilty of high treason in June 1681 and condemned to death.
Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in Middlesex on 1 July 1681 at age 55.
His body was buried in two tin boxes until it was exhumed in 1683 and moved to the Benedictine monastery in Germany.
The head was then brought to Rome.
And then to Armagh…
It was eventually moved to Drogheda in June of 1921 where it has been since.
17 – Spend a night in a medieval tower
Drummond Tower really does look incredible.
You’ll find Victoria Drummond Tower in Monasterboice in Drogheda, less than a 15-minute drive from the centre of Drogheda town and less than 50 minutes from Dublin Airport.
The tower was built way back in 1858 by Victor Drummond Delap as part of Monasterboice House and Demesne.
if you’re looking for a unique place to stay in Ireland, then this’ll tick all the boxes.
18 – Soak up history and views at Millmount Fort
Shortly after Hugh de Lacy was granted the kingdom of Meath in 1172, he constructed a motte and bailey castle on an enormous mound overlooking the River Boyne.
This castle was used to defend the town during Cromwell’s (a right aul prick) siege of Drogheda in 1649.
Many years later, in 1808, the old fortifications were knocked down and the present tower was erected.
Millmount Fort received considerable damage in 1922 when it was shelled by Free State forces during the Civil War.
It was restored and made open to the public in 2000. If you fancy diving into the considerable history the area boasts, take one of the guided museum tours.
19 – Grab a big aul feed at the Eastern Seaboard
Polish off a days adventuring with a fine feed at the Eastern Seaboard restaurant.
Expect stylish interiors, excellent food, and impeccable service.
According to the owners, Reuven Diaz and Jeni Glasgow, the restaurant brings you ‘a neighbourhood restaurant with a big city feel’.
A serious spot for a bite to eat!
20 – Gawk up at the unusual and beautiful Magdalene Tower
It’s rare that you encounter a structure like this in Ireland.
Drogheda’s Magdalene Tower was constructed in the 14th century and served as the belfry tower to a large Dominican friary which was founded in 1224 by the Archbishop of Armagh.
It was here that the Ulster chiefs submitted to the King of England in 1367.
A magnificently well-kept bit of ‘old-world-Ireland’ that remains in tact for all to see.
21 – Grab a velvety pint in Clarkes
Clarke’s was built waaaaayyyy back in 1850 and it’s thought that it started its life as a Grocery Store.
50 years later, in 1900, a chap named Thomas Reid transferred his Pub License from Little Denmark Street in Dublin to 19 Peter Street Drogheda and started to trade as a grocer and spirit merchant.
Today, Clarke’s is a no-nonsense pub that serves some of the finest Guinness for miles around (I’m speaking from experience and a mighty hangover).
22 – Take a spin out to Mellifont Abbey
You’ll find the Cisterian Mellifont Abbey a stones throw from Drogheda town.
Mellifont, which was constructed in 1152, was the first of the order’s kind to be built in Ireland.
According to Discover Boyne Valley, the Abbey ‘was consecrated in 1157 and from this humble beginnings the Cistercian community spread out throughout Ireland founding other abbeys throughout the country with Mellifont being the model on which these abbeys were based’.
You can nip into the Visitor Centre here and check out an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages. You’ll also find some fine examples of their craft on display.
23 – Get cultured at the Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery
The Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery opened its doors in 2006 to deliver a dedicated visual arts space for Ireland’s north-east.
The gallery has boasts a variety of Irish art from the early 20th century along with a number of important 18th Century works.
You’ll find the gallery in the former Drogheda Franciscan Church and tours here are suitable for groups of all sizes.
24 – Plan your visit around the Fleadh (2019)
The Fleadh (Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann) is an annual event that has been on the go since 1951.
It’s widely regarded as the biggest and best celebration of Irish traditional music and culture in the world, with many musicians travelling from all over the world visit, play and compete.
Visitors to the Fleadh in Drogheda can enjoy week-long programme packed with everything from music sessions, singing sessions, concerts, parades, competitions, workshops, town walks, and much, much more.
25 – Drink, distill and bottle your own gin at the Listoke Gin School
Yes, there’s a gin school in Louth…
Visitors to the Listoke Gin School are greeted with a Gin & Tonic upon arrival before being given a guided of the distillery.
When the tour finishes, the tastings begin.
Once tastebuds have been tantalised, the gin-making class kicks off, with each guest given the opportunity to select their own recipe.
Students then get to distill and bottle their own gin before chowing down on some local produce.
This is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Louth!
26 – Muiredach’s High Cross and a big aul round tower
Monasterboice in County Louth is home to the High Cross of Muiredach – one of the finest pieces of early medieval sculpture in Ireland.
Standing at 5 metres tall, the High Cross is the work of a master stonemason and is believed to have been crafted in the 9th or 10th century.
On your visit, take a stroll over to the enormous round tower.
Standing at an impressive 35 metres high, the Monasterboice round tower was used as a watchtower and refuge by monks during times of Viking attack.
27 – Funtasia Drogheda (one of the best things to do in Louth with kids)
While there’s plenty of things to do in Funtasia to keep the kids busy, it’s the waterpark that steals the show.
The indoor Waterpark is home to over 30,000 sq feet of water, and kids can take part in 200 water-based activities.
From super slides and fun play areas to toddlers splash and an adult-only jacuzzi, there’s a little bit of something for everyone here.
Perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Drogheda when it’s lashing down outside.
29 – Round off a day of exploring with food and a tipple in Weavers
Now, I don’t normally recommend this kind of boozer in our guides as I tend to opt for more traditional style pubs over late bars and clubs.
That being said, I spent a night in Weavers a couple of months back and the food and drink were both top-notch.
Things to do in Dundalk
The name ‘Dundalk‘ is linked to the mythical warrior Cú Chulainn.
If you look closely at the towns crest, you’ll see the words ‘Mé do rug Cú Chulainn Cróga‘, which translates to ‘I gave birth to brave Cú Chulainn‘.
As has been the case with Carlingford and Drogheda, there are LOADS of worthwhile things to do in Dundalk.
So, let’s get cracking!
30 – Drop by Cú Chulainn’s Castle
Dún Dealgan Motte (AKA Cú Chulainn’s Castle) was built on a ridge overlooking the Castletown River.
According to legend, Cú Chulainn used this as his base during a time when he was attacking the forces of Queen Meave as they drove north into the county.
Other tales say that this was where Cú Chulainn was born.
If you’d like to read more, there’s plenty of factual history behind the castle and the area that surrounds it.
31 – Glide into the Glyde Inn… I’m well aware that was terrible…
If you fancy spending an evening in an award-winning pub in Dundalk, then the Glyde Inn is just the job.
It was awarded National Pub of The Year and Irish Food Pub of the Year in 2018 at the Irish Pub Awards.
This traditional Irish pub and boasts impressive sea views and a menu that’ll have you itching to come back for more.
A grand aul spot to spend a night.
32 – Discover a whole load of history at County Museum Dundalk
There are few museums in Ireland that chronicle the changes and evolution of an area from the Stone Age right the way up to the present day as finely as Dundalk County Museum.
Built within a restored 18th-century distillery in the Carroll Centre, this unique museum is home to a huge variety of exhibitions and displays.
It also regularly hosts drama presentations, lectures and film screenings for the local community.
Pop it on your list of things to do in Dundalk when it’s raining!
33 – Visit the Proleek Dolmen (and try to land a stone on top!)
As you’ve probably gathered, Louth is home to an almost endless number of megalithic attractions that’ll excite and enthrall.
The Proleek Dolmen on the grounds of Ballyscanlon Hotel is one of many that’s well worth the visit.
This portal tomb resembles a giant’s table and stands at 3 metres high.
According to legend, a wish will be granted to anyone who can successfully land a pebble on the top of the Dolmen without it rolling back off.
34 – Spend the night in a castle
This. Place. Is. SWANKY.
The original Bellingham Castle was built way back in 1660 by Sir Henry Bellingham
In December 2012, the castle was bought by the Corscadden family who also own Ballyseede Castle, Cabra Castle, and Markree Castle.
Since then it has become one of Ireland’s top castle hotels.
If you fancy pushing the boat a bit, you can spend a night here.
35 – Fitzpatrick’s Bar & Restaurant
You’ll find this gem of a pub at the foot of the picturesque Cooley Mountains.
Weary travellers that visit Fitzpatrick’s can expect stunning gardens, old-world charm, and a menu that receives ridiculously good reviews online.
The steak off the Bistro menu looks delishhhhh.
You’ll find it hard to peel yourself away from this warm rustic pub.
36 – Catch a show in an Táin Arts Centre
An Táin Arts Centre is located in the former Táin Theatre in Dundalk.
The centre took its name from the ‘Táin Bó Cúailnge‘ or the Cattle raid of Cooley, a legendary story that we mentioned earlier in this guide.
An Táin Arts Centre houses a 350 seat main theatre, a 55 seat studio theatre, a visual arts gallery and two workshop spaces with a lively programme packed with a diverse collection of local arts, national tours, workshops, exhibitions and in-house productions.
Things to do in Louth (across the wider county)
In this section, you’ll find a load of places to visit in Louth, outside of Carlingford, Drogheda and Dundalk.
If there’s something that you think we should add, just let me know in the comments below.
37 – Walk the Boyne Valley Camino
The Boyne Valley Camino is a lovely self-guided, 25km looped walk that takes walkers along the Boyne, through the beautiful Townley Hall woods in Tullyallen (you’ll pass Mellifont Abbey and Oldbridge House on your way) and along the Boyne Canal.
As it’s a looped walk, you’ll finish up in Drogheda.
You can use an official Camino Passports to collect stamps created by local artists over the course of the walk.
Here’s a full guide to the Boyne Valley Camino.
38 – Saunter along the shores of one of Louth’s many beaches
If you fancy gulping down some fresh sea air, then you’re in luck – there’s a load of great beaches to be found in Louth.
My personal favourites are the beaches at Clogherhead and Termonfeckin, but there’s plenty more, like:
- Blackrock Beach
- Port Beach
- The Ladies Beach
39 – Cycle the Boyne Greenway
So, a chunk of this cycle will take you into Meath, but it starts in Drogheda, which is why we’ve popped it in.
Kicking off at Dominic’s Park on the south bank of the River Boyne, the Boyne Greenway takes cyclists along the river (near the Mary McAleese Bridge), past the Boyne Canal, and then on to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge.
The perfect way to spend a fresh Saturday morning.
40 – Head for a roam around Castle Roche
You’ll find Castle Roche around 10 km north-west of Dundalk.
Back in the day it was the seat of the De Verdun family who are said to have built the castle in 1236 AD.
Situated atop of a rocky outcrop, Castle Roche offers magnificent views out across the surrounding country.
41 – Play around of golf in one of the many (and I mean many golf courses the county has to offer)
If you’re a fan of golf, then you’re in luck – there’s 9 different golf courses and pitch and putts in Louth.
Here’s some to try during your visit:
- County Louth Golf Club
- Piltown Golf Driving Range
- Ardee Golf Club
- Greenore Golf Club
- Dundalk Golf Club
- Townley Hall Golf Club
- Killineer pitch and putt
- Newtownstalaban Driving Range
What things to do in Louth have we missed?
The guides on this site rarely sit still.
They grow based on feedback and recommendations from readers and locals that visit and comment.
Have something to recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!