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Rivers in Ireland: 8 best rivers in Ireland for activities in 2019

Looking to get out on one of the many rivers in Ireland? Whether you want to splash about with your mates, sail a boat or learn a new water sport, our guide to the best rivers in Ireland for actives will steer you in the right direction.

If you want to get out on the water there are plenty of rivers to choose from in Ireland. So, whether it’s fishing or kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing that you are into, our guide will help you pick from the best rivers in Ireland for activities.

Top 8 rivers in Ireland for activity holidays in 2019

Rafting on the River Boyne, Co. Meath

People rafting on the river

Rafting is great craic and a great experience especially along the River Boyne. Head to the town of Slane and book yourself on to an eight-person raft. Suit up and then tackle the mighty weirs of the Boyne. As you bounce down the water you’ll be surrounded by the lushness of the Boyne Valley. When you are done you can explore the area which is home to some of Ireland’s greatest heritage sites.

For more inspiration check out our list of 10 free things to do in Ireland 2019

Cruising on the River Erne, Co. Cavan, Fermanagh & Donegal

Cows in the Irish countryside

If you’d like to do an Irish cruise holiday up or down the River Erne one of the best places from where to start your journey is Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

Enniskillen is the only island town in the island of Ireland and is a very popular tourist destination with those wanting to do a boating holiday in Ireland. Encompassed by water (the River Erne) and vibrant countryside, Enniskillen and its surrounds are perfect for all kinds of sailing. Keen sailors from around the world come to Enniskillen for cruising holidays and take to the water to explore the 150 islands of the Lakelands.

Landlubbers will also find plenty to do, like visiting Enniskillen Castle museums, The Buttermarket‘s craft shops and galleries and the town’s friendly pubs with live music.

Want to see more of the country? Ireland’s hidden gems: 10 scenic attractions to discover in 2019

Canoeing on the River Foyle, Co. Derry

River Foyle in Derry at sunset - one of the best rivers for activities in Ireland

Grab your paddle and take to the River Foyle Canoe Trail, starting at the ‘Port of the Three Enemies’ (Port Na Tri Namad) in Northern Ireland, where the Finn, the Mourne and Foyle Rivers all meet. 

The canoe trail takes you to the City of Derry, and you’ll paddle under the three bridges; The Blue Bridge, The Foyle Bridge and the Peace Bridge. Continue to the historic dockland to where the river meets the sea lough at Culmore Point.

This area is steeped in history and dotted with landmarks such as Boom Hall, the Guildhall, the Old Foyle Valley Railway, the spires of the city cathedrals and the old wharf at Lisahally.

Continue the activities back on dry land with our guide to Hiking in Ireland: 10 best walking routes and trails 2019

Currach rowing on the River Lee, Co. Cork

River Lee in Cork at dusk

Every Saturday you can try your hand at rowing a curragh, which is a traditional canvas fishing boat. Get out on the water with a bunch of newbie rowers and experienced captains and learn how to handle one of these boats, which were first made in the early 1900s.

So, if you are interested in trying your hand at rowing a traditional Irish currach head to the Shandon Boat Club in the ‘Marina’ by Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork, every Saturday morning at 10.30am.

Once you dry off, wet your whistle at some of Ireland’s best Irish pubs and bars for 2019

Stand up paddle boarding on the River Liffey, Dublin

River Liffey, Dublin - one of the best rivers to stand up paddle boarding in Ireland

The River Liffey cuts through Dublin and a great way to see the city from the water is to do it from a paddle board. Stand up paddle boarding is one fo the fastest growing sports in the world and it is perfect for those looking for a more relaxed style of activity. It really is quite tranquil and doing a stand up paddle boarding session on the River Liffey during sunrise or sunset just adds to the serenity of it all.

Looking to get pampered whilst in Dublin? Check out or guide to the 10 best spa hotels in Dublin

Salmon fishing on the River Moy, Co. Mayo

River Moy, Co. Mayo - one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in Ireland

ThRiver Moy in Co. Mayo is famous the world over for having some of the best salmon fishing in Ireland. Anglers come from all over the world to fish this 96km stretch of water. No matter what type of fishing you enjoy and no matter what your budget, there is something to suit all anglers along the River Moy.

There is good spring fishing March through May and the grilse run starts in May and continues until the end of July. The River Moy has ten fisheries that permit fishing, the rest of the Moy is free fishing.

If you want to continue the water sports, here are the best places for surfing in Ireland

Cruising on the River Shannon, Co. Leitrim

McDermott's Castle, one of the most beautiful sights near Carrick-on-Shannon

Carrick-on-Shannon is one of Ireland’s most popular inland resorts, especially for cruising holidays, as the town is a gateway to the 63km-long Shannon-Erne waterway.

There are loads of places in Carrick-on-Shannon where you can hire a boat and you’ll get training in how to handle the craft before you take to the water and enjoy a Shannon river cruise.

There’s also a water sports centre which is fun for the whole family and you can take to the water in canoes and kayaks and enjoy a fun banana boat ride.

Looking for a picture perfect place to visit? Here’s our list of the 19 prettiest villages and small towns in Ireland

Swimming in the River Barrow, Co. Carlow

Enjoy the verdant countryside with activity holidays in Ireland's rivers

The gentle River Barrow meanders through six counties; Laois, Kildare, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford and Waterford. It is considered to be one of safest rivers in the country and therefore perfect for water activities for all ages and abilities.

One of the best things to do along the River Barrow in Co. Carlow is to swim in the delightful sheltered pools that the river has to offer. Don’t forget to bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful surrounds too.

Get behind the wheel and explore Ireland with our top 5 most scenic road trips next.

8 best rivers in Ireland for activities in 2019

What to doWhere to go
1. Rafting on the River BoyneCo. Meath
2. Cruising on the River ErneCo. Cavan, Fermanagh & Donegal
3. Canoeing on the River FoyleCo. Derry
4. Currach rowing on the River LeeCo. Cork
5. Stand up paddle boarding on the River LiffeyDublin
6. Salmon fishing on the River MoyCo. Mayo
7. Cruising on the River ShannonCo. Leitrim
8. Swimming in the River BarrowCo. Carlow

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