Admiring centuries-old fortresses, wandering through the compact old town where Georgian townhouses line the cobblestone streets, and kayaking down the serene River Shannon are a few of the fun things to do in Limerick, Ireland. Medieval-era landmarks line the waterfront which winds through Limerick, and the city feels more working class and less touristy than spots like like Dublin and Galway which makes it easy to discover the locals’ deep love for live music and passion for rugby.
From castle hopping to panoramic ferris wheel rides, here are the best activities in Limerick for all ages.
Explore the castles in Limerick
Kick off your Limerick sightseeing by exploring the medieval castles in and around this easily walkable city. Some of the best include:
- King John’s Castle: It’s impossible to miss this commanding landmark, which sits on the banks of the River Shannon. The 13th century castle was named after ‘that’ King John…yes, the one you know from Robin Hood and Knights of the Round Table. Marvel at its grand turrets and stonework, then head inside to see the interpretive visitor centre, wander through the courtyard and try on period costumes.
- Bunratty Castle: Cross over a vine-covered stone bridge and make your way through the heavy doors into Bunratty Castle, which sits on land originally used as a Viking trading camp back in 970. It was built around 1425 by the powerful MacNamara family, but became a stronghold of the O’Briens half a century later. Today it’s surrounded by lush gardens and a folk farm, and visitors can book a special evening that includes a traditional three-course meal, Irish dancing and singing. Click to book
- Adare Desmond Castle: Just outside Limerick in the charming village of Adare, you’ll find this open-air, 13th century castle. Guided tours are available, and you can splurge by booking an overnight stay at the stately Adare Manor which is one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland.
Ride the Panoramic Wheel
Go up…way up…for the best city views. The 40-metre high Panoramic Wheel in Arthur’s Quay Park along the River Shannon is one of the top attractions in Limerick, serving up an unobstructed, panoramic vantage point of the skyline. Head up for a ride, or simply admire it from afar: it’s particularly impressive at night, when the bright lights reflect off the water.
*Note: Check opening times before heading over, as the Panoramic Wheel is not open year-round
Enjoy the city walks in Limerick
See the main sites during a Limerick walking tour, which is easy to do self-guided since the city is so simple to navigate. Many of the main attractions are situated along the waterfront, including the famous Treaty Stone which marks the end of the Siege of Limerick, and the impressive Thomond Bridge leading to King John’s Castle.
Continuing along the River Shannon, you’ll pass historic St. Mary’s Cathedral which is more than 850 years old, dating back to 1168. It was originally used as the royal palace for the Kings of Thomond, and eventually gifted to the church. It’s now used for religious services, and is open for tours to see the impressive vaulted ceilings and Irish art.
Just a few minute’s further along the route is St. John’s Cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral dating back to the 1850s. It has bragging rights as being home to Ireland’s tallest spire, which rises an impressive 94 metres high.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to drop by the Milk Market which has been an important part of the city since 1852 and is one of the top things to do in Limerick. Browse the stalls, which have everything from handmade clothes to beautiful bouquets of flowers and sweet jam.
End your city walk in Arthur’s Quay Park, which is surrounded by lime trees and overlooks the River Shannon. There’s an adjoining shopping centre, and views of Curragour Falls and the Clare Hills.
Fun things to do in Limerick with kids
Besides the ride on the Panoramic Wheel and a trip to the Milk Market, there are plenty of other fun things to do in Limerick with kids, including:
- King John’s Castle: Head inside the imposing fortress to check out the interactive features detailing its history, meet the costumed stonemason and guards, and explore the turrets, tunnels and kids-only passageway.
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park: After wandering through the nooks and crannies of Bunratty Castle, wander through the surrounding folk park which is like walking back in time. Meet baby lambs, ducks, goats, chickens and pigs at the pet farm, check out the quaint village houses to see what life was like in 19th century Ireland, and keep an eye out for mythical creatures hiding along the Fairy Trail.
- Stonehall Wildlife Park: Get your furry fix at this farm found a 20 minute drive west of the city, which is home to the likes of llamas, ostriches, wallabys, meerkats, parrots, a tortoise, emus and alpacas. There’s also a nice nature trail.
- Kayaking Limerick: Head down the River Shannon with an outfitter like Get West or Limerick Adventures, and see sites like the Hunt Museum, King John’s Castle and the bridges from a new point of view while learning about the city’s history.
Sip Guinness at the best pubs in Limerick
Cap off the day by enjoying a pint and live music at one of the city’s lively bars, which is a quintessentially Irish experience. Most of the best pubs in Limerick are found in the city centre near the river, where you’ll raise a glass to the talented musicians entertaining the crowd with a jam session.
- Locke Bar has hosted music nights since 1724, and patrons love the authentic wood panelling.
- Dolan’s is arguably one of the city’s most famous bars, and is always good for a boisterous night out thanks to its spirited live music scene
Day trips from Limerick
Make Limerick your base for a few days, and head out to explore some of the surrounding spots like charming Adare, the city of Shannon, and the Bunratty Folk Park and Castle which are each only about 20 minutes away.
Some of Ireland’s top attractions are less than a 90 minute drive from the city, including the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, lively Galway and colorful Cork. Here are a few of the best things to do near Limerick:
Where to stay: Hotels in Limerick city centre
- Absolute Hotel: The luxe, modern rooms at this standout spot have helped make this one of Limerick’s top ranked hotels, along with its fantastic service and great location overlooking the Abbey River. The on-site restaurant and bar are excellent, and the Absolute is easy walking distance to the top tourist sites in Limerick. Click to book
- Limerick Strand Hotel: The Strand has a fantastic location in the heart of the city, just a few minute’s walk from the main landmarks. Some of the spacious rooms have views of the River Shannon, and there’s a state-of-the-art fitness facility on-site with a steam room, sauna, plunge pool and hydrotherapy pool. Click to book
- No. 1 Pery Square Hotel, Restaurant & Spa: This elegant, historic property is found in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter, and the townhouse has classic touches like clawfoot bathtubs and exposed brick. Guests love the spacious rooms, and heading to the spa for some pampering. Click to book
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