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The Best Things To Do On A Spa Break In Ireland

Part of the Spabreaks.com Ireland travel guide

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One of the great joys of a spa break in Ireland is the variety of experiences that it has to offer. Whether you’re a golfer, a history buff, an adventurer, a cultural enthusiast, a couple, a group of friends or someone in need of a little me-time, there’s an abundance of places to go and things to do.

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Golf in Ireland

Tucked away in a stunning 780 acre estate, Fota Island actually boasts three golf courses, but it is the Deerpark Course that many focus on. Mature beyond its years, the Deerpark Course offers a relaxing test of picture-perfect parkland golf for visiting golfers. Generous fairways and light rough are common features which will appeal to weekend warriors with the real test coming from seemingly ever-present water hazards, excellent bunkering and slick, multi-tiered greens.

Meanwhile, Royal Portrush is one of the most spectacular links courses in the world. You have to deal with world famous holes such as the par-3 14th, known by many as Calamity, while off the course, to the east, you have the White Rocks and tall limestone cliffs that lead to Dunluce Castle and the headlands of the Giant’s Causeway to take in. Views extend to the hills of Inishowen, beyond which lie Portsalon and the links of Donegal.

Farnham Estate Spa and Golf Resort is another favourite destination for golf combined with wellbeing escapes. The award-winning retreat has its own 18-hole championship course, alongside a historic hotel and extensive spa facilities for those aged 16 and over.

Castleknock Hotel is also a treat for golf and spa breaks. This Dublin spa is within easy reach of the city, offering state-of-the-art wellbeing alongside an 18-hole golf course, named as one of the top 100 in Ireland by Golf Digest Magazine. It combines city and country chic, while the grounds make up a significant part of the relaxation vibe. You can even take in views of the golf course, lake and surrounding countryside from the spa itself.

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Irish history and heritage

It’s little wonder that this world of myth and legend seems so mystical. Ireland’s history and heritage spans the centuries as well as both city and countryside.

Experience the rich culture of Ireland’s Ancient East. Cycle or walk along the Waterford Greenway, a spectacular off-road trail built on an old railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan. Make a trip to the luscious greenery of Wicklow National Park, for example, which is also home to a monastery founded in the sixth century, Glendalough.

Follow the flow of Ireland’s folklore in Shannon. Explore the stormy past and enduring splendour of Ireland’s castles, before soaking up tales of the warring lords, cultured ladies and besieged revolutionaries who have left their mark on Ireland’s landscapes. For that extra touch of magic, gaze beyond Lough Gur’s still waters to Knockadoon Hill, at the imposing hillforts and megalithic tombs around the lake.

Discover the horseshoe-shaped lake, hidden away amid hills and green scenes, which lead locals to tell you that it’s home to the king of the fairies. A short distance away you will also find historic Limerick with the 13th-century King John’s Castle – site of battles and sieges, and the iconic Milk Market, a bustling treasure trove of local produce.

With its castles that look like they’ve dropped out of a movie and walking trails that twist and turn like the words of a poet, it is no wonder that Ireland is a rich source of intrigue. See the ancient bog road built in 148BC or The Hill of the Witch at Loughcrew where local folklore tells the story of a magical woman, Garavogue. Some say a witch, some say a goddess. You can even visit Cavan Burren Park; the lands where it is believed romancing giants once roamed.

It isn’t just Ireland’s countryside that has stories to tell either. On spa days in Dublin, explore sites including the 13th century Dublin Castle and St Patrick's Cathedral - built in honour of Ireland's patron saint. The 8th-century Eyre Square and 18th-century Spanish Arch in Galway are worth a visit. Meanwhile, a spa day in Belfast is brimming with intrigue, from the renovated dockyards' Titanic Quarter honouring the famous, ill-fated ship, to the grand government buildings at Belfast City Hall.

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Explore Ireland’s great outdoors

The natural beauty of Ireland is much talked about and much celebrated. Wrap yourself in the wilderness of the west coast of Ireland on one of the most iconic coastal touring routes in the world: the Wild Atlantic Way. From the breath-taking views from the cliffs of Slieve League to the rugged landscapes of the Burren, let your inner adventurer out hiking or kayaking through this exceptional terrain.

A particularly enchanting experience is seeing the Northern Lights at Inishowen. Bring along a flask of hot chocolate, snuggle under a blanket and watch this phenomenon at Grianán of Aileach, a huge 2,000-year-old ring fort sitting 250 metres/820ft above sea level.

The Lakelands are also something to behold (stay at Lusty Beg, an island resort accessed by ferry, and you can spa in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands themselves). Connecting north to south, county to county and mystical past to modern present, the waterways have a life of their own. In addition, there are sites to explore as you tour them: an 800-year-old castle, mysterious pagan idols, a Global Geopark and Europe’s oldest pub. No wonder this is the place that inspired the Nobel prize-winner WB Yeats to preserve in words the timeless calm of “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”.

Another treat in this beautiful part of the world, is taking in the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Wicklow hills. Do this from Powerscourt Hotel, Resort and Spa, where you can take in the views and explore the rolling estate, on which the hotel is located, and visit the nearby Powerscourt Waterfall.

Meanwhile, Fota Island Resort is an entirely unique experience that very much takes its lead from Mother Nature. On an island in Cork Harbour, the Irish coast provides impressive scenery and it’s close to the Fota Wildlife Park.