A Weekend Away: Best of the Burren

The Burren in County Clare is one of Ireland’s most extraordinary landscapes, with plenty of fascinating sights to see as well as great food and accommodation. Known for its signature limestone pavements, the area’s natural terrain alone is well worth the visit.

A Weekend Away: Best of the Burren

What to Do

Here’s a list of our top spots in the Burren, an ideal destination for a weekend away.

Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan

Visit one of Ireland’s oldest caves for a guided tour through its limestone passageways. The mountain-side Aillwee Cave is a truly marvellous experience, with bridged chasms and caverns to explore.

Among the many impressive elements of the cave is the frozen limestone waterfall, a fantastic example of an astonishing natural construction. Active waterfalls still rush through the walls as stalactites and stalagmites line the floors and ceilings. You’ll even come across the bones of the now extinct brown bear.

While visiting the caves, take the opportunity to visit the resident hawks, eagles and falcons at the Birds of Prey Centre.

Corkscrew Hill, Ballyvaughan

Corkscrew Hill lies between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna, offering the perfect viewpoint of the Burren. The hill is undeniably picturesque, with winding roads, rocky terrain and native Irish greenery. Make your way to the viewpoint, from which region’s renowned limestone pavements and ridges can be seen in all their glory.

With panoramic views of Slievecarran, Gleninagh Mountain and Galway Bay, the climb is promised to be rewarding one. Explore Corkscrew Hill with Burren Hill Walks, hosted by Burren local and expert, Shane Connolly. Learn all about the fascinating history and geology of County Clare’s most spectacular region.

Photo by Clare County Council

Ollie’s Lahinch Surf Centre

Fans of water sports need look no further, as Ollie’s Lahinch Surf Centre offers the perfect day of surfing for beginners and novices alike. No matter the weather, the surf school promises a fantastically fun day out. Lessons are suitable for ages seven and up and can be booked as one-off sessions or two/three day courses.

You’ll be provided with all the gear and information needed to get you going and keep you safe as you take on the Atlantic waves. All you need to bring is yourself and an eagerness to learn a new and exhilarating sport.

Where to Eat

Monks, Ballyvaughan

A great spot to try the Burren’s regional seafood is Monks in Ballyvaughan, where you’ll be treated to an authentic coastal dining experience overlooking Galway Bay. Dressed in all the furnishings of a traditional Irish cottage, this quaint restaurant is the ideal pitstop on your Burren journey.

The seasonal menu is carefully curated using fresh local produce, perfectly complemented by a drink of your choice from the bar. Inside, you’ll find a cosy spot by the fire to sit and enjoy your meal. For those feeling brave enough during the winter months, the restaurant’s outdoor seating options offer phenomenal coastal views.

The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna

The Roadside Tavern is one of the Burren’s oldest pubs, and has everything needed to complete the traditional Irish pub experience. The perfect spot for a shameless jig, the gastro pub hosts regular traditional music sessions to remind us exactly why we love Irish culture so much.

Slip into the comfort of the traditional decor, with low ceilings, warm toned furnishings, and a wall of fame honouring musicians who have passed through. The Roadside Tavern offers a menu full of hearty, home cooked meals that could give any Irish mammy a run for her money.

The Roadside Tavern. Photo by Tourism Ireland

Vaughan’s on the Prom, Lahinch

A meal on the prom is the ideal way to finish up a surfing session on the shores of Lahinch. Vaughan’s on the Prom offers fabulous seaside views and a menu made up of locally produced seafood, grilled over charcoal. The menu also features a range of fish-free dishes for those who prefer a steak or some crispy pork ribs.

The rolling waves at Liscannor Bay offer the perfect scenery to accompany your outdoor dining experience on the surfer’s favourite, Lahinch Beach. Get a real taste for the Burren with the restaurant’s Flaggy Shore Oysters, famed for their unique crisp flavour.

Where to Stay

Hyland’s Burren Hotel, Ballyvaughan

A night at Hyland’s Burren Hotel is like a night visiting a dear friend, with every effort made to ensure a comfortable stay. The hotel is family-run, with a team as warm and welcoming as the decor. Kitted out with homely furnishings, this village hotel is perfect for a good night’s rest.

Irish tradition and heritage is alive and well in the hotel’s Fountain Bar, a spot well-loved by musicians and storytellers. As a member of the Burren Food Trail, the restaurant is proud to offer a menu of fresh, traditional meals, using ingredients sourced in the Burren region.

The Imperial Hotel, Lisdoonvarna

As in venues all across the Burren, The Imperial Hotel is a hotspot for live music, dancing and good times with great people. Right in the heart of Lisdoonvarna, it’s the ideal spot for visitors to relax and soak up Irish culture. Warm up by the fire with a pint in the lounge area before heading to the restaurant for something to eat.

Known for its annual matchmaking festival, Lisdoonvarna is no stranger to romance. The hotel’s Matchmaker Bar is at the heart of the celebrations, where you’ll find matchmaker Willie Daly playing Cupid every September.

Vaughan Lodge Hotel, Lahinch

Slip into sophistication at Lahinch’s Vaughan Lodge Hotel. With rich wooden furnishings and a suave combination of blues, greens and muted browns, the warmth of the hotel’s design can be felt from the reception area all the way to the bedrooms. This is a great retreat for those looking to take a break in style.

The Vaughan Lodge restaurant offers an evening of fine dining for guests, with a range of high-quality, colourful dishes. Using meat sourced from Ireland’s midlands and fish from the Carrigaholt coast, each meal is carefully created and authentically Irish.

Ava Farrelly
Ava Farrelly is a travel journalist for travel2ireland, ITTN and TravelTimes. With a background in arts, culture and lifestyle, Ava has a keen eye for the most visit-worthy destinations and all their attractions.

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