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Come along for a stroll through Ireland’s prettiest village.
Adare, Ireland is a heritage village near the city of Limerick. It’s the perfect day trip for those seeking solace in a quiet, historic town. Named Ireland’s prettiest village, be sure to wander by foot all over town, taking in the sight sounds of Adare.
If you’re looking for things to do in Adare, it’s best for lovers of history and nature. I also recommend a trip to Adare if you love cozy Irish towns, charming houses, medieval buildings, and brilliant views of the surrounding countryside.
A Brief History of Adare
Adare Ireland was founded in the 13th century as a strategic location and market town on the river Maigue. The original Old Town of Adare, to the north of the Maigue, was destroyed during the wars in the 16th century. The Earl of Dunraven planned the streets of the town as it stands in present day. He built the houses in Adare and rented them to tenants working on his lands. He also built Adare Manor, which now exists as a five star luxury hotel.
O sweet Adare, O lovely vale
O soft retreat of sylvan splendour
Nor summer sun nor morning gale
E’er hailed a scene more softly tender
Things to Do in Adare
A trip to Adare is one of several fantastic day trips from Limerick. There are plenty of things to do in Adare for history buffs and modern day explorers. I reached Adare by car from Limerick. When you arrive, the best place to park your car in Adare is at the Heritage Centre as there’s free parking in a huge parking lot. Also, you can check out the Heritage Centre to learn some history about the town, grab a map at the visitor’s centre, buy a souvenir or two, or use the restroom.
Once you set out to wander around Adare, you’ll notice the brightly painted buildings, thatched roof houses, and green spaces around town. Here are my suggestions on what to do in Adare for anyone planning a visit.
Desmond Castle (Adare Castle)
Desmond Castle (also known as Adare Castle) was originally the site of an ancient ring fort, with the castle built on the property in the 13th century. It’s a medieval fortified castle on the north bank of the river Maigue that was a strategic fortress during times of war.
You can book a public tour to Adare Castle at the Adare Heritage Centre in town, which also serves as the meeting place before the tour. The tour only runs from July 1st until September 30th, and it is approximately one hour in length.
Unfortunately, I visited at the beginning of October and I wasn’t able to take a tour of the castle. Instead, I decided to walk up the road to catch a view of Desmond Castle from as close as I could get, which was a glimpse from the road. I don’t recommend walking along this road as it is quite busy with cars, there aren’t any sidewalks, and there’s barely a shoulder of the road to walk on (sometimes there’s nowhere to walk, and you have to run out onto the road for a moment!). If you’re interested in visiting Adare Castle, I recommend traveling there between July and the end of September to take an official tour. It’s definitely on my list of things to do in Adare when I return to the village.
The Trinitarian Abbey is right near the Adare Heritage Centre, so you won’t miss it on a stroll through town. It is the only Trinitarian monastery in Ireland.
The Fitzgeralds erected the monastery for the Trinitarian order of Monks in the 13th century. The Trinitarian monks who came to Adare might have originally come from Scotland. The building was badly damaged during the reign of King Henry VIII, though it was repaired in the 19th century by the Earl of Dunraven. Nowadays, it’s known as Holy Trinity Abbey, the local Roman Catholic church.
I highly recommend walking around the exterior and interior of the abbey, as it’s free and open to the public. Admiring this historic building is one of the top and most accessible things to do in Adare.
Founded in 1316 by the John Fitzgerald, the 1st Earl of Kildare, it was the home of the Augustinian Order. They were driven out in the 15th century, and the structure became damaged under the rule of King Henry VIII. Thankfully, it was restored and repaired in the 19th century, illustrating a fine example of a medieval church. Today, it’s the local Protestant church (Church of England).
The Augustinian Priory is a short walk from downtown Adare, accessible at one end of the Adare River Bank Walk.
Wander Downtown Adare
Even if you’re not really into exploring historic castles and churches, Adare still offers lots of memorable sights and places to see. I loved wandering aronud downtown Adare. Every street offered new scenery of rainbow homes, colorful taverns, and thatched cottages. It’s the best spot to slow down, soak up the atmosphere, and imagine yourself in another time.
The best way to discover this delightful town is to walk around by foot. Take the time to stroll up and down the city streets, marveling at the cozy houses and medieval stonework. I tried to picture owning one of these picturesque little homes, with perfectly manicured gardens and brightly painted front doors.
Adare River Bank Walk
The Adare River Bank Walk is a hidden gem of Adare that you must visit. Add this one to your Adare itinerary right away!
Starting at the Augustinian Friary, you’ll notice a path running alongside the river. Walk on this paved path right until the end of it where you’ll spot a bridge and some railroad tracks. A jaunt along the river walk is a little less than 1km, and will only take you about 15 minutes or so. On your walk, you’ll notice the peaceful, pastoral countryside just outside of town. The calm waters of the river will surely put you at ease.
If you’re lucky, you might spot several birds on your hike. I managed to see a grey heron as I meandered down the paved path. There are also egrets, ducks, and even otters that live in this area.
Planning Your Day Trip
Adare Ireland is one of the best day trips from Limerick as it’s only about a 20 minute drive from the city. You can spend a couple of hours exploring Adare or an entire day if you plan to stay for a meal or a drink. It’s possible to make Adare your base and explore the surrounding cities from there.
For my Ireland adventure, I managed to combine a few attractions and destinations all in one day. I started my day in Galway, after an overnight stay at The Connacht Hotel. Waking up bright and early, I started my day with a short hike of the Burren. Next, I stopped in the cute town of Ennis for breakfast/brunch, and took a quick stroll around town while I was there.
Onward to Limerick! Before stopping in Limerick, I drove straight to Adare to spend a couple of hours (as I’ve outlined in this Adare travel guide). After spending the first part of the late morning/early afternoon in Adare, I went back to Limerick where I spent the night at a local Limerick Airbnb apartment. If you’re looking to go to Limerick, I’ve written a guide for what to do in Limerick with half a day.
Where to Stay in Adare
If you’re looking to treat yourself with a brilliant stay, don’t hesitate to book an overnight trip at Adare Manor. After all, it’s a historic masterpiece and luxury five star hotel and golf course. The guestrooms feature marble bathrooms, original artwork, and antique furnishings. Adare Manor was recently named the best hotel in the world!
For another beautiful hotel in Adare that’s a little more budget friendly, check out the Dunraven Arms Hotel. Established in 1792, the Dunraven Arms Hotel is in the middle of town with beautiful views over the thatched cottages. It’s a top property for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
If you’re seeking a relaxing bed and breakfast, try the Adare Country House. Situated in the centre of it all, stay in a delightful home with a pretty garden and a terrace. There’s free Wi-Fi, complimentary coffee and tea, and a hot breakfast is served each morning.
And if you’d rather stay in a private apartment or a room in a home, check out the Airbnb listings in Adare.
Where to Eat and Drink
While I didn’t stop for any food or drink in Adare, you’ll be able to find many restaurants and pubs. While there aren’t any vegan restaurants in Adare, you can find many vegan and vegetarian meals. At The Wild Geese, there is a separate vegetarian menu. Be sure to talk to the staff to discuss a special vegan meal if one isn’t always available.
The restaurant at Adare Manor will prepare any item off their menu as vegan. They even offer a vegan afternoon tea with vegan pastries.
The Village Bistro has a vegetarian menu with a couple of vegan choices, like a curry and a vegan special salad.
If you’re looking for groceries or health products, pop by the Adare Health Foods and Wellness Centre. The shop closes around the lunch hour for a break; sadly, I happened to be walking past just around that time, so I didn’t have the opportunity to stop by.
If you’d like to see more photos of Adare, check out my Adare travel photo album. You can also purchase prints, housewares, and so much more, created from our collection of photographs.
Adare is a picturesque village that you should add to your Ireland itinerary, especially if you’re on a road trip of the country. While it might appear that there isn’t that much to do in Adare, it’s all about unwinding and exploring at your own pace. Check out historic castles and churches. Stroll past the gently flowing river and perfectly manicured gardens. As one of the best little day trips from Limerick, I’m certain that you’ll fall in love.
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