Ireland is a beautiful country known for its rolling green hills and historic castles. And while most visitors choose to travel to Ireland during the warm summer months, fall in Ireland is a true hidden gem. With pumpkin patches, oyster festivals, bird watching, and so much more, your autumn trip to Ireland will be packed with excitement! Here are 10 of the best things to do during the fall in Ireland.
Pop by the Outdoor Markets
Ireland’s outdoor markets are always showcasing the best produce of the season. In the fall, that means loads of juicy apples, bright pumpkins, flavorful squash, and hearty potatoes. And let’s not forget all of the delicious dishes that chefs can whip up with these autumn ingredients! There are quite a few market vendors with freshly prepared fall dishes as well, so you’ll be able to fill your belly on the spot!
Some of the best outdoor markets in Ireland – especially for these farm-fresh fall goodies – include the English Market in Cork and St. George’s Market in Belfast. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to enjoy some mouthwatering fall food!
Pick Your Own Autumn Produce
Getting fall produce at outdoor markets is one option, but picking your own is another. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches dot the Emerald Isle, and many of them are open to the public. There, you’ll get to pick as many fun fall fruits and veggies as you’d like – just remember to use it all!
If apple picking is your vibe, you’ve got a few different options, but Ballycross Apple Farm in County Wexford is widely regarded as the best. There, filling your bushels with hand-picked apples is just the start! You can also stroll along five kilometres of farm trails, take a ride on a pedal tractor, and say hello to a few farm animals.
As for pumpkin picking, well, Ballycross Apple Farm has a pumpkin patch too! Convenient, right? But if you’re looking to change things up, The Farm Grenagh in County Cork and Tinahely Farm in County Wicklow are two other fantastic options.
Get Your Fill of Oysters
Oyster season in Ireland starts in September, and it seems like nearly everyone gets excited about it. There are loads of oyster festivals all around the country to celebrate this tasty seafood find.
Gape in awe at thousands of oysters at the Hillsborough Oyster Festival, enjoy three days of oyster-eating at the Clarenbridge Oyster Festival or supplement your oysters with a few other types of seafood at the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival.
Even if you don’t get a chance to visit these festivals, you’ll still certainly want to make time to eat some oysters in the fall in Ireland. Moran’s Oyster Cottage in Kilcolgan, Out of the Blue in Dingle, and Fishy Fish in Kinsale are all great options. Sligo Oyster Experience was a personal favorite as well!
Take Part in a Fall Walking Festival
Ireland locals know that fall is a great time to be out and about, so it’s no surprise that fall also happens to be the season of Ireland’s walking festivals. Typically, these walking festivals are just groups of good people gathering together for a long weekend. Everyone will walk and talk during the day, and then gather at a pub and talk some more in the evening – then repeat it all again the next day! A simple concept, but somehow amazing.
There are now dozens of walking festivals all over Ireland, crossing varying landscapes and for all skill levels. Stroll through foggy rolling hills in County Down during the Wee Binnian Walking Festival. Or choose from a variety of walks at the Wicklow Walking Festival in County Wicklow – from steep mountain climbs to easy night walks.
Wander Through the Fall Leaves
While Ireland’s walking festivals are loads of fun, you can head out and enjoy the country’s fiery autumn nature on your own as well. After all, even though Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, there are thousands of trees that transform into bright yellow, orange, and even red hues.
There are many, many places to see beautiful fall leaves in Ireland. Take a lovely fall boardwalk stroll at Wild Nephin National Park, pair the leaves with incredible mountain views at Connemara National Park, or stay close to the city with a trip to foliage-filled Phoenix Park in Dublin.
And while the bright fall foliage is certainly stunning enough on its own, there are a few places where these leaves just feel a little extra special. Stop by the Kylemore Abbey in County Galway to see this historic nunnery framed by autumn hues or pay a visit to Birr Castle Demesne in County Offaly for an extra pop of colour.
Test Your Surfing Skills
Fall in Ireland also happens to be the start of surf season, so it’s the ideal time to test your wave-riding skills. And since summer just wrapped up, it’s the ideal time to get both the biggest waves and the warmest water (but you’ll still need a wetsuit – it is Ireland after all).
As for where to surf, Ireland has quite a few spots. Strandhill Beach in County Sligo is a crowd favourite because it has opportunities for all levels of surfers – from beginners to experts. Ballybunion in County Kerry – also known as Bally B – has a beach break, a reef break, and a point break, as well as a few dolphin friends. And we certainly can’t forget to mention Easky in County Sligo, which is arguably Ireland’s most renowned surf spot. For a full guide to the beach beaches, check out our blog on the best beaches in Donegal!
Do a Little Bird Watching
Autumn is when most birds migrate in Ireland, so it’s the ideal time to do a little birdwatching. As a matter of fact, Ireland sits just below some of the most popular bird migration routes in the world, so there really is no better place to embrace your inner ornithologist.
The question of where exactly to do all of this birdwatching depends on what kind of birds you’re hoping to see. Brent (or brant) geese like to hang out at Castle Espie in County Down. Red kites make their temporary nests in Wicklow Mountains National Park in County Wicklow. Then, there are the hen harriers that like to soar over the open moorlands of County Claire. And finally, we can’t forget to mention the golden eagles that make their way to Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal.
In other words, fall in Ireland is a bird lover’s paradise. After all, the few birds that we mentioned are just the start of the amazing flying friends that you can see on the Emerald Isle.
Celebrate Halloween Where It All Started
Did you know that Halloween actually originated in Ireland? This popular spooky holiday is based on traditions and beliefs from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, so there’s really no better place to celebrate Halloween.
First off, you can pick your own pumpkins from a local farm, and then carve them into an eye-catching jack-o-lantern. That’s, of course, the more family-friendly Halloween option.
Or you can embrace the spookier side of things with a ghost tour or haunted house visit. Some of the most haunted places in Ireland include Leap Castle in County Offaly, Kilmainham Gaol in County Dublin, Ballygally Castle in County Antrim, and Ross Castle in County Meath. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to get spooked this fall in Ireland?
Experience the Belfast International Arts Festival
Calling all art lovers! Not everything to do in the fall in Ireland is pumpkin-related or spooky. Fall in Ireland also boasts the incredible Belfast International Arts Festival. Originally started in 1962, this two-week event showcases the best of just about every medium of art – from painting to filmmaking to music to dance.
Over the years, the Belfast International Arts Festival has showcased hundreds of the world’s best artists – many of which took the Belfast stage before they made it big. Some of the greats include Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly, and even Jimi Hendrix.
Catch the Northern Lights
Many people don’t realize that September is the ideal time to see the Northern Lights in Ireland. There’s a lot of science to it, but it basically has to do with the combination of the earth’s tilt, the number of dark hours, and the sun’s solar winds.
But you can’t see the Northern Lights just anywhere in the fall in Ireland. For your best chance, you’ll want to head all the way north to Malin Head. Between its prime location and lack of light pollution, all you have left to do is cross your fingers! And if for some reason Malin Head doesn’t work for you, Dunree Head, Fanad Head, and Rosguill Peninsula are all great options as well.
And there you have it! The best things to do in fall in Ireland. We hope this information helps you plan the most incredible autumn trip to the Emerald Isle. Let us know what you think in the comments!