As many of you know from following our adventures on social media, we recently went off on a road trip to explore the beautiful Munster Vales region. We are delighted to share with you a blog post of our adventure including what we got up to and a detailed itinerary of all the wonderful places we stopped off in during our road trip. You can also check out the video of our adventures here.
Firstly, we picked up our car from Europcar in Clonmel. The Clonmel Europcar branch is one of two locations recently opened by Europcar in the Munster area, with the other in Limerick city. It is also currently the only rental car company in Clonmel town. Nothing beats picking up your rental car and the excitement of a road trip. The Munster Vales stretches over 1100km of trails, over five mountain ranges and onto the Irish sea. The Munster Vales crosses the counties of Limerick, Cork, Tipperary and Waterford and is bursting with history, heritage, adventure and unforgettable scenery. Our goal was to explore as much as possible in just two days.
Location 1: Nire Valley
The first stop on our road trip was the lovely Lismore but on route to the beautiful town, we decided to take the scenic route and took the impressive drive along the Nire Valley. The Nire Valley is located in the heart of the Comeragh mountains in Co. Waterford. It is known for its picturesque location full of charming woodland, breathtaking mountain scenery and a stunning river. It is a picture-perfect drive packed with beauty around every corner.
Location 2: Cappoquin
Next stop was onto the town of Cappoquin. Cappoquin is located just before Lismore and is nestled on the foot of the Knockmealdown mountains. While in Cappoquin you have to visit Barron’s Bakery & Coffee House where they have been baking fresh bread in store for over 100 years. Personal tours of the Bakery are available and it is recommended that you try the famous Waterford Blaa here in Barron’s. We decided to explore Tourin House and Gardens which is located just three miles from Cappoquin and Lismore. Tourin Gardens stretches over 5 acres and consists of a beautiful walled garden, along with a collection of seasonal flowers, scrubs, mature trees and overlooks the River Blackwater. After exploring Tourin house, which was built in 1840, we went for a refreshing walk in the garden towards the River Blackwater where we met Denis from Blackwater Boating and Kayaking. We were delighted to explore the extensive River Blackwater by kayak. Denis introduced us to the unspoilt beauty of the surrounding area, along with the nature and wildlife around every corner. As I kayaked along the River Blackwater, I noticed the reflection of the blue sky and fluffy white clouds reflecting on the water in front of me and I thought to myself this is a moment I will never forget.
Location 3: Lismore
Lismore was our next stop. Lismore is one of the most historical towns in Ireland. It is located in Co. Waterford with spectacular views all around. We decided to go for a stroll through the friendly town and go for a walk by the river to catch a glimpse of the famous Lismore Castle. Lismore is full of things to do from picturesque walks to a spot of shopping or even something a little different in the newly opened escape rooms in Lismore Heritage Centre. We went for a bite to eat in the popular local café called the Summerhouse Café. A popular café by the locals and I can see why. A range of delicious food with locally sourced produce, an array of delicious homemade cakes, friendly staff and a warm welcoming fire. Another great option for breakfast or lunch in Lismore is the Vault Cafe next door to the Lismore Heritage Centre. The cafe is located in the old bank and is full of character as well as delicious cakes!
Location 4: The Vee
Next stop was a drive over the famous Vee. The Vee is known for its picturesque panoramic views. The drive rises to about 2,000 feet above sea level above Bay Lough. It gives the most spectacular views of the ‘Golden Vale’ between the Knockmealdown and Galtee Mountain Ranges. If it is a very clear day, you can see all the way across the valley to Clonmel, Cahir, Ardfinnan, Clogheen, Ballyporeen and even Cashel. After enjoying the drive, it was time to continue the adventure to our next stop, the Glen of Aherlow. Keep an eye out on the Knockmealdown Active website and social media accounts for events happening in this picturesque region, ranging from triathlons to kayaking on the River Suir to more family friendly events such as Santa’s Grotto in the Duck Pond.
Location 5: Glen of Aherlow
The Glen of Aherlow is a valley located between Slievenamuck and the Galtee Mountains in County Tipperary in Ireland. It is known as Tipperary’s most scenic and breath taking holiday destination and after our visit, I can see why. It is a picture-perfect landscape of unspoilt beauty. The Galtees lie in the distance and are the highest inland mountain range in Ireland. If you are a serious hill walker, this is one to add to the list. While exploring the Glen of Aherlow why not drop into the Treetop Restaurant in the Aherlow House Hotel for lunch by the fire overlooking the most incredible views of the Galtees or rest your weary legs here for the night.
Location 6: Kilfinane
It was time to head towards our final destination for the night, Ballyhoura in Limerick. We checked into the Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel. What I love about this hostel is the fact that it is nestled in the Ballyhoura Mountains but also that it is designed for those seeking comfort and luxury after a day of adventure or outdoor pursuits.
After a great sleep, I was ready for day two. My favourite thing to do in this area is to explore the Ballyhoura Mountain Range and breathtaking views on horseback. I couldn’t leave Kilfinane without popping into Ballyhoura Horse Trekking. We parked up the car and headed out on horseback for a morning of adventure. We went out for a trek through forest trails with breathtaking views of the Ballyhoura, Galty and Knockmealdown mountain ranges. You can do a one hour trek if you are a beginner like us or if you are more experienced you can do a two or five hour trek.
The next thing on the list was to take a drive and explore the beautiful Ballyhoura region. I think this is one of my favourite destinations in Ireland, it is a little piece of heaven. We took a pit stop in Ballyhoura Apple Farm which is located in the beautiful hillside town of Kilfinane. This is a family run business in the local community producing the very best apple produce all over the country. You can visit their local shop in Kilfinane to taste and purchase their delicious apple produce or even book in for a tour of the orchard like us.
Location 7: Lough Gur
I heard so much about how beautiful Lough Gur is so I decided to go check it out for myself. Lough Gur is located in the South East of Ireland within the Ballyhoura region in Co. Limerick. It aims to promote, preserve and protect the history, archaeology, folklore and environment of the surrounding area. The Heritage Centre is located near the lakefront in Lough Gur and it is home to an exhibition that provides an overview of one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. It is the only area in the country where you can see visible evidence of every age since Neolithic times. Why not explore the nearby medieval town of Kilmallock and take a walking tour of the town walls with Kilmallock Medieval Tours. Enjoy a delicious meal and luxurious stay in Deebert House Hotel in Kilmallock where the service and warm welcome is second to none!
Location 8: Doneraile Park
Our last stop of the trip was Doneraile Park. Doneraile Park is the perfect spot to escape reality and get lost in nature for a while. Doneraile Park is approximately 166 hectares of outstanding beauty, full of mature trees, wildlife and nature. The park has lots of fun walks and trails and is a perfect place to go with family and friends to enjoy a picnic and some time together. After a long walk in the fresh air, it was time to warm up. We decided to check out a stylish café on the main street in Doneraile called Café Townhouse. The charming and stylish café is a beautifully restored three-story Georgian building. As you enter the doors you are greeting with a charming and warm decor, along with subtle classical music in the background to add to the delightful atmosphere. It is the perfect place to go for either breakfast, brunch or lunch after a walk in Doneraile park, and while you are there you have to try some of their luscious cakes. The perfect end to our trip.
What a fabulous adventure. Looking back, I cannot believe everything we have covered in just two days. It goes to show how much you can fit into your weekend if you just plan ahead! This road trip was the perfect blend of adventure, history and relaxation. Before we knew it, it was time to drop back our car to Europcar in Clonmel after an unforgettable road trip.