Last updated on November 25, 2023
“Just houseboating? That’s too boring for me…” Do you also know people who don’t want to commit to one hobby, but want to try out lots of things and preferably at the same time?
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I’m like that myself. Any kind of outdoor activity appeals to me and anything that can be driven. I don’t even want to list my hobbies over the years, it would be too long…
But if it’s the same for you, and then there are the various interests of the family, then planning a holiday can be quite difficult. How do you reconcile so many different interests?
But don’t worry, because you can be helped – almost anything goes in Ireland!
Why not a houseboat (or cruiserboat-) holiday in combination with several other activities?
The Shannon with its lakes is a great boating area and a popular holiday destination. It’s the same with the Erne. Both are connected via the Shannon-Erne Waterway, so together they form a huge holiday area with many possibilities. Here you can rent a houseboat from several rental companies without a driving licence. Where can you do that? I’ve already written an article about that, which I’ll link to you at the bottom of the text.
The Irish like to do sports themselves and often have several children who want to be entertained during their holidays. And so there are many sporting and family-friendly offers for holidaymakers here.
By the way, I know the island very well, because we live here (second home). In summer, we run our motorbike rental business at our location south of Dublin (www.easycruiser.tours). And we also have nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
Here are some activities that you can combine with your houseboat holiday along the Shannon and Erne rivers.
1 Bicycle and Mountain Bike
This is really obvious: with some houseboat rentals you can rent a bike and take it on board – just ask. Otherwise, there is the possibility to rent a bike on land or to go on a guided bike tour or mountain bike tour. Examples: https://dicksbikehire.ie/, https://cavanadventure.ie/activities-events/.
2 Hiking and Hillwalking
You only need to bring your walking shoes and you can always moor the boat and go for a nice walk, for example in Portumna Forest Park or on the Lough Ree Park Walking Trail. Another attraction is the Acres Lake Floating Boardwalk. From a leisurely stroll along the lake to a strenuous hike in the hills, there is plenty to do. You can also take a guided walking tour. Example: https://midirelandadventure.ie/activities-and-events/.
3 Jogging and Mountain Trail Running
If hiking is too slow for you, you can alternatively bring your jogging shoes and go for a jog. Would you prefer something a little more athletic? Then run a mountain trail in the hills!
Some houseboat rentals also offer a dinghy, a small rowing boat that you attach to the back of your houseboat. Would you like a little workout? Rowing is good for your back and your whole upper body.
If you prefer a more leisurely pace, you can always go fishing from your houseboat. Ireland is famous for its trout and pike! You don’t need to bring a fishing licence, but you may need to buy a permit. Your houseboat rental company will be happy to advise you. And if you take a small rowing boat (dinghy) with you, you can still use it for fishing in the morning or evening.
6 Stand Up Paddling and E-Boarding
There are several places on the Shannon where you can hire a SUP or take a stand-up course. You can even rent an e-board at Erne. A little tip: Don’t be afraid of water :-). Examples: https://midirelandadventure.ie/, https://www.erneadventures.com/.
Ireland is known for super clean water. This applies to the coasts, but also to the rivers and lakes. So you can safely jump off your board and go for a swim. Safety tips: Make sure to switch off the engine and also fold out the swimming ladder – otherwise you won’t be able to get back on the boat later!
8 Canoe, Kayak, SUP
Canoeing and kayaking is also a nice workout and a lot of fun! There are several canoe rental companies and also guided kayak tours on Shannon and Erne. Have you tried standup paddling? Wet fun :-). Examples: https://dergisle.com/, https://midirelandadventure.ie/, https://cavanadventure.ie/activities-events/.
There are several golf courses around the lakes. Some are right on the water and some even have a jetty for boats! Even more golf courses are within an easy 10-20 minute drive, which you can easily do with a taxi. Examples: https://glassonlakehouse.ie/golf/, http://www.athlonegolfclub.ie/, http://portumnagolfclub.ie/.
10 Horse Riding
Your daughter would rather go horseback riding? No problem, trail riding providers are also available. See: https://www.irishhorseriding.com/.
11 Aqua Fun Park
12 Archery and Climbing
Not enough yet? Then there are also adventure providers that offer archery or climbing. Examples: https://midirelandadventure.ie/activities-and-events/, https://dergisle.com/.
A holiday on a houseboat is a lot of fun anyway, especially when you are cruising in the beautiful waters of the Shannon and Erne.
If you like to be a bit more active, or if you have sporty teenagers on board, there are plenty of opportunities to let off steam. From golf to horse riding, various land and water sports to fun parks, there’s plenty on offer here.
The choice is yours! Have fun in Ireland!
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Photo credits: cover photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash