Situated deep in the heart of the Burren is the town of Lisdoonvarna, famous for its rich heritage and matchmaking festival.
The world-renowned Spa Wells Heritage Centre & Pump Room is the only active spa in Ireland. Stories about its therapeutic mineral waters caused a tourism ‘boom’ during the late 19th century and resulted in most of the present-day guest houses and hotels being built to accommodate the huge influx of visitors. Over a century later, the Victorian spa complex remains one of the town’s most visited attractions.
Throughout the month of September, Lisdoonvarna hosts one of the largest matchmaking events in Europe attracting some 40,000 hopefuls and festivalgoers.
Lisdoonvarna hosts several walking trails for those seeking to explore the town and the surrounding Burren countryside. The town is a trailhead on the iconic 123km Burren Way which links the town with Corofin, Tubber, Carron, Ballyvaughan, Doolin and Lahinch through the Burren National Park and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. For those looking for something a little more relaxing there is a 5km walking trail around the Ballyteigue Nature Reserve, while the Amenity Park runs through the town alongside the Aille River and the Gawlaun River and features picnic areas, parkland walks and a children’s playground.
Located a few kilometres outside the town is Mountain View Stables, where horse treks through the woodlands, hills and peaceful winding green roads of the Burren are provided. Those with different capabilities and experiences with horses are accommodated on three distinct trails.
The Burren’s proud association with quality food produce is evidenced during the recently launched Geofood brand as well as the annual Burren Slow Food Festival when visitors get to sample local artisan foods, meet the producers and growers, and mix with fellow foodies. Pay a visit to the Burren Smokehouse Visitor Centre, one of only 21 signature points on the hugely popular Taste The Atlantic trail, where you can discover the mystery of salmon smoking and the secret of how smoked salmon is handcrafted. The Roadside Tavern is one of the Burren’s oldest pubs and its famously laid-back atmosphere and traditional music sessions mean it is well worth a visit. Lisdoonvarna is also host to the Michelin Star Wild Honey Inn.
For arts enthusiasts, Doreen Drennan’s artist’s studio and gallery space is a must visit. Visitors can meet with Doreen who will personally show her artwork and explain the concept and the story behind the paintings.
The town’s central Burren location and variety of accommodation options make it an ideal base from which to experience all of what the wider region has to offer, including Aillwee Burren Experience, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Kilfenora Cathedral, Doolin Cave, Fanore Beach, Black Head and the surrounding villages of Doolin, Kilfenora, Ballyvaughan, Kilshanny and Fanore. 11 of the 188 Discovery Points along the Wild Atlantic Way are within easy reach of Lisdoonvarna, while the route’s most famous Signature Discovery Point, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is only a 15-minute drive away.