Nestled in the heart of Ireland’s Lakelands, Cavan is a hidden gem often overlooked by travelers. As one who has traversed its quaint villages and vibrant landscapes, I can tell you that the charms of this county are many and diverse. Here’s my comprehensive guide of things to do in Cavan, Ireland.
Popular Tourist Attractions in Cavan
Cavan County Museum
Your journey through Cavan should start with a dip into its rich past at the Cavan County Museum. Housed in a beautifully restored Georgian building, it’s a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that trace the history of the region from ancient times to the present.
Dun a Rí Forest Park
This is where nature unveils her beauty. Dun a Rí Forest Park is a green paradise filled with diverse wildlife, majestic tree sculptures, and scenic trails. The Kingfisher Trail, one of the most picturesque, winds its way along the River Cabra, offering stunning vistas at every turn.
Killykeen Forest Park
Another jewel in Cavan’s crown, Killykeen Forest Park is an idyllic setting for picnics, bird watching, and boating. Its location on Lough Oughter makes it a hot spot for water enthusiasts.
Cavan Burren Park
Travel back in time to prehistoric Ireland at the Cavan Burren Park. This outdoor museum reveals fascinating traces of ancient civilizations, with megalithic tombs, rock art, and even a prehistoric road.
Top Things to Do in Cavan
Hiking the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
As a hiker, I have trodden many paths, but few have left as lasting an impression as the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail. The ascent is gentle and the panoramas from the summit are breathtaking, encompassing a tapestry of rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and endless sky.
Exploring the Cavan Way
Part of the National Waymarked Trails of Ireland, the Cavan Way is a hiker’s dream, meandering through lush greenery, picturesque villages, and along serene lakeshores.
Angling in the Lough Sheelin
Cavan is a haven for anglers. The jewel in the county’s fishing crown is Lough Sheelin, known for its rich population of brown trout.
Birdwatching at Lough Oughter
Home to a plethora of bird species, Lough Oughter is a birdwatcher’s paradise. It’s not uncommon to spot the regal Whooper Swan or the elusive Kingfisher here.
Must-See Places in Cavan
The Shannon Pot
This is the mythical source of the River Shannon, Ireland’s longest river. The Shannon Pot’s lore alone makes it a must-see destination.
A visit to the historic town of Belturbet is like stepping back in time. Its charm is epitomized by the fully restored 19th century railway station, which now houses a fascinating railway museum.
Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark
Straddling the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, this UNESCO-recognized Geopark boasts a myriad of natural wonders, including waterfalls, sinkholes, and the awe-inspiring Marble Arch Caves.
The idyllic town of Virginia is a joy to explore, with its beautiful lakeside setting, charming shops, and the popular Lough Ramor.
Best Places to Visit in Cavan for First-Time Visitors
Cavan Cathedral is a splendid example of Gothic Revival architecture. Its intricate stained glass windows and majestic spire make it a must-visit for any first-time visitor.
Cabra Castle Hotel
Steeped in history and oozing charm, the Cabra Castle Hotel offers a taste of Irish heritage. Its magnificent gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll.
With its lovely Georgian architecture, Cootehill is a captivating place to explore. The town’s laid-back atmosphere is complemented by its beautiful surroundings.
The Market House
Located in Blacklion, the Market House is a historic building that has been transformed into a vibrant hub of activity, housing a variety of shops and a bustling farmer’s market.
Best Places to Visit in Cavan for Families
Erica’s Fairy Forest
Created in memory of a young girl named Erica, this fairy forest offers a magical experience for children, with handmade fairy houses, woodland creatures, and enchanted trails.
Bear Essentials Teddy Bear Workshop
At this unique attraction, children can make their own teddy bear, learning about the history of this beloved toy in the process.
Castle Saunderson International Scouting Centre
Home to adventure-filled activities like archery, canoeing, and climbing, this Scouting Centre offers families an exhilarating day out.
Cavan Adventure Centre
Whether it’s kayaking, paddleboarding, or biking, this outdoor adventure hub has something to keep the whole family entertained.
Best Places to Visit in Cavan for Couples
Solart Art Gallery
Art-loving couples will be enchanted by Solart Art Gallery, a platform for local and international artists nestled in the heart of Cavan town.
The Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Spa
A pampering session at this serene spa will add a touch of romance to your trip.
The Tankardstown Copper Mine
A historic and picturesque spot, it offers scenic walks and captivating views.
Cavan Crystal Design
Discover the beauty of hand-cut crystal at this iconic attraction. The showroom, full of dazzling creations, is a spectacle to behold.
Best Places to Visit in Cavan on a Budget
The Cavan Walking Festival
Taking part in this annual festival is a fantastic, budget-friendly way to explore the county’s landscapes.
This beautiful town is ideal for a low-cost day out, with its array of free walking trails and picnicking spots.
Enjoy a day of fishing or simply relax by the water at this peaceful spot.
Located on a small island in Lough Oughter, the picturesque ruins of this castle can be admired from the shoreline.
Best Day Trips from Cavan
Just a short drive from Cavan, this mountain offers breathtaking views from its summit.
As the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles, it’s an ideal day trip destination for boating and birdwatching.
Visit this bustling town for its historical attractions, shopping, and excellent food scene.
The Mourne Mountains
A little further afield, the stunning landscapes of the Mourne Mountains are well worth the journey.
Hidden Gems in Cavan
Lavey Serpent Stone
This ancient stone carving of a serpent is one of Cavan’s most intriguing and lesser-known historical sites.
Away from the main tourist routes, Bruse Hill offers incredible views and a sense of peace and tranquility.
The Royal Canal Greenway
Stretching across several counties including Cavan, this Greenway is a haven for walkers, cyclists, and nature lovers.
This peatland nature reserve is a perfect spot for quiet contemplation and birdwatching.
Off-the-Beaten-Path Places in Cavan
This outdoor adventure centre, set amidst beautiful landscapes, offers thrilling activities like archery tag and airsoft.
The Moth Studios
Discover contemporary art at these unique studios, hidden away in the Cavan countryside.
Cavan Town Hall
Though often overlooked, this architectural gem is a hub of cultural activities, including art exhibitions and musical performances.
Ballyhaise Agricultural College
Explore the stunning grounds of this historical institution, boasting beautiful gardens and architecture.
Best Places to Eat in Cavan
MacNean House and Restaurant
For gourmet food lovers, a meal at this restaurant run by acclaimed chef Neven Maguire is a must.
Oak Room Restaurant
Located at the Cavan Crystal Hotel, the Oak Room offers a sophisticated dining experience with a menu full of locally sourced ingredients.
The Lavey Inn
For traditional Irish fare, head to The Lavey Inn. Their hearty meals will certainly hit the spot.
Chapter One Living Food
For those seeking healthier options, this organic restaurant offers a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Must-See Sporting Teams in Cavan
For a taste of traditional Irish sports, catch a Gaelic football or hurling match featuring the Cavan GAA team.
Cavan Rugby Club
For rugby enthusiasts, a match featuring Cavan Rugby Club offers an exciting sporting spectacle.
Cavan Swimming Club
If you’re interested in aquatic sports, don’t miss the chance to watch the talented swimmers of the Cavan Swimming Club in action.
Belturbet Rory O’Moore’s GAA Club
Another renowned Gaelic games club, a visit to Belturbet Rory O’Moore’s GAA Club offers an insight into local sports culture.
Night-Life in Cavan
With its lively music scene and great selection of drinks, Blessings Bar is a top choice for a night out in Cavan.
Imperial Bar and Nightclub
For those looking to dance the night away, the Imperial Bar and Nightclub is a popular destination.
The Courthouse Restaurant and Bar
Enjoy a night of great food and drinks at The Courthouse, set in a beautifully restored historic building.
Farnham Arms Hotel and Lounge Bar
This stylish bar in Cavan town provides a cosy atmosphere for a relaxing evening.
A trip to Cavan is a journey of discovery that takes you through centuries of history, diverse landscapes, and a vibrant cultural life. So, pack your bags, venture off the beaten path, and immerse yourself in the wonders of this enchanting Irish county. Remember, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport!
Frequently Asked Questions about Cavan, Ireland
What is Cavan Known For?
Cavan, often called the ‘Lake Country’, is known for its stunning landscapes dotted with over 365 lakes. The county is also famous for its rich historical and cultural heritage, with numerous museums, ancient sites, and traditional music festivals.
How to Get to Cavan?
Cavan is easily accessible from major cities in Ireland. The county is approximately 90 minutes drive from Dublin. Regular bus services operate between Cavan and Dublin, while the closest train stations are located in neighbouring counties.
What is the Best Time to Visit Cavan?
The best time to visit Cavan is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is generally warm and dry. This is also when numerous local festivals and events take place.
Are there Good Accommodations in Cavan?
Yes, Cavan offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences, including luxury hotels, charming B&Bs, self-catering cottages, and camping sites.
What Local Delicacies Should I Try in Cavan?
Cavan is renowned for its hearty, traditional Irish cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Boxty, a traditional Irish potato dish. Also, a visit to MacNean House and Restaurant for a taste of contemporary Irish gourmet cuisine is a must.
Are there Family-Friendly Activities in Cavan?
Absolutely. Cavan offers a wealth of family-friendly activities, including interactive museums, adventure parks, fairy forests, and a variety of water sports in its many lakes.
Can I Explore Cavan on a Budget?
Yes, many of Cavan’s attractions are free to visit or have minimal entry fees. These include the county’s beautiful lakes and forests, historical sites, and charming towns. Additionally, the county offers a range of budget accommodation and dining options.
What Outdoor Activities are Available in Cavan?
Cavan is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities available include hiking, cycling, angling, boating, birdwatching, and even horse riding. The county is also home to several golf courses.
Is Cavan Suitable for a Romantic Getaway?
Certainly. With its picturesque landscapes, luxury spas, gourmet restaurants, and charming accommodations, Cavan is a perfect destination for a romantic getaway.
Are there Shopping Opportunities in Cavan?
Yes, Cavan offers several shopping opportunities, from modern shopping centres and high-street retailers in Cavan town to quaint local shops and farmer’s markets in the county’s many villages. The county is also known for its local artisan crafts, including Cavan Crystal Design.