Stop and Stay: Gems of the Burren Route, Ireland

The Burren is one of the most beautiful Karst Landscapes on the planet.  The term “karst” refers to a geological formation of limestone.  Thanks to the “grikes” criss-crossing the Burren, the region is able to support arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plan species side by side.  You can learn more at The Burren Centre, located in Kilfenora and a great first stop on your Burren Tour.  The Centre provides an educational experience on the formation and unique flora and fauna of the Burren, as well as providing information and things to see and do in the area, including stunning cliffs, deep caves and 5,000 year old man-made structures.

The Desolateness of the Burren
The Desolateness of the Burren

Gems of the Burren Route Ireland

Traditional Irish Music and The Burren Eco Hostel Loop

Kilfenora Hostel is one of four hostels in the Eco Hostel Loop.  Again, encompassed in the none-too-large Burren area, the hostels are all about 30 minutes drive from one another.  They have each committed to providing eco-conscious accommodations, employing recycling, composting, solar power and responsible electricity and water usage.  Plan your Kilfenora stay on a Wednesday evening to enjoy excellent Traditional Irish Music (Ceili Music) at local Linnanes Pub.

Gems of the Burren Route Ireland burren-galway-032

Walking The Burren: Europes Largest Karst Landscape

The Burren National Park is just 15 square kilometers and there are four levels of walking trails, taking up to three hours.  Just on the outskirts of the Park is Clares Rock Hostel, a beautiful stone house overlooking the rocky, limestone topography stretching away over the hills.  The starting point for the walks is a remote spot a short drive from the hostel.  Pick the route you wish to follow and stick to your coloured markers.  Do bring water and a picnic on a nice day, as the views from the top of the hill are spectacular.  Remember that this is a protected area, so leave no trace and stick to the paths.

Heritage at Corofin

Those with Irish ancestry may enjoy a visit to Corofin and a few nights at Corofin Hostel, next on the Burren Eco Hostel Loop.  The Clare Heritage and Genealogical Centre offers insight into Irish life in the 1800′s and allows visitors to trace their Irish roots.  The village sits on Lough Inchiquin and is known locally as Angler’s Paradise.  It is possible to rent boats for coarse and game fishing on the Lough and other lakes nearby.

Gems of the Burren Route Ireland: View across inlet

Oh, Lisdoonvarna!

Lisdoonvarna is home of one of Europes largest singles matchmaking festivals, which produced the knee-slapping song of the same name by one of Irelands great folk singers, Christy Moore.  It is also home to natural spa wells, containing mineral waters rich in magnesia, iodine and iron.  It is, in fact, Irelands only Spa town and has been a popular health resort for more than 100 years.  Though there are a string of high quality eateries in the region, the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna is one of the best.  For a good nights rest, after a few pints of Guinness, the Boghill Centre Hostel is the final stop on the Eco Hostel Loop.

Gems of the Burren Route Ireland: Lake

Try a lunch at the Stonecutters Kitchen on your way to the Cliffs of Moher and sample the freshest seafood along the scenic coast road from Ballyvaghan to Lehinch surfing town.  Watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean at least once.

Cliffs of Moher, Burren
Cliffs of Moher, Burren

Doolin is also known for surfing and long sandy beaches.  The beauty of the Burren is that you can circle, criss-cross or loop-the-loop to your hearts content, never driving more than a couple of hours per day.  The best advice is to leave planning to the fairies and take each sunrise as it comes.

Gems of the Burren Route Ireland: Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Renting a car from Dublin Airport or picking up a motorhome hire and letting the road guide you is probably the best way to explore the Burren Region, in the southwest of Ireland.  The area itself is not that big, and most places are about 30 minutes from one another.  But this doesn’t mean that you can zoom through the whole thing in just a day; there are many sights and sounds that you can only fully appreciate by immersing your feet in the landscape.

About Mary Llewellyn

Mary Llewellyn is of Irish citizenship and spent four years traversing remote areas around the globe.  Keeping off the main tourist trail, she worked several jobs from farm hand to non-profit foundation manager in Asia.  Now back home for a spell, Mary enjoys meeting other travelers, sharing experiences and offering helpful tips to those setting out.

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    […] around The Burren in County Clare, you’ll find yourself on one of the most extraordinary scenic roads in Ireland. The rocky karst terrain is almost lunar in its eerie beauty. The 52-mile route from […]


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