Planning your two or three day break this summer can be a daunting task. Where are the best places to stay? What activities are nearby? You want to make sure you get the best out of your break away without spending hours beforehand researching all your options. We have done all the work for you and created lots of itineraries for your trip to the Boyne Valley. Here are our recommendations for your 2/3 day break in the Boyne Valley.
Day 1- Drogheda
Wake up refreshed after an overnight stay at one of the many hotels in Drogheda or close by. Scholars Townhouse Hotel, City North Hotel, The Cottages Bettystown, The Glenside Hotel, The Village Hotel or The Westcourt Hotel are all great options to start your adventure.
The walled town of Drogheda is where you’ll start your Boyne Valley adventure. Join a walking tour from the Tourist Office on West Street or take a stroll around the town at your own leisure enjoying some of the town’s many fantastic medieval monuments.
St Laurence’s Gate is one of only a handful of town-wall gates which remain intact today and it is widely regarded as one of the finest of its kind in Europe. Be sure to stop at the fascinating but slightly spooky early-16th century carved cadaver stone at St Peter’s Church of Ireland. Designed in the French gothic style, the impressive St Peter’s Catholic Church is only five minutes away and houses the beautifully ornate and slightly macabre shrine to Saint Oliver Plunkett in which you can view the 17th century saint’s preserved head!
Enjoy lunch at 79 West Street in the heart of the town and then head to the Highlanes Gallery, located in the town’s former Franciscan Church, it holds exhibitions both from Drogheda’s Municipal Art Collection along with renowned Irish and international artists.
Just a short distance away and housed within a large fort which played a crucial part in Drogheda’s history, Millmount Museum houses various exhibitions on Irish archaeology, folklife, local history, geology, industry and military history.
A 10 minute north-westerly car journey will bring you to the historic ruins of Old Mellifont Abbey. The first Cistercian monastery to be founded in Ireland in 1142, the abbey was to become one of Ireland’s most influential, housing hundreds of monks by the time of its closure in 1539.
Start the afternoon with a visit to Boyne Boats- One of the best ways to experience the wonderful natural beauty of the Boyne Valley on the river itself. The tours take place in the handcrafted, traditional Kerry naomhóg currachs which have starred in the hit TV show, Game of Thrones!
Boyne Boats is happily located on the grounds of the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre on the 18th century Oldbridge House estate, so after your paddle you can head into the centre and learn about one of the most significant events in Irish history. The visitor centre is surrounded by Victorian gardens, Brambles tea rooms and a host of fascinating battle-site walks.
If you aren’t too sure about getting on the water, the region has an abundance of wonderful gardens which can be explored through the Boyne Valley Garden Trail. The Augustinian Gardan of remembrance, Barmeath Castle gardens and Killineer House and Gardens are all nearby.
You have lots of options on places to dine after a long day exploring. Visit our website here for a list of places to spend the night ahead of your 2nd day in the Boyne Valley.
Day 2- Loughcrew
Begin the day at the beautiful Loughcrew Estate and Gardens just outside the town of Oldcastle where you will find the best of three centuries of landscape and garden design. Hidden along the looped walks you will find a Medieval motte, the foundations of a Long House, dating to the early 1600s and the magnificent ‘Yew Walk’. The ruins of St Oliver Plunkett’s family church can be also be found on the estate.
A visit to this area would not be complete without a visit to the fascinating Loughcrew Cairns. At over 5,000 years old, these tombs are even older than Newgrange! Guides from the OPW as well as Loughcrew Megalithic Centre offers guided tours of this breath-taking landscape, recounting the myths and legends associated with the tombs and the witch who is credited for creating them!
You will certainly have worked up an appetite for lunch after your walk so head 10 minutes south to the historic town of Kells, where you can grab a bite to eat in one of their restaurants or cafes. After lunch, soak up the rich monastic heritage of the town where St Colmcille established a religious settlement in 550AD. The village has a treasure trove of superb heritage sites to discover such as the impressive round tower, the old market cross, five early medieval High Crosses and the tiny early Irish church known as ‘Saint Colmcille’s House’, which local tradition suggests is the building in which the Book of Kell’s was completed! Kells Courthouse is now a tourist information and cultural hub, housing an interactive exhibition, the Toradh2 Visual Art Gallery and offering guided-walking tours of the town.
20 minutes southeast of Kells will bring you to the Hill of Tara. On a clear day, hills in all four provinces of Ireland can be viewed from the hill. The name ‘Tara’ comes from the Irish, ‘Teamhair na Rí’ meaning ‘Sanctuary of the Kings’ and it is here that the ancient High Kings of Ireland were inaugurated, the hill is much celebrated in Irish myth and legend. One of the most interesting monuments at Tara is the Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny), the inauguration stone of the High Kings. There is a visitor centre on site with an informative audio-visual, guided tours are available between May and September but visitors can enjoy the monuments themselves any day of the year.
Your last stop on day two will bring you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Brú na Bóinne - one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes, containing the largest concentration of megalithic artwork in Western Europe. Brú na Bóinne is dominated by the three well known and celebrated passage tombs of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, built some 5,000 years ago, they are older than both Stonehenge the Egyptian pyramids!
Newgrange and Knowth are both accessible from the visitor centre at Brú na Bóinne (to access the chamber at Newgrange prebooking is essential). The new state of the art, immersive visitor experience transports visitors back 5000 years to the construction of the monuments, explores the seasonal nature of Stone Age society, the significance of the solar cycle, and the tomb-building process. You can now visit the new exhibit at Knowth which explores the megalithic art of the Boyne Valley, and the story of the archaeologists who discovered it.
Make your way to the beautiful heritage town of Trim this evening and enjoy a dinner out in one of the many restaurants in the town. Rest your head in one of the many hotels, guesthouses or B&B’s in the town in preparation for an exciting day three in the Boyne Valley.
Day Three- Trim
Spend the morning on the water and enjoy an outdoor adventure with a dizzying array of activities such as kayaking, white-water rafting, archery or a medieval river tour with Boyne Valley Activities located in Trim. Alternatively, explore the Trim Castle River Walk that brings you through the Porchfield’s towards Newtown monuments.
The highlight of your trip to the town will be a visit to the fantastic Trim Castle, one of the largest, best-preserved and most impressive Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland! You will be impressed to know that Mel Gibson’s film, Braveheart was filmed at Trim Castle! In Medieval times, this massive, twenty-sided tower stood like an imposing and powerful stone symbol of Norman strength at the edge of the Pale. Tours are available daily during the summer and at weekends in the winter. Don’t forget to visit Trim Visitor Centre beside the castle and take the Medieval Armoury Tour.
Grab a bite of lunch in Trim or Navan before making you way to the historic village of Slane. Pay a visit to the 250-year-old Slane Castle which has been home to the Conyngham family since 1703. The guided tour of this architectural gem takes in the sumptuous 18th century interiors and stories from both the family and the castle’s colourful past.
Next door, a tour of Slane Distillery awaits. Housed within the old stable building of the castle, the distillery pays homage to 300 years of Conynham family history through an interactive and immersive tour. The tour concludes with a taste of the distillery’s signature triple-casked blend, ‘Slane Irish Whiskey’.
Slane is also a great spot to pick up some fantastic local gifts before heading home. Have a browse in Pat’s Art Studio or look out for the farmer’s market at Rock Farm while you’re in the area. Afterwards, head 10 minutes north to the Irish Military War Museum which offers a hands-on, interactive museum experience which includes handling original weapons, visiting a replica World War I trench and a blank-firing weapons display.
Prolong your stay and spend the night in one of the local hotels, guesthouses or self-catering options in Slane. You really won’t want to go home!
For more inspiration for your next trip to the Boyne Valley check out all of our itineraries here.
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