10 Romantic Places to Explore

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Sweep the one you love off their feet this Valentine’s Day with a romantic break in Ireland’s Ancient East. Whatever the weather, wrap yourself in the unique majestic magic of the region and let these romantic walks, cycling tours or visits to historic sites warm your heart!

The Glendalough Round Tower at sunset
Proposal Stones (Image via Carlingford & Mourne)
Left: The Glendalough Round Tower at sunset | Right: Proposal Stones (Image via Carlingford & Mourne)

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

If your date is a history lover, you're in luck – a trip to Glendalough will have them walking in the footsteps of visitors who have been coming here for over 1,400 years.
 

Considered the most romantic spot in Ireland by many (and an ideal place to ask for someone's hand in marriage), fall in love with this stunning glacial valley, nestled in the Wicklow Mountains with its fabulous hiking trails, intriguing monastic ruins and spectacular twin lakes. The rich folklore and breathtaking surroundings are sure to win you brownie points for romance. For extra points, time your visit for sunrise or sunset to enjoy the full effect of this enchanting wonder of nature.

 

Proposal Stones, Co. Louth

With marriage proposals becoming ever more elaborate in the modern age, one might consider going back to some old-fashioned romance basics – and pop the question at a Proposal Stone. These are rocks in scenic spots, believed to be close to fairy trees and forts, where lovers sat whispering sweet nothings, and any match made was said to be lucky and lasting, blessed by the wee folk.


From the 18th century onwards these rocks began to be moved into churchyards by clergy to discourage any shenanigans and so fell out of use. But you’ll still find some at the water’s edge in the devastatingly romantic location of Carlingford Lough – perfect if you’re looking for a beautiful location for an engagement photoshoot!

The Ballyvoyle Tunnel on the Waterford Greenway
Lismore Castle as seen from Lady Louisa's Walk
Enjoying the view in the Comeragh Mountains
Left: The Ballyvoyle Tunnel on the Waterford Greenway | Middle: Lismore Castle as seen from Lady Louisa's Walk | Right: Enjoying the view in the Comeragh Mountains

Waterford Greenway

Find a bicycle built for two and take to the Waterford Greenway on a romantic cycle. Take your time and explore the stunning views along the way, as you discover this 46km-long biking and walking paradise.
 

Following along the old railway lines, the Greenway offers a unique way to explore Waterford’s history and landscape. Cosy up with a coffee or a delicious bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, bars and cafés along the way (such as Coach House Coffee) before exploring more of the area’s natural beauty.
 

Lady Louisa’s Walk, Co. Waterford

Take a leisurely stroll through a woodland that winds its way along the Blackwater River, and relish being truly in the moment with the one who makes your heart race.
 

Amble along enjoying the vast array of trees and woodland fauna while breathing in the fresh scents of wild garlic as you look out for views of Lismore Castle and St Carthage’s Cathedral.


Coumshingaun, Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford

Check out one of the best examples of a corrie lake in Europe when you visit Coumshingaun in the Comeragh Mountains. Follow the circuit of the lake, a moderate 4 hour (7.5km) trail, taking in amazing cliff and mountain views.
 

The woodlands around the lake have an abundance of old trees and are believed to have once harboured a famous Highwayman, “Crotty the Robber”. The impressive mountain vistas are sure to woo your partner while taking your breath away too.

The Swiss Cottage, Co. Tipperary
Sunset at the Rock of Cashel
Left: The Swiss Cottage, Co. Tipperary | Right: Sunset at the Rock of Cashel

Swiss Cottage, Co. Tipperary


With its thatched roof, regency design and original wallpaper, the Swiss Cottage just outside Cahir, is a romantic’s dream. Built by Richard Butler for his wife’s guests to enjoy in the early 1800s, the ornate cottage is now open to the public.


Enjoy a wander around the cottage admiring the architecture and furnishings (while stealing a kiss on the spiral staircase). This old-world folly is romantic enough to make you swoon.

 

Brú Ború Cultural Centre, Co. Tipperary

Shakespeare said “If music be the food of love, play on” – so if your loved one is a fan of traditional Irish music and culture, a visit to the Brú Ború Cultural Centre will have them singing your praises.

 

Located at the foot of the Rock of Cashel, itself a romantic site, the Cultural Centre houses an underground exhibition called the 'Sounds of History'. The experience tells a romantic and moving story of Irish music, poetry and history in an unusual subterranean setting.

A round tower by the lake at Johnstown Castle Gardens
The sunken garden and loggia at Heywood Gardens
A couple strolling in the Altamont Gardens
Left: A round tower by the lake at Johnstown Castle Gardens | Middle: The sunken garden and loggia at Heywood Gardens | Right: A couple strolling in the Altamont Gardens

Johnstown Castle Gardens, Co. Wexford

As castle gardens go, there aren’t many finer that the splendid Johnstown Castle Gardens, near Wexford Town. Featuring mature woodlands, lakes and formal and wild gardens, you will want to spend hours exploring them.


Comprising 50 acres of ornamental grounds, Johnstown Castle Gardens were designed by the well-known architect Daniel Robertson – who provided plenty of pleasant pathways for you to wander along. Check out the Folly Towers and keep an eye out for glimpses of the Castle through the trees.

 

Heywood Gardens, Co. Laois

Another fine spot for a romantic ramble can be found in County Laois. Heywood Gardens near Ballinakill offers 50 acres of grounds for you to explore. Discover woodlands, gardens and architectural features such as ponds and fountains.


Take selfies with the stone turtles in the sunken garden or beside the inscription taken from some of Alexander Pope’s writings in the red-roofed Loggia to help you remember a day of romance and fun.
 

Altamont Gardens, Co. Carlow

Surround your loved one with nature this Valentine’s Day. Take them to the stunning Altamont Gardens in County Carlow and ramble around this walled garden dating from the 16th century.
 

Explore the 40 acres of gorgeous green space, stroll beside the Slaney river, admire the rare trees down by the lake or discover the remains of an old chapel in part of the wall. February sees the first blooms of spring break through – the hardy snowdrop – and Altamont has them in abundance.
 

Take a picnic with you (if the weather allows) and enjoy the serenity of the gardens as you have your lunch or a warming cup of coffee. The gardens offer you a chance to stroll hand in hand, filling your lungs with fresh air while wallowing in nature’s beauty.

Wrap up warm and get ready to enjoy history and the great outdoors with your sweetheart, in the endlessly captivating surroundings of Ireland's Ancient East. What could be more romantic?

Romantic things to do in Ireland's Ancient East


And that’s just a sample, there’s so many more romantic things to do on your visit in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section