Known for its medieval history and Georgian architecture, the city sits on the banks of the River Shannon, Ireland's longest river. It's location and rich cultural offerings means Limerick is a great city for everything from museums to outdoor activities. And even if you don't want to play yourself, you can certainly enjoy a lively match of rugby or hurling — two sports the city is especially well known for.
From visiting the castle to shopping at Ireland's best farmers market, Limerick has tons to do and we've picked the top 12.
Wander the Royal Halls of King John's Castle
Set majestically on the banks of the Shannon River right in the heart of Limerick, King John's Castle has been a part of the city landscape since it was built in 1200. The castle was constructed on top of an earlier Viking settlement which dates back to the 9th century. However, the stone walls and towers that can be seen today were all built during Norman times. It is thought to be one of the best-preserved castles from the period in all of Europe. Today there is a modern visitor’s center with interactive exhibits as well as a small café that serves drinks and snacks overlooking the castle’s internal courtyard.
Kayak down the Shannon
The Shannon River runs through the heart of Limerick, but most people simply use the bridges to cross its banks. For a truly unique Limerick experience, get onto the water to see the city from a different angle. You can join a kayaking tour to paddle down river while taking in sights like King John's Castle, learning facts about the area, and getting a little workout while you are at it.
Peruse the Collection at the Hunt Museum
John and Gertrude Hunt were antique dealers by trade but their love for peculiar and unique pieces meant that they managed to build a huge personal collection of art and antiquities during their lifetimes. Today the collection of 2,500 artifacts, including drawings by Picasso and works by Renoir, is displayed inside Limerick’s 18th-century Customs House. The museum offers free tours included in the price of admission to help you navigate the extensive collection.
Join a Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle
Technically just over the County line in Co. Clare, Bunratty Castle is only about a 15-minute drive from the heart of Limerick City. Ireland is brimming with castles, but this medieval dream is the best restored of them all. Get a taste for what life would have been like at the castle by sitting down to join the Earl of Thomond (and all of his costumed staff) for a four-course dinner in the halls of the castle. Kids will also love the Bunratty Folk Park next door, which re-creates a 19th-century Irish village complete with actors who explain the history behind the traditions the park tries to preserve.
Experience Ancient Ireland at Grange Stone Circle
The Grange Stone Circle in Lough Gur sits outside of the Limerick City and is well worth the short drive to see one of Ireland’s largest stone circles. The mysterious ancient site dates back to the Neolithic age and is near perfect condition. It is made up of 113 large stones, the biggest of which weighs close to 40 tons. The Lough Gur lake is surrounded by several other megalithic monuments but Grange is the most impressive of them all.
Bringing back Limerick’s tradition of fresh markets, the Milk Market is a shopping extravaganza. Come out to support local businesses and pick up homegrown produce, fresh baked goods, Irish cheese, hot cooked meal, and even vintage clothes. Set inside a historic building, the Milk Market is considered one of the best farmer’s markets in all of Ireland and is the perfect stop for the fun atmosphere and delicious local treats, particularly on Saturday morning.
Remember History at the Treaty Stone
This stone set on a pedestal is one of Limerick’s most iconic monuments. Found along the river, the landmark commemorates the 1691 Treaty of Limerick which put an end to the bloody Williamite War. The end of the war was particularly felt in Limerick, which had been controlled by Jacobite forces but then fell under siege from August to October of 1691. When the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange finally agreed to a treaty, it was reportedly signed on this oddly-shaped piece of limestone.
Stop for Tea at Adare Manor
Adare is one of the most charming villages in Co. Limerick and located a short 20-minute drive from the center of the city. The small streets are filled with thatch-roofed houses, but the true star of the village is the majestic Adare Manor. One of Ireland's best castle hotels, the manor house was first built by the 2nd Earl of Dunraven in the 1830s and is surrounded by woodland trails and gardens. Now a five-star hotel, Adare Manor is a dreamy location for a leisurely afternoon tea served with buttery scones and creative, delicate desserts.
After the sun sets on a day of sightseeing in Limerick, head to the lively Locke Bar for an evening of traditional Irish music. The popular bar has live music seven days a week and Irish dancing to go along with it. The Locke Bar also serves great pub food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all a short walk from King John's Castle in the center of the city.
Catch a GAA or Rugby Match
Limerick is a huge sporting town and no trip to the city would be complete without watching one of the teams compete. It is the most famous town in Ireland for rugby, and the move known as the Garryowen was invented here. If you are a GAA fan (Gaelic Athletic Association), the local hurling team (an Irish field sport) also won the All-Ireland Championships in 2018.
Often voted the best cafe by Limerick locals, this casual restaurant is known for its unbeatable view. On sunny days there is outdoor seating overlooking the Shannon and King John's Castle but it’s still a favorite on rainy days for its simple and satisfying home cooking. Also a coffee house, you can stop here to catch your breath after exploring Limerick and indulge in one of their decadent marshmallow-loaded hot chocolates.
Walk the River
When the weather is nice, the best way to see Limerick is to explore the area along the waterfront. To experience the updated pathways and special conservation area, start at the Guinness Bridge and follow the curves in the river to the boathouse at the University of Limerick. Then, keep the outdoor exploration going by joining local fitness-lovers on a popular walk which crosses the three bridges in the center of Limerick. The route starts at Arthur's Quay Park and loops through the city, passing many of the iconic monuments mentioned in this list!