The Boyne Valley, a region of Ireland covering both the counties of Meath and Louth, is renowned for being home to many of Ireland’s most important historical sites. And while your days will be filled with ruined abbeys, ancient castles and old myths and legends…there’s a lot more going on in The Boyne Valley than first meets the eye.
My friend Annmarie and I set off to discover The Boyne Valley for 4 beautiful summer days to find out what exactly there is to do in this part of Ireland.
VIDEO: Discovering Ancient Ireland
Things To Do in The Boyne Valley, Ireland
A touch of Adventure
Whether you’re a family with young kids or you’re in your twenties and just looking for a fun day out, Tayto Park is worth the trip. Ireland’s only permanent theme park, zoo and adventure complex, it’s home to the largest wooden roller coaster in Europe.
Rollercoasters, log flumes, adrenaline rides, and high ropes aside, there’s also a large zoo area, a gift shop, playgrounds for kids of all ages, endless novelty snack and food stands and at Halloween, they host a pretty scary (but fun) “Tayto Park After Dark” Halloween extravaganza.
Tayto Park, as the name suggests, is themed after one of Ireland’s most-loved brands; Tayto Crisps! And you will be sure to find many fun Tayto-themed souvenirs to take away from their fun gift store as well as large statues of Mr Tayto around the park.
While I had not heard of Causey Farm before arriving in The Boyne Valley, I quickly learned it’s once of the most popular destinations for kids in The Boyne Valley and we soon found out why.
Even with current restrictions and regulations this year, the owners of Causey Farm have been very creative and innovative with socially distanced activities on the farm.
From bubble blowing to fairy gardens, visiting exotic animals (like a camel that was rescued from a circus!), visiting the Ice-Cream parlor and just general games and antics around every corner, Causey Farm really is a fantastic day out for the family.
Electric Biking is always fun (is makes going up steep hills an absolute delight) but getting to do it in a place like Slane makes it all the more enjoyable. We signed up for a 2-hour electric bike adventure with Rock Farm Slane, that involved cycling around the farm itself, then down into the pretty village of Slane, across the River Boyne before cycling up into the ground of Slane Castle.
We were lucky enough to get a tour with Alex Cunningham (, the owner of Rock Farm Slane who actually grew up in Slane Castle. He told us of his childhood growing up there and how he has helped his Dad for many years pick the artists that would play the Slane Rock concerts that take place here each summer.
We also stopped by the Slane Whiskey Distillery, Alex’s most recent project, which is situated in the old stable yard of Slane Castle and is really building a reputation for itself both in Ireland and abroad.
Game of Thrones Boat Tour
This was one of the highlights of our few days in The Boyne Valley. You can paddle down the River Boyne, actually passing the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne, in a boat that was used in the hit series Game of Thrones.
Your skipper Ross, who is passionate about Ireland’s waterways and how we underuse them, will fill you in on stories from the filming of Game of Thrones, what it was like to work with some of the main actors as well as snippets of history from the surrounding region as you paddle in tranquility. One of the most enjoyable and relaxing afternoons I’ve had in a LONG time.
Bee Wise Nature Trail
Okay so maybe not too adventurous, but a quick visit to Bee Wise in Kilmessan is the perfect outing for families with young kids looking for interesting things to do in Meath.
Just a 15-minute drive from the town of Trim, Bee Wise Nature Trail, was set up to educate people on the importance of bees and pollination, this beautiful nature trail overflowing with wildflowers is a fun place for all the family.
There’s a sensory garden, a fairy house trail, a maze where kids get go around and get stamps, and endless beds of wild flowers. The area is about 5 acres large and included a young woodland area perfect for bees with over 10,000 planted trees!
There are beautiful hand-painted signs and artwork everywhere you look, letting you (or kids mainly!) know what animals to look out for, what plants they’re looking at, and what direction to follow.
Both the farmer and his creative young daughter are very passionate about this project and while it’s still in its early stages I’ve a feeling it will only grow bigger and better and be loved by all, young and old. You can sign up for a tour or there are also workshops run here throughout the year. More info here.
Beaches of Louth
While the West and South coasts of Ireland might be famous for their beaches, you’ll be surprised to know there are some stunning beaches along the coastline of Louth (and Meath).
We loved a sunset stroll of this stretch of beach about 15 minutes drive north of Drogheda and we also stopped off at The Cottages in Bettystown, which are gorgeous thatched cottages looking out on the Bettystown Beach.
Discovering Ancient Ireland
You can’t visit The Boyne Valley without paying a visit to the impressive Trim Castle.
Depending on when you visit (right now sadly you cannot go inside of the main tower building) you might be able to do a group tour to the top which is supposed to have incredible panoramic views of the castle grounds and the town of Trim.
Trim Castle is said to be the largest castle (in terms of area) in the Republic of Ireland and was built by Hugh De Lacey in 1172 after he was granted the Kingdom of Meath by King Henry II.
The original castle was actually built out of wood and was burned down by Rory O Connor, the last High King of Ireland, who saw it as a threat to Gaelic Ireland. The castle you see today took over 30 years to build and was started by Hugh de Lacey and finished by his son Walter De Lacey.
Trim Castle was also one of the main filming locations for the hit movie Braveheart – with the castle transforming from Trim Castle to York Castle for many months.
The Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara is one of the most important historical sites in Ireland and probably the most well known. It is here that the ancient High Kings of Ireland were inaugurated and is home to many stories in Irish Mythology including legends of fertility stones and fairy trees.
The Hill of Tara, which offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and into many neighboring counties, is an ancient ceremonial and burial site and was also home to the High King of Ireland who would have resided here.
In more recent history, it was here in the Hill of Tara that the battle of Tara took place in the last 1700s and it was here, on this hill, that one million people showed up to hear a speech by Daniel O Connell, who would go on to become the first President of the Republic of Ireland.
Lough Crew Cairns
If you are interested in megalithic tombs and the ancient history of Ireland, then a visit to Lough Crew Cairns is a must. This is the highest point in country Meath, and you’ll know it when you hike to the top and take in the MOST spectacular views. Honestly, cairns and megalithic tombs aside, it’s worth a visit just for the views.
The tombs at Lough Crew dates back to the 4th millennium BC and the area is home to some of Ireland’s most important treasures and historical discoveries. The site contains 30 different passage tombs although you would never guess that from walking over the tops. A fun and interesting visit, especially for history buffs.
While I did not get a chance to visit Newgrange, you can’t write a post about this part of Ireland WITHOUT mentioning Newgrange. Newgrange is a prehistoric monument dating back to 3200 BC – making it older than Stonehenge in the UK and even the Great Pyramids of Egypt!
It’s famous for it’s exquisite passage tomb, built in such a way that sunlight only lights up the inner tomb on one day a year – the winter solstice, between December 18th and 23rd.
As mentioned previously, Bective Abbey was another filming location for the Braveheart movie and is a must-visit historical site in Trim. There aren’t too many buildings like this that you’re allowed to freely roam and explore, something that makes Bective a firm favourite with visitors and more so with young kids.
I think it’s best visited with a guide as that way you will learn about the history of the building and your guide can also point out features you may have missed and all their favourite photo spots. We went with Derek from Beautiful Meath Tours, who also brought us on to the Hill of Tara afterward and his favourite lunch spot nearby. You can book him as a guide on his website here.
Walking tour of Drogheda
Did you know Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland? Not only had I never previously visited this historical town, I also had no idea how beautiful it is. With flowers hanging on every street corner and adorned on every shop front, and with tales to be told about almost every old building in town, doing a walking tour of Drogheda with a knowledgable guide is a must.
We were surprised to find out that Drogheda was once it’s own county (it’s now sort of in Louth and Meath) which is fitting as the town actually used to split in tow when it was first formed. The town attracts a lot of independent artists and musicians and played host to the Fleadh Ceoil in 2018.
A must visit while staying in Drogheda is the Highlanes Gallery – a stunning art gallery housed in an old church building. While the gallery is mainly home to talented Irish artists, you will also find important pieces from famous Italian artist Gabriele Ricciardelli.
Foodie Delights in The Boyne Valley
Like mentioned above, while The Boyne Valley is most famous for its historical sites, it’s also an excellent center for food – with cafes offering locally sourced produce, small farmers markets worth a visit, and award-winning restaurants offering high-end dinner menus.
Sage&Stone Cafe, Duleek
We stopped off at Sage and Stone cafe in Deleek for really a delicious lunch after our boat trip down the River Boyne. This cafe is a really interesting mix of a cafe combined with a design store and art gallery.
Apparently it used to be a milking parlour, but when the current owner inherited it from her father, she decided to turn it onto a cafe instead.
You can tell this place is super popular with locals and after eating THE most delicious lunch here, including deep fried goats cheese balls and a Cajun chicken burger, I can see why!
The Glyde Inn, Annagassan While The Glyde Inn in Annagassan might just look like a traditional old Irish pub from the front (and that’s exactly what it is – characters and all), if you walk out the back there’s actually a large restaurant with panoramic windows looking out onto the beach and Irish sea. There’s also plenty of picnic tables outside for those rare sunny days in Ireland! The Glyde Inn is famous for their razor clams and seafood that is caught the same day. They’ve been featured in many international publications including Lonely Planet and National geographic and also won the much-coveted award of Irish Pub of The Year.
Stockhouse, TrimWe absolutely loved our visit to the stock house in Trim. The people that work there are so friendly and welcoming and there’s definitely a Braveheart theme going on inside the restaurant. They are well known for their super spicy chicken wings and also have a great range of cocktails including a Slane whiskey sour with whiskey from the Slane distillery. The menu is super diverse with some Irish favourites and also some international dishes including curries and Mexican food.
The Ivy Restaurant, DunboyneThe Ivy Restaurant is part of the Dunboyne Castle Hotel in Dunboyne. This award-winning restaurant, situated inside a restored mansion, is the perfect mix of modern and old-world charm. The restaurant itself is very warm and inviting and the food here is immaculately presented. We tried the Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella salad and I had the steak for the main course which was perfectly cooked with sides of fries and onion rings. Save some room for dessert though…you won’t regret it!
We visited The Central in Navan on our last night in the Boyne Valley. It’s a really fun gastropub with beautiful, warm decor, You can tell it’s very popular with locals there is excellent bar food available and as always lots of great drinks and cocktails too. We especially love the atmosphere here and you could tell you could probably have a really good night out here….in times when there isn’t a global pandemic of course.
Maguires Cafe, TaraMaguires cafe in Tara is where we had lunch when we are visiting the Hill of Tara. It’s a really cute cafe shop restaurant combination. I really loved the vintage tractor on display out the front and all their flags on display. Once you go in there are lots of fun sort of souvenirs and products on sale that would be especially geared towards tourists. The cafe itself has some incredibly well-priced food, for example, a steak sandwich for under €15!
Rock Farm Market, SlaneIf you want to visit a local farmers market while in the Boyne Valley, I highly recommend checking out Rock Farm market which takes place on Thursday mornings. You find a little coffee van and then inside (which used to be in event venue but due to coronavirus no events can take place) this is where the market happens and lots of local producers come here to sell the products such as olive oil, honey, pastries, chocolate desserts, apple juice, cider and much more.
Where To Stay in The Boyne ValleyIf you’re looking for great places to stay in the Boyne Valley here’s my choice of the top places to stay mainly hotels but also a few budget options as well.
Dunboyne Castle Hotel, DunboyneDunboyne Castle Hotel is a beautiful 4-star hotel in the town of Dunboyne housed in a restored mansion and beautifully landscaped gardens. One of the best things about this hotel is the fact that it’s located so close to Dublin, just 18km in fact, so perfect for a cheeky night away. It’s also known for its amazing spa facilities that sadly I did not have time to try out. Will have to go back again! Check for their special offers here.
Trim Castle Hotel, TrimTrim Castle Hotel is the place to stay in Trim if you want unbeatable views of Trim Castle. There is an amazing rooftop bar and terrace that you can go out onto and have just incredibly spectacular views into the grounds of the castle. The staff here were super friendly they did an amazing Irish breakfast and me and my friend couldn’t get over the views from our bedroom. If you want room with a view, this is the place to stay! Check their offers here.
Scholars Townhouse, Drogheda
Scholars Townhouse is the place to stay if you’re visiting Drogheda. It’s a historic old townhouse, originally built in 1867, that has tastefully renovated in a modern style while still retaining its historic charm. It was once used as a residence for the Chistian Brothers who taught in the nearby schools.
This boutique hotel has some beautiful landscaping and a kaleidoscope of flowers as you enter. The corridors are adorned with interesting lamps and paintings and statues and the bedrooms are beautifully decorated. Definitely one of the more unique places to stay on this list and a stay you won’t forget. Check their offers here.
Rock Farm Glamping, Slane
If you’re looking for a more budget option or you just have a family and you’re looking for a bit more adventure and I highly recommend checking out rock farm glamping in Slane you can pitch your own tent or you can stay in one of their amazing bell tents or yurts.
We checked into The Newgrange Hotel for our last night in the Boyne Valley. It’s a great hotel right in the centre of Navan with gorgeous views into what looked like landscaped gardens. It’s really central if you’re looking to go out for food or drinks in Navan, and it’s the perfect base to visit Newgrange and other historical sites in Meath.
Hi! I’m Janet Newenham, an Irish-born digital nomad and blogger. My blog, Journalist On The Run, is a journal of my travels and career hurdles, as well as a “bucket list for life.” In my youth, reading inspired me to create and achieve goals for my future.
My long list of goals took me to places I could never have dreamed of, each one inspiring me toward the next. Along the way, I picked up a few awards like “Digital Media Travel Journalist Of The Year” in both 2017 and 2019 while simply doing what I love.
Now, well into my 30s, I’ve seen so many of the world’s alcoves that it would be wrong not to share my experiences with you. This blog is my way of taking you around the world with me, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
My goal was to visit 50 countries before I hit 30. I never imagined that at 37, I could proudly say I’ve seen 101 of the world’s beautiful countries. Of course, no matter how much you think you’ve traveled, there is still so much left to see, and I look forward to going on the run with you.
Table of Contents
- VIDEO: Discovering Ancient Ireland
- Things To Do in The Boyne Valley, Ireland A touch of Adventure
- Beaches of Louth
- Discovering Ancient Ireland
- Foodie Delights in The Boyne Valley
- Where To Stay in The Boyne Valley