By opting for a boating holiday in Ireland you are guaranteed an enchanting adventure full of mystery and legends – both on and off the waterways.

Travel along the same rivers that the Vikings once did, exploring peaceful and natural waterways whilst immersing yourself in the history and heritage of Ireland. Rivers, canals and lakes await you in a beautifully natural setting that is perfect whether you want to enjoy some rest and relaxation or be a bit more energetic and participate in popular outdoor pastimes such as trout and salmon fishing, hiking and biking or even a round of golf on one of the six internationally renowned golf courses.

The people of Ireland are reputed to be some of the most welcoming in the world and a boating holiday is a great way to get to meet them. Lively evenings packed with music can be enjoyed in the many authentic Irish pubs that also serve the famous drink Guinness, to be drunk in moderation of course!

The highlights of a boating holiday in Ireland

With both providing excellent boating holiday ideas just how do you choose between a visit to Northern Ireland or a visit to the Republic of Ireland? Well with Nicols there is no need to choose – you can opt for a flavour of both as our itineraries include the option of navigating your self-drive canal boat across the border! What’s more no previous boating experience or a licence is needed.

To offer the very best selection of boating holidays in Ireland, Nicols has canal boats for hire from three different starting bases on the waterways of Ireland…

  • To the south, in the Republic of Ireland: embark from Carrick on Shannon, in County Leitrim, or from Banagher in County Offaly. You can choose to take a round-trip or one-way cruise between the two Nicols bases. Or one-way itineraries are the ideal solution if you want to discover as much of the region as possible without having to retrace your steps.
  • In Northern Ireland: your boating holiday base is located in Bellanaleck.


There are so many great reasons why you and your crew would love a boating holiday in Ireland…but here are our top five…

  • It’s called the Emerald Isle for a reason: Ireland is aptly named the green island as it is covered with beautiful large green expanses of countryside – benefitting from the watering of rain showers and the climate it experiences from by being an island. If you’re not a sun worshipper then Ireland could be the boating holiday destination for you as the Gulf Stream that comes along the west coast of Ireland ensures very pleasant temperatures even throughout the hot summer months.
  • It’s a fisherman’s paradise: the Carrick-on-Shannon region is one of the biggest fishing areas in the whole of Ireland. In addition to salmon and trout you’ll find pike, perch, roach, bream and brown trout to all test your fishing skills.
  • It’s perfect for nature lovers: here you’ll be far from the crowds – even the tourist spots don’t experience over-tourism. Between the many lakes and rivers are vast green expanses scattered with many species of bird so remember to pack your binoculars. Closer to the water you’ll find ducks, geese, terns, coots or even crested grebes. There is also a network of marked trails that you can explore on foot or by bike. Where will they lead you…to an abbey or castle ruins, a protected nature area or a typical Irish village and a thirst-quenching welcome at a traditional pub.
  • It’s steeped with culture and traditions: the Gaelic language, the Celtic culture, the Irish music…it all leads to a fascinating soul and cultural identity. Take time to experience the warm hospitality of the Irish people – they’ll be happy to share their culture and we highly recommend taking in the many live music acts found in pubs and even out on the streets. Here traditional Irish music is everywhere!
  • It’s a land of rich heritage: Ireland is a land of history. Your self-drive canal boat journey along the Shannon River transports you back in time – travelling between historic sites to picturesque villages. Ruins of monasteries, medieval churches and castles line the river. Among our favourites are the 6th century medieval monastery of Clonmacnoise, the Renaissance castle of Portumna and the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Athlone.
    • A waterways holiday
      Ideal whatever your age or interests!

      To help you choose the perfect boating holiday Nicols has identified regions, routes and boats that are best suited to particular types of crews or areas of interest that people are looking for from their holiday. We hope our ideas inspire you. Look out for our icon illustrations flagging these themes across the website.

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