Fermanagh is Northern Ireland’s lake district, and the county capital is Enniskillen. If driving, Enniskillen is roughly about 45 minutes from Omagh, an hour from Sligo, two hours from Belfast and two and a half hours from Dublin.
Surrounded by the River Erne, Enniskillen is the only island town in the whole island of Ireland. There is plenty to do and see, especially if you love historical buildings, fishing, visiting museums and traditional pubs with warm Irish welcomes. It’s no wonder that Enniskillen is one of the most popular places to go in Fermanagh.
Of course, being surrounded by water and stunning countryside, it will come as no surprise that Enniskillen and the nearby areas are a hive of activity when it comes to watersports and sailing activities too.
So, whether you want to rent a cruiser in Enniskillen and explore the waterways of the Northern Ireland lake district or you want to discover more on dry land, our top tips on the best indoor and outdoor things to do and see in Enniskillen will give you some destination inspiration.
Enniskillen Blueway Water Activity Zone
Fancy trying out canoeing? How about kayaking? Maybe stand-up paddle boarding is more your thing? For a fun way to get out on the water, head to the Enniskillen Blueway Water Activity Zone, and pick an activity to try. It is a great adventure experience and one of the best things to do in Enniskillen for families.
Marble Arch Caves
If you’d rather explore the underworld of rivers, then take a trip out to the Marble Arch Cave Global Geo Park which is located about 12 miles from Enniskillen. Visitors travel through the cavernous caverns on electrically powered boats along a subterranean river gaining insight into the natural underworld of rivers, winding passages and lofty chambers. As you tour through the caves, a guide points out interesting formations, stalactites and calcite coated walls. Tours last 75 minutes and are suitable for all ages, but it is one of the best things for teenagers to do in and around Enniskillen.
Cuilcagh Boardwalk aka ‘Stairway to Heaven’
Another popular outdoor activity near Enniskillen, only 12 miles away, is the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ walk at Cuilcagh Boardwalk (Legnabrocky Trail). This is located just 1km from the Marble Arch Caves. Be sure to bring your walking shoes and your camera to capture the breathtaking views of one of the most popular places to visit in Fermanagh and, indeed, all of Ireland.
The 7.4km trail takes you across gravel tracks, exposed mountain paths and a boardwalk that protects the rare blanket bog from erosion caused by walkers. The wooden boardwalk climbs steadily to the face of Cuilcagh Mountain. From the top, you can see Lough Atona, a lake nestled in the foot of the mountain which was carved out by the glacier during the last Ice Age approximately 13,000 years ago.
Fermanagh’s National Trust properties
For something a bit more sedate (we all need rest days) pay a visit to Fermanagh’s three National Trust properties. If you are looking for things to do in and around Enniskillen on a Sunday, all three of these properties stay open until the evening time.
Florence Court is an 18th-century Georgian mansion with beautiful trails around the estate set against the stunning Cuilcagh Mountains. With a lovely picnic area and a children’s playground, this is an ideal activity hub for kids and is only 8 miles south-west of Enniskillen.
Crom Estate is located in Newtownbutler, which is a 30-minute drive from Enniskillen town centre. If you have a boat, you can sail there as it is located on the southern shores of Upper Lough Erne. The Estate is a magnificent 810-hectare (2,000-acre) demesne and an important area of conservation, and you can have a tour of the estate and visit the old castle ruins.
Castle Coole is one of the finest neo-classical houses in Ireland. Take a tour of the mansion to learn about the vast underground basement and wine cellar and admire the lavish rooms once occupied by the Earls of Belmore.
Enniskillen Castle is a 600-year-old fort that stands on the banks of the River Erne. It was once used as an English garrison fort in the 17th century and then part of a military barracks, but now, after a major redevelopment in 2016, it is a fascinating, immersive experience with two museums and different interactive exhibitions that tell the rich history of the Kingdom of Lough Erne.
Lough Erne Cruising
After learning all about Lough Erne, why not experience it for yourself and take to the water? Located five miles from Enniskillen, about a 10-minute drive is the town of Bellanaleck which, due to its location between Upper and Lower Lough Erne, is ideally placed to explore the whole of the Erne. Bellanaleck is a hub for boating holiday enthusiasts, and you can join in the fun by renting a boat on Lough Erne in Bellanaleck.
Carrickcraft has its own marina in Bellanaleck and has 15 different types of boats in its fleet. So whether you’re after a boat for two or eight or more, Carrickcraft is sure to have a cruiser to suit your Lough Erne cruising holiday needs.
Explore Northern Ireland’s lake district
Once out on the water, you can do some island-hopping on the Lakelands. There are over 150 islands to explore, including Boa Island, Devenish Island, Inish Corkish and White Island. You can spend a few hours on the island or even moor up for an overnight adventure.
Lough Erne Fishing
Staying on the water, fishing is a big business here, so much so that the Classic Fishing Festival takes place on Lough Erne every May. Hundreds of anglers from all over the world come to take part in the fishing competitions as well as enjoy the stunning scenery and Irish hospitality.
If you can’t make it for the fishing festival, don’t worry, you can fish all year round in Lough Erne and Upper Lough Erne is considered one of the best pike fishing lakes in Europe.
The Jolly Sandwich
Before you take to the water, have a hearty breakfast, lunch or brunch in The Jolly Sandwich in Enniskillen. This cafe is popular with locals, and it is a great place to try a traditional Irish breakfast as well as some seasonal salads, comfort food staples and delicious desserts and baked treats. The great menu, friendly service and reasonable prices helped the Jolly Sandwich win the Best Cafe in Ulster at the Irish Restaurant Awards in 2018.
Blakes of the Hollow pub
One of the most popular things to do in Enniskillen at night is to head to a pub for a pint. Steeped in traditional Irish heritage, Blakes of the Hollow is a Victorian pub that has been pouring pints for over 125 years. The pub’s snugs are perfect for cosying up over a pint of Guinness, so if you are looking for things to do in Enniskillen for couples or a date night, this would be ideal. You can also listen to traditional Irish music played live and get up and do a jig too, if you like. This is a proper Irish pub with a genuine Irish pub atmosphere.
As a bonus for fans of Game of Thrones, the pub has a door with intricate carvings depicting iconic scenes from the TV show. See how many you recognise!
Plan your next trip to Enniskillen
Melanie May spent five years backpacking solo around the world and turned her wanderlust into a career when she became a freelance writer and photographer. She won the ‘Best Newcomer’ award at the Travel Extra Travel Journalist of the Year Awards 2018 and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. She runs her own blog, Travel Eat Write Repeat (www.melaniemay.com) and you can follow her travels over on Instagram @_maymelanie
Marble Arch Caves, “Marble Arch Caves Trip” by David Bolton is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Cuilcagh Boardwalk (The stairway to heaven), “Cuilcagh Boardwalk” by Kelly Whalley is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Fermanagh’s National Trust Properties, “Florence Court” by ikerr is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Enniskillen Castle, “Enniskillen Castle Watergate” by Hector is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Cruising on Lough Erne, “Lough Erne Sunset” by Caroline Johnston is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Devenish Island, “Devenish Island” by Hector is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Enniskillen, “Enniskillen” by ikerr is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Featured Image, “Enniskillen” by Paul McCanny is licensed under CC BY 2.0