Visiting Longford in Ireland: Your Ultimate Travel Guide
Nestled in the heart of Ireland, Longford is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by avid travelers. This charming county, often overlooked by the bustling tourist crowds, offers an authentic Irish experience that’s both rich in history and immersed in natural beauty. From picturesque landscapes to historic sites and warm, welcoming locals, Longford promises a memorable journey for those who venture here.
In this comprehensive travel guide, we will take you on a virtual tour of Longford, revealing its hidden treasures, sharing insider tips, and helping you plan an unforgettable adventure. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a tranquil escape from the daily grind, Longford has something special in store for you.
Join us as we explore the enchanting streets of Longford town, meander through lush countryside, and dive into the heart of Irish culture. From practical advice on transportation and accommodation to recommendations on must-visit attractions and mouthwatering local cuisine, this guide has it all.
So, fasten your seatbelt and get ready to embark on a journey through Longford, where ancient legends meet modern hospitality, and every moment is a page in your own Irish story.
Getting to Longford
Longford, nestled in the heart of Ireland, is a destination worth the journey. Getting here is part of the adventure, and there are various options to suit your travel preferences. In this section, we’ll guide you through the different modes of transportation and provide insights into reaching Longford with ease.
A. Choosing Your Mode of Transportation
Before embarking on your journey, consider the mode of transportation that best suits your needs and preferences.
B. Air Travel Options
- Dublin Airport (DUB)
- If you’re arriving from abroad, Dublin Airport is your gateway to Ireland. It’s the largest international airport in the country and offers numerous flight options.
Pro Tip: Consider renting a car at the airport for convenient travel within Longford and its surrounding areas.
2. Ireland West Airport Knock (NOC)
- Located approximately 70 miles west of Longford, Ireland West Airport Knock is a regional airport serving the west of Ireland. It’s a convenient choice if you’re exploring the western part of the country as well.
Pro Tip: Check for shuttle services or rental car options to reach Longford from this airport.
C. Road Trip Routes
- From Dublin
- If you’re already in Dublin or arriving at Dublin Airport, Longford is just about a 90-minute drive away. Take the N4 motorway westward, and you’ll be greeted by the scenic Irish countryside.
2. From Other Major Cities
- Longford is well-connected by road to other major cities like Galway, Limerick, and Belfast. Consider a road trip to enjoy the picturesque landscapes along the way.
Pro Tip: Plan your route in advance, and take breaks to explore charming villages and attractions en route to Longford.
D. Public Transport
- Irish Rail offers train services to Longford town. The Dublin to Longford train route is particularly popular, providing a comfortable and scenic journey.
- Longford is also accessible by bus, with regular services connecting it to Dublin, Galway, and other major cities. Bus Eireann is the primary bus service provider in Ireland.
Pro Tip: Check the bus and train schedules in advance, and book your tickets to secure your seats, especially during peak travel seasons.
Where to Stay in Longford
Choosing the right accommodation in Longford is essential for a comfortable and memorable stay. Longford offers a range of options, from luxurious hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts, ensuring that there’s something to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget. In this section, we’ll explore the various places to stay in Longford.
A. Luxury Hotels
- Longford Arms Hotel
- Experience the epitome of luxury at the Longford Arms Hotel. With elegant rooms, top-notch amenities, and fine dining options, it’s the perfect choice for those seeking a lavish stay.
2. Viewmount House
- Viewmount House is a hidden gem known for its boutique charm and exceptional hospitality. Indulge in gourmet dining and unwind in beautifully designed rooms and suites.
B. Charming Bed and Breakfasts
- Glessons Townhouse
- For a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, book a room at Gleeson’s Townhouse. This family-run bed and breakfast offers a taste of Irish hospitality at its best.
2. Abbey Hotel
- The Abbey Hotel is a historic B&B with a warm ambiance. It’s a great choice for travelers looking for a blend of comfort and character.
C. Budget-Friendly Accommodations
- Longford has a few hostels that cater to budget-conscious travelers. They provide clean and comfortable dormitory-style accommodation.
- Guesthouses in Longford offer affordable rooms with basic amenities. They are ideal for travelers who want value for their money.
D. Camping and Outdoor Options
- If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, consider camping at one of Longford’s campsites. Enjoy the serenity of nature while being close to the town’s attractions.
2. Lough Ree Glamping
- Experience glamping at Lough Ree, where you can stay in luxury tents with modern comforts while enjoying the beauty of the lakeside.
No matter where you choose to stay in Longford, you’ll find warm hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere. Be sure to book your accommodation well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your spot and make the most of your visit.
Exploring Longford Town
Longford town is a place where history and modernity seamlessly blend. With its quaint streets, historic landmarks, and warm atmosphere, it’s a destination that captures the essence of Ireland’s heritage and hospitality. In this section, we’ll take you on a tour of the town’s must-visit attractions, cultural hotspots, shopping districts, and dining experiences.
A. Historic Sites
- St Mels Cathedral
- Start your journey with a visit to the awe-inspiring St. Mel’s Cathedral. This architectural marvel, meticulously restored after a fire, showcases intricate craftsmanship and is a testament to Longford’s resilience.
2. The Mall
- Stroll along the picturesque Mall, a tree-lined promenade flanked by Georgian buildings. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely walk or a picnic by the River Camlin.
B. Cultural Attractions
- Longford County Museum
- Immerse yourself in Longford’s history at the Longford County Museum. Discover artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that tell the story of the town and its people.
2. Backstage Theatre
- If you’re a fan of the arts, don’t miss a performance at the Backstage Theatre. From live music to theatre productions, it’s a hub for cultural experiences.
C. Best Shopping Spots
- Longford Shopping Centre
- Find everything you need at the Longford Shopping Centre, from fashion and electronics to local crafts and souvenirs.
2. Market Square
- Explore Market Square, a vibrant hub of shops, cafes, and boutiques. It’s an excellent place to pick up unique gifts and indulge in some retail therapy.
D. Local Cuisine and Dining
- The Rustic Inn
- Savour traditional Irish fare at The Rustic Inn, known for its hearty meals and cozy ambiance. Try classics like Irish stew and soda bread.
- For a contemporary dining experience, head to Feast. This restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients prepared with a modern twist.
Nature and Outdoor Adventures
Longford’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes offer a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re a nature lover, hiker, angler, or simply seeking tranquillity, Longford has something for everyone. In this section, we’ll explore the outdoor adventures that await you in this picturesque county.
A. Longford’s Natural Beauty
1. Lough Ree
- Begin your outdoor journey at Lough Ree, one of Ireland’s stunning lakes. Enjoy boating, and fishing, or simply relax by the tranquil shores.
2. Royal Canal
- Explore the scenic Royal Canal, which passes through Longford. Walk or cycle along its towpaths, and discover the peaceful countryside.
B. Hiking and Walking Trails
1. The Corlea Trackway
- Embark on a journey through time as you hike the Corlea Trackway. This ancient wooden road, dating back to 148 BC, is surrounded by picturesque bogs.
2. Sliabh Bawn
- Hikers will find Sliabh Bawn a rewarding challenge. The summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
C. Water Activities
- Longford is a haven for anglers. Cast your line in the pristine lakes and rivers, and try your luck at catching pike, trout, and more.
2. Kayaking and Canoeing
- Rent a kayak or canoe to explore Longford’s waterways up close. Paddle through serene lakes and meandering rivers.
D. Wildlife Encounters
1. Corlea Bog Nature Reserve
- Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts should visit Corlea Bog Nature Reserve. Spot rare bird species and observe the unique flora of this protected area.
2. Wildlife Safaris
- Join guided wildlife safaris to catch glimpses of Longford’s native wildlife, including red deer, otters, and foxes.
Places to visit from Longford
While Longford itself offers a wealth of attractions, it also serves as an ideal starting point for exploring the surrounding region. Take advantage of your stay in Longford to embark on exciting day trips that reveal the beauty and history of neighboring towns, natural reserves, and cultural gems.
A. Nearby Towns and Villages
- Just a short drive from Longford, Athlone is a charming town situated on the banks of the River Shannon. Explore its historic castle, and vibrant streets, and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverfront.
- Visit Strokestown House and Gardens, an impeccably preserved Georgian mansion with beautiful gardens. Learn about Ireland’s history at the Irish National Famine Museum located here.
B. Historic Castles and Estates
- Discover the enchanting Tullynally Castle, set amidst stunning gardens and woodlands. Explore the castle’s rich history and the scenic surroundings.
2. Belvedere House and Gardens
- Explore the grandeur of Belvedere House and its meticulously landscaped gardens. Take a tour of the house and enjoy scenic walks around Lough Ennell.
C. Natural Reserves and Parks
1. Lough Key Forest Park
- A short drive from Longford, Lough Key Forest Park offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Explore the forest trails, visit the adventure park, and take a boat trip on Lough Key.
- Venture to Ballymahon and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of Newcastle Wood. Enjoy peaceful walks and perhaps even a picnic in this tranquil forest.
D. Adventure Excursions
1. Adventure Centers
- For those seeking adventure, consider visiting one of the adventure centers near Longford. Enjoy activities like zip-lining, archery, and paintball.
2. Lough Ree
- Extend your day trip by taking a boat excursion on Lough Ree, where you can fish, swim, or simply soak in the scenic beauty of this expansive lake.
Longford is a destination brimming with captivating attractions that promise an unforgettable experience. To make the most of your visit, here’s a quick recap of the must-see places that should be at the top of your itinerary:
1. St. Mel’s Cathedral
- Explore the exquisite architecture and history of St. Mel’s Cathedral, a symbol of Longford’s resilience and artistic craftsmanship.
2. Lough Ree
- Spend time by the shores of Lough Ree, a picturesque lake offering opportunities for boating, fishing, and breathtaking sunsets.
3. Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre
- Journey back in time to the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre, where you can witness a preserved wooden trackway from over 2,000 years ago.
4. Longford County Museum
- Immerse yourself in the rich history of Longford at the County Museum, featuring artifacts, photographs, and engaging exhibits.
5. Lough Key Forest Park
- Embark on outdoor adventures in Lough Key Forest Park, with its forest trails, adventure park, and serene boat trips on Lough Key.
- Take a short trip to Athlone, a charming town on the banks of the River Shannon, where you can explore historic sites and enjoy riverfront walks.
7. Strokestown House and Famine Museum
- Visit Strokestown House for a glimpse into Ireland’s past and the Irish National Famine Museum, which tells a poignant story of the Great Famine.
8. Belvedere House and Gardens
- Marvel at the grandeur of Belvedere House and its beautifully landscaped gardens, a perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a picnic.
9. Cairn Hill
- Hike to the summit of Cairn Hill for breathtaking panoramic views of Longford’s countryside, particularly during sunrise and sunset.
Longford’s Hidden Gems
While Longford has its well-known attractions, the county also hides some hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. These off-the-beaten-path treasures offer unique experiences and a deeper connection to the local culture. In this section, we’ll uncover some of Longford’s best-kept secrets.
A. Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions
1. Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre
- Delve into Ireland’s ancient past at the Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre. This hidden gem showcases a preserved wooden trackway dating back over 2,000 years, providing a fascinating glimpse into history.
2. Abbeyshrule Flying Club
- Experience the thrill of flying with a visit to the Abbeyshrule Flying Club. Take a trial flying lesson and soar over Longford’s picturesque landscapes.
B. Secret Gardens and Parks
1. Columcille’s Well
- Discover the peaceful and spiritual ambiance of Columcille’s Well, a serene spot surrounded by lush greenery. It’s a perfect place for reflection and tranquillity.
2. The Demesne
- Stroll through the beautiful Demesne in Longford town, an oasis of green with walking paths, a river, and charming bridges. It’s an ideal spot for a relaxing afternoon.
C. Unique Experiences
1. Shanmullagh House
- Visit Shanmullagh House, a delightful tea room in a charming cottage. Indulge in homemade treats and experience the warmth of Irish hospitality.
2. Traditional Irish Music Sessions
- Seek out local pubs hosting traditional Irish music sessions. These gatherings offer an authentic taste of Irish culture, where you can tap your foot to lively tunes and even join in if you’re musically inclined.
Where to Capture the Best Photos
Longford’s landscapes provide ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts to capture the beauty of the county. Here are some of the best spots for photography:
A. Scenic Photography Spots
1. Lough Ree
- The shores of Lough Ree offer breathtaking views, especially during sunrise and sunset. Capture the tranquil waters and the play of colors in the sky.
2. Royal Canal
- Photograph the reflections of lush greenery and charming bridges along the scenic Royal Canal.
B. Instagram-Worthy Locations
1. St. Mel’s Cathedral
- The stunning architecture of St. Mel’s Cathedral makes for an Instagram-worthy shot, especially when bathed in the golden light of the setting sun.
2. Belvedere House and Gardens
- Explore the manicured gardens and capture the grandeur of Belvedere House from various angles.
C. Sunset and Sunrise Views
1. Cairn Hill
- Hike to the top of Cairn Hill for panoramic views of Longford. Sunrise and sunset views from this vantage point are simply magical.
2. The Mall
- Capture the tranquil beauty of The Mall by the River Camlin, especially during the golden hours when the trees and water reflect the sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When is the best time to visit Longford?
The best time to visit Longford is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities. However, spring and early autumn also offer milder weather and fewer crowds.
What are some must-try Irish dishes in Longford?
Be sure to sample traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew, boxty (potato pancakes), and seafood chowder. Don’t forget to try the famous Irish soda bread.