The Boyne Valley is the birthplace of Ireland's Ancient East and offers a wide range of fun things to do, for all ages and interests.
Many of these experiences are free of charge, and the memories will last a lifetime.
Next time you visit the Boyne Valley (make sure to stay overnight in order to squeeze everything in!) why not try one of our top 15 things to do for free?
- A royal experience at the Hill of Tara
Take a drive to the Hill of Tara, between Navan and Dunshaughlin, known as the legendary ancient capital of Ireland. Access to Tara is free and there is plenty of space to roam across this amazing site. Prehistoric monuments and medieval earthworks transport you back to the times of the High Kings of Ireland.
- Navan Points of Pride and Ramparts Walks
The Navan Points of Pride town walk takes in many important historic sights and architectural gems, starting at the Solstice Arts Centre and is 4km long. Navan also offers the stunning Ramparts Canal Walklinear route along the Boyne to Stackallen if you wish to turn your short walk into an adventure.
- Become a medieval monk or nun (for a day!)
Why not pretend to be a medieval monk or nun and visit Bective Abbey in Meath or Old Mellifont Abbey in Louth? These sites were founded over eight and a half centuries ago and the ruins can still be explored free of charge. Part of the movie Braveheart was even filmed at Bective!
- Take a spin on the Greenway
The Royal Canal Greenway is the longest greenway in Ireland (130km) and stretches through the Boyne Valley for 22km from Enfield to Longwood and the Hill of Down then on to Westmeath. Visitors to the greenway, either on foot or cycling, can enjoy a safe, easily- navigated trail with many stopping points along the way.
Or try the Boyne Greenway which runs 1.9km from Drogheda along the Boyne Canal to Oldbridge House (site of the Battle of the Boyne), which offers lots of walking routes around the historic estate.
- Take a stroll on the beach
The eastern coast of the Boyne Valley has some stunning beaches. Bettystown and Laytown in Meath over beautiful strolls while the strand at Seapoint/Baltray in Louth stretch as far as the eye can see. Some of the Boyne Valley hotels offer picnic baskets to bring with you to the beach; see here for special offers.
- Explore the boardwalk across Girley Bog
Kells Girley Bog Eco Walk is a 5.6 km waymarked trail through beautiful forest and bogland. Girley Bog one of the few remaining raised bogs in the east of Ireland and information panels explain its importance as an eco-habitat. While you are in the area don’t forget to visit the historic village of Athboy and walk its heritage trail too.
- Take in the sights of historic Drogheda
Drogheda, in County Louth, is the gateway to the world-famous Boyne Valley region. The Drogheda Walks highlight the natural beauty, built heritage and historical wealth of the town. The walks range in length from the 1.5km ‘Five Bridges’ walk, to the 6.5km ‘Steps’ walk. The 4km historical ‘Walls’ walk and pretty ‘Spires and Towers’ walks traverse both sides of the river and reveal great views. A highlight is the mighty St Laurence’s Gate, which guarded the medieval eastern entrance to the town.
The Drogheda Walks map & guide can be downloadedor picked up at local hotels, the Tourist Information Office and many local businesses. The Drogheda Historic Trail is also available to download, and is way-marked with multiple panels across the town.
- Get your walking boots on for the Boyne Valley Camino
The Boyne Valley Camino is a self-guided, 25km looped walk from Drogheda, which forms part of the Celtic Camino series. The walk goes along the Boyne, through beautiful Townley Hall woods, via two OPW sites of Mellifont Abbey and Oldbridge House, through the village of Tullyallen, along the Boyne Canal, and returns to Drogheda along the stunning Boyne. Download a Boyne Valley Camino Map & Guide or pick up a copy from the Drogheda Tourist Office at The Tholsel, West St, Drogheda.
- Hike up a hill to a 5000-year-old tomb
The Loughcrew Cairns are a prehistoric cemetery containing approximately 30 passage tombs (similar to Newgrange), situated around the summit of three hills near the town of Oldcastle, Co. Meath. The main tomb is closed for maintenance but OPW guides are on hand to answer questions. The climb is very steep and visitors are asked to wear stout footwear and to be careful. The view from the top is worth the climb alone.
- Unleash your (inner) child at a Boyne Valley playground
The Boyne Valley offers a wide range of playgrounds in towns and village across Meath and Louth for the little ones to enjoy.
- Visit Ireland’s only inland lighthouse
As you approach Kells from the north you see a mysterious sight: a lighthouse on a hill, far from the coast! The Spire of Lloyd was built in 1791 for Thomas Taylour, First Earl of Bective, in memory of his father. The spire in currently closed but you can still visit the community park (The People’s Park) and one can also take the Ringfort and Blackwater River Looped Walk, or enjoy the playground beside the carpark.
- Kells Historic Trail
Kells, or Ceanannas Mór, was known to be a royal residence before St. Colmcille established a religious settlement in Kells in 550. It is considered by many historians to be one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. Commencing at the Kells Courthouse Tourism and Cultural Hub, where there is a free exhibition on Kells and the Boyne Valley, the Kells Historic Trail will lead visitors to realise that its physical treasures are the monastic layout of the town.
- Walk in the footsteps of St Patrick at Slane
Slane is a beautiful village with a legendary connection to Ireland’s patron saint. It was here on the Hill of Slane that St. Patrick lit the first paschal fire in Ireland, symbolising the triumph of Christianity over paganism. His friend, St.Erc , founded the hill-top monastery here and free tours are available . The village has many interesting historical points, which all feature on the free Slane Historic Trail. In a place whose story stretches back so far, there’s no need to rush. Instead, take your time and immerse yourself in the tales of saints, kings and stars that make this special place so fascinating.
- Marvel at Monasterboice high crosses
The historic ruins of Monasterboice are of an early Christian settlement in County Louth in Ireland, north of Drogheda, and are free to access. The site boasts two medieval churches and an impressive roundtower, but it is most famous for its 10th century high crosses. Muirdeach's Cross and the West Cross, noted as being the tallest in Ireland. The 5.5-metre Muiredach's High Cross is regarded as the finest high cross in the whole of Ireland.
- Travel back in time to medieval Trim
Trim was one of the most important towns in Medieval Ireland. Trim Castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland and the free to download Trim Historic Trailbrings you back in time with stops all around the historic town including ruined abbeys and a curious Tomb of the Jealous Man and Woman. The Trim Castle River Walk offers useful information panels dotted along a picturesque walk along the river and around the expansive Porchfields park.
As you see there are plenty of great things to do for free in the Boyne Valley. Don’t forget that OPW sites are currently free (some are always free!); please check the OPW website to see what sites are open. Make sure to stay overnight in the Boyne Valley and check our offers pages for great breaks packaged with activities for an action-packed weekend. For more details on accommodation and places to eat and drink, see www.discoverboynevalley.ie