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Girls Getaway Guide: Eat, drink, and explore lovely Laois

Bring your besties and pack the prosecco! If you’ve been promising yourself a girls’ getaway in Ireland, a night or two of glamping at Glamping Under The Stars could be perfect for you and your girl gang.

Based in lovely Laois, the county is a handy drive from Dublin, and has lots to offer – from hiking trails & wild swimming, to yoga classes, to award-winning restaurants & foodie experiences, garden trails, café culture, woodland walks, and a thriving live music & comedy scene. (It’s no wonder they hold the Electric Picnic here!).

 You just have to know where to look…

That’s why we’ve created this guide: Where to eat, drink, & play in lovely Laois.

So, if you can tear yourselves away from the campfire, here are some of our favourite places for you to explore…

Large delicious looking layered cake in the foreground and The Pantry logo on the window glass in the background.

    Where to eat in Laois

    If you’ve never thought of Laois as a ‘foodie destination’, be prepare to be pleasantly surprised! In the years since we started Glamping Under The Stars, a thriving food scene – with artisan producers & award-winning eateries – has grown up around us. From farm-to-fork feasts to quaint cafes serving up homemade treats, Laois punches well above it’s weight foodwise.

    Eating Out (Lunch)

    Bowes Café

    Durrow

    Great range of tasty food, friendly efficient service, and a lovely garden area, located in the picturesque town of Durrow. So good it was recently added to the McKenna Guide.

    The Pantry

    Portlaoise

    A cosy & quirky café with plenty of awards to it’s name. Serves a nice selection of cakes, lunches, and good coffee.

    Glamping Tip: In summer, grab a table in the pretty walled garden and eat al fresco.

    Kelly Lou Cakes

    Portlaoise

    Sugar pink décor set the tone here. It’s a fun place to enjoy an informal light lunch, coffee, and an array of beautifully decorated cupcakes. Try the s’mores flavour.

    Daily Dose

    Abbeyleix

    Good coffee, light lunches, and homemade treats. A lovely spot to sit and have a chat, or catch up on a bit of ‘people watching’.

    Glamping Tip: Lots of vegan friendly & gluten free options.

    Get Stuffed

    Portlaoise.

    Tasty lunches & snacks in a quirky location. Sit in an old church pew and reflect on their dessert selection.

    Glamping Tip: This café is tucked away within The Storeyard vintage emporium. Go inside.

    Bright, airy restaurant interior of Bramley Restaurant, Abbeyleix. In the foreground are lots of wooden tables beautifully set for a fine dining dinner. In the background, large windows are visible.

    Eating Out (Dinner)

    Glamping Tip: It’s wise to book ahead for dinner. And opening hours & days can vary, so do check before you visit.

    Bramley

    Abbeyleix

    Fine dining, locally sourced produce, and classy décor. This place is perfect for a special occasion, (or just a special treat). Owner & chef, Sam Moody, has an impressive track record, having previously been head chef at the salubrious Ballyfin House.

    Glamping Tip: Book in advance and wear something classy.

    Batoni’s

    Emo

    A seriously good Italian restaurant with classy atmosphere & good gnocci! Located in the quiet town of Emo, it’s a little out of the way, but well worth finding.

    Croft Alley

    Portlaoise

    A stylish & relaxed restaurant, perfect for a night out with friends, or as a couple. Enjoy fresh pizza cooked before your eyes in the wood fired oven.

    Kelly’s Steakhouse

    Portlaoise

    Good steaks, funky décor, friendly staff. Great for an informal meal with friends. This spacious, well designed restaurant can also accommodate large groups.

    The Mayur

    Portlaoise

    Arguably the best Indian Restaurant in Laois. Decorated in deep red & gold, the small, upstairs restaurant can feel a little cramped, but you won’t notice that once your starters arrive (eat in or takeaway).

     Akayu

    Portlaoise

    A range of tasty Japanese dishes, beautifully presented. It’s a small restaurant, so do book ahead.

    Barman dressed in brown leather bar apron pictured throwing a glass up into the air with a flourish. Behind him is a wall of bottles of different spirits. The scene is beautifully lit in warm tones.

    Best Local Pubs

    (Definitely not an exhaustive list, as we are spoiled for choice with great pubs in Laois)

    Jeremiah Grant Pub

    Portlaoise

    Stylish pub with good pub food, (serves lunch & dinner), named after the last man to be hanged in Portlaoise.  Now there’s a conversation starter for you!

    Kavanagh’s

    Portlaoise

    Friendly pub which shows most matches, pours great pints, (including locally brewed beer from the Ballykilcavan Brewery), and has a regular calendar of comedy gigs and live music acts in a dedicated venue space.

    Glamping Tip: Check upcoming gigs online & book before you get here, as many sell out.

    The Square Bar

    Portlaoise

    Lively, friendly pub with stylish décor, and a regular quiz night. Close to the taxi rank in the top square, so it’s ideal for the last drink of the evening.

    Morrisseys

    Abbeyleix

    One of Ireland’s oldest pubs, (it originally opened in 1775 as a grocery/shebeen), with good Guinness, a spacious beer garden, and plenty of history.

    Bob’s Bar

    Durrow

    Friendly pub with quirky décor, regular live music & events, and a lovely beer garden overlooking the river.

    Chef shows the camera a wooden platter of freshly baked pistachio pastries, with green icing visible on top. There are rows of fresh baked sourdough breads in view behind him.

    Best Takeaway Coffee & Treats

    Mueller & O’Connell Bakery

    Abbeyleix

    One of our absolute favourite places in Laois. You’ll probably bump into us in the queue here! It has everything. Lovely staff, good coffee, artisan sour dough breads, fantastic pastries, and legendary ‘cruffins’.

    Glamping Tip: Go early to avoid disappointment (& be prepared to queue – it’s that good).

    Wandering Elk

    Portlaoise

    Tiny place famed for good coffee, sourdough ‘melts’, and brightly coloured doughnuts.

    Polly’s

    Abbeyliex

    Hot drinks, sweet treats, & light lunches served at the entrance to the Abbeyleix Boardwalk (it’s located at the rear of The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel).  

    Glamping Tip: At weekends, Polly’s serves really good wood fired pizza & sweet potato fries in the evenings. Days & times vary seasonally, so do check online. 

    Market Square Studios

    Ballinakill 

    Pretty little gift shop & creative hub, offering a selection of local crafts, good takeaway coffee, and sweet treats.

    Glamping Tip: An ideal place to stop after visiting Heywood Gardens.

    The Falls Café at Glenbarrow

    Rosenallis, Sleive Blooms

    Perfectly positioned at the entrance to the gorgeous Glenbarrow Waterfall Walk. Enjoy the spectacular forest and falls, then treat yourself to great coffee & sweet snacks, or healthy soup & pulled pork brioche.

     Glamping Tip: The brownies alone are worth the hike.

    Female wild swimmer dressed in navy blue one piece swimming costume is more than waist deep in one of the catholes falls pools. She is facing away from the camera, towards the fast flowing waterfall. A lot of white water can be seen flowing down the rocks. The scene is framed by dark rocks and leafy foliage in the background.

    Walks, Hikes, Wild Swimming & Yoga

    You’ll find gorgeous walks, hikes & even wild swims all over Laois – and especially in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Whether you want a short scenic route, or a real challenge, there are routes for all levels. See: https://slievebloom.ie/walking for ideas.

    Glamping Tip: The Catholes Falls is a beautiful place for an outdoor dip.

    See our blog post: Best Hikes, Walks & Wild Swimming for more info.

     

    For a range of shorter walks, read on…

    Cullenagh Woods

    Literally on the doorstep. Just turn left out of the glampsite entrance and head up the lane to reach the forest. Pop the kettle on for tea when you get back to the Glamp House.

    Abbeyleix Boardwalk over the Bog

    Dramatic scenery accessed via a cinder path & boardwalk. Afterwards, pop into Polly’s café in the car park, or head on into Abbeyleix for more options, including – Mueller & O’Connell’s artisan bakery for great coffee, pastries & sourdough bread, and Daily Dose for vegan & gluten free lunches & sweet treats.

    Lake Walk at Emo Court & Parklands

    Gorgeous looped walk around the Lake with views of the great house. Stop off at CaToCa Tearooms for refreshments & chats afterwards and admire the historic, high ceilinged architecture.

    Glamping Tip: If the weather’s fine, bring a picnic. There are picnic tables aplenty.

    Heywood Gardens at Ballinakill

    Formal gardens and lake walk featuring fountains, fishermen and a folly. You can walk to the village and stop in to The Market Place – a creative hub selling locally produced art and crafts, as well as takeaway coffee and treats.

    Dunmore Woods, Durrow

    Lovely trail through the woods and along by the river. There’s parking at the entrance to the walk, and you can go on into the pretty town of Durrow for refreshments at Bowes Café, or Bob’s Bar afterwards.

    Rock of Dunamase, Stradbally

    Spectacular ruins of an ancient hill fort perched high on a hill. It’s a short but steep walk up to the top, but well worth it for the views over surrounding counties on a clear day. Great place for a few dramatic photos too.

    Glamping Tip: It’s an amazing spot to watch the sunrise (if you fancy an early morning experience!)

    Yoga, Mindfulness, & Meditation

    Blackhill Woods

    Abbeyleix

    Visit the gorgeous Yoga Grove at Blackhill Woods for some relaxing yoga with the lovely Eilish & Simon.

     Glamping Tip: These yoga classes are popular. Booking ahead is strongly advised.

    Temptation Chocolates Shop in Abbeyleix. Handmade chocolates are on display under a glass counter in the foreground, while glass jars of chocolates are visible in the background.

    Shopping in Laois

    Here are a few of our favourite independent local Laois shops to browse & buy…

    Nook & Cranny, Award-winning gift shop, Main Street, Portlaoise

    Glamping Tip: Nook is owned by the same people who run The Pantry Café (they often have a reciprocal discount if you buy in both).

    The Store Yard, Vintage furniture, fabric, jewellery & accessories, Kea Lew Business Park, Portlaoise

    Glamping Tip: The off-puttingly named, (but actually  nice) ‘Get Stuffed’ café is hidden within this shop.

    Erre Esse, Church Street, Portlaoise, Ladies dress shop. Eye catching dresses & accessories for formal occasions.

    Dunamase Antiques, Main Street, Portlaoise – Antiques & objet d’art to browse & buy.

    Anthology, Main Street Abbeyleix, Gift shop selling Irish made crafts, books, and more.

    Boutique Ladybelle, Main Street Abbeyleix, Mix of casual & formal ladies clothing.

    Temptation Chocolates Boutique, Heritage House, Abbeyleix

    Gorgeous shop selling stunning range of handmade chocolates.

    Glamping Tip: Sample something from the hot chocolate menu in the pretty café.

    Campfire in foreground, with colourful outdoor chairs (one green, one pink) visible in the background. a guitar rests on the green chair.

    Entertainments

    Comedy & Live Music – Kavanagh’s Pub, Portlaoise

    Art, Theatre, Music – Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise

    Cinema – Odeon, Portlaoise

    Workshops & Market – Solas Eco Garden Shop, Portarlington

    Toasting Marshmallows & Looking At The Stars – Glamping Under The Stars, Cullenagh

     

    Thanks For Reading Our Girls Getaway Guide

    So there you have it! All our top tips for eating, drinking and exploring lovely Laois.

    We hope you enjoy visiting our favourite places as much as we do. (And if there’s somewhere special you think we should share, do let us know and we’ll add it to the list).

    Happy Exploring!  Click here to book your stay with us.

     

    More about Girls Glamping Getaways…

    You can book a quiet break with a bestie or two anytime outside of the school holidays. *Please note, during school holidays we are a very family-friendly glampsite and do not accept bookings from adult only groups.

    (Except for full site bookings where you can book out a glamping site for a private party or hen party).

    Click here for more info on hen parties & private glampsite hire.

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