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Dive in! Discover Laois’ Wild Swimming Spots

Want to go wild swimming this summer? Look no further than Co. Laois!

Nestled in the heart of Ireland, Laois boasts beautiful landscapes, mountains and national monuments. Amongst these stunning destinations are a number of beautiful hikes and places for swimming. Keep reading to find out more about Laois’ best spots for a dip.


Catholes Falls

Amongst many of Laois’ gems is Catholes Falls in Ballyhuppahane! This spot is one of Laois’ best-kept secrets. Though beloved by locals, this destination is still relatively hidden. It lies just beyond the car park and grassy area. A set of concrete steps will guide you down to the pool, with a ladder ready on the other side for when you need to climb back out. Take the plunge and go for a trip to this wild swimming spot in Ballyhuppahane!


Glenbarrow Waterfall Loop

At the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, you will find this stunning waterfall/ swimming spot. This is the perfect place to go for a dip if you are looking for an adventurous day out, as you will need to hike for a short while before arriving at the swimming area. We recommend packing fluids and walking boots for the journey. The hike follows a luscious path, flagged by trees and beautiful boardwalks. The pools formed by the cascading waterfalls offer a perfect respite from the hike. Swimmers should be warned that, after heavy rain, the water flow in the waterfall can be fierce and quick, so this spot is a great one to visit during the drier summer months. Influencer Roz Purcell recently visited and said,

“​​A stunning trail flagged by trees, waterfalls & beautiful boardwalks. it’s the little things like this that make forest walks like the Slieve blooms so stunning” 

See her video on the loop here.

Castletown Village on the Nore

In the heart of Castletown Villiage, along the banks of the River Nore lies another hidden swimming gem. The Nore River flows through the lush green landscapes of the picturesque village, making it a stunning backdrop for a quick wild swimming dip! Surrounded by flora and fauna, this spot offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of Laois’ busy town centre during the summer months.

Ballinakill Outdoor Pool

Want to go for a swim but not ready to brave a wild swimming spot just yet? Near Heywood Gardens and Woodlands in Ballinakill, you’ll find the perfect summer family swim destination! Open during the summer from June to September, the Ballinakill Outdoor Pool is run by the Community Development Association CLG. After renovations in 2019 and 2021, it has been made much more user-friendly with an air-to-water heating system! While you’re there, why not stop by some local shops for a coffee and a treat? 

Opening Hours are as below:

Public Sessions: (Monday – Sunday)

2 pm, 3.30 pm, 5 pm & 6.30 pm.

Adult only: Tuesday & Friday- 8 pm

Sensory Hour: Tuesday – 1 pm


Portarlington and Portlaoise Leisure Centre

Ready to dive in and get swimming but don’t know where to start? How about some swimming lessons in Portarlington or Portlaoise Leisure Centre. Both centres offer classes in Aquafit and swimming for adults. Boasting state-of-the-art facilities and a welcoming atmosphere, these centres offer something for everyone. Need to keep the kids entertained over the summer holidays? Why not book an intensive Swim Camp or Rookie Lifeguard camp for them here

Whether you are the adventurous type looking for a unique place to swim or if you want to enjoy a leisurely soak this summer, county Laois has so much to offer. From our stunning natural oasis’ to our accessible leisure centres, there is something for everyone! 

Remember always to be cautious when swimming, take necessary precautions and do not swim alone. Visit for more details on staying safe when swimming.