Enniskillen: 134km (83 miles) SW of Belfast, 98km (61 miles) SW of Derry, 84km (52 miles) W of Armagh, 44km (27 miles) SW of Omagh, 174km (108 miles) NW of Dublin, 271km (168 miles) NE of Shannon

In the extreme southwest corner of Northern Ireland, County Fermanagh is a resort area dominated by Lough Erne, a long, narrow lake with 154 islands and countless coves and inlets. The Shannon-Erne Waterway links the lough to the Shannon River system through the Republic of Ireland. Were you to cruise the whole length of the waterway between the village of Leitrim and Lough Erne, you’d travel 40 miles (65km), past 16 lochs, three lakes, and the Woodford River, all of them ripe for exploration.   

The hub of this lakeland paradise, wedged between the upper and lower branches of Lough Erne, is Enniskillen, a delightful resort town that was the medieval seat of the Maguire clan and a major crossroads between Ulster and Connaught. Both Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett were once students here at the royal school.

A handful of lovely historic homes are dotted around the midsection of the lake as well, including Castle Coole ★, the Crom Estate ★★, and Florence Court ★★. At the northern tip of the lake is Belleek, sitting right across the border in the Republic of Ireland, and known the world over for its trademark delicate bone chinaware. At the southern end of the lake is County Cavan and another slice of border with the Irish Republic. The surrounding countryside also includes the underground rivers and caverns of the Marble Arch Caves ★★.

In medieval times, a chain of island monasteries stretched across the waters of Lough Erne, establishing it as a haven for those seeking peace and contemplation. Traces of those monasteries can still be found on those unspoiled islands—and the Fermanagh Lakelands still feel like a peaceful place to get away from it all.