Why Hiking in Ireland is Amazing • The 15 Best Hikes in Ireland

Looking for the best hiking spots in Ireland? Ireland boasts some of the most undisturbed and remote natural scenery in the world, with a diverse range of mountain ranges, lush, sweeping hillsides, ancient rock formations, and rough crashing shorelines. With this wealth of natural resources to choose from, it stands to reason that Ireland is a popular place for hikers and avid outdoor enthusiasts. 

Ireland’s endless trails are hard to cut down to less than two dozen, but we’ve compiled 15 of the best hikes in Ireland for travelers who are thinking of dropping a pin here. These are suited to a range of skill levels from beginner to extreme so that everyone can have the chance to experience the natural surroundings that Ireland has to offer.



The Best Hikes in Ireland


1. Ballycotton Cliff Walk

hiking in Ireland

This beautiful coastal hike starts and ends between Ballycotton and Ballyandreen. To hike there and back is a full 7km (3.5 each way), and even in summer weather, good shoes are recommended. You never know when rain or worse weather will strike in Ireland, even in the summer! This beautiful hike follows the southern coastline near Cork and is well-known for its plentiful foliage – particularly the coconut-smelling Gorse bushes and the bright yellow wildflowers that line the path.

While the path is relatively flat throughout, it often runs close to the edge with steep, dangerous cliff sides. You’ll see signage warning you of impending drops and dangerous areas, so watch out for edges and use precaution as needed.

  • Location: Douglas Rd, Co. Cork, Ireland
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance = 7.2 km//Elevation Gain = 178 meters
  • Insider Tip: The stiles that prevent wildlife from wandering off prevent bikes and strollers from getting through, so this is a footpath-only kind of hike.

2. Mount Errigal

hiking in Ireland

Mount Errigal is definitely not for the fairweather hiker. Many have claimed that while it is a beautiful route, the trail is almost unanimously more difficult than predicted. However, keep pushing if you can, because the views from the summit are unparalleled in their beauty. The peak overlooks the untouched Donegal landscape below. But be sure to bring water and something to snack on that will keep you going when the path seems most exhausting, because the end result is worth the upward climb.

Once you come down from the high (literally and figuratively), you might take the chance to explore what else the area has to offer. Glenveagh Castle is a 20-minute drive away and offers beautiful grounds backlit by lakes, glens, and beautiful sloping mountains. Plus, the onsite tea room & restaurant is the perfect post-hike recharge.

  • Location: Northern Donegal
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance = 4.2 km//Elevation Gain = 504 meters
  • Insider Tip: Parking is extremely limited, so if you plan on driving to the base (this hike is around an hour outside of Dublin, so most will drive) be sure to arrive early to snag a spot.

3. The Famine Walk

Connemara - Kylemore Abbey

Connemara is an area that is loved by outdoor travelers, and for good reason: it has some of the most unspoiled, raw beauty you can find in Ireland. Despite its popularity, it never feels crowded, and you can visit without feeling like you’re surrounded by people. In fact, it’s incredibly peaceful, as are many of the hiking regions in the country. 

The Famine Walk is a 16-kilometer walk, so will take up a good chunk of your day, but we promise it’s worth it and will top your walking holiday in Ireland. This spot has the only fjord in Ireland, so secluded that it was used as a U-boat hideout during the Second World War. The path itself winds along the fjord coastline, passing old cottages and eventually winding through a little marina that ultimately leads back to the start.

  • Location: Connemara, County Galway
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance = 16 km//Elevation Gain = 178 meters
  • Insider Tip: If you’ve got a hiking list or just like a good challenge, Mweelrea Mountain is a nearby mountain and among the four tallest in Ireland, putting it on the Four Peaks Challenge.

4. Glendalough Lake Walk

hiking in Ireland

If you choose to do the whole path of the Glendalough Lake Walk, be ready for a full day’s commitment; this ancient pilgrimage route inspired by St. Kevin’s secluded and hermit lifestyle spans an astonishing 30 kilometers. Located only around an hour from Dublin, this is an outing that can easily be factored into your stay as long as you are prepared for a lengthy trek. 

The region is a 6th-century monastic site; the area even has an ancient graveyard and the ruins of a chapel-like structure, set against a staggeringly beautiful landscape of rolling green hills as far as you can see. Along the hike, you will also be able to spot the cave in the rock face known as St. Kevin’s Bed. 

  • Location: Glendalough, County Wicklow
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance = 12.6 km//Elevation Gain = 589 meters
  • Insider Tip: As funny as it may sound, watch out for feral goats!

5. The Saint’s Road

Driving in Ireland - hiking in Ireland

Known locally as Cosan na Naomh, the Saint’s Road hike in Ireland is one of many pilgrimage trails found in the country. This particular Ireland hike is very easygoing and only minimally challenging, but its natural surroundings make it enjoyable for casual strollers as well as more seasoned hikers. There is a near-constant view of both mountain and sea simultaneously, so from a landscape perspective, you kind of get two in one (in fact, this path leads to the foot of Brandon Mountain, another trail on this list). 

Ancient beehive huts – leftover relics from the ancient Celts who populated this region – line the trail and make for fascinating – if not slightly eerie – sights along the route.

  • Location: Dingle, County Kerry
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance = 36.2 km//Elevation Gain = 589 meters
  • Insider Tip: Have a go at surfing if you’re in Dingle, or post up at Quinn’s Pub – right on the marina – for a pint.

6. Doolin Cliff Walk (Cliffs of Moher)

Cliffs of Moher Ireland - hiking in Ireland

If heights don’t bother you, then this is a hike worth noting. The Doolin Cliff Walk stretches 7km from Doolin Village all the way to the famed Cliffs of Moher in Galway, or 11km if you choose to continue past the cliffs and into the village of Liscannor. Even if you decide to proceed, you can’t help but stop at the cliffs, even just for a few moments of admiration. It’s something of a back entrance to one of Ireland’s most famous natural sights, and bonus: you get to avoid all the traffic and crowds. There’s also no fee to walk if you approach from the northern point of the cliffs.

Be careful of the edges; pathways can be narrow and treacherous at times, so ensure that your footwear is good for grip and endurance (even the short version of this hike is not for the faint of heart). 

  • Insider Tip: If you venture all the way to Liscannor (like the true adventurer we know you are) reward yourself with a hearty meal from Vaughans Anchor Inn. The seafood here is excellent, from chowder and shrimp scampi to fresh mussels. 
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance = 11.4 km//Elevation Gain = 461 meters

7. Croagh Patrick

hiking in Ireland

If you didn’t know a mountain could be holy, now you know; the route that ascends Croagh Patrick, in Connacht, was a pilgrimage route for hundreds of years. The mountainside looks down on the town of Westport and the countless small islands scattered along the coastline. Its holiness stems from the legend that St Patrick himself sat atop the peak for 40 days and fasted just as long (there is a shrine at the summit). To this day, the last Sunday of every month still sees pilgrims making the climb.

  • Location: Mayo, Ireland
  • Difficulty: hard
  • Distance = 7.1 km//Elevation Gain = 749 meters
  • Insider Tip: Erosion has worn away at the Pilgrim’s Path, making it a mildly unsafe option even for seasoned hikers. The west path leading up to the ridge is a more sound path; regardless, ensure that your shoes are built for a rocky, steep climb. 

8. Cronin’s Yard Loop

Best Mens Travel Shoes

Are you up for a challenge? Cronin’s Yard Loop is a little bigger than your average yard, though it’s only 8kms in total length, so it is one of those hiking trails in Ireland that’s doable in around two hours. It’s also the starting point for those wishing to climb Carrauntoohil, the highest point of elevation in the country (this part is definitely physically demanding and trickier navigation, so best left to experienced hikers). 

Being that the area is at a high point of elevation, if you’re able to make it out of bed early, this is one of the best places to watch the sunrise. 

  • Location: Killarney, County Kerry
  • Insider Tip: Dogs are not allowed, so plan for doggie daycare if you travel with your furry friend(s). 

9. Mount Brandon

hiking in Ireland

Mount Brandon is located along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The quickest way to its peak – the eighth highest in Ireland – is via an 18-kilometer climb starting in nearby Ventry. The path, marked by white crosses along the route, winds up to the summit and back down to the car park at the beginning of the trailhead. There’s also a shorter, less strenuous ‘scenic route’ spanning half that distance, starting in Cloghane.

The mountain is steeped in Irish mythology; its name is said to be derived from either St. Brendan, who supposedly climbed the peak and got his glimpse of the Promised Land before sailing for America, or from the pagan god Bran. The rugged and raw natural beauty of this spot is so all-consuming that regardless of what you believe about the origin of the name, you’re sure to feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

  • Location: Dingle Peninsula
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance = 10.9 km//Elevation Gain = 929 meters
  • Insider Tip: Nearby Dingle town is full of unique restaurants, cafés, and shops to end your day on a high note. 

10. Achill Head

hiking in Ireland

Seaside dwellers – this one’s for you. With Ireland essentially being a large island, it’s hardly surprising that so many of the trails on the list of best hikes in Ireland would be situated along the rugged coastline. Achill Head is a beautiful walk in Ireland located atop some of the continent’s tallest cliffs. This hike is strenuous, and its height means you’d better have your wits about you – it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Watch your footing, but be sure to enjoy the scenery and even keep an eye out for peregrine falcons!

Though Achill Island has been accessible via bridge to the mainland for almost 150 years, it maintains its small, remote island feel, as though it sits far from Ireland’s mainland on the edge of the world. Along the beautiful pathways you can find, you may come across megalithic tombs, abandoned villages, and old signal towers – to give you the sensation of being one of a few living souls to set foot on the island in decades.

  • Location: The foot of Slievemore Mountain, County Mayo
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance = 10 km//Elevation Gain = 521 meters
  • Insider Tip: If you’re near the coastline, keep your eyes peeled for basking sharks nearby!

11. Torc Mountain

hiking in Ireland

This Ireland hiking trail is like something out of an Irish fairytale, making it one of the best hikes in Ireland. Consisting of a beautiful forest pathway, Torc Mountain (and Torc Waterfall) are located within Killarney National Park. Within the winding woodland trail, you’ll come across gently rushing streams, mossy trees, and, when you emerge, sweeping valley views.

Torc Waterfall is partly Gaelic for ‘waterfall of the wild boar’ since the region is said to have been a haunt of national hero Fionn MacCoul. He supposedly killed a wild boar, earning the mountain and nearby 20-meter waterfall their names. 

  • Location: Killarney, County Kerry
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance = 7.1 km//Elevation Gain = 416 meters
  • Insider Tip: Nearby Killarney town is absolutely worth a visit for a day of shopping and fine dining.

12. The Burren

hiking in Ireland

This will probably be one of the more unique hikes you’ll do while in Ireland, but its intriguing landscape makes it a worthy addition to our list of best hikes in Ireland. The Burren is a region of County Clare that still bears evidence of its time during the last Ice Age. Blanketed in smooth, exposed sheets of limestone, this is an altogether fitting and alien part of Ireland’s diverse landscapes. 

This area is also a hot spot for archeology; ancient Celtic tombs, huts, and the remnants of other rock formations are scattered, largely unmanned, throughout the region. Nearby Mullaghmore Mountain offers a three-hour climb to the summit with beautiful views over Clare.

  • Location: The Burren, County Clare
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance = 14.3 km//Elevation Gain = 529 meters
  • Insider Tip: Though it doesn’t seem possible, in the spring, the Burren will bloom with wildflowers and somehow become even more awe-inspiring.

13. Carrowteige

Cnoc Suain - hiking in Ireland

Does venturing deep into the wilderness of Ireland’s west coast sound exciting to you? Don’t worry; it’s worth it. This hike in Ireland is entirely approachable and pretty flat, so even at an average distance spanning two to three hours, the low level of difficulty makes Carrowteige very enjoyable.

Local legend states that the four children of the sea god Lir were turned into swans and exiled by their jealous stepmother. Keep your eye out for a sculpture representing this myth along with those who have emigrated to County Mayo from afar – or, if you’re very lucky, a sighting of one such swan. 

  • Location: County Mayo
  • Insider Tip: This part of Mayo is extremely remote, so bring all necessary tools of communication, weather-resistant clothing, and any emergency equipment you may need.

14. Inishbofin Loop

hiking in Ireland

While astonishingly beautiful, the Inishbofin Loop also played a crucial part in history. Once ruled by Grace O’Malley (popularly called a pirate queen), this is a place steeped in lore, tradition, and history. The last location to crumple under Oliver Cromwell’s iron rule, the shoreline castle once belonging to the O’Malley family became the site of Cromwell’s (now ruined) barracks. The site can still be explored today. 

The island offers several loop walks. These are fairly short, so doing several in one day is common. Each offers something a little different along the way, including Iron & Bronze age structures, ancient churches, and unparalleled views of nearby islands.

  • Location: Inishbofin, County Galway
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance = 5.5 km//Elevation Gain = 83 meters
  • Insider Tip: Check out hotel schedules ahead of time to catch shows of traditional Irish music.

15. The Gap of Dunloe

hiking in Ireland

The Gap of Dunloe is pretty much what it sounds like, but way cooler, and the reason why it’s featured on our list of best hikes in Ireland. A narrow glacier pass forged between two mountains (Purple Mountain and Macgillycuddy Reeks), the pathway that runs through the pass takes you through stunning scenery, including not one but five lakes. There is even a “Wishing Bridge,” where wishes made are said always to come true.

Since the area was one of the last places in Ireland to adopt electricity usage, it maintains many of its quaint pre-technology ways – including jaunting cars (otherwise known as horse-drawn carriages)

  • Location: County Kerry
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance = 21.9 km//Elevation Gain = 591 meters
  • Insider Tip: The spot where the hike begins, Kate Kearney’s Cottage, is also a great place to stay if you plan to stick around for a few days. Bonus: the in-house restaurant makes a mean Bailey’s cheesecake.

Enjoying the Galway Oyster Festival

Quick Ireland Travel Tips

  • ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Gaelic: “Dia dhuit” and “Go raibh maith agat”
  • Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
  • Visa: The Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland are separate countries on the island of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland known as ‘Ireland’ grants 90-day visas. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom also grants 90 days.
  • Weather: Expect lots of weather! Ireland is known for having rapid shifts in and lots of rain – it’s only the only reason a country like Ireland remains so green and fertile. See our full packing list here.
  • When is the best time to go hiking in Ireland? Ireland is a fantastic country to visit year round. Though you’ll find crowds during the summer. My favorite time to visit Ireland is in September when the weather is cool and the crowds are low. Plus it’s when the famous Galway Oyster Festival happens!
hiking in Ireland

When is the Best Time to Hike in Ireland?

If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Ireland for good weather is – it’s summer. You stand your best chance of good weather and good conditions for hiking in Ireland between July and early September. Temperatures range from 15°C-21°C.

You’ll find locals enjoying the sunny weather and festivals in the countryside and the city. It’s the perfect time to enjoy a pint of Guinness outside and watch life go by! Read more about the best time to visit Ireland.


hiking in Ireland

Hiking in Ireland Tours

It’s completely understandable if you don’t feel comfortable hiking in Ireland alone. There are many day tour options that will take you on a guided and safe hike in Ireland.

Get Your Guide ToursViator Tours


What to Pack for a Hiking Trip to Ireland


Packable Rain Jacket - Arcteryx Women’s Beta SL Gore-Tex Jacket
Rain Jacket

It should go without saying that the weather in Ireland can be a bit rainy, a packable rain jacket is super important. My favorite rain jackets are made by Arc’teryx.

BackcountryREI


Italy Packing List - Wool Sweater
Sweater

The fleece sweater is a perfect layer when combined with an outer shell to keep you warm. We purchased wool sweaters from independent retailers in Ireland, and good ones were fairly easy to find for a decent price. For those with less time a little bit of online shopping for wool sweaters will suffice. Start here!

Sweaters!


Best Travel Pants - Outdoor Research Ferossi
Hiking Pants
Technical pants like these are water resistant and dry quickly, not to mention they’re comfortable on long walks. These pants can be pretty ugly, but if you’re serious about exploring and hiking in Ireland I would suggest picking up a pair.

Women’s| Men’s


Boots

It’s wet in Ireland and you can expect a lot of boggy weather year round so packing a pair of good waterproof boots for hikes is crucial for protecting your feet. Good Boots or hiking shoes for Ireland are essential. You can see our guide to the best lightweight hiking shoes here.

Women’s| Men’s


Lifestraw Go Water Bottle
Travel Water Bottle

Plastic pollution is a problem everywhere so it’s best not to contribute to the problem by buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps in Ireland is perfectly safe to drink.

We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well. However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottles for travel in our post.

Waterbottles


Hikes in Ireland
Travel Insurance

We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.

SafetyWing is perfect for digital nomads. See our full review here!


travel adaptor
Adapter

Remember that Ireland uses the three-prong British plug. Make sure you have a universal travel adaptor like we have before landing!

Adapter

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About the Author

Natasha

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Natasha is a five-foot blonde that believes she was made short so she could fit in air, train, car, and bus seats comfortably. She believes in watching every single movie nominated for an Oscar and loves all animals. Natasha has a passion for environmentally friendly and sustainable travel. Natasha recently made a move to Canada and resides near Banff National Park in Alberta and loves new adventures in the mountains. Natasha's favorite countries are Italy, Iceland, Greece, Japan, Mozambique, and South Africa.

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