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Hiking In Ireland – Your Guide To The 15 Best Hikes

Updated on March 26, 2021

Although famous for its rain, Ireland boasts a mild climate, so hiking here any time of the year packs its own wonders.

The natural beauty of Ireland has been illustrated from ancient folklore to the epic scenery in famous films like Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Best Hikes in Ireland

With 44 long long-distance trails in Ireland, five major pilgrimage paths, and a multitude of short half- and one-day trekking trips, choosing a hike in Ireland can be daunting.

So here is an easier list of the best hikes in Ireland.

Ireland’s Day Hikes

1. The Divis Ridge Way

On a clear day, this easy 6.8 km dog-friendly hike in Northern Ireland provides great views of Belfast and the west coast of Scotland.

Divis Ridge ireland hikes

The Divis Ridge Way is the easiest of four trails on the main Divis Trail. It is the perfect option for those seeking a longer trekking tour with spectacular views.

It is moderately easy, so great for beginners.

Along the flat and obstacle-free 4.2 miles of the hike, you’ll walk on tarmac, boardwalk and stone pitched gravel, as well as cross a few stiles.

Divis Ridge Way offers a panoramic 180-degree view of Belfast with glimpses of Scotland and the Isle of Man. From the trail, you’ll also be able to admire the view of the magnificent Mourne Mountains.

2. The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Ridge Walk

This very strenuous, 26km (16 miles), 12-14 hour trail traverses the entire Reeks Ridge located in southwestern Ireland and includes climbing the highest mountain in Ireland, Carrauntoohil.

MacGillycuddy Reeks Ridge Ireland

This Kerry trek leads you on a scenic country route towards the local town of Killarney (pronounced as keh-LAR-nee), believed to be favored by loads of tourists and magical creatures alike.

The Reeks is privately owned and is the highest mountain range on the island, with 8 out of 10 ~1,000 m peaks in Ireland.

TIP: At 1,038.6 m (3,407 ft), Carrauntoohil is the highest summit in Ireland, it is visited by thousands of people every year, so plan well in advance and head out early to avoid the crowds.

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3. The Bog of Frogs Trail Walk in Howth

This easy, half-day 12 km (7.5 miles) hike allows you to explore an ancient village with views of the Bay of Dublin. Reward yourself with an after-hike meal at a nice local restaurant.

howth ireland Bog of Frogs Trail

The walk takes you through Howth, the place so ancient it is featured even in Irish mythology.

With its views of the Bay of Dublin and Lambay Island, the trail in Howth can offer some wildlife encounters, as well as quite a variety of activities around the hike, including golf and visits to affluent restaurants.

With many ravens, wagtails, and swallows to spot on the trail, this is a great hiking tour for bird-lovers. Often, trekkers can spot grey seals on the coast.

TIP: It is a popular hike so head out early and make sure to book lunch at a pub in advance.

4. The Torc Mountain Waterfall

This moderate 2-hour loop hike in the southwest of Ireland is popular for the views of the grand Torc Waterfall and the views of the Killarney National Park, as well as some wildlife sightings.

Torc Mountain Waterfall

This Kerry trail is an easier option for novice hikers, offering encounters with waterfalls and the stunning views of the first national park in Ireland, Killarney.

Although Ireland doesn’t have a huge variety of species of animals, it does offer wonderful trips around its woodlands. This park is renowned for its rare yew woodlands and numerous wildlife.

TIP: To avoid the crowds, head out early. Although the weather might be wetter in early Fall, it’s worth considering a hike then as the woodlands will be changing colors and can offer wonderful picture opportunities.

5. The Muckross Abbey

Located in Killarney National Park, South West of Ireland, this easy 3.5km park hike, is great for spotting wildlife with children among the stunning woodlands.

Muckross Abbey ireland hikes

Walkthrough the most spectacular parts of Killarney Park famous for its multiple northern wildlife, including Red and Japanese sika deer, and gorgeous rare yew woodlands.

Leave some time to wander around the remains of the 15th-century abbey, which had to be reconstructed many times due to its violent history.

TIP: The entire hike should take you about 4 hours, so kids could enjoy this lovely adventure also.

6. The Gap of Dunloe

Located in Killarney National Park, the route is a 10-mile round trip that begins and ends at Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

Killarney National Park Gap of Dunloe

The 25,000-year-old passage literally divides two mighty mountain ranges: the MacGillycuddy’s and the Purple Mountain Group.

The mountain ranges offer many well-known tracks, especially the 2-hour there and back trek from Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a 150-year-old family Irish restaurant to the full Head of the Gap.

The reasonably strenuous hike can take more than five hours depending on what trail you choose.

However, it will be worth your while when you find yourself overlooking an awe-inspiring landscape that is dotted with a charming family of lakes and imposing mountain peaks.

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7. The Hare’s Gap

This strenuous 3.4km (2.1 miles) one-way hike takes under 3 hours to complete and allows you to explore boulder fields, glacial cliffs, and a breathtaking route through a passage in the Mourne Mountains.

Slieve Donard mourne mountains

The Hare’s Gap is located in the Mourne Mountains, South East of Northern Ireland, and is considered the most characterful mountain pass in the area.

Historically, it marked the exit point for smuggled goods from the coast. But today is a central point for grand views of the Brandy Pad.

This granite mountain range has the highest mountains in Northern Ireland, the highest of which is Slieve Donard at 850 m (2,790 ft). The mountains have a few peaks over 700 m, including Slieve Commedagh, Slieve Binnian, and Slieve Bearnagh, which are worth visiting.

Rough rocky paths that aren’t leveled make it a strenuous and steep hike.

Impressive boulder fields line the path with glacial cliffs and amazing mountain views.

Another great perk of this hike is that it is dog-friendly.

TIP: Once you get to the pass you can decide to continue to the other mountain peaks or turn back.

8. The Diamond Hill

This popular, 2-hour moderate loop trip is located near Letterfrack village in Eastern Ireland and is famous for its wildlife spotting and great summit and valley views.

Kylemore Abbey ireland diamond trail

On this 7.2 km-hike through Connemara National Park expect to enjoy great views of Kylemore Abbey’s turrets and the Twelve Bens that is a quartz-filled mountain range from the 400m summit of Dimond Hill.

From the top of Dimond Hill summit, you can also see the grand Twelve Bens, Mweelrea and Tully Mountains.

You will see the vastness of Connemara’s coastline with the views of the unspoiled islands and Ballynakill Harbour.

TIP: Although suitable for beginners it requires some steep walking, so train accordingly.

9. Devil’s Ladder to Carrauntoohil Summit

This 12.7 km 6-7 hour touristy, but difficult loop walk in the South West of Ireland features a crossing of the Gaddagh Riverlake.

Gaddagh River hiking in ireland

As the ladder is almost completely gone, the trek requires scrambling on wobbly rock.

The crossing of the stunning Gaddagh River is via the big stepping stones, so be careful.

TIP: Best hiking experience is from April until September when the weather is at its best. On the mountain, leave bigger gaps between you and other trekkers to avoid getting hit by a rock on the ladder section.

10. Croagh Patrick Path

This popular, but strenuous 4.4-mile path located near Newport, in Eastern Ireland, takes you on the Croagh Patrick Pilgrim Trail that features a river.

Croagh Patrick Path

Although the trail takes 3.5 hours of hard walking on very rocky terrain, the views from the Croagh Patrick summit are magnificent and more than worth the effort.

TIP: The weather can change here very unpredictably, so layer up and be prepared for a cloudy and potentially foggy day.

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11. The Coomloughra Horseshoe

This very strenuous, 15 km, 6-8 hour loop hike in the South West of Ireland, takes you to to the summit of Carrauntoohil and other high peaks along the way.

Carrauntoohil

One of Ireland’s classic ridge treks, Horseshoe is usually completed clockwise.

But before summiting Ireland’s highest mountain, you’ll be tested on other peaks along the way, including Skregmore at 848 m (2,782 ft), Beenkeragh at 1,008 m (3,307 ft), and the Bones at 956 m (3,136 ft).

To finish the trek you will still need to get to the tops of Caher 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and Caher West Top 973 m (3,192 ft), before descending right where you began.

TIP: Train well before attempting this trek.

Ireland’s Long Distance Hikes

12. The Dingle Way on the Dingle Peninsula

Located in southwestern Ireland, this moderate long-distance village-to-village trail takes 8-9 days to complete and offers the best cliff and picturesque town views.

Dingle Way Bay Hiking in Ireland

At 179km (111 miles) long, the tour is one of Ireland’s longest and best hikes, listed as the National Waymarked Trail. It spans the shoreline of the Dingle Peninsula with stunning cliffs.

The loop adventure begins and ends in the town of Tralee.

Along the way, you will encounter some of the finest archaeological sites and the incredible diversity of the different landscapes.

The Dingle Way is a well-serviced trail that passes through the center of many lovely towns, so you are never far from refreshments and rest.

TIP: The trail is easy to moderate except it can become difficult at the foot of Mount Brendon due to poor weather conditions and visibility. Consider skipping it, by using alternative transport to get you through this portion of the trail.

13. The Causeway Coast Way

Located in the Northern Ireland, this moderate hike has inspired the magic of the Chronicles of Narnia. It stretches along 53 km (33 miles) and passes the legendary Giant’s Causeway and offers views of the cliffs.

Giant Causeway Coast Way Hike Best Hikes in Ireland

Although it is Ireland’s most famous hike, it is moderately difficult.

On the trail, you’ll pass a celebrated stretch of coastline and see some historical landmarks including the famous Giant’s Causeway and the Dunluce Castle.

The Giant’s Causeway is an unbelievable natural rock formation of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is featured in the Game of Thrones.

The trail features stunning coastal cliffs, secluded beaches, and picturesque harbors. These mystical rolling hills inspired the enchanting Chronicles of Narnia.

TIP: Download the map (here) and check road closures before starting the trek.

TIP: Don’t forget to read about the legend of the Giant’s Causeway formation – one of Ireland’s best myths.

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14. The Kerry Way

This strenuous 8-9 day, 214 km long circular trail in the southwest of Ireland, is known for its lush green terrain and quaint Irish pubs.

kerry way ireland

There are over 133 miles of hiking trail on the Way

En route, you’ll get to enjoy views of rolling emerald country fields hugging a rocky coast of the wild Atlantic ocean.

Get your camera ready, as these green fields are so vivid in color that they bear the name to their very own shade – the Kerry Green. It’s easy to see why Ireland (St Patrick’s Day) is affiliated with green.

Plan your trek well ahead to stop for meals (and a pint) at some of the quintessential Irish pubs along the way, as well as sleep in comfortable inns.

TIP: Combine the trek with a drive around the Ring of Kerry on the edges of the Iveragh Peninsula for a family or more relaxing nature experience.

15. The Wicklow Way

This 135 km moderate route in eastern Ireland takes over a week to complete and is known as the Garden of Ireland for its lakes, creeks, and glacier valleys.

Wicklow Mountains

The Wicklow Way is 83-miles long and takes you through the Wicklow Mountains right up to Dublin City’s suburbs. It is a great way for city dwellers to explore the beautiful Irish countryside’s beauty without having to travel too far.

Although one of the star trails, Wicklow Way is a long-distance self-guided well-marked trail that should take about 7+ days to complete and is moderately difficult.

The hike takes you through the Wicklow Mountains, known as Dublin Mountain, upland lakes, steep-sided glacial valleys, fast-flowing mountain streams, forests, and beautiful farmland.

TIP: The Glendalough Valley is one of the highlights of the route for both its cultural importance and natural beauty. Before your tour, read up on Glendalough, a 6th-century monastic settlement featuring beautiful lakes and the experience will certainly be worth the trek.

Irish Hikes (FAQ)

Which country – Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland – is best for hiking?

Both countries offer fantastic hikes. We’re big fans of the hikes in the southwest of Ireland, like the Kerry Way and the Dingle Way. But equally the hikes along the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland are also amazing.

How long does it take to walk around Ireland?

There is 6226 km (3868 miles) of coastline around Ireland. Technically it is possible to walk around Ireland, although many sections will require walking inland. We estimate it would take someone 2-6 months to complete, depending on the route chosen and the speed at which they walked. There is a route known as The Ireland Way that cuts through the middle of the island from West Cork to the Giant’s Causeway.

Where can I go hiking in Dublin?

There are many day hikes just outside Dublin. We recommend the Wicklow Way, which consists of a series of trails through the Wicklow Mountains, just south of Dublin.

What is the highest mountain in Ireland?

Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland. Its elevation is 1,038 meters (3,407 feet). Situated in the Reek’s District in Country Kerry, the mountain can be hiked in one day as part of the Coomloughra Horseshoe trek.

About the author

Mila has been to 5 continents, visited over 40 countries and hiked across some of the most famous mountain ranges including the Andes and the Atlas Mountains. As an AMS sufferer she learned a few techniques to reduce the symptoms and the effects on her hiking adventures.

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