19 HIKES IN IRELAND YOU’LL NEVER FORGET
Ireland is one of the top destinations in the world for a hiking vacation. Between its rugged coastline, lovely loughs and mountain top vistas, there are walks for every hiker across more than thirty counties. Whether you’re looking for a strenuous uphill challenge, or a short walk to stretch the legs, there’s always somewhere amazing on your doorstep. Here are 19 beautiful hikes in Ireland that you’ll never forget…
1. CAUSEWAY COAST WALK, CO ANTRIM
One of the most famous walks in Ireland is the Causeway Coast Way. Located in the province of Ulster, it’s a popular attraction for anyone visiting Northern Ireland. For the average person, it can take 2 to 3 days to complete the entire stretch, which links the two charming towns of Ballycastle and Portstewart. On the way, you will see the Giant’s Causeway, which is of course the main draw of this hike. As well as other popular landmarks, like the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle.
For great food and drink, you won’t be disappointed with the selection of cafes and pubs in passing villages such as Dunseverick and Ballintoy. Or for some fine whiskey tasting, take a little detour to Bushmills Distillery after Portballintrae.
2. CRONIN’S YARD LOOP, CO KERRY
This stunning Irish trail journeys to the highest peak in the country. Follow the path up Carrauntoohil Mountain, which stands at over 1,038 meters. The hike itself has an elevation of 200 meters, and the estimated time is around 2 hours and 15 minutes. Cronin Yard’s Loop is considered to be moderately difficult, with some points featuring tricky terrain. So factor in a bit of extra time if you’re not an experienced mountain walker.
There are some nice lakes along the way, and you’ll find some fantastic pubs and restaurants at nearby Killarney.
Featured castle stay: Churchtown House in Beaufort, located 14 minutes away by car.
3. HARE’S GAP, CO DOWN
For hikers who are looking for a challenge on their next walking vacation, we recommend exploring the Mourne Mountains. Hare’s Gap is considered to be so difficult and off the beaten track, that it was once used by smugglers to transport goods without getting detected.
The track itself has much diversity, so be prepared for the changing terrain. There are easier routes or steep climbs – it’s entirely up to you. But whatever you do, the scenery promises to be marvelous.
4. GLENGARRA WOODS, CO TIPPERARY
The great thing about Tipperary is the choice of walks that are suitable for families. So if you’re planning an Irish walking vacation with the kids, this is a great region to visit. In Glengarra Woods, you will find two looped walks to choose from. The Red Loop ventures onto the southern slopes of the Galtee Mountains, and is extremely popular with little hikers and families in search of a scenic picnic spot. Whilst the Green Loop provides a bit more of a challenge along a forest path, with amazing varieties in trees, shrubs and wildlife.
The Red Loop is a manageable 30 minutes, and the Green Loop will take between 2 and 2.5 hours to complete.
5. SLI SLEITBHE (GOUGANE BARRA), CO CORK
There are six marked trails in Gougane Barra National Forest Park, and Sli Sleitbhe is the longest and hardest one. It’s also the most thrilling, with winding forest, dramatic mountains, and lovely lakes and rivers. The 1.5 mile hike takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete, and you should be prepared for it to test your mental and physical strength at times. Still, the trail is relatively short so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rest of the Cork area.
Featured castle stay: Ballynatray Country House, located 1 hour 40 minutes away.
6. DIAMOND HILL, CO GALWAY
Make your way to the breathtakingly beautiful Connemara National Park, one of the finest destinations for a hiking vacation in Ireland. The Diamond Hill route takes you on the Sruffaunboy Nature Trail and ends at the summit ridge with amazing views of the coastline. From the top, you’ll be able to see the neighboring islands of Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark. And when you come back down, you’ll find some wonderful dining spots by the water.
Featured castle stay: Lough Cutra Castle, located 2 hours away by car.
7. THE GAP OF DUNLOE, CO KERRY
Another fantastic walk in Kerry is The Gap of Dunloe, at Killarney National Park. This 15 mile loop starts and ends at the well-known cottage of Kate Kearney, an old family-run Irish pub and restaurant that has been around for over a century. So hungry hikers will be able to refuel after a strenuous walk.
Due to the moderate difficulty of the landscape, you can expect it take longer than 2 hours so set off early to make it back for lunch. The mountain views will take your breath away, and the string of lakes are just as impressive.
Featured castle stay: Churchtown House in Beaufort, less than 10 minutes away.
8. COUMSHINGAUN LOOP, CO WATERFORD
This 5 mile hiking route takes you around the Coumshingaun Corrie Lake and the surrounding mountain range. It’s a moderate trail where there are some great rock climbs to be had, and there are plenty of amazing vantage points to take in the vistas.
The seaport city of Waterford is nearby, and so is the gorgeous historic town of Cashel. Both are worth visiting during your time in the region, and both offer excellent sightseeing as well as top food and drink.
Featured castle stay: Lismore Castle, which is just 38 minutes away.
9. DIVIS RIDGE TRAIL, CO ANTRIM
A gentle 4 mile hike that’s relatively easy, even for beginners and young walkers. This circular route takes in the Mourne Mountains from the heights of the Belfast Hills. What’s really fantastic about this particular trail is its proximity to the Northern Irish capital, making it the perfect spot for a vacation with a mix of both city and outdoors.
With an elevation of 478 meters, it’s the tallest point overlooking Belfast and comes complete with Ireland’s highest coffee house when you get to the top.
10. THE BOG OF FROGS TRAIL, CO DUBLIN
From the stunning seaside village of Howth, you can take the Bogs of Frogs hike which offers excellent views of the Bay of Dublin, Lambay Island, Ireland’s Eye, Howth Castle, Martello Tower, and Baily Lighthouse.
It’s also a wonderful walk for those who are interested in spotting wildlife, with over 7 miles of opportunities to view birds such as swallows, ravens, wagtails, gulls and gannets. If you’re lucky, you may even see some grey seals in the water.
11. KILLINTHOMAS WOODS, CO KILDARE
Just a mile outside of Rathangan village is Killinthomas Wood, a beautiful hiking destination that’s never overcrowded. There’s over 6 miles of signposted trails inside these woods, but it’s a relatively undiscovered spot so you’ll feel like you’re off the beaten track.
A good time to visit is during spring when the bluebells are full bloom. The sea of blue is a truly unforgettable sight. The woods are also just as wonderful in the fall when the leaves begin to turn a deep golden hue.
There are a number of long and short walks, all starting and finishing at the carpark.
Featured castle stay: Straffan House, located 45 minutes away by car.
12. LUGNAQUILLA, CO WICKLOW
Lugnaquilla is the highest peak in the Wicklow Mountains, and the highest in Ireland outside of County Kerry. It stands at 925 meters, with a summit plateau that can be somewhat challenging when the weather is bad. So the best time to hike the Lug is during late spring and summer if you want the best terrain and optimal visibility.
Beware that there are no marked routes and the entire walk covers 6-10 miles, and can take you anywhere between 5 and 8 hours depending on which way you go. The views will be worth it though, and on a clear day you may be able to see Snowdonia in the distance.
13. CLIFFS OF MOHER CLIFF WALK, CO CLARE
The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions, and a must for anyone staying along the western coast. The route is over 10 miles long and will take approximately 5.5 hours to finish. You’ll be rewarded with mind-blowing ocean views, with crashing waves against the dramatic cliff drops.
Nearby villages of Doolin, Liscanoor and Lahinch are all worth a visit, and are perfect for refueling with fish and chips or finding a traditional pub to cozy up in.
14. CASTLE ARCHDALE FOREST WALK, CO FERMANAGH
Looking for an easy walk that’s suitable for the whole family during your Irish vacation? This comfortable route through Castle Archdale Forest will take you back in time along a World War II bay and through a coniferous forest area.
Start at the Forest Service Car Park near the old Castle Archdale. It’s 3.5 miles in total, and is a gentle circular that can be completed in less than 2 hours.
Featured castle stay: Crom Castle in Enniskillen is a 50 minute drive from this walk.
15. LOUGH NAVAR MAGHO CLIFFS, CO FERMANAGH
Another amazing hike that you’ll never forget in County Fermanagh is the Lough Navar Magho Cliffs. It’s a demanding trek that can only be done with the right walking gear and decent footwear – but it’s worth it for the viewpoint on the clifftop. The walk begins with a steep climb up almost 400 steps and on the clearest days, you’ll be able to see as far as southwest Donegal.
Don’t worry if you need a rest on the way up, as there are benches to sit and enjoy views of the magical woodland.
Featured castle stay: Belle Isle Estate in Lisbellaw is 50 minutes away by car.
16. MULLAGHMEEN WHITE WALK, CO WESTMEATH
This is a looped walk that starts at the Hammondstown car park area of the Mullaghmeen Forest. Follow the route through the biggest and most beautiful forest of beech trees in the whole of Ireland, pass through the famine fields and walk through the famine garden, see woodland flowers in bloom during the spring, or golden hues of the trees in autumn. No matter what time of year you take this hike, we assure you that the views are the sort of views you’ll remember forever.
The Mullaghmeen White Walk is dog-friendly too, and will take you around 2 hours to complete.
Featured castle stay: Ballinlough Castle near Clonmellon, located just over 30 minutes away. Email us for more information.
17. MOUNT ERRIGAL, CO DONEGAL
One of the best hikes in Glenveagh National Park and along the famous Causeway Coastal Route is Mount Errigal. The peak, which is over 750 meters, dominates much of the region’s landscape and is the tallest mountain in Co Donegal. The walk here is pretty rugged, so you’ll feel like you’re on an off the beaten path adventure. Journey through a bogland, vast moors, explore the wonderful castle, and enjoy scenic views along the lake shores.
18. OLD HEAD OF KINSALE LOOP WALK, CO CORK
For an easy walk with a nice beach and lovely pubs and cafés along the way, take the Old Head of Kinsale Loop Walk along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. It’s a gentle hike with coastal views, ideal for families and children, and will take around 1 to 2 hours.
This is also a great location to try traditional Irish fish and chips, and some of the freshest seafood dishes around.
Featured castle stay: Ballynatray Country House, located 1 hour 20 minutes away.
19) THE WICKLOW WAY, CO WICKLOW
The entire distance of The Wicklow Way is 78 miles. This is one of the first ever long distance trails in the country, and is one of the most popular with locals and tourists alike. For hiking enthusiasts and adventure vacations, it’s one of Ireland’s top destinations. But still, it never gets overcrowded so don’t let the tourism put you off.
Many walkers like to take on sections of the hiking route, and there are great views of mountains, upland lake, glacial valleys, forests, farmland, streams and more.