Hiking in Ireland was one of my favorite things to do while living in Ireland, and this guide overviews the country’s best trails!
Every Ireland itinerary should include at least one good hike. This article features destinations in many regions, from craggy mountains to verdant forests and rugged coastlines. I also share Ireland hikes for every skill level, plus hidden gems and local insights that you won’t want to miss!
Table of Contents
- 13 Best Hikes in Ireland
- FAQs About Hiking in Ireland
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13 Best Hikes in Ireland
The Spinc Loop
The Spinc Loop hike offers some of the best views in the Wicklow Mountains.
Wicklow Mountains National Park outside the Dublin city limits is one of the best places to start your Ireland hiking expedition. The Spinc is a ridge overlooking the Glendalough Valley and the best of the many trails here, having excellent views of the valley.
Trails in the Glendalough area also go by color names, with the trail to the Spinc being the White Route. The trail has a moderate difficulty rating, with a few steep or tricky paths along a generally easy walking trail.
The trail is part of the larger Wicklow Way, which spans 82 miles in all. Ireland is home to several long-distance trails, known as “Ways.”
Most travelers will not have time to hike the entirety of a given Way, but each Way has plenty of shorter segments that can fit into anyone’s schedule. In this case, a day trip to Glendalough is a great way to get some fresh air after a few days in Dublin.
Giant’s Causeway – Blue Trail
The Blue Trail at Giant’s Causeway is an easy hike along the most famous stretch of the Antrim Coastline.
Northern Ireland has one of the most legendary locations in all Eire: the Giant’s Causeway. The Blue Trail is one of the best walking trails. Most hikers walk it in about 1.5 hours.
This trail is one segment of the larger Causeway Coast Way which spans the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Other attractions on the Causeway Coast Way include the iconic Dunluce Castle.
You need to pay for entry if parking at the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre. Start from Portballintrae or Dunseverick Castle if you’d rather save a little money and walk a bit more. Both options will add about 2-3 miles to your trek, but the route from Dunserverick is considered challenging.
👉 Pro Tip: You don’t need to go through customs when traveling from Ireland to Northern Ireland, even though they are two different countries. Check out Nate’s article “17 Ireland Travel Tips You Need to Know” for more advice on traveling in Ireland.
Cuilcagh Mountain (the Stairway to Heaven)
Cuilcagh Mountain rises out of the blanket bog near Enniskillen to some of the most stunning views in Northern Ireland.
Near the town of Enniskillen stands another of Northern Ireland’s best hikes. The trail begins with a boardwalk spanning the local blanket bog but quickly climbs the 2,185-foot Cuilcagh Mountain. The trail got its name from a viral photo showing the staircase winding its way up the mountain (not as a direct Led Zeppelin reference).
The trail rates are as difficult because 450 stairs is a lot for anyone but the fittest, though they make it a little easier to climb the mountain! The views from the top are heavenly — pardon the pun.
One caveat: dogs are not allowed on the trail because part of the route passes a local farm with flocks of sheep. Sheep startle easily, even at the most docile of dogs, so pooches are prohibited out of respect for the locals and their business.
Errigal is an epic day hike in the northwest of the Republic of Ireland with incredible views at the top.
🥾 Difficult | 4.6 miles | Google Maps | 70-minute drive from Derry | Cost: free
Errigal stands at 2,464’ tall, the highest and southernmost peak of the local Seven Sisters Range in County Donegal. The mountain acquired the distinction of “Ireland’s Most Iconic Mountain.” One look at it shows why. Its appearance changes depending on which direction you look at it from, a unique feature of the mountain.
The ascent is more on the difficult side. Some parts need a little mountaineering know-how, but the mountain remains far from the “Expert” tier. Errigal is one of the most popular hikes in Ireland, especially in summer, so you may find the local car parks crowded if you arrive later in the day.
Croagh Patrick in western Ireland has deep connections to Ireland’s past.
🥾 Difficult | 4.3 miles | Google Maps | 10-minute drive from Westport | Cost: € 3 parking
Croagh Patrick is not a casual climb. The hike is steep and the scree (loose rocks) towards the top makes for slow going. A rolled ankle is the last thing you want here! The sense of accomplishment from reaching the top is well worth the trouble, though, even if the Irish weather doesn’t allow for the best of views.
A massive pilgrimage in honor of St. Patrick takes place on the last Sunday in July. Some years have seen more than 20,000 climbers! This may be the best time for a climb if you don’t mind crowds and want to make some new friends. You don’t have to be Catholic to participate, and many people come more for the ascent itself than religious reasons.
📚 Related Reading: You should be fine if using common sense when climbing Ireland’s mountains, but extra peace of mind never hurts. Check out Nate’s article on Ireland travel insurance to see what coverage works best for your trip!
Lower and Upper Diamond Hill Loop
Diamond Hill has one of Ireland’s best combinations of ease and epic views.
Diamond Hill is one of the best hikes in County Galway in the west of Ireland. The mountain is part of the Twelve Bens Range, a series of mountain peaks in Connemara National Park.
The mountain is easy to get to, being an hour and a half northwest of Galway. The ascent is moderately difficult, but most hikers manage it well with proper pacing.
The iconic Kylemore Abbey sits at the foot of Diamond Hill, and Connemara National Park also has many other hiking and walking trails. Though, the Diamond Hill Loop is the most popular, having the best views of the surrounding countryside from the peak of the mountain.
Cliffs of Moher – Doolin
These iconic cliffs on Ireland’s west coast make for one of the most memorable walks in the country.
County Clare is just south of County Galway and has excellent hiking trails. One of them is a part of the larger Wild Atlantic Way and traces its way along the famous Cliffs of Moher. This stunning hike begins outside the village of Doolin. The trail is not too difficult, being mostly even and not changing elevation too much.
The sheer cliffs plunging into the Atlantic Ocean make the hike remarkably beautiful, but also potentially more dangerous than other entries on this list. It’s best to ignore the temptation to get a “better view” off the path and closer to the edge.
🎻 Love Irish Music? Doolin carries a lot of weight in the traditional music scene, even if the best pubs in Dublin have fine trad sessions and garner more attention. Stop for a spell at one of the local pubs and see why this tiny town calls itself “the home of traditional music.”
Mullaghmore Loop – Blue Route
Step into another world in this rocky landscape north of the Cliffs of Moher.
About 10 miles north of the Cliffs of Moher lies another of the highlights of County Clare. The area known as “The Burren” exchanges the typical rolling green fields of Ireland for a barren, craggy landscape of glacial karst. There are steep ascents and descents, and much of the trail is over the rocky, uneven karst.
The otherworldly feeling makes up for the difficulty of the irregular terrain of the Burren. Wildflowers bloom in the narrow cracks between the rock slabs in spring and summer, one of the best times to visit Ireland. They add a little color and cheer to the solemn landscape.
Rosenalis and Glenbarrow Loop
This trail in the Slieve Bloom Mountains of County Laois takes you deep into Ireland’s enchanting forests.
🥾 Moderate | 5.5 miles | Google Maps | 1 hour 45 minutes from Dublin | Cost: free
Many consider this the best trail in the scenic Slieve Bloom Mountains southwest of Dublin in County Laois. The trail winds its way through lush forests, past waterfalls, and low hills. It’s far from a strenuous hike, but is long enough and has enough rough, steep spots to make it more of a moderate trail.
It’s a great place to go if you want a walk in the woods, especially in fall when the leaves begin to turn. Ireland may be known for its green, but it also boasts some magnificent fall colors.
The tallest mountain in the country draws the most adventurous, challenge-driven hikers.
🥾 Difficult | 7.3 miles | Google Maps | 1.5-hour drive from Cork | Cost: free
This mountain near Killarney National Park is a must for any alpine enthusiast. It’s the tallest mountain in Ireland (3,406’) and is considered one of the most challenging. The ascent is steep but straightforward. The descent, though, is where things get tricky.
The Devil’s Ladder Loop trail takes you back down the mountain via a narrow route over loose rocks. Only experienced and properly-equipped hikers are advised to take this route. For everyone else, it’s much easier to return via the same path you came up the mountain. The weather can change quickly, too, with Ireland’s frequent fog rolling in and reducing visibility.
Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop
The Sheep’s Head Lighthouse trail is a short but scenic highlight of the southwestern corner of the country.
The Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop is part of a much longer trail, like many entries on this list — in this case, the Sheep’s Head Way. The trail to the lighthouse is a great way to see some of the best of this route without hoofing it the whole 57+ miles!
The hike is short, but moderately difficult with a few steep and narrow spots. The views looking out over the Atlantic Ocean from the lighthouse are spectacular, especially around sunset on a clear day. Many hikers consider this short but sweet walking trail to be one of the best in Ireland’s southwestern County Cork.
Ballycotton Cliff Walk
The cliffs at Ballycotton are an easy, enjoyable walk for any level of hiker.
The Ballycotton Cliff Walk is one of the best hikes in County Cork, along with the Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop. It’s an easier route, too, though its location on the coast doesn’t guarantee the best of weather. There are several stiles to cross, so biking or bringing a stroller may not be the best option.
Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins in the waters below in the early summer months. The trail lies about 25 miles southeast of Cork, making it easy to get to and from. What better way to wind down the day than with a walk along the coast followed by a pint or two back in town?
One of the most challenging, yet epic hikes in Ireland stands just outside the city of Waterford.
🥾 Difficult | 4.9 miles | Google Maps | 35-minute drive from Waterford | Cost: free
The final entry on our list ranks as another of the most challenging. It is a steep climb and narrow, too. Hikers are strongly recommended to have previous experience with similar ascents before attempting Coumshingaun.
Still, few places in Ireland can rival the views from the top here. Even a partial ascent on a foggy day (pictured above) leaves you with an unforgettable beauty that maybe only Ireland can present to you. Be sure to bring good hiking boots and a jacket — it gets windy at the summit!
FAQs About Hiking in Ireland
Does Ireland have good hiking?
What is the best month to hike in Ireland?
September is the best month to hike in Ireland. The weather is still warm and, generally, dry. It’s outside the peak tourism season, so trails will not be as crowded as in summer. Fall colors also start to appear, and are especially pretty on the Rosenalis and Glenbarrow Loop and Lower and Upper Diamond Hill Loop.
Thanks for reading my guide to hiking in Ireland! Check out my article on renting a car from Dublin Airport next in order to easily access these trailheads.
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