17 of the Best Hikes in Ireland
Ireland is one of the happiest and healthiest places to live in the world. Could it be the craic that keeps everyone’s going? Could it be the coast and countryside that soothe the soul? Or the long walks and fresh air with the great outdoors on the nation’s doorstop? There are over 2,500 miles of waymarked trails in Ireland, with breath-taking scenery at every step. It’s no wonder the Irish enjoy a good hike, and we think exploring on foot is the best way to take in those views (followed by pint of the ‘Black Stuff’ and some live music afterwards of course). Here are 17 of the best hikes to do when you’re next here.
Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare
Whether you’re booking a Zest tour or a Jewel tour, The Cliffs of Moher is a favourite with our tour groups. We love bringing our guests here, and the walks are just fantastic. You’ll never see views likes this anywhere else. Together with the dramatic cliff drop and the sound of crashing waves, we guarantee a hiking experience to remember.
It’s a popular tourist destination, but the best thing about hiking the Cliffs of Moher with us is that we know all the secret passages so we promise to take you off the beaten track.
Nearest towns / pubs: Liscannor is a small but lively village closeby, with the most pubs per person than anywhere else in Ireland. There’s also a great village called Doolin, with fantastic live music at Gus O’Connor’s Pub.
Related tours: Ultimate Tour, Grand Tour, Spectacular South & West Tour, South & West Skellig Michael Experience
Causeway Coast Way, Co Antrim
Another famous trail is the Causeway Coast Way, a long distance route stretching 33 miles long. For serious walkers, this is a great detour to add to your itinerary. The main highlights include the Giant’s Causeway (which is a wonderful sight to behold), and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge that suspends over the sea from the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede.
This is a linear route ending in Ballycastle, and the terrain varies between beach, rocky paths and road. It is best completed across two days, and there are car parks along different stretches of the walk if you want to break it up.
Nearest towns / pubs: Pop into Harry’s Shack at Portstewart for a seafood lunch, or find some of the best pubs along Quay Road after the marina in Ballycastle.
Related tours: Ultimate Tour
Diamond Hill, Co Galway
The Diamond Hill Walk is a looped walking route in the spectacular Connemara National Park. Taking you along the Sruffaunboy Nature Trail, you’ll get a chance to spot some wildlife before joining the winding uphill ascent. The summit ridge offers views of the Connemara coastline and the surrounding islands of Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark.
Nearest towns / pubs: The closest town is Letterfrack, where you will find the Connemara Visitor Centre, and some great places to eat and drink. Enjoy quality mussels and oysters at Veldons Seafarer, or go to Mollys Bar for a cosy pub atmosphere.
Benbulbin and Kings Mountain, Co Sligo
Do the Benbulbin and Kings Mountain Loop Walk for mind-blowing vistas from the top of a table mountain. Journeying across the distinctive Kings Mountain plateau this moderate-difficult hike takes you up over 400 metres and features vertical gullies, dramatic cliffs and amazing 360° views down below.
The walk itself, although strenuous at points, is nice and short so can be wrapped up in half a day, giving you plenty of time to have a craic in a nearby watering hole.
Nearest towns / pubs: Looking for somewhere to refuel? There’s not a great deal around, but we like Henrys Bar & Restaurant in Cashelgarran, or Moran’s Bar in Newtown a little further north.
Slieve Donard Walking Route, Co Down
It’s a relatively short walk at under 3 miles from the car park to the summit, but it can be quite a strain on those legs! Slieve Donard is 850 metres high, and the whole way is one long, straight incline. If you’re super fit and athletic, this won’t be a problem. But for those who aren’t used to hiking, regular breaks may be needed before you reach the top. Once you get there, of course the views will be worth the sweat. For the whole walk (up and back down again), give yourself a full 5 hours.
Nearest towns / pubs: The seaside resort town of Newcastle is less than 10 minutes away by car. For the best Irish pub grub and traditional dishes, try Quinns Bar.
Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo
Climb Ireland’s holiest mountain with our team on the Grand Zest Tour, where we’ll be spending the night in wonderful Westport the evening before. The mountain has religious significance dating back to the time of the pagans, and is also named in honour of Ireland’s Patron Saint.
Standing at 764 metres, with steep sections and uneven rocks, it’s fairly difficult – best left to the more daring or the experienced. You’ll need good fitness, good flexibility for climbing, and you’ll need to be okay with heights!
Nearest towns / pubs: There are three excellent spots to grab a bite and a well-deserved drink afterwards. Campbells at the Reek, The Tavern Bar & Restaurant, and Staunton’s Pub.
Related tours: Grand Tour (Zest)
Muckross Lake Loop Walk, Co Kerry
This moderate stroll through Killarney National Park is great for all levels of walkers. So if climbing Croagh Patrick isn’t your thing, something like the Muckross Lake Loop might be more suitable for your pace of holiday. There are lots of lovely walks in the park, but the one starting from Muckross House around the lake is a favourite, and beautifully scenic.
When you get to the wooded part of the walk, you’ll have a chance to spot Ireland’s only herd of wild red deer! The route is 9.3 miles long, taking most people between 3 to 4 hours to finish. If you want to extend it, why not take a detour to Torc Waterfall?
Nearest towns / pubs: By Muckross House is the Muckross Garden Restaurant, which is handy for grabbing a sandwich before or after your walk. Or for a post-walk pint and top fish and chips, head to Major Colgan’s.
The Wicklow Way, Co Wicklow
The Wicklow Way is a long distance trail spanning the Wicklow Mountains at 81 miles long, linking three counties. It begins at Marlay Park in Dublin and ends in Clonegal, Co Carlow. Despite being so close to the capital, it’s still relatively untouched, so many parts of this walk will feel like an off the beaten path adventure.
Most hikers will choose sections of the trail to tackle, and there’s a nice mix of parkland, forest, mountain landscapes and rolling countryside.
Nearest towns / pubs: Wicklow Way walkers love the hamlet of Stranakelly. The world-famous Dying Cow pub there is perfect for refuelling with quality home-cooked meals.
Connemara Way, Co Galway
Both long and short walks are available on the Connemara Way, so it all depends how active you want your tour of Ireland to be. Whether your hike here is brief or extensive, there’s no denying the national park’s extreme beauty. Many people agree that it’s the most beautiful place in the world, so a visit or a drive through here is needed at least.
Nearest towns / pubs: Break up your hike with top Irish pubs along the way. Kelly’s Bar & Restaurant in Oughterard is a favourite, and so is Gaynors Bar in the village of Leenane.
The Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary
Choose from a selection of different walks at The Glen of Aherlow, ranging from 1 mile to over 6 miles. We’ve picked this hiking location to add to our list because it’s family-friendly, and it’s suitable for walkers of all levels and abilities. This stunning glen is Tipperary’s most scenic holiday destination, with top amenities in the area and superb birdwatching for wildlife enthusiasts.
Nearest towns / pubs: The county is home to some of Ireland’s best pubs, including O’Ceallachain’s Bar in Carrick on Suir, TJ Ryan in Cashel, and Larkins in Garrykennedy. Tipperary Town also makes a good base when hiking in this area.
Mount Brandon, Dingle Peninsula
Here at Overland Ireland, we love the Dingle Peninsula. It features spellbinding views of the Atlantic, lovely bays and beaches, and has some of the best seafood and oysters in the world. It’s also a great district for hikers, and Mount Brandon is one of our all-time top climbs. The route is 5.5 miles and will take around 5 hours to finish. There’ll be 360 degree views at the top, overlooking Dingle Bay and the surrounding area.
Nearest towns / pubs: Dingle itself is perfect for shopping or grabbing some lunch. The fish and chips are second to none, and you won’t want to miss the fresh oysters at Out of the Blue by the harbour.
Related tours: Ultimate Tour, Grand Tour, Spectacular South & West Tour
Caherconree Mountain and Fort Walk, Dingle Peninsula
Another fantastic walk close to Dingle is the Caherconree Mountain and Fort Walk in Tralee. It’s a short and moderate route, journeying on the magical ancient trail to the stone fort and mountain top. From there, you’ll have great views of Tralee Bay and it’s particularly beautiful during a midsummer sunset.
The walk is approximately 7 miles long, and will take roughly 3 and half hours.
Nearest towns / pubs: For cosy drinks in Tralee, pop into Paddy Mac’s Pub or The Huddle Bar for good food and cocktails.
Dún Aenghus Looped Walk, Aran Islands
This remarkable walk is located on the largest islands of the Aran Islands, Inishmore. It takes in the stone fort of Dún Aenghus, the stunning Kilmurvey Beach, the Liam O’Flaherty Commemorative Garden, and a natural feature known as The Worm Hole.
This is a very short and easy walk, less than 3 miles in total, and will probably take around an hour for most groups (leaving plenty of time for photographs of course).
Nearest towns / pubs: Close to the beach, you’ll find a cosy little café called Teach Nan Phaidi. For bars and restaurants, head to the island’s main town, Kilronan.
Related tours: Ultimate Tour, Grand Tour, Wild West & North Tour
Burren Mullaghmore Loop, Co Clare
The loop trail around the summit of Mullaghmore Mountain in The Burren is serviced by a free National Park bus service during the summer season, and has some lovely views. It’s a 4 miles in length, but can take a few hours as the route can be challenging. The walk is upland and remote, crossing over vast open limestone areas and hiking along the edge of Lough Gealáin.
Please note that the terrain can be slippery when wet, so this walk is best suited for good weather days.
Nearest towns / pubs: For the best food in The Burren, we recommend Cassidys Pub & Restaurant in the village of Carron. They do some outstanding craft beers, including Hairy Goat, Green Bullet and Sneaky Owl.
Divis Ridge Trail, Co Antrim
An easy to moderate circular hike that’s around 4.2 miles. Located in the Belfast Hills, walkers will be treated to the most amazing skyline vistas and views over the Mourne Mountains. It has an elevation of 478 metres, and is the highest vantage point over the city.
This hike is suitable for all ages and walking abilities, and is a great place for taking photos.
Nearest towns / pubs: Be sure to call into Divis Coffee Barn when you’re up there – it’s Ireland’s highest coffee house.
Old Head of Kinsale Loop Walk, Co Cork
This lovely loop walk along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way begins at the Old Head of Kinsale. It’s an easy hiking route, usually around 1 to 2 hours in total, taking in some amazing sights. There’s also an option to visit Garretstown beach before reaching Old Head if you want to enjoy some sun, sea and sand in the summer months.
Nearest towns / pubs: You’ll find some excellent pubs, cafes and amenities near the beach area. For an overnight stay, why not visit one of our favourite towns of all time – Kinsale. It’s located about 20 minutes away and is renowned for its award-winning restaurants.
The Grand Canal Way, Co Dublin
Most people don’t realise that this waymarked hiking trail goes all the way from Dublin to Shannon Harbour in Co Offaly. Experienced hikers can tackle the route across a few days, or city strollers can enjoy small sections of the waterway. The Grand Canal passes through some nice towns and villages, with plenty of foodie pit stops and watering holes.
Nearest towns / pubs: Many of our tours start and end in Dublin, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the capital’s top attractions. Good pubs near the canal area include Becky Morgan’s, The Brew Dock, The Ginger Man, Ryan’s Beggar’s Bush, and The Old Storehouse.
Related tours: Ultimate Tour, Grand Tour, Spectacular South & West Tour, South & West Skellig Michael Experience