With its majestic, dream-like landscapes, Ireland is one of the most breathtaking destinations in the European region. Blessed with natural beauty - from its soaring mountains to its pristine shorelines - a trip to the Emerald Isle is sure to fill anyone with excitement, especially those who love being in the great outdoors! The island also boasts an aura of mysticism, with its rich and colorful culture, folklore, and history - which adds to the fascination that surrounds it.
Visiting Ireland, soon? Why not take your trip to the next level and explore all its wonders, on foot! We’ve chosen the best walks in Ireland, just for you. Be sure to check them out!
Located within the sprawling Connemara National Park, this particular walking path is one of the most popular among hiking enthusiasts. The path starts and ends right at the park’s visitor center, and takes you through Sruffaunboy Nature Trail, right before branching off towards the peak of Diamond Hill. You can also opt to go on a self-guided day tour of the nature trail. However, there are plenty of signs scattered across the trail to guide you. When you reach the summit, you will be treated to unparalleled views of the mountains and all the neighboring wonders - the Twelve Bens can be seen towards the Northeast, while the beautiful Kylemore Abbey can be seen towards the north!
Full-day Connemara National Park Self-Guided Tour from Galway
Duration: 12 hours
2. Inishowen Head Loop, County Donegal
Though somewhat remote, Inishowen Head Loop is easily one of the best walks in the county of Donegal. Also called “Little Ireland”, the Inishowen Peninsula boasts a rich history, excellent coastal views, and even somewhat challenging tracks. This 8-kilometer (4.97 mi) loop starts at Inishowen Head, right where you can find a World War II watchtower that stands frozen in time. The loop goes through bog roads, rough tracks, and minor roads, taking about two to three hours to complete. It also passes right by the exact location where St. Columba left Ireland on his way to Iona (Portkill). In addition, if you’re lucky and the weather is clear, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of the west of Scotland!
Inishowen Head Loop
Address: Inishowen Tourist Office, Railway Road, Buncrana, Donegal, Republic of Ireland
3. Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, County Clare
The Cliffs of Moher are among Ireland’s most prized natural treasures. You can explore these fascinating formations by going on the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk - a 13-km (8.1 mi) walk that stretches all the way from Doolin to Hags Head. Though the trail itself may seem relatively easy, as most of it is flat, the strong winds and unpredictable rain often makes this coastal walk a real challenge. Many prefer to start the walk at Hags Head, where one can find plenty of interesting rock formations, as well as a historical watchtower and a truly special view of the Atlantic Ocean! However, it is worth noting that you must exercise caution when walking the coastal path, as there are several high-risk areas along the trail.
Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk
Address: Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland
4. Causeway Coast Way, Country Antrim
Extending over 90 km (55.9 mi), the Causeway Coast Way is one of the longer walks that you can explore in Ireland. To complete the entire walk may take about two to three days, depending on your level of fitness. However, there really is no need to rush - simply go at your own pace and take in all the dream-like scenery. Cutting through verdant forests and mystical glens, the walk is sure to make you feel like you’re exploring a world straight out of a fairy tale. In fact, if you were a fan of the hit fantasy-drama series, “Game of Thrones”, you might even be able to recognize some of the spots here!
Causeway Coast Way
Address: 11 Glenstaughey Rd, Ballintoy, Ballycastle BT54 6NE, United Kingdom
Website: Causeway Coast Way
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
5. Hare's Gap, County Down
Often described as one of Ireland’s most dramatic mountain passes, Hare’s Gap is the perfect place to enjoy the most breathtaking landscapes. Best known for its rock formations that boast almost perfectly defined and sharp edges, the pass was naturally formed by the melting of the ice that once passed through it and over the Mournes range. Because it conveniently connects the north to the south, Hare’s Gap was also once used to smuggle contraband - like soap, spices, and coffee. Nowadays, however, the pass only serves as a popular tourist destination, as its central location makes it the perfect starting point for those hoping to explore the peaks, as well as other nearby routes.
Address: Castlewellan, Down District, Northern Ireland
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
6. The Famine Walk, County Roscommon
In addition to witnessing all the majestic landscapes and natural treasures that it has to offer, there is also much that you can learn about Ireland’s history by taking part in a walk. In particular, the Famine Walk is a thought-provoking walk that pays reverence to the thousands of immigrant families that walked from Strokestown Park to ships in Dublin in 1847. Launched in May 2019, the Famine Walk aims to bring attention to issues surrounding food security and to promote compassion towards those who are marginalized in modern society. The walk is a perfect opportunity to reflect, be thankful for your blessings, and think about how you can help those in need, as well.
The Famine Walk
Address: Vesnoy, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
7. The Slieve Bloom Way, County Offaly
If you’re looking to spend a couple of days with nature, you should definitely walk the Slieve Bloom Way. Measuring 84 km (52.2 mi), Slieve Bloom Way is a long-distance trail that stretches across the beautiful Slieve Bloom Mountains Environment Park, starting and ending at Glenbarrow, near the village of Rosenallis. The entire walk is typically completed in four days. However, there are a good number of shorter looped walks by each of the six key trailheads that can easily be completed within a couple of hours. Though somewhat long, the walk is actually quite leisurely, with plenty of gentle inclines. The park is also home to some of the few areas that allow wild camping, so you should definitely give it a try while you’re there!
The Slieve Bloom Way
Address: Slieve Bloom Mountains, Forelacka, Kinnitty, Co. Offaly, Ireland
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
8. The Carrauntoohil, County Kerry
If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, you should try to take on the Carrauntoohil! At 1,038.6 meters (3407.5 ft) high, the Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland! Many who go on the climb typically start at Cronin’s Yard, which is just a half-hour drive from the town of Killarney. Though there are many paths that you can follow, perhaps the most popular and straightforward of them would be the Devil’s Ladder. Don’t let this ominous name fool you, though - while certainly challenging, the climb is perfectly safe, easy to follow, and is ideal for those who may not be familiar with the area yet!
Address: County Kerry, Ireland
9. Grand Canal Way, County Offaly
The Grand Canal Way was first opened in 1804 and was meant to connect Dublin westward through the River Shannen. Nowadays, it is a trail that stretches 117 kilometers (73 mi) and follows the canal from Lucan Bridge to Shannon Harbour. It is typically completed in five days. In addition to landscapes, the path cuts through plenty of towns and villages - many of which owe their formation to the canal - which provides excellent accommodation options along the way. You can also find locks and other canal features which tell of the technology at the time. In all, the Grand Canal Way is a great choice for anyone wanting not just to see the untouched natural beauty of Ireland, but also learn a bit more about its history.
Grand Canal Way
Address: Waymarked Ways of Ireland, Tullamore, Offaly, Republic of Ireland
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
10. Brandy Pad, County Down
Brandy Pad is another beautiful and historic route that you can travel in Ireland! Tucked away in the Mournes Mountains, Brandy Pad was also once used by smugglers in their attempts to evade coast guards. You can follow the smugglers’ route, and see the 35.4 km (22 mi) Mourne Wall, which is said to have been built by hand by smugglers! Of course, in addition to these fascinating stories, you’ll also be able to enjoy fantastic views of the Annalong valley and the Ben Crom reservoir from the peak of the mountains.
Address: County Down, Northern Ireland
Exploring the Emerald Isle
Rich in culture and natural beauty, its no wonder that Ireland is liked to a precious jewel. On your next trip to this mystical island, get up close and discover all the treasures it has to offer by going on these exciting and highly recommended walks!
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