5 Best Hikes in Ireland: What You Need to Know
Ireland is a beautiful island that has a lot to offer when it comes to mother nature’s gifts. Today, we will talk about the five best hikes in Ireland!
Ireland is a great place that has a lot of outdoor activities that attracts tourists from all over the world. If you are not familiar with Ireland, it’s an island that’s right across the United Kingdom.
If we’re talking about statehood, Ireland is politically divided as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The former is a part of the United Kingdom’s territory while the latter is a sovereign state. It’s important to know this especially if you’re planning to travel there as a foreigner!
With that said, today you’ll have an insight into some of the best places to hike in Ireland. There are a lot of mountainous regions here. Thus, ready your hiking boots and hiking backpacks, book a cheap flight to Ireland and explore the best hikes on this beautiful Island!
>>Make sure to check out our Hiking Gear Packing List for Day Hikes and Multi-Day Treks
Before you come to Ireland for your hiking adventure, do not forget these 3 important points:
And if you don’t want to go on your own, you can even join a guided hike:
Listing down the best hikes in Ireland:
1. The Causeway Coast Way
The Giants Causeway hike is located in the most celebrated coastline stretch in Northern Ireland. It’s a 33-mile walk that will surely give you a challenge when it comes to stamina and endurance. If you just want a taste, you can book a 4 hour Cliff Top Experience.
The most iconic sight that you will see during this height is Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway; it’s a geological masterpiece from nature that will surely leave you in awe.
Giant’s Causeway is located in County Antrim. It’s a vast area that features interlocking basalt columns that were caused by a volcanic eruption. The view here in Giant’s Causeway is tremendous for hikers to see.
The Giant’s Causeway is also often included in Game of Thrones tours from Belfast or Dublin, so if you are fan of the series, you might want to book a Game of Thrones Film Location Tour, while you are in the area.
After all, it was regarded by UNESCO as a World Heritage site almost a decade ago, so even if you can’t do the hike, we highly recommend visiting this stunning place on a day trip from Dublin or Belfast.
For your hiking trip here, you’ll encounter a footpath with different tracks. So be sure to ready your feet because it can be challenging. There are also beaches and rock formations. Furthermore, there are lush forests to see once you get deeper in your trail.
Also, beware that the last stretch of trail (between Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and Ballycastle) follows a pretty busy coastal road without a sidewalk and we recommend skipping this part.
2. Divis Ridge Trail
The Divis Ridge Trail is one of the four trails to choose for the Divis hike. The other three are named as Heath, Summit, and Lough. The Ridge trail is the easiest one compared to the others, with the summit being quite tough to hike.
If you’re familiar with the city of Belfast, then you know it’s one of the most stunning ones in the world. The Divis Ridge Trail gives you a spectacular view over the capital of Northern Ireland and so we had to add it our list of best hikes in Ireland.
Moreover, it can even give you a good spot to see the Mourne Mountains and a little bit of Scotland.
You get a 180-degree view here across the city, and what’s even better is that the track going up is not so bad for beginners. The Divis Ridge trail is quite flat and obstacle-free. That’s why the only requirement here is a little bit of exercise and endurance.
Our third item on this list is the first hiking spot that’s located in the Republic of Ireland. Glendalough is located in the republic’s capital, Dublin. Mainly, you can see it in the southern part of Dublin at Wicklow National Park.
The area consists of 20,000 hectares of mountainous paths and sceneries. There are a lot of crossroads in between these paths too. There are a lot of trails to follow here, so it’s a good idea to check the map. Or you could book a walking Tour with Martin, a local guide that shares interesting anecdotes and poetry along the way.
Two of the famous hikes in Glendalough are the Avonmore Way Walk and the Wicklow Way. The Avonmore Way Walk is around 80 miles worth of forestry, minor roads, and dirt tracks.
The walk gets its name from the beautiful Avonmore lake that you can see during your hike. The hiking trail is relatively easy and is good for all who are physically fit.
Meanwhile, the Wicklow Way takes you to its highest point at White Hill that’s over 2,000 ft. The path also extends for over 81 miles, so this can be difficult to hike for a beginner. The path here has forestry tracks with a lot of mountain trails.
4. Cronin’s Yard Loop
Cronin’s Yard loop is a famous starting point to hike the highest peak in Ireland, which is the Carrauntoohil. There is good accommodation in the starting point because you can get a shower and some free coffee too!
Furthermore, Cronin’s Yard is an entry to the McGillyCuddy Reeks, which is a mountain range that stretches over 20 kilometers. The trail going here is moderately difficult.
The tracks feature mostly rocky fields with grassy patches, and since it’s a loop, the tracks will take you back to Cronin’s Yard quickly.
If you want to hike somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of buzz and noise, Cronin’s Yard is an excellent destination. The scenery is breathtaking, and you can also reach the highest peak while encountering a few beautiful lakes along the way.
5. Hare’s Gap
The last on our list of best hikes in Ireland is Hare’s Gap in the Mourne Mountains. It’s also probably the hardest hiking site above the rest that we listed here. This path was once so difficult that smuggled goods used this as an exit point to avoid detection.
The Hare’s Gap has a lot of diversity when it comes to its mountain paths. You can say that it features a mixture of everything we mentioned in the earlier hiking sites.
It has many rough rocky paths that aren’t leveled, but the real challenge here is the steepness of the hike.
From the Hare’s Gap, there are different directions to take that offer varying degrees of difficulty. You can take the easier route by going to Brandy Pad, or you can opt to go to a steep climb up the summit of Slieve Bearnagh.
Slieve Bearnagh is considered by many as the greatest of the Mourne Mountain’s summit.
Also, you can’t go wrong with the Slieve Bearnagh since it offers outstanding scenery as well. It’s really up to what you want to do and how much hiking strength you have left in you!
Top 1 Day Hiking Trips in Ireland
Top Multi-Day Hiking Trips in Ireland:
Killarney National Park – Tork Waterfall Loop
Who doesn’t like a waterfall when out hiking? Killarney National Park is stunning and offers one of the most beautiful waterfall hikes in Ireland. This 4.5 km (2.8 miles) loop is not very demanding but offers splendid views of the 18m (59 ft) waterfall.
If you are tired of hiking and just want to see the fall, you can also reach it from a carpark off N71 Killarney Kenmare road and shorten your walk to a mere 5 minutes. If you walk about 100 yards further and go up the stairs to the highest point, you will have an incredible view over the lakes.
If you want to add more hiking on the other hand, you can add Tork Mountain to your loop, which adds 7.1 km (4.4 miles), in and out to your hiking adventure at Killarney National Park. The mountainous landscape and view from the top is definitely worth it though.
St Kevin’s Way
This multi-day hike in Irland is 30 km (18.6) long and takes you from Hollywood over the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough. This pilgrimage path follows the footsteps of St Kevin and ends in the town where he started a monastery and became the first abbot of Glendalough in the 6th century.
The highest point of the route is Wicklow Gap at 475 m (1558 ft), so the route is not very strenuous and easily doable in 2 days.
If you want to go on a serious hiking trip in Ireland, the Dingle Way is where you need to go. This long distance hiking trail is 179 km (111 miles) long and follows the coastal route around the whole Dingle Peninsula. Rolling hills and stunning ocean views are guaranteed on this 8+ day hike.
Croagh Patrick Hike
Croagh Patrick is another very famous pilgrimage route in Ireland and considered Ireland’s holy mountain. It is said that St. Patrick fasted for 40 days on the summit and you will find a small chaple at the summit to remember him. The treck, which starts at the Visitor Center, takes about 3 hours and reaches a peak altitude of 765 m (2510 ft).
Wrapping it Up
Ireland is one breathtaking place for you to discover. If you’re a local or a citizen of either Northern Ireland or the Republic, you’d know how awesome the scenery here is.
However, if you’re a foreigner, chances are you might not be aware of these beautiful trails that lead to stunning views of the island that even sometimes reaches the United Kingdom. So if you’re an adventurous hiker, these 5 best hikes in Ireland should be on your list.
Just remember, always be prepared before hiking in Ireland and don’t forget to bring First Aid kit, handheld GPS, Trail maps,… The hiking sites differ in difficulty, but a hiker’s preparation should always be the same. And by that, be sure you don’t underestimate a mountain path even though it’s deemed as an easy walk.
With that said, have fun and try to visit the beautiful island of Ireland!
Louise is the founder of TheAdventureLand.com, where she and her associate’s blog about Outdoor experiences, tips & tricks that will help you have an exciting adventure. She is also a tour guide of travel company where she learned many things about wilderness. “Let’s pack our bags and explore the world!”. Follow me on Twitter and on Google+