The best hikes in Ireland are without a doubt those that leave you absolutely in awe of the stunning natural beauty the country is so famous for! Those green rolling hills, jagged and dramatic coastlines, pastel coloured villages and amazing waterfalls are just some of the reasons to strap on those hiking boots and hit the Irish countryside.
Ireland also never gets weather extremes like you do in most parts of the world, thank to the warm Gulf stream, which makes it one of the best places to go hiking in almost all year round (though it’s got to be said, what Ireland lacks in weather extremes, it more than makes up for in rain 😄)
If you’re game for getting lost in the Emerald Isle’s absolutely stunning natural beauty then we’ve got just the thing for you – here are 12 of the best hikes in Ireland, you absolutely have to explore.
1.) Carrauntoohil Mountain/The MacGuillycuddy’s Reeks
Located in Kerry, this is a difficult 21km hike that can take well over ten hours to complete and so, understandably, it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers or those with mobility issues.
The trail leads you on a beautifully scenic tour towards the town of Killarney and is rumoured to be a favoured gathering place of fairies and other magical beings, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled along the way! 😉
2.) The Causeway Coast Way
This is perhaps Ireland’s most famous hike, and it is easy to understand why. The moderate difficult trail leads along stunning coastal cliffs and crosses past a number of historical landmarks like the Dunluce Castle and of course, the world famous Giant’s Causeway.
Before you visit, be sure to pop by the official website to download maps, check for road closures and other important planning tools to help you make the most of it.
3.) The Diamond Hill Loop
While this is certainly not considered an easy hike, it is one of the most forgiving choices for the novice hiker in Ireland who is seeking big summit views. Upon reaching the summit, you are rewarded with impressive views of Kylemore Abbey’s turrets as well as the Twelve Bens, a quartz filled mountain range.
4.) Torc Mountain
Located in Kerry, this trail is relatively easy yet still provides you with breathtaking views of the Killarney National Park. There are a number of picturesque waterfalls worth checking out along the way and some gorgeous scenery making it one of the best hikes in Ireland to take your (proper) camera on. In large part thanks to how easy it is, this popular trail can be crowded, so be sure to get an early start on the day.
5.) The Gap of Dunloe
Located in Killarney National Park, the route is a 15 mile round trip that begins and ends at the cottage of Kate Kearney – a 150-year-old family-run Irish bar and restaurant.The fairly strenuous hike can take more than five hours to complete, yet you will find yourself facing an impressive mountainous landscape and a lovely string of lakes that will take your breath away and make you glad you’re doing the hike.
6.) The Dingle Way
This long-distance hiking trail is located in southwestern Ireland and, at 179 km, spans the shoreline of the Dingle Penninsula. Suffice to say, it’s one of the longest and best hikes In Ireland you can find yourself on. The trail begins and ends in Tralee, and takes an average of eight days. 🏃♀️🏃♂️💨
Known for its widely varying landscapes, ranging from the coastal cliffs to mountainsides, you can experience the Irish countryside at its finest here. As a bonus, there are several villages located along the trail offering hot home-cooked meals and warming spirits as a reprieve from the trail. 😁😉
7.) The Wicklow Way
This is an absolutely gorgeous hike that showcases quite a wide range of landscapes that Ireland has to offer. On this hike, you will see rolling green hillsides along with dramatic valleys, mountain views and a number of pretty streams and lakes.
At 131km long, the Wicklow Way is a long distance trail that has both moderate and strenuous sections. The trail begins in Ireland’s capital city Dublin, so be sure to arrive a day or two early to take in the city’s sights. Speaking of which, check out some of the best spots to visit in Dublin right here.
8.) Muckross Abbey Loop
This is a 3.5km walk located in one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of the Killarney National Park. On this hike, be sure to set aside some time to explore the ruins of the 15th century Abbey. This trail is both beautifully scenic and easy to complete making it one of the best hikes in Ireland for hikers of all ages.
9.) The Bog of Frogs Trail
Located in the village of Howth, this is a hike that provides excellent views along with the opportunity for wildlife sightings! This fairly easy 12km hike, with views of the Bay of Dublin and Lambay Island, is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty.
There are a wide variety of birds to see along the way, such as swallows, ravens and wagtails – to mention but a few and the coastline is also an excellent spot for catching a glimpse of grey seals.
10.) Hare’s Gap
A fairly short but strenuous hike, this is a 3.4-km hike that doubled as a popular smuggling route not so long ago! The hike leads you through the most extraordinary gap in the Mourne Mountains with impressive boulder fields lining the path along with glacial cliffs and rolling mountains.
From here, you have the option to continue on to other mountain peaks if you are looking for a longer walk… or just heading back to the start if you’ve done your quota of hiking for the day. 😀
11.) The Kerry Way
In terms of sheer beauty, this long-distance hike is constantly considered as (arguably) the best hike in Ireland! Spanning 215km, you will be treated to view after view of a rolling, vividly green landscape framing a rugged coastline. While the trail typically takes over a week to complete, there are multiple opportunities for rest and refreshment along the way in the form of pubs and inns in pretty little villages and towns.
12.) The Divis Ridge Trail
This is one of the best hikes in Ireland for those that want a longer hike with spectacular views, yet do not necessarily want a strenuous experience, as the Divis Ridge trail is a moderately easy loop of 6.8-km!
On your hike here, you will be treated to a panoramic view of Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland as well as glimpses of Scotland and the Isle of Man!