The perfect country for an outdoor adventure, Ireland boasts a variety of scenic mountain trails that traverse lush green valleys, picturesque coastlines and beautiful mountain trails that lead to dazzling panoramic views. From dramatic coastal cliffs to ancient paths, Ireland’s natural beauty puts on a spectacular display for hikers. Read on for a snapshot of some of the most adventurous hikes in Ireland.
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Cliffs of Moher Cliff Walk
If you’re looking for one of the most picturesque coastal cliffs walks in the world, pack your hiking boots and head for the Cliffs of Moher walk. It passes by one of Ireland’s most stunning natural wonders, the Cliffs of Moher and links the villages of Doolin and Liscannor, with the iconic cliffs marking the midpoint of the trail. The walk is 11 miles long and takes around 4.5 hours to traverse, but if you’re looking for something more laid-back, you can start in Doolin and turn around once you arrive at the Cliffs of Moher. Go on a guided trek with locals to learn more about the region.
The Howth Cliff Walk, Dublin
Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to stretch their legs after a day of sightseeing in Dublin, The Howth Cliff Walk offers you a chance to soak up beautiful Irish landscapes and admire spectacular views of Lambay Island, Ireland’s Eye and the Baily Lighthouse. It takes around two hours to make the three-mile journey along the fairly flat terrain, while those looking to extend their hike can add the Black Linn Loop or Bog of Frogs Loop on their itinerary. The idyllic seaside trek offers a fantastic break from the bustling city.
Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal
Experienced hikers will want a chance to see the majestic views that can be captured at the Slieve League cliffs. Sitting 1,998 feet high, the cliffs are actually three times higher than the famous Cliffs of Moher. This off-the-beaten-track hike follows the edge of Ireland’s second highest sea cliffs. Follow the ancient Pilgrim’s Path up the mountain to discover old oratory ruins, or walk along the narrow Old Man’s Track that overlooks the dramatic cliffs where you can marvel at the power of the Atlantic. Afterwards, you can drive to Bunglass Viewpoint for its impressive panoramic views.
Carrauntoohil is the highest peak in Ireland, stretching 14 kilometres and taking around 10-12 hours depending on your fitness level. The trails start at Lisleibane or Cronin’s Yard and can traverse across the entire MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountain range near the town of Killarney. The views are well worth the challenging hike, where you’ll be rewarded with a summit that will rival the Alps or the Pyrenees in natural beauty. There are a few paths to the summit, including Devil’s Ladder, O’Shea’s Gully or the Caher Route. You can choose a side trip to visit Beenkeragh before returning back towards the peaks of Caher and Caher West.
Mount Errigal, Donegal
Towering over 2,400 feet tall, Mount Errigal is the highest mountain in County Donegal. It’s topped the list for hikes on the National Geographic, where you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at the beautiful Derryveagh Mountains that dominate Donegal’s landscape. Part of the Glenveagh National Park, this mountain rewards adventurous hikers with views over northern Donegal and its off-the-beaten-path location is dotted with vast moors, romantic castles and tranquil lake shores. Pack your bags for the moderate to strenuous hike and see if you can capture the famous pink glow from the quartzite peak during the setting sun.
Croagh Patrick Mountain Walk, Westport
Known as “The Reek” and Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick has been a famous pilgrimage route since ancient times. The moderate to strenuous four-mile hike takes around 3-4 hours to traverse and rises about Clew Bay. Hike to the top to soak up impressive views overlooking the town of Westport and the hundreds of islands that populate the bay and learn about its saintly connection to St. Patrick. He is said to have fasted on the summit for 40 days, and for those who reach the top will be able to see the shrine dedicated to him at the top.
Torc Mountain, Kerry
Head to Torc Mountain’s 4.6 miles of lovely forest path to soak up the views surrounding Killarney National Park. If you reach the top, you’ll find spectacular views of the Killarney Lakes, the Macgillycuddy Reeks and Muckross House. It’s here that you will meander past the beautiful Torc Waterfall, then hike through moss-covered forests along rushing streams. It’s a relatively easy mountain to hike where less experienced hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the national park and some Irish mythology.
Gap of Dunloe, Kerry
World-famous for its narrow glacial mountain pass that sits between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe is nature lovers paradise. You can hike past five beautiful lakes and the iconic “Wishing Bridge”, where wishes made while crossing is said to come true. The hike is 6.8 miles long and starts at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, descending into the Black Valley, which is one of the last places in Ireland to get electricity.
Lower Diamond Hill Walk, Galway
Those looking for an adventurous hike without all the strenuous effort can try the Lower Diamond Hill Walk in Galway. It boasts a slow descending 1,500 feet summit that features some of the best scenery in Ireland when you consider its grade of difficulty. Here you can marvel at views of Kylemore Abbey and the Twelve Ben mountains, while the Benbaun mountain is available for those wanting a more challenging adventure.
Bray Head Loop Walk, Valentia Island
From Dublin, it takes about an hour to reach Bray Head Loop Walk, a coastal path that ends in the harbor in Greystones and is located on the western end of the Valentia Island. Originally made to move workers and materials during the construction of the railway, it is an easy hike that is mostly flat with only a few moderate inclines. Along the way, you can admire views of the Skellig Islands, the Kerry coast and the Wild Atlantic Way.