For those of you who have been to Ireland, you’ll know that the landscape is littered with amazing mountains that are just begging to be climbed up and conquered.

This post has two parts, the first half is hikes in Ireland I’ve personally done, some of them several times.

The second half is recommendations from fellow hikers with as much information as I could glean from them. As I climb more of Ireland’s peaks, I’ll update this list on the best hikes in Ireland. If you have any good suggestions, let me know!

best hikes in ireland

Here we go. The top 15 best hikes in Ireland — get your boots ready!

1. Coumshingaun Lake Loop, County Waterford

This is a hike that is often overlooked and I’m not sure why! This loop trail is the most popular of all the walks in the Comeragh Mountains in Waterford. 

To get here, you need to drive about 2 and a half hours from Dublin, or only 40 minutes from the very underrated Waterford City. This is one of the top places to visit in Ireland, don’t miss it. 

As the name suggests the hike takes you up and around Coumshingaun Lake. This offers amazing views of the lake as you rise up…or at least it does if the clouds stay at bay.

There’s a car park at the bottom that has loads of room, but on a warm summer day, this would get pretty full so best to get there early. Parking is free, and you can follow Google Maps there.

There’s a very short trail through the forest at the beginning, and once you reach the bottom of the lake, you can choose to go left or right. We went to the left as the ridge on that side would’ve made for a rather uncomfortable descent.

This was one of my favourite hikes I’ve done in a while, pushing it right up into the ranks as one of the top hiking trails in Ireland.

It takes about 5 hours with photo breaks. Around the top of the loop, there is a large flat plain which is mostly bog, so waterproof footwear is essential.

I spend a lot of my time taking photos in wet locations, keeping my feet dry is a priority. I’ve only recently discovered waterproof socks and they’re top of my packing list for hiking now.

I didn’t own them when I did this hike and I squelched my way down! Find Coumshingaun Lake Loop trailhead on the map, here.

Best Hikes in Ireland

2. Glendalough, County Wicklow

One of the best day-trip destinations from Dublin, but you can avoid the crowds by hiking around one of the many trails Glendalough offers.

You can drop into the information centre in Glendalough and pick up a trail map for €0.50, which is always a good idea, but not totally necessary for this trail.

There are several popular trails, one being the Spinc Trail, going around both the Lower and Upper Lake is, in my opinion, one of the best hikes in Ireland. Click here to check out the route.

I prefer keeping the Upper Lake to my left so that on the descent you use the wooden stairs through the forest.

Aside from the natural beauty of Glendalough, this trail takes you by a round tower, a graveyard, and an abandoned mining village.  

It’s pretty leisurely, getting a little tougher at the top, but you don’t need special hiking gear, and it’s one of the best-maintained trails in Ireland. This really is one of my favourite hikes in Ireland. Find the trail on the map, here

Glendalough hike

3. Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

One of the most famous mountains in Ireland, Croagh Patrick is known as a Catholic pilgrimage. Nearly 25,000 pilgrims make the two-hour hike up to have mass at the summit on the last Sunday in July every year, known as Reek Sunday.

There is a dying tradition where some pilgrims hike barefoot as an act of penance, not something I’d recommend!

This hike has a very well worn trail because of this, so you won’t get lost. The views of Clew Bay are simply stunning and make this one of the most beautiful hikes in Ireland. Find Croagh Patrick on the map, here

Croagh Patrick, hiking in ireland

4. Slieve Binnian, County Down

Slieve Binnian might be one of my favourite hikes ever. I grew up pretty close to the Mourne mountains, and Slieve Binnian captures pretty much all that’s great about this stunning range.

Although I love the Wicklow mountains for how easily accessible they are from Dublin, they just don’t hold a candle to the Mournes.

The famous Mourne wall runs over this hike, and on a clear day, you can see out to the Isle of Man. This is a tougher hike, but the Walk Northern Ireland site has a really detailed description of what to look out for. Also, have a look at their bus service that can be really useful if you don’t fancy driving.

If you like a challenge when you’re hiking, the Mourne Mountains are where you want to be.

Keep in mind that if you’re going to Slieve Binnian, you’ll be in Northern Ireland, so you’re going to need some pounds sterling. A lot of places will accept Euros but at a pretty bad exchange rate. Find Slieve Binnian on the map, here.

Best hiking Ireland

5. Slieve Donard, County Down

We’re staying with the Mournes, and going to the biggest peak in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard. This steep trail is another pretty challenging one, but again the views make it a hike worth taking on.

The Mourne trails are not quite as well worn as others, meaning that there’s a good chance you won’t see too many people on these hikes, so make sure you have a trail map with you, and proper gear.

Also, these trails often go through private farming property, and local farmers allow people to go through, so remember to be respectful so that you preserve this hike for everyone.

This is definitely one of the most famous hikes in Northern Ireland, but the reason I prefer Slieve Binnian to Donnard is that this is a linear trail, so you’ll go up and down the same way. I prefer a good loop trail!

However, if you do hike this trail, you can treat yourself by staying at the stunning Slieve Donard Resort to get some well deserved R&R after your hike. Find Slieve Donard on the map, here.

Hiking Northern Ireland

6. Slieve Foye Loop, County Louth (one of the top hiking trails in Ireland for kids)

This one is a great way to get kids excited about hiking but also for anyone looking for one of the top walks in Ireland. 

The hike is around 3 hours round-trip, with a nice mix of road, trail and muddy tracks to get dirty in. You start off in the stunning seaside town of Carlingford, then go on a trail that has a small stream running through it.

You’ll be jumping over stone walls, wandering through forests and finally out in the open in the rugged landscape.

This trail really is perfect to get kids into hiking, I loved walking through the stream, it’s maybe 3 inches deep at worst,  and splashing through it was a lot of fun.

Farther up, the fallen pine needles underfoot feel bizarrely soft, and the craggy outcrop of the viewpoint at the top really completes the journey.

When I was young, my Scout Leader told us that once we were out of the forest layer, we were in the “Dangerzone.” I was talking about that for weeks afterwards!

After the hike, be sure to spend some time in Carlingford, genuinely one of the prettiest towns in Ireland.

It has a castle, a pier, and more seafood restaurants than you can shake a fish at. I especially like Schooners Restaurant in McKevitts Hotel, it’s right in the town as you finish the hike, so it’s in the perfect location. Find the hike on the map, here.

Hiking in Ireland

7. Hellfire Club, Dublin

This is a quick half-day trip from Dublin. It’s a short 30-40 minute hike up from the small carpark at the bottom of the hill. It’s short but very steep, so it could take longer with little ones. 

If you’re not driving, you can get a taxi out there for around €20-30. Make sure you have someone to pick you up after the hike too, as there’s no information centre or taxis passing by when you come down. 

The trail is straight up through the forest to the remains of the Hellfire Club Building. This is a place famous for ghost stories, the main one being that the devil himself came here.

It’s said that he played a game of cards and then burned the whole place down. This was all to punish the debaucherous activities of the members of the Hellfire Club.

Stories of supernatural activity on the Hill were backed up by the discovery that the clubhouse was built on top of, an ancient Passage Tomb. This type of tomb was usually built around 5,000 years ago, and archaeologists believe it looked similar to the famous Newgrange.

This hill is a popular spot around Halloween for obvious reasons! Unfortunately, this area is also used by some underage drinkers, so be careful of broken glass and rubbish lying around.

It is kept pretty clean, but you can just be unlucky. This is especially stunning at sunrise when you’re treated to views of Dublin Bay and the whole city of Dublin just waking up. Find the Hellfire Club on the map, here.

Hellfire Club Dublin

8. Cave Hill, Belfast

If you plan on visiting Belfast on your trip to Ireland (and you SHOULD) you can take a break from the hustle and bustle by getting a birds-eye view of the city from the top of Cave Hill.

It isn’t the most strenuous hike, but it is a good 3-4 hour round trip, and well worth it if the weather holds up — when hiking in Ireland, you need to always be prepared for the weather to change.

You can park right up at Belfast Castle and start the hike there, or if you want, you can take the Metro bus 1 and get off at the Strathmore Park stop.

You can always ask the bus driver when you get on that you’re going to Belfast Castle and they’ll stop for you. After you get off the bus, walk ahead of the bus and you’ll see signs for the castle.

I found the underfoot a bit soft as the trail isn’t well defined in places, so hiking boots are a big help. It’s a pretty popular route and there are nearly always people walking, so you should be able to find your way easily enough.

You can also visit the Castle afterward and have a simple lunch there. Find Cave Hill on the map, here

Cave Hill Belfast hiking in ireland

9. The Sugarloaf, County Wicklow

This is one of the most popular hikes in Ireland, mainly because it’s only a 40-minute drive from Dublin City centre, so the trail here is pretty well defined. It’s usually very busy on weekends and during the long summer evenings.

It’s a soft slope for a while but near the peak, it becomes quite steep, and you’ll have to scramble a little bit. If the trail is busy, you might find yourself waiting to get through a particularly narrow part of the path.

Most people on this hike are out for a leisurely stroll, so people are generally good-humoured and offer a helping hand over the tricky parts. It’s a great way to spend a day, and definitely one of the best hikes in Ireland.

Also, just look at it in winter, all covered in snow, and you’ll see why it’s called The Sugarloaf.

hiking in the snow in ireland

10. Carrauntoohil, County Kerry

The tallest mountain in Ireland is also one of the best in Ireland. Carrauntoohil is in the stunning Kingdom of Kerry and may be pushing for my favourite hike in Ireland.

There are several routes, some more perilous than others, but the most common starting point is from Cronin’s Yard. There’s parking for around 100 cars, as well as a lovely little cafe.

Last time I was there I noticed that they have amazing little camping pods there too. They don’t have beds in them, so you’ll need your sleeping bag and ground mat but if there’s poor weather, they’re much better than a tent!

The most common route follows the black trail signs from Cronin’s Yard. This brings you up through the Devil’s Ladder and on to Carrauntoohil proper. The Devil’s Ladder is the best way to go if there’s inclement weather as it protects you from as much of the wind and rain as possible.

The last time I went, we took a slightly different route. We took a right turn off the path to the Devil’s Ladder and headed up through the Heavenly Gates. This route has quite a lot of scrambling and is an awful lot of fun.

On the way down, we came by O’Shea’s Gully. It’s a steep enough descent with quite a lot of loose scree so poles would be useful here. I wouldn’t fancy going up this route but if you want a challenge, this is a great route.

If you’re not sure about guiding yourself up to the peak, there are several guided tours available, with Kerry Climbing coming highly recommended by several people.

Carrauntoohil is covered by the OS Map number 78, which you can pick up on Amazon!

Best Hikes in Ireland

Some more of the best hikes in Ireland

All the hikes after this point are trails I’ve never been on.

I asked friends for recommendations, and these are what came back. I’ve researched online and found out as much as I could, but if some of the information is wrong, let me know and I’ll update it. Here’s the list of the best hikes in Ireland that I haven’t done (yet!).

11. The Twelve Bens, County Galway

The Twelve Bens are a stunning mountain range in the heart of Connemara. This range is a perfect challenge for those looking for a long slog. When you’re travelling Galway, don’t miss this trek.

Although there isn’t much elevation, the hike is still a tough one. The mountains in this range are laid out in a cross shape, so there are several loop routes, but peaking all 12 doesn’t seem to have a defined route.

It seems that the most popular and toughest route is the Glencoaghan Horseshoe Walk which takes in 6 of the 12 peaks including Derryclare (677m), Bencorr (711m), Bencollaghduff (696m), Benbreen (691m), Bengower (664m) and Benlettery (577m).

Going anti-clockwise is better as you come down the scree-covered sides, rather than scrambling up them. This loop is about 16km around and will take a hiker with good fitness levels around 8-9 hours.

The Benlettery Youth Hostel is at the end of the trail, and would make a perfect place to stop off after your arduous hike. By all accounts, this is one of the best hikes in Ireland and I can’t wait to take it on. Find the Twelve Bens on the map, here

Best Hiking Ireland

12. Mount Errigal, County Donegal

As if I needed another reason to go to Donegal, Mount Errigal, and specifically the Mackoght Mountain Hiking Trail looks like a treat. It’s a 3-4 hour loop and takes in the peak of Errigal, and also the smaller peak — Wee Errigal.

This hike has the usual hazards, and between the two peaks, you’ll be walking along a ridge. The wind can become rather dangerous, so you’ll need to evaluate on the day whether you can go across the ridge. 

If you’re unsure, always take the safer option. You can park in the carpark on the R251 road, just about 10 minutes away from the Irish-speaking town of Gweedore, or about an hour from the amazing Donegal Town.

If you make it up there, don’t forget to check out our list of Things To Do in Donegal Town.

Mount Errigal Mountain Donegal

13. Ben Bulben, County Sligo

Take one look at the iconic Ben Bulben mountain, and you’ll understand why the great Irish poet WB. Yeats wanted this location to be his final resting place when he wrote:

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head

In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid

To take on this trek, you’ll need to get to Luke’s Bridge Carpark and hike up from there. There are reports that there is a barbed-wire fence that looks like it’s blocking off the route up, but many people have said that if you continue a little farther down the fence there’s a stye for crossing.

The fence is there to keep sheep in rather than people out. It’s supposed to be about a 3-4 hour hike, a nice day trip from Sligo Town, which is only a 20-minute drive away.

If you’re looking for a more relaxing walk, the Gortarowey loop is a walk at the base of the mountain that gives spectacular views of this unique-looking mountain.

Benbulben mountain sligo

14. Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry

This one comes with a tour company recommended, and looking at the pictures, I can see why. Gap of Dunloe Traditional Boat Tours offers an amazing day trip that includes a hike, or if you’re not feeling up to it, a horse and trap journey.

The hike only takes two hours, so it’s more about the overall experience, but they do also offer to take you out on the boat and allow you to explore by yourself. Do make sure you don’t miss the boat back!  

Learn more about the boat trip with horse and trap journey here. And, if you’d prefer to do some hiking, combined with a boat trip, click here to learn more about that fun experience.

gap of dunloe ireland hiking

15. Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk, County Fermanagh

This mountain boardwalk became famous through social media and has seen a huge influx of visitors coming to see the “Stairway to Heaven”.

They built the boardwalk to protect the fragile landscape of the area but the influx of visitors to the area meant that they had to close down the hike for a while to preserve the area.

It’s back open now, so if you go, stay on the trail. There are several trails available, and you can pick whichever one suits you best, from easy to difficult.

This is a 14km long walk, and the stairs are right at the end. If you were hoping of just getting there to take a quick snap for the ‘gram, think again.

Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk

Now You Know The Best Hiking in Ireland!

There are so many more hikes in Ireland, and trying to just pick a few has been incredibly difficult.

Here’s an extra list of some hiking suggestions and I’ll update them as I check them off my list. Let me know if you’ve done any other hikes in Ireland, any tips and advice will be added here.

Slieve League, Donegal – Do you really need another reason to go to Donegal? Really?

Three Castle Head, Co. Cork – The very southern tip of Ireland. There are three castles on this route, I’d never have guessed.

Knocknarea, Sligo – A short 40-minute hike that will give you amazing views over the coastal town of Strandhill.

Glen of Aherlow, Tipperary – The rock of Cashel is probably already on your itinerary, so why not add in a little hike here!

Mount Brandon in Dingle – There’s so much to do in Dingle that we didn’t even include this in our guide to Dingle.

Kells Bay House and Gardens Skywalk, Co. Kerry – Ireland’s longest Rope Bridge! Need I say more?

The Stony Man, Slieve Bloom, Co. Laois – Another Boardwalk hike. It offers amazing views and incredible historic Carins.

What’s your favourite hike in Ireland? Get in touch if there’s something we need to update or add.

Note: Many of these photos are provided courtesy of Shutterstock. Check them out for royalty-free images and videos. 

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15 of the Very Best Hikes in Ireland15 Best Hikes in Ireland