Suppose you’re planning your trip to Ireland and prefer to spend time in the open fresh air. In that case, you might be wondering about coastal scenic routes and beautiful hikes.
If you’re looking for the best hikes around, the Emerald Isle is full of them. While this shortlist is only a starting point, many seen here offer spectacular views on a clear day.
However, the best places may not be the most popular ones, so you’re already on the right track by doing your own research!
So grab your best hiking boots, we’re hitting the trails of Ireland.
- Causeway Coast Way, County Antrim
- Carrauntoohil, County Kerry
- The Beara Way
- Ballysaggartmore Towers
- Glencar Waterfall Trail
- Mount Brandon, County Kerry
- Glenariff Forest Park Scenic Trail
- Slieve Donard, County Down
- Muckross Lake Loop Trail, County Kerry
- Slieve Bloom Mountains, County Offaly
- Other Honorable Mentions
Causeway Coast Way, County Antrim
If a beautiful coastal walk sounds like what the doctor ordered, look no further. This famous coastal walk is sure to make an unforgettable impression. Imagine taking a lovely visit to Ireland, checking in at a quaint bed and breakfast, and spending your day walking along with a beautiful seashore view.
It’s breathtaking spot to catch a sunrise or sunset too. These stunning views are going to have you in awe. However, if you intend to walk the entire coast, it can take a few days for even the standard-fit individual. If you just want to go along a small stretch for one day, that’s okay too!
According to Causewaycoastway.com, the trail “links the popular tourist towns of Ballycastle and Portstewart and passes some of the biggest tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.”
A popular tourist destination to include at the start or end of your day can consist of one of the following:
Carrauntoohil, County Kerry
This mountain hike is for the more experienced hiker, ready to take on a challenge. It’s honestly not meant for the average tourist. No novice is advised to take on this terrain as it’s the highest peak in Ireland. It’s recommended to go with a guide if you decide to go.
There are definitely different routes you can take when attempting to take on this mountain. However, a popular choice is to take the Devil’s Ladder which is a circular trail.
This trail starts near Churchtown, County Kerry. It’s best to begin at Cronin’s Yard, and follow the well-beaten path up through the Hag’s Glen.
Be sure to pack plenty of water for this strenuous hike. You can hike, and camp along the devil’s ladder. While a tough challenge, the stunning views are worth the work.
You won’t soon forget the impeccable moments you’ll have when looking across the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks from the summit of Carrauntoohil.
You’ll find awe inspiring views of the Wild Atlantic Way, and the mountain ridges and lakes of these spectacular peaks.
The Beara Way
The Beara Way is a long-distance, circular trail in Southwest Ireland. According to Hillwalktours.com, the route “passes through the magnificently rugged mountain and seacoast scenery in Counties Kerry and Cork.”
The Beara peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Like most trails you are sure to find in Ireland, you will find many spectacular views of both the ocean, and green landscapes on this hike. If you’re a less experienced hiker, consider hiring a tour guide. They can best direct you to shorter and easier routes for a wider audience.
Plus in the town of Allihies on the northern coastline of the Beara, you’ll find trails up to the old copper mines that were last used in the 19th century.
Plus, you can take a cable car to Dursey Island and discover the tracks and trails of this offshore island.
According to discoverireland.ie, the Ballysaggartmore Towers are ‘imposing gothic-style buildings situated near Lismore.’ These towers are considered architectural “follies” as they really serve no other purpose than to be admired.
Here’s a fun fact found at Alltrails.com about the former estate:
The spectacular gates were built for the wife of Arthur Kiely-Ussher in 1850, but money ran out soon after. The Kiely-Usshers lived on the grounds in a modest house that has since been demolished.
These gorgeous structures are surrounded by a lovely, wooded area, great for a hike. There are also picnic tables, making it an excellent place for you and the family to stop and enjoy a bite to eat. It’s, of course, free and dog-friendly, too!
However, there are no facilities in this area, so you’re going to want to bring your own water, food, and other necessities. It’s also not a great idea to go soon after rain, as this area can get very muddy. So, best to be prepared!
Glencar Waterfall Trail
This 4-mile loop trail is the ideal balance of an easy, short walk with a beautiful view. Unfortunately, this trail is not dog-friendly. There is a staircase to the top, so this is something to consider before choosing.
Otherwise, you should go to enjoy the Glencar Lake view—and the waterfall is a beautiful sight to stop and take photos at as well!
Mount Brandon, County Kerry
Mount Brandon offers well-marked hiking trails known for incredible sea views (and great photos). Many claim the easiest and quickest way up Mount Brandon is ‘The Saint’s Road.’ This route starts at the car park in Baile Breac.
But there are steeper and more challenging ones like ‘Faha’ for the more experienced hiker. And as always, no matter which route you take, be mindful of the weather. Even on the best-marked trails, they can easily be obscured by clouds or fog rolling in, and stormy weather is a surefire way to turn your entire hiking plan on its head.
To learn more about Mount Brandon, check out more information on Alltrails.com.
Glenariff Forest Park Scenic Trail
This scenic trail is a moderate one. It’s about a six-mile-long, circular hike that offers an idyllic woodland setting. There’s also an idyllic waterfall walk that’s only 1.5 miles away.
There’s an easy ‘viewpoint trail’ that’s a mere 0.6 miles. This will be a better trail for a more easy-going and inexperienced hiker looking for easy but beautiful walks.
Both the ravine and views are absolutely breathtaking. On a clear day, you can even see over the sea to the Mull of Kintyre!
Slieve Donard, County Down
According to Outsider.ie, Slieve Donard is home to Northern Ireland’s highest mountain range at 850 meters (or 2788.71 feet).
It looks over the Irish Sea and rises above the stunning Mourne Mountains. Because of Slieve Donard’s steep climb, only the more experienced hikers should take on this challenge.
However, the Mourne Mountains have 12 other mountains and offer trails at different levels. It’s been said that Slieve Donard is explicitly the best hike for unforgettable sunrise views over the Irish Sea.
So grab a tour guide and some friends and go out and enjoy those stunning views!
Muckross Lake Loop Trail, County Kerry
The Muckross Lake Loop Trail is known to be great for photographs—but it does have a set of stairs to conquer to get them! Generally, it’s said that this hike is meant for all ages. So don’t be afraid to bring the entire family along (even the reluctant hiker of the bunch).
Given that this trail is along a lake, you will likely face calming lake water views and a nice breeze. Who could resist such a charming lookout? You can even visit Torc Waterfall, which is part of Killarney National Park.
You’ll want to start and finish Muckross House—a stunning 19th-century Victorian mansion. While visiting the mansion, don’t forget to tour their beautiful garden. While it’s not a hike, it’s a walk worth taking.
If you’re up to a more strenuous climb you can try reaching the summit of Torc Mountain which is part of the Kerry Way. This mountain path is dotted with references to Irish mythology.
Slieve Bloom Mountains, County Offaly
Explore the gently rolling hills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois with your family. Whether you’re an expert or a novice, this Irish wilderness terrain offers a little something for everyone. The only thing it’s missing is an ocean view, and it’s a place of peacefulness nonetheless.
And if you’re feeling up to it, why not visit one of the many quaint villages surrounding the mountain’s base. There you can explore Irish culture away from the mainstream attractions. Learn more about the Slieve Bloom Mountains here.
Other Honorable Mentions
Here are some other fabulous hikes that definitely deserve an honorable mention.
- Devil’s Bit, Tipperary, Ireland (steep and not for the faint of heart)
- Wicklow Way, Wicklow Mountains (known for its beautiful scenery)
- The Dingle Way, Dingle Peninsula (long hike but more great views)
- The Kerry Camino (a hike from the town of Tralee to Dingle)
- Croagh Patrick, County Mayo (experienced hikers claim this is the best mountain hike with views of Clew Bay and Westport)
- Kilcornan Woodland, County Galway (offers a beautiful wooded view walk)
- Cliffs of Moher (epic coast views you won’t be able to get enough of starting in the village of Doolin and finishing in Liscannor)
- Howth Cliff Walk (great to see when visiting Dublin, plus it’s accessible by Dart train from the city center)
- Glen of Aherlow (offers views of gorgeous green fields and mountains)
- Mount Errigal in County Donegal
- Connemara National Park (the diamond hill loop trail offers amazing summit views with the turrets of Kylemore Abbey visible below, as well as the peaks of the amazing Twelve Bens mountain range.)
- Glendalough in County Wicklow (offers visits to an ancient monastic site, plus spectacular lake views).
- The Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail is found near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. (It’s nicknamed the Stairway to Heaven, but it’s a steep climb despite the assistance of the wooden staircase) .
As I’m sure you already know, hiking is a great way to see the views and get great exercise and create incredible memories with loved ones.
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland there are many considerations when deciding what is the best time to visit Ireland.
Have you ever been to any of these Irish hiking spots? I’d love to learn about your hiking stories and experiences, together with your favorite trails that may not have been on this list. Let me know in the comments below!
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad –Irish American Mom
Pronunciation – slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad – rhymes with parade
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