Exploring the Emerald Isle: The Best Hikes in Ireland

Exploring the Emerald Isle: The Best Hikes in Ireland

When it comes to picturesque landscapes, Ireland offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. From the rugged cliffs of the Wild Atlantic Way to the serene beauty of its national parks, there's a hike for every adventurer. We’ll show you some of the best hikes across Ireland – including mountains and pilgrimages, lakes and the ocean. One way to get around the island for your hiking adventure are our multi-day-tours from Dublin.

Endless green hills in Connemara National Park

Located in County Galway, Connemara National Park offers a diverse range of hiking trails amidst a backdrop of breathtaking scenery. One of the most popular routes is the Diamond Hill Loop, a moderate 7.5-kilometer trail that rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and the coastline. Diamond Hill is the most northerly peak of the Twelve Bens mountain range. So, if that hiking route is not enough and you’re looking for a more exhilarating challenge, there are eleven other mountains in the national park with peaks from 516 to 730 meters. The largest mountain is called Benbaum, a hike to its peak takes about four to five hours.

Source: Matteo Maretto on Unsplash

Lakes and mountains in Wicklow Mountains National Park

Just a short drive from Dublin, Wicklow Mountains National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The Wicklow Way, Ireland's oldest long-distance walking trail, spans 131 kilometers and takes hikers through deep forests, open moorland, and past serene lakes. For a shorter but equally rewarding hike, the Glendalough Upper Lake Loop offers a scenic stroll around one of Ireland's most iconic monastic sites. Here, you can enjoy the calmness on the foot of the Wicklow Mountains and take in the view of the lake, glistening in the sun.

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Ireland’s highest peak in County Kerry: Carrauntoohil

Even though 1.038 meters don’t sound too high for a mountain, Carrauntoohil is Ireland’s highest peak and offers not only a stunning view of the surrounding landscapes, but also a challenge for adventurous hikers. Depending on the route you want to take, the ascent to the summit involves steep climbs and narrow ridges. There are for example the Devil’s Ladder, the most popular route, the Brother O’Shea’s Gully, which is a bit steeper, and the Coomloughra Horseshoe. This hike is a real challenge and includes not only the Carrauntoohil peak, but also Beenkeeragh and Caher Mountain. Thus, if the weather conditions allow it, more advanced hikers can take this route and climb the three highest mountains in Ireland.

Hike along a dramatic coastline: Slieve League Cliffs

For those seeking dramatic coastal views, Slieve League Cliffs in County Donegal rival the Cliffs of Moher in grandeur but with fewer crowds to share them with. Hiking along the edge of these towering sea cliffs, which reach heights of over 600 meters, offers a truly awe-inspiring experience. Hiking routes you can take here are for example a pilgrimage trail to ruins of a monastic site, the cliff path from Bunglass point and the one man’s path. The latter is even a challenge for experienced hikers with no height-sensitivity, as it is very narrow, not secured and has steep cliffs going down to your left and right. Whichever route you take – you will be rewarded with incomparable views of the cliffs.

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Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick

Pilgrims and hikers alike flock to County Mayo to conquer Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain, also called “the reek”. Every last Sunday in July, also called Reek Sunday, thousands of pilgrims climb the seven kilometers to the chapel on its summit. Here, the Irish patron saint St. Patrick is told to have fasted and prayed for forty days. However, there is evidence that the mountain has been a holy site for thousands of years. The climb to Croagh Patrick’s peak is rewarding not only on Reek Sunday: On a clear day, the panoramic views of Clew Bay and the surrounding countryside make the challenging ascent well worth the effort.

Source: Aleksei Mzhachev on Unsplash

From the windswept cliffs of the Wild Atlantic Way to the tranquil beauty of its national parks, Ireland offers some of the most rewarding hiking experiences in the world. Whether you're a seasoned mountaineer or a casual walker, there's a trail to suit every level of expertise and fitness. So, lace up your boots, pack a raincoat (this is Ireland, after all), and embark on an unforgettable journey through the Emerald Isle's stunning landscapes.


Source header photo: Image by freepik

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