While Ireland has a reputation for grey, rainy weather, all that precipitation gives the Emerald Isle it’s trademark green hue. Even on an overcast day, the hikes in the Irish countryside can’t be beat. We’ve compiled a list of the top ten hikes in Ireland that will get you out of the city and connected to the wild Irish nature.
The Bog of Frogs Loop, Howth
The longest of the Howth trails is the Bog of Frogs loop that stretches 12km and can be covered in approx. 3h. Starting from Howth Village, only a 20-minute DART ride from Dublin, this hike takes you around the cliffs and over the Ben of Howth mountain that gives you a spectacular view of the east coast and the Wicklow mountains. The loop will bring you back to town where you can stop at any of the delicious restaurants for some of Ireland’s best seafood.
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
This 6km coastal path is narrow, with breathtaking and sweat-inducing steep cliff drops into the Irish Sea. Starting from the seaside town of Bray, this hike takes you around Bray Head and along the coast to the small harbour of Greystones. One way will only take around 2h 30m, and if you’re tired you can hop the DART back to Bray or stay on until Dublin. For the foodies, stop for some of the amazing food Greystones is famous for, before burning the calories on the walk back to Bray.
The Barnavave Loop, Co Louth
This mountainous hike starts and ends from the Tourist Office in Carlingford, only 2h 30m from Dublin by public bus, an hour less if you drive. This loop follows a mixture of terrains; from grassy tracks, forestry roads, boreens, and winding mountain paths all in view of the stunning Mournes Mountains. There are a lot of inclines on this 14km hike, but on a clear day at the summit you may be able to make out the Isle of Man.
Coomloughra Horseshoe, Co Kerry
This hike is not for the faint of heart! The Coomloughra Horseshoe is a 13.5km hike that ascends the summit of Beenkeragh (1,010m), Carrauntoohil (1,040m) and Caher (1,001m), and traverses their rocky spines. The location is jaw-dropping, surrounded by a vast amphitheatre of mountain peaks. It’s a hard hike and it can be tricky to get to the starting point, but those who persevere will be well rewarded.
Cronin’s Yard Loop, Co Kerry
For those not looking to climb the peaks on the Coomloughra Horseshoe, there’s the Cronin’s Yard Loop – circling the base of Carrauntoohil and through the area’s two large lakes. What makes this loop special is the surrounding mountain tops create an auditorium that makes the hike virtually completely silent. It’s a wonderful treat after the hustle of the city and well worth every step of the 8km.
The Famine Walk, Connemara
Connemara is a unique area of Ireland that has its own wild, remote beauty that is unrivalled. This hike takes you along the edge of the only fjord in the Republic of Ireland, past small cottages that were witness to the harshness of the Irish Famine in the 1840’s. The two loops (10km/16km) are a collision of water, rolling hills, and reverence for the Irish people that cannot be missed.
The Benwee Loop, Co Mayo
Along the dramatic coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way is The Benwee Loop. This loop isn’t easy and covers 12.4km of boglands and clifftops, but the abundant bird life and the endless views will enthral every hiker. The area is well known for being part of the living Gaeltacht (they speak Irish!) so if you pass a fellow hiker, greet them with a ‘dia dhuit’.
Glendalough Lake Walk, Co. Wicklow
Glendalough is nestled a short way from Dublin in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. The Lake Walk begins along one side the upper lake and passes through a thick pine woodland before emerging to an old miner’s village. The hike is 5km in total and is a wonderful, easy stroll through the countryside. Getting to Glendalough can be done with the daily St. Kevin’s Bus that departs from Dublin.
The Sligo Way, Final Section, Sligo to Leitrim
While some may brave the entirety of the Sligo Way, a 78km beast from Lough Talt to Dromahair, the final section is one of our favourites. From Slish Wood to Dromahair, the short 9km hike – with a detour to the famed Lake Isle of Innisfree – covers stunning landscapes of lakes, woods, and sprawling fields. Slish Woods features heavily in the work of Yates, so poets and literature lovers gravitate to this easy and beautiful hike.
Fairy Castle Loop, Co Dublin
This 5.5km loop starts and ends at Ticknock Wood near Marlay Park in Dublin. It contains plenty of elevation and height gain – climbing up through the forest to the top of Three Rock Mountain and continuing to the huge cairn at the summit of Fairy Castle. Those up for the strenuous hike are rewarded with a 360-degree panoramic view of the city of Dublin and the beautiful Wicklow Mountains. On your way, stop at The Blue Light on Three Rock Mountain for a pint to recharge your batteries for the walk back to Ticknock Wood.