The Best hillwalking locations in Ireland offer something unique that other destinations cannot match. Sure, Switzerland offers higher peaks and jodeling maidens. Italy offers excellent coffee before you start your walk and possibly the best pasta in the evening to revitalise yourself after a hard day on the trails.
But Ireland, well, Ireland is just extraordinary. Not only does Ireland offer wild and varied landscapes, from rugged coastlines to meandering green valleys with deep blue lakes that reflect the wild skies and purple heathers.
Once you leave the trail behind, you are welcomed in the welcoming family-run B&Bs, where they tell you about local legends and folklore. Pubs that offer a decent meal and the best pint of Guinness or local whiskey that you could wish for.
On top of all that, Hiking in Ireland is a deep and spiritual experience that cannot be matched and has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Check out our top hiking tips here.. I am willing to bet that one walking holiday won’t be enough, and you will be back for more!
There are many ways you can experience hillwalking in Ireland. By yourself, with family and friends, on hillwalk tours or with a walking club. So there is no reason not to explore Ireland’s tracks and trails and enjoy all that is on offer!
Our Top 5 Best Hillwalking Locations in Ireland
Below we have selected some of our Best Hillwalking Locations in Ireland. What is your favourite, and which ones have you done or would you like to do?
1) The Dingle Way: Hiking in the West of Ireland
Situated in the southwest of Ireland, the tour starts in the capital of Kerry, Tralee town. It is one of the 30 long-distance walking trails and one of the best hiking trails in Ireland. On average, it would take an adult to walk the trail 8-9 days as the trail is 179km.
The Dingle Way is popular as it has so many different landscapes. It doesn’t take long before you see a massive change in scenery. The walking tour follows mountain trails, green roads, old tracks, and often the foothills of the mountains. The Dingle Way is the gateway to the Dingle Peninsula.
2) The Kerry Way on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Kerry Way is a fantastic scenic long-distance walking trail in County Kerry. The walk is approximately 215km long and takes, on average, between 6 to 12 days to complete.
The walk starts in Killarney, with stunning lakes, hidden valleys, panoramic ocean views, mountain backdrops, and so much more.
Many towns pass through on the Kerry Way route. Some include Kenmare, Glenbeigh, Waterville, and so many more. This is an excellent walking tour as it caters for all interests.
3) Hiking the Wicklow Way
Wicklow lies off the south of Dublin and is often nicknamed the Garden of Ireland. The Wicklow Way is one of Ireland’s oldest way-marked long-distance hill walk tours, and most of it runs through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. At a distance of 127km, and ascends some 3,200 meters along its entire journey.
Walking the entire Wicklow Way can take 5 to 8 days, depending on your fitness and speed. Walking Holiday Ireland offers self-guided tours from a 5-day tour, walking part of the Wicklow way, or we can provide a custom (tailor-made) tour that suits your personal requirements.
The Wicklow National Park offers beautiful scenery and some truly remote upland areas. These include fast-flowing mountain streams, farmland, forests, mountains, and steep-sided glacial valleys. Many wild animals call Wicklow home, including the fox, rabbit, deer, goat, hare, badger, and red squirrel. Many different tree types, such as chestnut, beech, oak, larch, and many more, can be seen throughout the uplands.
4) Hiking the Glens of Antrim and Causeway Coast
Discover this beautiful part of Northern Ireland, which is home to the famous Giant’s Causeway. It is full of friendly people, stunning landscapes, and inspirational locations. 3 areas of designation have incredible natural beauty, nine glens which include Glengariff, the queen of the glens, secluded coastal tracks, wonderful forest parks, and quaint fishing villages. Along with the world-renowned giant’s causeway, other amazing spots exist, including Dunluce and Dunseverick Castle.
5) Follow the Beara Way hiking trail.
The Beara Way begins and ends in Glengariff in Cork. It is a long circular route with a distance of 152km around the Beara peninsula. It is considered one of the best multi-day hikes in Ireland. The route passes through seacoast scenery and magnificent rugged mountains in Cork and Kerry. Beara is a world apart and offers peacefulness and tranquillity that has long since vanished in other parts. The Beara Way follows country roads, old green roads, and boggy mountain trails. It is well signposted and marked and is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets.
Best Hillwalking Locations in Ireland we also have to mention
If you are looking for some of the best hillwalking locations in Ireland, you have plenty of options to choose from. Ireland has stunning landscapes, rugged mountains, scenic coastlines, diverse flora and fauna. Here are some of the other locations you should consider for your next hillwalking adventure:
- The Burren Way: This trail takes you through the unique limestone landscape of the Burren region in County Clare, where you can admire the rich biodiversity, ancient monuments and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. You will also pass by the famous Cliffs of Moher, one of the most iconic sights in Ireland.
- The Sheep’s Head Way: This trail follows the coastline of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in West Cork, a remote and unspoilt area with stunning scenery and wildlife. You will walk along cliffs, bays, headlands and valleys and discover the lighthouses, stone circles and castles that dot the landscape.
What are some of the highest peaks in Ireland?
The highest peak in Ireland is Carrauntoohil (1,039m) in County Kerry, which is part of the macgillycuddy’s Reeks range.
Other high peaks include Beenkeragh (1,010m), Caher (1,001m), Cnoc na Péiste (988m) and Maolán Buí (973m), all in the same range. The highest peak in Leinster is Lugnaquillia Mountain (925m) in County Wicklow, while the highest peak in Munster is Galtymore Mountain (918m) on the border of Tipperary and Limerick.
The highest peak in Ulster is Slieve Donard (850m) in County Down, and the highest peak in Connacht is Mweelrea (814m) in County Mayo.
What are some of the best coastal walks in Ireland?
Ireland has a long and varied coastline, offering many opportunities for scenic walks along cliffs, beaches and islands. Some of the best coastal walks include the Bray to Greystones cliff walk in County Wicklow, which follows a well-marked path along the Irish Sea and offers views of marine life.
Another popular coastal walk is the Faha Ridge on Brandon Mountain in County Kerry, a challenging but rewarding route that takes stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Dingle Peninsula. For a more island experience, you can walk around Masatiompan on the Blasket Islands, which are rich in wildlife and cultural heritage.
What are some of the best long-distance hiking trails in Ireland?
If you are looking for a more adventurous and immersive experience, you can try one of the many long-distance hiking trails that crisscross Ireland. These trails are usually waymarked and can be done in sections or as a whole. One of the most famous and popular trails is the Wicklow Way, which stretches for 127km from Dublin to Carlow and passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland, including mountains, lakes, valleys and forests.
Another well-known trail is the Avonmore Way, which follows the Avonmore River for 12km through a wooded valley and connects two charming villages, Trooperstown and Clara Vale. For a more challenging trail, you can try the Táin International Hillwalking Festival route, which takes place in the Cooley Mountains on the border of Louth and Down and covers 42km over two days.