18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland – The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide

Why is Northern Ireland such a Great Walking Destination?

If you’re a nature enthusiast and love walking or hiking in the outdoors, you will love this guide to the  Best Walks in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a hidden gem that offers stunning landscapes and breathtaking trails. From rugged cliffs to lush forests, Northern Ireland has it all.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best walks in this beautiful region, where you can immerse yourself in its natural beauty and enjoy the great outdoors.



Hillwalkers in Murlough Bay on the Antrim Coast
The Antrim Coast is one of the Berst hillwalking locations in Ireland

Northern Ireland is a great hiking destination for several reasons. Firstly, it offers diverse landscapes, from rugged coastal cliffs to rolling green hills and ancient forests. The Mourne Mountains, for example, provide stunning panoramic views and challenging trails for experienced walkers. Secondly, the region has a rich and fascinating history, with many sites of historical importance along the walking trails in Northern Ireland. 

Visitors can explore ancient castles, monasteries, and even old mining tunnels. Additionally, Northern Ireland is known for its friendly and welcoming locals, who are always happy to provide advice on the best hiking trails and hidden gems. Whether you’re an avid rambler or walker just looking for a scenic stroll, Northern Ireland has something to offer every nature lover. 


Here Are Our Best Walks In Northern Ireland

1) Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains, County Down

The Slieve Donard Trail is the go-to choice in the Mournes for many walkers, as it offers various routes to suit different preferences. Venturing on this path will lead you to the summit of Slieve Donard, which boasts the title of Northern Ireland’s highest point. Once you reach the peak, prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking views that stretch across the surrounding landscape. It’s no wonder why this trail is a favourite among outdoor enthusiasts in County Down.

Hiking in the Mourne Mountains, Cooley and Mourne Self-guided Hiking Tour, Walking Holiday Ireland
18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland - The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide 11

The journey back will follow the same route, ensuring you’ll fully enjoy the beauty of the trail from different perspectives. If you’re seeking an exhilarating and fulfilling experience, tackling this walk is an absolute must. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to challenge yourself and be rewarded with unforgettable memories. 

2) Ballintoy, Carrick-a-Rede, and Portbraddan, County Antrim

The distance of the trails along the Causeway Coast will vary depending on the route you choose and where you start from. These trails offer incredible views of the Antrim coast, and there may be some changes in elevation along the way. You will end up back at your starting point after completing the exact route.

Carrick-a-rede ropebridge, Northern Ireland
18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland - The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide 12

Here are some important facts to know about this hiking area:

  1. Ballintoy, Carrick-a-Rede, and Portbraddan are all stunning coastal locations in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
  2. This place is well-known for its breathtaking cliffs, unique rock formations, and picturesque beaches.
  3. When you visit, you can enjoy walking along the coast, crossing the famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and immersing yourself in the natural beauty surrounding you. 

3) Slieve Binnian, Mourne Mountains, Co. Down

The distance you will cover depends on which route you choose to take, but the most popular one is the Slieve Binnian loop. This trail will lead you to the top of Slieve Binnian, one of the tallest peaks in the Mourne Mountains. You will follow the same path back to where you started.

  1. Slieve Binnian offers stunning views of the mountains and the beautiful Irish Sea. 
  2. This walk is definitely a challenge, but the reward is worth it. You will be treated to breathtaking vistas and a great sense of achievement.
  3. This mountain is part of the Mourne Mountains Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), attracting many Hikers, Ramblers and nature enthusiasts.
Hiking in the Mourne Mountains, Cooley and Mourne Self-guided Hiking Tour, Walking Holiday Ireland
Traversing a wall in the Mourne Mountains

4) Glenariff Forest Park, Antrim Glens, County Antrim

The distance covered on the trail will depend on which one you choose, but one popular option is the Glenariff Waterfall Walk[1]. As you explore the trails in Glenariff Forest Park, you will be surrounded by the beauty of the woodland and treated to breathtaking views of waterfalls and the landscape[1]. When you’re finished, simply follow the same route back to where you started.

Here are some important facts about Glenariff Forest Park:

  1. It is renowned for its magnificent waterfalls and enchanting woodland scenery.
  2. Situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the park offers a variety of walking trails suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
  3. You can truly appreciate the park’s natural splendour, observe the wildlife, and connect with nature in a meaningful way. 

5) Slieve Bearnagh, Mournes, County Down

You have the flexibility to choose the distance of your walk, with the Slieve Bearnagh Mourne Wall route being the most favoured by others. This trail will lead you to the top of Slieve Bearnagh, where you can indulge in breathtaking views of the magnificent Mourne Mountains. You will then return to your starting point along the same path.

  1. Slieve Bearnagh is renowned for its unique twin peaks and rugged natural allure.
  2. Embarking on this challenging walk will grant you stunning vistas and a thrilling sense of adventure.
  3. Serving as part of the Mourne Mountains Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this mountain is a beloved hot spot for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

6) Tollymore Forest Park, Newcastle, Co. Down

 The distance covered may vary depending on the trail you choose, but one popular option is the Tollymore Forest Park Loop. When you venture along these trails, you’ll find yourself surrounded by captivating forest scenery and breathtaking views. As you make your way back to the starting point, you’ll follow the same path you took earlier.

Let’s not forget that Tollymore Forest Park is an absolutely incredible forested area in County Down, Northern Ireland. It’s renowned for its picturesque walking trails, impressive stone bridges, and the famous “GOT Bridge” seen in Game of Thrones.

When you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to uncover the park’s diverse and stunning plant and animal life, soak in the peaceful atmosphere, and marvel at the wonders of nature and human creativity. 

7) Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down

The distance of the trail you choose can vary, but many people enjoy the Murlough Nature Trail. These trails at the Murlough National Nature Reserve wind through the dunes and provide beautiful views of the reserve’s one-of-a-kind ecosystem. You’ll end up back where you started by following the same route.

image 11
© Copyright Eric Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  1. The Murlough National Nature Reserve is a breathtaking coastal reserve in County Down, Northern Ireland.
  2. It is a sanctuary for a wide variety of plants and animals, including rare orchids and nesting birds.
  3. When you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the sandy dunes, admire the stunning Mournes, and discover the reserve’s rich natural history.

8) Cove Cave, County Down

 The distance of the trail will vary depending on where you choose to start and the route you take. However, no matter which way you go, you will get to experience the amazing Cove Cave. This cave is one-of-a-kind and can only be found along the coast of County Down in Northern Ireland. It is truly a sight to see with its incredible rock formations.

Explorers and nature enthusiasts flock to this location because of its beauty and significance. When you visit, you’ll have the chance to appreciate the stunning coastal views, explore the cave’s unique features, and learn about its fascinating geological history. 

9) The Causeway Coast, County Antrim

The distance of the route will vary depending on which one you choose, but one popular option is the Causeway Coastal Walk. This walk will take you along the stunning Causeway Coast, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline, cliffs, and rock formations. And the best part is, you’ll end up back at the starting point, so you won’t have to worry about finding your way back.

Giant Causeway, Antrim, Giant Causeway Hiking Tours
18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland - The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide 13

The Causeway Coast is a genuinely awe-inspiring stretch of coastline in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It’s famous for its iconic attractions, such as the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and Dunluce Castle. When you visit, you can explore the coastal trails, take in the natural wonders, and immerse yourself in the area’s fascinating history and folklore. It truly is a place that will leave you feeling inspired and amazed. 

10) The Mourne Way, County Down

The looped trail covers a total distance of 26 miles. As walkers journey through the majestic Mournes, they will be treated to awe-inspiring panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Upon completion of the trail, walkers will retrace their steps along the same path back to where they started.

Hiking in the Mourne Mountains, Cooley and Mourne Self-guided Hiking Tour, Walking Holiday Ireland
A marker showing the way on the Mourne Way from Rostrevor to Newcastle

The Mourne Way presents a thrilling challenge for walkers, spanning 26 miles and leading them through the heart of the picturesque Mourne Mountains AONB. With its striking vistas of mountains, valleys, and coastline, this trail is a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts and walkers.

Exploring the region’s fascinating history and folklore, discovering the diverse range of plants and animals, and revelling in the natural beauty of the environment are opportunities that await visitors of this remarkable trail. 

11) Slemish Mountain, County Antrim

Slemish Mountain, County Antrim One of the Best Walks in Northern Ireland
18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland - The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide 14

Slemish Mountain is a small mountain situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. What makes it special is its rich historical and cultural significance. Legend has it that Saint Patrick, while enslaved, looked after sheep on this mountain. It’s a great opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the area’s history and folklore while enjoying the stunning scenery and exploring the surrounding countryside.

The trail is approximately 1.5 miles long and forms a loop. It will lead you to the top of Slemish Mountain, providing breathtaking views of the countryside. You’ll follow the same path back to where you started.

12) Belfast Castle Estate, Belfast

The trails’ distance varies depending on your specific route, but one popular option is the Cave Hill Country Park loop.  As you walk through the Belfast Castle Estate, you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the parkland, with views of the castle and the countryside.

  1. This parkland is remarkable and can be found in the heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  2. It’s well-known for its stunning walking trails, the impressive castle, and the incredible panoramic views it offers of the city and the surrounding countryside.
  3. When you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the park’s diverse plant and animal life, soak in the peaceful atmosphere, and uncover the many natural and man-made wonders it holds. 

13) Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim

Carrick-a-rede, Antrim
18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland - The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide 15

Embark on a thrilling adventure along a scenic trail that spans approximately 1.5 miles in a loop. Allow the trail to guide you to the world-famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, where you will be treated to awe-inspiring views of the surrounding coastline. Take in the breathtaking beauty and then retrace your steps to where your journey began.

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a must-see destination located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, attracting visitors from far and wide. This remarkable place is renowned for its stunning coastal panoramas, the iconic rope bridge, and the fascinating stories and historical legends that surround it.

Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature and human ingenuity, explore the rich heritage and culture of the area, and marvel at the enchanting charm of the environment. 

14) Cave Hill Country Park, Belfast

 The level of enjoyment you experience in Cave Hill Country Park depends on the trail you choose. Many people love the Cave Hill Country Park Loop for its popularity. As you wander along the park’s trails, you’ll be treated to stunning city and surrounding countryside views. Once you finish your chosen trail, you’ll find yourself back where you started.

Cave Hill Country Park is a truly breathtaking place in the heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its incredible hiking trails, impressive rock formations, and panoramic city and countryside views are famous. When you visit, you’ll have the chance to explore the park’s diverse plant and animal life, soak up the peaceful atmosphere, and discover the park’s natural and man-made marvels. 

15) River Blackwater, County Armagh

 The chosen trail will bring you varying experiences, and one popular option is the Clare Glen loop via Cusher River. As you venture through the trails in River Blackwater, you will be captivated by the breathtaking countryside and the stunning views of the river and its surrounding landscape. You’ll follow the same path to where you started, ensuring a fulfilling journey.

Located in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, the River Blackwater is truly a sight to behold. Its striking beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich history and culture make it a must-visit destination. As you explore this area, you’ll encounter both natural wonders and incredible man-made creations, have the chance to delve into its fascinating past, and soak in the picturesque scenery that surrounds you. 

16) Mount Stewart Demesne Trails, County Down

The chosen trail in Mount Stewart Demesne determines the experience you will have, and many people enjoy embarking on the Mount Stewart Lake Walk. This walk takes you through the breathtaking parkland, where you can admire the stunning lake and the surrounding gardens. As you follow the trail, you will end up back where you started.

Mount Stewart Demesne, located in County Down, Northern Ireland, is truly a sight to behold. It offers an abundance of walking trails that showcase the park’s natural beauty, magnificent gardens, and captivating views of the lake and countryside. When you visit, you can immerse yourself in the park’s diverse array of plants and animals, bask in the peaceful atmosphere, and uncover the wonders nature and humans have created together. 

18) The Fairhead Loop Walk, County Antrim

The Fairhead loop is a favoured choice for those seeking an adventure. This trail will lead you to the peak of Fairhead, where you will be treated to breathtaking views of the coastline and countryside. The exact path will guide you back to where you began. Fairhead, situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is a truly magnificent headland. Its cliffs are awe-inspiring, its vistas are stunning, and it boasts a captivating history and culture.

Fairhead Looped Walking Trail, Best walks in Northern Ireland
18 Best Walks In Northern Ireland - The Ultimate Northern Ireland Hiking Guide 16

Visitors have the delightful opportunity to delve into the wonders of nature and human achievements, immerse themselves in the region’s rich heritage, and bask in the picturesque beauty that surrounds them. 

The 5 Main Hiking Regions In Northern Ireland

A) The Mourne Mountains Offers Some Of The Best Hiking Trails In Northern Ireland

The Mourne Mountains, also known as the “Mountains of Mourne”, are a walker’s paradise. Located in County Down, these mountains offer a variety of trails suited for all skill levels. One of the most popular walks here is the Slieve Donard Trail, which takes you to the highest peak in Northern Ireland, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. Other notable trails include the Silent Valley Reservoir and Tollymore Forest Park, where you can witness stunning waterfalls and ancient redwood trees.

B) A Stunning Coastal Trail Is The Causeway Coast Way

The Causeway Coast Way is a spectacular coastal trail that spans 33 kilometres along the North Antrim Coastline. This UNESCO World Heritage Site takes you through dramatic cliffs, rocky headlands, and beautiful beaches. The highlight of this walk is the Giant’s Causeway, a unique geological formation of interlocking basalt columns. It’s a place like no other and offers a truly mesmerizing experience.

C) The Glens of Antrim & The Moyle Way

The Glens of Antrim is a picturesque area with nine distinct glens, each with charm and beauty. The Glenariff Forest Park, known as the “Queen of the Glens,” offers breathtaking waterfalls and woodland trails. Another popular walk is the Glenariff to Cushendun Walk, which takes you through rugged terrain and coastal scenery. This area is a haven for nature lovers and provides a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The Moyle Way hiking trail is a stunning route that winds its way through the beautiful Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland. Spanning 38 miles, this trail takes walkers through a diverse and rugged landscape, passing through forests, rivers, and up hillsides with breathtaking views.

Along the way, walkers can enjoy the tranquil beauty of the glens and spot wildlife such as deer and birds of prey. With its well-marked paths and welcoming communities, the Moyle Way is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the natural wonders of the Glens of Antrim. 

D) The Fermanagh Lakelands

Located in County Fermanagh, the Fermanagh Lakelands is a paradise for water-based activities and hiking. The Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” is a challenging yet rewarding walk that takes you through a stunning landscape of limestone rocks and winding wooden boardwalks. The trail offers magnificent views of the surrounding lakes and countryside, making it worth the effort.

The Sperrin Mountains

The Sperrin Mountains in Northern Ireland offer a fantastic hiking experience for outdoor enthusiasts. With its rich history and stunning natural landscapes, this mountain range is a hidden gem for adventurers.

One of the best walks in the Sperrins is the Sawel Mountain and Dart Mountain Loop. This 8.5-mile trail takes you through meandering rivers, lush green valleys, and takes you to the highest peak in the range, Sawel Mountain. The summit’s views are breathtaking, allowing you to see the vast expanses of the surrounding countryside.

Another popular walk in the Sperrins is the Mullaghmore Mountain Trail. This 5-mile loop offers panoramic views of the entire range, with its rolling hills and deep valleys. The trail takes you through peat bogs and past ancient burial sites, adding an element of mystery to the walk.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, the Sperrin Mountains offer a variety of trails that cater to all skill levels, providing a memorable and rewarding hiking experience. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Northern Ireland and Hiking(FAQs)

What should I pack for a hiking trip in Northern Ireland? 

It’s important to be prepared for changing weather conditions. Always pack essential items such as waterproof clothing, sturdy hiking boots, a map, a compass, and extra layers for layering. For a complete packing guide, check out our article on layering for hiking.

Are there any guided hiking tours in Northern Ireland?

Yes, there are several tour operators that offer guided hiking tours in Northern Ireland. These tours provide expert guides who will take you to the best hiking spots and provide insights into the local culture and history. For more information, visit our page on guided walking holidays in Ireland.

What is the best time to visit Northern Ireland for hiking?

The best time to visit Northern Ireland for hiking is during the spring and summer months (May to September) when the weather is mild and the days are longer. However, always be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions and check the local forecast before heading out. For more details, read our article on the best time to visit Ireland.

Where can I find more information about hiking in Ireland?

For more information and resources on hiking in Ireland, including trail maps and suggested itineraries, visit our website WalkingHolidayIreland.com.

What are the different types of hiking trails in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland offers a variety of hiking trails, including mountain hikes, coastal walks, forest treks, and multi-day trails. Some popular types of trails include those in the Mournes, along the Causeway Coast, and through the Glens of Antrim.

What is the longest hiking route in Northern Ireland?

The Ulster Way is the longest walking route in Northern Ireland, covering approximately 1000 kilometres. It loops around the region, taking hikers through diverse landscapes, including mountains, valleys, forests, and coastal areas.

Which trail has the most elevation gain in Northern Ireland?

The Sliabh Beagh Way is known to have the most significant elevation gain in Northern Ireland. This challenging trail stretches for approximately 26 kilometres and takes hikers through the rugged and scenic Sliabh Beagh area.

What is the most popular and difficult Hike in Northern Ireland?

One of the most popular and challenging Hikes in Northern Ireland is the [Hare’s Gap](/mountains-o-mourne-don-mclean/) in the Mournes. This steep and rocky hike offers mesmerizing views but requires proper hiking skills and physical fitness to navigate its challenging terrain.

Are there camping trails available in Northern Ireland?

The Mourne Way and the Causeway Coast Way are popular trails where camping is permitted. Just make sure to follow the guidelines and obtain the necessary permits to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

Now that you have a glimpse of the best walks and hikes in Northern Ireland, it’s time to start planning your next adventure. Get ready to embrace the beauty of nature, explore ancient ruins, and create unforgettable memories in this captivating part of the world. Happy hiking!