The Best Walking Destinations in Ireland for Avid Walkers

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Ireland is a country packed full of scenic vistas and gorgeous scenery. For avid walkers, it’s the perfect destination as there are many routes literally on the doorstep of most major cities, and in almost every county.

Ireland may not be on the top of your list for travel destination but whether you’re looking for a one day jaunt or a longer hiking holiday it has what you need.

But don’t forget to book travel insurance for the trip. Hiking isn’t inherently risky, but accidents happen, and you always need cover. After all, you never know what might happen out there.

According to AA Ireland Insurance, the majority of the insurance provider in Ireland may cover you to get more daring activities, but they might include limits or conditions with actions like hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking. Again, check your coverage for an extensive list.

Here’s is a list of the best places to hike or take a walk in Ireland.

Wicklow Way

The J. B. Malone memorial above Lough Tay in the Wicklow Mountains National Park

Located just outside of Dublin, Wicklow is called the Garden of Ireland, and as soon as you arrive, you’ll realise why.

The oldest marked trail in Ireland, and probably the most popular, Wicklow way generally starts in Carlow, and can lead you all the way to Dublin if you follow it right to the finish. 

Expect the walk to take at least a week, with individual days averaging 15km in distance

average of 8 days. It’s not too challenging for the most part, but one or two days can be quite punishing. Signage is pretty bad, but the OSI have a specific Wicklow bundle ‘adventure series’ so you shouldn’t get lost.

With a wealth of places to stay along the route, you’ll be spoilt for choice, though it’s probably worth booking an inclusive trip, or at least pre-booking your accommodation, otherwise you might have issues with rooms. It gets pretty popular.

Dingle Way

Dingle Way encompasses almost the entire peninsula, a huge 168 kilometres of pure white beaches, historic ruined buildings, old country roads and bright blue waters around county Kerry.

Arrival is easy. There’s a convenient dual bus and train station at Tralee, which is right where you need to be to begin. Dingle is a pretty big tourist trap, though, so expect large crowds, especially in the busy seasons.

The trails themselves are pretty good quality, with a total ascent of only 2600m across the whole journey. Signposting is normally okay, but good quality maps are always an advantage. The route is a big circle, though, so you can always head around the coast and eventually be sure to find where you need to be.

Also make sure to keep an eye out for Fungie, Dingle’s local dolphin, who can sometimes be seen frolicking in the ocean.

The whole walk is generally considered to take around 7 days, so give yourself enough time, and remember that pre-booking is always smart.

The Burren

The perfect weekend for more experienced hikers, the Burren is also a fantastic choice for anyone with historical or environmental interest.

A good place to start is Kinvara, county Galway, giving you a perfect heading off point for the cliffs of Moher and the ancient and exposed karst limestone bedrock. The whole landscape seems like something from a science fiction film, with flat plains of grey rock that can be quite beautiful, in a stark, desolate manner.

At only 123kn, it’s slightly shorter than some of the others on this list, with lower incline levels and long, flat paths that are usually pretty good quality.

The main trail leads from Lahinch to Corrofin, but there are a lot of potential diversions and sidelines, so get yourself a good map. The nearest airport is Shannon, and you can expect the whole walk to take around 5 days.

The Beara Way

Slowly getting more popular, though not to the same extent as Wicklow way, the Beara peninsula is another long walk that needs at least a week to see all of.

Moving over mountainsides and across beaches and cliffs, expect some hard walks, with a total ascent of over 5000m total.

If you’re walking solo, without guides or assistance, make sure to bring a map, and probably GPS, because less than half of the 196km route is on pathways, and signs get incredibly sparse once you’re on the route itself.

The whole way is circular, generally starting in Glengarriff, county Cork, and can take upwards of 6 to 8 days to see it all.

Other considerations

When hiking, remember that you’re going to need

  • At least a day’s worth of food and drink, and hopefully more. A good mix of high calorie, high protein food, as well as stuff you can snack on whilst you walk.
  • Good quality walking boots, preferably broken in.
  • Layered clothing, including waterproofs. Ireland is beautiful, but the weather can be tempestuous and unpredictable.
  • Some way to navigate, whether that’s a map and compass or GPS. Backups are always good

No matter where you go in Ireland, you’ll find scenes of natural beauty, as well as warm, welcoming people.

A walking holiday can be combined with almost any other activity. Whether you’re seeing the sights and sampling the local brews or going for something a little more active, you’re sure to love it.

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