5 BEST long-distance trails for hiking in Ireland (2024)

Planning to hike in Ireland? Then add these fantastic walking routes to your bucket list for hiking in Ireland.

5 BEST long-distance trails for hiking in Ireland (2024)

Ireland is one of the best destinations for hiking, thanks to its lush green landscapes, rugged coastline, and variety of long-distance trails that suit all levels.

While we may not have the highest mountains in Europe, we have a wide variety of panoramic trails, ideal for hikers seeking an unforgettable adventure.

Ireland certainly packs a punch for a small island regarding the extensive trails that exist here, making it appealing to those who want to take their pick to suit their skill level and preferences.

Here are the five best long-distance hiking trails, with a few bonus options towards the end for hiking in Ireland.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for hiking in Ireland

  • Ireland’s weather is unpredictable, so make sure to check the forecast before your hike and prepare for what’s coming.
  • Proper footwear is essential. Try and wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Pack essentials. These include a map, compass, water and snacks, and a first aid kit.
  • When hiking in Ireland, it is also very important to respect the environment and try and leave no trace. Follow marked trials, don’t leave any rubbish and protect the wildlife.
  • It is also a good idea to plan your route when hiking in Ireland. Research the correct trails, especially if you are not familiar with the area.

5. The Ulster Way – take in the best sights of Northern Ireland

The Mourne Mountains forms part of The Ulster Way.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Tourism Northern Ireland

This exciting yet challenging route takes on the six counties of Northern Ireland and is one of the best long-distance trails in Ireland. It stretches for 1,024km (636 miles) and is essentially a looped walk around the province of Ulster.

This way-marked trail (blue sign, yellow arrows) takes you through the countryside, along the Wild Causeway Coast. There are also exciting landmarks like the Mourne Mountains and the Giants Causeway.

Once voted ‘The best long-distance trail in Northern Ireland’, this popular route can be done in sections or one go, making it easily accessible to everyone who is prepared.

The trail takes on a range of landscapes, and hikers must be well prepared for mountainous regions and wet and windy conditions.

You can expect to pass through several areas of outstanding natural beauty and various historical landmarks on this circular route. This is a fantastic choice for lovers of the outdoors.

Distance: 1,024km (636miles)

READ MORE: Learn more about this hike with IB4UD’s article – The Ulster Way: 10 best walks on the iconic route

4. The Wild Atlantic Way – the ultimate west coast challenge

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the best routes for hiking in Ireland.

If you are searching for the ultimate challenge, which encompasses Ireland’s best coastal vistas, leave your car at home and hike Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

This may be a popular route for road trips and coach tours. However, there is nothing better than taking the time to see this region of Ireland at a slower pace.

This ultra-long trail is one of Ireland’s best long-distance hiking trails, passing through some incredible areas between County Donegal and County Cork.

Along the well-marked route, you will come across iconic ‘Discovery Points’. These are the highlights along the way and offer spectacular views and historical information.

This trail is best suited to those with experience with longer routes and are up for the challenge, ensuring they are fully prepared for the weather and rugged terrain. This is the ultimate chance to walk through nine counties and three provinces.

Distance: 2,600km (1,600 miles)

MORE IB4UD ARTICLES ON THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY

3. The Wicklow Way – Dublin’s backyard escape to the mountains

One of the best spots for hiking in Ireland is The Wicklow Mountains.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool

If you are considering a hike in Ireland, you may have already heard about the famous Wicklow Way, which attracts plenty of adventure seekers and was, in fact, the first of its kind in the country.

This trail passes through glorious spots in The Wicklow Mountains, starting in Marlay Park, County Dublin and ending in Clonegal, County Carlow. The designated National Way-marked Trail is marked with a yellow walking man symbol and is easy to follow.

Hikers can expect to walk along forested tracks, mountain paths, steep inclines and quiet country roads, so it is essential to be prepared for it all. The trail can be completed within 5–7 days, and despite its popularity, you can easily find solitude along the way.

Distance: 127km (78 miles)

2. The Beara Way – one of the best routes for hiking in Ireland

The Beara Way is one of the best routes for hiking in Ireland.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool / Fáilte Ireland

This circular route begins and ends in the stunning town of Glengarriff in West Cork. The route takes you in a loop through the Beara Peninsula, which is well known for its wild and rugged landscapes and is less visited than its neighbour, The Ring of Kerry.

This is one of Ireland’s best long-distance hiking trails because of its historical sites, stunning views, and quaint Corkonian villages, which ooze charm.

This fully signposted trail is ideal for those who want to experience Ireland’s wild and untamed beauty, get off the beaten path, and enjoy pure solitude and the beauty of nature.

The challenging trail encompasses mountainous terrain and rugged coastlines, so it is essential to be prepared and stay safe. A favourite among experienced hikers, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and Caha Mountains.

Distance: 220km (128 miles)

SEE MORE: Ring of Beara highlights: 12 unmissable stops

1. The Kerry Way – the best long-distance hiking trail

The stunning Ring of Kerry.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

One of the best long-distance hiking trails is the famous Kerry Way, which starts and finishes in the bustling Kerry town of Killarney. The route, also known as The Ring of Kerry, loops around the Iveragh Peninsula, one of the most beautiful regions of Ireland.

With views of Ireland’s highest mountains, the crashing Atlantic Ocean, and beautiful seaside villages along the way, this trail is a treat for lovers of natural beauty and culture.

Although the trail can be completed in nine days, plenty of people choose to do it in stages, which makes it an easily accessible route to take.

There are plenty of glorious places to stay on the peninsula. These include Kenmare and Sneem, as well as Killarney. Allow plenty of time to soak up the culture and enjoy local food in your downtime.

Distance: 215km (133 miles)

MORE: RING OF KERRY ROUTE: map, stops, and things to know

Notable Mentions

The Burren Way is another of the best places for hiking in Ireland.
Credit: Flickr / Michael Foley, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED
  • The Dingle Way: This 179km (111 miles) looped trail begins and ends in Tralee, County Kerry and encompasses the paradise of the Dingle Peninsula and everything in between.
  • The Burren Way: This 114km (71 miles) trail takes you through one of Ireland’s most unique landscapes, The Burren in County Clare, and is a must for those seeking an extraordinary experience.
  • The Barrow Way: This riverside trail hugs the River Barrow for 120 km (about 74 miles) and takes around four days to complete. It is ideal if you are searching for a true hidden gem of Ireland.

Your questions answered about hiking in Ireland

Frequently asked questions about hiking in Ireland.
Credit: Flickr / Marco Verch Professional Photographer, CC BY 2.0 DEED

Read our article and still have some outstanding questions? Then you have come to the right place. Below, we have put together the most frequently asked questions about hiking in Ireland from our readers and online.

Does Ireland have good hiking?

Yes, Ireland has some of the best hikes in Europe. Many allow you to witness the variety of beautiful natural views Ireland has to offer. The best part is that there are hikes to suit all levels and throughout the country.

What is the best month to hike in Ireland?

Summer is the best time to hike in Ireland. The weather is milder, and the chances of cold and wet conditions are at their lowest. The weather is unpredictable, though, so always have waterproof clothing and footwear at any time of year.

How long does it take to walk the Kerry Way?

The Kerry Way takes 9-10 days to complete, but this can be challenging for most. It is best to take your time and walk at a suitable pace. This will allow you to enjoy the experience without stress or injury.

MORE IB4UD ARTICLES ABOUT HIKING IN IRELAND

6 of the BEST hiking routes in Ireland

5 MOST difficult hikes in Ireland to do in 2024

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