These are five of the best coastal walks in the west of Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way has an abundance of incredible seascape views, sandy beaches and breathtaking clifftops.
The best way to experience the rugged west coast is on one of the many outstanding coastal walks waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxed Sunday stroll or a vigorous hike, there’s something on this list for everyone. Get up off the couch and enjoy the natural beauty and fresh air the west coast has to offer; you will not regret it.
5. Killaspugbrone Loop Walk, Strandhill, Co. Sligo − comprising unforgettable views
Strandhill is a dream of a coastal village on the Sligo Surf Coast, but a trip here wouldn’t be complete without completing this magnificent walk which promises views of Benbulben, Knocknarea and Sligo Bay.
The Loop walk starts at Strandhill Airport, is 7.7 km (4.7 miles) and takes about 2 hours. The route will take you through some forest and footpaths and then along the beach and sand dunes.
You can also start in Strandhill village if that’s easier, that’s the beauty of a loop walk. Make sure you treat yourself to the wonderful cosy, and friendly atmosphere of Shells Café when you’re finished. You deserve it!
Address: Maguins Island, Strandhill, Co. Sligo, Ireland
4. Dursey Island Loop Walk, Dursey Island, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork − one of the most awesome coastal walks in the west of Ireland
This is one of the most unique walks because to access it, you have to take Ireland’s only cable car!
Dursey Island, located at the tip of the beautiful Beara Peninsula, is very difficult to get to by boat due to the rough seas and treacherous rocks below, so a cable car was built to ensure the locals weren’t stranded.
The cable car is now popular among tourists and hillwalkers as well as the few part-time residents.
The walk commences at the cable car, which takes you across to Dursey and continues for 14 km (8.6 miles), taking about 4 hours altogether.
The 4 hours will fly by as you follow the purple route around the island, enjoying spectacular views across to the Beara Peninsula. Watch out for whales, dolphins and basking sharks along the way.
Don’t forget to check the Dursey Island cable car website before you go to make sure of the operating hours.
The return trip over and back is €10 for adults and €5 for kids. The cable car takes six people at a time and constantly runs during its operating hours.
Address: Ballaghboy, Bealnalicka, Co. Cork, Ireland
3. Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk, Liscannor, Co. Clare − Ireland’s most dramatic cliffs
Make the most of the ‘Banner County’ and the magnificent Cliffs of Moher by approaching them on foot. Your hard work will be rewarded with the most spectacular view of the world-famous Cliffs of Moher.
This is an experience you’ll never want to forget, so make sure you have your camera! The new cliff path from Liscannor to Doolin is 20 km (12.4 miles) long and takes approximately 5-6 hours.
The path is quite steep and dangerous at times, so this is one for the more adventurous among us and definitely not one to try in your flip-flops.
You can access the path from many other locations along the coast if you want to shorten the distance, and there are also buses that will take you back to where you’ve parked your car. You could also organise a car split with your mates.
Address: Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail, Fisher St, Ballyvara, Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
2. Slieve League Pilgrim Path, Teelin, Co.Donegal − one of the most stunning coastal cliffs in Ireland
The Slieve League Cliffs are Ireland’s highest accessible sea cliffs, so this path taking you to their summit will literally take your breath away.
Rising 1,972 ft (601 m) above sea level, this is not a walk for the faint-hearted. Perhaps this is what makes it an unforgettable stop on the Wild Atlantic Way.
The 2.8 km (1.7 miles) path takes about an hour and a half to complete and begins at the Slieve League car park in the village of Teelin.
Walkers are warned not to take this path if there is heavy fog or rain. Legend has it that at one point of the path, you can see seven different counties.
Address: Unnamed Road, Lergadaghtan, County Donegal, Ireland
1. Portacloy Loop walk, Portacloy, Co. Mayo − for wonderful views
We have saved the best for last with this incredible loop walk which starts at the idyllic fishing village of Portacloy and features some of the most dramatic coastal scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way.
One of the most unique aspects of this walk is that you will have the unspoiled beauty almost all to yourself in this isolated part of North West Mayo.
This 18 km (11.1 miles) loop walk is packed full of beautiful sights sure to keep the Instagram likes rolling. The golden sands of Portacloy beach would rival the beaches of Thailand and is a fabulous spot for a swim after a long walk on a hot sunny day.
Watch out for the 1.6-billion-year-old Stags of Broadhaven, the rugged cliffs of Benwee Head and the historic ‘Eire 63’ stone aerial mark from World War II.
Address: Portacloy, Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland
Other notable mentions
The Dingle Way Coastal Path, County Kerry: This coastal path on the southwest coast of Ireland is a stunning trek totalling 162 km (101 miles), but you can take shorter walks with equally stunning views of the coastal town’s dramatic landscape.
Kilkee Cliff Walk, County Clare: Take a step away from the busy crowds and experience County Clare’s Kilkee Cliff Walk; you won’t be disappointed. This is one of the most underrated clifftop paths that offers iconic views of the Atlantic Ocean and is a favourite among those who enjoy cliff-diving, one of the most unique things to do in Ireland.
Inishmore Island Walk, County Galway: The Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland are three islands off Galway Bay.
Inishmore is the biggest of the three, and the coastal island walk offers unparalleled coastal views and has a great variation of walking routes to suit everybody.
Slea Head, County Kerry: This coastal route is an elevated trail that leads around the headland of Slea Head, Ireland’s westernmost point of the mainland. This is a great option with stunning views of the Blasket Islands.
FAQs about the best coastal walks in the west of Ireland
What should I bring for a coastal walk in Ireland?
The weather can be pretty unpredictable in Ireland, so it’s best to always bring a light waterproof jacket. For a day of hiking, decent walking boots are essential. Be sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks for the day ahead, too.
Can you walk the west coast of Ireland?
There is an abundance of walking routes you can take to see the most spectacular parts of the west coast.
What is the Wild Atlantic Way?
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the whole world. It stretches from the beautiful landscape of Malin Head in County Donegal to the seaside town of Kinsale, County Cork.
You will experience the Irish landscape like no other on this route.