As spring hits and the milder weather sets in, there is no better time to get the walking shoes on and explore Ireland’s many great walking trails. From its rugged landscapes and dramatic coastlines, there is something for everyone of any fitness level to enjoy. To help you choose the best walking spots – be it alone, with your other half or with the family – we’ve listed 15 great walking trails to experience across Ireland this spring. Check them out below.
15 Walking Trails around Ireland to Experience
1 Divis Ridge Trail, Co. Antrim
On a visit to Belfast, the leisurely walk along the Divis Ridge Trail is a wonderful way to see the city in all its glory. Along the trail behold the impressive Black Hill and countless opportunities to soak up the city from afar.
2 Glendalough Lake Walk, Co. Wicklow
The beautiful trail around Glendalough’s two lakes will not disappoint. Situated within the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough is a great spot to take in the beauty of the lakes, the surrounding mountains and the popular Monastic Site, which isn’t too far away.
3 Causeway Coast, Co. Antrim
Set along the north coast of Ireland, the Causeway Coast offers spectacular walks along its coastline and many memorable experiences along the way: soak up mythical tales at the Giant’s Causeway, sunbathe on the pristine Whiterocks beach, soar great heights along the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and nail the perfect selfie at Dunluce Castle. The Causeway Coast offers scenic walks in abundance and is one of the highlights of a trip up north.
4 Connemara, Co. Galway
In the wild west of Ireland lies the rugged and picturesque area of Connemara. This particular area is otherworldly with its thatched houses, stone walls and hidden beaches that can be explored on foot (just be careful to steer clear of any bogs). Worthy of a stop is the site of WB Yeats’ grave, sat amidst traditional Celtic crosses, stunning mountain tops and endless moors.
Connemara National park has lots of great walking trails while the town of Clifden is well worth exploring on foot. Visit Walk Connemara to find out more about walking in the Connemara region, and to find out about the guided walking tours that take place in the area.
5 Dingle Way, Co. Kerry
Spanning over 170km long, the Dingle Way necessitates at least a week of walking to complete it. It is not for the faint-hearted but views of the ocean and surrounding mountains (plus a few optional stops in quaint villages for a pint of Guinness!) will surely keep you going.
6 Hare’s Gap, Co.Down
Set among the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain range, Hare’s Gap is a great starting point for walkers of any level. Once you have reached this point either walk back the way you came or continue on other trails along the Mourne Mountains – perhaps you’ll want to scale Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard – check out some of the popular Mourne Mountain walks by visiting WalkNI.
7 Errigal Mountain and Mackoght Loop Trail, Co. Donegal
A starting point for many travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Mackoght Loop Trail will bring you to the impressive Errigal Mountain via a moderate and strenuous 6 km walk. However, rest assured that any tough moments will be made worthwhile once you reach its summit and look out over nearby Dunlewy Lough and Glenveagh National Park.
8 Benbulben and Kings Mountain Loop Walk, Co. Sligo
Benbulben is a sight to behold when you first cast your eyes on it; the mountain’s table-like expanse standing out from a distance (some say it’s Ireland’s very own Table Mountain). The southern part of the mountain is the safest and smoothest way of reaching the mountain’s peak and, once on top, take in the incredible views over Co. Sligo and the Atlantic Ocean that lies beyond.
9 Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo
Stretching 764m high, Croagh Patrick is known for being a steep and arduous climb for walkers, particularly for pilgrims who often climb the mountain in their bare feet! The annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick’s peak is an ode to St. Patrick who climbed the mountain and fasted on its summit for 40 days. Suffice it to say, you can climb Croagh Patrick any time of the year and walking in bare feet is optional!
10 Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
Nothing is quite as breathtaking as looking out over the Cliffs of Moher to the endless ocean that lies beyond it. The trail along the cliffs is a great way to soak up every inch of this great expanse but be careful on a windy day as the cliff edge is never too far away!
11 Sperrin Mountains, Co. Tyrone and Derry
Based at the heart of Northern Ireland and stretching 40km wide, the Sperrins mountain range is the largest mountain range in Ireland. From its summit of Sawel Mountain, walkers can enjoy views over the rolling hills below and, on a fair day, as far as the Foyle Estuary and Lough Neagh.
12 Cuilcagh Mountain Walk, Co. Fermanagh
Cuilcagh is a well-protected trail with a purpose-built boardwalk so walkers can avoid the rough, bog-filled terrain. This trail has the advantage of being close to the stunning Marble Arch Caves for those keen to add a further adventure to their visit.
13 Howth Cliff Path, Co. Dublin
Only a 25-minute D.A.R.T journey from Dublin’s city centre, Howth Cliff Path is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon soaking up the outdoors. A clearly signposted path will take you up along a cliff path looking out over the sea and, if fortunate enough, you will spot grey seals swimming below.
14 The Burren, Co. Clare
The Burren in Co. Clare is a wondrous walking experience, with limestone hills and valleys that will literally take your breath away. The area covers over 130 square kilometres of terrain and offers a great end to the trail with wide views over the Cliffs of Moher. If you’re looking for a pit stop on this long walk then the picturesque village of Doolin, known for its world famous music sessions, is a fun and pleasant place to break up your journey. For walking enthusiasts, The Burren is perfect for a 3 – 4 day walking holiday.
15 The Sheep’s Head Way, Co. Cork
Last but certainly not least is the impressive Sheep’s Head Way trail, situated between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay in Co. Cork. The 88 km long trail offers a great mix of hills, coastline and cliffs for walkers of any level. Some shorter loops are available for those looking to get a taste of the trail. For those brave enough to tackle the whole length, there are plenty of places to stay for any refuelling needed along the way.
What Are Your Favourite Irish Walking Holidays?
Have we missed any of your favourite Irish walking destinations? Where do you like to explore on foot when it comes to book a walking holiday around Ireland? Let us know your favourite spots below.
Images courtesy Tourism Ireland and Faílte Ireland