> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Hiking in Ireland > Ecotourism in Ireland: It’s Importance & best destinations
POSTED BY July 28, 2022

Demographic development, pollution of land and oceans, global warming… these subjects regularly make the headlines. They underline the need and the urgency of making the protection of the environment and its resources a real priority issue for our societies. Ecotourism is a way of traveling that is more responsible and more respectful of nature, its ecosystems and populations. In this post, find out more about the importance of ecotourism and ecotourism in Ireland.

The importance of ecotourism

Choosing to travel in a more environmentally friendly way is a matter of common sense, which we should all share. It is about the protection of our planet and natural balances, and the preservation of resources for future generations.

At Hillwalk Tours, we are very sensitive to environmental issues and promote ecotourism. We are committed to a greener planet. We encourage all hikers visiting Ireland to follow the ‘Leave No Trace‘ principles in order to get the most of the surrounding nature while having minimal impact on the Irish ecosystem.

Beara Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Dursey Island, Beara Way

For an ever-green Ireland – Leave No Trace

The first rule of ecotourism is this: No matter where you are, the only things you should leave behind are your footprints.

Leave No Trace” means leaving no trash or personal belongings in the wilderness as you walk the beautiful trails of Ireland.

We are proud to support the ‘Leave No Trace‘ program (www.leavenotraceireland.org), an Irish organization which aims to promote responsible tourism and preserve the country’s natural beauty.

Hiking The Kerry Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Hiking the Kerry Way

Also read our post: Leave No Trace – The 7 Principles

Reduce quantities and reduce waste

Remember that every pound counts when you travel. The heavier your bag, the greater the carbon footprint you will leave. We therefore recommend that those who wish to include their trip in an ecotourism initiative to take in their suitcase only things that they really need.

More and more of us are exploring nature, and every day we are leaving more traces of our passage in the environment. The waste left by walkers degrades the vegetation and contributes significantly to water pollution.

The most damaging scourge is plastic. And plastic bottles represent a significant part of this waste left behind by tourists. As far as possible, we therefore advise you not to use plastic water bottles , and to prefer the use of reusable water bottles.

Taking a break on the Dingle Way

Consume local

Another facet of ecotourism: local products. Consume local produce when you travel to Ireland! In addition to reducing the carbon footprint (the products were not shipped from the other side of the world), it helps support local businesses and at the same time maintain the good economic health of the country.

And it cannot be said enough… fresh, local produce is much better than imported produce, and experiencing the local cuisine is part of the trip! This is also true for beer and whiskey… so go ahead and eat local!

At Hillwalk Tours we pride ourselves on recommending the pubs and restaurants offering the best local produce on all of our hiking tours!

Local seafood - yummy!
Local seafood – yummy!

Ecotourism in Ireland: 5 destinations

1. Killarney National Park

Home to Carrauntoohil – Ireland’s highest mountain – Killarney National Park in County Kerry is a hiker’s paradise and also one of the best destinations for ecotourism in Ireland. In this Park are more than 100 km2 of deep lakes and green mountains, crossed by several hiking trails.

On the slopes of the Torc or Mangerton Mountains, you may be able to spot deer, a species that has lived on Irish lands for thousands of years. This deer population was threatened 50 years ago, but the implementation of a protection campaign has increased their population, which now reaches 850 individuals throughout the National Park.

Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Hiking the Kerry Way

2. The Seal Rescue Association

Seal Rescue Ireland, in County Wexford, is an association which rescues baby seals washed up on Irish beaches.

The motto of this association is “Save. Rehabilitate. Release”. The team of dedicated volunteers care for the seal pups until they are big and strong enough to be released into the open sea.

Tourists can visit the center to learn more about the activities of the association. The center is funded by donations.


3. Wicklow Mountains National Park

Also known as the ‘Garden of Ireland‘, County Wicklow is an ideal playground for all lovers of the great outdoors and a perfect destinations for ecotourism in Ireland.

In the Wicklow Mountains National Park, less than two hours from Dublin, you will find many incredible sites. Glendalough, one of the most popular places in Wicklow, due to its beautiful mountains and monastic site. But also Glenmalure, nearby, the longest glacial valley in Ireland. There are many hiking trails through the Wicklow Mountains including the famous Wicklow Way.

Wicklow is a popular spot for bird watchers, as it is home to over 100 species of birds. Observe the herons, peregrine falcons, and even the crested kinglets, which inhabit the Wicklow Mountains.

Glendalough, Wicklow Way, Wicklow Mountains

4. Cliffs of Moher / Burren National Park

The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are Ireland’s most visited natural site. The spectacular panorama of the cliffs stretches over 300 meters above the ocean crashing below.

This rock formation is estimated to be 300 million years old. Each layer that can be seen in the rock marks the story of an important event that helped shape this magnificent landscape.

Not far from the cliffs you will find the Burren National Park. It is a beautiful place for hiking. The Burren is characterized by its limestone rock landscapes. Walking in the Burren feels like walking on the surface of the moon.

The Burren National Park Information Point in Corofin is open seasonally from April to September. Admission is free and you will get plenty of information on the geology, fauna and the specific flora of the Burren.

The Burren Eco Tourism Network also won a Lonely Planet award in its ‘Best in Travel’ picks for 2021 being named Best Community Tourism Project.

Cliffs of Moher, Burren Way

5. Marine life on the west coast of Ireland

Ireland is one of the best places in Europe for whale and dolphin watching.

Since the early 1990s, Irish coastal waters have been declared a ‘Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary’. They provide a summer feeding area for a number of whale species and a residence area for the dolphins residing there all year round.

The west coast of Ireland from West Cork to West Kerry to Donegal is one of the best places to see a variety of species. These include minke whales, fin whales, dolphins, harbor porpoises, whale sharks and even humpback whales.

fin whale ireland

Also read our post: Whale & Dolphin Watching in Ireland

We hope you enjoyed this guide to Ecotourism in Ireland: It’s Importance & best destinations. In recent years, there have been more and more eco-responsible tourists in Ireland, and that’s good news! So please come and discover Ireland differently, travel ethically and authentically, and minimize your environmental impact! Hillwalk Tours is here to help!