Ireland is full of fantastic scenery – from coastal cliffs to lazy lakes, it pretty much has it all. Arguably the best way to admire these breathtaking landscapes is by foot, where you can take your time and truly get back to nature. Here, we take a look at 7 unmissable hikes in Ireland that you can tackle in the year ahead.
The Causeway Coast Way
Located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the Causeway Coastal route passes by one of the most mind-boggling UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Hexagonal basalt rocks seemingly sprout from the ocean at the Giant’s Causeway, giving way to many ancient stories of how it was formed.
Popular Irish folklore says it was a bridge built between Ireland and Scotland, so that two giants could fight each other. Others say it’s the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, where the molten lava was cooled quickly by the ocean. We’ll let you decide which theory you prefer.
The Gap of Dunloe
County Kerry is home to many gems, both popular and hidden. The Gap of Dunloe is one of those popular ones, but with so much to explore around it. This mountain path separates the towering mountain ranges of the MacGillycuddy Reeks from the Purple Mountain Range.
The Gap of Dunloe can be found along the popular Kerry Way walking route, or the equivalent Ring of Kerry driving route. Horse-drawn carriages and rock-climbing are also popular ways to see the impressive Gap, but walking this mystical route is the most impressive.
The Dingle Way
In its entirety, the Dingle Way is a 179km route. It snakes around the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, taking in some of the best coastal scenery that Ireland has to offer. On top of that, Dingle is known to be home to some of the most authentic Irish hospitality, and the freshest seafood you can get.
The route itself takes you across beaches, up hills and through quaint Irish villages. Dingle, the most westerly town in Europe, is one of the highlights, with charm and craic galore. For a shorter route, you have the option to just complete the first section of the Dingle Way on the Kerry Camino.
The MacGillycuddy Reeks (Carrauntoohil)
Towering above the Gap of Dunloe are the MacGillycuddy Reeks. In their ranks stands Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain at 1,038m. If you’re experienced and the active type, you may choose to hike the entire mountain range, which can take 10-12 hours. You will summit 10 mountain peaks along your way, with the vast majority being above 900m in height.
This is definitely an undertaking for good weather conditions and local guides are also available.
The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk
The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk connects lively Liscannor and Doolin, via the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. This 16km trail spoils walkers with magnificent views of not only these word-famous cliffs but also Galway Bay, the Aran Islands, Doolin and the roaring Wild Atlantic itself.
The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk is also part of the Burren Way, a 98km long (116km including the Black Head Loop) walking route that takes in the best of the Burren area starting in Lahinch and continuing past Doolin to Fanore and Ballyvaughan before turning inland to Carran and finally Corofin.
Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
Known as one of the most beautiful walks in Ireland, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail (nicknamed “The Stairway To Heaven”) is hidden away in County Fermanagh. With miles of gorgeous boardwalk, and Irish plains stretching as far as the eye can see, this trail is definitely one for the Instagrammers.
At 665m, Cuilcagh mountain certainly isn’t the tallest in Ireland, but it will give you breathtaking views at each turn. Cuilcagh mountain is also the only mountain both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
One thing to note about this trail is that there are no dogs allowed and the car park can get very busy so arriving early is advised.
In the 6th century, St. Kevin came across a beautiful sanctuary in a valley in what is now Wicklow. He built his monastery at Glendalough, drawing scholars from all over Europe to study in the tranquil paradise. The attraction’s reach is even greater today, with people coming from worldwide to experience the beauty and peace that compelled St. Kevin to settle here.
‘Glen’ means valley, while ‘Lough’ means lake – an apt name of a place with a lake nestled in a valley. Climbing above the lake, on a trail called The Spinc, gives a superb view of the valley down below.