The epic Wild Atlantic Way route follows 2,500km (1,500 miles) of spectacular coastline along the west coast of Ireland. In this post, we have selected the 8 best hikes on the Wild Atlantic Way for you to conquer!
1. Slieve League
Located in the heart of Donegal, the Slieve League Cliffs are one of Ireland’s gems. From the top of the cliffs, the panorama is breathtaking!
Start the hike in Teelin and follow the ‘pilgrim path‘, a steep path among the green mountains. You can then return the same way or have the option to take One Man’s Pass, a very narrow and steep ridge (if you don’t like heights – definitely avoid!). Once over the pass, you can follow the cliffs back to Bunglas before returning to Teelin along the country roads. Duration of the hike: 4 to 5 hours.
In some places the trail is rocky and in others it is muddy. Therefore, make sure you wear a waterproof jacket and pants, as well as good hiking shoes !
There are also two Slieve League car parks. If you park at the first car park (the bottom car park), you’ll have a nice 30 – 45 minute walk up to the viewing area along a narrow road.
2. Dingle Way
Located in Co. Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula, the Dingle Way is the most popular long-distance walking trail in Ireland. This 179km (112 miles) long National Waymarked Trail is a circular route that begins and ends in Tralee.
Most of the Dingle Way crosses low-lying land and looks up at mountains rather than down from them. The aggregate ascent over the route is approximately 2,900m, but, although there are some short steep ascents, there are almost no significant steep climbs.
The exception to this is the traverse of Masatiompan (between Cuas and Cloghane), which sees the trail ascend to a height of 650 metres above sea level. However, there is also an alternative route available to Cloghane to avoid this.
Highlights of the route include Slea Head, Dunquin Pier, walking on miles of golden beaches, a vast array of archaeological monuments and of course the lovely villages along the route.
Located in County Sligo, this is without a doubt one of Ireland’s most iconic mountains! Its summit was formed by gigantic glaciers segmenting the landscape during the Ice Age .
Benbulben is famous for his connections to Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats. He is also buried in the cemetery of the Protestant Church of Drumcliffe about 6 km from the trail.
Begin the ascent at Luke’s bridge. The trail climbs gently in the ravine to the plateau. From the top, enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Heading back to Sligo, if you follow the road along the mountain, you will reach Glencar Lake and its waterfall. This small corner of exotic jungle located in a wooded and green area, it is the ideal place for a summer picnic!
This route can be boggy and muddy so make sure to come prepared.
4. Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher Coastal Path connects the village of Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher to Hags Head and Liscannor. This spectacular walk stretches over a distance of 20km (12 miles).
You can experience one of Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes and enjoy breathtaking views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay.
This walk is also the first section of the Burren Way, a 120km (75 miles) trail which travels along the coast of Clare before turning inland into the heart of the Burren.
Also read our post: The Burren Way – 10 Trail Highlights
5. Beara Way
The Beara Way is a 152km long loop around the Beara Peninsula, which begins and ends in Glengarriff, County Cork.
With its 511 listed sites, the Beara Peninsula has the largest number of historic remains in Ireland including many of the best Stone Circles in Ireland.
The Beara Way hikes are some of the best on the Wild Atlantic Way. You will pass through breathtaking coastal and mountainous landscapes, from Glengarriff to Kenmare, while also having the chance to visit the unique islands of Dursey and Bere.
Also read our post: 10 Highlights of the Beara Way: Beautiful West Cork
The climb to Mweelrea is one of the best hikes on the Wild Atlantic Way. Mweelrea mountain is the tallest and most beautiful mountain in Connemara.
There are several hiking routes along this high mountain (allow around 8 hours on the trail). In particular the most difficult called “Ramp Route” which starts from the north end of Doo Lough, and the easiest called “Coastal Route” which starts from the west.
Beware, Mweelrea is one of the most dangerous mountains in Ireland! Don’t venture onto the mountain alone and always take a map and compass . Also take your cell phone with you.
7. Sheep’s Head Way
Another must-see spot on the Wild Atlantic Way is Sheep’s Head Peninsula, located west of Cork between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay.
Perfect for hiking, the peninsula has several trails as well as the Sheep’s Head Way which is a National Waymarked Trail. The terrain is varied and includes hills, country paths, coastal paths and short stretches of wooded trails.
Best of all, this is one of the best places in Ireland to see many marine mammals! You will have a great chance to see a few dolphins and porpoises playing off the western tip of the promontory!
Also read our post: The Sheep’s Head Way – Supporting Local Tourism
8. Kerry Way
At over 214km (133 miles), the Kerry Way is Ireland’s longest signposted walking trail and is also one of the most popular.
The trail loops around the Iveragh Peninsula (similar to the Ring of Kerry), starting and finishing in the busy tourist destination of Killarney.
You can experience a wide variety of beautiful landscape on the Kerry Way such as Ireland’s highest mountains, the legendary Lakes of Killarney and the dramatic Atlantic coastline.