> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Hiking Equipment > The best hiking maps for Ireland
POSTED BY July 15, 2021

Anyone who wants to go hiking in Ireland is well advised to find out about suitable maps. In this post, find out everything about the various (hiking) maps and what outdoor fans can use them for. Here are our best hiking maps for Ireland.

For an overview and how to get there: road maps

When planning day hikes in Ireland, hikers often find that getting to and from the exact starting point in remote hiking areas can be a challenge. An up-to-date road map not only gives you an overview of the geographic context of the Green Island, it also shows which country roads take you to national parks and hiking trails.

A special recommendation for hikers is the National Geographic Adventure Map. It not only depicts the details of the road network, but also shows all of the mountain ranges. Perhaps you will discover a hiking region that you did not even know about.

How to read a topographic map is very important for hikers

Ordnance Survey Maps – Detailed regional maps

The Ordnance Survey Maps are the official maps of Ireland and have a long history. Between 1829 and 1842, Ireland became the first country to be completely surveyed on a large scale. The maps created in this way are a fascinating testimony to history to this day. Today’s maps also impress with their richness of detail and precision.

The Discovery Series maps are particularly interesting for hikers. They depict different regions, each marked with a specific number. The Dingle Way, for example, can be seen in its entirety on OS cards 70 and 71.

The scale used in this series is 1: 50,000.

In addition, Ordnance Survey maps show not only hiking trails and landscape elements such as rivers, houses and mountains, but also the most inconspicuous archaeological sites. These include, for example, ring forts or menhirs (‘standing stones’), which are otherwise easily overlooked along the way. These maps open doors to the past of the world you are exploring. For anyone interested in archeology and history, they are a real treasure trove.

Only know of Stonehenge? Find out about some of Ireland’s prehistoric sites here.  

Topographic maps – essential for mountain peaks

Topographic maps differ from other maps in that they work with the help of contour lines. As the name suggests, the contour lines provide information about the exact altitude of each location on the map. The closer they are together, the steeper the terrain. In this way, they map the respective area three-dimensionally.

Topographical maps are indispensable for high-altitude hikes. With their help, one can find the gentlest climb to the top and avoid dangers such as cliffs.

Reading it correctly takes some practice, but the time invested is worth it. Topographic maps are also a necessary and helpful addition to digital maps if technology should let you down.

Would you like to learn how to read topographic maps? Here is a practical introduction to reading hiking maps for beginners.

A landscape feature on a map - the spot height

Digital maps for GPS and mobile phones

The main advantage of digital maps is that they show where you are. This way you can make sure that you are still on the right track even after turning.

One of the advantages of printed maps is that they don’t need batteries and won’t break in the event of a fall.

You can download GPS maps and routes to a smartphone or a special GPS receiver using various apps. What you need for this is map material. You can either buy it or download it as open source free of charge. Then you can download the coordinates of a respective route onto this map.

GPS devices are an attractive option for outdoor fans in that they are more robust than cell phones and their batteries last longer. This is of course useful on longer tours, on which you can also take spare batteries with you.

But beginners can of course first familiarize themselves with GPS on their mobile phones before investing in an extra device.

Food in Ireland - A Map of where to eat in Dingle
Dingle Way Map

On to Irish peaks

If you want to climb the summit in Ireland, you should definitely be familiar with the relevant map material. Because while Ireland’s 40 long-distance footpaths are signposted, there aren’t even any trails that lead up to the vast majority of the Irish mountains. The major exceptions are mountains that have been developed for tourism such as CarrauntoohilDiamond Hill and the Sugar Loaf.

So, in the interests of your own safety, it is best to have printed and digital maps with you to help you navigate the Irish wilderness and avoid danger.

The interactive Mountain Views homepage enables users to share and rate hiking routes. Alternatively, you can of course marvel at the windy mountain peaks from a picturesque Ireland long-distance hiking trail.

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

We hope that you enjoyed this guide to the best hiking maps for Ireland. Hillwalk Tours includes Ordnance Survey Maps as part of all of their Ireland hiking tours.