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The Gap of Dunloe

After taking a browse of our best hikes in Ireland, we guarantee that you will be adding these vastly diverse trails to your bucket list.

From dramatic mountain landscapes to picturesque coastlines, this small island truly showcases excellent hiking options. So if you are looking for a reason to pull on those walking boots and to explore a new place, but not sure where to start, we have some suggestions that will suit beginners and experienced hikers.

Continue reading to discover 7 of the best hikes in Ireland…

1. Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail “Stairway to Heaven”, County Fermanagh

Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail

Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail is considered to be one of the best hikes in Ireland, taking you through one of the largest expanses of blanket bog in Northern Ireland.

Thanks to its one-mile board walk, which locals call the “Stairway to Heaven”, you are able to appreciate the breath-taking views at the top of Cuilcagh Mountain.

The summit measures an impressive 2,185ft and forms part of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, offering a superb opportunity to explore nearby caves whilst on this Ireland hiking trail.

2. The Causeway Coast, County Antrim

Giants Causeway

One of the best day hikes in Ireland has to be the majestic Causeway Coast, which stretches for 33 miles, from Portstewart to Ballycastle. This long-distance hiking trail would take a walker with an average fitness level 2-3 days to complete.

During this walk you will pass some of Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, including Giant’s Causeway, as pictured above. Visit the world-famous basalt columns and climb the Shepherd’s Steps before you hike along the clifftop trail as you unlock the mystery of this Northern Ireland treasure.

Other attractions along this Ireland hike include the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the medieval Dunluce Castle.

Despite its length, a novice walker will enjoy this hike just as much as the accomplished walker.

3. The Dingle Way, County Kerry

The Dingle Way, Ireland

Often thought of as “the most beautiful places on earth”, The Dingle Way had to be included as one of our best hikes in Ireland.

This Ireland hiking trail is 179km long and will take a reasonably fit person 8-9 days to complete, making it a great way to explore the wonders of the Dingle Peninsula.

Begin this walk in Tralee, the capital of County Kerry, before striding through the differing landscapes, ranging from the tranquil foothills of Slieve Mish to the crashing waves of the Atlantic at Slea Head.

Other highlights of this walk include the village of Dunquin, a plethora of ruined castles and clochans, or ‘beehive huts’, which date back to 6000BC.

4. Glenariff Forest Park, County Antrim

 Glenariff Forest Park trail

This Ireland hike is another superb opportunity to explore the magical landscape of Northern Ireland.

Known as the “Queen of the Glens”, the Glenariff Forest Park covers over 1,000 hectares of woodland and lakes, as well as as picnic and barbecue areas.

Wind your way across the timber walkway that will take you through the glen and along the river gorge, offering opportunities to catch glimpses of the wild life.

The Glenariff Forest Park is home to many animals of conservation concern, including the red squirrel, the hen harrier and the Irish hare, in addition to a selection of differing hiking trails to suit you and your fellow walkers.

This park is no doubt a picturesque wander with breath-taking views, whatever path you choose.

5. The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry

The Gap of Dunloe

Ensconced between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountain, the 15km-long walk amidst the landscape of The Gap of Dunloe provides the some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland.

Begin and end this Ireland day hike at the 150-year-old family-run pub, Kate Kearney’s Cottage, which can take up to 5 hours to complete.

From here, you will pass an impressive amount of lakes, including Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake and Black Lough, as well as enjoying pretty views of the River Looe which connects these five lakes.

This is one of the best hikes in Ireland and is an easy gradient and very enjoyable for both keen walkers and those will little experience.

6. Glendalough and the Spinc Cliffs, County Wicklow

Lake in Glendalough

To experience the best of wild Wicklow, we recommend exploring the Ireland hike of Glendalough and the Spinc cliffs.

This tough, yet rewarding walk enjoys views of the valley and as you climb higher up the route, the Wicklow Uplands opens out around you.

The hike starts by gently climbing the path which takes you past Poulnass Falls and through a wooded area, before you join a boardwalk and climb steps which take you to the towering Spinc Cliffs.

Here, take an opportunity to tuck into a picnic and soak up the views over the lakes, situated 1,000ft below.

Situated just a few miles away from the city of Dublin, this is one of the best hikes in Ireland for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

7. Diamond Hill Loop, County Galway

Kylemore Abbey

Considered to be a “proper mountain”, the Diamond Hill circular walk is a great hike for those with a reasonable level of fitness.

The starting point for this hike begins at the Connemara National Park visitor centre, before you follow the track along the Sruffaunboy Nature Trail. As you approach the mountain, a boardwalk will assist you across the bog before climbing up the slopes to reach the summit.

Whilst at the summit of this mountain you will be spoilt by the views that await you, including out to the sea and across to Inishturk, Inishbofin and Inishshark; towards the north east, you can catch a glimpse Kylemore Abbey’s Gothic turrets.

Return to the visitor centre via the path that you made the ascent and again, admire the dramatic Irish landscape that surrounding you.

If you are interested in further hikes in Ireland, why not take a look at our Ireland walking guide? Or if you are seeking a place to stay before enjoying one of these Ireland hiking trails, browse our range of Ireland holiday cottages

Image Credits: Carl Meehan(CC BY 2.0)

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