From the towering cliffs of the Wild Atlantic coastline, to ancient, glacier-carved valleys, forgotten peninsulas and the impressive peaks of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland is a walking holiday paradise.

Ireland has a well-developed walking industry and is geared up for point-to-point (inn-to-inn) multi-day walks, where your luggage will follow via a daily baggage transfer service. On some of the more popular walking routes it’s easy to organise your own baggage transfer, alternatively book a self-guided holiday with one of the country’s many operators.

For a more relaxed walking experience consider a centre-based walking holiday where you stay in the same location and embark on day-hikes at your leisure. On rest days, settle by the fireside with a pint of Guinness and soak in the timeless charm of a traditional Irish pub.

In a place where the land and landscape have and remain an integral part of Irish identity, history and culture, every step you take will give you a first-hand understanding of the spirit of the Irish people and this magical place they call home.

Path winding through a boulder strewn valley leading to Mahon Falls in Waterford County Ireland

Hiking to Mahon Falls in Waterford County

Where to go walking in Ireland

Top walking and hiking destination

Whichever corner of Ireland you find yourself in, you won’t have to travel far to find an empty beach or green fields for a breath of fresh air. There aren't many countries so perfectly-made for bracing hikes and easy-going rambles.

Here’s an introduction to some of the best places for a walking holiday in Ireland.

A view of the glaciokarst coastal landscape of the Burren Coast in County Clare of western Ireland

Karst coastal landscapes on the Burren Coast

The Burren, County Clare

With its lunar-like landscapes, rolling hills and unusual rock formations, the Burren, in County Clare, is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe and is a popular destination for walking holidays. Alternating between barren and lush, the Burren’s unusual geology provides an ever-changing backdrop for walkers.

Historic sites include standing stones and dolmens (megalithic tombs), such as Poulnabrone Dolmen near the Cliffs of Moher, and the remains of churches like Killinaboy, Temple Cronan and Kilmacduagh with its impressive 30m high tower. Visitors can explore (for free) the ruins of Newton, Leamaneh, and Gleninagh castles or pay entry into Dunguaire and Dysert O’Dea.

The charming villages and towns of Doolin and Lahinch are popular starting points and rest stops. If you fancy somewhere quieter with delicious local seafood from Galway Bay and home-baked goods, the quaint village of Ballyvaughan is another great option.

Walking trails range from easy and accessible to challenging and strenuous. The 114 km Burren Way can be completed in five to eight days. Day hikes in the area include several loop walks within the Burren National Park or along the coast and a trail along the Cliffs of Moher where bird spotters can enjoy looking out for kittiwakes, razorbills and puffins.

Glendalough upper lake in Wicklow national park in east Ireland

Glendalough Upper Lake in Wicklow National Park

The Wicklow Mountains, County Wicklow

Wicklow Mountain National Park—Ireland’s largest national park and just a short drive from the capital city of Dublin—boasts some stunning walking through classic Irish countryside.

Trails range in difficulty from the popular 3.5 km Ballinastoe Forest Walk to the famous Wicklow Way, a 127 km trail which takes five to seven days to complete. Climb upwards for sprawling vistas or stay low and wind your way through ancient wooded valleys.

Highlights include views over Powerscourt Waterfall, Lough Tay and the Sally Gap. Historic sites of note include St.Kevin’s monastic settlement in Glendalough Valley and the mediaeval ruins of Kilbride Church.

Remains of the abandoned house on shore in Dingle peninsula in South Ireland

Abandoned farms on the Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry

On Ireland’s southwestern coast, the Dingle Peninsula attracts walkers with rugged coastline, quiet beaches and interesting coves. Further inland, trails range from easy sloping hills to scrambles up cliffs and along ridges.

Circling the peninsula is the Dingle Way, a popular 179 km long-distance walking trail. Starting at the base of the Slieve Mish Mountains, the route takes seven to nine days to complete. Walkers can enjoy ocean views from Brandon Bay, vistas of the mountain range at Lispole and explore large sections of cliff-walking. Accommodation can be found in various villages such as Dingle and Tralee, as well as smaller harbour towns. The route can also be split into sections for shorter day hikes or weekend trips.

The Dingle Peninsula has some historical sites of note, such as the ancient Gallarus Oratory, a well-preserved early Christian church, standing stones and the iconic beehive huts at Clogher Head.

Landscape view in West Kerry Beara peninsula

Views over the Beara Peninsula

Beara Peninsula, County Cork

On Ireland’s remote and lesser-visited southwestern coast, the Beara Peninsula’s quiet, craggy coastline and windswept mountains make it ideally suited for walking holidays.

The Beara Way circles the peninsula and covers 184 km of trail. It takes about nine days to complete and features challenging climbs, steep descents, and stunning coastal views.

Some interesting sights to help break up a day of walking include the ancient standing stones at Allihies, the sea cliffs at Dursey Island and the harbour town of Castletownbere. Exploring the rare tropical plants in the nineteenth-century Derreen Gardens or catching the ferry across to Bere Island are some other great ideas for your rest days.

View from the Lower Diamond Hill Walk in Connemara National Park

Lower Diamond Hill Loop in Connemara National Park

Connemara, County Galway

Connemara, located in County Galway on the west coast, is an austere but picturesque landscape of bogs, coastline and lakes.

Connemara National Park is home to the famous Twelve Bens (Beola Beanna) mountain range whose most iconic peaks include Benbaun, Benbrack and Muckanaght.

A popular route in Connemara is the Diamond Hill Loop, a challenging day hike with panoramic views of the rugged countryside below. Other routes include the scenic Killary Fjord and the Inagh Valley with hikes up the quartz range to look out over the Lough. You can explore the gentler trails and historic gardens at Kylemore Abbey or test out your adventurous side kayaking or gorge-walking at Killary Adventure Centre.

Connemara is also known for its lively traditional culture. One of the few remaining Gaeltachts (Irish-speaking regions), it has a thriving folk music scene and hosts local festivals including the Connemara Mountain Walking Festival which features guided walks for a range of levels.

Wicklow way sign

Way marker on the famed Wicklow Way

Long-distance walking holidays in Ireland

Ireland's way-marked point-to-point hiking routes

Unlike centre-based walking holidays, point-to-point (or inn-to-inn) long distance walks generally follow 'official' paths, typically on way-marked trails. You'll walk from inn to inn, with your baggage following behind via a luggage transfer service. The following are some of Ireland's popular long-distance walks and can be organised either DIY or with the help of a walking holiday company.

Durations are provided as a general guide—your precise itinerary and the number of days will depend on your own walking speed: a good walking holiday operator can help you devise the most suitable itinerary.

The Wicklow Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 79 miles (127 km)

Duration: seven to nine days

Start Point: Marlay Park, Dublin City

End Point: Clonegal, County Carlow

The Wicklow Way is a well-established route that runs through the Wicklow Mountains National Park. It covers about 79 miles (127 km) and typically takes seven to nine days to complete. The route traditionally begins in Marlay Park in Dublin City and ends in Clonegal, County Carlow, but it can be walked in the opposite direction for a gentler start.

The Wicklow Way is renowned for the dramatic scenery of its glacial valleys, deep lakes and native woodlands. Winding through heather-covered mountains and rolling hills with occasional stretches of road walking, the Wicklow Way passes through the picturesque villages of Roundwood, Laragh and Hollywood.

A haven for native flora and fauna, and rich in history and heritage, interesting sites to explore along the route include ancient standing stones, ruined castles and old mines. Historic houses include; the Powerscourt Estate, an impressive country house with landscaped gardens and a cascading waterfall; Newtownbarry house with its gardens and gallery and Russborough House, an 18th-century stately home with a birds of prey centre. Visitors can explore Glendalough Valley, home to one of Ireland’s best-preserved monastic sites which dates all the way back to the 6th century.

The Wicklow Way is a moderate difficulty walking holiday, with steep climbs up glacial valleys as well as forest and farmland walks. It is well-signposted, with well-trodden paths and occasional road walking. It can be busy during peak season, which is typically during the summer months, from June to September.

The walk is widely offered as a self-guided tour by walking holiday companies who will organise your transfers, accommodations and daily baggage transfers.

View on Torc waterfall in Killarney National Park kerry way ireland

Torc Waterfalls on the Kerry Way

The Kerry Way

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Distance: 133 miles (214 km)

Duration: eight to twelve days

Start and end point: Killarney, County Kerry

The Kerry Way is a popular walking holiday route which starts and ends in Killarney and winds its way through rugged mountains, valleys and along the dramatic Atlantic coastline. The full route is 214 km and typically takes eight to twelve days to complete.

Along the way, hikers pass through various towns and villages such as Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem. Popular historical sites and landmarks include the Glenbeigh Castle, Muckross House and Gardens, the Staigue Fort as well as Derrynane House and Abbey.

The Kerry Way features views of the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, the Lakes of Killarney and the impressive Torc Waterfall as well as coastal views throughout. It is also great for birdwatching, with opportunities to spot a variety of species including puffins, from March to September.

A moderately difficult walking holiday, the trail has some steep climbs and rocky terrain in places, but is generally made up of well-marked paths. The route is busiest during the summer months, however, it is still relatively uncrowded even during peak season.

Overview of the Healy Pass in Adrigole Beara Peninsula Ireland beara way

Views from Healy Pass on the Beara Way

The Beara Way

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Distance: 128 miles (206 km)

Duration: seven to nine days

Start and end point: Glengarriff, County Cork

The Beara Way is a 206 km circular route beginning and ending in Glengarriff, County Cork. Typically taking seven to nine days to complete, it is a moderate to challenging route, with some steep inclines and rocky terrain.

One of the highlights of the Beara Way is its beautiful coastal path, with breath-taking views of the ocean and the surrounding islands. Visit the charming villages of Castletownbere, Eyeries and Allihies to learn of its fascinating mining history at the local museum. Walkers will also enjoy panoramic views of the Caha Mountains from the famous Healy Pass.

The Beara Way passes the ancient Uragh Stone Circle, the mediaeval ruins of Dunboy Castle next to the abandoned shell of 19th century Puxley Mansion.

The route is widely offered as an organised (self-guided) tour by various walking holiday operators.

Gallarus Oratory with cloudy sky at County Kerry Ireland dingle way

Gallarus Oratory, a unique chapel on the Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Way

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Distance: 111 miles (179 km)

Duration: seven to nine days

Start and end point: Tralee, County Kerry

The Dingle Way is a 179 km long-distance walking route completing a circuit of the Dingle Peninsula. Starting in Tralee, the route winds its way through the countryside, passing by ancient sites and traversing rugged cliffs to ascend 2,300 metres.

Highlights of the trail include the Gallarus Oratory, a well-preserved Christian church dating back to around the 11th century, and the ancient Leacanabuaile stone fort. As well as having panoramic views of the ocean and of the Blasket Islands, the trail also has views of the Conor Pass, one of the highest roads in Ireland. Along the way, hikers will also be able to enjoy the local culture and hospitality of the towns and villages they pass through, such as Camp, Lispole and Annascaul.

The Dingle Way is considered a moderate to challenging walk, with some steep inclines and rocky terrain in places best suited for experienced hikers.

Open all year round, the best time to complete the circuit is during the summer months when the weather is generally mild and dry with the peak season being June to September, so it's recommended to book accommodation in advance during these months.

The Cliffs of Moher and Burren Ireland county clare burren way

The world famous Cliffs of Moher

The Burren Way

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Distance: 70 miles (114 km)

Duration: six to eight days

Start point: Lahinch, County Clare

End point: Corofin, County Clare

The Burren Way is a 114 km long-distance walk that runs through the Burren, a unique limestone landscape in County Clare. The route starts in Lahinch, a popular surfing destination, but many walkers opt to begin in Liscannor. A moderate to challenging hike with steep climbs and rocky terrain, the trail skirts the coast to take in views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay before ending at the village of Corofin on the Fergus River.

Along the way, you'll pass ancient sites like the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a megalithic tomb dating back to the Neolithic period, as well as the Caherconnell Stone Fort, an Iron Age ringfort. Notable spots include the Cliffs of Moher renowned for their immense coastal and island views, and the Aillwee Caves and Doolin Pier for views of the fossil-packed limestone.

The best time to hike the Burren Way is between April and October when the weather is mild and the wildflowers are in bloom. During peak season in the summer months it can be crowded.

Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois Ireland Slieve Bloom way

The lesser-visited Slieve Bloom Mountains, County Laois

The Slieve Bloom Way

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 43 miles (70 km)

Duration: three days

Start point: Various

The Slieve Bloom Way is a 70 km circuit route that takes in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It typically takes three days to complete, ascending about 1,275m. It can be started from a number of trailheads along the route although Glenbarrow Car park in County Laois has trail information and maps.

Along the way, you’ll cross the picturesque countryside of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the Keeper Hills and the Esker Riada. Although the only accommodation on the trail is in Kinnitty, the route passes near several villages where accommodation can be organised in advance, often with optional transport to and from the trail. These include Clonaslee, Rosenallis and Cadamstown.

Following a mixture of forest, river, grass and sand paths, the route passes sites such as the Glenbarrow Waterfall, the remains of Glinsk Castle and the ruins of Baunreagh House as well as the Ridge of Capard to see the ancient Stoney Man cairn.

It's worth noting that the Slieve Bloom Way may not be as well-marked as other routes, so hikers should come prepared with a map and compass. It is considered challenging, with some steep inclines and uneven terrain. The best time to hike the Slieve Bloom Way is from April to October when the weather is milder and the flora is in bloom.

A view of the historic Sheeps Head Lighthouse on the Muntervary Peninsula in County Cork of Ireland

Sheeps Head Lighthouse on the Muntervary Peninsula

The Sheep's Head Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 58 miles (93 km)

Duration: five to seven days

Start and End point: Bantry, County Cork

The Sheep's Head Way is a moderate difficulty circular route approximately 93 km long and typically takes about six days to complete. It starts and ends in the market town of Bantry, and heads right out to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse at the tip of the Muntervary Peninsula.

Traversing a range of landscapes from heather moors and quiet roads to forest paths, the route allows walkers to explore the peninsula. Dolphins and whales have been spotted in the area and with coastal views throughout—you could be in luck!

With St. Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path starting from the village of Drimoleague, the area is rich in history and heritage with several interesting sites along the trail. These include Ahakista Stone Circle and Gougane Barra; a small church perched beside a lake and an old copper mine.

The Sheep's Head Way is a relatively less-crowded route, ideal for those looking for a quieter hiking experience. The best time to hike is from April to October for milder weather.

Lough Derg Mountshannon ireland east clare way

Mountshannon on the shores of Lough Derg

The East Clare Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 112 miles (180 km)

Duration: six to eight days

Start and End point: Killaloe, County Clare

The East Clare Way stretches 180 km and can be completed in six to eight days. The circuit begins and ends in a carpark in Killaloe, and winds through the rolling countryside of County Clare.

The East Clare Way passes through the Slieve Bernagh range and your itinerary will vary depending on pace, with the trail passing through lakelands, bogs and traversing several valleys. A notable point of interest is Lough Derg, a section of the route with views of the lake and the surrounding countryside.

The trail passes through small villages, such as Whitegate and Mountshannon with stretches of walking along Ireland’s longest river, the River Shannon. Hikers can also learn about the history of the local area at Ruan Heritage Centre.

The route is considered moderate difficulty, with some steep inclines and uneven terrain.

Beautiful scenic sea and mountain landscape with islands View from Croagh Patrick mountain in Co Mayo Westport West coast of Ireland Atlantic ocean western way

Views from Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holiest mountain

The Western Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: approx. 155 miles (250 km)

Duration: seven to ten days

Start Point: Oughterard, County Galway

End Point: Bunnyconnellan, County Mayo

The Western Way is a long-distance trail of 250 km which can be completed in its entirety over seven to ten days or walked in shorter segments. Exploring both County Mayo and County Galway in the west of Ireland, the trail starts in Oughterard and ends in Bunnyconnellan.

Highlights of the route include the stunning views from Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holiest mountain still climbed by around 20,000 pilgrims each year, Delphi Valley as well as loughs like Nafooey and Corrib. The route passes through traditional Irish villages like Leenane, brimming with pubs and cafes, as well as historical sites like Kylemore Abbey, a 19th-century castle surrounded by stunning gardens.

The Western Way is a moderate to challenging hike with steep ascents and descents as well as rocky and boggy terrain in parts. Passing through towns and villages regularly means accommodation is generally easy to organise although it is beneficial to book in advance during the busy season.

Doonagore Castle in County Clare Ireland looking out over the Wild Atlantic way

Doonagore Castle looking out over the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way

Difficulty: Easy to challenging

Distance: 1,600 miles (2,600 km)

Duration: Day hikes to multi-week treks

Start Point: Kinsale, County Cork

End Point: Malin Head, County Donegal

At 2,600 km in full, the Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest way-marked coastal walks on earth. Unlike the rest of the walks on this page, the Wild Atlantic Way is rarely completed in one go, with most walkers hiking segments at a time.

Traversing nearly half of Ireland’s Atlantic coast means you’ll find a wide range of landscapes from rocky shorelines and pebbled beaches to rolling hills and towering cliffs.

Good day hikes can be found along the full length of the Wild Atlantic Way. A popular route is the scenic walk along the Cleggan Cliffs towards the pebble-covered Ross Beach before heading to Kylemore Abbey to explore its landscaped gardens and then heading towards Renvyle Beach to watch the sunset.

Other notable spots include Dún Briste, the 50m-high sea stack standing alone off the coast, Doonagore Castle near Doolin and the remains of Rosserk Friary in County Mayo.

It also passes through popular destinations like Galway City as well as small harbour towns and villages including Skibbereen, Kenmare and Crookhaven that can provide accommodation and sustenance to hikers.

The difficulty of the Wild Atlantic Way varies greatly depending on the specific trail, with sections and segments suitable for most abilities.

The Best Walking Holidays In Ireland

Sara Mc Geough

Sara is a travel writer, editor and adventure guide based in the West coast of Ireland. She guides for Wilderness Ireland, Trek Travel and writes for Her Sport Magazine.

Featured tours

View all

Other guides you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.