So, you’ve decided to tackle one (or maybe all of!) the highest mountains in Ireland.
If it’s the latter, fair play to you – while it’ll be no easy feat, it’ll be a rewarding one; Ireland’s ever-changing landscape makes many hiking routes a joy to ramble along.
A hiker’s paradise, Ireland is known for its beautiful green countryside, it’s ever-so-slightly temperamental weather and its mountain peaks that offer spectacular views.
Whether you wish to follow the footsteps of the pilgrims or enjoy a hiking adventure to a mountain with a picturesque chapel on its peak, this guide to the highest mountains in Ireland has you covered.
The highest mountains in Ireland: A quick word of warning
A quick note before we dive into the guide below: some of the mountains below aren’t suitable for novice hikers/hill walkers looking to head off on their own for a hike.
Many of these mountains can pose real threats to those that are unfamiliar with the skills needed to navigate a large mountain.
If you’re not a seasoned hiker, you can always join a guided hike (usually provided via local walking groups/solo walking guides).
If you are a seasoned hiker, you’ll find 11 of the tallest mountains in Ireland to conquer whenever you get the chance.
1. Carrauntoohil, County Kerry
The highest mountain in Ireland, Carrauntoohil, is located in the Macgillycuddy Reeks mountain range in Kerry and it stands at an impressive 1,038 meters.
Those planning a visit here can look forward to a variety of routes (here’s a guide to each route) with dramatic summits, stunning cliffs, picturesque lakes, and lush forests.
The most popular route is the Carrauntoohil Devils Ladder trail. This is a 12 km trail that can take between 5 to 7 hours to complete (up and back), depending on pace.
There is also the 13km-long Brother O’Shea’s Gully trail that is steep with plenty of rocky steeps. Experienced hikers can opt for the Caher route (13km) that will take them all the way to the triple summit of Caher Mountain.
2. Cnoc na Péiste, County Kerry
At 988 meters high, County Kerry’s Cnoc na Péiste, which translates to “hill of the serpent”, is the fourth highest mountain in Ireland.
Starting from the car park at Cronin’s Yard, the popular Lough Cummeenapeasta Loop Walk takes you through the Hags Glen and all the way to the summit.
Although this route is one of the most interesting walks in the country and offers some incredible views of Killarney and the surrounding areas, it can be strenuous at points.
The good news is that the starting point at Cronins Yard is just a short drive away from Killarney, so you’ll have plenty of places to drop into for a post-hike feed.
3. Mount Brandon, County Kerry
No hiking adventure in Ireland is complete without paying a visit to the scenic Dingle Peninsula and Mount Brandon.
Named after Saint Brendan, the mountain is a part of the famous Christian pilgrimage route and its peak is at 950 meters.
The easiest way to reach the summit is by taking the Saint’s Route, while the Faha route is recommended for experienced hikers. Apart from breath-taking views, expect to see wreckages of plains that crashed here during WW2.
4. Lugnaquilla, County Wicklow
At 925 meters high, County Wicklow’s Lugnaquilla is the highest mountain in Ireland outside of Co Kerry.
Reaching the summit is definitely not for faint-hearted hikers, as there are no well-marked routes here and it can take up to 7 hours to get to the peak and back.
However, the views from the top are majestic and on a clear day, you can even see Snowdonia in Wales.
If you’re a novice hiker and you want to climb Lugnaquilla, I recommend going with a guide or joining a group for your own safety.
5. Galtymore, County Tipperary
Nestled on the borders of Tipperary and Limerick, Galtymore lies at 919 meters-high and is the highest summit in the Galty mountain range.
This is one of Ireland’s finest inland mountain ranges and it offers a myriad of hiking options.
The Black Road Route is the most popular path to the summit and the round trip adventure is about 6km long.
You can also opt for the detour to Slievecushnabinnia – just keep in mind that plenty of steep climbs await.
6. Baurtregaum, County Kerry
Situated on the eastern edge of the Dingle Peninsula, the 851 meters high Baurtregaum is the sixth highest mountain in Ireland.
If you’d like to explore it, one of the most popular ways to do so is one the Curraheen Derrymore Loop Walk.
This is a tough, 7 to 8-hour trail that takes in a number of peaks (Baurtragaum and Caherconree).
Those that give this trail a bash will be treated to gorgeous views of Tralee Bay and the valley of Curraheen and Derrymore.
7. Slieve Donard, County Down
Part of Mourne Mountains, Slieve Donard is the highest peak in Northern Ireland. Towering at 850 meters above sea level, the mountain is a popular destination with both locals and tourists.
Our favourite ascent, the Glen River Route, begins at the lovely Newcastle beach via a well-marked trail that takes you up to the summit.
The trail takes walkers past beautiful streams and dense forests. The view from the summit of Slieve Donard is special.
Those that reach the top on a clear day can soak up views of everywhere from the nearby Dundrum Bay all the way across to the Mountains of southwest Scotland.
8. Mullaghcleevaun, County Wicklow
Next up is a mountain that’s home to a number of different difficult hiking trails. Also known as the “summit of the cradle”, Mullaghcleevaun in County Wicklow is the 8th highest peak in the country.
Sitting at 849 meters, this mountain is well-known for its small lake called Lough Cleevaun that is located near the summit.
The climb at Mullaghcleevaun isn’t easy, and it can be made all the more difficult by boggy ground and tricky terrain. This is definitely one for the more experienced climbers.
However, if you do manage to conquer this one, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of Blessington Lake and the surrounding Wicklow Mountains.
9. Mangerton, County Kerry
Next up is the 838 metres high Mangerton in County Kerry. This place is home to the Horse’s Glen – a magnificent U-shaped valley along with the spectacular Devils Punchbowl Lake.
The most popular route is the Devil’s Punchbowl Trail that stands at roughly 10 km in length. It is a relatively gentle climb to the summit which means that people of all fitness levels are welcome to join the adventure.
Along the way, get ready to be blown away with views of the Killarney National Park and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.
10. Caherconree, County Kerry
We’re back to Kerry next (again, I know!). Caherconree has a peak elevation of 835 meters and it’s part of the Slieve Mish mountain range.
Offering majestic views of Tralee Bay, Caherconree is home to some of the best walking routes in Ireland.
Most routes here start at the “Road of the stones” and have marker posts that help hikers reach the summit.
Make sure to check out the Caherconree Fort, the highest stone promontory fort in the country with many mythological stories around it.
Traveller tip: It’s said that on a good day, the views from Caherconree Fort extend for over 100 km.
11. Beenoskee, County Kerry
Last but definitely not least is Beenoskee in County Kerry. Located on the Dingle Peninsula, Beenoskee stands at 826 meters high and it’s a great place to reconnect with nature.
The 11 km long Annascaul Lake to Beenoskee Mountain trail is one of the most scenic routes in the region and it will take you about 6 hours to complete it.
Those that conquer this one on a clear day will be treated to views of the magnificent Lough Annascaul. The best bit? As this place is nicely off-the-beaten-path, the chances are you’ll have the whole place to yourself!
How many of the highest mountains in Ireland have you conquered?
If you fancy discovering more mighty places to explore on foot, drop into our guide to the best walks in Ireland.