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19 Of The Best Hikes In Ireland For 2024

19 Of The Best Hikes In Ireland For 2024

Take every guide to the best hikes in Ireland with a good whack of salt (including this one).

The trails that one person might regard as incredible another may think as just alright!

So, in this guide we’re going to show you what we think are the best mountain hikes in Ireland!

Note: If you’re looking for walking trails, e.g. the Howth Cliff Walk, see our Irish walks guide!).

What we think are the best hikes in Ireland

Mount Brandon

Photos via Shutterstock

This guide is packed with a mix of hard and easy hikes in Ireland. Keep in mind that many of them require adequate planning and the ability to use a map and compass.

Below, you’ll find everything from Carrauntoohil and the Pilgrim’s Path to Croagh Patrick, the Spinc and some of the more overlooked hiking trails in Ireland.

1. Croagh Patrick (Mayo)

Croagh Patrick hike

Photos courtesy Gareth McCormack/garethmccormack via Failte Ireland

Climbing Croagh Patrick when the weather’s fine and there’s no cloud cover is one of those experiences that just sticks with you.

I did this one several years back with my dad, about a year after having spinal surgery, and it was a challenge and a half.

However, despite the damage I did to my knee that is still present to this day, this was the most enjoyable of the many hikes in Ireland I’ve done over the years.

It took us 3.5 hours to complete and good God the view out over Clew Bay will be imprinted upon my mind forever more. This is one of the best hikes in Ireland for good reason.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 7km
  • Start point: Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre

2. Torc Mountain (Kerry)

Torc Mountain

Photos via Shutterstock

I know a lot of people who’ve visited Killarney and never realised that one of Kerry’s finest rambles started a short spin from the town.

On a clear day, the Torc Mountain walk offers glorious views of the lakes of Killarney and the wider national park.

It’s a very busy trail (parking nearby can be a nightmare) at times and, while it’s graded as ‘Moderate’ it’s reasonably strenuous in places.

There’s plenty of things to do in Killarney, but if you’re looking for work up an appetite while soak up outstanding views, the Torc hike is a must.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 8km
  • Start point: One of several nearby car parks

3. The Mount Errigal Loop (Donegal)

Mount Errigal

Photos via Shutterstock

The Mount Errigal hike has had a serious upgrade over the last 12-or-so-months thanks to conservation work that has made what was once a boggy hike in places now nice and walkable.

At 2,464 ft high, Errigal is the highest peak in the Seven Sisters and it’s the tallest peak in Donegal.

If you reach its summit on a fine day, you’ll have views of everywhere from Slieve Snaght in north Donegal to Sligo’s Benbulben. See our Donegal walks guide for more trails in the area.

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Length: 4.5 km
  • Start point: Errigal Mountain Hike Parking

4. Carrauntoohil (Kerry)


Photos via Shutterstock

The Carrauntoohil hike is widely regarded as one of the toughest mountain hikes in Ireland and it requires goodhiking/navigational experience.

At an impressive 1,038-metres, Carrauntoohil is Ireland’s highest mountain and preparation for the trail is crucial.

If you take the Devil’s Ladder route from the now-famous Cronin’s Yard it’ll take you between 6 and 8 hours.

Again, this is one of the toughest hikes in Ireland so, if you’re not familiar with navigation, take a guided hike or avoid this one.

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 12km
  • Start point: Cronin’s Yard

5. Slieve Donard (Down)

Slieve Donard

Photos via Shutterstock

The Mourne Mountains in County Down are home to some of the best hikes in Ireland, including the mighty Slieve Donard hike.

Standing over Newcastle town as a height of 850 metres, Donard is the highest peak in Northern Ireland and the 19th highest peak in Ireland.

You’ll want to allow between 4-5 hours for this one. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to views out over Newcastle, Carlingford Bay and beyond.

Now, this is one of many Mourne Mountain hikes – the likes of Slieve Doan and Slieve Binnian.

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Length: 9km
  • Start point: Donard Car Park

6. The Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail (Sligo)


Photos via Shutterstock

The Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail is one of the best walks in Sligo, but do it either early in the morning or at an off-peak time as it gets busy!

Park in the rugby club (there’s an honesty box) and then head across the road and follow the fence upwards. 

You’ll get a bit of respite when the trail levels out, offering views over Strandhill, before it continues up through the forest towards the summit.

When you reach the summit, soak up the views behind you before tipping on another 10 minutes for a look at Queen Maeve’s cairn.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 6km
  • Start point: The rugby club car park

7. Mount Brandon (Kerry)

Mount Brandon

Photos via Shutterstock

The Mount Brandon hike is another of the toughest hikes in Ireland, with an ascent will challenge experienced hikers, never mind the inexperienced.

Standing at 952 metres in height, the trail here is often hard to follow and there are several treacherous points if you don’t know the way (you can find a guided hike online!).

However, for those with experience under their belt, this is one of the more rewarding mountain hikes in Ireland with breath-taking views of the Dingle Peninsula from its summit.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 9 km
  • Start point: Faha Grotto car park

8. Diamond Hill (Galway)

Diamond Hill

Photos via Shutterstock

There are heaps of walks in Connemara but few pack a punch like the brilliant Diamond Hill walk.

There is a short (3 km) and a long (7km) trail to choose from, with the longer of the two offering views of everywhere from Inishturk Island to the Twelve Bens.

The trails begins at the visitor centre and there’s a relatively gentle uphill section before you reach the base of the hill. Then the fun begins…

This is one of several trails that regularly features in guides to the best hikes in Ireland, and the result is that it can be mobbed at times, so arrive early.

  • Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
  • Length: 3 km – 7km / 1.5 – 3 hours
  • Start point: Connemara National Park Visitor Centre

9. Coumshingaun Lake Walk (Waterford)


Photos via Shutterstock

The Coumshingaun Lake Walk is one of the toughest mountain hikes in Ireland that I’ve done over the last few years.

I did this during a mid-summer heatwave and I’d say I stopped a good 20 times on the way up (OK… maybe 30!).

This hike is absolutely lethal in places and can pose a real risk to life if the weather changes and you aren’t familiar with navigating.

However, for those well used to trails like this, Coumshingaun is the type of walk that sticks with you long after you pull out of the car park.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 7.5 km
  • Start point: Coumshingaun Lough car park

10. Galtymore (Tipperary/Limerick)


Photos via Shutterstock

Galtymore is one of the most overlooked hiking trails in Ireland and, like several hikes mentioned above, requires good experience.

At a whopping 919M, Galtymore Mountain is the highest point in both Tipperary and Limerick.

It’s part of the Galtee Mountain range which runs 20 km east to west in between the M7 and the Glen of Harlow.

The trail is a solid 11 km-long and takes a good 4 hours to complete. There’s a long aul steep section that leads to the summit which makes this a tough one!

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 11 km
  • Start point: Galtymore North Car Park

11. The Devil’s Chimney (Sligo)

Devil's Chimney

Photos via Shutterstock

The Devil’s Chimney (Sruth in Aghaidh An Aird) is one of the more unique Irish hikes.

You’ll find the trail on the Leitrim/Sligo border and it’s worth noting from the get-go that the waterfall only flows after heavy rainfall.

There’s a looped walk here that’s around 1.2km in length and that takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to finish.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 1.2 km
  • Start point: Trailhead car park

12. Croaghaun Cliffs (Mayo)

Croaghaun Cliffs

Photos via Shutterstock

There are several ways to see the Croaghaun Cliffs (the highest sea cliffs in Ireland) on Achill Island in County Mayo.

You can access them from a point just before you arrive to Keem Bay or you can climb the hill over Keem and get to them from there.

Either way, you’ll be treated to some of the best scenery in the west from the viewpoint over Keem.

Like several of the hikes in Ireland mentioned above, this is the last place you want to be when the weather turns and you’ve no navigational experience.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 8.5 km
  • Start point: Keem Bay

13. Divis Summit Trail (Antrim)

Divis Summit Trail

There’s plenty of walks in Belfast and, while the Cave Hill walk tends to grab much of the attention online, it’s the Divis Summit Trail that I find myself going back to over and over again.

Kicking-off a stone’s throw from the bustling Belfast city centre, this hike up to Divis Summit offers incredible views out over the city and beyond.

Although graded as moderate, it’s a longish slog to the top. However, it’s the perfect way to escape the city for a few hours before heading back in for a post-hike feed.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 4.8 km
  • Start point: Trailhead car park

14. Tonlegee (Wicklow)

Lough Ouler

Photos via Shutterstock

I’ve spent a handful of weekends ticking off the various walks in Wicklow this year, but one stands out as being the toughest Lough Ouler.

You kick this one off from the car park at Turlough Hill and there’s a long and very steep climb until you reach the summit of Tonlegee.

You then ramble across to the other side and, after 15 minutes or so, are greeted with a view of Ireland’s heart-shaped lake. 

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 2 – 4.5 hours depending on route
  • Start point: Turlough Hill car park

15. The Pilgrim’s Path (Donegal)

Slieve League

Photos via Shutterstock

This is one of the more dangerous hiking trails in Ireland and I’d actively recommend you avoid it unless you have the ability to navigate if the weather turns.

The Pilgrim’s Path that takes you to the Slieve League Cliffs follows an ancient path that was once used by pilgrims to reach a small church.

The ocean and cliff views are outstanding but the trail can be hard to follow at times and there are numerous treacherous points.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 8 km
  • Start point: Teelin

16. Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail (Fermanagh)

Legnabrocky Trail

Photos via Shutterstock

Often referred to as Ireland’s ‘Stairway to Heaven‘, the Legnabrocky Trail takes you up the boardwalk on Cuilcagh Mountain in Fermanagh.

I’ve done this one in spring and summer and on both occasions, despite the relatively mild weather, the wind that whips you from every side made it freezing, so dress appropriately.

The trail kicks off from the car park (you can book a space in advance) and follows a fairly bleak trail for a while before opening up and treating you to views of the boardwalk.

The boardwalk itself can be a challenge, but the reward on a clear day is views out of the surrounding landscape.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 9.5 km
  • Start point: One of two car parks at the trailhead

17. Slieve Foye (Louth)

Slieve Foye

Photos via Shutterstock

I have a love/hate relationship with the Slieve Foye hike. On one hand, the views of Carlingford Lough and the Mournes are some of the best you’ll find anywhere in this part of Ireland.

On the other, the trail is terribly maintained, very overgrown in places and it’s difficult to follow, even after you’ve done it several times.

With that being said, it’s hard to beat a fine Saturday morning spent walking on the Cooley Peninsula followed up with lunch in the buzzy town.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 8 km
  • Start point: Carlingford Town

18. Caves of Keash (Sligo)

Caves of Keash

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for short and easy hikes in Ireland, aim for the Caves of Keash. Reputed to date back to 500-800 years before the Pyramids of Egypt were built, the views from these caves will knock you sideways.

There’s a little bit of parking at the trailhead and you’ll then need to pass through a field with cows before following a trail a shortish distance to the top.

Good walking shoes are needed as it can get very steep and slippy. Your reward is a peach of a view out over a quiet corner of Sligo.

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Length: 1.5 km
  • Start point: Trailhead car park

19. The Spinc (Wicklow)

the spinc hike Ireland

Photos via Shutterstock

We’ve saved one of the best hikes in Ireland until last. The Spinc Walk isn’t the longest of the many hikes in Glendalough, but it’s arguably the best-known.

The Spinc is the name of the hill that stands overlooking the Upper Lake. The trail takes you up and over the Spinc, providing glorious views of the valley below.

If you walk it clockwise, you’ll have to conquer a fair few steps. But once this section is out of the way, it’s all level ground and descent. 

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 3.5 – 4 hours
  • Start point: Glendalough

What great Irish hikes have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some of the best hikes in Ireland from the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about the best hiking Ireland has to offer

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the best mountain hikes in Ireland?’ to 

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What is the best hike in Ireland?

This will be subjective, but in my opinion, one of the best hikes in Ireland is the Croagh Patrick hike. Torc Mountain in Kerry is excellent, too.

What is the toughest hike in Ireland?

Hiking in Ireland doesn’t get much tougher than Carrauntoohil – Ireland’s highest mountain. Mount Brandon and Lugnaquilla are both very tough, also.

Is hiking in Ireland good?

Yes. Although it doesn’t get half the promotion it deserves by tourist boards, hiking in Ireland has a lot to offer, from easy trails to day-long hikes and everything in between.

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Sinead Brock

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

The Sphinc in Glendalough deserves a mention, 2/3 hour hike on a boardwalk with amazing views at the tip.

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