Howaya! So, I live in Dublin. I’ve lived here for 30 years. And every weekend I have the exact same problem.
I agree to meet a friend. And the two of us proceed, usually over WhatsApp, to throw around suggestions of what to do for about 3 hours… Every. Damn. Weekend.
So, in an attempt to help myself (and, hopefully, you!) to discover more things to do near Dublin, I’ve whacked together the guide below.
It’s wedged with great walks and hikes near Dublin (90-minute drive or less). If you want to stay in Dublin, check out our guide to 8 of the best walks and hikes in Dublin, first!
The best walks and hikes near Dublin
Many of the walks and hikes near Dublin that you’ll find below are in Meath, Louth and Wicklow, unsurprisingly enough.
If you’re after a walk that’s a little further afield but that packs a mighty punch, nip into our guide to the Cuilcagh Mountain hike in Fermanagh.
1. The Sugarloaf (Wicklow)
Now, if you read our guide to the best places to visit in Wicklow, you’ll probably recognise several of the hikes and walks below.
The first takes us to the Great Sugarloaf with its pointy peak which looks a little like a wizards hat from afar. Moving on… Standing at 501m above sea level, the Great Sugarloaf is the perfect place for a casual early-morning climb.
On a clear day, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, and the Irish Sea from its summit. The climb here shouldn’t take you any longer than an hour if you take the trail that starts in the carpark to the south of the Sugarloaf.
Here’s a full guide to climbing the Great Sugarloaf Mountain (it contains a short and a long walk along with info on hike time and more).
Just be careful if you’re leaving your car here – I’ve heard of a heap of break-ins taking place. Drive time from Dublin Airport: 55 minutes.
2. Trim Castle (Meath)
It wasn’t until last Sunday that I realised that there’s a brilliant looped walk near Trim Castle in Meath. The trail starts just to the right of the car park near the castle.
It follows a river for a good chunk of the walk (offering great views of the castle) and then loops around through a field with a handful of sheep and then returns to the castle.
The walk takes around 30 minutes if you’re just sauntering along. Head into Trim Castle beforehand for a nosey around first (€2 for the grounds and €5 to get up to the keep), then head off on the walk.
You can round the visit off with a post-walk feed or coffee in the nearby Trim Castle Hotel. This is a handy 50-minute drive from Dublin Airport. Here are loads more things to do in Meath while you’re there.
3. The Carlingford Greenway (Louth)
Next up is a walk that can easily be turned into a cycle, if you’d prefer to hop onto a saddle and spin along it. The Carlingford Greenway in Louth follows a disused railway line and offers walkers fine views from the edge of the stunning Carlingford Lough.
The greenway is 7km long and can take from 2 and a half to 3 hours (you’re walking from Carlingford to Omeath and back again).
Over the course of your spin here you’ll encounter fields packed with sheep, old railway crossings, a couple of bridges and plenty of views of the stunning scenery that surrounds the area. It’ll take you 70 minutes to get here from Dublin Airport.
4. Lugnaquilla (Wicklow)
If you’re a seasoned climber and you’re in search of hikes near Dublin that offer a decent challenge, look no further than Lugnaquilla in Wicklow.
At 925m, this is the highest mountain in Ireland outside of Kerry. The hike on ‘Lug’ can take anywhere between 4 to 6 hours to complete and can be very challenging in places.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to enjoy views of the Sugar Loaf, a good chunk of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains and the glorious Irish sea. It’ll take you 90 minutes to get here from Dublin (if you start the climb from the Baravore Car Park).
5. Tonelagee (Wicklow)
If you fancy grabbing a look at Ireland’s heart-shaped lake, get yourself up Tonlagee Mountain in Wicklow this weekend.
I did this hike recently and it took around 3 hours from start to finish (note: there are longer hikes around Tonlagee!). We parked in Turlough Hill car park and followed the trail directly across the road to the top.
We kept going until we had a decent view of Lough Ouler (above) and chilled on the grass for a bit. The climb from the car park to the summit is steep, but there’s a nice trail to follow.
It’ll take you 70 minutes to drive from Dublin City Centre to Turlough Hill car park. Nip into our Wicklow guide for loads more to see and do nearby.
6. Loughcrew (Meath)
The next stop on our list takes us to out to Loughcrew Cairns in Meath. Interestingly enough, the cairns at Loughcrew are far older than Newgrange (they date back to 4000 bc – mad stuff!)
Now, although this is the highest hill in the county, it’s just 276 meters high, which means that you’ll reach the top in around 10 to 15 minutes.
Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be treated to fantastic views of the lush green countryside that surrounds the hill. It’ll take you just over an hour to get here from Dublin City.
7. The Bray Head Walk (Wicklow)
The climb up Bray Head is one of my favourite (handy) hikes near Dublin. You’ll find this 241m tall hill and headland slap bang in the middle of the towns of Bray and Greystones.
It’s a reasonably easy climb to the top and it shouldn’t take you any longer than an hour to get up and back down again. At the top, you’ll find a now-iconic concrete cross which was placed there back in 1950.
It’ll take you around 50 minutes to get here from Dublin Airport. If you’re not driving, hop on the DART.
8. The Hill of Tara (Meath)
The mighty Hill of Tara was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland. According to legend, it was here that 142 kings reigned. The walk here is nice and leisurely.
Grab an ice cream or a coffee from the little shop next to the car park and set off for a ramble. It’s said that a quarter of the landscape of Ireland can be seen from the Hill of Tara on a clear day, which is pretty mental when you think about it!
It’ll take you 40 minutes to drive here from Dublin Airport and there’s a decent bit of parking right next to it.
9. The Spinc Loop (Wicklow)
I’ve done the Spinc Loop about 40 times over the years and it never gets old. This, in my opinion, is the best hike near Dublin. It’s challenging in places, handy in others and the scenery throughout is glorious.
This walk will take you along the Spinc ridge overlooking Glendalough, offering endless panoramic views over Glendalough and the surrounding hills and mountains.
You’ll return past the Glenealo River via a couple of gorgeous waterfalls into the Upper Lough. There is a well-marked trail to follow for the entire walk, so you’ll have no hassle finding your way around.
The last two times that I’ve done this walk/hike it’s taken 4 hours. That includes several stops. Distance from Dublin Airport: 1 hour.
10. Explore a chunk of the Mourne Mountains
If you’ve never ventured out as far as the Mournes in County Down, you’re in for a treat – there are several different walks and hikes that you can embark upon (here’s a guide to all of them).
My favourite hike here is the one that takes you up Slieve Donard (the highest mountain in Northern Ireland). The trek to the top is fairly challenging (it’s 850m high), but the views from the summit are out of this world.
It’ll take you just under 90 minutes to get here from Dublin Airport. I’ve done this hike a couple of times over the years and it’s taken between 4 and 5 hours on each occasion.
11. Slieve Foy (Louth)
Slieve Foy is the highest peak in the Cooley Mountains and it’s the perfect place to spend an active morning or afternoon. You can do a loop walk here that follows red and blue arrows along forest roads, grassy tracks and mountain paths.
As you get stuck into the climb you’ll be treated to a gorgeous panoramic view out over Carlingford Lough. The walk here took us around 2 and a half hours the last time that we did it.
Now, we probably could have finished it a little quicker, but got lost at one point and sat down for a while at another. Distance from Dublin Airport: 70 minutes.
12. Lough Tay to Lough Dan (Wicklow)
There’s a lovely stroll from Lough Tay to Lough Dan that’ll treat you to brilliant views from start to finish. The walk takes around three hours and climaxes with a mighty view out over Lough Dan.
This is a nice alternative to the walks in Glendalough and you’re likely to only encounter a tiny fraction of the people that you would on the likes of the Spinc Loop. Distance from Dublin Airport: 1 hour.
13. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk (Wicklow)
If you fancy a longish stroll that’ll banish the thickest of cobwebs, then the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk is just the job.
At 7k in length, this walk should take you around 2 hours to complete, and you’ll be treated to stunning coastal scenery throughout. The walk takes you along a coastal path that winds along the side of Bray Head Hill.
If you’re driving, park your car in Bray, do the walk and then grab the DART back to Bray from Greystones. Distance from Dublin Airport: 50 minutes.
14. The Slieve Gullion Forest Walk (Armagh)
You’ll find Slieve Gullion mountain in south County Armagh. It’s here that, on a clear day, you’ll be treated to views like the one in the (blurry) photo above – patchwork-like green fields as far as the eye can see.
There’s a 15.2km circular route up Slieve Guillion that’ll take you through gorgeous woodland, along steep paths and across peaty grounds (decent footwear is essential!).
This is a brilliant walk that can take the guts of 4 hours when you factor in time for stops. Distance from Dublin Airport: 1 hour.
15. Avoca Mount Usher Gardens (Wicklow)
You’ll find the gorgeous Mount Usher Gardens in the village of Ashford in Wicklow, just 35 minutes south of Dublin, and a stone’s throw from Bray.
If you’re in search of a place in Wicklow for a coffee and a stroll, then whack this one onto your list. There’s a cafe on-site and the gardens here are superb. It’ll take you just under an hour to drive from Dublin Airport to Mount Usher.
16. The Boyne Valley Camino (Louth/Meath)
The Boyne Valley Camino is a lovely 25km looped walk that’ll take you along the River Boyne, through Townley Hall woods in Tullyallen and along the Boyne Canal.
It’s a looped walk, so you can start and finish in Drogheda. Now, Drogheda’s getting a bad rap lately, but it’s one of the oldest towns in Ireland and there’s heaps of things to do there and nearby.
I’ve done my best to find a walk time online for this one, but for some bizarre reason, many official tourism websites provide everything but how long a walk or hike takes…
17. The Djouce Mountain Trail (Wicklow – one of the best hikes near Dublin)
At 725 metres, Djouce is the 74th–highest peak in Ireland. It’s also one of the most accessible peaks in the Wicklow Mountains.
The folks at the Office of Public Works have a well-marked route here and there’s an extensive boardwalk for you to saunter along. The walk here can take between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on pace and boasts stunning views throughout.
In particular, the view out over Lough Tay from the summit is pretty damn special. It’ll take you just under an hour to reach the starting point from Dublin Airport.
18. The Boyne Greenway
The Boyne Greenway is another route that’s perfect for walking and cycling. If you walk it at an easy pace, you can expect it to take around 4 hours in total.
Kick your walk off at Dominic’s Park on the south bank of the River Boyne, continue along the river (near the Mary McAleese Bridge), go on past the Boyne Canal, and then on to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge.
Drogheda is a handy 35-minute drive from Dublin Airport. If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown of this walk, you can find one here.
19. Meath’s many beaches (…Meath)
If you’re looking for an easy stroll along the sand, get yourself out as far as Meath. You can nip in somewhere for a coffee, head for your ramble, and then have lunch or dinner after.
There are a number of great beaches in and around Meath, from Bettystown and Laytown to Mornington and Gormanstown, there’s enough sand to keep your feet nice and busy.
What walks and hikes have we missed?
There’s definitely other great walks and hikes near Dublin that I’ve missed. If you know of one that you’d recommend, let me know in the comments section below!