A Guide To The 5-Day Burren Way Walk (Includes Map)

the burren way walk
Photo left: gabriel12. Photo right: Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

The incredible Burren Way walk is one of my favourite things to do in Clare.

The Burren Way is a long-distance walk across one of Ireland’s most spectacular areas of natural beauty – the Burren.

This is a 5-day linear hike that’ll take you through diverse scenery across a craggy, rocky landscape that’ll treat you to amazing views and a peaceful atmosphere.

In the guide below, you’ll find an overview of each stage of the Burren Way. There’s also a map of the route and the end.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Burren Way

walking the burren way
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

Although there are several nice and straightforward walks in the Burren, the Burren Way isn’t one of them, so planning is required.

Note: The guide below contains affiliate links. If you book a stay via a link below, we may make a small commission, which helps us keep this site going (cheers if you do!).

1. Location

The Burren Way takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery that the Burren National Park has to offer. From the rugged Atlantic coast, to ancient woodlands, the Burren is a rocky and diverse landscape that covers a whopping 130 sq kilometres. The full walk begins in the coastal town of Lahinch, and ends in the village of Corofin.

2. Length

This fantastic linear walk covers a total distance of 114 km, taking in stunning scenery and no shortage of amazing attractions. On average, it’ll take 5 days to complete the full route, with plenty of accommodation along the way. It’s a fairly moderate trail, with a total ascent of just under 550 metres.

3. Breaking it down

We’ll go over the full details of the Burren Way a little further down. For now, it’s worth pointing out that this route can easily be split into smaller walks if you don’t have the time or inclination to complete the full 5-days in one go.

About the Burren Way

about the burren walk
Photo by MNStudio (Shutterstock)

The Burren Way is a fantastically varied walk. The first leg hugs the wild Atlantic coastline, offering superb views over Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.

Along the way, you’ll pass through a number of beautiful towns and villages where a warm welcome awaits. 

As the route turns inland, the scenery changes to gorgeous wildflower strewn landscapes. Walking on, ancient, neolithic and early Christian monuments and ruins appear seemingly at every turn.

More villages dot the route, differing from their coastal neighbours, yet still oozing charm and history. Each stage of the walk offers stunning views, and a chance to leave the modern world behind for a few days.

A map of the Burren Way

burren way map
Map via burrengeopark.ie

The map of the Burren Way above will give you an idea of the ground covered over the course of the long-distance trail (see in high res here).

The broken pink line shows the official trail, however, you’ll need to deviate off of this if you’d like to see some nearby attractions, like Poulnabrone Dolmen and Father Ted’s House, for example.

Breaking down each stage of the Burren Way

the burren
Photo left: gabriel12. Photo right: Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

OK, now that the need-to-knows are out of the way, it’s time to look at each of the stages of the Burren Way trail.

Remember, if you’re not up to doing it in five days, you can just as easily spread the Burren Way out over a week or more.

Day 1: Lahinch/Liscannor to Doolin via the Cliffs of Moher

cliffs of moher walk
Photo left: MNStudio. Photo right: Patryk Kosmider (Shutterstock)

Overview of day 1

  • Distance to walk today: 18-27 km (depending on start point and diversions)
  • Where you’ll spend the night: Doolin (see out Doolin accommodation guide)
  • Things you’ll see on the way: Cliffs of Moher, O’Brians Castle, the Holy Well of Saint Brigid, views over Galway Bay

Kicking things off

The official Burren Way route begins in Lahinch, though many walkers tend to start in Liscannor. Lahinch is a popular beach resort, great for surfing, and the additional kilometres take you through nice scenery.

The coastal village of Liscannor is another top tourist destination, and with slightly more going on than Lahinch, it’s the more popular start point.

What to expect

Much of the first leg of the route follows the Wild Atlantic Way, hugging the cliff tops of Liscannor Bay. You’ll pass through a number of settlements, and if time allows, it’s worth dropping by the fascinating Holy Well of Saint Brigid.

But the main highlight of this section are the Cliffs of Moher. Known across the world, they stretch for 8 km, towering more than 200 metres above the sea.

From the top you can be sure of amazing views, and there’s also a visitor centre. It’s worth checking out O’Brians Castle while you’re there, and the view from the roof is immense!

Night 1

Continue following the cliffs (you’ll follow a section of the popular Doolin Cliff Walk) and continue until you reach Doolin.

If you’re hungry, there are plenty of restaurants in Doolin. There’s some great pubs in Doolin, too. See our Doolin accommodation guide for advice on where to stay.

Day 2: Doolin to Fanore

Fanore beach
Photo by mark_gusev/shutterstock.com

Overview of day 2

  • Distance to walk today: 15-20 km (depending on diversions)
  • Where you’ll spend the night: Fanore
  • Things you’ll see on the way: Slieve Elva, Aran Islands, Galway Bay

Kicking things off

The second day takes you inland, setting foot on the rocky plateau of the Burren proper, before returning to the coast at Fanore (make sure to stop at Fanore Beach).

Trekking along small, rural routes, it’s a peaceful day of walking, passing through numerous farms and small settlements. The path takes you gradually uphill for much of the way, though it’s not strenuous, with a total elevation gain of 290 metres.

From the top, stop and take a look around. You’ll be rewarded with superb panoramic views out over the Atlantic, taking in the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher.

What to expect

The walk will take you under the Burren’s mightiest peak — OK, possibly a bit of an exaggeration, but Slieve Elva is indeed the highest point at 344 metres.

If time allows, it’s great to take a hike to the summit, the views are gorgeous on a clear day. After those dizzying heights, you’ll make your way down into Caher Valley. Follow the River Caher, and you’ll soon arrive at your destination, the small coastal village of Fanore.

Night 2

The second night of your Burren Way walk takes you to the little town of Fanore. Here are some places to spend the night.

Enjoy a pint or two and a hearty dinner at O’Donohues Pub in front of the peat fireplace, before getting some sleep.

Day 3: Fanore to Ballyvaughan

Ballyvaughan and the burren
Photo by Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

Overview of day 3

  • Distance to walk today: 16-20 km
  • Where you’ll spend the night: Ballyvaughan 
  • Things you’ll see on the way: Blackhead lighthouse, Cathair Dhuin Irghuis, Newtown Castle

Kicking things off

From Fanore, the walk takes you to its most northerly point, before turning back on itself and heading to the small town of Ballyvaughan.

It’s a nice, relaxed section that follows a walking trail looping the Black Head. With an ascent of just 240 metres, the going is pretty easy and it’s a comfortable half day walk, taking in superb scenery with huge slabs of rocks all around.

What to expect

However, there are numerous distractions along the way, so if you’re up for it, it’s worth going off-road a little to uncover some gems. The Blackhead lighthouse is situated on the road, standing proud on the cliff tops, and it’s a nice place to check out.

From there, you can make the arduous climb back to the path, or continue climbing until you reach Cathair Dhuin Irghuis, an ancient stone fort. This magical place is often deserted as it’s a struggle to reach, but it’s a magical experience with stunning views.

Back on the main route, you’ll pass the 16th Century Newtown Castle. Small for a castle, it’s been lovingly restored and showcases spectacular architecture set amid beautiful surroundings. Also worth checking out nearby are the Aillwee Caves.

Night 3

From here, it’s a short walk through woodlands right into the historical fishing port of Ballyvaughan – one of our favourite towns in Clare.

There are several places to eat and grab a pint in Ballyvaughan, if you fancy. Here are some places to spend the night.

Day 4: Ballyvaughan to Carran

Poulnabrone Dolmen
Photo by Remizov (shutterstock)

Overview of day 4

  • Distance to walk today: 24 km
  • Where you’ll spend the night: Carran
  • Things you’ll see on the way: Poulnabrone portal tomb, Cahermacnaghten and Cahergallaun stone forts

Kicking things off

This section of the walk takes you into the heartland of the Burren, taking in impressive sights and ancient structures.

You’ll follow the same path out of Ballyvaughan as you took to get in, through the woods, before emerging into vivid green pastures and farmlands.

On this part of the walk, the scenery is ever-changing, and you’ll soon find yourself on rocky mountain trails, surrounded by ancient stone forts and tombs.

What to expect

As you follow the path, you’ll come across some magnificent sights, such as the immense Poulnabrone Tomb and various stone forts. When the wildflowers are out, the entire area seems awash with magic!

Before you know it, you’re back amid vivid green fields, chopped up by dry stone walls that have stood the test of time.

Night 4

After cresting a hefty hill, you’ll make your way down through more greenery, before arriving in Carran – you’re base for night 4 of your Burren Way walk.

Get down to Cassidys for a pint and a feed as a reward for making it so far, then get ready to face the final day. Here are some places to stay in Carran.

Day 5: Carran to Corofin

the different stages of the walk
Photo by Christy Nicholas (Shutterstock)

Overview of day 5

  • Distance to walk today: 18 km
  • Where you’ll spend the night: Corofin
  • Things you’ll see on the way: Cahercommaun Ring Fort, Parknabinnia Wedge Tomb, Caves

Kicking things off

The final stretch of the Burren Way walk sees you wandering along more rural tracks through varied scenery. From huge fields of rock, to gentle pastures, and wooded trails, it’s a pleasant stroll through this ancient land.

Relics of the past can be seen along the way, with notable examples including Parknabinnia Wedge Tomb and the Cahercommaun Ring Fort.

What to expect

The trail twists and turns, exposing fantastic views over the valleys, farms, and villages, and it’s a great day for breathing deep and absorbing the surroundings.

As you near your destination, you enter the lake region of the Burren, with waterways dotted all around.

Night 5

Dry stone walls and green fields melt away and all of a sudden, you find yourself in the small, but vibrant village of Corofin.

The narrow streets are home to several fantastic pubs and restaurants, so spoil yourself before getting a well-earned sleep! Here are some places to stay in Corofin.

Other shorter walks in the Burren

shorter walks in the burren
Photo by MNStudio (Shutterstock)

If a 5-day trek through the Burren seems a bit of a slog — or you just don’t have the time for it — there are several shorter walks in the Burren to enjoy. From day-long rambles to a couple of hours in the fresh air, there’s something for everyone.

You can discover some of our favourites in this guide to the Burren walks. Each one manages to capture the magic and mystery of the Burren, without spending 5-days on the road!

FAQs about walking the Burren Way

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long it takes to walk the Burren Way to where to stay on the way.

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.

How long is the Burren Way?

This fantastic linear walk covers a total distance of 114 km, taking in stunning scenery and no shortage of amazing attractions.

How long does it take to walk the Burren?

On average, it’ll take 5 days to complete the full route, with plenty of accommodation along the way. It’s a fairly moderate trail, with a total ascent of just under 550 metres.

Where do you stay when doing the Burren Way?

If you follow the guide above, you’ll stay in Doolin on night 1, Fanore on night 2, Ballyvaughan on night 3, Carran on night 4 and Cofofin on night 5.

Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he'd still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.

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