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22 Of The Best Walks In Ireland To Conquer In 2023

22 Of The Best Walks In Ireland To Conquer In 2023

Take every guide to the best walks in Ireland with a pinch of salt (including this one).

What one person thinks is ‘great’, another may deem ‘crap’.

So, to be clear from the get-go this guide is a collection of what think are the best walking trails in Ireland based on personal experience!

Note: If you’re looking for hiking trails, e.g. Croagh Patrick, see our Irish hikes guide!).

The best walks in Ireland

Slieve Donard

Photos via Shutterstock

While working on this site, and mainly when building out road trip routes, I’ve sauntered along my fair share of walking trails in Ireland.

Below, you’ll find a collection of my favourites, from the breezy Ballycotton Cliff Walk and the Ballyhoura trails to everything in between.

1. The Tollymore Forest Trails (Down)

Tollymore Forest Park

Photos via Shutterstock

There are a wide range of trails you can tackle in the fairy-tale-like Tollymore Forest Park in County Down.

Tollymore sits at the foot of the mighty Mourne Mountains and it was Northern Ireland’s first state forest park.

On of the joys of tackling the trails here (there are several) is the sheer variety of sights and sounds on offer.

As you stroll, you’ll stumble upon 16 bridges (the oldest of which was built in 1726), two rivers and scenery that’s like something from a Lord of the Rings movie.

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderade 
  • Length: 0.7km to 13.6km
  • Start point: Tollymore Forest Park car park

2. Benwee Loop Walk (Mayo)

Benwee Walk

Photo left + bottom right: Gareth McCormack. Top right: Anne-Marie Flynn (via Failte Ireland)

The Benwee Loop on the very overlooked North Mayo Coast is arguably one of the best walks in Ireland that I’ve done in recent years.

Now, a warning – this is a wild place to walk so it’s well worth checking the weather before setting off.

The trail is one of several known as the ‘Carrowteige Loop Walks’ and it treats you to views of Broadhaven Bay, the 4 Stags of Broadhaven islands and, of course, Benwee Head – the tallest in the Dun Chaochain range.

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 12.4 km/5 hours
  • Start point: Carrowteige village

3. The Ballycotton Cliff Walk (Cork)

Ballycotton Cliff

Photos via Shutterstock

The Ballycotton Cliff Walk is hard to beat on a fine summers evening. There’s a long and short trail here, with both offering views of Ballycotton Lighthouse.

Now, many people opt for the short version of this walk, as it avoids the use of roads. However, the drawback is that you need to walk back the way you came.

The advantage with this is that you get treated to coastal views that you wouldn’t have seen on the first leg of the trail.

If you’re looking for nice walks in Ireland to tackle when the weather’s good, give this one a bash.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 7km/2.5 hours
  • Start point: The cliff walk car park

4. The Ballyhoura Attychraan Loop (Limerick)

Attychraan Loop

Photos courtesy Ballyhoura Fáilte

There are plenty of walks in Ballyhoura, but few compare to the mighty Attychraan Loop.

This trail follows riverbanks, quiet rural roads, rich bog-lands, rugged mountains, and of course a landscape rich in myth and legend.

This Attychraan Loop crosses over two rivers; the Funshion and Attychraan, and caution should be exercised if there has bee any recent rainfall.

This is one of the easier scenic walks in Ireland in this guide and it’s perfect for an active family outing.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 5kms / 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Start point: Galtee Woods car park

5. Doolin Cliff Walk (Clare)

Doolin Cliff Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

Another of many nice walks in Ireland that follow a cliff edge is the Doolin Cliff Walk (you can sub it out for the Liscannor to Cliffs of Moher Walk if you like).

This trail will take you on a unique route to the Cliffs of Moher, with the crashing of waves ringing in your ears for a good chunk of the walk.

There’s a long version of the trail (13km out to Hag’s Head) and a short version (8km to the visitor centre).

This is one of several scenic walks in Ireland that has been relatively closed off in recent years due to works on the trail.

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Length: 13kms
  • Start point: Fisher St in Doolin

6. The Howth Cliff Walk (Dublin)

Howth Cliff Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

The Howth Cliff Walk is one of the most popular walks in Dublin for good reason. The result is that it can be very busy at times, so arrive early!

There are several ways to tackle the Howth cliffs – the shortest trail here takes around 1.5 hours while the longest (the Bog of Frogs Purple Route) can take up to 3 hour.

If I’m doing this one, I tend to start it up at the summit car park, as it avoids having to walk up Howth Hill from the village.

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Length: 6km to 12km
  • Start point: Howth Village or the summit car park

7. The Clare Glens Loop (Limerick/Tipperary)

Clare Glens

Photos courtesy Tipperary Tourism via Tourism Ireland

Arguably one of the most overlooked walking trails in Ireland is the magnificent Clare Glens Loop.

The trails here (there are several, ranging from 2km to 4km) take you through an area with a Tolkien-esque feel, famous for its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife.

The waterfalls make this a glorious walk at any time of the year. However, while this is regarded as an easy ramble, it does get strenuous in spots, so good shoes are essential.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 2km – 4km
  • Start point: Clare Bridge

8. Murlough Bay Nature Trail (Antrim)

Murlough Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

Murlough Bay is one of the Causeway Coastal Routes hidden gems. However, to those in the know, this is one of the best walks in Ireland.

Predominantly coastal, but with some steep slopes in places, this trail winds and weaves its way through protected tussock-covered dunes.

You’ll walk over rugged hills, pass exposed cliff face and be treated to gorgeous bay and beach views along the way.

If you’re looking for nice walks in Ireland that tend to be very quiet throughout the year, this one is well worth trying.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 4.4km
  • Start point: Murlough Road car park

9. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk (Wicklow)

Bray to Greystones

Photos via Shutterstock

The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk is one of many walks in Wicklow that attracts thousands of ramblers every week.

This is a liner trail thats arguably best started in Greystones. It follows a mix of gravel and stone paths that wind their way around cliffs, through fields and above one of the country’s most scenic train lines.

Drive or get the DART to Greystones, walk to Bray, grab a post-walk-feed and then get the DART back to Greystones.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 7kms
  • Start point: Either Bray or Greystones

10. The Ardmore Cliff Walk (Waterford)

Ardmore Cliffs

The Ardmore Cliff Walk is a glorious coastal trail that kicks off near one of the top spa hotels in Ireland – the Cliff House.

This is a relatively easy going trail that’ll treat you to some of the finest coastal scenery in this part of the country.

While it’s one of the easier walks in Ireland in this guide, the wind can add greatly to the effort required to finish it.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 4km
  • Start point: Near the Cliff House Hotel

11. Clogherhead Cliff Walk (Louth)

Clogherhead Cliff Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

I did the Clogherhead Cliff Walk last January and it was one of the most surprising Irish trails I tipped along for that year.

Kicking off from the car park near the harbour in Clogherhead (not the beach side) it follows a rough trail that offer views of the Mourne Mountains.

Now, while the views are incredible, and the trail ultimately climaxes at the beach, the trail is manky after any kind of rain, so good shoes are essential.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 7.5km
  • Start point: Clogherhead Harbour car park

12. The Tourmakeady Waterfall Walk

Tourmakeady Woods

Photos via Shutterstock

Another of the best walks in Ireland, in my opinion, is the often overlooked Tourmakeady Waterfall Walk.

A handy 30-minute spin from Westport, the woods here sit on the banks of Lough Mask and boast a lovely little waterfall.

It kicks off in the village and there’s then purple arrows to follow, which take you along a main road before continuing into the forest.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.5 hours
  • Start point: Tourmakeady village

13. The Devil’s Glen (Wicklow)

Devil's Glen

Photos via Shutterstock

The Devil’s Glen is one of my favourite walks near Dublin. There are a couple of trails to tackle here – the ‘Waterfall Walk’ and the ‘Seamus Heaney Walk’.

Although both follow a reasonably good path (note: they do get muddy after rainfall) the trails can be tricky to follow, so it’s worth reading over the map in the car park.

Interestingly enough, the ‘Devil’s Glen’ gets its name from the noise made by the crashing waters at its waterfall. It’s said that the crash of the falls was so thunderous people back in the day thought they were filled with evil.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 4km – 5km
  • Start point: Car park at the trailhead

14. Scilly Walk (Kinsale)

Scilly Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

The Scilly Walk in the charming town of Kinsale is one of the most scenic walks in Cork (it can also be paired up with a nice post-walk feed at the Bulman!).

Kick-off the walk in the town and head for the Lower Road (keep an eye out for Man Friday). From here, the trail is easy to follow.

Keep on strolling and you’ll be treating to views of the town and the bustling harbour. You can continue on until you reach Charles Fort and take a tour or follow your footsteps back for a bite at the Bulman.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 6km
  • Start point: Kinsale Village

15. The Canon Sheehan Loop (Limerick)

Canon Sheehan Loop

Photos courtesy Ballyhoura Fáilte

We’re off to the Cork/Limerick border to Glenanair Forest, next, to the brilliant Canon Sheehan Loop.

Another of the more overlooked walking trails in Ireland, this trail takes you through a magnificent forest with views of the Blackwater Valley and the Nagle and Knockmealdown Mountains.

The trail, which is a handy 20-minute spin from Mitchelstown, is looped and takes around 2.5 hours in total to conquer.

  • Difficulty: Moderate – difficult
  • Length: 7km / 2.5 hours
  • Start point: Glenanair Forest car park

16. Rossbeigh Hill Loop Walk (Kerry)

Rossbeigh

Photos via Shutterstock

This next trail is arguably more suited to our Irish hikes guide as there’s a fair bit of incline to conquer.

However, the top right photo above should give you an insight as to why this really is one of the best walks in Ireland.

Rossbeigh Hill Loop gives you a bit of everything; woods, beaches, rugged mountain landscapes and one of the best views along the Ring of Kerry.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 10km
  • Start point: Rossbeigh Beach Car Park

17. The Wicklow Way

Lough Tay

Photos via Shutterstock

The Wicklow Way is one of the more popular long distance walking trails in Ireland, and it requires good planning.

Crossing the Wicklow Mountains, the Wicklow Way Walk is Ireland’s most scenic long-distance trail. This linear walk runs all the way from Dublin’s Marlay Park to the charming village of Clonegal in County Carlow.

Along the way, you will have an opportunity to discover some amazing scenery, including Guinness Lake (Lough Tay), Powerscourt Waterfall, and the beautiful monastic site of Glendalough.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 130+ km
  • Start point: Marlay Park

18. The Sheep’s Head Way

Sheep’s Head Way

Photos via Shutterstock

The Sheep’s Head Way is one of the more remote long-distance walking trails in Ireland. 

This trail takes in a good chunk of the wild Sheep’s Head peninsula in West Cork and, although looped, can be tricky to follow at times.

Definitely one for the more experienced walker, it boasts some of the finest coastal scenery in Ireland along with an abundance of wildlife.

Warning: With any of the long distance Irish trails in this guide, please plan your route properly and ensure you can navigate in the event that the weather turns.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 95 km
  • Start point: Bantry

19. The Dingle Way

Coumeenoole Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

An 8-part looped trail, the Dingle Way can be walked in a single adventure or you can work away at it over a period of time.

Most of the trail is graded as moderate, but there are certain parts that fall into the ‘easy’ bracket and others that are difficult and times.

It takes in mountains, lakes, part of Slea Head and many parts of the peninsula that ‘day-trippers’ tend to miss.

One of the reasons that you’ll see this listed as one of the best walks in Ireland is due to the volume of scenery it takes in, particularly around the furthest edge of the Dingle Peninsula.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 176 k m
  • Start point: Tralee

20. The Beara Way

Beara Peninsula

Photos via Shutterstock

The Beara Way is one of the lesser-trodden Irish trails (which makes the experience all the more rewarding to those who conquer it!).

A circular route that navigates the Beara Peninsula, it traverses dramatic mountain passes and hugs the unspoiled coastal scenery that this corner of Ireland is famous for.

Along the trail, you can visit islands, like Dursey, charming towns and villages, like Allihies, and see sections of the Ring of Beara that cars and bikes could never reach.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Length: 150+ km
  • Start point: Glengarriff

21. The Burren Way

The Burren

Photos via Shutterstock

Another of the best walks in Ireland if you’re looking for a long distance route is the Burren Way.

The trail takes you through the Burren National Park and it will take you a good 5 days of long walks to finish. 

Over the course of your adventure, you’ll explore prehistoric monuments, see awe-inspiring limestone terraces and experience many of the best things to do in Clare en route to the finish.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 115kms
  • Start point: Lahinch

22. The Benbulben Forest Walk (Sligo)

Benbulben Forest

Photos via Shutterstock

The Benbulben Forest Walk is one of many walks in Sligo that packs a punch.

The trail kicks off in a dedicated (but very small) car park and follows a clear route (best done counter-clockwise, in my opinion).

The route is pretty flat for the most part and should be no bother for those with even a medium-level of fitness!

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 5.5 km / 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Start point: Benbulben Forest Walk car park

What top walks in Ireland have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant walking trails 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 most scenic walks in Ireland

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What walking trails in Ireland are good for kids?’ to ‘What mountain walks in Ireland are easy to tackle?’.

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.

Where is the best walking in Ireland?

This is an almost impossible question to answer. However, in my opinion, the Ballyhoura region and the area around the Mournes is hard to beat.

What are the best walks in Ireland?

Again, this is very subjective. However, my favourites are the Tollymore trails, the Benwee Loop and Sligo’s many… many rambles.

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Michael

Tuesday 20th of December 2022

Thanks for this. It's really given me something to look forward to. Be well. Oh! and congratulations on the lovely site. I stumbled on it looking for some background on the the FirBolgs. Feel free to stick me on mailing lists. I have stuck the site on favourites, but you know how it is - one forgets sometimes.

Keith O'Hara

Tuesday 20th of December 2022

Hi Michael - thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you've enjoyed the site and found it useful! Have a great Christmas and New Years - Keith

Christina

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Great list ,must do some more of them ,,was looking for directions to lough mora/morah in around rathgormack co waterford ? Brought me to your page ,not there but lots of others 👍🦵🦶🚶🚶🚶

Shane Scanlon

Thursday 4th of March 2021

The Three Sisters, Macha na Bó & Mount Eagle, all in West Kerry. Easily the three best hikes on the Dingle peninsula. 👍🏼

James

Thursday 4th of March 2021

Amazing I'm from Ireland but live in Scotland wish I seen this list sooner! But surprised not to see the full in is mor walk, breathtaking! Basically as close to the wild atlantic you can get

Padraig O Gallachoir

Wednesday 9th of September 2020

you missed the Bluestack way Donegal

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