There’s an almost endless number of Wicklow walks that you can head off on.
From long-distance slogs, like the mighty Wicklow Way, to short rambles, like the one at Powerscourt, there’s walks and hikes in Wicklow for every fitness level.
Some of these Wicklow walking trails require a lot of planning and experience, like Lugnaquilla, while others are grand and handy, and are perfect for families.
In the guide below, you’ll find a handful of brilliant walks in Wicklow to work your way through in 2023.
The best walks in Wicklow
The first section of our guide focuses on the various Wicklow walks – these are generally trails that aren’t too taxing.
The second section of our guide is packed with the different Wicklow hikes, each of which requires a decent bit of climbing.
1. The Devil’s Glen
There are two walks at the Devil’s Glen to try: the Seamus Heaney Walk is a 4km/2-hour walk while the Waterfall Walk is a 5km/2.5-hour stroll.
Personally, I prefer the Waterfall walk. You’ll pass by sequoias and firs alongside the River Vartry before being greeted by the roar and majesty of the waterfall.
If you’re in search of forest walks in Wicklow, you can’t go wrong with a morning spent rambling around here.
2. The Glen Beach Cliff Walk
Another of the Wicklow walks that tends to get overlooked quite a bit is the Glen Beach Cliff Walk which kicks off just outside of Wicklow Town.
There is a 4 km linear trail that has around 100 metres of ascent and, while it’s rated ‘moderate’ from a difficulty perspective, it’s reasonably easy going (allow 1.5 hours).
Along the way you’ll see beaches, coves, the ruins of Black Castle and plenty more. Now, this is one of several Wicklow walking trails that comes with a warning…
DO NOT APPROACH THE SEALS! You’ll spot them along one of the beaches but make sure to avoid going anywhere near them!
3. The Avondale Forest trails
Avondale Forest is widely regarded as the birthplace of Irish forestry. It was built in the 18th century and the original owner planted thousands of trees on the estate.
In recent years, Avondale underwent a fair aul overhaul and it’s now home to the tallest slide in Ireland along with one of the more unique Wicklow walks – the treetop walk (see photo above).
However, if you’re looking to doge the crowds, there are several other trails here ranging from 15 to 60 minutes in length.
Keep in mind that, as a visit here is one of the more popular things to do in Wicklow for families, it gets very busy at the weekends/during holidays.
4. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
Next up is one of the more popular walks in Wicklow – the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk!
Now, a quick warning – the Greystones side of the trail is closed due to landslides, so you need to take an alternative route from Bray (see link below).
The original walk here stretched for around 7km and took from 2 to 2.5 hours to finish. The ‘new’ trail can be done either as a tough looped walk or as a handy linear trail.
5. Crone Woods
Although it’s strenuous in places, those with a moderate level of fitness should find this more than doable.
Taking the guts of 2.5 hours, the Crone Woods walk takes you through a gorgeous wooded glen that’s steeped in history.
When you reach the higher levels of Maulin and the views of the surrounding countryside meet your eye, you’ll discover why this is regarded as one of the best walks in Wicklow.
6. Djouce Woods
Djouce Woods is another of the more overlooked Wicklow walks, and there are two main trails on offer here.
There’s the short Blue Loop (4.5km 1.5 hours) and the long Deerpark Loop (9km 3 hours) both of which should be reasonably doable for most levels of fitness.
Both are lovely forest walks and you’ll be able to take in some mighty views of Powerscourt Waterfall on the way.
The walks here aren’t overly taxing, which make them two of the more popular walks in Wicklow for families.
7. Lough Tay to Lough Dan
Many people that visit Lough Tay (aka Guinness Lake) only hop out of the car for a bit, admire the view and then head off on their merry way.
Obviously that’s fine, but if you fancy exploring more of the area, there are two lovely trails to tip along that start near Pier Head Gates.
The first is the 8km/1.5 hour linear walk to Lough Dan. This is an easy-going trail that takes in views of both lakes.
The second is one of the more popular hikes in Wicklow – the 2.5 to 3-hour Luggala hike.
8. The Ballinastoe Woods walk
We’re off on the Ballinastoe Woods walk next for a 1.5 hour 6km ramble through some glorious lush woodland that looks like something plucked straight from a Lord of the Rings movie.
You’ll find the starting point for this walk in a little car park in this guide – there are several trails to choose from of varying lengths.
This is one of the handier of the many hikes and walks in Wicklow, and doesn’t require a huge level of fitness to complete.
The views, especially when you detour up to the JB Malone Memorial, are incredible.
9. The Russborough House trails
If you’d like to try one of the more unique walks in Wicklow, you can combine a stroll around the gardens here with a visit to the 2000 metre beech hedge Maze.
There are several walking trail to try here, from the 2km wildlife trail to the 2km woodland and rhododendron trail.
10. The Vartry Reservoir walks
You’ll find some of the handier forest walks in Wicklow a short spin from Roundwood at Vartry Reservoir.
Vartry Reservoir provides drinking water for Dublin and this massive expanse of water holds a whopping 5.6 billion litres!
There are several easy-going trails to try here:
- The 7.2km Lower Vartry Trail
- The 6.4km Upper Vartry Trail
- The 3km Woodland Walk
11. The Kilmacurragh Gardens walks
The National Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh are home to some great family walks in Wicklow (and best of all, entry is free!).
As you’d expect from a garden of its kind, the whole estate that it sits on is beautifully maintained, and there are several trails to tip along.
Grab a coffee in the on-site cafe and then head for a saunter. There’s nothing too strenuous here but it’ll suit those of you looking for handy Wicklow walks.
12. The Blessington Greenway
The Blessington Greenway can be explored on foot or by bike. The trail begins near the Avon and it hugs the Blessington Lakes for the majority of the journey.
The route then continues on and finishes at Russborough House, where you can extend the walk/cycle, if you like.
This is one of the easier going Wicklow walking trails. The only thing that puts me off this one is the midgets in the summer!
13. The Powerscourt Waterfall walk
The stroll around Powerscourt Waterfall is easily the shortest of the many Wicklow walks in this guide. It’s for those of you that fancy a handy ramble.
If the day’s fine, visit the waterfall – you’ll need to pay in here but you can park a short distance away. There’s no real route here, so follow your gut.
You can kick things off with a saunter up to the waterfall and then, when you’ve had your fill, stroll around the beautiful grounds. Another similar ramble is the Glendalough Waterfall Walk.
14. The Red Kite Loop
Another of the more overlooked walks in Wicklow is the Red Kite Walk in Avoca. This trail is 2.5km in length and generally takes around 1 hour to complete.
But what’s the story with the name?! Well, in 2009, the Golden Eagle Trust reintroduced Red Kites to Kilmagig Forest, which now houses several breeding pairs.
So, make sure to keep an eye (and an ear!) out as you walk. There’s fairy doors dotted throughout the trail and, although there’s a steep incline early on, it’s a handy enough stroll.
15. The Glen of the Downs
The Glen of the Downs is arguably one of the most famous Wicklow walks but it comes with a warning – PLEASE take great car entering and leaving the car park as it’s on a busy dual carriageway.
Once part of the 300 acre Bellevue Estate, it’s situated between ancient Bronze Age Hillforts that were once the strongholds of the King of Dublin and the King of Leinster.
There’s a nice 3.6km/1-hour looped forest walk at the Glen of the Downs that’s grand and easy-going. One of the highlights of the walk is Octagon that was built by the La Touche family in 1766.
The story goes that highwaymen were hanged at the Octagon during the 18th century.
The Best hikes in Wicklow
Now that we have the best walks in Wicklow, it’s time to look at the various Wicklow hikes, most of which are moderate to streneous.
Below, you’ll find everything from ‘Lug’ and the Spinc to what are, in our opinion, the best hikes in Wicklow.
1. The Lugnaquilla Hike
Lugnaquilla is the highest mountain in Wicklow (it’s also the highest in Ireland outside of Kerry!) and it’s one of the only Wicklow Mountain walks in this guide that ONLY seasoned walkers should tackle.
The Lugnaquilla hike is one of the more challenging hikes in Wicklow and it can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to finish.
One of the reasons this can get tricky is due to the cloud that tends to hang over its summit – the ability to use a map and compass is ESSENTIAL.
This is one of a number of mountains in Ireland where people regularly need to be rescued from. Please do not attempt it if you aren’t a seasoned hiker.
2. The Djouce Mountain Hike
Next on the list is Djouce, the 74th–highest peak in Ireland at 725 metres high. Djouce is home to an easy-to-follow route that’s maintained by the Office of Public Works.
One of the beauties of the Djouce Mountain walk is that it’s nice and straightforward, unlike many of the Wicklow hikes.
You kick it off from the JB Malone Memorial car park and you follow a boardwalk pretty much straight to the summit. It’ll take around 2 – 2.5 hours depending on pace and stops.
3. The Great Sugarloaf Mountain
The Sugarloaf Mountain walk is one of my favourite walks in Wicklow. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to an unbeatable view after a steep 35-minute climb.
The Great Sugarloaf stands at 501m above sea level, and it’s a lovely spot for a casual walk with friends or family.
The shorter and handier route to the top of the Great Sugarloaf kicks off from the car park to the south of the mountain.
There’s a nice worn path to follow to the top, so you’ll have no trouble finding your way to the summit.
On a clear day, you can soak up panoramic views of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, and the Irish Sea.
4. The Lough Ouler Hike
The next of the Wicklow trails that we’ll be tackling is the one up Tonelagee that offers views out over Lough Ouler – Ireland’s heart-shaped lake.
The safest route up is the one from Turlough Hill car park. The problem with starting the walk from the Glenmacnass side is that you need to cross potentially slippy stones to reach the mountainside.
When you reach the viewing point, you’ll be greeted with a view out over one of the most unique places to visit in Wicklow – Lough Ouler.
This is one of the best walks in Wicklow when it comes to views, in my opinion.
5. The Spinc (Glendalough)
It’s also not overly challenging, for the most part (the start of the climb is steep and strenuous!) if you have a half-decent level of fitness.
The trail takes you along the Spinc ridge overlooking Glendalough, offering endless panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Follow the White Loop (it’s waymarked). It’ll take you up to a little waterfall and this marks the beginning of your ramble.
The bulk of this walk follows wooden sleepers (boardwalk) but it’s recommended that you wear decent footwear, all the same.
6. The Bray Head Hike
Next up is another of the handier Wicklow walks that you can complete over the course of an hour or so, depending on pace.
You’ll find the 241m tall Bray Head slap bang in the middle of Bray and Greystones where it offers spectacular views its summit.
The Bray Head walk is easy to moderate difficulty wise. At the top, you’ll find a now-iconic concrete cross which was erected there in 1950.
If you climb it on a clear day you’ll be treated to brilliant views out over Bray and the ocean. You’ll also get a good eyeful of the Wicklow and Dublin mountains.
7. The Wicklow Way
OK, so, realistically you’re not going to be completing the Wicklow Way over the course of a weekend – this route can take upwards of a week to finish.
BUT, if you’ve a bit of time off and you’re looking to go hiking in Wicklow, this could be a nice active way to get out exploring.
The walk kicks-off in Rathfarnham in Dublin and travels through a good chunk of Wicklow before finishing in Clonegal in Carlow.
Over the course of 7 or so days, you’ll follow a series of waymarked trails that take in mountains, lakes, glacial valleys, gorgeous mountain streams, forests, and plenty more.
What Wicklow hikes have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left some brilliant Wicklow walks out of the guide above.
If you have any hard Wicklow hikes or handy Wicklow trails you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and we’ll check them out!
FAQs about the different Wicklow walks
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best hikes in Wicklow for views and what Wicklow walks are most suitable for families.
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 are the best Wicklow walks?
In my opinion, the best of the many hikes in Wicklow are the Ballinastoe Woods walk, Djouce Mountain and Lough Ouler.
What Wicklow hikes are good for inexperienced walkers?
The Djouce Mountain trail is one of the more easy-to-follow Wicklow walks, as it follows a boardwalk for the majority of the walk. The views are also incredible.
What Wicklow walking trails have the best scenery?
The Spinc Loop (Glendalough), Lough Ouler, Djouce, and the Lough Tay to Lough Dan walk all pack a punch scenery wise.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.