With a family heritage leading back to Ireland, I’ve heard countless times from my grandma how beautiful the country is. So when I had the opportunity to visit in tandem with Tourism Ireland, I jumped at the chance. They told me it would be an outdoor-focused trip with many opportunities for hiking in Ireland.
While it wasn’t exactly the massive peaks and thrills I have experienced in the Western United States, I still had a wonderful time seeing new sights and enjoying them with great people. Additionally, some of these are the best hikes in Ireland.
Hiking in Ireland: A Few Top Moments
Most of the hiking in Ireland was shorter in distance and meant for almost all skill levels. Of course, there are more challenging trips you could turn into overnights, but these are perfect Ireland family hikes below.
The Mourne Mountains and the Mourne Wall
The only hike we did in Northern Ireland. It’s a beautiful mountain range and one that’s easily accessible from Newcastle. These mountains are also home to the highest point in Northern Ireland.
We hiked up to the Mourne Wall, which was built relatively recently in human history to keep livestock out of the area’s water source.
For this trip, our group hiked the Wee Binnian, about a 2.5-mile round-trip hike with 800 feet of elevation gain.
Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park
Probably my favorite spot for hiking in Ireland! Diamond Hill is a butt burner, but you’ll quickly gain elevation and views that blow you away. In all, it’s a 5-mile trek with 1,400 feet of elevation gain.
The hike’s incline is a bit like a roller coaster, with some parts steep and others flat and gentle. If you’re going to be in this area, I highly recommend you take two or three hours and do this hike!
Add this to your best hikes in Ireland list!
Roguey Cliff Walk and the Fairy Bridge
Starting in the city of Bundoran, the Roguey Cliff walk is a beautiful yet easy walk along the coast in County Donegal. Of all the hikes listed, this is the most accessible of Ireland family hikes. You’ll hug the coast for the entire walk and get lovely sea and coastline views.
AllTrails says this is about a three miles round trip walk. It’s one of the top spots for hiking in Donegal, and I also think this is one of the best hikes in Ireland.
While Cruit Island offers gorgeous walks along the coastline, I want to throw a curveball here for those looking for more excitement. I highly recommend sea stack climbing with Unique Ascents if you enjoy rock climbing (or even if you don’t). We had a phenomenal time, and they provided all the gear and guidance.
Our climbing was pretty easy for our group, which spanned athletic levels. But for those wanting a thrill, they make trips further into the ocean that will push your adrenaline levels higher.
Glenveagh National Park
If you’re looking for a castle without fanfare, Glenveagh National Park is your spot! It’s one of the least visited parks in Ireland, which means you’ll be able to soak in the views without tons of tourists. Starting at the visitor center, you have multiple options to get to the castle.
You can walk about a mile, take a shuttle, or hop on a bike. Once at the castle, explore the stunning gardens in the back, hike to the viewpoint above, or keep trekking to the end of the valley with gorgeous views of the lake.
FAQ: Hiking In Ireland
Does Ireland have good hiking?
I would say that Ireland has decent hiking. You have to remember it is a much, much smaller country than the US, which means they have had much less demand to create new trails. Furthermore, they only have a few National Parks, and inside of those, only a few hikes per spot.
Coming from the western United States, I was a bit blown away by how undeveloped their areas are.
What is the best month to hike in Ireland?
The dry summer months are when you’d want to spend your time hiking in Ireland. Here you’ll have long days to enjoy the beautiful country and see great places.
Are there forests in Ireland?
Yes, there are some forests in Ireland, though a lot of the place is more open fields with fewer trees.
Do I need hiking boots in Ireland?
You probably could just use hiking shoes or trail runners unless the area you’re hiking in is quite rocky or wet, where waterproof boots would be of use. I never encountered trails that needed legit hiking boots.
Final thoughts on hiking in Ireland
While this trip was to more of the hidden gems of Ireland and didn’t involve classic hiking in Ireland, such as the Cliffs of Mohr, Giants Causeway, or the more famous castles, it was still a great trip. Furthermore, it shows that you can plan a trip to areas less frequented and still have a great time and see beautiful regions.
So as you’re planning your trip to Ireland, take some time to investigate the less famous regions, and you might be surprised by what you see!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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