With a dramatic coastline, heather-covered highlands, rolling green pastures and deep glacial valleys, Ireland is a terrific destination for a walking holiday. With such a variety of landscapes, there are scenic walks to suit all tastes, whether you want a short stroll with sea views or an epic hike into the highest hills. We’ve picked for you some of the best walks in Ireland that showcase the magnificent scenery.
7 Scenic Walks in Ireland
1. Mahon Falls, Waterford
The Comeragh Mountains in Waterford have an abundance of exhilarating walking and hiking trails. From the Mahon Falls car park, you can easily walk to the waterfall of the same name. However, we highly recommend taking to the longer trails and go traipsing through the spectacular scenery of this glaciated mountain range. There are loads of looped walks suitable for most abilities. Choose from easy one-hour strolls to epic day-long hikes. One of the easier walks is the 2.6km Crough Wood route. For those who really want to explore more, tackle the tough Comeragh Plateau. This 18km looped walk starts at Mahon Falls.
2. Queen Maeve Trail, Sligo
Queen Maeve was the warrior queen of Connacht (a province of Ireland). Legend has it that she is buried in the cairn (a mound of rough stones) at the summit of Knocknarea (a big hill in Sligo). W.B. Yeats was so taken by the beauty and mythology of Knocknarea that he wrote about it in many of his poems. To summit Knocknarea, take the 6km Queen Maeve Trail looped walk, which starts opposite the Sligo Rugby Club. The loop takes roughly 2 hours to complete. The trail features a wooden boardwalk with viewing platforms and information plaques and there are breathtaking coastal views. You’ll see the Ox Mountains, Lough Gill and the Slieve League cliffs in Donegal. On a clear day, you can even see Croagh Patrick.
3. Woodstock Loop Walk, Kilkenny
Put on your walking shoes and take to the 4.5km Woodstock Loop which starts at the Inistioge village car park in County Kilkenny. Along the Woodland Loop Walk, you’ll follow the River Nore and wander along woodland tracks and forest trails. With plenty of places of interest along the way, including the magical Woodstock Gardens, you’ll have lots of things to explore and rest stops. Make sure you spend some time in the tranquil ruins of Mount Sandford Castle and enjoy the lovely view of Inistioge’s 10 arch bridge.
4. Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop, West Cork
Sheep’s Head Peninsula stretches far into the wild Atlantic ocean. Perched at the tip of the peninsula is a lighthouse that can be reached by following the Lighthouse Loop Walk. This is an old sheep trail that begins at Bernie’s Cupán Tae cafe in Tooreen. The route takes you through boggy valleys carpeted by wildflowers and up along coastal cliffs with sweeping sea views that stretch across Bantry Bay. The lighthouse at the end of the trail clings to the cliffs as the waves crash some 76 metres below. It is a brilliant blustery walk that is sure to blow away the cobwebs. The walk is 4.2km long and takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
5. Glenstal Woods, Limerick
The 15km Glenstal Woods loop walk is a is gentle and scenic stroll with spectacular views into north Limerick, south Tipperary and of Keeper Hill (Slievekimalta), which is the highest peak in the Shannon region. The start and endpoints are in the Glenstal Wood car park which is close to the village of Murroe. On this four-hour walk, you’ll meander through natural woodland which is brimming with wildlife including hen harriers. So when you walk, keep looking up and you might just see one circling overhead.
6. Derrigimlagh Signature Discovery Point, Galway
This popular Signature Discovery Point along the Wild Atlantic Way is located just off the main road, a few minutes outside of Clifden. The 5km looped walk takes you through the atmospheric windswept, blanket bog landscape which, apart from being beautiful, is an important wilderness area and a site of historic significance. The blanket bog has a complex ecosystem with rare plant and animal species and it was here in 1907 the Guglielmo Marconi set up the first commercial wireless service across the Atlantic. It was also here in 1919 that John Alcock and Arthur Brown’s inaugural transatlantic flight came to an end, near Marconi’s station. The road through the bog is smooth and there are wooden walkways linking sites of interest, therefore, this walk is suitable for wheelchair users and buggies.
7. The Barrow Way Walk, Carlow
The Barrow Way walking route follows the River Barrow, the second-longest river in Ireland. As you stroll along the old towpath, you’ll pass through some very scenic countryside. You’ll also be surrounded by flowers and wildlife. The Barrow Way stretches from Robertstown in County Kildare to St. Mullins in County Carlow, some 113km. However, one particularly lovely stretch is the bit that goes through Carlow. Starting in Milford, the walk takes you past stone bridges and old mills. You’ll also see historical buildings, for instance, castles and ecclesiastical ruins.