Exploring Ireland on foot is one of the best ways to delve deep into the island’s fine natural and cultural heritage, north and south. We are proud to offer holidays with some of the best walks in Ireland, where you can leave the logistics and luggage with us, and you can just chill and hit the road as it rises up to meet you. The traditional Irish blessing ‘May the road rise up to meet you’, or ‘go n-éirí an bóthar leat’ in Irish, is the equivalent of bon voyage, and is a way of wishing travellers a safe and smooth journey.
The west coast of Ireland is peppered with the prettiest of peninsulas, and sometimes it’s hard to know which one to stop at. Beara is a beauty, however, and one that many Irish people haven’t even visited. The Beara Way is a waymarked 196km walking trail taking you around, over and into the heart of this wild and windy hillwalking heaven. Whether you walk it in 12 days or do the slightly shorter ten or eight-day versions, you can mix exhilarating cliff-top walks, lakelands and ancient bog roads with offshore islands Garinish and Bere. And you’ll also find a wide array of great foodie spots along the way.
For serious hillwalking holidays in Ireland, head over the border into Northern Ireland to the Mourne Mountains because the island’s natural beauty doesn’t stop for a line on the map. Just 50km from Belfast, or 145km from Dublin, this range of granite tors clings to the coast of County Down, dipping down like giant mythical creatures to drink from the sea. They aren’t that giant, in fact, as Slieve Donard (853m) is the highest peak of twelve over 600m, with the historic Mourne Wall traversing them all. However, this range still feels remote and wild, and has some spectacular views. The Mourne Way is a trail that takes you through some of the Mournes, exploring the likes of Slieve Meelbeg, Commedagh and Donard, Happy Valley, and Castlewellan Forest Park.
Killarney National Park and Kerry Way
Killarney National Park is Ireland’s largest national park, and one of the most popular walking holidays in Ireland, following the Kerry Way – a colossal and sometimes challenging 210km long-distance walking trail that takes 12 days to complete. There are other shorter options, all of them are on paths where the national park and Kerry’s emeralds shine brightly, be it at Killarney’s lakes, on the rich boglands and sandy beaches, or from spots where you can watch the sunrise over Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.
Ireland’s islands are like extra emeralds sprinkled around its shores many with small, traditional island communities that depend on tourism to survive. You can visit several of these islands on our walking holidays in Ireland, so please ensure that you spend some money locally when you are there. They are unique places to visit, and it’s vital that we try and sustain them as best we can. They include Bere Island on our Beara Way holidays, Great Blasket Island while walking the Dingle Way, or the RSPB favourite of Rathlin Island on our Causeway Coast walking holiday.
Sheep’s Head Way
The Sheep’s Head Way is one of the south-west’s most spindly peninsulas, measuring just 19km long and 5km wide. For keen walkers it’s like a tardis, however, with 150km of hill walks leading you to dreamy coves, dramatic cliffs, ancient archaeological sites or to its elusive lighthouse right at the tip – all strengthened by a sandstone ridge which stretches down the core of the peninsula like a central spine. It also has an impressive local community, fully committed to sustainable tourism on its prettiest of patches, and it’s thanks to them that such superb walking access has been granted to its hiking visitors.
“The Sheep’s Head Way is not only exquisite but also a celebration of community tourism. When you follow the hand-painted wooden waymarker posts, with their yellow walker clearly visible, it’s worth remembering that, in the early 1990s, a small group of four local farmers and landowners started to walk the land every Sunday, to work out the best possible paths that visitors could follow, thus creating the Sheep’s Head Way, their way.“ – Catherine Mack, Irish travel writer and Content Creator at The Natural Adventure.
The Dingle Way
The Dingle Way covers 179km of some of Ireland’s finest beaches, rural villages, dramatic cliffs and panoramic views along what is now known as the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s a world-renowned walking trail, and yet you will always find tranquil spots on the likes of Mount Brandon, Ireland’s second highest mountain, in the foothills of Slieve Mish or among the dunes of the grand Inch Strand. We recommend diving into Dingle big time on a 10 day self-guided walking tour or taking in many of its heavenly highlights in eight days.
In conclusion, it’s fitting that long-distance walking trails are all called ‘ways’ in Ireland, given that Irish people do seem to have a way about them that is intangibly Irish. They demonstrate welcoming, warm and wholesome ways, whether you meet them in a pub on the Wicklow Way, a deli on the Dingle or Donegal Way, sharing banter on the Beara Way or shooting the breeze on St. Patrick’s Way. You’ll find plenty of peaceful trails on walking holidays in Ireland, but you will also delight in the Irish carefree ways.
In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact our adventure specialists for any more information on Ireland.