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    Ireland’s Best Coastal Walks & Hikes

    By Dawn Rainbolt, Marketing Executive
    More by Dawn

    Ireland's Wild Coasts

    Being an island, Ireland has a lot of coastlines. In fact, Ireland has some of the wildest and most dramatic coasts of Europe. While not exactly sun-bathing weather most of the year, the best way to experience Ireland’s coasts is to hike them.

    Where are Ireland’s best coastal walks and hikes? From Donegal to Cork, along the Causeway Coast to the north, the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast and Ireland’s east coast, we’ve identified many of Ireland’s best coastal hikes. Browse the table below for our favourite coastal walks by region.

    Causeway Coastal Way

    Causeway Coast Northern Ireland hiking

    The Causeway Coast, particularly from Dunseverick Castle to the Giant’s Causeway, is one of Ireland’s most dramatic – and iconic – coastal walks. The Causeway Coastal Way weaves along Northern Ireland’s coastline for 52 km, but the best bit is from Dunseverick Castle along the cliffs past the Giant’s Causeway and finishing in Portballintrae.

    Expect dramatic coastal scapes, great opportunities to spot marine wildlife, some of Ireland’s wildest geology, clifftop castles and quiet trails. Most visitors to the Giant’s Causeway simply drive to the Visitor’s Centre, but a far nicer alternative is to walk along the coast, observing the strange basalt columns as the coast’s geology gets wilder, until arriving above the Causeway itself (a bird’s eye view to die for!).

    Afterwards, finish up in Portballintree village, a great place to base your travels. Eager walkers can keep going 1.5 miles to the stunningly dramatic Dunluce Castle, perched majestically atop a cliff. (Alternatively, choose to drive there). Dunseverick Castle to Portballintree is 7 – 8 miles.

    Location: Antrim | Distance: 52 km / 33 miles (shortened route distance: 12 km / 8 miles)

    Hike it Yourself:

    Walk this route and other coastal hikes on our ever-popular small group trip Hiking the Causeway Coast & Donegal.

    Gobbins Cliff Walk

    Gobbins Path

    The Gobbin’s Cliff Walk is not your typical coastal walk. Less of a walk than a coastal experience and discovery, the Gobbins Path is one of the most unique listings here.

    The “path” follows the Gobbins cliff faces across an array of tunnels, bridges, stairs, cliffs walks, and narrow paths. Created in 1902 by a railway engineer advertising ‘perfect marvel of engineering,’ the walk takes in caves, cliffs, sea-stacks, natural aquariums, and islands.

    Reopened in 2014-15 with a series of new bridges and cliffside gallery structure, the Gobbins Path has regained the fascination it once held a hundred years ago.

    Location: Antrim | Distance: 5 km / 3 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Explore Ireland’s coast on the Gobbin’s Path and more on our fun for the whole family trip, Giants, Myths & Legends.

    Rathlin Island

    Hiking Rathlin Island Northern Ireland

    Rathlin Island is located off the Causeway Coast, and is the largest inhabited island in the region. A short ferry crossing from Ballycastle gets you to the small island community. The walk leads from the little village at Rathlin Harbour down the island’s narrow tarmac road to the West Lighthouse.

    There, visit the RSPB Seabird Viewpoint, home to many nesting birds and some dramatic cliffs and sea stacks. In fact, the cliffs and sea stacks of the Kebble National Nature Reserve support the largest seabird breeding colony in Northern Ireland. During the spring/early summer, you have a good chance at spotting the adorable puffins. There are many other birds living in the reserve, like guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, geese, and more recently corncrake.

    This walk offers some great views – look back towards Ballycastle and Fair Head as well as out to Sheep Island and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. On the ferry back to the mainland, enjoy views out towards the Mull of Kintyre – Scotland never felt so close!

    Location: Antrim | Distance: 12 km / 8 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Hike Rathlin Island and other coastal hikes on our ever-popular small group trip Hiking the Causeway Coast & Donegal. Travelling with kids? Why not visit with the whole family on our Giants, Myths and Legends trip, which combines kid-friendly activities with days that are fun for adults too.

    Malin Head

    Hiking Donegal Malin Head

    Ireland’s northernmost tip located at the top of County Donegal is wild and rugged. In fact, its ruggedness caught the attention of film location scouts of Star Wars, who used it for close up shots of Luke Skywalker’s secret hideaway in the 2015 & 2017 films (aerial Star Wars shots filmed at Skellig Michael).

    This walk includes a Napoleonic watchtower, a huge (and well maintained) EIRE sign dating from the WWII era, and some really dramatic rock pinnacles. Despite its location, this walk can be a little busy in summer, but it’s well worth it! Expect to be walking for about 7 km / 4 miles – though the terrain is rugged, the walk itself is not overly challenging.

    Location: Donegal | Distance: 7 km / 4 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Walk this route and other coastal hikes on our ever-popular small group trip Hiking the Causeway Coast & Donegal. Or join our self drive trip through Northern Ireland and Donegal.

    Slieve League Pilgrim’s Path

    Hiking Donegal Slieve League Pilgrim's Path

    Less famous than the Cliffs of Moher, the massive Slieve League cliffs are actually several times higher. Most people simply walk along the road to the Bunglas viewpoint, the iconic Slieve League panorama, but a lesser-known option is to walk the Pilgrim’s Path behind Teelin village.

    This rough path takes you past a mass rock and the ruins of an old church before terminating at the edge of the (very windy) Slieve League cliffs. There are options to continue along the cliffs down the narrow One Man’s Pass for those up for a challenge, or you can simply return the way you came.

    Location: Donegal | Distance: 6 km / 4 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Hike the Pilgrim’s Path and other walks around Slieve League and Donegal on our Hiking Donegal and the Causeway Coast. Or if biking is more your thing, bike Donegal From Cliffs to Coast, combing with a short hike around the cliffs.

    Aughris Head

    Hiking Sligo Aughris Head

    Sligo is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets. Well off most tourist itineraries, Sligo is full of stunning coastlines and hidden beaches, most of which are as beautiful as they are empty. One lovely coastal walk is Aughris Head, located along the Wild Atlantic Way in south Sligo.

    This coastal headland offers easy walking, gorgeous cliffs, great bird-watching opportunities, and picture-perfect views over Sligo hills like Ben Bulben, Knocknarea and even out to Slieve League on a clear day.

    The Aughris Head loop itself is 5km long, although hikers wanting to add a bit more can add on a walk to Dunmore Beach, bringing the total walk just under 10km. Afterwards, enjoy a refreshing pint at the cute Beach Bar – housed in a traditional thatched cottage. They do a delicious bowl of seafood chowder, perfect for post-walk refuelling.

    Location: Sligo | Distance: 5-10 km / 3-6 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Explore the wilds of Sligo on our self drive trip through Sligo’s surf coast.

    Carrowteige

    Hiking Carrowteige Mayo

    This remote corner of Mayo may not be the easiest to get to, but after navigating a series of narrow laneways through the rough terrain, you’ll arrive at the small village at the edge of the island.

    From there, you can walk the 7-8km loop around the Carrowteige headland along cliffs and over boggy hillocks at what feels like the ends of the earth. The views are epic as you follow the train high above the hills. The wind-rustled slopes and wave-beaten rocks below form a hauntingly beautiful landscape that is quiet and rarely visited.

    There is also a folklore story associated with Carrowteige. Legend has it that this was one of the locations of the Children of Lir, four children of an ancient king whose jealous new wife cursed them to live 900 years in the form of swans (or take a look at our Irish Folklore page).

    Location: Mayo | Distance: 8 km / 5 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Though this specific hike is not on any trip, there are a number of beautiful Mayo inland and coastal hikes on hiking the Mountains of Connemara & Mayo.

    Killary Fjord Famine Walk

    Killary fjord hike

    Home to just three fjords, Killary Fjord is both Ireland’s largest and most famous fjord. The Famine Walk is on the longer side – running for about 16km, it’ll take you most of the day. The name comes from the fact that this would have been a “famine relief” road – a project created to provide work for the starving populace after the potato crop failed several years in a row in the mid-1800s.

    Rugged, remote and already poor compared to other rural regions, Connemara was hit particularly hard during the Great Hunger. On this walk, you can see the original potato ridges still clearly visible and the virtually intact 19th-century famine road running alongside the crumbling and roofless cottages, long abandoned to nature.

    Start from Rosroe pier, and runs to the village of Leenaun. This route was once located on the old estate run by General Thomson, who is buried at the cemetery. There are great views of Killary Fjord too. (Note this is a linear walk – the best way to do it is with two cars; otherwise join a guided trip).

    Location: Galway | Distance: 16 km / 10 miles with options to shorten to 11km/7 miles.

    Hike it Yourself:

    Join the Mountains of Connemara & Mayo hiking trip to walk the Killary Famine Walk.

    Cliffs of Moher from Liscannor

    Cliffs of Moher hike

    The Cliffs of Moher is probably Ireland’s most iconic landmark. Most visitors drive to the Visitor Centre and never make it more than a few hundred metres from the car park. But the best way to visit these dramatic cliffs is via a breathtaking coastal walk.

    Start in Liscannor at the signal tower and walk along the cliffs to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre. From there, you can continue the full length to Doolin village, known for its colourful facades and cheery pubs, or simply head back along the cliffs.

    This is a linear walk and so you can either turn back and return on foot or alternatively, take a local taxi back to the start. Either way, marvel at the stunning views along much quieter stretches of the Cliffs of Moher. Read our Cliffs of Moher guide here.

    Location: Clare | Distance: 5 km / 3 miles one way to he visitor centre (return 10km /6 miles)

    Hike it Yourself:

    Walk the cliff walk as well as a number of other coastal and island routes on our Hiking & Island Hopping group trip on Ireland’s West Coast.

    Prefer a degree of flexibility? You can also walk the Cliffs of Moher hike and visit other great coastal spots on our self drive – Connemara, Dingle & Cliffs of Moher trip.

    Aran Islands Inishman Loop

    The Aran Islands are among the most popular islands in Ireland, and the most populated. Inishman (in Irish, Inis Meain) is the middle island. The 13 km long Lúb Dún Fearbhaí looped walk should take you about 5 hours. Follow the purple arrows from the pier to the coast along laneways and paths before cutting across the island past forts and other heritage sites to loop back to the start.

    Along the way, you can detour to a rugged headland see Synge’s Chair, named for Irish author and playwright J.M. Synge, who once lived on and took inspiration from the Aran Islands, along with some dramatic limestone cliffs.

    You’ll also visit two forts, Dun Chonchuir and Dun Fearbhai fort, for which the Lúb Dún Fearbhaí loop is named. These incredible though ruined stone forts likely date back to Ireland’s Iron Age or early medieval times, though not much is known about them. There are also ruins of a few churches, the oldest of which is over a thousand years old. Learn hike details here.

    Location: Aran Islands – Inishman, Co Galway | Distance: 13km / 8 miles with options to extend to Synge’s Chair.

    Visit it yourself: 

    Visit and hike the Aran Islands well as other coastal and island routes on our Hiking & Island Hopping group trip on Ireland’s West Coast.

    Inis Nee Island Roundstone Loop

    Connemara is full of amazing places to hike, though most of these walks are concentrated inland, in the mountains and in the national park. For those looking for a low-level coastal walk, the Inis Nee loop is a great option.

    The looped walk, which is about 6km in length, is located just over 3 km from the quaint and colourful village of Roundstone. Crossing a short causeway, the loop follows the tiny islands of Roundstone Bay. This is an isolated, remote and traditional area, which is reflected in this short loop following tiny roads, narrow laneways and rough tracks.

    The views are impressive despite the low level – on one side, gaze out at Roundstone village and the shadow of Errisbeg Hill rising behind, and on the other, enjoy the silhouettes of the Twelve Bens of Connemara. Inisnee makes an ideal gentle introduction to the region – a perfect first hike before joining HCM where you’ll hike many of the hills you see here such as Errisbeg, Diamond Hill and several of the Twelve Bens.

    After your walk, head to Roundstone to freshen up – we recommend the Bog Bean Cafe. Nearby Dog’s Bay is a stunning beach as well.

    Hiking the Mountains of Connemara & Mayo is a great hiking trip in western Ireland offering some challenging and steep terrain, though there are coastal walks too, including a visit to the lovely village and surrounds of Roundstone.

    The Dingle Way

    Hiking the Dingle way - Slea Head

    The Dingle Way is a 162 km trail that circles the Dingle Peninsula. One of Ireland’s most famous long-distance ways, the Dingle Way involves a good bit of coastal hiking mixed with rural laneways, towns and villages and mountain paths on rough terrain. The Maharees, a very long stretch of beach, is the day with the most coastal walks on it. But there are lovely beach walks at Inch Beach, Ventry Beach and Wine Strand.

    The walk at Slea Head combines archeology – namely ancient beehives and cashels – while following an elevated trail that leads around the headland of Slea Head, Ireland’s western-most point on the mainland (look out beyond the shores to the Blasket Islands, also on this list. Don’t miss the Blasket Island Centre just past Dunquin village.

    It usually takes about a week to hike the full Dingle Way, depending on how far you’re willing to walk each day, though of course visitors can choose to hike smaller sections. There are plenty of amenities for accommodation, food, heritage sites and activities along the way. Read our guide to the Dingle Peninsula here.

    Location: Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry | Distance: 162 km / 100 miles (the total walk is usually walked in 7-9 days though it is possible to walk sections)

    Hike it Yourself:

    Hike the Dingle Way to walk the Maharees and other coastal walks with guided and self guided options depending on your preferences.

    Blasket Islands Loop

    Hiking Blaskets Islands - Dingle

    Clinging to Slea Head, Ireland’s westernmost point, are the Blasket Islands, a small archipelago of half a dozen islands. At the centre is the Great Blasket Island, once inhabited by a small but thriving island community remembered for its literary and storytelling heritage (Read more here).

    Evacuated in the 1950s due to rough living conditions, all that remains of this community are the eerie stone remains of the village and a couple of restored cottages. Hike a loop around the island to enjoy spectacular views of Dingle and the Atlantic, spot the seabirds flitting overhead and the seals often spotted below, and imagine what life had been like for the generations of islanders who once called this place home.

    Location: Dingle Peninsula – Co Kerry | Distance: 6.5km / 4 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Visit the Blasket Islands for a lovely walk on our southwest island hopping trip through Cork and Kerry.

    The Maharees

    Hiking Dingle Way - Maharees Smerwick Harbour & Wine Strand

    The longest stretch of beach in Ireland beckons. Part of the Dingle Way, one of Ireland’s best-loved long distance trails, the stretch of the Dingle Way along Wine Strand, Swerick Harbour and the Maharees offers some of the best beach walking in Ireland’s southwest regions.

    Much quieter than the southern half of the peninsula, enjoy stunning views over the northern headlands of the Dingle Peninsula and the great Atlantic. This walk follows a network of beaches running from the northern tip of the Maharees Peninsula nearly all the way to the village of Brandon, over 15 km of beach. The Maharees are one of the final hikes of the Dingle Way (for those travelling clockwise, the traditional direction).

    Popular with windsurfers and kite surfers, the impressive sand dunes support important ecosystems like natterjack toads, whooper swans, and Berwick’s mute swan, as well as a number of other seabirds. Read our guide to the Dingle Peninsula here.

    Location: Dingle Peninsula – Co Kerry | Distance: 17 km / 10 miles

    Hike it Yourself:

    Wander the vast stretches of sand along Swerick Harbour, Wine Strand and the Maharees while hiking the Dingle Way, with guided and self guided options depending on your preferences.

    Lighthouse Loop on Sheep's Head

    Hiking West Cork - Sheep's Head Peninsula

    This walk is the jewel in the crown of the Sheep’s Head Way, a 93km-long-distance waymarked route around the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in Cork. Estimates generally say the whole way takes 6 days, but there are many bite-sized walks to do instead.

    Our favourite is the Lighthouse Loop, a trail that winds around the tip of the peninsula. Just 4km long and taking about 1.5 hours, this loop tracks past pretty Lough Akeen through some splendidly rugged (but accessible) terrain. Hike by cliffs, craggy headlands, and heathery hills.

    The highlight is of course the titular lighthouse, shining out across the sea since 1968. Enjoy stunning views across the Beara Peninsula and out to Mizen Head, Ireland’s southernmost point.

    Nearby is a WWII-era EIRE sign (number 31) that once marked Ireland as neutral territory. Start and finish at Bernie’s Cupan Tae cafe, perfect for refreshments.

    Location: West Cork | Distance: 8 km / 5 miles for the Lighthouse Loop (total Sheep’s Head Way is 93km / 58 miles)

    Hike it Yourself: 

    Discover the Sheep’s Head Peninsula as well as other coastal Cork and Kerry hikes on our southwest island-hopping hiking trip.

    Howth Head

    Howth Head hike

    When thinking about Irish coastal walks, we often only think about the west coast. But there are a few east coast walks worth a mention. One is Howth Head, a small headland not far from Dublin.

    This is an easy day trip from Dublin city, and though it can be a bit busy with other Dublin day-trippers, it is a great breath of fresh air after a few days in the city. Howth Head has a lovely coastal cliffside walk crowning the headland, winding along cliffs and cutting through the heather.

    At the end of the headland sits a lighthouse, once guiding fishermen back into Howth. There are a few other heritage sites in the area, including a Martello tower, a 15th-century abbey, and Balscadden House, briefly the home of a young William Butler Yeats, Ireland’s national poet. There are a number of seabirds living along Howth’s cliffs.

    The village of Howth is a bustling place, full of pubs, shops and cafes for a yummy lunch and warming cuppa after your walk and is accessible by Dublin’s light rail, the DART. Find out more here.

    Location: Dublin | Distance: 6-10 km / 3-6 miles (looped or out & back linear options)

    Kilcoole to Greystones Coastal Walk

    Bray Wicklow Greystones Coastal Walk

    Ireland’s east coast is far less dramatic than its west, with fewer (and busier) walks. But if you’re in the Dublin or Wicklow area and want to do a coastal walk, Wicklow’s Kilcoole to Greystones coastal walk is a great option. It is a particularly good option if you are reliant on public transport.

    Starting from the Kilcoole Train Station, head down to the Kilcoole seafront. From there, a series of laneways and beach tracks wind north with great ocean vistas. There are some ruins along the way, that of Ballygannon House, though they are on private land.

    The 5-km linear walk finishes at Greystones, a lovely coastal town with plenty of cafes and shops, and easy access back to Dublin on the DART (local trains) or bus. Learn more here.

    Not tired? There is a popular cliff walk from Greystones to Bray, which offers a little bit more of a challenge and some really lovely elevated views. When you get to Bray start, there is a path leading to the top of Bray Head offering stunning views of the Irish Sea, the Wicklow Mountains National Park and of course the seaside town of Bray. This section is 7km long, though do keep in mind that landslides can occasionally cause parts of the cliff walk to close. Learn more here.

    Location: Wicklow | Distance: 5km / 3 miles with a possible 7km / 4 mile extension.

    Though this coastal walk is not on the trip, hiking the Wicklow Way is a great guided trip to join for anyone wishing to explore Wicklow and the east to Ireland.

    Hiking Ireland's Coasts

    Trip Date Price Availability Book
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 11th Mar - 17th Mar 2023 €1,9907 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 25th Mar - 31st Mar 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 25th Mar - 31st Mar 2023 €1,9605 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Drive - Kerry, West Cork & The Haven Coast 10th Apr - 16th Apr 2023 €1,5002 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 15th Apr - 21st Apr 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 15th Apr - 21st Apr 2023 €1,9107 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 6th May - 12th May 2023 €1,9607 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 6th May - 12th May 2023 €1,9104 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 13th May - 19th May 2023 €1,9905 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 27th May - 2nd Jun 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 10th Jun - 16th Jun 2023 €1,9106 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 10th Jun - 16th Jun 2023 €1,9905 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 24th Jun - 30th Jun 2023 €1,9906 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 24th Jun - 30th Jun 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 8th Jul - 14th Jul 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 8th Jul - 14th Jul 2023 €1,9607 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 8th Jul - 14th Jul 2023 €1,9107 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 15th Jul - 21st Jul 2023 €1,9907 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 22nd Jul - 28th Jul 2023 €1,9907 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 29th Jul - 4th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 29th Jul - 4th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 5th Aug - 11th Aug 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 12th Aug - 18th Aug 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 19th Aug - 25th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 19th Aug - 25th Aug 2023 €1,9605 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 26th Aug - 1st Sep 2023 €1,9907 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 26th Aug - 1st Sep 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 2nd Sep - 8th Sep 2023 €1,9906 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 16th Sep - 22nd Sep 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 16th Sep - 22nd Sep 2023 €1,9904 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 23rd Sep - 29th Sep 2023 €1,9107 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 23rd Sep - 29th Sep 2023 €1,9606 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 7th Oct - 13th Oct 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now

    Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

    “American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture and sweeping landscapes of Ireland. Armed with a Masters Degree in Tourism Marketing and a love of writing and photography, she is Wilderness Ireland's Marketing Executive since 2017.”

    View profileMore by Dawn

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