Completing a ranking of all the Wild Irish Walks recorded trails is something I have been thinking about for a while.
The reason being that the most common question I get in relation to hiking in Ireland is most definitely, what is the best walk I have ever done? Of course, I understand the question, I think it is part of human nature to want to know what the best thing is. Competitive sport is so popular because everybody wants to know who is the best.
What’s Number One?
I have my own favourites but still, I always find it a difficult question to answer. Any response is certainly subjective based on my own personal experience out on the trail. For example, it depends on my own preferences, what the weather was like, how busy the route was, did I see any interesting wildlife, even how fit I was feeling on the day I went on the walk. Despite all this, I have decided to make a Wild Irish Walks Ranking of all the trails documented on this blog.
I think it will be a good feature for the blog too – with every new post on a new trail, I can update people as to where it ranks versus the best hikes on offer in Ireland. So here goes:
The Complete Ranking of All Wild Irish Walks
|The Burren Way – Lahinch to Doolin
Is this the best walk in Ireland? I definitely think so. The main reason being that it contains the majestic cliffs of Moher. Coming in at 204m (704 feet), the cliffs are spectacular and awe inspiring in equal measure. Unfortunately, many people only see the area of the cliffs close to the visitor centre. This Lahinch to Doolin walk includes the entire length of the cliffs and gives you some space and solitude to fully take in their beauty. I’d advise starting this walk from Liscannor if you don’t want to take on the full 28km of this hike.
This is not the biggest walk in the world. In fact, you only need to climb a majestic 618 steps to get to the world famous beehive huts at the top. This is an UNESCO world heritage site and rightly so. Everybody should visit Skellig Michael at least once in their lives.
|Wicklow Way – Roundwood to Glenmalure
Wicklow is the garden of Ireland and the Wicklow Way gives you a great insight into this beautiful countryside. My favourite section of the Wicklow Way is from Roundwood to Glenmalure. This section takes in the Glenmacnass Valley and the spectacular Glendalough before finishing up in Glenmalure valley. All in all, a beautiful 23km hike
|The Wicklow Round
The Wicklow Round is mostly an off trail hike. My article details climbing the first 8 mountains over 33km of the Wicklow Round. The route is over 100km in its entirety.
|The Burren Way – Doolin to Ballyvaughan
Back to the Burren. This time the section between Doolin and Ballyvaughan. Leaving the picturesque village of Doolin, the trail initially contains some road walking sections before crossing Knockaun Mountain and then experiencing the full extent of the Burren’s limestone pavements along the saddle of Slieve Elva. I really enjoyed the hospitality in the lovely pubs of Ballyvaughan too.
I climbed Lugnaquilla in some pretty horrendous weather conditions. Sometimes though the extra difficulty can add to the enjoyment of a hike. The 16km route starts off from the fantastic Glenmalure Valley with the highlight being the summit of the highest mountain in Leinster (925m).
|Mullaghmeen Forest Walk
Westmeath is obviously the best county in Ireland. In my view the best walk in the best county is found in Mullaghmeen Forest. You also get the added bonus of reaching the highest point in Westmeath – which is actually the lowest county top in all of Ireland.
|Stairway to Heaven
Located in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark, the stairway to heaven walk is a great example of how if you build it they will come. Extensive work in constructing a boardwalk and staircase to climb Cuilcagh Mountain led to an explosion of visitors to this beautiful area on the Cavan Fermanagh border. The Stairway to Heaven is a tough but rewarding climb and highly enjoyable.
Inis Oirr is spectacular. My advice is just to wander around the paths and lanes of this beautiful island.
|Dursey Island Loop
I really enjoyed the 14km Dursey Island Loop. You get the sense of being on the edge of the world in this remote and scenic trail in the south west of Ireland. Plus you need to take a cable car trip to get across to the island. Fab!
Towering over the beautiful town of Carlingford, Slieve Foye is a wonderful hike offering fantastic views out over the Irish Sea. You can see as far as the Isle of Man on clear days!
|The Raven Hiking Trail
The Raven offers a calming stroll through secluded woodlands before opening out on to Curracloe Beach – definitely one of the nicest beaches in Ireland.
|Wicklow Way – Marley Park to Enniskerry
The Wicklow Way starts off from Marley Park in south Dublin. This is a very pretty walk with the highlight being the views from Prince William’s Seat before descending to the picturesque village of Enniskerry.
|Dublin Mountain Way
This epic 42km hike can be tackled in one day – if you’re brave enough. Running through the mountains between Tallaght and Shankill – my recommendation is to start off in Tallaght and stop for a break in Johnny Foxes pub in Glencullen as you approach the finish line.
|Knockmealdown – Summit from the Vee
Located on the border between Tipperary and Waterford, the hike up to Knockmealdown is a lovely looped walk.
One of my most popular posts is about Killiney. This area is extremely popular for walkers. It’s easy to understand why when you see the views out over Dublin Bay from the top of the hill.
|Wicklow Way – Enniskerry to Roundwood
I really enjoyed this leg of the Wicklow Way. The Glencree River Valley, great views of Powerscourt Waterfall, crossing the saddle of Djouce Mountain and then stunning vistas over Lough Tay all make this a fantastic hike.
Most people take the straight up and down route to the summit of Mount Leinster – my article offers details of a trickier but more rewarding looped walk to get to the summit. I completed this trail at dawn and got some amazing sunrise views.
|Lough Bray Loop
A spectacular 6.7km looped hike taking in Lough Bray Upper and Lough Bray Lower. Some of the views near Eagle’s Crag are amazing. Overall, a lovely short hike that packs in quite a punch.
|The Seven Wonders of Fore
Another Westmeath walk – this one extremely short (only 3km) but full of interesting sites along the way.
|Bray Head Cliff Walk
Another wonderful walk that offers fantastic views of the Irish Sea. The cliff walk is really accessible with loads of transport options to get to Bray.
|Phoenix Park and War Memorial Trail
A city centre walk that takes in the Phoenix Park, War Memorial gardens and a lovely river walk along the Liffey as far as the pretty village of Chapelizod. This one is well recommended.
Mizen Head – Ireland’s most southerly point – is a wonderful day trip if you are in this part of the country. The cliff views are spectacular and crossing the Mizen Head bridge is a real thrill.
Wicklow’s heart shaped lake is picture postcard perfect. It’s a testing hike to get up there but worth it for the views.
Take a stroll around the grounds of this amazing 121m waterfall. My advice is to bring a picnic with you and just take easy for the afternoon.
My preferred route for climbing Djouce is up through Ballinastoe Woods. This trail gives great views of Lough Tay on the way to the summit.
One of Dublin’s most popular walks gives great views over the city.
|Royal Canal Way – Mullingar to Ballynacargy
In my view, this is the nicest leg of the Royal Canal Way. I found a great sense of isolation in this rural section of the canal.
Magical, mystical, mythical. You can’t visit Loughcrew without invoking a sense of wonder. A beautiful place.
|Phoenix Park Perimeter Walk
Want to walk the 12km loop around the largest walled park in Europe? This article gives you the details on how to do it.
The 13.5km Slieve Gullion Loop takes you to the highest point in County Armagh. While there is a bit of road walking as part of the loop, the off road sections more than make up for it. A lovely walk.
You can choose from a few different walking routes in Devil’s Glen. The woodland trails are centered around the Vartry River without the highlight undoubtedly being the Devil’s Glen waterfall.
|Wicklow Way – Moyne to Shillelagh
If you are into scenes of rolling Irish countryside you will really enjoy the hike 22km from Moyne to Shillelagh.
The climb to the top of Silean Mountain is nice and energetic and offers lovely views of the Blessington lakes as a reward. I found it tricky to find the path through the woods at the bottom of the mountain so this blog post will be very handy if you want to tackle this hike.
|The Lead Mines Way
I really enjoyed this short looped walk. My highlights were the old lead mines chimney and the summit to Carrickgollogan. One of Dublin’s best walks.
|The Burren Way – Ballyvaughan to Carran
A lovely walk through mountain, bog and limestone pavement. The road walking sections towards the end of the trail takes away from the route a little. Still, this is a very enjoyable hike.
|The Kerry Cliffs
Every Kerry person will let you know the Kerry Cliffs are higher than the Cliffs of Moher. Offering spectacular views (especially in good weather), this walk comes highly recommended.
|Royal Canal Way – Enfield to Killucan
The Royal Canal Way after Enfield is a lovely walk. My highlight was the aqueduct over the River Boyne. I highly recommend stopping off in both Furey’s Bar and the Hill of Down pub.
Offering up it’s own micro climate, the beautifully manicured gardens of Garinish Island are a sight to behold. A really enjoyable walk in west Cork.
|Scalp Lookout Trail
Located beside the Leadmines Trail, this is a lovely forest route to take in at the same time.
Powerscourt Gardens are breathtaking in their beauty. I found it a real treat to walk around and soak in both the history and the beauty of the place.
Luckily, when I ventured to Glengarra Woods, I visited after a period of heavy rain. As such, the Burncoat River was extremely powerful and fast moving. I found this a lovely river bank walk through the forest.
|Wicklow Way – Glenmalure to Moyne
I really love the Glenmalure Valley. The walk from Glenmalure to Moyne is quite hilly but as a result gives loads of opportunity to take in some spectacular views of the Wicklow countryside.
Located beside the Hellfire Club trail, Massey’s Estate offers you a lovely tranquil forest walk.
Dublin’s highest point. I found this to be a fairly straightforward trail with lovely views from the summit.
|Royal Canal Way – Maynooth to Enfield
A really pleasant walk from Maynooth to Enfield via Kilcock. Although c. 24 km in distance, the trail is very flat and makes for a very leisurely walk.
|Royal Canal Way – Killucan to Mullingar
I made it my aim to stop in every pub along the Royal Canal Way. Nanny Quinns, The Hideout and Mary Lynch’s were three of the best and all found between the Royal Canal Way stretch between Killucan and Mullingar. Plus you have the lovely rural countryside to enjoy in between.
|Royal Canal Way – Ashtown to Maynooth
Watch as the cityscape fades into the countryside as you move from Ashtown to Maynooth along the Royal Canal Way. The deep sinking just after Castleknock is a really enjoyable section of the canal too.
|The Great South Wall Walk
My advice is to complete this walk in the evening time and enjoy the spectacular sunset as you look back on the Poolbeg Chimneys from Poolbeg Lighthouse.
|The Burren Way – Carran to Corofin
A really lovely walk in the heart of the Burren. The route is mostly along country roads with the highlights being the section around Inchiquin Lough as you approach Corofin.
|The Liffey Walk
A fascinating city walk which plunges you into the rich history of the capital.
|Blessington Street Basin
I really love this hidden oasis of calm tucked away in the northside of Dublin City.
|Wicklow Way – Shillelagh to Clonegal
The last leg of the Wicklow Way sees the trail meander to its conclusion. It lacks the impressive nature of previous days hiking in the mountains but is still very enjoyable. Plus you get a great sense of achievement on reaching the finish line.
|Royal Canal Way – Spencer Dock to Ashtown
A city walk that offers a lot. Leave the Liffey and head west along the canal to Ashtown. You can take in memorials to Luke Kelly and Brendan Behan along the way.
|The Tolka Valley
I love this city park along the banks of the River Tolka. Swans, herons and egrets can all be regularly seen as you walk along the river side. This lovely walk also takes in Glasnevin Cemetery and The Botanic Gardens.
That’s a Wrap!
So that completes my Wild Irish Walks Rankings. Hopefully you found plenty of inspiration. As always, happy hiking!
Additionally, If you’re looking for more details on great routes, you should check out Alltrails. I use Alltrails quite a lot in my walking and hiking around Ireland. I find it a very useful tool as I can see my location in real time overlaid onto the trail map itself. If you are interested in joining alltrails, please click here. There are free and premium options available. I would recommend starting out with the free version and seeing if you like it (just to note in the interest of transparency that I will get a small referral fee for every person that signs up using that link).