Biking and hiking trails crisscross the Emerald Isle, offering a unique blend of terrains, from serene coastal paths to rugged mountain tracks.
Whether you fancy cycling through the winding roads of the Wild Atlantic Way or hiking the scenic trails of the Wicklow Mountains, we discover three of the island’s most breathtaking biking and hiking trails, with something to appeal to enthusiasts of all levels.
1. Wild Atlantic Way
Stretching over 2,500 kilometres, the Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest defined coastal touring route and one of Ireland’s most spectacular gems, spanning the west coast from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south.
This route offers a variety of experiences from breathtaking sea cliffs and sandy beaches to picturesque villages and ancient monuments. For cyclists, it’s a challenging route that requires good endurance and is best tackled over a period of several weeks.
If you’re looking to cycle a smaller route, Downpatrick Head to Keem Beach is 110km. Starting at the fascinating Céide Fields in Co. Mayo, the route leads you from the mainland towards the beautiful Achill Island, where a visit to Keem Beach is a must.
One of the most remarkable hiking trails along the Wild Atlantic Way is the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk. This trail offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the world-famous Cliffs of Moher.
2. Waterford Greenway
The Waterford Greenway is a spectacular off-road cycling and walking trail along an old railway line between Waterford City and Dungarvan. It spans 46 kilometres in total, offering a mix of coastal and inland scenery.
The trail is very well-maintained, and its traffic-free set up makes it the perfect choice for families and beginners alike. Along the route, you’ll pass through tunnels, across viaducts and by the River Suir, with plenty of opportunities to stop and savour the sights. Be sure to take a look around the village of Kilmeaden, home to the Waterford & Suir Valley Railway, a heritage narrow-gauge railway which is a must-visit.
For any hikers looking for specific routes along or near the Greenway, a stand-out option is the 11km Clonea to Durrow Trail, which offers spectacular coastal and countryside views of the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark area.
3. The Wicklow Way
The Wicklow Way is one of Ireland’s oldest waymarked trails, making its way through the spectacular Wicklow Mountains. Stretching approximately 130 kilometres, this area is known for its diverse range of landscapes including lush forests, tranquil lakes and rugged mountain terrain.
The Sally Gap is a popular cross-roads cycling route for experienced cyclists, offering a challenging spin across some of the most remote areas of Co. Wicklow. With the roads clinging to the mountain edge, you’ll want to stop off and experience the sights of the surrounding area, including Lough Tay, also known as the Guinness Lake.
For hikers, the Wicklow Way is an absolute paradise. Some of the most popular areas to explore include Glendalough, which is set in a valley landscape with two lakes. With plenty of walking trails on offer, be sure to start off with a loop around the upper lake to get you going.
The highest mountain in Wicklow, Lugnaquilla, is also a much-adored hiking hotspot. Standing at 925 metres, you can often see the Welsh mainland on a good day visibility wise. The safest way to navigate this mountain is by joining a guided hike, with Lugnaquilla only recommended for experienced hikers.
If you want to find out more about navigating Ireland’s Garden County on two wheels, check out our one-stop guide to cycling in Wicklow.