Does your dream Irish adventure involve long hikes through the wild, rugged landscapes of western Ireland?
When it comes to outdoor exploration on foot, the Wild Atlantic Way has something for everyone.
At Wild N Happy, we love the beauty and variation of this coastal route. It’s no surprise that many of our tours of Ireland pass along sections of its winding path.
Keep scrolling down to see our recommendations for some of the best hiking opportunities on the Wild Atlantic Way.
What is the Wild Atlantic Way?
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the world’s longest defined coastal routes. It’s an incredible 2,600 km (1,600 miles) in length.
The southern end of the route is the town of Kinsale in County Cork, while the northern end is on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal.
Between these points, the Wild Atlantic Way winds its way along Ireland’s raw and rugged west coast, taking in some of the Emerald Isle’s most breathtaking scenery.
Walk to the Stunning Summit of Slieve League
You can start this hike by following the Pilgrim Path, near Teelin. This trail passes through green mountains, so it’s well sheltered.
At the path’s end, you have the option to return the way you came or continue along One Man’s Pass. This is a narrow, steep ridge, so beware if you don’t have a head for heights!
After clearing the pass, follow the cliffs back to Bunglass and then return to Teelin along country roads. In total, this hike takes between 4 and 5 hours.
For a shorter alternative, there are two car parks much closer to Slieve League. If you park in the bottom car park, it’s a pleasant 30- to 45-minute hike to the Bunglass Viewpoint.
This is arguably the best view of the awe-inspiring Slieve League cliffs.
Rising majestically out of the Atlantic Ocean, these cliffs have a peak height of 601 meters (1,972 ft). This makes them three times higher than the more famous Cliffs of Moher.
As one of our country’s most underrated sights, we included Slieve League in our Ireland’s Wild North – 8-Day Self-Drive Tour.
The Dingle Way – Ireland’s Most Popular Long-Distance Walking Trail
Located on County Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula, the Dingle Way is a 179-km (112-mile) circular trail that starts and finishes in Tralee.
It is one of Ireland’s 44 designated National Waymarked Trails.
The bulk of this hike crosses low-lying land. This means you look up at beautiful mountains as opposed to down from them.
The Dingle Way has an aggregate ascent of around 2,900m (9,514ft). However, there aren’t any formidable climbs to contend with, rather some short, albeit steep, ascents.
But there is one exception to this: the traverse of Masatiompan. Occurring between Cuas and Cloghane, this section sees the trail ascend to 650m (2,132ft) above sea level.
If this sounds daunting, you can avoid this section of the trail by taking an alternative route to Cloghane.
Some of the highlights of the Dingle Way include:
- Slea Head
- Dunquin Pier
- Various archaeological monuments
- Miles of golden beaches
- Numerous picturesque villages
Learn more about walks on and around the Wild Atlantic Way with our Complete Guide to Hiking Ireland’s West Coast.
Spot Sea Life on the Sheep’s Head Way
The Sheep’s Head Peninsula is ideal for hiking and another must-see spot on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Located between Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay, west of Cork, the Sheep’s Head Way is another of Ireland’s National Waymarked Trails.
The terrain here is varied and includes everything from country and coastal paths to hills and wooded trails.
One of the biggest attractions, however, is the opportunity to view marine mammals. In fact, this is one of the best places in Ireland for spotting sea life.
Off the western tip of the promontory, you have a good chance of seeing porpoises and dolphins playing in the water.
You can also see the characteristic rugged coastal views and hear the ocean crashing into the coastline.
All this considered, Sheep’s Head Way is a fantastic, rounded adventure on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Our Ireland’s Wild Grande – 14-Day Tour covers many of the Wild Atlantic Way’s highlights, including Mizen Head, Dingle, the Kerry Way, the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, the Aran Islands, and Connemara National Park.
Walk Through Ireland’s Historic past on the Beara Way
Staying in County Cork, the Beara Way is another of the best hikes on the Wild Atlantic Way.
This 152-km (94-mile) long loop takes in the beauty of the Beara Peninsula. The trail starts and ends in Glengarriff.
The Beara Peninsula has an incredible 511 listed sites, giving it the largest number of historic remains in our country. This includes many of Ireland’s best stone circles and archaeological sites.
When combined with photogenic landscapes scattered along the trail, not to mention the opportunity to visit the islands of Bere and Dursey, hiking the Beara Way is a great addition to any adventure on the Wild Atlantic Way.
…And Many More!
Sadly, we can’t list all the best hikes on the Wild Atlantic Way here, despite only scratching the surface.
There are many amazing walks that we’ve left off this list that still deserve your consideration. These include:
- Cliffs of Moher
- Kerry Way
- Burren Way Walk
- Killary Harbour Coastal Walk
- Mullaghmore Head Walk
Our Tours of Ireland Bring Travel Dreams to Life!
Take the first steps toward turning your dream Irish adventure into reality by browsing our tours of Ireland.
Our carefully planned itineraries unlock authentic Irish experiences in all corners of the Emerald Isle!
For more information about any of the tours we operate, please don’t hesitate to contact us.