Now that the weather has cooled down and the leaves are starting to turn, it’s one of the most opportune times to go for a few walks in Ireland this autumn. You’ll find multiple walking trails around the island for the casual walkers, serious hikers, and everyone in between. Walking became a big part of life during the lockdown and there is no reason to stop now. So grab your walking gear, water, and snacks. Here are suggestions for 8 walks in Ireland to try this autumn.
Baldoyle to Portmarnock Greenway, Co. Dublin
The new greenway, opened at the end of 2019, links Baldoyle and Portmarnock. Stretching only 1.8 km, it is small but has ample opportunity for eager walkers. With one side looking out onto the Irish Sea, and the other side onto beautiful green fields, this walk is one for the family. You may even meet some new friends along the way there if you’re lucky to meet the cows and sheep who reside there. The greenway itself only takes around 30 minutes to walk. However, when you’ve finished this walk, it’s only a short distance from other walking routes to try.
If you exit on the Portmarnock side, you’re only a 15-minute walk away from Portmarnock beach where you can continue your walk (or relax) along Ireland’s sandy seaside. Or hop on the bus to Malahide and enjoy a walk through Malahide Castle and Gardens. Visit the castle, bring the family to the park, and have some fun in the playground.
If you end up on the Baldoyle side you can walk down to Sutton beach. Or head over to one of two Dart stations and ride the Dart to Howth Head. Once there begin the Howth Cliff Walk for even more beautiful views along the 6-10 km loop and enjoy a panoramic view of Howth and Ireland’s Eye. Or, if you want a more relaxed walk, stroll along Howth’s pier, enjoy a meal from one of the various cafe’s, pubs and restaurants.
Difficulty Level – Easy – Medium (depending on trail)
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Phoenix Park, Co. Dublin.
Located in the heart of Dublin, Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed public park in Europe. Accessible by Luas, train and bus routes, it’s a must-see for everyone who comes to Dublin. With its impressive 11km perimeter, enclosing 707 hectares, it is home to the Dublin Zoo and Áras an Uachtaráin (The President’s House). This is one of the most popular places to take a walk in Ireland in Autumn. Walking around here is a guarantee to see some interesting sights held in the heart of Dublin City. Go and see the historical buildings, such as the Magazine Fort, or the various monuments scattered around. Or try and spot the abundance of wildlife, such as the famous deer held within the park. If you head to Áras an Uachtaráin, maybe you’ll see the President walking around.
Difficulty Level – Easy
Bray, Co. Wicklow.
Just a Dart ride away, heading out to Bray will give you plenty of walking options. For a leisurely stroll stay on the coast and walk along Bray promenade and enjoy the waves.
Head to the entrance at the end of Bray promenade and you can start the climb up to Bray Head. Follow the steps up to the well-worn path through the trees and rocks. Once you reach the top you can sit by the stone cross and admire the panoramic view of Bray. This climb will take around 1 hour.
For those looking for a longer walk try the Bray/Greystones walk. This 7km walk will take you along the cliffs of Wicklow, where you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Irish Coast. Every now and then you’ll see a dart heading between the dart stations so be sure to give them a wave. This walk will take you around 2-3 hours.
If you’re up for a challenge, then head over to the Great Sugarloaf Mountain. Starting at Red Lane, you’ll begin a steep 200m climb to the top of one of Ireland’s most recognisable mountains. This will take around 2.5 hours to do.
Difficulty Level – Medium – Hard (depending on trail)
Cuilcagh (Stairway to Heaven) , Co. Fermanagh.
Not for the faint of heart, this walkway stretches along the peat bogs of Co. Fermanagh and Co. Cavan. Built originally to preserve the peat bogs and lands, this has become one of Ireland’s most well-known walking trails. While the majority of the walkway is on the ground, once you hit the stairway to begin your ascent to the summit of Cuilcagh, you’ll start to huff and puff. Though with the wonderful scenery around, there will be plenty of excuses to stop and take photos. Once you get to the summit, you can take a breather and pat yourself on the back while taking in the views. Note, there is a car park charge if you plan to drive there. This walk will take you between 2.5-3 hours to complete.
Difficulty Level- Medium – Hard
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.
In Glendalough you can take your pick from the multitude of different walking trails available within the mountains. Each walk is colour coded and will bring you to a different ending point. Walker’s and hikers can choose a walk of any difficulty, ranging from flat ground, to a mix of flat ground and hiking, to pure hillwalking for those looking for a challenge. No matter what route you take, you’re sure to be stunned by the vast mountains, lakes and wildlife around you. Each walk takes a different amount of time, so plan ahead!
Currently, the trails are using a one-way system to maintain current social distancing rules.
Difficulty Level – Easy – Hard (depending on the trail)
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s West Coast.
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches over 2,500km on the west coast of Ireland, stretching from Co. Donegal down to Co. Cork. It has quickly become one of the most popular places to bring the family on walks in Ireland in autumn during the holidays. Within it are over one hundred walking trails across 6 regions. With the current promotion of the ‘staycation’, the Wild Atlantic Way will provide days of rambling around for both the novice walker to the most experienced hiker. Plan your route for your staycation and try and complete as many of the walks as you can.
Difficulty Level – Easy – Hard (Depending on trail)
Westport Coastal Trail, Co. Mayo.
Upon arrival in Westport, you will be greeted by Croagh Patrick, or the Reek. An important pilgrimage site in Mayo, Croagh Patrick is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The trail will lead you from Westport to Murrisk and finally up to Croagh Patrick. Stretching a distance of 9km, this walk will take between 2-3 hours to do. The centre just outside of Westport has walking sticks to rent, packed lunches and guided tours available. There is a car park at the visitors centre. There is a charge for using the car park if you plan on driving there.
Difficulty Level – Medium
Belvoir Forest, Belfast.
If you’re planning on heading up to Northern Ireland, be sure to check out the walking trails in Belvoir Forest in Belfast. Belvoir forest is unique as it is one of the only working forests to be maintained within a city. The trails within the forest will have you walking alongside the Lagan River down Lagan Valley trail. Or try the Meadows Trail, which has you walking around the Big Meadow, on the outskirts of Corbie Wood. Although the forest is located within the city, with its large cedar trees, the wildlife and its rushing river, the bustling city will feel like a distant place.
Difficulty Level – Easy.
These are only a few of the walks to try in Ireland this autumn. Are there any other Irish walking trails you like? Let us know in the comments!