Last updated on August 6th, 2022 at 06:32 am
There aren’t many outdoor activities more rewarding or refreshing than a bracing hike through one of the many natural wilderness areas in and around Dublin. Not only is it one of the best exercises for getting the heart pumping, hiking and hill walking are completely free and require only a sturdy pair of boots.
Although Dublin is a relatively flat city, thankfully there are numerous excellent hiking spots dotted around the suburbs of the city and in the countryside beyond.
In this post we share the 6 best hiking trails in and around Dublin.
Map of Places
The following map shows the location of every hiking trail highlighted in this post:
Howth Cliff Walk
The first hiking trail on our list is also the easiest and closest to Dublin city. Meandering around the stunning Howth Peninsula, the Howth Cliff Walk is a 2 hour trail that offers beautiful sea views and clifftop scenery. The trail is suitable for all ages, although children should be supervised as the trail does run along the edge of the cliffs in some places. While the path is well-maintained, it should be noted that it is not suitable for strollers or buggies.
The easiest way to start the hike is from Howth train station. From there, simply follow the signs for the route. Make sure to keep an eye out for some of the many bird species that can be spotted along the trail.
Walking time: 2 hours
Staying within the borders of County Dublin, we move on to Ticknock Forest in the far south of the city at the foot of the Dublin Mountains. There are several trails of varying length throughout the forest, with breathtaking views of Dublin city and Dublin Bay on offer once you break above the tree line.
While only 30 minutes drive from the centre of the city, the trails around Ticknock will quickly make you feel very far removed from the urban jungle that’s so close by.
Further information on the trail routes, including trail maps can be found here.
Walking time: 2 – 5 hours
The Dublin Mountains Way
Our final hiking trail within County Dublin, The Dublin Mountains Way is a strenuous hiking route that follows the Dublin Mountains across the south of the county for 42km. Only recently opened in 2010, the route is excellently marked throughout. The route can be tackled from either the Tallaght neighbourhood in the west of the city, or Shankill village in the south.
While the entire trail can be walked in one go over several days, it is common for hikers to pick a stretch and follow the trail for several hours.
Further information, including a map of the route can be found here.
Walking time: 1 – 3 days (full route)
Difficulty: Medium – Hard
Bray Head Cliff Walk
Heading further afield to nearby County Wicklow, the Bray Head Cliff Walk is another rewarding cliff hike offering sweeping cliff views and bracing sea air. The route starts from the promenade in the seaside village of Bray and runs south along the coast to Greystones, another charming village with a picturesque harbour.
It is possible to return by public transport from Greystones to Bray or Dublin city on the DART light rail system.
Walking time: 2 hours
The Sugarloaf Trail
At 501m in height, the Great Sugarloaf is only Ireland’s 404th highest peak. However, its commanding conical shape and relative isolation from other peaks gives it the gravity of a much larger mountain.
There are two hiking trails up the mountain, one for beginners that takes about an hour, and a more challenging route that takes 2 – 3 hours. While somewhat steep in some places, the beginners route is suitable for young children.
The panoramic views from the top are well worth the climb. On a clear day all of Dublin can be seen to the north, with the views stretching to south Wicklow and even to the mountainous peaks of Wales across the Irish Sea.
Walking time: 1 hour
Finally, we come to one of the most famous hiking trails in Ireland – The Spinc walk around the twin lakes of Glendalough in County Wicklow. Starting off from the ancient monastic settlement of Glendalough, the trail winds through forest as it climbs up the side of the valley, before emerging from the tree line and circumnavigating the lakes. The views of the valley are not to be missed and an ample reward for the strenuous hike from the monastery.
The trail follows a wooden boardwalk for much of the route, which can be slippy in wet weather, so good hiking boots are a necessity. As one of the most popular hiking trails in the country, the trail can become crowded on busy days, so we recommend starting off early to beat the crowds.
Walking time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Medium – Hard