Hiking Ireland

Destination: Ireland

| Activities: Hiking and Culture

The Emerald Isle is known for its varied and delightful hiking and on this trip we aim to sample the best. We'll experience the diverse geography of the island as we hike parts of the Wicklow, Kerry, and Burren Ways, visit Killarney National Park and the Cliffs of Moher, and hike in mountains and along cliff tops. We'll also listen to Irish music and sample Irish cuisine, learn about Irish history, and experience the hospitality for which Ireland is known.


  • Hiking the Wicklow Way and seeing the ruins of the former monastery
  • Exploring the Gap of Dunloe and the Muckross Estate in Killarney National Park
  • Hiking to and along the Cliffs of Moher
  • Learning about the complex and unique geology of the Burren
  • Listening to Irish music and enjoying Irish food


  • An AGC guide and a local guide (There will be an AGC guide with 8 or more participants, below 8 there will not be an AGC guide)
  • All transport within Ireland other than the Dublin airport transfer
  • 9 nights double occupancy lodging
  • All breakfasts and lunches and eight dinners, as detailed in the itinerary
  • Entrance to the Rock of Cashel and Muckross Estate
Not Included: Travel to Ireland, one dinner, airport transfer in Dublin, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and trip insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is designed for active women in good physical condition who want to experience Ireland on foot. Previous hiking experience is desirable but not required; more essential is having the required level of fitness. This trip is rated a 3, which means typically hiking 4 - 6 hours a day, although there is one longer day of hiking. Preparation for this trip will require aerobic conditioning at least 4 times a week with some preparatory hiking on weekends. Rating: 1 2 [3] 4 5

This is primarily a hiking trip and our focus is on experiencing some of the classic trails of Ireland. There will also be some visiting of historic sites and learning about Irish culture and history from our Irish guide, who is a wealth of information about all things Ireland.

In Dublin we will spend the first night at Buswells Hotel. Once we leave Dublin, we will be staying at lodges or guesthouses, in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Arrive in Dublin on Day 1 in time to meet at our hotel at 5:30 p.m. If you arrive before your room is ready, the hotel is happy to store your luggage. We will meet in the lobby of our hotel for introductions and then go out together for a welcome dinner, where we will continue getting to know each other and talk about our upcoming Irish hiking adventure. Dublin is a very happening place on any night and if you don't need an early bedtime, it's a safe and fun place to walk around.

Overnight: Dublin at Buswells Hotel or similar (D)
After eating breakfast and packing up, we'll meet our Irish guide and head south. Our destination is a section of the Wicklow Way, one of Ireland's premiere long-distance paths. While the entire Way is 79 miles, we'll be hiking 2 sections of it widely regarded as among the finest.

Our section today, from Roundwood to Glendalough, is an excellent warm up hike. While considered one of the easier sections, it's our first exposure to a true mountain route. This will also allow some time for exploring the very heart of the Wicklow uplands, located at the junction of four major glacial valleys: Avonmore, Glenmacnass, Glendasan and Glendalough. A combination of public road (briefly), forest track, and mountain trail takes us across rivers, down into valleys, and onto mountain sections. Our final section is a descent into lovely Glendalough (pronounced glen-da-lock), which is Gaelic for “The Valley of Two Lakes”, and formerly a monastic site founded by a 6th century hermit. We'll end at the Glendalough Visitors Center and shuttle to our hotel for the night.

Driving: 1.5 hours. Hiking: 4 hours, 7.5 miles, 1,130-foot elevation gain. Overnight: Glendalough Hotel or similar. (B, L, D)
We'll spend another day on the Wicklow Way, starting where we stopped at the Visitor's Center and continuing on to Glenmalure. Our hike starts in the valley and then steadily heads up. We'll see the ancient ruins of the Monastic City as we pass Polnass Waterfall, after which we follow a forest road that heads up steadily to the boggy saddle between Mullacor and Lugduff. We're rewarded by a view of Ireland's longest valley, where we'll soon find ourselves enjoying the hospitality of Glenmalure Lodge or similar.

Hiking: 5 hours, 8.7 miles, 1,270-foot elevation gain. Overnight: Glenmalure Lodge or similar (B,L,D)
We have a longer drive today as we head towards the western side of Ireland and Killarney National Park. We'll break up the drive with a stop at the fascinating Rock of Cashel. Perched on a limestone hill , it's one of Ireland's most important historic sites. Dating back to the 12th century, our very informative local guide will explain its evolution from a fortress of kings to a Catholic monastery and cathedral.

Then it's on to Killarney, home of the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the famous Muckross Estate. We'll only have time for a short hike today and this one is lovely, a looped walk featuring lakeshore trails, medieval ruins, babbling brooks, and woodland solitude. It takes us past the estate and into the historic ruins of Muckross Abbey. Originally the home of Franciscan friars who then relocated into town, the ruins feature well-preserved cloisters that surround a famous Yew Tree. The path leads back by a different way, ending with a total of about 1.5 miles.

Driving: 4 - 5 hours, Hiking 1.5 miles. Overnight: Castle Lodge Guest House in Killarney or similar (B, L, D)
Today's hike is undoubtedly the most demanding one of the trip, on a very popular section of the famous Kerry Way, also known as the Old Kenmare Road. We'll start with a transfer to Kenmare and from there walk back to Killarney through amazing scenery with lots of ups and downs. It starts with a steady uphill climb to a gap between the small summits of Strickeen and Inchimore, drops down into the town of Gowlane, and then steadily climbs again to Windy Gap, situated between Peaken and Knockanaguish Mountain. It then descends into Killarney National Park with superb views of MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountains. From there it passes Mangerton Mountain, Torc Mountain and Waterfall and finally Muckross House where we were yesterday. Hiking: 5 - 7 hours, 12.7 miles, 2,470-foot elevation gain.

Overnight: Castle Lodge Guest House in Killarney or similar (B, L, D)
There are many options for hikes today and our final choice depends on the weather and our energy. One possible option is a popular walk through The Gap of Dunloe. The gap is a long narrow valley, splitting the MacGillycuddy Reeks from the Purple Mountain Massif, and is widely considered one of the most beautiful areas in Killarney. The hike starts from Kate Kearney's cottage and after hiking through the gap, a boat picks us up for an hour boat ride to Ross Castle. It's a mellow hike after yesterday and well worth it.

Then it's on to Dingle Town, known for its pretty setting, good restaurants, and most of all - 54 pubs! (in a town of 2,000) where traditional music can be found playing any day of the week. We'll stay here for 2 nights so if you're too tired to go out tonight, there is always tomorrow.

Driving: 1 hour Hiking: 3 - 3.5 hours, 8.8 miles 650-foot elevation gain. Boat ride: 1 hour. Overnight: Dingle Harbor Lodge in Dingle or similar (B, L, D)
The morning is yours to explore Dingle. The gaily colored buildings, craftsman’s studios, and multitude of shops make this a fun town to explore. If towns don't interest you, there is a lovely walk along the bay. In late morning we'll drive to Annascaul where we'll have lunch at the South Pole Inn. Tom McCrean, a very famous Irish hero and explorer who is credited with being instrumental in the rescue of the Shackleton Expedition to the South Pole, was born on Dingle and when he returned, he settled in Annascaul and opened the South Pole Inn. Our hike today is called the Three peaks of Annascaul, one of those hikes where you are well rewarded for your effort. We'll be walking across the Brackloon Ridge with its trio of 1000-feet mountains, including Brackloon Mountain and Knockafeehane. Along the way it offers magnificent views of the Slieve Mish mountains, the Com Dubh river system, majestic Dingle bay and the never-ending Inch strand. We'll return tonight to Dingle. If you still have the energy after dinner, there really is always good music in Dingle.

Hiking 2 -3 hours, 4.3 miles. Overnight: Dingle Harbor Lodge in Dingle or similar (B, L)
We'll head north today to the Burren Way as it traverses a spectacular coastal path from Liscannor in the south to the Cliffs of Moher. On a clear day there are expansive views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Aill Na Searrach and the Atlantic Ocean way below your feet! The trail starts from Liscannor, following quiet country roads and paths to Hags Head and the signal tower. From here it's a relatively flat as it follows the remote and exposed cliff top path. It's the views more than the exertion that might leave you breathless. Approaching the Cliffs this way allows us to experience them without the crowds, which gradually increase as we approach the Visitor's Center where our transport awaits.

Driving 4 hours, Hiking: 3 - 4 hours, 7.5 miles, 650-feet elevation gain. Overnight: hotel in County Clare (B, L, D)
We'll spend our last day of hiking in Burren National Park. The Burren is one of Ireland's most unique landscapes. Burren comes from the Irish word "Boireann", which means a rocky place. And that is an accurate description: call it "limestone karst meets glaciation". It is also described as a lunar landscape. There are many trail choices here, from nature trails to treks into the remote upland, and which and how many trails we hike will be guided by the weather and our energy. One popular route is the Mullaghmore Loop, a 4.9-mile loop that traverse the classic limestone landscape and ascends Mullaghmore Mountain. The view from the top offers a sweeping view of the geology. There are also two nature trails starting from the same area, so it is possible to offer shorter options or add additional hiking. Whichever we choose, you can be sure of a stunning end to our trip. We'll return to the same lodging to the same lodging tonight and share a final Farewell Dinner.

Overnight: hotel in County Clare (B, L, D)
DAY 10
After breakfast it's an hour drive to Shannon airport and we'll have you there in time for flights out after 11 a.m. (B)

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  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.