Walking & Cycling in West Ireland | Ireland Travel Guide
Connemara National Park in West Ireland

West IrelandWalking and Biking

West Ireland Hiking & Biking Trails Regional Picks

If epic coastlines, rugged mountains and religious pilgrimages don't satisfy your hiking and biking appetite, the West of Ireland also offers you the chance to visit its islands, by ferry, so as to explore them on foot or pedal.

Inagh Valley in County Galway

Part 1 Walking and Hiking Trails

With an ever changing coastline and an abundance of sprawling countryside, the West of Ireland is the ideal spot to pick a trail, hike and forget about the world.

Benwee Head

An enjoyable five hours should be sufficient for this remote and scenic cliff walk along the undulating Mayo coastline. You will pass islands, sea stacks and an impressive 250m coastal precipice. From Carrowteige, head for Kilgalligan and then north to the Children of Lir sculpture which will mark you arrival at the coast.

Follow the cliffs toward Benwee Head and remain on the same heading until you reach the bay of Doonvinilla. Head south east for Portacloy and then south west back to your start point. A pleasant afternoon's walk only to be attempted on a clear day when you can see the cliffs and appreciate the beauty that lies beyond.

Benwee Head, County Mayo
Visitor Info
  • Benwee Head
  • Coastal Views, Cliffs, Countryside
  • Estimated time: 5 hours

Achill Island

Perhaps only Donegal's Slieve League can challenge the claim of Croaghaun on the western tip of Achill Island to be Europe's highest, most dramatic and most beautiful sea cliffs. A clear, calm day is a must for anyone who attempts to walk the cliffs and significant hiking experience is a must.

From the tranquillity of Keem Strand, make for Moyteoge Head and follow the coast over Benmore to Achill Head. From there, ascend to Croaghaun and proceed to Bunnafreva Lough West before cutting across inland to return to Keem. Paths will not always be obvious, so keep a good map and a compass handy throughout.

Achill Island, County Mayo
Visitor Info

Nephin

Perfect for days when time and daylight are limited, the pleasant jaunt up Connaght's second highest peak can be completed in a comfortable four hours. Ascending along Nephin's south-eastern flank, two steep gullies are separated by a narrow ridge where 730m of uninterrupted ascent awaits you. Nephin is a great mountain for winter walking, but good visibility is a must on a route where finding the correct line of descent can be tricky.

Nephin, County Mayo
Visitor Info
  • northmayo.ie
  • Mountains, Countryside, Lakes
  • Estimated time: 4 to 6 hours

Clare Island

Ireland's most mountainous island rewards visitors with a 462m summit, spectacular coastal views and some breath-taking sea cliffs. Straight off the Clare Island ferry, head for Maum before continuing north to the Island's iconic lighthouse. Follow the coastline south west past Alnamarnagh as you climb to the summit of Knockmore. Descend south west and continue until you reach the road which will once again convey you back to the pier and your ride home.

Clare Island, County Mayo
Visitor Info
  • Cliffs, Countryside, Beaches
  • Estimated time: Various

Croagh Patrick

Ireland's most iconic mountain is also its most popular, attracting around one million walkers each year. That's 20% of the Irish population! On the last Sunday in July (Reek Sunday), no fewer than 25,000 pilgrims ascend to the summit where St Patrick is said to have fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

The most popular route is the unmissable out-and-back path from nearby Murrisk, but connoisseurs with suitable transport options might be more inclined to spend the five or so hours required to traverse the Massif east to west. The latter option would link up the full sequence of five peaks, finishing with Ben Goram.

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo
Visitor Info
  • croagh-patrick.com
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Estimated Time: 3.5 hours
  • Ascent: 2,500 feet
  • Mountain Climb, Sea Views, Religious monuments

Mweelrea and Killary Harbour

On a seven-hour circular route best suited to experienced hikers, the idyllic Mayo landscape showcases some of its most impressive features, including three loughs, five summits, various glacial corries and the inspiring Killary Fjord. The Delphi Mountain resort offers itself as the most obvious point of departure from which a forest trail will lead you south west and then west to the beginning of the day's climbing.

Follow the emerging ridgeline toward Mweelrea as you parallel the shore of Killary Harbour to your left. From Mweelrea continue along the ridge to Ben Bury (aka Oughty Craggy) from whose lofty position you will be able to see Glencullen Lough and Doo Lough. Continue to Ben Lugmore and follow the ridge's descent back to your starting point. A stunning circular walk.

Mweelrea and Killary Harbour walk, County Galway
Visitor Info
  • Hill climb, Lakes, Rural Irish Landscapes
  • Estimated time: Various

Aasleagh Falls and Ben Gorm

The beauty and stillness of Aasleagh Falls set the tone for a day of incredible views. This day out will be thoroughly enjoyed by any hiker who is up to the challenge of climbing up to a vertical kilometre on some at times testing surfaces.

The ascent to Ben Gorm represents the day's biggest challenge, though the appeal of Ben Creggan's two summits will be enough for many to undertake the out-and-back spur before taking the ridgeline north of Lugaharry Lough as it leads you back to the waterfalls and home. A testing but rewarding six hours.

Aasleagh Falls and Ben Gorm
Visitor Info
  • Hill climb, Lakes, Rural Irish Landscapes
  • Estimated time: Various

The Central Maumturks

The rewards of traversing the Central Maumturks may be obvious to all who have undertaken the journey, but the effort involved will not be quickly forgotten. While the northern summits in this range may be soft, green and forgiving, here you should expect a very rocky landscape with all the obstacles that entails.

You will encounter cliffs, gullies, slabs and scree among the natural fortifications that keep these slopes relatively free from tourists. A one-way traverse could logically begin near Illion West, though circular walks are comfortably possible in six hours or so.

The Central Maumturks
Visitor Info
  • Cliffs, Lakes, Mountains
  • Estimated time: Various
Cycling in West Ireland

Part 2 Family-friendly Bike Trails

Woodlands, idylic coastal landscapes and mountainbike routes give West Ireland a rich canvas of family-friendly biking options.

Portumna Forest Park

Shared with walkers, the Bonaveen and Rinmaher Trails showcase the spectacular natural beauty of a Forest Park which centres around a mature Scots Pine forest and a lake which provides a haven for ducks, waterhen and cranes throughout the cooler months. Each looped trail may take up to two hours for children on bicycles.

Portumna Forest Park
Visitor Info

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Aghrane Forest

This old woodland site used to be part of the Castle Kelly Estate. Today, this picturesque area provides the perfect setting for families of cyclists and walkers in the Roscommon area to get outdoors. At 6km, the Castlekelly trail starts in the village. Alternatively, the Aghrane loop is 8km in length and offers a view of the Aughrim raised bog.

Aghrane Forest, County Galway

Mountbellew

Expect a profusion of exotic and native trees as you explore the 2.2km cycle trail here. A short distance ideal for little legs.

Mountbellew Cycle, County Galway

Great Western Greenway

Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling trail offers 42km of traffic-free cycling along a route which, until 1937, served as the Westport to Achill railway. As you hug the enchanting coastline of Clew Bay, take in the spectacular views of its famous 365 islands.

Great Western Greenway in Co. Mayo
Visitor Info

greenway.ie

Clare Lake Forest Greenway

Welcome to The Land of the Giants. With 5km of flat terrain, suitable for bikes, buggies and wheelchairs, Clare Lake Forest Greenway is an inclusive route - ideal for young families. Look out for a wealth of wildlife including Ash, Oak, Willow, Birch and Alder trees providing habitat for the many foxes, rabbits, hares, hedgehogs, badgers, weasels, bats, frogs and field mice.

Clare Lake Forest Greenway

Belleek Wood

With stunning views over the River Moy, the 4km stretch of this linear trail is also enjoyed by walkers drawn here by the beauty of the mature woodland and its wildlife. The trail is firm and even, suitable for cyclists of all abilities. There are well-placed picnic spots along the way.

Belleek Wood, County Mayo