Ireland is perfect for adventure lovers and its many mountain ranges make for a great playground. If you want to see Ireland from above, we’ve put together a list of the best mountains in Ireland for activities that is sure to pique your interest.
Top 10 Irish mountains for activities in 2019
Trekking in Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry
At 1,038 metres, Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland. And you know the saying, ‘go big or go home’. If you have a head for heights, and like a challenge, then visit Kerry, nicknamed ‘The Kingdom’. Make your way to Killarney to rent any necessary equipment and stock up on local produce for a picnic at the top.
There are multiple routes to the summit and it can take anywhere up to six hours to reach the top. But the climb is worth it as your endeavours are rewarded with some seriously stunning views over the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. Look out for the three bowl-shaped valleys, each with its own lake glistening below and there is a steel cross at the top too.
Looking for more wonderful spots? Visit some of these spectacular filming locations in Ireland.
Mountain biking in Ballyhoura, Co. Cork & Limerick
Stretching across counties Cork and Limerick, Ballyhoura mountain range has the largest mountain biking trail network in Ireland. With its bucolic backdrop, this is the perfect location to bash about on a bike and grind those gears. There are a variety of trails of varying lengths to suit all ages and abilities, from a 6km gentle peddle to a 51km epic.
There are plenty of facilities in the area to rent a bike, book tours or store your own wheels. When back on bipedal mode, be sure to check out the pretty towns and villages and sample some of the locally produced cheese and beer.
Whilst you are in the area, why not check out some more of the sights? Here’s our guide to the best castles in Ireland.
Walking in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down
Slieve Donard in Co. Down rises 850 metres making it the highest peak in Northern Ireland and the province of Ulster. At the summit sits a small stone tower, which is connected to the Mourne Wall. The Mourne Wall was built between 1904 and 1922 to enclose a reservoir. Also at the summit, you’ll find two prehistoric burial cairns (man-made piles of stones). So not only are you getting a great workout climbing the mountain, you are also getting a history lesson too. As for the views? Wait until you see the panoramas over the Mountains of Mourne and County Down Coastline.
When you are done, why not treat yourself to a seaweed soak and have a bladderwrack bath in one of the nearby spa hotels.
If you are a fan of the TV show Game of Thrones be sure to visit some of the amazing Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland.
Cycling in the Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow
Time to get wild, or mild, in the wonderful Wicklow Mountains. Whether you like bashing about on a mountain bike or a casual cycle there are plenty of routes to choose.
Why not tackle Mullaghcleevaun, the second highest of the Wicklow Mountains? Just off the summit is Lough Cleevaun, a lovely corrie lake where you can stop for a picnic, to sunbathe and to refresh in the cool, clean water. To start ascending Mullaghcleevaun, head to Black Hill which is just outside of the town of Lacken.
Survival Skills in the Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow
There is just so much to do in the Wicklow Mountains, that’s why they make our list again for the best mountains in Ireland for activities. If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a bit of a Bear Grylls, then you should take a survival skills course in the wild Wicklow Mountains.
You’ll learn how to navigate your way using only the stars for guidance, build a fort from sticks and leaves and catch your own dinner. You’ll also learn how to start fires (safely of course) and essential first aid skills. When finished you’ll be able to tackle bushtucker trails with aplomb.
When you’re ready to head back to civilisation check out this guide for all the top drink, shows and city sights in Dublin.
Hiking on Lugnaquilla, Co. Wicklow
Lugnaquilla in Co. Wicklow is the highest mountain in Leinster. It rises 925 metres and you can climb the mountain yourself or hire a guide. Hiring a guide is a good idea as there are no marked routes and at the summit plateaus it can be hard to navigate in poor weather conditions.
One of the most popular trails is the Glenmalure Loop and this 15km route takes roughly 6 hours to complete. Of course, the views from the top are magnificent and on a good day, you’ll glimpse Snowdonia in Wales. So make sure you bring your camera. Also, don’t forget to pack a hearty lunch as you’ll work up an appetite walking through the sylvan landscape.
When you are done, check into a nearby spa hotel and treat your feet, and the rest, to some pampering and a well-deserved massage.
From summit to sea; when you are finished scaling the peaks check out some of Ireland’s best beaches.
Paragliding on Galtymore, Co. Limerick & Tipperary
Straddling the border between Limerick and Tipperary, Baltimore rises 919 metres making it the tallest inland mountain in Ireland. This is one of the best mountains in Ireland for activities as there is just so much to do. You can take a leisurely walk, a strenuous hike, bash about on a bike or even try your hand at paragliding.
It is a fantastic peak for history and geography lovers too, as there are three glacial lakes to explore. Borheen Lough, Lough Dineen and Lough Curra were carved out during the last Ice Age, so there is plenty of Pleistocene epoch evidence to uncover.
If you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, here’s our guide to hiking in Ireland.
Fort walking on Caherconree Mountain, Co. Kerry
Caherconree is a mountain located on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. On the mountain, 683 metres up, you’ll find Caherconree Fort, which is the highest stone fort in Ireland. Steeped in mythology and folklore, the fort is said to be named after Cú Roí mac Dáire, a legendary sorcerer, a great magician who lived in Ireland in the Iron Age.
With its precarious location on the side of the mountain, the fort was impenetrable. It was also protected by Cú Roí’s magic powers. Apparently, Cú Roí was able to make the fort spin round and round at night time which confused and disoriented his enemies. If you haven’t got a head for heights, perhaps you too will see the fort spinning. The views are also magic, and you can see across the Dingle Peninsula and the Macgillycuddy Reeks.
Looking for more action and adventure? Here are the best places to surf in Ireland.
Horse riding on Errigal Mountain, Co. Donegal
Errigal Mountain is located near Gweedore and is the tallest peak in Co. Donegal. The mountain is full of diverse landscapes from soggy bogs to steep scree slopes. You can hike Errigal Mountain, a round trip can take anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours but you can also scale the peak on a steed.
Plenty of places in North Donegal offer horse riding activities, anything from a few hours to seven-day packages, and these are suitable for all abilities. So why not saddle up and enjoy the breathtaking views over Glenveagh National Park, the Poisoned Glen, and the Derryveagh Mountains.
Worked up an appetite? Here’s our guide to the best seafood restaurants in Ireland.
Lake swimming in the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford
The Comeragh Mountains are a glaciated mountain range in Co. Waterford. The range was forged in the last ice age over 10,000 years ago. Nestled in the Comeragh Mountains are 13 beautiful corrie loughs and this area has been described as the best corrie landscape in Ireland.
If you would like to take a refreshing dip hike to Coumshingaun Lake. The hike is not marked, so if you are not an experienced hiker you should consider hiring a guide. The bonus of hiring a local, knowledgable guide is that they will be able to tell you all about the landscape, history and myths and legends that surround the Comeragh Mountains. A roundtrip hike will take about two hours, but you should factor in extra time to stop and take in the scenery, a picnic at the top and splashing in the lake. As always, please be safe and careful when swimming and tell people where you are going and when you will be back.
10 of the best mountains in Ireland for activities
|Where||What to do|
|1. Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry||Trekking|
|2. Ballyhoura, Co. Cork & Limerick||Mountain biking|
|3. Mourne Mountains, Co. Down||Walking|
|4. Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow||Cycling|
|5. Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow||Survival Skills|
|6. Lugnaquilla, Co. Wicklow||Hiking|
|7. Galtymore, Co. Limerick & Tipperary||Paragliding|
|8. Caherconree Mountain, Co. Kerry||Fort walking|
|9. Errigal Mountain, Co. Donegal||Horse riding|
|10. Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford||Lake swimming|