Holidays in Ireland

16 Gorgeous Walks in Dublin For All Fitness Levels

Poolbeg lighthouse (1)

Mountain hikes, cliff walks, and city strolls, check out my top picks for easy walks in Dublin, and go explore!

With travel restrictions in place for most of 2020,  I spent a lot of time exploring my own county. There were walks in Dublin that I hadn’t done since I was a child, as well as new walks that I only discovered for the first time this year. We hiked the Dublin Mountains many times over the years but, I didn’t realise until recently how many beautiful cliff walks there are in Dublin. 

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I have filled this post with relatively easy walks in Dublin, that are suitable for most fitness levels. There are longer trails and more difficult hikes available, but that’s for another post. In the meantime why not work your way through this list and re-discover your own county with Dublin walks like these.
 

 

 

1. Howth Cliff Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When I visit Howth I always feel like I’m visiting a different county, and on a sunny day you could be forgiven for thinking you are in the South of France. In my opinion, The Howth Cliff Walk is Dublin’s most spectacular cliff walk. Unfortunately many people agree with me, so it can be extremely busy, especially on a sunny day. However, there a few different trails you can take. 

howth cliff walk is one of the most popular walks in Dublin

We took the main 5km Loop Walk up to The Summit Pub. Alternatively you can extend the walk to a 10km loop, by walking towards the Lighthouse, for even more spectacular views. You also take time to visit the secret beach – yes there is one in Howth! It is accessed via slippery steps close on the path towards the lighthouse. See more information here.
 

 

 
Howth is renowned for its sea-food, so don’t miss the opportunity to reward yourself with the catch of the day afterwards. If you don’t want to dine inside, it is also quite common to grab a take-away and dine on the grass!

30 Church Street, Howth

30 Church Street has a varied menu if you don’t fancy fish – although the scallops and chorizo pasta is delicious. The wood-fired pizza is also a great choice. There is small outdoor dining area, but don’t worry if you can’t secure one of these, the marina views from inside the restaurant are great too – ask for a table upstairs by the window.

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2. Hell Fire Club

Dublin mountain walks

I recall being told as a child, that if I ran around the Hell Fire Club ten times, the devil would appear. Looking back I think it was probably a genius way to get me to go for a walk with my parents! There are many similar myths, one relating to a card game, another to a large black cat, and the devil appears in all.
 

 

 
I have taken this walk many times, and as much as I enjoy the hill walk, there is something spooky about the ruin at the top of the hill. I imagine if you are there at night time, you may start to believe in the legends…

dublin mountain walks - hell fire club

Despite all these scary stories, it is one of the most popular walks in Dublin. It is not too difficult, but it can be quite steep in parts. It should take about 90 minutes in total, including time at the top to explore the Hell Fire Club. It is an easy sell to kids too, once you tell them about the legends, they will automatically be intrigued.

There is a car park at the bottom of Montpellier Hill, but I advise you to get there early to ensure you get a parking space, and perhaps skip a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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3. Loughshinny Cliff Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Loughshinny is a small village located between Skerries and Rush in North County Dublin, and has a delightful coastal walk. As much as I love the Howth Cliff Walk, it can get quite crowded. The beauty of the cliff walk in Loughshinny, is that not many people know about it. In fact we were there on a sunny Sunday and it was virtually empty.
 

 

 
You can park in the small car park beside the beach. There is a staircase leading up from the beach which brings you along the cliff path. The path is very narrow and can be a little briary in parts, so I would suggest wearing good boots and long pants. That being said, it is an easy walk, and can be as short or as long as you wish. 

Martello Tower at Lough Shinny Cliff Walk

We just walked as far as the Martello Tower (approximately 15 minutes one way), and let the kids search for crabs in the rock pools. If, however, you are feeling more energetic, you can walk along the cliff all the way into Rush. This would be approximately two hours round trip. 

Restaurant near Lough Shinny cliff walk

We popped into the Gourmet Food Parlour in Skerries afterwards – it is located about 10 minutes drive from Loughshinny. The heated outdoor terrace was very welcome and we loved the wide selection of cuisine for adults and children.

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4. Massy’s Wood

forest walks in Dublin mountains

Massy’s Wood is beautiful forest walk in the Dublin mountains. Located opposite the Hell Fire Club car park, we often choose this walk or the Hell Fire Club, depending on the weather. It is a forest walk, so it is much more sheltered than the Hell Fire Club, but there are also plenty of ruins here to explore. 
 

 

 
The remains of a mansion and walled gardens are still visible, and there is wonderful 1.5km nature trail that is suitable for all fitness levels. You will find ancient trees, a variety of wildlife and plenty of picnic sites. This is one of the most popular family mountain walks in Dublin.

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5. Killiney Hill Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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I’m a big fan of the Killiney Hill Walk, its a walk I have taken many times. The views of Killiney and Dalkey from the top are stunning on a clear day, and it is a nice short walk that is suitable for all fitness levels. In fact if I had one complaint, I would say I think it is a little too short.
 

 

 
There is an obelisk at the top and plenty of places to explore, so although the walk itself is only about 20 minutes, you will probably spend about an hour pottering around and taking in the views. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There is a great play ground near the car park, so if you are walking with kids they will love it.  You can’t leave without visiting The Tower Tea Rooms, where you will find freshly ground coffee, hot chocolates and tasty pastries. The Killiney Cliff Walk is very popular with families and dog walkers.

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6. War Memorial Gardens

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When we visited The War Memorial Gardens recently, I was surprised by the number of people who didn’t even know it existed. The War Memorial Gardens pay tribute to the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died in the WWI and are one of the most famous memorial gardens in Europe.

The names of all the soldiers are contained in the illustrated Harry Clarke manuscripts in the granite book rooms, and guided tours are available upon request. There are free OPW guided tours every Wednesday at 2.00pm from the 25th of April to the end of October.
 

 

 
If you are unable to see the manuscripts, (I haven’t seen them yet),  you will still really enjoy walking around the gardens. There are so many different areas to explore. Located along the canal, with plenty of wide open spaces, a sunken rose garden and a host of monuments, it is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets.

Broyage Bistro near War Memorial Gardens

The War Memorial Gardens are located in Islandbridge, close to Kilmainham, in fact we visited after a tour of Kilmainham Gaol – a place I believe we should all visit. I can recommend some post-walk dining in Broyage Bar & Bistro at the Hilton Kilmainham. If you are looking for a full daycation in Dublin, this is a great combination.

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7. Phoenix Park 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Phoenix Park is no stranger to anyone, but did you know it is the largest public park in any capital city in Europe? There are so many different places to explore, but one of our favourites is to get close to the herd of fallow deer that have frequented the park for hundreds of years.

They are used to Dubliners getting close to them, (obviously don’t try to touch them), and are even happy to pose for pictures. There is something majestic about watching a stag at sunrise. I recommend an early visit for the best views, and to escape the crowds.
 

 

 
Of course The Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin, and Victorian flower gardens. Don’t miss some hearty pub-grub in Europe’s longest pub afterwards – The Hole in the Wall. We make this an annual visit over Christmas as the pub is superbly decorated for the festive season.

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8. Bohernabreena Reservoir

Bohernabreena Resevoir is a easy walk in Dublin for all the family

Located just a few miles from my home, this is a walk that we take regularly. This loop walk at the foothills of the Dublin mountains has a number of options. You can walk the full 9km trail around the lake, or turn back when you get to the lake for a shorter walk. You will spot plenty of sheep, cows and horses, and the lakeshore is an idyllic spot for a picnic.
 

 

 
It is also buggy friendly so it is one of the more popular walks in Dublin for families. The only downside is the car park, it is tiny. Get there early, and avoid sunny Sunday afternoons.

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9. Poolbeg Lighthouse, Great South Wall Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This is one of my favourite walks in Dublin, especially on a sunny day. It is the perfect length, with gorgeous sea views, and an iconic lighthouse at the end, what’s not to love? It is a 4km walk to the lighthouse, so 8km round trip, but it is flat so it should only take about 70 minutes. 
 

 

 
Its almost like a promenade, so its buggy friendly, and you can even pick up a drink from the coffee-van at the end. As well as panoramic sea views, you will also spot some sea bathers. Instagrammers will love the colourful lighthouse too.

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10. Dun Laoghaire Pier,  Sandycove and The Forty Foot

Dun Laoghaire Pier is a buggy friendly walk in Dublin

I have walked Dun Laoghaire Pier countless times, but it is rare I walk down as far as The Forty Foot. I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often, because the promenade stretches all along the sea shore and it is a gorgeous walk suitable for all fitness levels. The Dun Laoghaire Pier is practically an institution if you live on the South Side, as well as getting an ice-cream cone from Teddy’s once you reach the end.
 

 

 
I love watching the sail boats, and listening to the buskers playing, but I also enjoy watching the sea swimmers dive into the sea at The Forty Foot. The next time you are waking Dun Laoghaire Pier, go a step further and walk along the promenade to Sea Point beach and onwards to the Forty Foot. If you don’t gather up the courage to jump in, you will enjoy watching the brave souls all the same.

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11. Portmarnock to Malahide Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Portmarnock to Malahide walk is one of the most popular walks in North County Dublin. It has wide paths that are suitable for buggies and roller bladers, and it is a popular spot with joggers too. You you can choose to walk one-way (4km) and catch the Dart (train) back, or walk round trip for a full day out.
 

 

 
The walk takes in one of the best beaches in Dublin, otherwise known as Velvet Strand, and if you fancy some post-walk dining, the choice are endless in Malahide.

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12. Tibradden Wood  

walks in Dublin mountains

Tibradden Wood, or The Pine Forest, which is what I called it as a child, is a beautiful wood in the Dublin Mountains.  At the highest point you will be rewarded with gorgeous views, as well an open cairn and kist burial site. You may also spot some wildlife, as Sika deer, foxes and badgers are commonly seen here. The Tibradden Mountain Trail is only 2.4km, so it is suitable for all fitness levels. 

The Zipit Adventure centre is also located here, so if you are walking with kids, you may want to allow extra time for a visit. 

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13. Bull Island Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Bull Island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located at Dollymount in North County Dublin. Not only is it a lovely spot for a coastal walk, but it is also ideal for bird watchers or wildlife enthusiasts. The walk itself is a 5km looped walk, but you may wish to spend some additional time on the sandy Dollymount Beach, and watch the kitesurfers that regularly frequent the area.
 

 

 
Parking is restricted to a small area next to the Bull Wall, so if you are planning a visit during a sunny afternoon, you might be best to walk, cycle, or take public transport.

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14. Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk

cliff walks in Dublin

Dublin’s northside clearly has the best choice of coastal walks, and the Donabate to Portrane Cliff Walk is another walk that you should put on your list. This is one of the few walks in Dublin that I have yet to experience, but it has been recommended to me many times. I’m told it is an easy 3km walk (6km round trip), that is suitable for all fitness levels. The best place to start is at Donabate Beach, you can walk along the cliff edge to the Martello Tower at Portrane.

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15. Dublin Canal Walk

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you fancy a city walk, the Dublin Canal Walk is a good choice. The full route runs from the Grand Canal Dock to Adamstown and is about 15km in total. I like to start in Rathmines and walk along the canal through Portobello, and on to Grand Canal Harbour, this is approx 3.5km in total.
 

 

 
There is a pathway along most of the canal, so although you are in the city centre, it doesn’t always feel like it, as you are very close to the waters edge. You will pass pretty locks and river boats, as well as the statue and famous seat of Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. 

Marker Hotel rooftop bar

When you reach the Grand Canal Harbour, or Silicon Docks as it is commonly known, you will see a hive of activity. There is a wake park located here, so you can expect to see wake-boarders on the water, regardless of weather.

You will also find countless dining options, including many al fresco bars and restaurants. If the weather is in your favour, try the rooftop bar in the Marker Hotel. The all-day menu is light and reasonably priced, and you won’t find better city views anywhere.

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16. Ticknock to Fairy Castle Loop Walk

easy walks in Dublin mountains

A popular hike on Dublin’s south side, this is located close to Rathfarnham and Sandyford, on the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. You can park at the Ticknock Forest Carpark, but it can get very busy, especially on sunny mornings. The full loop walk to the Fairy Castle is 5.5km, although you can choose to just hike to the view point, which is only 1.5km (3km return). This part has tarmac so although its a steep hill walk, it is buggy friendly.  
 

 

 
Don’t be fooled though, the Fairy Castle, is not as it sounds – it is a pre-historic passage tomb, which is the highest point of the Dublin Mountains. However, you can expect to find superb panoramic views over the city and the Wicklow Mountains. 

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I hope this post on easy walks in Dublin will help you get out exploring. It is important to note that the above walks are my personal suggestions, but some of the facilities / activities listed may change or may not be suitable for everyone. 

 

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Sarah
 

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

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