The East Coast of Ireland is home to amazing beaches, mountains & cities attracting visitors from across the globe. Whether you’re a visitor or resident to the region, it’s so nice to get out & explore when you have a little free time, without having to venture too far! I’ve put together a list of ten hikes which are within 2.5 hours driving distance from Dublin and are very doable to do as a day trip there & back. This is just a small selection of my personal favourites… feel free to comment below if there are others you’d recommend adding!

1. Tonelagee (Lough Ouler), Co. Wicklow

Pretty epic lunch view for Rex & I ❤

Made famous by the very “Instagrammable” heart shaped Lough Ouler, this hike is very accessible yet extremely beautiful. There are two main routes to the summit of Tonelagee – the looped route from Glenmacnass waterfall (see map) or the shorter trail from the Turlough Hill carpark. The views from the top of Tonelagee are glorious, but it is the “heart of the Wicklow Mountains” – Lough Ouler which really steals the show.  

  • Trail Distance: 7.9km starting from Glenmacnass; 4km from Turlough Hill
  • Approx. time required: Allow 4 hours from Glenmacnass, circa 1.5-2 hours from Turlough Hill
  • Difficulty level: Moderate – Steeper from Turlough Hill side but slightly more straightforward in terms of navigating (although no marked path for either route).

2. Mullaghcleevaun & Cleevaun Lough, Co. Wicklow

“Wicklow’s most remote lake” – Cleevaun Lough

The second highest peak in Wicklow, Mullaghcleevaun is a challenging yet moderate hike with many routes to the summit. Your day on the mountain will be made all the sweeter with a pitstop at Wicklow’s most remote lake, the mystical Cleevaun Lough. There are peat haggs & gullies galore making for a nice mix of terrain, alongside stunning views of the Blessington lakes & beyond from the top.

  • Trail Distance: 8km starting from Military Road
  • Approx. time required: 3-4 hours at a moderate pace
  • Difficulty level: Advanced – no marked trail so good navigation skills required

3. Mahon Falls, Co. Waterford

View of the falls from the trail in

A gem within the sunny South East, Mahon Bridge to Mahon falls offers a lovely looped hike around the 80m Mahon Falls waterfall tucked away in the Commeragh mountains. This trail isn’t well marked but should be manageable for hikers with decent navigational skills. The loop isn’t super long at less than 5km, so makes for a good choice for those with limited time but still presents a challenging loop.

  • Trail Distance: 4.2km (looped)
  • Approx. time required: 1.5-2 hours
  • Difficulty level: Advanced – steep climbing required & no marked trail

4. Lugnaquilla – Fraughan’s Glen Route, Co. Wicklow

View of Art’s Lough as I descended Lugnaquilla towards Glenmalure valley

One of the many routes up Leinster’s highest peak (which is also the highest peak in Ireland outside Kerry), this is probably the most widely trafficked and also one of the slightly longer options. Another hike with the option to visit the remote Art’s Lough (common lake theme here?!), Lugnaquilla is a vast mountain which should not be underestimated.

  • Trail Distance: 18km starting from Barravore Carpark, Glenmalure
  • Approx. time required: 6-7 hours (varies quite a bit depending on pace)
  • Difficulty level: Advanced – no marked trail & peak is prone to conditions changing quickly.

5. Lough Firrib & Arts Cross, Co. Wicklow

Lough Firrib – an unspoilt gem hidden deep in the mountains

Steeped in historical significance, this hike takes in another remote hidden lake in the Wicklow Mountains which is truly off trail. Beginning at Turlough Hill carpark, this one requires excellent navigational abilities as there are no remnants of a trail whatsoever. Crossing miles of peat haggs & remote landscape, this hike leads you to Arts Cross – a huge cross erected in the mountains to signify a historic escape from Dublin Castle that happened on January 6th, 1592 by Art O’Neill. Lough Firrib is a really special sight so definitely a great hike for those seeking somewhere very much off the beaten track!

  • Trail Distance: 15km starting from Military Road
  • Approx. time required: 4-5 hours at a moderate pace
  • Difficulty level: Advanced – no marked trail so good navigation skills required plus very peaty terrain

6. Glendalough – white route (Spinc), Co. Wicklow

Views of the Glendalough Valley from the Spinc trail

One of Ireland’s most famous glacial valleys, Glendalough is really a sight to behold. It’s also home to numerous hiking trails, one of my favourites being the white loop (AKA the Spinc). This loop passes by the two Glendalough lakes, through the historic miner’s village and right by the Monastic Glendalough site – what more could you ask for in a day hike?

The area is abundant with wildlife & is very well signposted making it a great hike for beginner & intermediate hikers seeking adventure whilst following a well-worn path. There’s also a bus running directly from Dublin City Centre to Glendalough making it all the more accessible. The white route takes approx. 3-4 hours so really nice option for all the family!

  • Trail Distance: 9km looped trail
  • Approx. time required: 3-4 hours at a moderate pace
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate – Some steep inclines but well marked & mainly good path

7. Slieve Binnian, Co. Down

Frosty scenes from the summit last December

If you haven’t ventured on a hiking trip up North to the Mourne mountains, you are definitely missing out! Slieve Binnian is probably my favourite of all the Mournes, offering stunning views of the reservoir & lakes from the top. There is a fantastic circular route starting from the Carrick Little carpark which follows the Mourne Wall all the way to the summit (747m), traverses between the spectacular South & North Tors before descending along a track past the Blue Lough, Annalong Forest and back to the carpark.

  • Trail Distance: 5.5km looped trail
  • Approx. time required: 4-5 hours at a moderate pace
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate

8. Slieve Donard, Co. Down

The Mourne Wall

From waterfalls to mountains, to sea views to the historic Mourne wall, Slieve Donard really has an abundance to offer. It is Ulster’s highest peak, forming part of the bucket list for many who are trying to tick off Ireland’s four provincial highest mountains. Only 1.5 hours drive from Dublin, it’s definitely a great place to explore & experience a very different type of mountain terrain to what you’d experience in Wicklow or the likes!  

  • Trail Distance: 9km starting from Newcastle, Co. Down
  • Approx. time required: 3-4 hours at a moderate pace
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate

9. Djouce, Co. Wicklow

The descent from Djouce with views of Lough Tay

Who doesn’t love a good boardwalk? Djouce is a great option for beginner & intermediate hikers and has a couple of options to reach the summit. One route begins at the famous “Guinness lake” – Lough Tay whilst another option begins your hike at Crone Woods carpark, a trail which passes by the magnificent Powerscourt Waterfall. The multi-day Wicklow Way trail passes across Djouce so it’s a pretty well-frequented hike & the boardwalk makes for a nice alternative to the standard mountain terrain.

  • Trail Distance: 8km from Lough Tay side (J.B. Malone carpark); 14km from Crone Woods
  • Approx. time required: 2 hours from Lough Tay, 3-4 hours from Crone Woods
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate – easier from Lough Tay as there is a board-walk for most of the trail.

10. Coumshingaun, Co. Waterford

Views down onto the lake from the top

Another hike which has increased in popularity in recent times, Coumshingaun is a corrie lake surrounded by the majestic Commeragh mountain range in Co. Waterford. The entire loop is quite strenuous so good hiking knowledge would be required but there are also some more beginner friendly hikes reaching the lake itself rather than the surrounding cliffs.

  • Trail Distance: 7km
  • Approx. time required: 4-5 hours at a moderate pace
  • Difficulty level: Advanced – steep in parts with sheer drops

Get exploring..

Obviously no where in Ireland is far from our capital city in the grand scheme of things so there are many more options further afield. If you have a few days, Ireland’s West Coast is an absolute gem to explore also with Mweelrea in Mayo being one of my personal favourites or any of the many Kerry peaks!