Ireland’s Greenways and trails are a great way to see some of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the country while enjoying the great outdoors.
We’ve hand-picked some of Ireland’s best and most popular trails for you to explore this summer. Whatever your fitness level or location, you’re sure to find a route to suit you and your family.
Great Western Greenway
The Great Western Greenway in county Mayo is a 42km trail which follows the route of the now defunct Achill to Westport railway line and offers breath-taking views of Clew Bay and its surrounding landscape. First opened in 2010, the route is popular with tourists. Thousands of visitors, both international and domestic, travel west to walk or cycle the trail
The Great Western Greenway is divided into three sections – Achill to Mulranny, Mulranny to Newport and Newport to Westport – and can be completed in sections or as one whole cycle or walk. We recommend starting the trail from Achill and finishing in Westport, as the trail is easier from the start, however the Greenway can be completed in either direction.
Achill to Mulranny
The first section on your journey starts on Achill Sound, at the Achill Island Hotel, where an official access point is located. Whether you’re on bike or foot, you’ll be able to follow the dedicated signs which mark your way onto the official path.
The first section of the route is relatively flat and is a great way to ease yourself into the adventure. The 13km trail should take about 1.5 hours if cycling and takes in wonderful views of the Mayo countryside.
Mulranny to Newport
The second stage of Great Western Greenway increases in both difficulty and length. The route stretches over 18km and includes steep climbs and off-road paths. Although your legs might be tired, your eyes will be thrilled with the stunning views over Clew Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, making this section of the Greenway a must-do for visitors.
Newport to Westport
The final stretch of the Mayo Greenway is the shortest, at11km. The route leads you directly through the town of Newport before bringing you into the centre of Westport. Be warned, while this part is the shortest it’s also the toughest, with steep hills and tough climbs waiting for you before the finish line.
Make sure to pack OSi Discover Series Map for your Mayo adventure.
or the Adventure Series maps of the area
The Waterford Greenway is the longest, dedicated off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland. 46km in length, visitors can cycle or walk the route which runs from Waterford City to Dungarvan and follows the old Waterford to Mallow railway line.
We recommend hiring a bicycle and starting your cycle from Dungarvan. This route affords beautiful views of Dungarvan Bay and King John’s Castle and the Waterford coast, before passing over the famous Ballyvoyle Viaduct.
After the viaduct, cyclists and walkers can look forward to travelling through the Durrow Tunnel – one of the most iconic features of the Greenway. Cycling through the dark stone tunnel allows tourists to relive what it was like travelling by train all those years ago. In terms of difficulty, the trail is suitable for people of all fitness levels and is a great way to spend a family day out.
OSi Discovery Map Series 82 is all you need when cycling the Waterford Greenway
Great Southern Trail
The gateway to West Limerick, the Great Southern Trail is a 40km off-road cycling and walking trail which gives visitors the opportunity to explore quaint towns and villages including Rathkeale, Ardagh, Newcastle West, Templeglantine and Abbeyfeale. Starting in Rathkeale, cyclists or walkers travel westward through the town towards Ardagh.
En route you’ll cross over five beautiful cut-stone bridges and enjoy pleasant views of the surrounding farmland. Once past Ardagh cyclists or walkers will be on en-route to Newcastle West, were the most challenging part of the route occurs.
Between Newcastle West and Barnagh, visitors will face the Greenway’s steepest incline, however the climb is worth it as this section of the route boasts incredible views of the Limerick plains and the Golden Vale. From Barnagh, the route is mostly downhill and passes through bridges, embankments and peaceful woodland.
Once you reach Abbeyfeale, you’ll be able to rest and enjoy a well-deserved break and refreshments.
OSi’s Ireland South map is a great comprehensive guide for the Great Southern Trail. See also the Discovery series maps below.
Grand Canal Way
The Grand Canal Way is a 117 km long-distance trail that follows the towpath of the canal from Lucan Bridge to Shannon Harbour. The mammoth trail is typically completed in five days or can be cycled or walked in sections.
A really enjoyable section of the Grand Canal Way is 8.5km long and is found between the third lock at Inchicore and the twelfth lock at Lucan. This stretch of the route opened in 2010 and is a great way to explore the capital, whether you’re just visiting or a True Blue.
Pack OSi’s Discovery Map Series for your trip along Dublin’s Grand Canal.
Royal Canal Way
Totalling 144 km in length and running almost parallel to the Grand Canal Way, the Royal Canal Way passes through Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath before reaching its final destination in Longford. The full trail typically takes four to five days to complete but can be split into smaller sections if cyclists or walkers don’t want to tackle the full route.
Apart from miles of glorious unspoilt countryside and spectacular scenery, what exactly does the Royal Canal Way offer visitors? Cyclists or walkers can enjoy visiting lots of cultural and historical sites with plenty of examples of late-eighteenth-century industrial archaeology to admire along the way, including the Ryewater Aquaduct which brings the canal over the Rye River.
For such a long trail, we recommend packing OSi’s Ireland Map
The Boyne Greenway is the ideal way to explore Ireland’s Ancient East. Running from Dominic’s Park on the south bank of the River Boyne near the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda, the Boyne Greenway leads you west of Drogheda towards the Mary McAleese Cable Bridge. From there you’ll follow the route along the Boyne Canal to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge.
This famous site is where William of Orange defeated King James ll of England’s forces to regain the British crown and become king. After his loss, James fled to France and never returned to the British Isles again. The site’s historical significance has made it one of the best-known battlefields in British history and a key part of Orange Order folklore.
Great Eastern Greenway
The Great Eastern Greenway is a short 7km trail which runs from Carlingford Lough to Omeath. The short distance means that the route can be easily walked or cycled and is an option for anyone no matter your age or fitness level.
The trail runs along the lough’s southern shore and was built on the old railway line. Visitors walking or cycling the Greenway can enjoy spectacular views of the lough, Slieve Foy and surrounding Mourne Mountains.
See this diagram of OSi Discovery map sheet coverage.
Discovery Map Series 43 covers parts of county Dublin, Meath, Louth and is the perfect companion for your Ancient East break.
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