The landscape is green, the air is clean, and if you’re looking for the perfect place to run, Ireland simply has to be seen. Bad poetry aside (and with apologies to W.B. Yeats), the Emerald Isle, with its welcoming people, diverse landscapes, and thriving food and nightlife scenes for post-run libations, is an ideal place to lace up and explore.
Whether you’re looking to burn off that Guinness, travel through 5,000 years of history, or simply enjoy the runner-friendly mild climate, these nine routes offer spectacular views that will, to paraphrase Mr. Yeats, leave you standing on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, hearing lake water lapping deep in your heart’s core. So arise and go now for some magnificent miles.
Causeway Coast Way (Antrim/Londonderry)
For endurance animals, this low-lying coastal trail from Portstewart to Ballycastle is an unforgettable 33-mile trip. Walkers typically take two days to traverse it, which is recommended given the wealth of sights.
Early highlights include Portrush; the medieval Dunluce Castle; and the Giant’s Causeway, a beautiful volcanic formation of 40,000 hexagonal columns that span the shoreline.
The second half takes you from Dunseverick Castle to Ballintoy Harbor, with the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge offering stunning views over Rathlin Island.
Once you reach the historic square in Ballycastle known as The Diamond, it’s time to put your feet up. Phew.
Howth Head Cliff Loop (Dublin)
An oasis of calm outside a bustling city, this 3.7-mile trail offers superb views and takes you past serene meadows, secluded beaches, and striking cliffs.
Starting from the Dart train station in Howth, follow the green arrows on lampposts to find the dirt trail that will take you to higher ground, where you’ll spot the bright lights of Dublin buzzing on one side and the surging Irish Sea on the other. It’s not hard to understand why Molly Bloom said “Yes” up here.
Government of Ireland National Monuments Service Photographic Unit
Phoenix Park (Dublin)
The largest walled park in any European capital city is a haven for Dublin runners and a heavenly place to spend an afternoon. The park’s perimeter trail is roughly seven miles long and home to the park’s herd of deer, along with several notable vistas.
There’s Áras an Uachtaráin (the home of the Irish President), Wellington Monument, Farmleigh House, and the towering Papal Cross, erected as a backdrop for the 1979 visit of Pope John Paul II, which more than a million people attended.
Waterford Greenway (Waterford)
Opened in 2017, this 28-mile trail runs along an old railway line and features views of the captivating Copper Coast. As you make your way from Waterford to Dungarvan, you’ll traverse 11 bridges, three viaducts, and a 400-meter tunnel.
You’ll also pass Woodstown Viking Site, Kilmeaden Castle, Kilmacthomas Viaduct, and the charming St. Augustine’s Church—a window into Ireland’s Ancient East.
Kerry Way (Kerry)
Most tourists will take 10 days to complete this 130-mile trail on foot, but even if you’re not of the ultra mindset, any individual section makes for an amazing run.
The so-called “Ring of Kerry” starts and ends in the charming town of Killarney and avoids the highest points of Ireland’s tallest mountain range, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, making the trail suitable for all fitness levels.
Captivating views of a variety of landscapes from beautiful beaches to picturesque mountain passes and quaint villages will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Divis & The Black Mountain (Antrim)
Offering spectacular views over Belfast and beyond, this 4.2-mile loop trail takes you through a magnificent mosaic of grassland and heathland bog.
You’ll switch from boardwalk to gravel paths as you ascend toward the summit of Black Mountain, where the view of Northern Ireland makes every ounce of effort worthwhile.
If you have any energy left, the Divis Summit Trail will take you even higher. And the loop starts and ends at Divis Coffee Barn, so you’re covered whether you prefer your coffee pre- or post-run.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne (Londonderry)
Perched on a rugged headland in Northern Ireland, this demesne (that’s the land attached to a manor for all you non-lords out there) is a serene slice of grassland with breathtaking views.
A run around its trails will take you past Mussenden Temple, set on the cliff edge with views of Inishowen Peninsula, and the majestic ruins of Downhill House, which is, in the words of its founder’s colleague, a home “built where only a romantic would expect to find one and only a lunatic would build one.”
The views are worthy of a pause in your run but may also require it —the paths can veer pretty close to the cliff’s edge.
Great Western Greenway (Mayo)
This 26-mile trail from Westport to Achill is a magnificent way to cover the marathon distance, though it’s best broken up into three sections.
Running along the rugged coast of Clew Bay, you’ll follow a former railway line and experience a stunning section of the Wild Atlantic Way. Sights include the charming town of Newport, the scenic seaside village of Mulranny, and an abundance of jagged cliffs and untouched wilderness.
Joe Cashin Photography
Glenveagh National Park (Donegal)
Lace up your trail shoes for a run through the wilderness in this remote and enchanting collage of technical terrain, picture-perfect lakes, and gushing waterfalls in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains.
The most popular trail is Lakeside Walk, an out-and-back two-mile gravel path that offers majestic views of Glenveagh Castle, Lough Veale, and the wet peatland that's home to a variety of plants and animals, many of which are unique to this habitat. Like every place on this list, its a run you’ll never forget.