Are you planning a trip to Ireland in the near future? If so, you should consider adding one of the many long-distance hikes in Ireland to your bucket list. 

The best time to go hiking in Ireland is between May and October, as temperatures are slightly warmer, and you can enjoy pleasant weather during your hike. However, it’s important that you pack the right gear, should random rainfall occur. 

Many of the long-distance backpacking trails in Ireland will allow you to enjoy Ireland off the beaten path. During a hike, you may come across quaint villages which are definitely not on the average tourist’s radar. 

To ensure you have a great hiking experience in Ireland, be sure to get the AllTrails app before you go. The app has an extensive list of the best trails for hiking in Ireland, with reviews from other hikers to keep you up to date on the latest trail conditions. You can filter by trail difficulty, length, and suitability and download trail maps to help keep you on track even when you’re offline.

There is a wide range of long-distance hikes in Ireland, where you can either camp along the way or find accommodation in the middle of your chosen route. As there are so many long-distance hiking trails to select from in Ireland, we have narrowed down some of the best treks available to explore. 

1. Kerry Way  (214 km)

Torc Waterfall which stands at the base of Torc Mountain within the Killarney National Park.

Torc Waterfall in the Killarney National Park

Kerry Way is one of the longest signposted hiking trails in Ireland which begins and ends in Killarney, a popular coastal town in the Republic of Ireland. Killarney is known for its brightly coloured 19th-century architecture, including St Mary’s Cathedral. 

This hiking trail is a circular route that typically takes around 7 to 10 days to complete. Despite the length of the hike, it is a fairly easy route that is accessible to all levels. Although the terrain does differ, with everything from sturdy tarmac roads to boggy national parkland and farm areas. 

Along the way, you will discover interesting castle ruins and ancient Celtic monuments, as well as stunning mountain landscapes. At the start of the hike, you can also enjoy the beautiful Torc Waterfall, which stands at the base of Torc Mountain within the Killarney National Park. 

2. The Wicklow Way (128 km)

Wicklow Mountains National Park along the Wicklow Way - one of the best long distance hikes in Ireland

The J. B. Malone memorial above Lough Tay in the Wicklow Mountains National Park

The Wicklow Way is one of the most challenging backpacking trails in Ireland. The trail takes around 7 days in total, starting in the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham and crossing 26 peaks throughout Dublin and the Wicklow mountains. The hiking trail ends in the small village of Clonegal in County Carlow.

The most popular route along the Wicklow Way is the north to south route, however, you can also take the south to the north route if you wish to start on low terrain and work your way up. 

Whatever route you take, you will be able to enjoy a wide range of sights including Marlay Park, Fairy Castle, the Powerscourt waterfall, the peaks of Djouce, and more. 

3. The Irish segment of the E8 Long Distance Trail (650 km)

Walk the start of the E8 Long-Distance Trail - one of the best long distance hikes in Ireland

Walk the westernmost portion of the E8 Long-Distance Trail in Ireland

The E8 trail was established as Europe’s first long-distance hike, and it starts in Ireland in Cork’s Dursey Island – the westernmost tip of Europe. The whole trail stretches to Istanbul, Turkey, although the Irish section begins at Dursey Island and ends in Dublin City.

Part of the route overlaps with some of the best long-distance hikes in Ireland including the Wicklow Way, the Kerry Way, the South Leinster Way, and the Blackwater Way. 

The Irish segment of the E8 trail goes from coast to coast and allows you to see all of rural Ireland including the bogs, mountains, windy country roads, old castles, and even ancient burial sites. 

4. Dingle Way (183 km)

Cliffs along the Dingle Way towards Slea Head

Cliffs along the Dingle Way towards Slea Head

Ireland’s Dingle Way is a circular backpacking trail that covers the Dingle Peninsula and takes around 6 to 8 days to complete. This is an easy to moderate walk with well-maintained terrain throughout. 

The Dingle Way starts and ends in Tralee, in the South-west county of Kerry. Tralee is known for its yearly Rose of Tralee International Festival, which is held every August. This is a contest that celebrates Irish women all over the world.

The Dingle Way offers stunning views of beautiful beaches, lively towns, and mountains. When you get to the foot of Mount Bradon, the difficulty of the trail increases, however, it’s nothing the average hiker can’t handle. 

5. The Beara Way (206 km)

Beara Peninsula countryside on the Beara Way - one of the best long distance hikes in Ireland

Beara Peninsula countryside on the Beara Way

The Beara Way is a circular long-distance hike in Ireland that begins and ends in Glengarriff, a tiny village in the Beara Peninsula of County Cork. It takes about 8 to 12 days to complete the entire backpacking trail, however, you can start the hike at various points.

Most of the backpacking trail is dry, there are parts of the walk that are boggy, so it’s advised that you bring waterproof shoes. There are also various steep climbs and rough terrain, so it’s important you stay focused while you walk.

During the walk, you will come across spectacular Atlantic views, as well as plenty of wild mountainous land. You will also have the pleasure of visiting Bere Island during the trail, where you will find historic military buildings, plenty of heritage, and even the opportunity to go whale watching. 

The collection of long-distance hikes in Ireland does not stop here, as there are plenty more backpacking trails and sights to explore on The Emerald Isle. 

For more facts on travel in Ireland, take a look at our Backpacking Ireland guide, which uncovers everything you need to know about Ireland including where to stay. It also discusses things to do while you are there, as well as Republic of Ireland visa requirements and work permit information. 

The Best Long Distance Hikes in Ireland

Are you planning your first European backpacking travel adventure? Packing for a trip can be exciting but stressful, especially if you don’t know what to bring. Whether you’re going for a week or for an entire summer, there are a few backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list. To help you get started, take a look at our backpacking Europe checklist, which will ensure you have everything you need for your trip. 

1. The Right Backpack

The right backpacking can make or break your trip. A backpack that’s too big can make traveling uncomfortable, while a backpack that’s too small won’t allow you to fit all your belongings in it. 

When backpacking Europe, you won’t want to bring a large, rolling suitcase. European cities were built before the age of elevators, which means that you’ll be walking lots of stairs. When navigating the metro, the old buildings, and the hotels, you’ll be happy to be able to take the stairs instead of lugging around an unwieldy backpack.

When it comes to essentials for your backpacking Europe packing list, it’s best to bring a carry-on sized backpack to avoid baggage fees on budget airlines. A carry-on sized backpack will also be small enough to keep nearby if you’re taking a bus or train tour in Europe.

Backpacking backpacks come in sizes based on the liter volume that they can carry. A 30-40 liter bag is comparable to a carry-on size suitcase, while a bag that’s 50-65 liters will be too big to take with you as a carry on.

Make sure you choose a bag that fits comfortably on your body. If you’re visiting a store, the employees will be more than happy to help you select a few bags that are suited to your body size. 

If you’re looking for the best backpack for backpacking Europe, the Osprey brand has some great all-rounder backpacks. Osprey is the go-to essential Europe backpacking option and fits most people comfortably. 

2. Day bag

When you’re taking a day trip or going on a hike, you won’t want to bring your huge backpack with you. Leave most of your items locked safely at your accommodation and take along a day bag. Your best bet would be to purchase a foldable daypack that can fit into your bigger backpack.

It will need to fit essentials such as money, a snack, water, and maybe a change of clothes, so it shouldn’t be too big or bulky.

3. Padlocks

Padlocks are a quick, convenient, and inexpensive way to secure your bags and hostel lockers. When assembling your backpacking Europe essentials for your packing list, a small item like this can be a lifesaver! You can also use your luggage lock on your backpack during travel days, ensuring all your belongings are safe, including your passport.

4. Universal travel adapter

Your Europe backpacking packing list should include a universal travel adapter, which will work for your phone charger or any other electronic devices. 

The outlets in continental Europe use the same 2-pronged plug, but if you’re traveling in the UK and Ireland, you’ll need a different 3-pronged system. Rather than taking multiple chargers with you, a multifunctional adapter will do. 

5. Camera

The best travel camera for backpacking europe

Your phone camera is sufficient for everyday life, but backpacking around the world is an incredible experience that you will never want to forget!

Your travel photos will prove invaluable once you return from your epic journey, so be sure to capture all the incredible things you encounter along the way. Bring a camera that not only takes great pictures but also fits easily into your backpack.

These days, the majority of cameras are equipped with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities, so they can be transmitted easily to your laptop or phone to post them online.

You may wish to bring a high-tech DSLR camera to take stunning photographs.

If you want to take your backpacking adventures to the next level, then consider bringing along a waterproof GoPro, which will accompany you everywhere from underwater adventures to skydiving during your European backpacking adventures.

6. Travel towel

Your essential backpacking Europe packing list should include a quick-drying travel towel, since you will be moving from hostel to hostel as you backpack between cities. My favorite travel towel is a Turkish towel which is quick to dry and easy to fit in your backpack. You can also use the towel as a privacy screen if you secure a bottom bunk in a hostel.

7. Power Bank

A power bank is one of the essentials on my backpacking Europe packing list, for multiple reasons. While traveling, you’ll be using your phone much more than normal – for navigation, taking photos, videos, or researching travel tips. On days like this, you’ll want to have a backup battery for your phone. 

I’ve also relied on my power bank during long travel journeys when I use my phone and want to make sure I have enough juice to find my way to the next destination.

8. Change purse

Reliance on physical money is surprisingly still pretty high throughout Europe. Plus, having lots of €1 and €2 Euro coins is a good idea if you want to leave behind tips or donate to street musicians that you’ll see on your trip. 

9. The right shoes

For your backpacking Europe packing list, don’t forget to throw in a pair of rubber sandals for the hostel showers. You should also bring a pair of comfortable but stylish walking shoes. Some nightlife spots will require a certain dress code, but you can get away with leather-style sneakers. And women can get away with stylish-looking flats that are secretly super comfortable.

10. Hostel survival kit

If you’ll be staying in hostels, don’t forget these 4 backpacking Europe essentials. We call it the hostel survival kit:

11. The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

The Best Apps for Backpacking Europe

And lastly, before heading off for your European backpacking adventure, you should load up your phone with a few essential apps that will make backpacking Europe a breeze.

Apps to book transportation from place to place

Given the relatively compact size of Europe, you can travel between major cities by train or bus. There are a few useful apps for European transportation that can help make sure you find the best deal while sticking to your schedule.

  • Omio – compare trains, buses, and flight options in Europe and travel using mobile tickets
  • Trainline – a popular app in the UK to find train and bus tickets 
  • Flixbus – a long-distance bus company that is a favorite mode of travel for budget backpackers
  • Kiwi – a flight search comparison site that helps you find the lowest prices
  • Skyscanner – another classic flight search website that has powerful flexible search options
  • DiscoverCars – car rental search engine with direct booking to 500+ suppliers

Apps for Finding Accommodation in Europe

Apps to book discounted activities and Skip the Line tickets

Apps to stay in touch with friends and family back home

If you don’t want to change to an international mobile plan, you can use these apps over free public WiFi to stay in touch with people back home.

Ireland is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries to visit. Though it might be a small country, it never seems like you can spend too much time in Ireland. Each coast has its own unique geographical features, gorgeous ocean views, and rolling green fields, valleys, and lakes to explore. While it is a more expensive country to travel in, there are still ways to save and backpack on a budget in Ireland.

Below are a few of the top tips I used while living in Ireland to stretch my student budget and explore this amazing country! 

1. Get out of Dublin and explore the rest of Ireland

Find amazing spots to explore just outside of Dublin

Find amazing spots to explore just outside of Dublin

Ireland might be a small country, but there is so much to see and explore! The bigger cities of Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Belfast of course have plenty to do and see, but they are more expensive than the smaller cities. 

Dublin specifically can be expensive to visit with a backpacker index estimated budget of €65 per day. One way to save money as a backpacker in Ireland is to get out into the Irish countryside and visit some of the quaint, smaller Irish towns. You will not only save some money, but you will have a more unique experience and likely will meet some of the friendliest people along the way! 

2. Stay in hostels

Hostels in Ireland are all fairly decent and the best option for backpacking on a budget. 

In Dublin, you can find dorm beds starting at €25 and privates starting around €70, depending on the time of year. Hotels will run around €70-€130 per night.

Many hostels in Ireland offer free walking tours of the city, which is a great way to spend a day and familiarize yourself with the area. To get a great deal on a hostel, you can browse Hostel World, which has a huge selection of hostels with reviews from fellow travelers.

3. Or try Couchsurfing to backpack Ireland on a budget

Couchsurfing, or staying with local Irish people, is a great way for backpackers to save some money on accommodation with the site boasting over 37,000 hosts in Ireland. Though I didn’t Couchsurf myself in Ireland, Irish people are incredibly friendly and hospitable and my friends who stayed with locals said they had an incredible experience!

Additionally, for backpackers traveling with a tent, a basic plot for two people without electricity can be found for around 12 per night in Ireland.

4. Grocery shop and cook meals when you can

Seek out hostels, Airbnbs, guest houses, etc. that have a kitchen. You will be able to save some money by grocery shopping and cooking in. Dining out can add up quickly while backpacking in Ireland on a budget.

A meal out in Ireland will cost you anywhere from €11-17 for a standard restaurant, or €7-10 for a fast-food place. Pub food tends to be more affordable than nicer restaurants, and keep an eye out for outdoor markets, often you will be able to find some yummy local food at a decent price. 

5. Stay in the city center in Dublin to walk everywhere

Staying in the very walkable center of Dublin will help you stick to a budget

Staying in the very walkable center of Dublin will help you stick to a budget

Dublin is a very walkable city to visit. From the city center, most attractions are an easy walk away from each other. I could walk pretty much everywhere I wanted to in Dublin in under 15-20 minutes.

If you want to use public transportation, bus trips around Dublin cost about €3, in Galway tickets are around €2.40, and in Belfast (Northern Ireland) tickets are around £1.60

6. Or use the Leap Visitor Card for public transportation

The Leap Visitor Card is the cheapest way to get around Dublin if you plan on consistently using public transportation.

It is a pre-paid card that gives you unlimited travel on Luas (the light rail / tram system), DART (the train line operating along Dublin’s scenic coastline), commuter rail services, Dublin Bus, Airlink Express 747/757, and Go-ahead Ireland.

  • 1-day (24 hours) costs €10
  • 3-days (72 hours) costs €19.50
  • 7-days (168 hours) costs €40

You can purchase the Leap Card at the airport (then take the Airlink Express), online (to be mailed to your house, so plan ahead accordingly), or at a few locations in the city center.

NOTE: Download the Journey Planner App for timetable and map information from all licensed public transport providers across the whole of Ireland. It provides information for trains, buses, trams, ferry, and taxi services. 

7. Travel between cities in Ireland by bus

The cheapest way for backpackers to travel between cities in Ireland is by bus. Since Ireland is a small country, it is decently affordable to travel between cities. You can get between most of the major cities by bus for roughly €13-20 one-way for adults. You can use Omio to browse for the best deals and get your bus tickets ahead of time.

8. Be careful not to overspend at pubs while backpacking Ireland on a budget

Don't blow your budget at the touristy pubs, explore some off the beaten path!

Don’t blow your budget at the touristy pubs, explore some off the beaten path!

Pubs are a staple in Ireland, and it would be difficult to backpack through without ever stopping in a pub. Drinks in Ireland are not the cheapest, especially in Dublin, so be careful to not overdo it on a night out. 

A pint of beer in Ireland will cost you anywhere from €4-6, and if you are going out for a night of drinking, be prepared to spend money on rounds. The Irish love to buy rounds and expect each person to buy a round at some point. To save some money on a night out, you could try to go out with a smaller group or have a good “pre-drink” with your buddies at the hostel before heading to the pubs. 

If you are out in Dublin, try to avoid the touristy Temple Bar area where the drinks are most expensive and instead try another pub around and on the outskirts of the city center. Or, stop in for a quick drink for the experience but try one of the many other things to do in Dublin at night.

9. Ask about student discounts

If you are a student backpacking through Ireland, you will find great student discount deals. Some student discounts will get you up to 50% off at attractions, museums, nightclubs, and buses throughout the country. Always ask if there is a student discount, you might be surprised how much of your budget you can save!

10. Book your attractions in advance

Don't miss the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland

Don’t miss the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland

Many of the attractions in Ireland are often cheaper if you book in advance. Plus, you might be able to find good deals and discounts by researching online ahead of time. You can browse Get Your Guide or Viator to get the best deal and check out reviews from fellow travelers.

Many of the top attractions on their own aren’t too expensive (for example, the Cliffs of Moher is ~€7) so long as you can get to them easily on your own. Attractions start to get pricey when you look at guided tour groups. However, sometimes you can find bundles that will help you save money and see multiple sites at once.

You will find some of the friendliest people in Ireland alongside beautiful nature and a warm culture. Fortunately, backpacking Ireland on a budget IS possible if you stay frugal, follow the above tips for saving money, and travel wisely!

10 Tips for Backpacking on a Budget in Ireland

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If you have hopes of travelling to the United Kingdom, but are worried about accommodation costs, you may want to consider applying for jobs that offer free accommodation in exchange for work in the UK. 

There are plenty of organisations which provide you with a steady job along with safe and clean digs in various parts of England, Wales and Ireland. To help you understand more about the process, here are examples of how to work in exchange for free accommodation in the UK. 

Become a Petsitter

Become a pet sitter and get free accommodation in the UK

Combine your love of animals with your love of travel and become a Trusted Housesitter

There are plenty of people in the UK who are looking for trusted housesitters to stay at their place for free in exchange for watching their pets. For animal lovers who are responsible, reliable, and looking for a great way to travel around the UK with free accommodation, you can get started with the petsitting network, Trusted Housesitters. It’s the #1 platform where you can find tons of different options, from a chic flat in London, to a seaside countryhouse in Cornwall. A basic membership starts at just €99 for unlimited housesits worldwide, which is well-worth the cost when you think about how much accommodation in the UK can be!

Volunteer with a charity

Volunteer with an organization that offers free accommodation in exchange for work

Volunteer with an organisation that offers free accommodation in exchange for work

One of the most rewarding ways to earn your stay is by volunteering with a charity. There are various programmes that offer charity fundraiser roles that involve door-to-door charity fundraising to help fund the chosen cause. 

Companies such as Wesser provide charity fundraisers work that helps them earn £10 an hour plus commission, along with free access to shared accommodation. This typically consists of a large four to five-bedroom property with various communal living areas which cater to the staff’s every need. 

Work in hospitality

Some hospitality sectors in the UK offer free accommodation in exchange for work

Some hospitality sectors in the UK offer free accommodation in exchange for work

Another great way to earn and live while travelling in the UK is by working in the hospitality sector. This could include working in a hotel as a live-in staff member who takes on the role of a receptionist or even a hotel manager. 

In the UK, there are a variety of seaside and lake and holiday camps that hire seasonal workers in the spring and summer months. These jobs typically offer fair pay along with free accommodation in a cosy cabin or even a quirky tepee. 

Become a live-in nanny 

Become an Au Pair and get free accommodation in exchange for work

Become an Au Pair and get free accommodation in exchange for work

If you enjoy travelling and love kids, why not become a live-in nanny in the UK? There are plenty of vacancies available in this field. This will provide you with work in exchange for free accommodation which will definitely be a lavish and unique experience in the UK, as the majority of employers will be extremely wealthy. 

There are also financial benefits of becoming a nanny, as on average, they earn upwards of £350 per week. This works out a lot cheaper than rent and can also fund your meals, as you will likely be given extra pocket money for food for you and the children. You can also use the remainder of your earnings to fund the rest of your travels.  

Work on an organic farm

Work on an organic farm in the UK in exchange for free accommodation

Work on an organic farm in the UK in exchange for free accommodation

If your dream is to travel and stay in picturesque locations, you should consider volunteering on an organic farm. This will involve living and working in the farm, where you will get involved in jobs such as picking grapes or even milking a cow or two. 

One of the most popular organisations is WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which offers global opportunities for like-minded people looking to work, stay and learn all about farm life. Workaway is another great company which allows travellers to find free accommodation in exchange for farm work, while also offering the freedom of travelling like a local.

Now you have all the information you need regarding work in exchange for free accommodation in the UK, have you decided which route is right for you? Whatever you choose, it is important that you first check your visa eligibility to ensure you can legally work in the UK. 

It is also vital that you thoroughly research the company you are planning to work for by looking at reviews and asking around for personal recommendations. This will ensure that your experience will be completely legal, safe and enjoyable.