Hiking in Ireland: Frequently Asked Questions

Holidays are supposed to be a relaxing time, a time to recharge the batteries, a time to de-stress and a time to enjoy. However, more often than not we end up worrying about the organisational aspects of the trip and get caught up in questions about the foreign soil you’re about to visit. At Hiking Walking Ireland we believe that planning for a walking holiday should be an exciting time with no fears or stress involved, which is why we’ve compiled answers to some of the most common frequently asked questions about self-guided walking holidays and hiking in Ireland.

If we’ve missed a question that you have on your mind, feel free to get in touch!

Questions Before My Self-Guided Hiking Holiday

WHAT IS A SELF-GUIDED HIKING TOUR?

Self-guided hiking is a walking trip which gives you the freedom and independence to enjoy hiking in Ireland at your own pace without the use of a tour guide. By undertaking a self-guided hiking trip, it also affords you the flexibility to start a trip on whatever day of the week suits you best, with no fixed dates which a guided tour has and leaves you in control of making all the arrangements which suit your needs on your hiking holiday.

WHAT ARE HIKING GRADE LEVELS? HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE?

Choosing the right hiking trail can be tricky as you need to consider the balance of physical challenge, technical skills and comfort level. Hiking Walking Ireland (HWI) use hiking grade levels to try and best match the terrain difficulty of a trail with your own hiking ability. Hiking Walking Ireland use three grading levels which are based around the daily hiking distance; Gentle, Moderate & Challenging.

Gentle Level: The average daily hike is between 8-15km with a usual hiking time between 2-6 hours.

Gentle Grade Levels are designed with the part-time hiker in mind. This will give you plenty time to enjoy the sights and scenery, take photos, relax, have a long lunch and, if necessary, negotiate the more tricky sections of a walk.

Moderate Level: The average daily hike is between 16-23km with a usual hiking time between 4-7 hours.

Moderate Grade Levels will suit people who are used to some regular exercise or who have done some previous hiking. They offer longer but still manageable daily hikes and should give you a little more of a challenge without going beyond your limits. You will also still have time for a relaxed lunch and to take photos.

Challenging Level: The average daily hike is between 24-40km with a usual hiking time between 5-12 hours.

Challenging Grade Levels are designed for the experienced hiker or those walkers who love a good challenge. They offer the longest daily hikes and will often test your endurance by having you walk all day.

WHEN CAN WE START OUR HIKING TRIP IN IRELAND?

The beauty of organising your own self-guided hiking trip, means you can start whenever you want, on whatever day of the week you want. There are a few things you will need to consider beforehand however; the availability of accommodation during your hiking trip and the weather and daylight hours in Ireland (it is advised to take your hiking trip between the months of March to October).

CAN CHILDREN GO ON A SELF-GUIDED HIKING TOUR?

Yes.

Accommodation providers in Ireland are very welcoming to both adults and children. Just be aware of your child(s) ability and fitness when deciding on your hiking trail.

CAN I BRING PETS (E.G. DOG) ON A HIKING TRIP IN IRELAND?

Unfortunately not.

Waymarked Long Distance Hiking trails in Ireland are paths that are developed with the agreement and support of landowners whose lands are crossed on the route. They are not necessarily rights-of-way, more an agreement from landowners that people may walk on their land. As a result, trails cross through farmlands which can contain animals and as a result, dogs and other pets are not welcome on trails for fear of engagement with farm animals.

HOW CAN WE GET TO/FROM THE START/FINISH POINTS OF OUR HIKING TOUR (E.G. CAR/PUBLIC TRANSPORT)?

For travel information on how to get to your hiking trail start point, follow the ‘Getting There’ information on the right sidebar of each trail page for guide information on the best way to get to your starting point. The information will point you towards public/private transport operator websites to help you arrive at your required destination.

Questions During My Self-Guided Hiking Holiday

WHAT TYPES OF BREAKFAST IS AVAILABLE AT ACCOMMODATIONS?

Irish hospitality is of a very high standard. If breakfast is part of your accommodation booked, you will more often than not be greeted with either a continental breakfast or a full Irish breakfast. Dietary requirements are often not a probably, just be sure to let your accommodation hosts know in advance.

WHERE CAN I GET A PACKED LUNCH?

Depending on your accommodation, most hosts are happy to prepare a packed lunch for a small fee. Alternatively most villages/towns will have a shop that provides food to make up your own packed lunch.

WHERE CAN I GET AN EVENING DINNER?

You should be able to get a delicious evening meal from local restaurant or bar in the village or towns.If you happen to be staying in a remote location where there is no local restaurant or pub which serves food, your accommodation host may provide you with an evening meal. However, always check with your host in advance in case they do not provide this service, in which case you should come prepared with your own food, or organise for transport to the nearest restaurant/pub.

WILL THE ACCOMMODATION HAVE DRYING FACILITIES?

Due to the changeable Irish weather, drying facilities can come in handy. Most accommodation providers should have drying facilities but may charge a small fee for this. It’s best to check with you accommodation hosts before your stay.

WILL THERE BE WI-FI IN THE ACCOMMODATION?

Most accommodation providers in Ireland now provide Wi-Fi as standard as part of their service, but this is dependent on your accommodation. In some cases, you may be staying in very remote locations in Ireland, where Wi-Fi access is limited due to poor rural broadband infrastructure. If Wi-Fi is an important facility for you while on your hiking holiday, it’s strongly advised to check with you accommodation hosts in advance.

Alternatively, Ireland has good 3G & 4G coverage for mobile broadband. If you have an unlocked phone, you can avail of a temporary ‘Pay as you go’ sim card upon your arrival to Ireland, to make use of mobile broadband through the local networks servicing Ireland. Some network providers in Ireland include; Eir, Vodafone and 3.

WHAT CURRENCY IS USED IN IRELAND? ARE THERE ATM'S AVAILABLE?

The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro (€). However, if you find yourself hiking in Northern Ireland (which is part of Great Britain), the currency used if Pound Sterling (£).

You will be able to find an ATM machine in all cities, towns and well populated villages. However for more remote locations or scarcely populated villages, an ATM may not be available. Most establishments may have a card facility for payment anyway, however we always recommended carrying a small amount of cash in the event that it is required.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KILOMETERS AND MILES?

In Ireland and Northern Ireland, distances are measures in kilometres as opposed to miles. A kilometre and mile are two different units for measuring distances. One kilometre is equivalent to 1,000 metres, whereas one mile is equal to 1760 yards or 1.609 kilometres.

WHAT IF WE ENCOUNTER ANIMALS ALONG THE TRAIL?

Most animals you will meet while hiking in Ireland will most likely be tame and in often cases will be more afraid of you than you of them. However, we advise to remain vigilant towards animals at all times. Always take note of local signs informing of any dangerous animals. It’s often best to keep a good distance between you and the animal and try not to create attention of yourself as you pass.

WILL THERE BE CELL PHONE RECEPTION?

Ireland has good mobile/cell phone coverage throughout the country. Equally, Northern Ireland has good mobile/cell phone coverage. Please take note that Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain and as thus adhere to UK network charges as opposed to Irish network charge.

In some remote locations, there may not be adequate mobile/cell phone coverage, however you should still be able to make an emergency call (if needed) even with the poorest/weakest mobile/cell phone reception.

ARE THE HIKING TRAILS CLEARLY WAY-MARKED?

Yes, most hiking routes are very clearly way-marked using sign posts directly before and after each turn. However, in some cases way-marking may become poor along the trails in which case we advise to check a guide map of the route.

WHAT CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT SHOULD I BRING?

Packing for a hiking trip can be somewhat stressful. Ever been culprit to packing everything but the kitchen sink? Here’s some of our tips of things to remember to include for your walking holiday in Ireland;

  • Waterproof Jacket and Over Trousers
  • Hiking Boots
  • Wicking Socks
  • Base Layer
  • Fleece
  • Light Trousers
  • Backpack
  • Hat & Gloves
  • Mobile Phone
  • Plug Adapter
  • Suncream/Sunglasses
  • Midgets/Inspect Repellent
  • Camera
  • Compass
  • Walking Poles
  • Gaiters
  • Earplugs

Important equipment items in case of emergency include;

  • First Aid Kit & Foil Blanket
  • Whistle & Torch

WHAT ARE THE CONTACT NUMBERS OF EMERGENCY SERVICES IN IRELAND?

999 or 112.

Mountain rescue or the Coast Guard are initiated by ringing the emergency number, 999/112 and asking for Mountain Rescue or Coast Guard. This will lead to an interaction with a Garda Station (in the South) or the Coastguard (in the North) who will take details from you and then alert the local team.

Do not try to ring the rescue team or coast guard directly as the call must go through the 999/112 system!

General Questions About Hiking In Ireland

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN IRELAND? WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT IRELAND?

In Ireland, everyone talks about the weather due to its unpredictable nature. Ireland’s climate is mainly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, in particular a major warm ocean current called the North Atlantic Drift, and as a result, it has more modest temperatures than other countries at a similar latitude has. The average temperature is a mild 50°F/10°C. So while the weather can be changeable – it’s rarely extreme.

Average Monthly Temperatures

The following are average temperatures only for each month. For example, average highs in July are 68 degrees fahrenheit (20 degrees celsius), but on certain days they may reach the 80’s (27’s), or drop to the 50’s (10’s).

JANUARY

Lows of 37 ºFarenheit / 3 ºCelsius to Highs of 48 ºFarenheit / 9 ºCelsius

FEBRUARY

Lows of 35 ºF / 2 ºC to Highs of 50 ºF / 10 ºC

MARCH

Lows of 37 ºF / 3 ºC to Highs of 52 ºF / 11 ºC

APRIL

Lows of 45 ºF / 7 ºC to Highs of 54 ºF / 12 ºC

MAY

Lows of 45 ºF / 7 ºC to Highs of 59 ºF / 15 ºC

JUNE

Lows of 48 ºF / 9 ºC to Highs of 64 ºF / 18 ºC

JULY

Lows of 52 ºF / 11 ºC to Highs of 68 ºF / 20 ºC

AUGUST

Lows of 52 ºF / 11ºC to Highs of 66 ºF / 19ºC

SEPTEMBER

Lows of 48 ºF / 9 ºC to Highs of 62 ºF / 17 ºC

OCTOBER

Lows of 45 ºF / 7 ºC to Highs of 59 ºF / 15 ºC

NOVEMBER

Lows of 41 ºF / 5 ºC to Highs of 50 ºF / 10 ºC

DECEMBER

Lows of 37 ºF / 3 ºC to Highs of 48 ºF / 9 ºC

When to visit Ireland

Due to the changeable nature of Irish weather, there is no such thing as a perfect time to visit Ireland. In additional, each month offers something different and special to the next. The summer months are considered high season for visitors. They come for the long sunny evenings. Typically, the warmest months, July and August, get about 18 hours of daylight and it gets dark around 11pm, so be prepared to hear the locals say “sure there’s a grand stretch in the evenings”. Autumn and spring are mid-seasons for travelers. You’ll enjoy kicking bronze-burnished leaves about in autumn along your hike, while spring sees nature kick into gear and flowers blossom. As for winter, a walk through a national park on a clear, crisp winter’s day can mean seeing nature at its most impressive. No matter what the month or what the weather, it’s most important to come prepared for your hike in that season.

WHAT ARE THE TRADITIONAL FOODS EATEN IN IRELAND?

Ireland has a rich history of hearty, filling foods. With an abundance of land dedicated to sheep, cows and crops, as well as its ample coastline for fishing, Ireland has plentiful resources for fresh, local cuisine. Irish restaurants pride themselves on serving dishes made from locally grown ingredients, and many continue to prepare the same traditional staples that have been popular in Ireland for centuries. Typical traditional foods include;

  • Potatoes
  • Soda Brad
  • Cod
  • Salmon
  • Oysters
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Irish Stew
  • Colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale).

And much more…

There is plenty of variety and choice of food in local restaurants, pubs, café’s and takeaways, so there will be something to take everyone’s fancy. Most establishments will often be able to cater for all dietary requirements, just be sure to ask in advance.

WHAT ELECTRIC SOCKETS ARE USED IN IRELAND? CAN I PLUG IN MY ELECTRONICS?

The electrical supply in Ireland and Great Britain is 230v 50hz involving a three-pronged formation plug and socket. Plugs and sockets are different for North American and European Countries therefore you will need a suitable plug adapter and in some cases a power converter (mainly affecting North American travelers where appliances may have a different voltage rating – please ensure to check the voltage ratings which should be marked on the appliance you wish to charge/use).

WHAT ARE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT OPTIONS IN IRELAND?

Train

Irish Rail or Iarnród Éireann as it’s otherwise known is the passenger railway for the Republic of Ireland. www.irishrail.ie

In Northern Ireland which is part of Great Britain, trains are operated by Translink/NIR. www.translink.co.uk

Bus

Bus Éireann is the public bus operator for the Republic of Ireland. www.buseireann.ie

Translink operate the public bus service in Northern Ireland. www.translink.co.uk

There are numerous private bus operators throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. Some of the main private bus companies include;

  • JJ Kavanagh & Sons
  • City Link
  • GoBus
  • Air Coach
  • Dublin Bus

For more information on using public transport to get to your tour start point, please follow the ‘Getting There’ information on the trail information pages.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR AIRPORTS IN IRELAND?

There are several airports to which you can arrive into in the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland. Please find a list below of some of the most used airports;

Republic of Ireland

  • Dublin Airport
  • Shannon Airport
  • Ireland West Airport Knock
  • Kerry Airport
  • Waterford Airport
  • Cork Airport

Northern Ireland

  • Belfast International Airport
  • Derry City Airport
  • George Best Belfast City Airport

WHAT ARE THE STANDARD GUIDELINES FOR TIPPING IN IRELAND?

Short Answer – In Ireland, people generally do not tip for many services, except restaurants, taxis and personal services (e.g. tour guides).

If you want to tip and are in doubt about how much, think 10%, however all tips are at your discretion! If you’re are happy with the level of service provided then tip what you feel is appropriate. If you are unhappy with the level of service received, then don’t tip.

Please note, that some restaurants and eateries may add a service charge to the bill, in which case, it’s not necessary to tip. If you are unhappy with the service received, then you can dispute the service charge. In addition, it is not customary to tip the bartenders in Ireland.

WHAT BUDGET/AMOUNT OF MONEY DO I NEED TO BRING TO IRELAND?

It’s difficult to answer as it’s really dependent on a person’s usual lifestyle and the activities and places they wish to visit or the foods they wish to eat etc…

As a rough guideline here’s what you could potentially expect;

Daily Budget: €87 ($103) – Excluding Accommodation

  • Food€25 ($30)
  • Drinks – €15 ($18)
  • Local Public Transport – €10 ($12) (Travel to other cities – €20 ($23))
  • Water – €2 ($2)
  • Entertainment & Attractions – €30 ($35)
  • Tips – €5 ($6)