Howth Cliff Walks: what you need to know about these scenic walks in Dublin

View of lighthouse from Howth Cliff Walk

What to expect on the Howth Cliff Walks, scenic coastal walks in Dublin, Ireland. Tips, photos and overview on tackling this walk with kids.

If you are looking for an easy walk near Dublin City with beautiful coastal views, I recommend you try the Howth cliff walk.

The walk is easy to access from the main Howth waterfront and follows the outline of Howth Head, the peninsula that stretches from Dublin into the Irish sea.

It is an easy and mostly flat hike with some sheere drops and a couple of harder stretches and while it doesn’t require hiking experience, it is unsuitable for very young kids, strollers or if you have mobility issues.

We took this hike earlier this ywar with our kids age 8 and 10.

This is what you need to know about it and our experience.

Please always abide local restrictions.

New to family hiking? You may like the tips for hiking with young kids that worked for us and this printable list with day hike essentials for families.

Howth Cliffs Walks: which one to choose

There are 4 main trails on Howth Head so while you usually here people talking about the Howt Cliff Walk, there are 4 you can choose from.

They are all detailed at the main info board in Howth village and they are colour coded so you can follow the one of your choice.

This is an overview of the 4 main Howth Cliff Walks.

Trail name: cliff path

Start point: Howth DART station
Length: 6km
Time: approx. 1.5-2h
Difficulty: moderate

This walks goes up from Howth Harbour to the sea cliffs and offers views over Ireland Eye and the Bailey lighthouse

Blue path – tramline loop

Start point: Howth DART station
Length: 7km
Time: approx. 1.5-2h
Difficulty: moderate

This walk is called this way because part of the path follows the historical tram line route into the village.

Red Path – Black Linn Loop

Start point: Howth DART station
Length: 7km
Time: approx. 2-2.5h
Difficulty: moderate
At the top, the path veers inland

Purple path – bog of the frogs loop

Start point: Howth DART station
Length: 12km
Time: approx. 3h
Difficulty: hard
Circular route with great views of the cliffs and, on the way back, the city.

Howth Walks Official Info Board

Where to park

All the paths are officially marked as starting from the Howth train station however, there is a car park a little farther up from the harbour and if you get here early enough, you may be able to get a spot.

More likely, you will find a spot in the main Howth Harbour area car park (pay and display).

This only adds about 10 minutes to the walk and this stretch is in the village, albeit uphill, and has a paved road.

Some pretty views can be seen already from this first stretch.

View from the first part of Howth Cliff Walk with Ireland Eye in the background

What to expect on the Howth Cliff Walk

The last time we hiked this path with the kids, we started off thinking we would take the short loop.

However, part because of the beautiful day and part because we didn’t find the correct marking, we ended up going all around Howth Head, which was fabulous!

It took us about 3 hours, so if you undertake this walk you want to be very sure you don’t find yourself on the path when it gets dark.

We found that, length aside, it was an easy walk for us and the kids and a satisfactory one.

The views are varied and the most part of the path is flat.

I consider this Howth walk as made of three different parts:

The Howth Walk – first part

The beginning of the path is slightly uphill and quickly gets to a scenic point with nice sea views.

howth cliff path first part

The walk starts along an easy path and then, for a small stretch, turns into steps and it is less clear to follow.

However, even with the kids ,we had no difficulties walking up and quickly regained easier terrain.

This first viewpoint is very popular as it is so close to the path entrance and can get crowded but don’t worry.

Even on a busy day, we were able to lose the crowds once we left the viewpoint, so don’t give up!

From here, the path is mostly easy and flat and you walk with the drop and sea to your left.

We walked this with our kids and they had no problems on the path however, there is a sheer drop to your left and no fence so I would recommend against this walk if you have toddlers or very young kids.

After a while, you get to a second viewing point from where you get to see the Baily lighthouse, which is cool and scenic.

This is a nice area where the path open sup and people tend to perch here and rest.

It is a lovely and pleasant spot and if you have a snack with you, a good place for a rest (we didn’t see bins here so make sure you bring your rubbish with you).

The second part of the Howth Cliff Walk

From here, the path continues like before for a while and then changes significantly.

Rather than just a path with an open view, you find yourself walking along the back of private gardens overlooking the bay along a narrow yet still easy shaded path.

It is a different yet still pleasant part of the walk that occasionally still opens up onto beautiful views.

Towards the end of this stretch, you start descending (this is rather steep and you have soke steps) and you get to the beach which here is wonderful.

The last part of the Howth Cliff Path

Once you leave the beach, you are in what I call the third part of the path, the home stretch that will bring you back to the starting point.

I don’t know if we got a wrong turn here however, this last stretch wasn’t a path but a walk across residential roads and made our way back to the train station admiring the beautiful homes of this area.

What you need to know before talking these Howth Walks

What to wear on the Howth Cliff Walk

  • To tackle the path proper hiking or at least good walking shoes with good traction are a must.
  • We went on this walk on a sunny day in September and we needed light layers: I would recommend a wind breaker pretty much any time of the year (I tend to be cold, but the wind gets strong here!).
  • I would wear proper winter gear if tackling this in winter – check weather conditions first as you should not take this walk in case of poor visibility, high winds or anyway unfavourable conditions. I find a light thermal layer is a good investment for this type of walk.
  • Sun screen and sun hat for summer
  • Water

Please be advised that there is no food facilities on the path however, there is plenty both at the harbour and summit.

Is the Howth Cliff Walk dangerous?

The Howth cliff walks follows a well marked path that doesn’t pose particular difficulties in terms of terrain or elevation gain and does not require technical mountaineering skills.

However, the path is along an exposed cliff edge and it is dangerous for small kids and for anyone at times of poor visibility especially, so caution must be applied at all times.

Is the Howth cliff walk hard for kids?

We didn’t find the walk hard however, depending on the path you follow, it can be up to 3 hour long or even a little longer of you have a slower pace, so it easily gets tiring.

I hope you found this overview of our experience on the Howth Cliff Walk useful and it helped you decide if a walk here is suitable for your family. Stay safe!

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