The best accessible outdoor spots around Ireland

For wheelchair and walker users, buggy pushers or anyone with impaired mobility, these places offer easy access to the great outdoors

Most of us will experience times at some stage in our lives when walking is difficult, if not impossible. For those who have impaired mobility, accessibility is a fact of life. It is also something that, in different ways, will come to everyone. Occasionally an injury or convalescence will impact our abilities to get around.

People experience mobility, and its challenges, in different ways. My own knowledge of finding places to go that include level gradients comes from exploring safe and unencumbered flat surfaces for a wheelchair, and from being out and about with pals with pushchairs. It also extends to my own need for good spots for a sit and a think in the open air while recovering from pneumonia.

So, where are Ireland’s best spots for accessible trails, walks, or simply places where you can park up and soak in the glories of a view, without too much trouble?

There is no central database. Some kind of accessibility index would make life easier, but while many information sites listing walks do include details on gradient, ease and access, it turns out to be, unfortunately, not quite as simple as one might have hoped. Firstly, guidelines and regulations change. What might have been deemed accessible five years ago, may not be up to code now. Equally, places and pathways deteriorate, and broad smooth pavements can end up cluttered with tables, chairs and other street furniture: all of which means that, while the spots explored here all offer great options, it’s still worth a phone call ahead of a special trip.


Best for a sit and a think

For those times, or life stages, when you want to go straight from your car to a deliciously scenic spot, Glendalough in Co Wicklow is a good one. The upper car park is very close to the upper lake, and you’ve got about 200m of flat surfaces from your parking spot to the water. For more of an explore, see what the intrepid accessibility testers made of the paths at

Beaches make brilliant options for scenic soak-ups. At Garretstown Beach in Kinsale, Co Cork, the car parks are right at each end of the beach, and the one farthest from the Old Head end has good views and strategic benches alongside. On damp or windy days, you’ll find plenty of people enjoying the views without even getting out of the car. In Dublin, there are disabled parking spots beside Dún Laoghaire Pier, and the pier itself is fully accessible for bird and boat watching.

Best beaches

While we’re on the subject of beaches, there is a new accessible boardwalk at Greystones, Co Wicklow, on the South Beach, with access from the first arch opposite Park Lane. Tramore and Lahinch also have accessible boardwalks, and there are promenades in seaside towns such as Bray in Co Wicklow and Sandycove in south Dublin. Lisfannon Beach in Co Donegal is another good spot, and the Go Visit Donegal website has a dedicated section for accessible beaches.

Six of the beaches in Donegal are listed as having beach wheelchairs, and while the Beach Wheelchair initiative has hit a few stumbling blocks, including maintenance and storage in some places, there are still a good few going come summer time (most will have shut up shop now for the season). Go to and click the link for Bathing Season Awards and Amenities at your desired destination to see what, if any, are on offer and how to book.

A good spot to start is Achill, where Achill Tourism and the Mayo Sports Partnership have beach wheelchairs available for booking during the season at Keel beach and Silver Strand in Dugort. Wheelchair-friendly beach mats are also available. Booking is essential. For more information, or to book, contact Achill Tourism on 098-20400 or email

Go Greenway

The Greenways have been a welcome addition to the accessible map. Designed with shallow gradients built in, the Greenways are smooth, and ideal for wheelchair users. Pick your spot at, where you can download maps and find accommodation. As the Greenways cover long stretches, do confirm with the local tourist office if there is full access from your chosen entry point in terms of kerb heights and gates.

Look out for the Boyne Greenway in Co Louth. At just 1.9km, it’s a short route, but is a scenic treat, running alongside the river Boyne. Find out more, including additional accessible spots in the area, at

Staying on the waterfront, the Acres Lake Boardwalk in Leitrim, Ireland’s first floating boardwalk is a 600m boardwalk running out over the lake in Drumshanbo.

Best for adventure

Hit higher spots than you may have imagined possible in Co Wicklow at Avondale’s amazing Beyond the Trees, where the treetop walk and viewing tower are both fully accessible. The tower is extraordinary, with its gently sloping ramp, winding up to the skies. The 1.4km walk takes you into the heart of Avondale Forest Park, and assistance dogs are welcome too. Booking and prices at

From high in the sky to down underground: the Arigna Mining Experience in Roscommon is fully wheelchair accessible and provides a fascinating insight into the mines.

In Donegal, Liquid Therapy at Rossnowlagh has inclusive and adaptive surf courses for all abilities, including a wheelchair surfing programme. See Or have a gentler water adventure with Killaloe River Cruises in Co Clare. The one-hour cruises on the river Shannon are wheelchair accessible via an access ramp, which is two feet wide. Dogs are also welcome. Booking and info at

Best for outdoor art

The Lough Boora Discovery Park in Co Offaly is an absolute wonderland for all abilities and ages. With astonishing land art and sculptures, and the incredible biodiversity of this cutaway bog, there is a great cafe, and all-important toilets on site. Some of the art works, by contemporary artists including Michael Bulfin, Alan Counihan, Kevin O’Dwyer and Eileen MacDonagh, include off-track explorations, but all can be seen from the accessible pathways. Info and maps at

Fishing fanatics

The National Disabled Angling Facility in Aughrim, Co Wicklow, has a four-acre lake in an eight-acre riverside park. See See also the East Mayo Anglers Association disabled angling facility on the river Moy in Foxford, Co Mayo. It includes a 76-metre accessible fishing platform with access ramps, changing facilities and an accessible car park.

Get right out on the water at Lough Ree, with Lough Ree Access For All boat trips in Co Roscommon. The special boat has a bow-ramp and space for up to three wheelchairs, and excursions include angling, sightseeing, birdwatching and more, and it goes out in (almost) all weathers.

Sleepover spots

All larger hotels will have accessible rooms, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can enjoy all their other facilities. The ideal accessible location will have plenty of indoor and outdoor spots where you can enjoy activities and views. From experience, two good places to start are:

Kilkenny city At the Rivercourt Hotel Kilkenny, there is a lovely wide riverside terrace. With views of the castle, and table service, it is a great spot to while away a morning with the newspapers, or a sunny afternoon. While Kilkenny’s pavements can be narrow, you can get from the hotel to a river walk that meanders on smooth paths for some distance. The grounds at Kilkenny Castle also have long accessible walks, and although the castle itself is not fully accessible, the new Butler Gallery farther down the river is. Be warned: the longer river walk taking you away from town at the far end of the castle grounds, over the river and back, suddenly ends in steps when you get back to the castle end.

Cashel, Co Tipperary began work on a Gold Star disability initiative in 2006. It included an in-depth audit of pavements and pathways, crosswalks, kerb inclines, intrusive street furniture and more. This makes the town easier than most to get around. The Rock of Cashel can accommodate wheelchair users, but advance notice is needed for temporary ramps, see The palatial Cashel Palace Hotel has accessible rooms in the Garden Wing.

Best networks

The lack of a central database of accessible trails, and spots for outings, is frustrating but there are very helpful networks out there. First up is the Disability Federation of Ireland, whose National Access for All Group was of great help in researching this feature. Find out more at Fáilte Ireland offers support on the industry side to upgrade access and facilities, and is a handy information resource. For walks, see the international network, All Trails, which has an Ireland-specific list at

Social media has a lot to offer, with advocates and experts posting and blogging. On Instagram, check out Louise Bruton @itsloubru, Wheel Reviews @wheel_reviews, and TheStruggleIsWheel @thestruggleiswheel for first-hand takes on where to go, what works, where to explore and what to avoid. And American blogger Kristin Secour shares the fruits of her world travels, including a blog on Ireland, at