Is Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail Worth the Climb

All There Is to Know About the Stairway to Heaven in Ireland

While scrolling social media one afternoon, we stumbled upon a stream of online posts about people going up the Stairway to Heaven. 

Stunning photos of a staircase that looked like it led straight to the skies filled our feeds.  Not only were the views of vast green hills catching our attention, but finding out later on it was in Ireland, had us planning a trip on the spot!

Now, imagine yourself joining this climb, discovering the secrets of Ireland’s Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail. Curious? Let’s dive in and find out just what makes this stairway so heavenly and every tip and trick to have a great climb!

What Led to the Creation of the Stairway to Heaven?

What Led to the Creation of the Stairway to Heaven

The Stairway to Heaven, also known as the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, is set on the side of Cuilcagh Mountain tucked away in Co. Fermanagh in Ireland. 

It was opened in 2015 to preserve the peatland bog by having visitors walk on the steps instead of trampling on the delicate natural ground. But it wasn’t until 2000 that it started to really gain popularity when a captivating photo taken from the summit went viral. 

Since then, it has now become one of Ireland’s most popular spots and a must try experience in Fermanagh. The establishment of the stairway led to a surge in visitors, increasing annual foot traffic from 3,000 to 60,000. 

The boardwalk gives you panoramic views of the picturesque landscape while protecting the bog’s natural ecology, for minimal disruption to the local plants and animals.

This trail, a blend of tracks, boardwalks, and staircases can be a challenging climb, but the views every step of the way, and especially the viewing platform from Cuilcagh Mountain at the top makes it all worthwhile.

What to Expect at the Stairway to Heaven 

What to Expect at the Stairway to Heaven

The Stairway to Heaven or the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail is suited for people who have mid to high fitness levels. The entire trek will take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours depending on your starting point and how long you stop to admire the views. 

The entire stairway consists of 450 steps with platforms with spaces scattered along the way for breaks or picture taking. There are rails on either side for safety. We also use them to pull ourselves up when we get tired along the way. 

There are no fees to enter and you don’t have to reserve a slot either. You just show up on the day of your choice and start the climb! 

Climbing the Stairway to Heaven in Ireland 

Climbing the Stairway to Heaven in Ireland

The initial stretch introduces you to a unique landscape that’s almost entirely made of limestone that’s marked by a stream. This area is dubbed The Fertile Rock because flowers dot the pastures that pose in contrast with the harder looking limestone. 

In this section of the trail, you will encounter the ruins of traditional Irish cottages, abandoned stone walls, ridges used to cultivate potatoes before), and some sheep grazing here and there. This 4 km part of the trail is mostly a gravel track. 

After a while, the trail will bring you to an expansive blanket bog, with the iconic Cuilcagh Mountain looming in the distance.

Pro Tip: 
Choosing when to visit can drastically change what you see along the way. Towards the end of summer, the grass in the moor turns a shade of red and purple, while in spring, bog cotton covers almost the entirety of the bog that looks almost like snow. 

After the 4 km walk, you’ll end up at the proper start of the Stairway to Heaven. You will encounter a small wooden gate with a marker that tells you you’re about to begin the next part of the climb. 

The gravel path also begins to transition to a wooden boardwalk. This area marks the beginning of your ascent, and here, but the way the steps are laid out makes for a gradual increase in height. 

It’s relatively easy to make your way slowly up the incline. As you make your way up, you’ll encounter views of the countryside from Fermanagh and Donegal. It’s fields and fields of green as far as the eye can see, with mountain ranges in the far distance. 

Turning around also gives you a cool view of how far you’ve walked. Looking back also lets you see how high you actually are. 

The final section needs both your endurance and determination to power through. As you go up, you navigate through a short section with rugged boulders as the ground you walk on. After finishing all 450 steps, you finally reach the summit. 

We used the anticipation that builds to push us through the last couple of steps onto the  viewing platform. Perched on the edge of the mountain plateau, the viewing platform is both thrilling and rewarding. 

Here, the panoramic views offer a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding landscape. It was also a much needed moment to catch our breath while we soaked in the sights. 

You can stay here to appreciate the grandeur of nature or stay and take some well-deserved victory photos. After you’ve been satisfied, you make your way down the same way you came up. 

How to Get There

Address: 43 Marlbank Road, Legnabrocky Florencecourt, Co Fermanagh, Enniskillen, BT92 1ER

Hours: Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm  

The best way to get to the Stairway to Heaven is by car. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin and 2 hours from Belfast. 

To get there, take the A4 Sligo Road from Enniskillen and turn left onto the A32 Swanlinbar Road. Make a right onto the Marble Arch road then turn left while following the signs for the Cuilcagh Mountain Park on your left which will take you there. 


Car Park 1 is a private lot and is found at the very beginning of the trail. You can reserve and pre-pay for a spot here. This location is perfect if you want to hike the entirety of the trail. If you don’t, the next option might be a better choice. 

Car Park 2 is located in the Killykergan Nature Reserve and is a kilometer away from the first one. You can park here for free and it’s open from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. There are also bathrooms and seating areas here. 

The Best Time to Go 

The best time to go to the Stairway to Heaven is in the months of July and August. 

These months have temperatures from 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit which are the most comfortable of the year. Weather is also relatively clear during these months for the best visibility for both safety and views. 

Tips for A Smooth Climb

  • Wear water resistant clothes or at the very least a raincoat or a jacket that repels water. Bring a change of clothes. 
  • The steps can be slippery especially when wet, so make sure to wear footwear with soles that have strong grips. High cut shoes with ample ankle support are also recommended. 
  • Bring a compass and a map of the area. Most smartphones have these programmed into them. 
  • Accidents or slipping are common, so it’s best to bring a first aid kit for cuts and bruises. 
  • To fuel up along the way, be sure to bring snacks and some water. 
  • Phone signal is a bit weak in the area so be sure someone knows what time you left and what time to expect you back.
  • Don’t bring pets because they aren’t allowed inside and there isn’t really anywhere safe to leave them while you make the climb. 

Places to Eat Nearby the Stairway to Heaven

The Firehouse

Address: 26 Town Hall St, Enniskillen BT74 7BA, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6632 5210



  • Open from Sunday to Friday from 12 pm to 11 pm 
  • Open on Saturday from 12 pm to 12 am 

Nestled in the heart of Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, The Firehouse Bar & Grill stands as a testament to the town’s vibrant culinary scene. Locals and visitors both sing praises for its diverse menu with each dish executed well. 

They are known for the dishes they make from their bertha oven and the stone oven.  The flame grilled steak and burger patties are their best sellers here, but the pizzas that are baked in the traditional stone ovens are also contenders for fan favorites. 

Vegans will love their tofu kebabs which are served with pesto flatbread and mango salsa. 

Tully Mill Restaurant

Address: Florencecourt, Enniskillen BT92 1FN, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6634 9879



  • Open from Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm
  • Open on Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 12 am 
  • Open on Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm

Located just 7 miles from Enniskillen in the small town of West Fermanagh, the Tully Mill Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a meal after your trek up the Stairway to Heaven in Ireland. 

Positioned at the foot of the Cuilcagh Mountains in the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, the restaurant is set in a converted 18th-century water-powered corn mill. 

The menu, a fusion of tradition and modern flair, showcases locally sourced and seasonal produce. The Killybegs Chilli and Garlic Prawns pair well with the Wild Irish Hake and Mussels. Any of their puddings is a perfect meal ender. 

Chef’s Table

Address: 33 Old, Sligo Rd, Enniskillen, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6632 7414



  • Open on Monday and Tuesday from 12:30 pm to 10 pm 
  • Open on Friday from 12:30 pm to 11 pm 
  • Open on Saturday from 12:30 pm to 3 am 

For those seeking a European fine dining experience with a contemporary twist, Chef’s Table at Three Way Inn is the answer. After roughing it out in the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, you can enjoy a more luxurious meal to end your day. 

Seafood and meat lovers will love their miso honey and sesame cod as well as the slow cooked roast filet of beef in featherblade ragu. Their roast Jerusalem artichoke is also a must try especially for vegetarians. 

The Moorings Restaurant

Address: 156 Derrylin Rd, Bellanaleck, Enniskillen BT92 2BA, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6634 8679



  • Open on Friday from 4 pm to 12 am 
  • Open on Saturday from 12 pm to 12 am 
  • Open on Sunday from 12:30 pm to 7 pm

The Moorings Restaurant has been in the business of serving great comfort food for over 18 years. Perched on the north coast of Northern Ireland, this family restaurant is a great place to choose if you want a no frills dining experience with amazing flavors. 

Their chef’s commitment to quality is unwavering, sourcing only the freshest produce from local suppliers. They’re known for their burgers, with the Moorings Burger topped with classic bacon and cheddar cheese being the most popular. 

Their seafood selection is always fresh too. We recommend the battered cod and breaded scampi. 

MacNean House & Restaurant

Address: Main St, Tuam, Blacklion, Co. Cavan, F91 YK0F, Ireland

Phone Number: +353 71 985 3022


Hours: Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6 pm to 11 pm

The  MacNean House & Restaurant, where Neven and Amelda have been crafting award-winning experiences since 2001 is shielded by the Cuilcagh Mountains in Co. Cavan. It’s a go-to place if you’re looking for a reward after climbing the stairway. 

We highly recommend trying Neven’s Tasting Menu which is made up of 7 courses. Some of the popular items are their crispy goat cheese dishes, Thornhill Duck Plate, and their Coole Swan Chocolate Cremeux. 

Places to Stay Nearby the Stairway to Heaven

Tully Mill Cottages

Address: Florence Court House, 30 Mill Road BT92 1FN, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6634 9847

Pricing: $ $

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For those seeking a home away from home near the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, Tully Mill Cottages is a great option. They have modern solo standing cottages that offer a more private stay for families, groups of friends, or couples. 

The spacious interiors and comfy ambiance create the perfect base for your exploration of the boardwalk and the other scenic attractions in the area. 

Just under a 10-minute drive from the trail, these cottages provide convenience and comfort for your overnight or weekend stay.

Customs House Country Inn

Address: Belcoo, 25-27 Main St, Belcoo, Enniskillen BT93 5FB, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6638 6285

Pricing: $ $

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For those who prefer the charm of a hotel, the Customs House Country Inn in Belcoo is a great place to stay. Located in the nearby town, this inn is not just a place to rest your head but an experience in itself. 

The inn’s strategic location in Belcoo offers a blend of tranquility and accessibility, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a hotel stay near the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail.

The on-site restaurant adds a delightful touch, ensuring you don’t have to venture far for a satisfying meal. 

Arch House B&B

Arch House B&B

Address: 65 Marble Arch Road, Florencecourt Enniskillen,County Fermanagh, BT92 1DE

Phone Number: +44 28 6634 8452

Pricing: $ $ $

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If the personalized touch of a BnB is what you seek, Arch House guarantees a good experience with over 30 years of experience under the owner’s belt. Hosts Rosemary and Geoff always put giving a warm and inviting stay to their guests at the forefront.

The home itself is fully furnished with everything you’ll see and use in your own home. You can decide to rent the entire house for a big group, but they also offer per room rentals. Each room is big and has its own bathroom. 

Share Discovery Village

Address: 221 Lisnaskea Rd, Lisnaskea, Enniskillen BT92 0JZ, United Kingdom

Phone Number: +44 28 6772 2122

Pricing: $ $

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For a truly unique lakeside experience, Share Discovery Village stands out as one of the best options in the area. Situated on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, this village offers a diverse range of fully accessible and affordable accommodation options. 

Perfect for traveling groups, the village provides not just a place to stay but a gateway to the many fun activities in the area including the Stairway to Heaven. The 60 acre site has 11 self-catering chalets that can hold 8 to 14 people. 

They also have an open field that’s open for campers if you’d rather stay true to immersing yourself in nature. 

Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges

Address: Killyhevlin Hotel, Dublin Rd, Killyhevlin, Enniskillen BT74 6RW, UK

Phone Number: +44 28 6632 3481

Pricing: $ $ $

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For a touch of luxury overlooking scenic Lough Erne, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges in Fermanagh’s premier four-star retreat boasting spacious guest rooms, lakeview suites, and self-catering lodges.

From a Health Club and ‘Killy Kids’ Outdoor Play Park to an Elemis Spa, the hotel makes sure you have enough options for entertainment and relaxation without having to leave the grounds. 

Just 1km from Enniskillen, it serves as a gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way and the West of Ireland.