The Ultimate Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip

Kilkee, County Clare, Wild Atlantic Way

Are you ready for a Wild Atlantic Way road trip? An adventure of a lifetime awaits! This epic route, stretching the length of Ireland’s western coast, is packed with breathtaking sights and unforgettable experiences. From perfect town views to some of the grandest cliffs in the world, embarking on this route will leave you awe-inspired. Whether it’s County Donegal in the north or County Cork down south, prepare to be mesmerised by some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery as you travel along this incredible 2,500 kilometer stretch. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey – one that will take your breath away and make memories to last a lifetime!

Planning Your Journey

Best Time to Go

Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way is an adventure like no other and there’s truly no wrong time to embark on your expedition. However, for the perfect dose of sun-kissed landscapes and a full day of adventure, April to September is the optimal window for you to plan your Wild Atlantic journey – which means warmer weather, plenty of sunshine and days that seem never-ending.

But if you’re looking for a slightly more serene experience, go during off season (April, early May, September or October). You might find it the perfect spot to embrace the beauty of the Wild Atlantic scenery all while having plenty of privacy and peaceful moments.

Transportation Options

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is certainly a sight to behold. With distinctly different modes of transportation, it’s easy to choose how you want your journey to go. For a truly independent experience, renting a car is often the preferred option – with the freedom to explore as you wish, you won’t have to worry about having your stops and activities predetermined by an itinerary.

Or, if you feel more comfortable joining someone else for the ride, guided tours are a great choice! If you’d instead keep things simple, Ireland’s public buses and trains provide an economical way to get through the coastline. However, do keep in mind that some rural areas may not have abundant transport options available.

Accommodation Choices

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is the ideal destination for thrill seekers and adventurers alike. With a range of accommodation choices, you can be rest assured that Ireland’s vast Wild Atlantic Way will have the perfect lodging spot that fits your style. Cozy bed and breakfasts, 5-star hotels, self-catering cottages or camping – Ireland has it all!

Make sure to book ahead if you plan to visit during the warm summer months, as this beloved holiday area often books up quickly. Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way offers a one of a kind opportunity to escape and explore Ireland’s beautiful shores – don’t miss out!

Must-See Destinations on the West Coast of Ireland

County Donegal

Malin Head

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Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Ireland’s west coast offers a wild remoteness, and where better to experience it than at Malin Head? Here, you can be both stunned by the pristine beauty of the rugged setting and humbled by Ireland’s untamed coast.

Take a deep breath of salty sea air and look out towards the unending horizon – you just might catch sight of majestic whales or playful dolphins in the waters below. Embrace this one of a kind outdoor adventure with an exploration of Ireland’s most northerly point along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Slieve League Cliffs

The most magical and certainly the tallest of Ireland’s sea cliffs, Slieve League Cliffs are guaranteed to take your breath away. At close to 1,972 feet high, they are some of the highest in Europe with an array of photo opportunities that will last a lifetime. Self-guided hiking tours give you the perfect chance to really explore and appreciate their scale and beauty. Don’t forget to make sure you stop at the viewing platform along the route; it’s the best spot for truly taking in this majestic sight.

County Sligo

Mullaghmore Head

Boasting spectacular views of the wild Atlantic Ocean, County Sligo’s Mullaghmore Head is a natural wonderland just waiting to be explored. Coastal hikes through rocky gullies along the shoreline take visitors on a journey of discovery as they discover creatures large and small hidden in rock pools.

Lovers of the sea can charter boats or join local crews for guided tours around the neighbouring islands – with encounters with warm-water dolphins and other marine life. Whatever you do – be sure to bring your camera to capture memories that will last a lifetime!

Ben Bulben

Ben Bulben, County Clare Ireland, Wild Atlantic Way
Photo by Elle Leontiev on Unsplash

A trip to Ben Bulben, known as Ireland’s Table Mountain, is an unforgettable experience and a must-visit destination for anyone visiting County Sligo. As you stand on the spectacular flat-topped mountain, surrounded by fresh Irish air, breathtaking views of the countryside lie all around you.

For those who want to admire the beauty of nature and take in the stunning views, Ben Bulben offers numerous walking trails of varying difficulty. Coastal hikes offer a unique thrill as they give travelers an up close and personal look at some of the best beaches in Sligo. Come explore what nature has to offer at beautiful Ben Bulben!

County Mayo

Achill Island

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure guaranteed to take your breath away, Achill Island is the place to be. Just a bridge away from the mainland dwells a piece of paradise that inspires awe in all who visit – from its rocky, towering cliffs to its rolling hilltops to its spectacular Keem Bay with its mile-long stretch of soft sand and crystal clear waters.

Coastal hikers will relish the opportunity to meander along Achill’s scenic shoreline and explore their stunning surroundings, while active beachgoers can indulge in surfing or kayaking amongst the mild waves at any number of pristine beaches that adorn this special island. Don’t miss your chance to unearth Ireland’s breathtaking beauty and soul-stirring nature at Achill Island.

Croagh Patrick

Rising from the Atlantic Coast of County Mayo along the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way, Croagh Patrick is an iconic mountaintop steeped in thousands of years of spiritual and cultural history. Whether you’re a seasoned pilgrim on a spiritual quest or simply someone seeking a thrilling hike, this mountain has something to offer.

Though the climb is strenuous and its summit austere, the spectacular panoramic views will leave a lasting impression on anyone who reaches it. Looming over the Atlantic Ocean and Clew Bay’s 365 islands, the iconic peak provides no shortage of breathtaking photo opportunities. If you choose to embark on this sacred journey be sure to wear sturdy footwear and bring plenty of water!

County Galway

Connemara National Park

Connemarra National Park
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National Parks of Ireland are an awe-inspiring ways to experience nature’s beauty, and Connemara National Park is no different. This vast, rugged landscape doesn’t just offer spectacular vistas, it also houses a variety of native flora and fauna.

Explore the park’s paths for a leisurely walk, or ascend to the peak of Diamond Hill for a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the rolling Twelve Bens mountain range; either way Connemara National Park promises an unforgettable nature experience.

The Aran Islands

Embark on a journey through time and uncover the mysteries of the past! A visit to the Aran Islands off the west coast of County Galway is like peeking into a hidden world where ancient forts, traditional thatched cottages and churches still stand tall.

With views sure to take your breath away, rent a bike to explore the three islands filled with culture and history. Don’t miss a chance to experience an enchanting escape out of time and onto these mysterious lands!

County Clare

Cliffs of Moher

From the top of the majestic Cliffs of Moher, you are transported to another world. This spectacular display of limestone and basalt rocks along Ireland’s west coast is truly a sight to behold – perfect for hikers, bird watchers, photographers and nature lovers alike.

A world-class visitor center nearby features state-of-the-art displays on the cliff’s geology, flora and fauna, as well as an immersive performance on its rich cultural history. For an adventure in one of Ireland’s most beautiful places, the Cliffs of Moher should be at the top of your list.

The Burren

Hiking in the Burren National Park Ireland
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If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re setting foot in an alien planet, look no further than Ireland’s mysterious Burren. With its maze-like limestone pavements and subterranean caves, it’s easy to imagine that a cave troll may be lurking around every corner. There’s no better way to explore this beguiling landscape than by taking a leisurely stroll or cycling through the lush green meadows and impressive sheer cliffs.

Guided tours will also help bring the surrounding wildlife, plants, and archaeological sites of The Burren further alive. So unleash your inner explorer and begin an unforgettable journey at The Burren!

County Kerry

Skellig Islands

Skellig Islands Wild Atlantic Way
Photo by Elle Leontiev on Unsplash

The mysterious Skellig Islands have captivated adventurers for centuries! Located just off the shore of County Kerry, these islands are renowned for their astounding natural beauty and rich history. As you navigate closer to the islands, your eyes will meet the ruins of an ancient monastic settlement atop rocky Skellig Michael.

A visit to Little Skellig will allow you to witness nature in its rawest form – with thousands of seabirds calling this peaceful haven their home. Fans of Star Wars will also be delighted to find out that it was here that Luke Skywalker found solace! Such is the allure of these famous sites that boat trips must be booked well in advance – an opportunity not to be missed!

Dingle Peninsula

Escape to the Dingle Peninsula for a journey through stunning landscapes and seaside charm. Stretch your legs on a leisurely stroll along Slea Head Drive, as you’re surrounded by breathtaking cliffs, coves, and rolling hills. Let the spirit of discovery take you back in time while viewing ancient ruins, abandoned lighthouses and Celtic stone circles littered across this windswept landscape.

At the heart of it all lies the small Irish town of Dingle which offers a variety of traditional, cultural experiences not to be missed. Venture down to the harbour’s edge where you can meet Fungie – the spine-tinglingly friendly resident dolphin who has been delighting onlookers since 1984. Delicious seafood from local fishermen is easy to find in Dingle – savour flavoursome chowder or delicately spiced fish cakes like you’ve never had before.

County Cork

Mizen Head

Standing atop the highest cliffs, surrounded by extraordinary ocean views, Mizen Head is truly a sight to behold. Marvel at the architecture and ingenuity of the Mizen Head Signal Station, an iconic structure from a time long gone. Get lost in a world of maritime history as you explore the Visitor Centre, unearthing fascinating stories about this mesmerizing part of Ireland. Part of a continuous 1,552 km-long route along Ireland’s southwestern coast known as the Wild Atlantic Way, Mizen Head is an experience to be noticed.

Kinsale

The lovely harbour town of Kinsale, renowned for its bright colours, distinctive atmosphere and historic structures, is the perfect place to wrap up your Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip. You can stroll through the charming streets or take a leisurely tour around Charles Fort, absorbing the vibrant history of this beautiful town.

When hunger strikes, you’ll be delighted by the stellar food scene in Kinsale, where you can savour a gourmet meal prepared by some of the country’s most talented chefs. Whether you’re searching for culture or cuisine, Kinsale will provide a memorable end to your coastal odyssey.

FAQs

How long does driving Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way take?

While it’s possible to drive the entire route in about a few days or a few hours but within a week, most travelers prefer to spend two to three weeks exploring the region at a leisurely pace.

Is it better to drive north to south or south to north on the Wild Atlantic Way?

Both directions offer unique experiences and stunning views. However, driving from north to south (County Donegal to County Cork) is more common and follows the route’s official signage.

Are there any toll roads along the Wild Atlantic Way?

There are no toll roads along the Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way itself, but you may encounter tolls on some of the highways leading to the route.

Is it safe to drive the Wild Atlantic Way Route?

Yes, the Wild Atlantic Way is safe to drive. However, be prepared for narrow, winding roads, single-lane bridges, and unpredictable weather conditions. Always drive cautiously and be mindful of other road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians.

What are some essential items to pack for a Wild Atlantic Way road trip?

Some essentials to pack for next trip include a reliable road map or GPS device, comfortable walking shoes, rain gear, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, and a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.

5 Tips for Your Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip

1) Embrace the Local Culture

One of the most rewarding aspects of your Wild Atlantic Way journey is the opportunity to immerse yourself in Irish culture. Attend traditional music sessions in local pubs, make traditional music, join in on community festivals, and don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with the locals – their warmth and friendliness are legendary.

2) Sample the Delicious Irish Cuisine

The Wild Atlantic Way is a food lover’s paradise. From farm-to-table dishes in cozy pubs to award-winning restaurants, there’s no shortage of culinary delights to sample. Be sure to try some local specialties, such as freshly caught seafood, tender Irish lamb, or a comforting bowl of Irish stew.

3) Respect the Environment

As you explore the breathtaking landscapes of the Wild Atlantic Way, remember to respect the environment and leave no trace. Dispose of your waste properly, stick to designated paths when hiking, and avoid disturbing the natural habitats of plants and animals.

4) Capture the Memories

Bring a camera or smartphone to document your journey along the Wild Atlantic Way. Snap photos of stunning landscapes, charming towns, and the new friends you’ll make along the way. These visual mementoes will help you relive the memories of your adventure long after you’ve returned home.

5) Stay Flexible and Open to New Experiences

While planning your Wild Atlantic Way road trip is important, remember to leave room for spontaneity. Embrace the unexpected and be open to changing your plans if you discover a hidden gem or stumble upon a local event. Sometimes, the most memorable experiences are the ones you never planned for.

Plan your ultimate road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way now!

Embark on a spellbinding escapade along Ireland’s enigmatic west coast, where the Atlantic ocean’s whispers entwine with the island’s treasured tales and embrace its vivid spirit. This storybook of a journey is a love letter to a small country with a monumental soul woven by history, culture, and heartwarming locals. Unravel the pearls of wisdom, travel gems, and invaluable suggestions we’ve gathered to craft an extraordinary odyssey that lingers in your memories long after bidding adieu to the mesmerising Emerald Isle.

So, rally your zest for adventure and let the enchanting Wild Atlantic Way whisper its secrets to your wandering heart! A road trip along Ireland’s west coast and the Atlantic ocean is more than just a journey through Ireland’s captivating western coast – it’s a celebration of the small country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and warm-hearted people. By following this advice, travel tips, and recommendations outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left the Emerald Isle.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the road and discover the magic that awaits you along the Wild Atlantic Way!