At a monstrous 1,500 miles, the entire coastline would take over two weeks to navigate in comfort. Some people do not have that amount of time or may not wish to explore the entire coast. This is why we have split the Wild Atlantic Way into three stages to make it more manageable.
You can do any one, two or three stages. You can choose to do them north to south or south to north. We can even organize a more condensed version of the tour if there are certain areas you wish to skip. Take a look at the map and sample itinerary below and give us a call at +1.888.327.2862 or request a quote.
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After arriving in Dublin or Shannon, pick up your car and make for Kinsale in county Cork. If you come from Shannon, you may wish to take a detour to the Rock of Cashel or just go directly to explore Cork city or the Blarney Stone. There is also plenty to keep you entertained in Kinsale, the gourmet food capital of Ireland.
Overnight in Trident Hotel Kinsale
Today you will travel along the famed Cork coastline through charming little towns of Skibereen and Clonakilty. Before you leave Kinsale, it might be nice to see Kinsale from the sea. A local fisherman will share his local knowledge with you on a tour in his boat The Spirit of Kinsale – taking you out across the Harbour, past the Charles Fort and right to the Atlantic’s edge. It’ll only take an hour. From there take your scenice drive to your hotel and if there is time after you check in, venture out on Mizen Head to Ireland's most southerly point.
Overnight in Casey's of Baltimore
If you did not make it to Mizen Head yesterday, this morning would be a good time to do so before embarking on your journey to Killarney. Out here, early 20th-century engineering provides a thrilling experience: climb down the steps at the very end of the peninsula and onto a high arched suspension bridge connecting the mainland to a rocky crag that points its long fingers out into the roaring seas. You can take a 10-minute ride – above the waves, on Ireland’s only cable car – to explore Dursey Island on foot before you arrive in Killarney for the first of two nights.
Overnight in Arbutus Hotel, Killarney
Today is set aside to explore the Ring of Kerry, probably the most famous scenic drive on the island. Aside of the obvious Ross Castle, Moll's Gap and the Lakes of Killarney, we suggest Skellig Michael. 1300 years ago, early Christian monks built a remarkable hermitage at the top of this jagged ocean crag – then at the furthest limits of the known world. Steep steps are carved into the rock. Near the 213 metres (700ft) summit is a collection of ‘beehive’ monastic cells: solitary places for contemplation and prayer, as far from the distractions of civilisation as it was possible to be. It can be reached by the adventurous – for a sometimes life-changing visit – on a small boat from Portmagee or Ballinskelligs.
You should find yourself with spare time in the evening to walk around Killarney where there are plenty of good places to eat, drink and buy gifts for those not lucky enough to be there with you.
Overnight in Arbutus Hotel, Killarney
An early morning is advisable this morning, not only to get all of your driving done but also because the Dingle Peninsula is beautiful early in the morning. Out on the very edge of Europe, as far west as you can go in Ireland, lies a deserted village with a poignant past. These are the mystical Blasket Islands – an archipelago off the Dingle Peninsula – famous for its storytellers. Take a boat to visit the mountainous main island – Great Blasket – to wander among the ruined cottages, then climb An Blascard Mór, spy dolphins and whales, and look west to America, as so many have done before. Back on the mainland, a visit to the Blasket Centre where its director provides moving insights into the islanders’ hard lives, the sorrows of emigration, and the literary heritage of the Blaskets. Continue up along the coast and inland to your hotel.
Overnight in Fitzgerald's Woodlands House Hotel
If this is the end of your journey, you may wish to visit the Cliffs of Moher or elsewhere before driving to Shannon or Dublin airport. If not, continue to Stage 2 below.
Whether this is the beginning of your tour or you are continuing on from Stage 1, make your way to the west coast to experience it as soon as possible. If your flight arrives early morning you will have plenty of time to visit the Cliffs of Moher. It’s perfectly possible to explore the smallest and nearest of the Gaeltacht Aran Islands – Inis Oirr – in a day by bicycle … or even better by pony and trap. Aran welcomes visitors year-round, on regular daily ferries that take commuters to the mainland or between the islands. Catch your ferry back and if you time it right you’ll be passing beneath the spectacular Cliffs of Moher just as they’re lit by the rays of the setting sun – arguably the best-ever view of this famous landmark.
Overnight in Hotel Doolin
Today is a day for very little driving. If you failed to see the cliffs yesterday do so this morning. Same goes for a trip to the Aran Islands although you will get another chance to do this later in the trip. Make your way up the coast to Galway city where you will stay tonight. Galway is a city full of charm with plenty of pubs, restaurants, music, and various festivals throughout the year that you may happen across.
Overnight in Forster Court Hotel
Because you have two nights in Westport coming up you can take your time exploring Connemara. There is much beauty to behold on the way to Derrigimlagh but it is out there that the real beauty lies. You can hire a bike in Connemara’s ‘capital’ Clifden, and strike out across the starkly strange blanket bog – a mosaic of tiny lakes and peat, crossed by a single narrow road – to uncover two remarkable events of 20th century history: Remnants of the world’s first permanent trans-Atlantic radio station and a white aeroplanewing-shaped memorial to Alcock and Brown, who crash-landed – uninjured – into Derrigimlagh Bog in 1919 at the end of the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. In this lonely spot, two resonant examples of the western seaboard’s trans-Atlantic ties. “Next parish, Manhattan”, as they say in these parts.
Overnight in Carna Bay Hotel
Today's highlight will be Killary harbour as you make your way towards Westport. The sure-footed Connemara pony – the only horse breed native to Ireland – is the perfect form of transport across the region’s blanket bogs and dazzling beaches. At low tide, Connemara ponies (with their riders) wade or swim across the shallow channel to peaceful islands like Finish, Mweenish and Omey – part of the archipelago off the coast of Connemara. Legend has it that the ponies are descended from Arab stallions that swam ashore when the Spanish Armada sank off the Connemara coast in the 16th century.
Overnight in Clew Bay Hotel
Westport is the definition of a tourist town and is well worth walking around for a couple of hours. It has some wonderful pubs and places to eat out. You may wish to leave this to the evening in order to relax. This morning you can go to Keem Strand. Cross the road bridge to Ireland’s largest island – Achill Island – with its tall seacliffs, bare mountains and sweeping sandy beaches, and follow the Atlantic Drive before turning north towards the Golden Strand. Sheltering under Slievemore Mountain, you can wander through a strange unnamed linear settlement, known simply as the Deserted Village. Walk alone from cottage to cottage, imagining life here through the centuries in this remote and poignant spot.
Overnight in Clew Bay Hotel
If this is the end of your journey, you may wish to visit Knock or elsewhere before driving to Shannon or Dublin airport. If not, continue to Stage 3 below.
If you are coming from the airport, make your way directly to Downpatrick head. If you are continuing from Stage 2, you may like to also skip directly to Downpatrick head or Ballina to save some time and driving.
While the area around Belmullet is beautiful and rugged, it is secluded and would involve a lot of driving that would take a large chunk out of your day.
Spend some time on Mullaghmore head before making your way back towards Sligo. If Enniscrone is not your final destination for the day, it is a good little seaside town to stop at for a late lunch and possibly a walk on the beach. You might even like to take a seaweed bath while you are there.
Overnight in Markree Castle
Today will be a reasonably long day of driving so an early start is suggested in order to make the most of it. The rest of the trip will be more relaxed. Mullaghmore head is the highlight of the day today, especially for surfing enthusiasts. This is the home of the ‘Prowler’ – a wave like no other with swells said to be up to 100ft. Mullaghmore Head draws surfers from across the globe. It’s best in the winter months, so you’ll want to wrap up warm and then hurry back to that seat by a turf fire in a cosy Sligo pub. And when you’re ready to give it a go yourself, there are several surf schools in the nearby seaside town of Bundoran, which hosts Ireland’s International Surfing Festival in June.
Overnight in Mill Park Hotel
While it is possible to do the entire Donegal coast line from Donegal town to Letterkenny in a day, it is not recommended. It would be a very long day with stops at Sliabh Liag and elsewhere as well as lunch. Instead take your time. Sliabh Liag are amongst the highest sea cliffs in Ireland and the huge panoramas presented to you from these cliffs can look different in every segment. For the experienced walker One Man’s pass will take you to the summit of Sliabh Liag. For the leisure visitor the viewing platform will be all you need.
Continue on to Glencolumbkille and visit the Folk Village where they have managed to freezeframe traditional folk life for posterity. Silver Strand (Trabane) is a spectacular hidden gem of a beach at Malin Beg and 7km south of Glencolmcille. The beach is accessible only from the sea or on foot via a series of steps, your challenge here is to count the steps down to the beach... be assured you will never get the same number, its one of life’s little mysteries. Return to Donegal town whenever you like.
Overnight in Mill Park Hotel
From Donegal, take a cross-country shortcut towards Letterkenny and up the coast to Fanad head. This will cut a lot of time and driving to allow you to enjoy the sights, sounds, and experiences. Looking down on Portsalon and Ballymastocker Bay it is no surprise that this beach was voted 2nd most beautiful beach in the world a few years ago. A haven for water sport enthusiasts, golfers and walkers alike, it offers it all. Take a 20 minute ferry ride from Rathmullan to Inishowen to cut down on retracing driving tracks and head to Derry with plenty of time to spare to explore the city.
Overnight in City Hotel Derry
Set off at a reasonably early hour this morning to circle Ireland's far north at Malin head. The tip of the Inishowen Peninsula is mainland Ireland’s farthest northerly point. The wild Atlantic has carved deep crevices into the rugged headland, like Hell’s Hole – a dramatic long, deep and narrow chasm where the swells roar and churn. Birds flock here, blown in on the Atlantic winds: regular visitors from Iceland, Greenland and North America; and rarer exotic creatures from further afield. You can take a 45-minute bike ride to stretch your legs in the fresh sea air, and learn about the area’s wildlife, geology and history.
It would be a shame to be so close to Giant's Causeway without visiting it so this could easily be done after an early lunch. There is even another ferry ride to save time. Return to Derry in good time.
Overnight in City Hotel Derry
This is the end of your journey. From here you will drive to the airport. You have the option of doing this stage backwards if it works better or if you are adding another stage to it. Should you wish to break up the journey by staying another night elsewhere that is possible too. Just ask us.
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This offer is per person based on two people traveling. Breakfast included except day of arrival. We can also book your air.