The long weekend is the perfect opportunity to take a road trip and explore beautiful Ireland. We have picked out a few trips we think are worth taking.
No matter what route you choose to take, you won’t be disappointed as the Island of Ireland has some of the most outstanding destinations, that are just waiting to be discovered.
Take the Wild Route
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches along Ireland’s western seaboard, over 2,500 kilometres, from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south, the route is the longest defined coastal route in the world. We have broken down the route to highlight some must see stops.
Take it from the Top – Donegal to Sligo
Travel to Irelands most northernly point, Malin Head in Co. Donegal where the wild Atlantic has carved deep crevices into the rugged headland. Enjoy panoramic views at Fanad Head and Fanad Lighthouse and make sure to visit Slieve League, which is amongst the highest sea cliffs in Europe. As you leave Donegal and explore the coast of Sligo, you can experience waves like no other at Mullaghmore Head and Strandhill.
Sligo to Mayo
As you move into Mayo you will notice that this region has some fantastic championship golf courses. The bustling town of Westport is one of the most popular destinations in Mayo & in Ireland and comes alive with traditional Irish music sessions. The town is renowned for the Great Western Greenway, Ireland’s first off-road walking and cycling trail which is 42 km long and runs from Westport to Achill Island.
Mayo to Connemara
As you move along this coastal route, you will be entering Connemara which has been described as one of the most scenic regions in Ireland. Killary Harbour is famous as the start of the Killary Fjord which is a glacial fjord that contains some of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring and dramatic scenery. As you move through the rest of Connemara, you will reach some stunningly remote locations that offer extraordinary castles and abbeys to view and explore. The famous Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens are a must visit.
Connemara to The Burren
From Galway, you will move along the coast to one of the most dramatic and famous stretches of coast in the world. This region of Clare is known as The Burren and is a vast limestone landscape that covers much of the county and then out to sea, where it appears again in the form of the Aran Islands. Moving down this dramatic coastline you will reach the world-famous Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs can be viewed by sea or those brave enough can walk along the top as they look out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Take a look at the Wild Atlantic Way
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a circular scenic route with a length of 179 kilometers that is tucked away in the south west of Ireland and although you could complete the route in a matter of hours, the only way to experience it is to take your time, drift off the beaten tracks and explore the hidden gems in the 'kingdom'.
One of your highlights along the Ring of Kerry will surely be Skellig Michael, one of the wonders of the world. Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and 1300 years ago, Christian monks built a remarkable home at the top of this jagged ocean rock. See below for the 'Top things to do on the Ring of Kerry' by Tourism Ireland.
From Kerry to Cork
Follow the Ring of Beara, a stunning coastal drive with some of Irelands most scenic sights to be found enroute from Kerry into Cork. You can visit Dursey Island on Irelands only Cable Car or stop off in Glengarriff to visit Garnish Island, or both! You can't get much further south than Mizen Head, and after begining your Road Trip at Irelands most Northerly Point it is only fitting to go from top to bottom.
Travel on towards Kinsale, and on the way stop off at some of the quaint fishing villages such as Skibbereen and Baltimore that hug the coast and harness the Atlantic Ocean for fishing, here you should try some of the fresh Seafood that comes from the Harbour. Congratulations! If you have travelled from Donegal to Kinsale, you have complete the Wild Atlantic Way.
Make sure to Kiss Cork Goodbye
Before you leave Cork you should stop at Blarney to visit the castle and Woollen Mills. Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone. According to legend, the stone has the power to give anyone who kisses it the ‘gift of the gab’.
Irelands Ancient East
In Ireland's Ancient East you will come across Ireland’s oldest city – Waterford. Compact enough to explore many of the main attractions by foot, allowing you to soak up the old world atmosphere that the historic Viking city has to offer. As you leave Waterford, the next leg of your Ancient East journey will take you into Co.Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland. Within Wicklow lies the 'Sally Gap' an exciting drive that takes in the incredible views of the lakes and mountains in the area. Wicklow is full of famous landmarks such as Glendalough National Park, a stunning valley featuring a monastic settlement founded by St.Kevin in the 6th century. If you want to stretch your legs, Wicklow is a great location for hiking.
Boyne Valley Drive
The Boyne Valley Drive is a scenic route that follows the Boyne River through counties Louth and Meath. A trip through 9’000 years of history as you meander your way by Ireland’s Neolithic structures and through hills and valleys that played a part in battles that shaped medieval Ireland. You will pass sites such as Newgrange, Hill of Tara, Brú an Boinne, and Trim Castle. Make sure to visit the market town of Kells which is famous as the location which gave its name to the 'Book of Kells'.
The award-winning Causeway Coast route should be on your bucket list! From Belfast to Derry~Londonderry you can explore the ruins of a 16th-century clifftop castle that’s crumbling into the sea, walk along the side of cliffs on the Gobbins Coastal path, cross the hair-raising Carrick-a-rede rope bridge to a rugged island, and discover the geological wonders of the Giant’s Causeway.
At the end of your route lies the Walled city of Derry~Londonderry. Here you should take time to enjoy a walking tour of the walled city including the Peace Bridge and if it is a trip to Derry with the girls there is the colourful Mural of the hit series Derry girls that should be added to your list of things to do. Why not ‘Discover Derry’ with the Beech Hill Country House Hotel offer.