Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world, winding for 2,500km down the entire west coast of Ireland. A road trip in Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way is a must for anyone who wants to explore the rugged, picturesque landscapes that make this region so special. Here are just some of the highlights from guest author Joe Shaw, who shares all that the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.
The Cliffs of Moher on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most visited attractions, and it’s easy to see why. The impressive cliffs jut out into the Atlantic Ocean, with powerful waves crashing below. There are several viewing platforms, each offering a different perspective to observe the cliffs in all their glory.
From the visitor centre at the highest, most popular point on the cliffs, head south to Hag’s Head. You will be rewarded with dramatic panoramic views and if you are feeling adventurous, you can hike the full 14km route from Doolin to Hag’s Head.
We spent an entire afternoon at the cliffs to make the most of our visit. We were able to admire the cliffs in broad daylight, and then again with the sunset casting a stunning orange glow in the sky.
Looking for a tour? These Ireland tours include the Cliffs of Moher
The Burren and Poulnabrone Dolmen
The Burren National Park is a designated UNESCO site located in County Clare. The word Burren actually comes from the Irish word “Boíreann”, meaning a rocky place after the exposed limestone rocks that cover the entire area. Spend some time driving along the winding road to survey the unique landscape.
In the Burren you will find Poulnabrone Dolmen, an ancient neolithic portal tomb. It is estimated that the tomb was built between 4200BC and 2900BC. Nobody knows how the people of the time were able to move the massive stones into position, but the fact that it remains standing over 5,000 years later is a testament to their skill.
Looking for a tour? Check out this 2 day tour of The Wild Atlantic Way
Excavations in the 1980s discovered the remains of 16 adults and children around the tomb, buried with other artefacts such as weapons, tools, and pottery. Some of these artefacts are now on display at the National Museum in Dublin.
Stay at: Cullinan’s Guesthouse, Doolin. Cullinan’s Guesthouse is a charming, 4-star accommodation in the centre of Doolin overlooking the Aille River.
Doolin is ideally located for exploring the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. It’s also widely known as the home of traditional Irish music, and therefore the perfect place to spend an evening watching a live performance in an Irish pub!
Kilkee Cliff Walk on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Kilkee Cliff Walk is a hiking trail that begins and ends at the Diamond Rocks Cafe in Kilkee. The cafe is an excellent place to stop for a bite to eat, the fish and chips are delicious! You can choose to do the full 8km walk, or opt to take a shorter 5km route.
The Kilkee Cliffs are comparable to the Cliffs of Moher in terms of majesty and beauty, however they are far less touristy. They retain a sense of unspoilt wonder, and you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery without the crowds.
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The Bridges of Ross on the Wild Atlantic Way
The Bridges of Ross historically refers to a trio of natural arches formed by the sea. Two of the bridges have since collapsed, however the plural name remains. The bridges are just a short walk from the road, and serve as an excellent reminder of the power of the ocean.
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The Bridges of Ross are located on the western side of a natural harbour known as Ross Bay. It is an excellent sea-watching spot. In the late summer and autumn Ross Bay becomes a birdwatcher’s paradise as thousands of rare seabirds pass close to the shore on their southbound migration.
Looking for a tour? Check out these tours of The Wild Atlantic Way
It was wet and windy when we visited the Bridges of Ross, but that did not hamper our experience. It simply added a moody, dramatic feel to the atmosphere.
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Stay at: Stella Maris Hotel, Kilkee
The Stella Maris Hotel is a family run hotel in Kilkee with bay views over the picturesque town and beach. It’s just a few minutes from the starting point of the Kilkee Cliff Walk, and a great base from which to explore the Bridges of Ross and the rest of the Loop Head Peninsula.
Slea Head Drive on the Wild Atlantic Way
Slea Head Drive is a circular route that loops around the Dingle Peninsula. There are several attractions along the way, and you can easily spend half a day or longer discovering everything it has to offer.
Breathtaking scenery lies around every corner. The Blasket Islands that sit at the tip of the peninsula, were previously inhabited, but abandoned in the 1950s when the community declined.
Visitors can still travel to the islands by ferry to explore the wild and remote location. You can also stop to explore some ancient beehive huts built of stone. They date back to the 12th century, when Normans forced the native Irish off the good land.
Looking for a tour? Check out these tours of Slea Head and The Dingle Peninsula
Conor Pass on the Wild Atlantic Way
Conor Pass is Ireland’s highest mountain pass. It winds precariously up Mount Brandon, with barely room for two cars to pass each other. It’s an exhilarating drive, with only a rickety fence between your car and the sheer drop off the side of the mountain. Upon reaching the top, you will find a scenic viewpoint that offers amazing panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges and lakes below.
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Stay at: Tower View B&B, Dingle
As the start and end point for Slea Head Drive, Dingle is the obvious place to stay. We stayed at Tower View B&B and it was just lovely, with comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast.
More on the Wild Atlantic Way
To start planning your own road trip and to see an example itinerary for the perfect 7 day road trip, take a look at this Wild Atlantic Way travel guide.
You can also find more information to plan your trip on the Wild Atlantic Way Website.
Looking for a tour? Check out these tours of The Wild Atlantic Way
If you need a guidebook for The Wild Atlantic Way, we recommend Exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
About the author: Joe Saw is a travel blogger at JKGO. He truly believes that travelling to new places and experiencing new cultures can change your life. JKGO’s goal is to inspire you to travel more and help you travel better.
This article is a guest post* by Joe Saw
* More info on my policies page