Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: A Road Trip Itinerary
Why Ireland is a perfect destination for a road trip
Ireland is the destination made for road trips. This compact country offers plenty of sights to see on a seven-day journey across the Wild Atlantic Way.
Every drive you make is scenic, with the drives they call “scenic” just being jaw dropping kind of scenic.
Even if you’re simply going from point A to point B, there are plenty of stops for unexpected photos and bucket-list-worthy experiences along the way.And once you get used to driving “on the wrong side of the road” (I promise, it’s not as scary as it sounds), driving is easy with no crazy drivers. And the roads are in great condition and very safe.
And if you’re looking for the perfect road trip itinerary, look no further than the Wild Atlantic Way – the most scenic and popular part of Ireland.
What’s Wild Atlantic Way ?
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is one of the most stunning road trips you can embark on. The route takes you through some of the most picturesque parts of Ireland, from the rugged Inishowen Peninsula to the charming town of Kinsale. The views are simply spectacular, with jagged cliffs dropping dramatically into the ocean, and rolling hills dotted with sheep and quaint houses. If you’ve never been to Ireland before, this is the perfect starting point. And even if you only have limited time to explore, you can still experience the magic of this route in just a week or less.
This 1,500-mile-long route is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world, stretching along the western coast of Ireland from Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. The drive takes you through picturesque counties such as Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry,
Ireland road trip Itinerary Wild Atlantic Way Day 1
Begin your exhilarating Ireland road trip by driving from Dublin to the stunning Connemara national park. The journey is relatively short, taking a mere three hours.Once you arrive in Connemara, you’ll be enchanted by the charming small towns that are scattered throughout the area. There’s Galway, which is a hub for artists and full of color and vibrant energy. Then there’s Cong, which is a picturesque town harking back to times gone by. It’s also the site where “The Quiet Man” was filmed with John Wayne.
Got extra time on your hands? Make your way to Achill Island to immerse yourself in nature and to see where the Banshees of Inisherin movie was filmed.
Day 2 Connemara National Park
Ireland’s Connemara region is an absolute must-visit for anyone exploring the Emerald Isle. Spend your second day of your Ireland road trip at Connemara National Park, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most mesmerizing scenery you’ve ever seen. This region of Ireland is so unique in its beauty, with its rugged coastline, hidden coves, and charming fishing villages.Sure, the park is large, but don’t worry – you can still soak up all of the region’s beauty in just one fun-filled day. Make sure to check out the blog post, which will provide more information on the best ways to make the most of a one-day trip to Connemara.
Experience the Magic of Connemara in Just One Day
Best things to do
- Take in the majestic views of Inagh Valley while on the Wild Atlantic Way route
- Visit the historic Kylemore Abbey and explore its stunning Victorian walled gardens
- Step back in time at Clifden Castle
- Drive along Connemara’s sky road to take in the dramatic coastline
- Explore Killary Fjord, Ireland’s only fjord
- Go horseback riding through Connemara’s untouched beaches with a Connemara pony for a unique perspective
Day 3 – Drive to Doolin and explore Cliffs of Mohair
Doolin the perfect base to explore the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands. With a rich cultural heritage that celebrates the very best of Ireland’s music, dance, and culture, Doolin has earned the title of the traditional music capital of Ireland. Doolin’s streets are alive with the sounds of fiddles, pipes, and bodhráns, providing a soundtrack to your exploration of this quaint coastal town.
Discover the Ireland’s Natural Wonder: The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher, considered by many to be Ireland’s most famous sights. The spectacular coastline stretches for five miles along the ocean. Your Ireland road trip would not be complete without visiting this natural wonder that will leave you speechless. Yes, it’s crowded and touristy but you can’t really say you’ve been to Ireland if you haven’t see the Cliffs of Mohair.
Day 4 Take a ferry to Aran Islands
Unmissable Day Trip From Doolin- Take a ferry to Aran Islands
On your second day in Doolin, take a ferry to Inishmore; the largest and most sought-after island. Rent a bike or jump onto a bus tour to indulge in the stunningly dramatic and peaceful landscapes of the Aran Islands.
Read this blog post for tips and tricks on how to make the most out of your day trip to Aran Islands.
Day 5 Dingle Penisula with stops at Limerick and Adare
Pretty Stops Along the Way on Your Dingle Journey
As you continue your Ireland road trip, make sure you don’t miss the stunning Dingle Peninsula. As you make the scenic drive from Doolin to Dingle, there are plenty of delightful stops to make along the way. Whether you choose to visit charming villages like Adare, or opt for the bustling city of Limerick, you’re in for a treat.
Aside from the awe-inspiring scenery, it’s the people that truly make this area special.
Experience the Wonders of Ireland on the Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula,(aka Corca Dhuibhne) is a breathtaking natural wonder stretching 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s worth the trek to experience the incomparable scenery, inspiring landscapes and warm hospitality offered by the friendly locals.
On your first day, make sure to take the awe-inspiring Slea Head Drive. It highlights historic and fun stops along the way. The drive culminates at Dunquin Pier, where you can indulge in some of the best brownies and hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted before. Finish off your drive by stopping in at Kruger’s Bar, the Most Westerly Pub in Europe.
Day 6 Dingle Town/ Blanket Islands
Discover the Charm of Dingle Town in One Day
On your second day, don’t miss out on the chance to see Dingle town with its world famous pubs. Legend has it that there are more pubs in Dingle town than the residents!
Wander the colorful streets and explore the unique shops, taking in the warm hospitality of the locals. And don’t forget to venture outside of town to see some of the stunning natural beauty of the area. Take a scenic drive along Conor Pass, visit the Gallarus Oratory, and explore the ruins around the Garfinny Bridge, Reask Monastic Site, and Cill Mhaoilchéadair. And if you’re in the mood for a little drink, the Famous Dingle Distilleryis the place to be.
Alternatively, you can always take a ferry to visit the nearby Blasket Islands and spend a day there. The ferry leaves from the famous Dunquin pier, giving you the chance to see some of the most stunning natural beauty in all of Ireland.
Day 7 – Take the Stunning Ring of Kerry Route
Experience the picturesque beauty of southwest Ireland by taking the Ring of Kerry route – an iconic drive along the Wild Atlantic Way. This popular drive showcases the magnificent beauty that’s unique to this region.
Unforgettable Views, Rolling Hills and Sparkling Lakes Await on the Ring of Kerry Drive
You will be mesmerized by the stunning views of rolling green hills, sparkling lakes, and patchwork fields filled with grazing sheep and cows. With pristine golden strands and jaw-dropping cliffs, this route is sure to be an unforgettable journey. The Ring of Kerry may be long, but it’s doable in a day, and you’ll be able to see the best that this timeless landscape has to offer.
Day 8 – Cashel and Cork
Discover the Secrets of Medieval Ireland in Cashel
As you travel from Killarney to Cashel, you’ll arrive at a small town with a big attraction. The Rock of Cashel is a medieval marvel that towers over the town on a hilltop. While most visitors come to see this famous castle, there is more to discover in Cashel. While most tourists flock to the castle, we stumbled upon something even more mesmerizing: the best ruins in the area. From the haunting Hore Abbey to the tranquil Athassel Priory, there is so much history to explore here. And don’t forget to swing by Cashel Folk Village for a taste of traditional Irish life.
Cork: Explore Ireland’s Largest County and its Rich Culture
Did you know that Cork is regarded as the ‘true’ capital of Ireland, despite Dublin being the Republic’s capital? It is a fact that the locals will never let you forget. As you explore Cork, you can’t miss kissing the Blarney Stone, visiting the iconic English Market, exploring the Charles Fort, marveling at the St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and experiencing the notorious Cork City Gaol.
Cork, the largest county in Ireland, boasts a rich cultural and architectural heritage. Located on the coast, it is part of both the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, making it an ideal stop for anyone visiting the country.
Day 9 – Discover Dublin’s Top Attractions in 24 Hours
After making your epic wild Atlantic way road trip, it’s time to head back to Dublin and complete your Irish adventure. Even if your visit to the city is a short one, you’ll still be able to see many of the top attractions in just 24 hours. Dublin Castle, with its stunning architecture and rich history, is a great place to start your tour. From there, you can visit the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral, take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, or explore the former prison of Kilmainham Gaol. If you’re a whiskey enthusiast, then a stop at the old Jameson Distillery is a must. And for those who appreciate art, the National Gallery of Ireland is a perfect destination.
The Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary: Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
- Start off in Dublin and take the three-hour drive to the stunning Connemara National Park.
- Explore the region’s charm with stops at Galway, Cong, and Achill Island.
- Spend a day at Connemara National Park, admiring the views of Inagh Valley, visiting Kylemore Abbey and Clifden Castle, seeing Killary Fjord, and going horseback riding.
- Drive to Doolin for breathtaking views from the Cliffs of Moher and ferry ride to Aran Islands.
- Make scenic stops along the way from Doolin to Dingle such as Adare and Limerick.
- Enjoy all that Dingle has to offer – pubs, Slea Head Drive, Dunquin Pier’s brownies & hot chocolates, and Kruger’s Bar.
- Take on the majestic Ring of Kerry route
- Explore Cashel’s Rock Castle ruins & Folk Village before heading to Cork – the ‘true’ capital of Ireland. Visit Blarney Stone, English Market, Charles Fort & St. Fin Barre Cathedral before returning to Dublin
- In 24 hours in Dublin enjoy visits to Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Guinness Storehouse and Kilmainham Gaol
How to prepare for Ireland road trip
And if you’re looking for the perfect Ireland road trip itinerary, look no further than the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s the most scenic and popular part of Ireland. Especially if this is your first trip to Ireland, this Ireland road trip itinerary is perfect for a short but epic adventure.
Planning a road trip in Ireland can be both exhilarating and intimidating. One major adjustment is driving on the opposite side of the road, unless you’re from Australia, Japan, UK or New Zealand. Even if you are a seasoned driver, it may take a day or two to adjust to driving on the left. Before you decide to get behind the wheel, consider other factors such as the narrow roads, particularly around small towns, the cost of car rental and insurance. Only one advice here: do your research before you set off.
To find out more about the essential tips on renting a car and driving in Ireland, check out this blog post where I break down everything you need to know, so you can be fully prepared for your Irish road trip.
Ireland is the kind of country that’s made for road trips – if there ever was one. There’s something magical about hitting the open road, with the wind in your hair and nothing but green picturesque landscapes stretched out before you. Ireland has that in spades. With its relatively compact size, it’s enough to see a good chunk of the sights even if you have a week or less.A road trip to Ireland is a must, and to give you a head start, there’s a my Ireland road trip itinerary around the Wild Atlantic Way- Ireland’s most scenic and popular part.