Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
Length: 1,600 miles
As the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, it’s difficult to imagine a more epic road trip than the Wild Atlantic Way. Spanning 1,600 miles along Ireland’s west coast, this route offers drivers the opportunity of a lifetime. From the secluded landscapes of County Mayo to the popular yet pretty County Kerry, the Wild Atlantic Way allows visitors to sample the best of Ireland’s scenery on one connected route.
If you’re heading south, your journey begins in the Inishowen Peninsula. As Ireland’s largest peninsula, it is flanked by glorious beaches and craggy clifftops. The Gap of Mamore road on this stretch ascends to 800 feet, giving you a spectacular view over the coast.
From here, the next section cuts through the remote Donegal countryside, twisting down the coast towards Sligo. Mullaghmore Head is considered to be one of the finest examples of the landscape on the Wild Atlantic Way. Here you can take a ferry over to the island of Inishmurray.
County Mayo, although not as well-known as the likes of County Kerry or Donegal, is one of the most remote stretches of the Wild Atlantic Way. Impressive sea stacks, sweeping beaches and country lanes make this one of the most enchanting counties in Ireland. Branch out to the Mullet Peninsula to find some of the best beaches. From Mayo, the road stretches down to Achill Island, Ireland’s largest island.
Historically, Achill Island was famous for its population of basking sharks. Today, its frontier feel draws visitors who wish to rest on the sand or admire the highest sea cliffs in the country.
The Wild Atlantic Way continues south, passing Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s sacred mountain, the valleys of Doo Lough and Delphi and Killary harbour. Before long you’ll find yourself approaching Connemara National Park and Ireland’s Sky Road, with panoramic views over the Atlantic. Narrower roads wander down the coast before reaching Galway, a vibrant harbour city.
Continue on the road past the famous Cliffs of Moher, past Kilkee and on to Tralee, before you reach the Dingle Peninsula. With seemingly endless sandy beaches, colourful cottages and ancient Irish pubs, Dingle encompasses much of Irish culture in what is one of the busiest areas in the country. But you can escape any crowds on Slea Head Drive, or take a boat over to the secluded Blasket Islands.
After taking your new lease for a spin around the Dingle Peninsula, continue on to the iconic Ring of Kerry. From here you can reach the Skellig Islands, which featured in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The route carries on further south, away from the busier areas of Dingle and Kerry, to bring you back to the remote beauty of the Ring of Beara, before stretching round the south west of Ireland for your final run.
Don’t miss: Walking on the sand at Mullaghmore, taking in the views at Keem Bay, looking up at the towering Croagh Patrick, diving into the Irish culture at Galway city, looking out over the Cliffs of Moher, taking your Mercedes for a spin along Slea Head Drive and the Ring of Kerry.