This blog has been dedicated to highlighting some of the hidden gems along the wild Atlantic way and why you need to visit the west coast of Ireland.
Before I start, let me tempt you with a short birds eye video of the Wild Atlantic Way from their official Facebook page by clicking here.
Photo source: wildatlanticway.com
The Wild Atlantic Way is essentially a tourism trail which lies on the west coast, and on parts of the north and south coasts, of Ireland. It is a 2,500 km driving route which passes through nine counties, stretching from County Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale, County Cork. Along the route there are 157 discovery points, 1,000 attractions and more than 2,500 activities. As many people don’t have time on their side, I have listed the top 8 places to visit on your wild Atlantic way travels.1. Malin Head, Co.Donegal
If you wish to start your travels from the north and make your way down to the south of Ireland, then I would advise starting at Malin Head. It is located on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co.Donegal and is Ireland’s most northern point. Malin head is a place rich in history and heritage, offering plenty of activities such as walking, fishing, swimming and bird watching.
The views of the ocean, shorelines and rural countryside from the top of Malin Head are truly breathtaking. There are hiking trails from the top of the hill right down to the shore below which is a good way to stretch the legs after the drive up. There is also a small coffee truck, souvenir stand and toilets at the top if you need to take a quick rest.
Photo source: wildatlanticway.com
2. Achill Island, Co.Mayo
As you make your way down the coast passing through picturesque places like Strandhill, Enniscrone and Killala you will head towards the Achill Islands. Make sure to stop off in a few of these places along the way, they are well worth it!
Achill Island is Ireland’s largest island and it is accessible from the mainland by a bridge. Its magnificent sandy beaches, sea cliffs and warm hospitality makes it a very popular tourist destination. Make sure to visit the Keel and Keem beaches, they are truly magnificent. Achill offers plenty of water sports including windsurfing, sailing, abseiling, diving and many others. If you want a more relaxing trip to Achill, there is plenty of restaurants, pubs and bars providing a traditional warm Irish welcome.
Photo source: thousandwonders.net
3. Clifden, Co.Galway
Clifden is a coastal town located in the Connemara region of County Galway. It is known as the ‘capital of Connemara’ and is a vibrant and cultural town. Clifden is a great base for exploring the Connemara region as it has plenty of places to stay whether you would prefer a holiday home, bed and breakfast or a hotel. Activities to be enjoyed locally include golfing, pitch n’ putt, scuba diving, sailing, fishing, walking and mountain climbing or just strolling or sunbathing on the beach.
Connemara is famous for being the home place of the Connemara pony and each year Clifden hosts the ‘Festival of the Connemara’ in the month of August. This pony show attracts visitors from all over the world, where they are treated to an expedition of talented ponies and riders in different disciplines of riding eg. showjumping, showing and working hunter classes. However, if you cannot make the show in August there are plenty of equestrian centres where you can go trekking on Connemara ponies on the white sandy beaches.
Photo source: loveconnemara.com
4. Galway City
I'll give you one reason to visit Galway city - It’s home to Revive Active! If that’s not enough of a reason to visit, Galway is a vibrant and bustling city with lots of traditional music, pubs and restaurants to give you a truly Irish experience. It has be named the European Capital of Culture for 2020 so I would recommend visiting in two years time as there will be great hype and excitement around the city during the year with plenty of events, festivals and activities being run throughout.
Galway has plenty to see including the Galway Latin Quarter, Quay Street, Eyre Square, Shop street, Salthill Promenade, Spanish Arch and Silver Strand Beach for example. If you are visiting Galway at the end of July, I would recommend going to the Galway races. They are great fun!
Photo source: thejournal.ie
5. Cliffs of Moher, Co.Clare
You can’t really travel down the west coast of Ireland without stopping into the Cliffs of Moher now, can you? The Cliffs of Moher are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare. From the cliffs, visitors can see across to the Aran Islands to Galway Bay, the Maumturks and Twelve Pins mountain range in north Co. Galway. You can view the Cliffs from 3 primary viewing areas. Each presents you with a different, beautiful view and together they offer you a truly breathtaking, full 360 degree experience. There are many opportunities to go for walks with marked trails to follow or if you are feeling adventurous, you can create your own.
Photo source: independent.ie
6. Doolin, Co.Clare
Doolin is just a short 15 minute drive from the Cliffs of Moher. This coastal village is situated on the edge of the historic Burren in County Clare. It is also in close reach of the Aran Island and is a jumping-off point for cliff cruises and ferries out to the Islands.
Doolin is known for traditional Irish music, which is played nightly in its pubs, making it a popular tourist destination. Tourists can also go on sightseeing tours, boat tours, golfing, surfing, rock-climbing, windsurfing and kite surfing whilst passing through Doolin.
Photo source: thejournal.ie
7. Kinsale, Co.Cork
Located in County Cork, Kinsale is one of the most picturesque, popular and fashionable resorts in the south of Ireland. Kinsale’s favourable mild climate and its safe harbour make it the ideal location for yachting, sea angling, Dolphin & Whale Watching Trips, gourmet restaurants and golf. There are plenty of guided tours and museums dotted around Kinsale which tell the tale of ‘The Battle of Kinsale’ which was fought in 1601. There is also plenty of shops in Kinsale where you can purchase souvenirs like paintings, locally designed fashion items and books. Why not take a trip to Cork city as it is only 30 minutes away from Kinsale.
Photo source: wanderyourway.com
8. Dingle, Co. Kerry
Did you ever hear of Fungie the Dolphin? Of course you did! Well he swims the coastline of Dingle. This small port town is located in county Kerry, just a hour drive away from Tralee. This is one of the most popular destinations in Ireland for tourists. National Geographic once called Dingle ‘the most beautiful place on earth’! The Slea Head Drive is a circular driving route which entails plenty of spectacular scenery with lots of places to stop off on the way. It’s also worth stopping off at Coumeenole Beach where the movie Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. You can explore the town's history by visiting the ancient Fahan Bee Hives. Why not mingle in Dingle by visiting some of its colourful traditional Irish pubs and eating some fresh fish in the restaurants.
Photo source: ksoe.com