The enchanted isle in the Atlantic has captured the curiosity of visitors for centuries.
by Louise Hogan
Ireland’s beauty has sent location scouts in search of perfect film locations for the likes of Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Not to mention it being a photographer’s dream, with picture-perfect vistas to photograph (complete with rainbows).
It’s also an idea place to road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the most beautiful coastal routes in the world.
Here is my Ireland’s list:
1. The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal route in the world
Over 1,500 miles long, the Wild Atlantic Way was coined ‘Ireland’s Route 66’ by Conde Nast Traveler. Stretching the entire Western coast of Ireland, this continuous stretch of roadway encompasses some truly stunning sights and cultural experiences.
2. Feel the Force
Skellig Micheal, an otherworldly island 7 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland, recently featured in Star Wars: The Force movie. A UNESCO world heritage site that holds the remains of a sixth century monastery, Skellig Micheal and its smaller sister island are strikingly spectacular.
3. Go Celtic in Connemara
For many people, the wild West coast is the ‘real Ireland’; particularly Connemara, in County Galway. The largest Irish speaking area in the country has a wild rugged landscape of bogs, mountains and ruggedly beautiful coastline.
4. Taste the Burren
At first glance, the Burren- a karst region of glacial era rock formations stretching towards the Atlantic Ocean- may not seem the most likely area to become a European Destination of Excellence for Gastronomy. But it’s home to a dazzling array of local food producers- from chocolate factories to goats cheese farms- all bound by a commitment to maximise the use of local produce as much as possible. Explore the best of Irish produce in this beautiful setting.
5. Revel in the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is the Ireland of your dreams, featuring lush green mountains and valleys, quaint villages and historic ruins. A narrow, winding 179 km route encircling the Iveragh Peninsula takes you through this often misty landscape- but the weather only adds to the atmosphere!
6. Galway City
Everyone’s favourite Irish city, Galway is a pretty harbour town famed for its arts, culture and craic. Vibrant and fun filled, Galway is the only Irish city you’re likely to come across Irish being spoken in every day life.
7. Get a Second Passport
The Wild Atlantic Way Passport allows you to collect a stamp for each discovery point along the way and serves as a unique reminder of your epic trip. Each passport has a unique number so is completely individual to you and each of the 188 discovery points along the route has its own separate stamp!
8. Spend the night in a lighthouse
There are seven different lighthouses you can stay overnight stretching along the Wild Atlantic Way, from Donegal right down to Cork. While some are self-catering, Clare Island Lighthouse in County Mayo is a luxury B&B which serves a 6 course dinner.
Did you know?
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is the longest-defined coastal driving route in the world, stretching over 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) from County Donegal in the north to County Cork in the south.
The route features a rugged coastline, stunning landscapes, and unique cultural experiences along the way, and it is a popular destination for visitors to Ireland.
However, despite its popularity, there are still many hidden gems to discover along the Wild Atlantic Way, including secluded beaches, charming villages, and historical landmarks.
A little history:
The concept of the Wild Atlantic Way was first proposed by Fáilte Ireland, the country’s national tourism development authority, in 2008 as a way to promote tourism along Ireland’s rugged western coastline. The route officially opened in 2014 after several years of planning and development.
The Wild Atlantic Way follows Ireland’s western coastline, starting at the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal in the north and ending at Kinsale in County Cork in the south. The route includes over 2,500 km of scenic driving, passing through some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the world, including the Cliffs of Moher, the Skellig Islands, and the Connemara National Park.
The Wild Atlantic Way was designed to showcase the natural beauty, cultural heritage, and unique character of the western region of Ireland and has helped to boost tourism in the area.
The route has become one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting visitors from all over the world. Today, the Wild Atlantic Way is not just a driving route but also offers a wide range of activities, such as hiking, surfing, kayaking, and cycling, as well as opportunities to experience the local culture, food, and hospitality.
Follow our writer: Louise Hogan