Awesome Tips Bucket List Worthy
Along the western shore of Ireland, where the Atlantic Ocean crashes against the rugged coastline, you will find the longest sign-posted driving route in Europe. The Wild Atlantic Way winds through 1500 miles of Ireland’s most rugged terrain; skirting mountains, hugging the sea-side cliffs, and passing through areas of incredible history.
To fully explore the Wild Atlantic Way- and do it well- would take months. Since few of us have that much vacation time, use these recommendations- one for each county along the route- as a starting point for your own Ireland itinerary.
Traveling from the most northerly point in Ireland to the most southerly, these are some of the wildest spots to visit along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Reaching into the chilly North Atlantic, the Inishowen Peninsula is Ireland’s most northerly, and most remote, point. The 100 mile drive around the peninsula leads you through thousands of years of history – from 1700 BC at the Grianan of Aileach Ring Fort to The Great Hunger at Doagh Famine Village to British Naval History through World War II at Fort Dunree. Don’t skip Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, where you’ll find the ruins of a Napoleonic Tower and one of the EIRE navigational markers used by pilots in WWII.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Donegal
Only a slight detour from the coastal route leads you to one of Ireland’s most ancient spots: Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery. At least 30 passage tombs can be found within the heritage site, with that many more on the private land surrounding. The largest tomb on site has been excavated and can be entered, revealing a roofed central dolmen and megalithic art.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Sligo
Accessible by bridge, windswept Achill Island is the largest island off Ireland’s coast. Achill is home to a high percentage of native Irish speakers, as well as 5 of Ireland’s best beaches. Explorations of the island reveal a castle of Ireland’s pirate queen, Neolithic tombs, a famine village, and the dramatic White Cliffs of Ashleam.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Mayo
Few drives in Ireland offer the perception that your car may just launch off the edge of the cliff and into the churning waters of the Atlantic Ocean- but that is exactly the feeling you will get as you wind along the Sky Road. With often just a small row of stones separating you from the precipice, and the high probability of encountering cyclists, walkers, tours buses, and oncoming cars, you’ll likely white-knuckle this scenic drive. Pull of at the few designated parking areas to take in the views of the rugged landscape and endless ocean.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Galway
Too often passed through as people drive between the famed Cliffs of Moher and Galway, the Burren is a section of Ireland you will see nowhere else. Known for its barren-ness, one only has to look a bit more closely to discover hardy vegetation thriving in the limestone terrain. Animals, both wild and domestic, make their home atop the stone-covered hills, and a thriving food trail leads you through the delicious flavors harvested locally from land and sea.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Clare
One of Ireland’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Skellig Islands are located off the Kerry coast. Skellig Michael, or Great Skellig, was the location of a Celtic Christian monastery from the 6th thru 12th centuries. Skellig Michael is both a remote and dangerous site, and not suited for all visitors– especially the very young or infirm. For those that do visit, Skellig Michael is easily one of the most amazing sites you can experience in Ireland. The second island, Little Skellig, is home to large populations of seabirds and is closed to the public.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Kerry
If you wish to visit a spot where tour buses can’t go- and very few tourists venture- the peninsula of Sheep’s Head will delight you. At the end of the road sits the charming café, Cupán Tae, where you can enjoy a freshly made scone, an ice cream, or a beverage. For a view that even fewer people see, lace on your hiking shoes and venture toward the signal house at the end of the peninsula. It’s 2km as the crow flies, but you’ll easily traverse twice that distance as you climb the rocky peaks and wind through the verdant valley to reach the end of Ireland.
2 other Wild Atlantic Way sites in County Cork