You probably know by now that roadtrips are one of my favourite vacations to take. There’s nothing like jumping in the car, turning on the tunes, and driving endlessly, stopping to take in the beauty wherever you feel like. The Irish countryside in particular, makes for some truly amazing drives.
An annual roadtrip has become something like a pilgrimage for me, so this year the first one on the docket was a sojourn to Western Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. So. Worth. It.
So here’s the cardinal rule – you can’t design a trip in Ireland around the weather. Regardless of the weather though, the views are spectacular, trust me.
We flew into Dublin, grabbed the car from the airport, and headed south to a little town called Bantry, by-passing Cork as we were short on time. A few minutes into the drive we realized we had underestimated distances in the country – an easy mistake to make – and what we thought was a three-hour drive, turned out to be almost six. So… first piece of advice I’ve got for you – take your time! Be overly practical on how much time to budget for distances, and remember that in Ireland, every lookout point that’s worth going to is at least an hour-long detour off the highway, and not a mere five minutes the map deludes you into assuming.
Second must-know – stay at bed and breakfasts! All hail the beauty of Airbnb. Some of our favourite parts of the trip were the places we stayed at, and, the breakfasts. Oh my, the breakfasts. Pictured below was our first morning spent gorging on homemade bread, scones, granola, yogurt, and a true Irish breakfast.
Day two started with a drive from Bantry through the Beara Peninsula, followed by a detour to the Lakes of Killarney, and a zip around the Dingle Peninsula (remember, this is your FIVE day itinerary – if you have longer, definitely do the Ring of Kerry).
Stop anywhere you fancy, but be warned, the roads are incredibly narrow, not making it very easy driving. If you have time, definitely go deeper into Killarney, exploring as many of the lakes as you can and exploring all the hikes the area has to offer. Dingle is a lovely little town to stop for lunch, and has some of the country’s best pubs. Sights to see around Dingle are Slea Head Drive and Great Blasket Island.
Now, we were pressed for time, but if you’ve got enough, spend the night around Dingle or Killarney so you don’t tire yourself out and can see all the picturesque sights.
The next stop on the trip was the ultimate pilgrimage you can’t miss if you are headed to Ireland – the Cliffs of Moher. The little coastal town of Doolin is home to the Cliffs, and is home to some lovely B&B cottages to spend a few nights by the Cliffs. Two nights here are a MUST – you absolutely cannot appreciate the true beauty of the Cliffs and surrounding areas on an overnight trip.
What I’d most recommend is walking along the Cliffs as early as you can start the day, to catch the morning light if the sky’s clear. Around mid-morning, head out on a ferry to the Aran Islands (think Star Wars and Game of Thrones-esque) with a return cruise that almost takes you under the Cliffs – a whole new instagram perspective!
At this point, you’ve seen a good portion of the Wild Atlantic Way, so feel free to head back to Dublin for a final night in the city before you’re flight home – Ariel House Dublin makes for a lovely overnight stay. If you’ve got a few more days, make your way up to Donegal, Fanad Head Lighthouse and Slieve League to complete what is easily one of the world’s most spectacular roadtrips.