Today I’m excited to announce a guest post about a wonderful trip you can take through Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way by Sarah Mangan, who is Irish herself and owns a travel blog, Saz Around the World. I hope you enjoy it!
The Wild Atlantic Way is comprised of nine counties in Ireland. Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork make up the West Coast. It’s over 2,500km of stunning Cliffs, Peninsulas and Coastline. There is no better route on which to explore The Emerald Isle of rolling hills and lush countryside than this.
The North West
Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo are the three coastal counties you’ll pass through first if you take the route from Donegal in the Far North all the way down to Cork. Expect to encounter breathtaking cliffs, stunning coastline and a vibrant and famously friendly culture in the Town of Donegal.
Start your journey in Rossnowlagh, a seaside town in South Donegal, about 16km from Donegal Town. Here you’ll find beaches with golden sand and stunning views, perfect for surfing and swimming. You’ll find a surf school here if you want to test the waters for the first time.
Continue on to Donegal Town, and explore what it has to offer. After Donegal Castle, stop and sample the local fresh seafood and stay a night or two to embrace the Irish pub culture and ‘craic’. Try The Reel Inn for live Traditional Irish music, but get there early, as it’s known to get packed.
Next head to Sliabh Liag (or Slieve League), some of Ireland’s highest sea cliffs, and among the highest in Europe. They really are a sight to behold.
Mayo and Galway are next on the list, with much to do on the West Coast of Ireland. Make your way to Downpatrick Head, a breathtaking Heritage Site where you can gaze out into the Atlantic Ocean. Wonder at the famous Dún Briste Sea Stack, and the wildlife nestled into it.
Then journey to Belmullet, County Mayo, to experience the true Irish culture in The Gaeltacht (an irish-speaking area). On to Achill Island next to explore the largest of the Irish Isles – partake in water sports, hikes and walking on some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. Keem Bay is iconic, and is said to have been blessed by St. Patrick according to folklore.
You cannot miss Connemara on your trip along the Wild Atlantic Way – Head to Clifden Town for the world famous Connemara Pony Show or Clifden Arts festival. Then on to Connemara National Park, and Ireland’s only fjord – Killary Harbour where you can take a boat tour to soak up the amazing scenery.
The Mid West
The Mid West of Ireland’s coastal region is made up of Clare and Limerick. The gems of this area are the Famous Cliffs of Moher, in the Burren region of County Clare. There’s a Heritage Center and walkway with a railing along the cliffs ideal for families or those not used to hiking. You can capture the most stunning photographs of the coastline here if you’re interested in photography.
Lahinch is not far from here, a lively seaside town where you’ll find lots of lively pubs and tasty cuisine. Try Barrtrá for seafood with a view.
Loop Head should be next on your to do list for more dramatic cliffs and rugged beauty. You can get an audio guide for the Loop Head Trail, which takes you from tip of Loop Head to Ross Beach and Bridge where you can spot dolphins or even whales if you’re lucky.
The South West
The Kingdom and the Rebel counties are last but certainly not least, County Kerry and County Cork. These Counties have whole websites dedicated to them, as they are rich in culture and scenery enough to fill a book. Here I’ll attempt to show you some of the highlights!
The Blasket Islands, Skellig Michael and Valentia Island are all stunning spots to venture to and their beauty will speak for themselves. Skellig Michael was home to the filming of parts of Star Wars – The Last Jedi. The Ring of Kerry on which they sit is a huge tourist attraction in its own right and the whole drive is made up of stunning beaches, cliffs, and valleys like nothing you’ve ever seen. I’d advise spending at least a week to cover this part of the country.
Killarney is a hotspot for tourists and Irish people alike, and shouldn’t be missed on your trip. Its vibrant nightlife, beautiful backdrop of mountains and proximity to the Ring of Kerry all make it an essential pit-stop, or even a stand alone holiday destination.
Your journey will come to an end in Cork, with its highlights including Dursey Island, Sherkin Island and Mizen Head. The City of Cork is not far away either, so why not venture to see the Unofficial Food and Culture Capital of Ireland!
Written by Sarah Mangan, who is Irish herself and owns a travel blog, Saz Around the World.