Travels diaries

Road trip in Ireland by the Wild Atlantic Way

Green, savage, surprising, unpredictable, people used many adjectives to describe Ireland to me before my departure. However, nothing prepared me to the shock I had once there. From the green plains to the mountains, from the beaches to the cliffs, I fell in love with this island during my road trip.

My road trip itinerary in Ireland

To discover as much as much Ireland, I decided to drive along the coast from south to north.

This itinerary has 8 stops:

From Cork to Derry, there is a touristic road along the coast: The Wild Atlantic Way. It follows the small Irish roads and I discovered nice places to see or visited I would have missed otherwise. This road, even if it is a touristic road, allows you to go to non-touristic places. So, from time to time, you can discover the countryside and abandon the touristic spots. Yet, one drawback is you need a small car. The road is sometimes narrow. I was several times glad to have a small Polo instead or a 4X4.

One last piece of advise: if you decide to follow this road, be patient. This itinerary avoids the highway and some parts are very narrow. You won’t drive faster than 90km/h (even if it is allowed). Moreover, don’t forget that in Ireland, you drive on the left side and the wheel in on the right side. Even if you get used to it quickly, the beginning is not very easy, especially in the cities.

My crushes in Ireland

  • The Ring of Kerry

Located in the South-West of Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is a track of approximately 170km. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do all circuit but only a part of it, the closest one of Killarney. However, I gave me a taste of it and I loved what I saw. The landscapes are beautiful and varied. It could be forests or typical Irish villages, the Ring of Kerry is a good way to see the diversity of Ireland. If you don’t have enough time to visit all the island, I recommend you to come to the Ring of Kerry.

  • The Connemara

The Connemara National Park offers 3 different hikes (from 1km to 6km). Once you reach the viewpoint, you will have a 360° view on the Connemara. The hikes aren’t very difficult, you can easily reach the viewpoint.

  • The Donegal

Often forgotten by the tourists, Donegal shows the Ireland countryside. Far from circuits, tours, and touristic places, you will discover the authentic and traditional Ireland. In this county, it’s easier to find small villages with their shops full of local products. I enjoy this region and its nature, especially because after it, I will visit “big” cities.

  • The pubs

How can I talk about Ireland without speaking of the pubs? The beer fans ( I belong to this group, I admit it) won’t miss the pubs. However, I advise everybody to visit them. The atmosphere is friendly and festive thanks to the musicians. They play usually the evenings and nights. Moreover, it’s a must if you want to discover the Irish culture. Listening to Irish music, while you drink a Guinness and/or eat a fish and chips; that’s something you have to do in Ireland!

Other things to see/to do in Ireland

  • Dublin

Dublin is not a huge capital, but more of human size. Even if the size may look too small to some of you, there are lots to see and to do (see my article Dublin for a weekend).

  • Galway

Much smaller than Dublin, this city has its own atmosphere. I really liked this city with all its spectacles (musicians, magicians, etc.). You just want to stay longer in this city and hang out in the streets. Moreover, Galway is the entrance of the Connemara and you can find shuttles to go to Aran Island too. Thus, this city is a good stop and place to stay a few days.

  • The Cliffs of Moher

Probably the most visited place in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking. The cliffs high are really impressive and it’s possible to walk along the cliffs. Moreover, despite the huge number of tourists, it’s possible to find places where you can be almost alone.

For those who are brave enough, you can take a picture very close to the edge. But I warn you, it’s really scary.

  • The Burren

(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.”

I admit that this quote might be a bad start to describe this region. Yet, once you visit the Burren, you will understand why Edmond Ludlow was right about it. However, this region is surprisingly beautiful. The landscapes are very contrasted compared to the Kerry or the Connemara. Even if you are just passing through by car, take your time to enjoy the landscapes. It’s the only region where you will see this, even in Ireland.

  • Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are composed of three islands. The biggest one (13km²) is called Inis Mór. You can access this island with the ferry or by plane. But in any case, you will be able to take a car with you. Fortunately, you can rent bikes, or chose a minibus tour or a carriage ride to visit the island. For your information, I couldn’t visit all the island in one day with the bike I rented. If you want you can also spend a night on the island. Moreover, several tourists told me the atmosphere is friendly with the locals during the evening when the last ferry is gone.

And you, what were your Irish crushes? What are your must-sees?

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