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Wild Atlantic Way

Enjoy the wilderness of the west coast of Ireland; journey past soaring cliffs, walk along hidden beaches and pass through buzzing towns and cities.

Steps leading to Fanad Head Lighthouse in Co Donegal/

Fanad Head, Co Donegal (Tourism Ireland)

Sun rising by the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare, Ireland/

Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare (Tourism Ireland)

View across a golf course towards Ballybunion in Co Kerry, Ireland/

Ballybunion, Co Kerry (Tourism Ireland)

Surfer enjoying the large waves in Co Sligo, Ireland/

Easkey surf, Co Sligo (Tourism Ireland)

Drombeg Stone Circle set in the beautiful Irish countryside around Cork/

Drombeg Stone Circle, Co Cork (Tourism Ireland)

Couple of walkers resting on a cliff top and admiring the sea views near Baltimore, Co Cork/

Baltimore, Co Cork (Tourism Ireland)

Waves crashing against the cliffs around the Ring of Kerry/

Ring of Kerry (Tourism Ireland)

People walking and cycling past the sandy beach at Coumeenoole Beach/

Coumeenoole beach and Slea Head, Dingle (Tourism Ireland)

Sheep standing on rocky cliff tops at Sheeps Head Co Cork/

Sheeps Head, Co Cork (Tourism Ireland)

Connemara landscape with a twisted tree that has been blown by the strong Atlantic winds/

Connemara, Co Galway (Tourism Ireland)

Tail fin of a humpback whale emerging from the sea around Co Cork, Ireland/

Humpback whale in Co Cork (Tourism Ireland)

Waves breaking against the sandy beach of Inchydoney at Clonakilty, Co Cork/

Inchydoney Beach, Clonakilty, Co Cork (Tourism Ireland)

Family enjoying the surf at Pollan Beach in Co Donegal/

Pollan Beach, Co Donegal (Tourism Ireland)

Hills rising from the mist at Derryclare Lake, Connemara,Co Galway/

Derryclare Lake, Connemara, Co Galway (Tourism Ireland)

Two hairy goats with large horns standing on rocks at the Beara Peninsula, Co Cork./

Beara Peninsula, Co Cork (Tourism Ireland)

Rocky peninsula at Dunmore Head with the Blasket Islands/

Dunmore Head and Blasket Islands, Dingle Peninsula (Tourism Ireland)

Waves breaking against a stoney beach at Aughris Head View, Co Sligo/

Aughris Head View, Co Sligo (Tourism Ireland)

Limestone landscape of The Burren with the large stone monument Poulnabrone Dolmen/

Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Burren, Co Clare (Tourism Ireland)

At 2,500km in length from the remote Donegal headlands in the north to the stunning peninsulas of Kerry and Cork in the south the Wild Atlantic Way encompasses breath-taking scenery through seven counties along Irelands west coast. Experience the local culture and meet some of the friendliest people in the many villages and towns that nestle along the coastline.

The Northern Headlands are a rugged and remote area that marks the north-western corner of the Wild Atlantic Way. Malin Head at the tip of the Inishowen Peninsula, Ireland’s most northerly point has dramatic crevices cut into the rugged headland; Fanad Head with its lighthouse offers stunning scenery and incredible beaches; the top of the Slieve League Cliffs will give you fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Sligo Mountains and Donegal Bay. When conditions are right it is possible to see the Northern Lights.

Take time to visit Grianan of Aileach, an imposing stone fort which dates back to 1700BC; Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium; Ballymastocker Strand; Doe Castle, said to have sheltered survivors of the Spanish Armada who were shipwrecked off the rugged coast or take a boat trip to search for dolphins, whales and the occasional basking shark.

The Surf Coast runs from Donegal Town through Sligo to Erris in Mayo. Visit Bundoran, Ireland’s unofficial surf capital; brave the Atlantic waves at Mullaghmore Head or take a horseback ride along the beaches of county Sligo.

Sligo is WB Yeats County where the landscapes of his childhood have bee

n immortalised in his best known works. Wander through the woodlands around Glencar Lake and find the delightful waterfall from his poem ‘The Stolen Child’.

Take a boat trip from Mullaghmore to Inishmurray Island and visit the 6th century monastic ruins; visit the Gothic splendour of Classiebawn Castle or nearby flat-topped mountain, Ben Bulben.

Downpatrick Head, a spectacular headland, 38 metres above the sea in County Mayo is home to the impressive sea stack ‘Dun Briste’ and the ruins of a church, cross and holy well said to mark the site of an earlier church founded by Saint Patrick.

The Bay Coast takes you from Erris to Connemara meandering around huge bays with the largest being Clew Bay with 365 islets and islands. Cruise around the bay to see the seal colony and some beautifully secluded beaches. Killary Harbour forms a natural border between Galway and Mayo. It produces some of Ireland’s most delicious mussels and dolphins are often seen here.

Drive across the road bridge to Keem Strand on Achill Island with its towering sea cliffs. Wander through the cottages of the long abandoned settlement known as the Deserted Village. Derrigimlagh Bog, a wild and mysterious place with a mosaic of tiny lakes and peat and is where Alcock and Brown crashed in 1919 ending the world’s first nonstop Atlantic flight crossing. Visit Westport House in County Mayo, Galway city or Connemara’s capital Clifden.

Cliff Coast, travel along the coast to the Cliffs of Moher a UNESCO Global Geopark and Special Protection Area. With cliffs rising up to 702 feet at their highest they are home to over 20 species of seabirds. Walking here is a pleasure with views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Twelve Bens Mountains and the Dingle Peninsula.

Spend time in The Burren, a limestone landscape that has been compared to the moon. The Burren comes from the Irish word "Boíreann" meaning a rocky place. It is home to a diverse range of unique plants; included among these are 23 of Irelands 27 native orchid species.

Loop Head is a scenic peninsula with a stunning coastal drive and is a whale watching paradise. Huge Atlantic waves pound miles of sheer granite cliffs and weather beaten caves along this dramatic road trip culminating at Loop Lighthouse. Established in 1670 it has impressive views across to the Blasket Islands. As you travel back take to the water of the Shannon Estuary with a Dolphin watch trip; there are around 160 bottlenose dolphins that reside here.

Southern Peninsulas in the beautiful south west offer breath-taking views at every turn as they stretch miles out into the ocean. Choose one or more from these five great peninsulas - Dingle, Iveragh, Beara, Sheep's Head and Mizen.

Take a boat ride from the Dingle Peninsula to the Blasket Islands, a group of islands evacuated in 1953. Spend time here and visit the old village which is situated on the north-eastern side of the island, facing the mainland and Slea Head.

Across from the Iveragh Peninsula you will find the Skellig Islands; Skellig Michael a 6th century monastic settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site and its sister island, Little Skellig. Skellig Michael was chosen as a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

On the Beara Peninsula you will find Ireland’s only cable car, sitting high above the sea. It's the only way to cross to Dursey Island. A short ride will carry you over the waves to the secluded island with its lighthouse, castle ruins, a signal tower, standing stones and breath-taking sunsets.

Haven Coast zigzags from Bantry Bay through Skibbereen and on into Kinsale. Endless inlets and Blue Flag beaches, wonderful artisan food, arts and festivals characterise this beautiful area with the temperate Gulf Stream climate. Echoing along this coast is its history: ancient sites, coastal forts and – out on the horizon – ‘Ireland’s tear drop’, the Fastnet Rock.

Spend a while in Kinsale, a seaside town with a rich heritage: Viking trading post, wine port and site of a 17th century siege. Each October you will find lobster, crab, artisan cheese and meats at the Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival.

The Old Head of Kinsale juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and rises hundreds of feet above the water with towering sea cliffs. Discover this area on a gentle 3.7 mile walk that takes you by the mysterious ruins of a fort, which is said to have been built by the Celts around 100BC and the black and white striped Old Head Lighthouse which looks out to sea where a German torpedo sank the Lusitania. The wreck still lies beneath the waves. The West Cork waters around Baltimore are home to Risso dolphins, basking sharks, minke and humpback whales.

The Wild Atlantic Way has so much to offer so whether you drive from end to end or dip into it as the mood takes you can be assured of a magical experience.


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