Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is officially the longest defined coastal drive in the world. Made up of more than 2,400KM of journey, covering 8 counties, 150 discovery points, and over 1000 attractions the route reaches from the very north of Donegal to the very south of Cork. From the Northern Headlands and the Surf Coast, to the Cliff Coast and the Southern Peninsulas, there are endless jewels in the Wild Atlantic Way crown.
Perhaps you like the idea of covering the whole route or maybe you’d prefer just one location to really soak up the area. To help you in your Wild Atlantic Way planning, we’ve rounded up a few stops that really shouldn’t be missed. Book your time off and enjoy.
The perfect spot to start your all-Ireland Odyssey, Malin Head is the most northern point in the route and is the pinnacle of otherworld scenery. Soak up the panoramic views from Banba’s Crown (and grab yourself a coffee from the Cafe Banba while you do to keep you warm), take in the endless sands of 5 Finger Strand with its impossibly high dunes and rocky outcrops, and finish up with a drink at Farrans, Ireland’s most northerly bar. You might even be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights on a clear night.
From Malin you can make your way through Donegal to Fanad. The location is home to miles of stunning Blue Flag beaches including the Ballymastocker Bay which was voted the second most beautiful in the world by Observer Magazine. Don’t miss Fanad Lighthouse, the crowing point of the Peninsula, which dates back to 1818 and was built in response to the sinking of a warship on Lough Swilly (sadly only the ship’s pirate survived the wreck!). Still in operation, you can visit the Lighthouse and even stay in this fascinating location.
Not as well-known as the Cliffs of Moher but arguably more impressive standing at three times as tall, Slieve League are Europe’s highest sea cliffs measuring over 600 metres high. Stop at the visitors centre to get your bearings before you take in the dramatic views.
Cliffs of Moher
An absolute must, the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction. With views of the Aran Islands, Maumturk Mountains, The Twelve Pins Mountain Range, and the Loop head Peninsula, we suggest you visit at sunset to truly soak up all this beauty. Stretching 8KM along the Atlantic Coast of Clare there is a visitors centre midway, as well as a viewing tower from where you might spot the famous surfing wave known as ‘Aileen’s’.
Continuing on the theme of awe-inspiring ocean scenes, don’t miss Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo to take in crashing waves and perhaps spot some international surfers who visit to rack up some ‘big wave surfing’. If the timing is right, you may see Prowlers, a famous spot where swells can reach up to 30 metres high. Watching the pros practice using jet skis is a sight to behold but bear in mind the waves are best during the winter so you should come prepared for some chilly conditions.
A little less adrenaline-filled, but no less essential, Strandhill is a beautiful coastal village located in County Sligo. Valued as a hidden gem in the surfer lover’s crown, it’s the perfect spot to slow down and soak up the surroundings. Just think, yoga on the beach, seal watching by kayak and endless seafood and other local specialties to top things off. The perfect pitstop.
Slea Head Drive
If you are expecting a clear day, carve out some time to journey along the Slea Head Drive. A circular route, starting and ending in Dingle, the road takes in some of Ireland’s most striking views from historic sites, to the Blasket Islands, Skellig Islands, and the south western horizon. Give yourself some time here, there is much to see and be sure to keep your driving skills sharp with quiet single lane roads making up some of the route.
Eagle-eyed fans will recognise that this 1300-year-old monastery was one of the locations used in the filming of the recent Star Wars movie and it’s easy to see why. The Skellig Rocks are towering crags that rise from the sea west of the Ivereagh Peninsula in County Kerry and the monastery is carved into the cliff, and now allocated as a World Heritage Site. Originally built to allow monks to withdraw entirely from civilisation, tourists can now visit this historic location and spend time taking in the awe-inspiring views.
Stop off at Doolin Cave in County Clare and look forward to coming face-to-face with ‘The Great Stalactite’, the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. Measuring at 7.3 metres (that’s 23 ft!) from the ceiling, it’s quite the spectacle. Forming from a single drop of water thousands of years ago, you can join a tour from the Visitors Centre to hear all about the cave and extend your visit to a beautiful nature trail once you’ve had enough underground fun.
Malin Head’s opposite, Mizen Head is the most southern part of Ireland, on the extremity of the Mizen Peninsula in County Cork. A magical place, home to a signal station built to protect lives off this treacherous coastline, the scenery is beyond beautiful. The visitor centre is an award-winning Maritime Museum and Heritage Attraction and well worth a stop, but you can also look forward to the signal station which is now open to the public. A ten-minute walk and 99 steps down from the visitors centre, cross the arched bridge and look out for seals, humpback wales, and dolphins in the choppy waters below. Breathtaking!
Abbey Insurance Brokers
Whether you choose to roadtrip, staycation or jet away during your holidays, our team of Abbey experts are available to answer any questions you may have about travel and car insurance. Contact us on 08000 66 55 44 or request a callback.