Road Trip Around Ireland – Wild Atlantic Way Drive Itinery

by Thomas Lyons
travelling around ireland by car

The Wild Atlantic Way is the most popular way for travelling around Ireland by car, and there is a reason why most tourists call it the best way to get around Ireland.

This Ireland’s wild and beautiful west coast ring is a spectacular route stretching 2,500km (1,550 miles) from County Cork to County Donegal.  So let’s get going with our best itinerary for a road trip around Ireland by car!

The Best Itinerary For a Roadtrip Around Ireland:

The Wild Atlantic Way trip around Ireland can be done within two weeks if you go slowly and spend time enjoying all the fantastic things there are to see and do along the way.

Day 1: Arrive at Donegal Airport – Carrickfinn

Begin your tour around Ireland by arriving at Donegal airport in Carrickfinn. It is an ideal starting point for your Wild Atlantic Way road trip adventure.

Rent a car or check into your hotel for a quick nap or bath (whatever you feel like doing). Spend your first day of this Ireland itinerary exploring Carrikfinn and relaxing at Carrickfinn beach. 

Day 2: Carrickfiin To Sligo:

Next day: Wake up early in the morning (if possible) as you have a lot of wonderful places to visit or drive along the Wild Atlantic Way route to Sligo. We recommend you check out and get on the road near about 9:00 AM. 

Whether you are searching for the best place to stay, eat, shop, or just want to gaze at the stunning views of this beautiful city, Sligo has it all. From historical sites to picturesque castles and beautiful landscapes, this county has something for everyone.

There are several top places to visit or drive to in Sligo on the Wild Atlantic Way that will keep your trip around Ireland exciting. Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Sligo on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Crohy Head

Stop 2: Loughros Beg Bay

Stop 3: Glengesh

Stop 4: Malin Beg

Stop 5: Slieve League

Stop 6: Saint John’s Point

Day 3: Sligo To Ballina: 

Ballina is the ideal holiday destination for tourists who are up for an adventure. It has an abundance of natural beauty that you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere along the Wild Atlantic Way. 

Surrounded by beautiful mountains, rugged coastlines, and breathtaking beaches, Ballina offers plenty of top spots to visit. It is the perfect location along the Wild Atlantic Way for slowing things down. Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Ballina on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Mullaghmore Head

Stop 2: Streedagh Point

Stop 3: Rosses Point

Stop 4: Strandhill Beach

Stop 5: Enniscrone Beach

Day 4: Ballina To Belmullet:

Belmullet is a small coastal town with many beautiful sights to see. It offers visitors a unique mix of stunning scenery, warm hospitality, and a myriad of natural arts and crafts.

This stunning sight would be perfect for an Instagram share to show friends and family.

Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Belmullet on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Rosserk Friary

Stop 2: Killlala

Stop 3: Bunatrahir Bay

Stop 4: Downpatrick Head

Stop 5: Muingelly

Stop 6: Ceide Fields

Stop 7: Benwee Head

Stop 8: Ballyglass Lighthouse

Day 5: Belmullet To Westport: 

Our next destination, Westport, is a thriving and vibrant tourist town,  sheltered by the Co. Mayo hills (nearly 400m above sea level). The town plays host to many events during the year that adds vibrancy and an extra dollop of craic to what is already a captivating place. These weekends, festivals, and holiday periods are filled with visitors enjoying the activities on offer; from walks, hikes, and exploring the many colourful sights of the town to enjoying a few well-earned Guinness in one of Westport’s many stylish pubs. Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Westport on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Erris Head

Stop 2: Doonamo Point

Stop 3: Annagh Head

Stop 4: Elly Bay Beach

Stop 5: Fallmore

Stop 6: Keem Strand

Day 6: Westport To Clifden:

Located in the West of Ireland, close to Galway and only a few miles from the Connemara region is Clifden. 

It is a wonderland of scenic beauty, where the coastline skips from county to county and no matter what side of the road you’re on you’re surrounded by natural splendour. 

Within this area there are plenty of things to do and see, from castle ruins to ancient forts, from friendly towns to rolling countryside – this is a paradise for both families and visitors seeking tranquillity. Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Clifden on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Old Head Beach

Stop 2: Roonagh Quay

Stop 3: Carrownishky Strand

Stop 4: Silver Strand

Stop 5: DooLough Valley

Stop 6: Killary Harbour

Stop 7: Aasleagh Falls

Stop 8: Cleggan Harbour

Day 7: Clifden To Galway: 

A journey of discovery is always rewarding and Galway is the next destination of this Ireland itinerary to continue the discovery of the “Wild Atlantic Way”. It is the perfect mix of the city and nature. 

The best way to explore this city is definitely by car. There’s so much to be seen and you’ll see it all if you walk around. This includes many art galleries, restaurants, pubs, churches, and more. And it goes without saying that there are lots of things for families to do in Galway too!

We thought we would highlight just a few of the incredible places near Galway that shouldn’t be missed.

Stop 1: Derrigimlagh Bog

Stop 2: Bunowen Bay

Stop 3: Gorteen Bay

Stop 4: Glinsk Pier

Stop 5: Rosaveal Harbour

Stop 6: Silverstrand Beach

Stop 7: Salthill Promenade

Day 8: Galway To Kilkee

Whether you are looking for quiet getaways, action-packed family activities, or beaches to relax on, Kilkee has it all!

Kilkee is a seaside resort town on the coast of County Clare in Ireland. It’s known as the pearl on Ireland’s West Coast due to its crystal clear waters, golden sands, quaint little fishing villages, and plenty of cool activities. Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Kilkee on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Rinville Park

Stop 2: Traught beach 

Stop 3: Flaggy Shore

Stop 4: Ballyvaughan Pier

Stop 5: Murrooghtoohy

Stop 6: Fanore Port

Stop 7: Cliffs of Moher

Stop 8: Clahane – Liscannor Bay View

Stop 9: Lahinch Beach

Stop 10: Spanish Point

Stop 11: Doughmore Bay – Doonbeg

Day 9: Kilkee To Tralee

Tralee is renowned as the capital of the beautiful county of Kerry. The city has thousands of years of history and has some magnificent sites to visit. 

From the stunning scenery of the Ring of Kerry to the battlefield of Dingle and sites like these, it is one of the most popular spots along the Wild Atlantic Way. 

Here’s a list of tourist attractions that you can visit during your drive to Tralee.

Stop 1: Kilkee Cliffs

Stop 2: Bridges of Ross

Stop 3: Loop Head

Stop 4: Carrigaholt Bay

Stop 5: Cappagh Pier

Stop 6: Killimer – Tarbert Ferry

Stop 7: Foyes Island Viewpoint

Stop 8: Carrigafoyle Castle

Stop 9: Beale Strand

Stop 10: Ballybunion Beach

Stop 11: Ballyheigue Beach

Stop 12: Banna Strand

Day 10: Tralee To Waterville 

Moving forward on this Ireland itinerary, we’ve Waterville as the next destination. There are many places located around the location that is worth visiting. Some of these are scenic parks, beaches, islands, shopping stores, restaurants, fun activities for kids and adults, hotels, etc.

Here’s a list of tourist attractions that you can visit during your drive to Waterville.

Stop 1: Castlegregory Beach

Stop 2 Blaskets View

Stop 3: Dunquin Harbour

Stop 4: The Blasket Islands

Stop 5: Dingle Harbour

Stop 6: Inch Beach

Stop 7: Mountain Stage Viewpoint

Stop 8: Skellig’s View, Bray Head

Stop 9: Little Skellig Island

Stop 10: Great Skellig (Skellig Michael)

Stop 11: Kerry Cliffs (Skelligs View)

Stop 12: Ballinskelligs Bay

Day 11: Waterville To Castletownbere

Castletownbere is a lively district of West Cork on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The town of Castletownbere is a gem in the Beara Peninsula region, with its fabulous scenery of mountains, bays, and islands. The name ‘Bere’ comes from a Gaelic word for ‘maple’.

Here’s a list of tourist attractions that you can visit during your drive to Castletownbere.

Stop 1: Derrynane Beach

Stop 2: Staigue Stone Fort

Stop 3: Kilmackillogue Viewpoint

Stop 4: Gleninchaquin Park

Stop 5: Uragh Stone Circle(Ciorcal Cloch Uragh)

Stop 6: Kenmare River View

Stop 7: Dursey Island

Stop 8: Castletown Bearhaven Harbour

Day 12: Castletownbere to Schull 

The next destination on our trip around Ireland is Schull. Schull is a place where you can choose to blend into the scenery or re-imagine your surroundings. 

You can discover it for yourself, or let us help you navigate your way to secluded villages, scenic destinations, and hidden treasures along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Bantry Pier

Stop 2: Seefin Viewpoint

Stop 3: Dooneen Pier

Stop 4: Sheep’s Head

Stop 5: Dooneen Pier

Stop 6: Ballyrisode Beach

Stop 7: Mizen Head

Stop 8: Altar Wedge Tomb

Stop 9: Schull Harbour

Day 13: Schull To Kinsale

Kinsale is the ideal destination for nature lovers looking to relax, soak up the fresh air and get away from it all. Located in the heart of the south-east corner of County Cork, Kinsale is a popular town that attracts thousands of visitors each year

Here we’ve listed some of our favourite top places to visit near Kinsale on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stop 1: Ballydehob Community Hall

Stop 2: Cunnamore Pier

Stop 3: Baltimore Harbour

Stop 4: Lough Hyne

Stop 5: Toe Head Bay

Stop 6: Galley Head

Stop 7: Inchydoney Bay

Stop 8: Timoleague Abbey

Stop 9: Old Head of Kinsale

Day 14: Fly Out of Cork at The End of Your Trip Around Ireland:

Once you drive to Cork city after exploring Kinsale, you can fly back to your home. No need to get sad as you can always plan another road trip around Ireland. 

Conclusion:

The Wild Atlantic Way is the best way to travel around Ireland. Along this way, you can enjoy the most unique and beautiful landscapes, gorgeous beaches, incredible diversity of big cities, small villages, ruins from the past, new towns, modern architecture, and Irish traditional music in pubs or concerts. 

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