Wild Atlantic Way Long Distance Touring Route in Ireland

Wild Atlantic Way

“What do you think of it yourself?”, says I.

Sitting enjoying a pint of the black stuff in McDonnell’s pub in Béal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet, Co. Mayo), we were chatting about the sheer scale of the Wild Atlantic Way.

“Tis a fierce drive alright”, says Pat, bending down to recover his beer mat.

For sure, it’s a long way from Malin Head to Kinsale. Much more so when you hug the coast as you drive. But that’s a good thing.

Fáilte Ireland’s new Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s first long-distance tourist driving route. At 2,500 km, the Way brings the visitor far out west, to strange places like Clare’s Loop Head or Mayo’s Mullet Peninsula, two great West of Ireland fingers jutting out into our beloved ocean.

Now, I’ve been urging you to ‘come wesht’ for years. Maybe this innovation will be the spur that drives you (no pun intended) to do so. Check out An Fál Mór and Ceann Iorrais in far-flung Mayo, or the magnificent Inch Strand in western Kerry. Visit Clifden, the Sky Road and the Alcock and Brown landing site at Derrigimlagh, way out in Connemara.

Wild Atlantic Way, Erris Head

Ceann Iorrais (Erris Head), Mayo

But, once there, get out of your car. Walk to the tidal island of Omey (Galway), the towerhouse at Easkey or up to Queen Maedbh’s Cairn above Strandhill (both Sligo). Stroll around the beautiful Rosserk and Moyne Abbeys, just outside Ballina (Mayo) or feel the wind and spray below Sliabh Liag (Donegal). Heck, there’s even a little bit o’ Lovely Leitrim thrown in for good measure. But don’t blink – you’ll miss it.

The Wild Atlantic Way transports you to the far extremities of Europe, to a land fashioned by ocean, wind and rain. Ours is a place of bog and metamorphic rock, standing testament to a world that has been transformed over hundreds of millions of years. At Ceann an Eaniagh (Mayo), you’ll tread on Ireland’s oldest rocks.

At the Céide Fields (Mayo), you’ll find the world’s oldest field system and, as if that wasn’t enough, you’ll marvel at the staggering cliffs straight across the little road. Further west, at Achill, you can hike to the top of the tallest sea cliffs in Europe (outside of the Faroe Islands). Stare in awe at the ocean’s tumultuous surface, 688m below you.

In Clare, walk around Black Head’s Burren landscape and up to the mass rock. In Sligo, fly a kite above the beach at Rosses Point. In Cork, skip lightly out to the beautiful southwestern islands of Dursey, Clear and Sherkin.

Where to overnight ? Forget about the crowded destinations of Westport, Dingle, Bundoran and Doolin. No, choose the lesser lights and get out and meet the people of the smaller towns and villages, like Falcarragh, Easkey, Belmullet, Cleggan, Fanore, Ballyferriter and Union Hall. Choose Inis Meáin over Inis Mór on the Aran Islands.

We might even see you in McDonnell’s for a ‘scoop’.

Wild Atlantic Way Route Maps

View the Wild Atlantic Way Maps.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Wild Atlantic Way

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  • Bob said on June 8, 2014 at 18:47:

    Good article on the Wild Atlantic Way. I’m considering doing this route on my motorbike so a few questions:
    1) Where does it start and finish?
    2) Does Ireland have a good network of campsites I could use on the trip?
    3) Link to info on campsites please.
    4) What is best time of year to visit?
    5) I’ve got all the time in the world but how long should I allow for the trip?

    • Barry Murphy said on June 12, 2014 at 14:23:

      Hi Bob,
      I hope you do decide to come to Ireland and enjoy the Wild Atlantic Way long-distance touring route.
      Learn all about it here : http://www.ireland.com/en-gb/wild-atlantic-way
      Quick responses :
      1. WAW starts in Kinsale Co. Cork and follows the Atlantic coast for 2,500 km to Malin Head in Co. Donegal.
      2. There are sufficient numbers of campsites along the way, but not as many as you would find in Mediterranean Europe, for example.
      3. Find campsites here : http://www.camping-ireland.ie/parks.html
      4. You might consider visiting between July and August to ensure the maximum number of campsites are open.
      5. That’s really up to you and how much you like to discover an area. If you did nothing but drive, the 2,500 km would take you over 40 hours driving at 60 km/hr. I would advise you take at least two weeks if you want to do the whole thing. Maybe it would be preferable to do a stretch and come back for more another year.
      Enjoy !

  • Sander said on January 28, 2015 at 13:11:

    After reading this and a few other articles about the WAW and seeing a lot of magnificent photos and videos, I really want to travel the WAW this summer. But the thing is I would like to do it on foot, or for some parts with a bus or train. So I’m asking what would be the nicest part to travel to. Since I can’t travel a lot of distance. I would like to go somewhere between 7 and 10 days. Thanks in Advance! Kind regards,

    • Barry Murphy said on January 29, 2015 at 10:02:

      Hey Sander,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      There is plenty of choice along the Wild Atlantic Way for walking.
      There are direct trains from Dublin to Cork city, to Killarney and Tralee in Kerry, to Ennis in Clare, to Galway city, to Westport and Ballina in Mayo and to Sligo town. Check out http://www.irishrail.ie/
      To find walking tour providers, just google “walking holidays” and add in any of the counties mentioned – Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo.
      Alternatively, look in the national tourism authority’s website, at http://www.discoverireland.ie/
      Enjoy Ireland!

      • Sander said on February 5, 2015 at 12:05:

        Thanks very much Barry! That’s a big help!
        Kind regards!

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