Nicknamed the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s gorgeous west coast plays host to medieval castles, traditional Gaelic-speaking villages, windswept beaches, and jagged sea cliffs. Here’s how to explore the coast on a day trip—or longer—from Dublin.
Head due west on for a full-day tour to take in highlights such as the hulking Cliffs of Moher, the vibrant city of Galway, and the lush landscape of Connemara National Park. If you have a literary bent, follow in the footsteps of celebrated Irish poet William Butler Yeats during a visit to the county of Sligo, where Yeats spent much of his childhood. Take a Wild Atlantic Way day trip from Dublin on your own or via a guided tour, which includes both comfortable transportation and engaging commentary from an informative guide. Many tours combine guided sightseeing with free time to explore the picturesque sites on your own.
With more time on your hands, you can go farther from Dublin to visit top attractions such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Skellig Michael; the 15th-century Listowel Castle; and Slea Head, the westernmost point in Europe. Or travel up to County Donegal in the Northern Headlands to admire some of the highest sea cliffs on the continent, along with secluded beaches and Ireland’s northernmost point, Malin Head. Tack on extra days to cross the border for a visit to Northern Ireland as well. Guided tours take care of all planning and logistics so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
Things to Know
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches for 1,555 miles (2,500 kilometers) from West Cork to Donegal, covering nine counties and three provinces along the way.
More than 1,000 attractions along the route offer an endless variety of destinations, from spots for wildlife viewing and epic surfing to historic castles and medieval towns.
Temperatures can vary depending on the season and weather conditions. Be sure to bring warm, weatherproof layers in case the wind kicks up or the clouds roll in.
Exploring the cities, towns, and countryside on foot is one of the best ways to experience Ireland; wear sturdy shoes.