Zigzagging along Ireland’s west coast, the 2,175-mile (3,500-kilometer) Wild Atlantic Way driving route shows off some of the country’s most thrilling coastal scenery. From the wave-battered sea cliffs of Slieve League and Moher to edge-of-the-world archipelagos such as the Skelligs and the Aran Islands, this route is a visual feast.
With so much to see along the Wild Atlantic Way, most travelers only manage to explore a portion of the route on any one trip. Travelers based in Dublin can take day trips to explore highlights of the route, such as the Cliffs of Moher and Galway City.
Visitors based in west Ireland cities such as Galway can choose between a wider range of Wild Atlantic Way tours, from boat trips and short kayaking, walking, and horse-riding excursions to full-day trips to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. Some multi-day tours focus exclusively on the Wild Atlantic Way and the west of Ireland, while others continue onward to explore Northern Ireland, too.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Wild Atlantic Way is a must for active travelers and outdoors lovers.
- Stretches of the Wild Atlantic Way are rural; keep an eye out for sheep and other animals who may wander out onto the road.
- Should you encounter slow-moving farm machinery on the roads, reduce your speed immediately.
How to Get There
There are lots of entry points to the Wild Atlantic Way. Dublin Airport is about three hours’ drive from Donegal, Galway City, and Cork City, three of the biggest urban hubs along the route. Cork Airport is just 20 minutes’ drive from Cork City, while Shannon Airport is about 70 minutes from Galway City, though flight options at some airports are limited.
When to Get There
The best time to explore the Wild Atlantic Way is in summer, when the weather is better suited to outdoor activities, and daylight lasts until as late as 10pm. In winter, country roads can be poorly lit, and ice and snow in mountainous areas can make driving treacherous.
Where to Stop Along the Wild Atlantic Way
To savor spectacular coastal scenery, stop at Mizen Head in County Cork or Malin Head in County Donegal. For insight into Irish culture, visit Doolin, a small town in County Clare with a lively traditional Irish music scene, or Galway, which is known for its artistic community. Many of the islands along the route, including the Aran Islands, Blaskets, and Skelligs, showcase Ireland at its most rugged and remote.