The route takes in some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery, along with rugged coastline, enchanting villages, ancient monuments and top-class visitor attractions.
From heritage towns and museums to magical cliffs and underground caves, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way will take you on an incredible journey of discovery.
Note: This tour suggestion is only intended to show you some of the possibilities for exploration and enjoyment along part of the Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and particularly highlights Heritage Island Attractions in the area and on the map below (Ireland's Premier Attractions and Heritage Towns). We always recommend that you create your own route, taking in the attractions that are of greatest interest to you. Always check your route and distances and allow plenty of time for stop-offs, diversions, rest and relaxation.
Donegal to Mayo
County Donegal is an area of unspoiled beauty and rugged terrain. As you make your way from the Inishowen Peninsula to Fanad Head, you will come across some breath-taking sights - including marvellous views of Lough Swilly, the golden beaches of Ballymastocker Bay, Tory Island and the Fanad Head Lighthouse.
Make sure to stop off en route in Letterkenny, Donegal’s largest town with a variety of restaurants and traditional Irish pubs. Letterkenny is also home to the Donegal County Museum where you can discover the fascinating story of County Donegal from the Stone Age to the twentieth century. The Museum is free of charge to visit!
From Fanad Head, the route continues through the boggy and lake-filled Rosses region; into Glencolmcille, dotted with ancient monuments; and past Mullaghmore Head, offering stunning views over the Atlantic. The highest cliffs in Europe - Slieve League - are also to be found along this section of the Way.
The route then brings you into Sligo, also known as Yeat's County and the birthplace of William Butler Yeats. You’ll see the magnificent Benbulben Mountain standing over the ocean and can make a stop in the vibrant Sligo Town.
If you’re willing to take a detour, the fantastic Eagles Flying experience is located in Ballymote, a 20 minute drive from Sligo Town. This exciting, educational and fun attraction allows you to get up close and personal with some of the biggest birds of prey in the world like Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Vultures and Owls. See them in full flight and even let them land on your hand!
From County Sligo, the route moves through County Mayo. Throughout this region, you will see some of the most spectacular views and mighty cliffs; and will travel through ‘Pirate Country’ - the home of Ireland’s infamous Pirate Queen Granuaile (Grace O'Malley).
The county’s largest town, Ballina Heritage Town, boasts fine examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture, woodland and river walks and much more. While here, make sure to explore the Jackie Clarke Collection - one of the most important private collections of Irish history comprising over 100,000 artefacts. Admission is free.
Westport Town is a lively stop-off point, filled with fantastic accommodation, restaurants, cafes and pubs. Outside of here, you’ll see Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s sacred mountain.
Mayo to Clare
The Wild Atlantic Way then brings travellers into the renowned Connemara region of County Galway. It’s here that you will find the Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden.
Built in the 1800s, the castle/abbey has been home to the Benedictine nuns since 1920. Today, it features a wonderful 6 acre Victorian Walled Garden, beautiful gothic church, extensive lakeside walks, a craft and design centre, award-winning café and more.
From Connemara, the route continues to Galway City - one of Ireland’s most loved cities, famous for its eclectic vibe, friendly people, great nightlife, local food and fabulous festivals. Located in the historic Spanish Arch area of the city is the Galway City Museum. This free-to-visit attraction explores the rich archaeology, history, and heritage of Galway through a mix of permanent and touring exhibitions.
Heading towards the lunar landscape of the Burren region in County Clare, the route passes through Kinvara, home to the 16th century Dunguaire Castle. This castle, and its history, lies at the heart of Ireland’s literary revival in the early 20th century. During the peak months, it hosts renowned evening banquets with fabulous entertainment and locally sourced food.
The Burren is home to two spectacular show caves, which allow visitors to discover the region’s dramatic underworld. Head to Doolin Cave, home to the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere; or Aillwee Cave and Birds of Prey Centre, featuring beautiful caverns and chasms, real bear bones and a thunderous waterfall.
In Liscannor, head to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience - Ireland’s most visited natural attraction. Standing at 214m over the ocean, and stretching for 8km, these mighty cliffs have remained unchanged for millennia. The Experience boasts an award winning eco-friendly visitor centre, exhibition, O’Brien’s Tower and plenty of marine wildlife.
Deviating slightly from the Wild Atlantic Way route (a 20 minute drive from Doolin) lies the Burren Centre in Kilfenora. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Burren’ the centre traces the story of the formation of the Burren from 320 million years ago.
The Way continues along the coastline of County Clare, through the seaside resorts of Lahinch and Kilkee.
Clare to Cork
For those looking to cut a little drive time from their journey at this point, Shannon Ferries offer a fantastic service. Located in Killimer, just outside Kilrush, this ferry brings you on a short 20 minute crossing from County Clare across the Shannon Estuary to Tarbert in Co. Kerry, saving a huge 137km of driving!
(If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can take the longer route to County Limerick, passing by the popular Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, before visiting the riverside city of Limerick - home to two top attractions: the Thomond Park Stadium and Museum Tours and King John's Castle.)
A short 20 minute drive from Tarbert, in County Limerick, the Heritage Town of Foynes awaits. Amenities include a forest park, walking trails, Estuary viewpoints, the prize winning Boyce Gardens, award-winning Knockpatrick Gardens, and Combat Zone Paintballing Adventure.
Foynes is also home to the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum - where Irish Coffee was invented! Along with sampling the traditional tipple, you will discover the role played by Foynes in international aviation in the 1940s, and get the opportunity to board the world’s only life size replica of the Boeing 314 Flying Boat.
Kerry to Cork
The Kerry section of the Wild Atlantic Way is truly an area of world-renowned natural beauty. Travelling along the Dingle Peninsula, sights include the Blasket Islands, Mount Brandon, and various Celtic and early Christian monuments.
Next up is the famous Ring of Kerry - passing by tranquil beaches, Valentia Island and the Skellig Islands, one of which is Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The final looped road in Kerry is the Ring of Beara where you can take Ireland’s only cable car out to Dursey Island if you wish!
Your County Cork experience will see you travel around the unspoiled Sheep's Head peninsula, which features a small lighthouse, to the fishing village of Kinsale, where the Way officially ends.
On route, pass through Mizen Head. One of only fifteen signature points on the route, the Mizen Head Signal Station is well worth a visit. As Ireland's most south-westerly point, the centre features the Fastnet Lighthouse, a Navigational Simulator, Keeper’s Quarters and the chance to see whales and dolphins from the Arched bridge over the wild ocean below.
When in Skibbereen, head to the Skibbereen Heritage Centre to gain a fascinating insight into the Great Irish Famine through exhibits, dramatisations and interactive stations. The centre also features a Genealogy Service and walking trail app.
Roll over the map pins to view attraction names. Click on a marker to go to the profile of the attraction.