Ireland’s gorgeous landscape and rich history make the island the perfect place for an unforgettable road trip.
Travel bible Lonely Planet has named the ten best road trips in Ireland. With something for everyone and dramatic views guaranteed around every bend, it’s time to get that engine running.
Head west from Dublin to Galway on the Wild Atlantic Way, gateway to brooding Connemara and one of the island’s liveliest cities. Then loop south into the Burren of County Clare to experience the remarkable limestone landscape that has been designated a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Travel through time in Ireland’s Ancient East, where tombs, monastic cities and sacred sites provide a window to the past. Visit the Neolithic passage graves of Brú na Bóinne, and the Hill of Tara, once seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Then go west to the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise before heading to the beautiful sixth-century monastic site at Glendalough, County Wicklow.
Blending cracking coastal scenery with historic sites and picturesque villages, the Causeway Coastal Route stretches from Belfast to Derry~Londonderry. Key stops along the way include The Gobbins, a white-knuckle cliff path walk at Islandmagee, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Bushmills, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery.
Wexford and Waterford
The southeast coast of Ireland is dotted with fabulous beaches and pretty towns and villages. Drive from the old Norman settlement of Enniscorthy, County Wexford, to the picturesque resort of Ardmore, County Waterford. The route will take you along the Copper Coast, named for the copper mines that operated there in the nineteenth century and whose footprint can still be seen.
Ring of Kerry
One of the most famous road trips on the island, the drive around the Iveragh Peninsula offers jaw-dropping views of pristine beaches, mountains, loughs, the island-dotted Atlantic, and some of the finest medieval ruins in Ireland. There are plenty of reasons to stop along the way, such as the vibrant town of Killarney, the fascinating Skellig Experience, and Derrynane National Historic Park.
The delightful route around the Dingle Peninsula will take you along the stunning coastline and golden strands, past castles, medieval churches and Neolithic monuments. Be sure to stop at Dingle, a captivating little town which is home to lots of artisan shops and is well-known for its thriving music scene. The dramatic Iron Age Dún Beag Fort is also worth a visit.
The Three Peninsulas
The Three Peninsulas in counties Cork and Kerry make for a fabulous road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and the Beara Peninsulas present a landscape bathed in shifting light, making it a region of remarkable contrasts and stunning scenery. There are also lots of waymarked trails giving you the opportunity to stretch your legs and take in some stunning vistas.
Wild Atlantic Way
For an epic adventure, drive the whole 2,500 km Wild Atlantic Way, which stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal in the north to Kinsale, County Cork, in the south. It’s one of the world’s most dramatic coastlines and features 15 ‘signature discovery points’ that are incredible places to visit and experience.
A trip around Donegal’s rugged coastline from Rossnowlagh to Buncrana will take you past the 600m-high Sliabh Liag sea cliffs, alongside golden beaches and through the dramatic Glengesh Pass. A short detour inland will give you the chance to visit Glenveagh National Park, with its beautiful lake, deer park and castle.
North Mayo and Sligo
This road trip begins at Westport on the edge of an Atlantic inlet in rugged County Mayo and finishes at Sligo town. Head first to windswept Achill Island, then follow the coast around to Céide Fields, a fascinating archaeological site with an excellent visitor centre. As you near Sligo, you will see the majestic flat-topped Benbulben, which inspired the Nobel Prize-winning poet W B Yeats.
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