Ireland’s Route 66: The ultimate 7-day Wild Atlantic Way itinerary

After a challenging year for most of us, what sounds better than an epic road trip with your besties along one of the most stunning routes in the world? 

There isn’t much that lifts your spirits quite like getting outdoors and exploring somewhere beautiful. And so we offer you the ultimate seven-day Wild Atlantic Way itinerary, packed full of natural beauty, delicious food, fantastic people, and epic adventure.

A stunning coastal journey stretching 2,500 km (1,553 miles), this Wild Atlantic Way itinerary covers just some of the highlights waiting to be discovered.

From Malin Head in Donegal to the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork, there are abundant sights to behold, leaving unlimited time preferable.

But this seven-day Wild Atlantic Way itinerary will give you a gratifying glimpse of how breathtaking, challenging, and positively uplifting a trip along Ireland’s west coastline can be.

Travelling through three of the six regions along the Wild Atlantic Way, we suggest activities to suit all abilities as well as places to dine and stay for all pockets. Most of all, it will leave you eager to travel and curious for more.

Day one – the Surf Coast

Start your week on Ireland's Surf Coast.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

With Ireland’s west coast renowned for its epic waves, any Wild Atlantic Way itinerary will include surfing. And with the reputation as Ireland’s surf capital, what better place to start than Bundoran in Donegal.

After flying into either Belfast or Donegal airport, head to this vibrant seaside town and check in to one of the fantastic surf schools.

Visit the mystical Fairy Bridge and Wishing Chair on Tullan Strand. Take advantage of Donegal Equestrian Centre. Or check out the world-famous Bundoran Golf Links course.

Where to eat

Buoys and Gulls coffee shop in Bundoran is the perfect spot for lunch. Alternatively, Blas Restaurant in the Gateway Lodge in nearby Donegal Town is fit to dine on any occasion.

Why not end the night with some craic agus ceol (roughly translated as fun usually associated with a few pints and some live music) at the Reel Inn? Sure it would be rude not to!

Where to stay

For anyone following this Wild Atlantic Way itinerary on a budget, stay at TurfnSurf Lodge in Bundoran. Starting at €55 pps.

Alternatively, bed down at The Abbey Hotel in the heart of Donegal Town. Prices start at €89 pps for a twin room.

Day two – waves and graves

Go surfing in Strandhill on this Wild Atlantic Way itinerary.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Continue your Wild Atlantic Way itinerary in gorgeous Sligo. Here, you can catch the waves at Strandhill Beach or visit the stunning Glencar Waterfall in nearby Leitrim.

For any anglers in the group, Leitrim is the place to stay with a wide range of stunning fishing locations.

Back in Sligo, take the afternoon to visit Queen Maeve’s grave on Knocknarea Mountain, taking in the stunning landscape as you climb. Atlantic Sheepdogs or nearby Atlantic Way Alpaca Farm also make for a great day out.

Where to eat

Enjoy a healthy lunch at the Sweet Beat Café in Sligo town before sampling the fresh menu at the gorgeous Eala Bhán Seafood Restaurant for dinner. 

Where to stay

After a day at the beach, sleep at the comfortable SurfnStay Lodge and Hostel in Strandhill. Prices start at €45 pps.

For a more extravagant budget, check into Lough Rynn Castle, ancestral home to the infamous Lord Leitrim. It is set on 350 acres of pristine estate and offers fine dining and afternoon tea. Prices start from €159 for a double room.

Day three – magical Mayo

Céidi Fields in County Mayo.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Day three of the Wild Atlantic Way itinerary takes you to county Mayo. A perfect example of the unspoiled beauty found along Ireland’s west coast.

Blue Flag beaches, native seals in Killaha Bay, and epic vistas from Downpatrick Head all add to the adventure.

End your day with a visit to the Céidi Fields, a Neolithic site with the oldest field system in the world. Or head to Erris Head for the ultimate loop walk amidst vast ocean views.

Where to eat

Pick up coffee and cake while browsing hand-crafted souvenirs at the Lunasa Tea Room. Then enjoy a late evening supper at Talbot’s Bar and Restaurant, both in the heart of Belmullet.

Where to stay

The Talbot Hotel is both comfortable and affordable. Starting from €149 per double room.

Or end day three at the friendly Achill Island Hotel, a family-run guesthouse where you can relish an evening of island living. Prices from €150 per double room.

Day four – beautiful Bay Coast

Explore the Bay Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way itinerary.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Any Wild Atlantic Way itinerary would not be complete without time to explore Achill Island. Stroll along Keel Beach, visit the Deserted Village, or discover the Aquarium and Visitor Centre.

Hire a bike to enjoy the Great Western Greenway on two wheels before heading to the vibrant town of Westport for an evening of activity, shopping, and bar crawls.

Where to eat

Eat lunch at Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant on the gorgeous Island of Achill. Enjoy dinner and cocktails at The Tower’s Bar and Restaurant in Westport.

Where to stay

Treat yourself at the stunning Breafy House Resort in Castlebar. Prices from €184 per double room.

Or, for the ultimate glamping experience, check out Eaglewood Lodge and Glamping in Westport. Contact directly for prices of glamping pods or the stunning log cabin.

Day five – Connemara calling

Connemara, County Galway.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

For any pilgrims considering this Wild Atlantic Way itinerary start day five at Croagh Patrick in Mayo. Climbing it barefoot is considered the ultimate act of penance.

Alternatively, follow directions to the Connemara National Park for stunning landscapes or head to Clifden for a busier atmosphere. Spiddle Craft Centre is a lovely stop-off point before reaching the bright lights of Galway city.

Where to eat

Enjoy a lunch menu of seafood chowder and fresh fish at Mitchell’s in Clifden, making room for a delicious dinner at the Michelin-star Loam in Galway city.

Where to stay

Settle down amidst natural beauty at Connemara National Park Hostel (prices from €70 for a double room peak season).

Or check into hat designer Phillip Treacy’s luxurious 5-star g Hotel and Spa in Galway city. A double room will set you back from €249 per night.

Day six – the Cliff Coast

Explore the Cliff Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way itinerary.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Join the Cliff Coast in County Clare and explore the unique Burren landscape.

Admire the famous Cliffs of Moher either on foot or by cruise. After which you can set sail to the Aran Island of Inis Mór for an afternoon of scuba diving or island discovery.

Back on the mainland, there is plenty to pass the time with Doolin Cave telling a fascinating tale and Lahinch beach renowned for its epic surf.

Sea swimming can be enjoyed at Clahane in Liscannor or further along the Wild Atlantic Way at White Strand or Spanish Point.

Where to eat

Enjoy tea and scones before treating yourself to a new fragrance at The Burren Perfumery.

Book a table for dinner at Vaughan’s in Liscannor, followed by a traditional Irish music session in one (or all) of the four pubs in Doolin, Ireland’s music capital.

Where to stay

For those watching the pennies, the Rainbow Hostel is kind on the pocket, super comfy, and right in the heart of Doolin. Check with the hostel directly for rates.

Alternatively, camping pods on Inis Mór can bring a special island experience to your adventure. Contact directly for pod availability and prices.

For those who prefer to stay in a hotel, the Armada at Spanish Point has all the creature comforts and overlooks the wild Atlantic spray. Prices start at €160 per double room.

Day seven – the best of the west

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Start your final day of this Wild Atlantic Way itinerary bathing in Kilkee Pollock Holes before driving the coastal route to the pretty village of Doonbeg.

Stay for a round of golf at the stunning links course or step back in time at nearby Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

From here you can travel home via Shannon airport, just 15 minutes from Bunratty Village by taxi.

Where to eat

Take lunch in Tubridy’s in Doonbeg village. Then enjoy some traditional pub food and a pint of Guinness in the original Durty Nellie’s pub in Bunratty.

For the ultimate farewell, book a place at the table of a medieval banquet in Bunratty Castle. Here you can dine like a king and queen before your Wild Atlantic Way itinerary comes to an end.

Where to stay

Camp out at Green Acres Caravan and Camping Park on the stunning Loop Head Peninsula. Rates and charges vary, please contact the site directly.

To end your trip in style, book a room at the luxurious Dromoland Castle in Newmarket on Fergus. Room prices range from €600 to €1,030 for a Deluxe King Room per night.

A taste of adventure – plenty more to explore

Explore the west of Ireland with the ultimate Wild Atlantic Way itinerary.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

This 7-day Wild Atlantic Way itinerary is a mere snippet of what can be found along Ireland’s stunning west coast. It will tickle your tastebuds, tantalise your senses and tempt your inner explorer.

There is something for everyone on this route. We have no doubt you will be left desperate to explore further.

For more to do along this epic trip, check out my new Ultimate Guide to the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s the perfect guide to start planning your own wild adventure.

Where the ocean meets the land, the west coast of Ireland is the perfect Emerald Isle experience. The raw landscape, epic views, traditional music, hearty food, and endless craic will make it a trip to remember.

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