Ireland’s west is perhaps her greatest claim to natural beauty, and it is easy to see why. With places to stop and things to see, here is the only map of the Wild Atlantic Way you’ll need.
The Wild Atlantic Way, the longest defined coastal route in Ireland, is the magical coastal journey that stretches 2,600 km (1,600 miles) along Ireland’s west coast.
Travelling from County Donegal to County Cork, the Wild Atlantic Way connects the Emerald Isle’s most northern and southern points in one full loop.
Traversing a total of ten counties and three provinces, Ireland’s most famous route will give you an inner glimpse into all of the island’s beauties, from the scenic views of Irish nature to quaint seaside towns and the frightening power of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is truly one of the world’s most memorable journeys that will leave you breathless and full of life at the same time. If you are thinking of tackling Ireland’s west coast, here is a map of the Wild Atlantic Way with places to stop and things for you to see.
Travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way – navigating the wild west
First things first: sorting your travel along the Wild Atlantic Way. Perhaps the most efficient way to do so is by renting a car, and there are many options where you can do so.
Booking.com will also offer the best hotels or B&Bs for overnight stays.
A camper van would also be an extremely fun and enjoyable way to travel along the coastal roads of the Wild Atlantic Way if you are lucky enough to have one of these in your personnel.
Just ensure that you find suitable camping spots along the coastal drive.
Starting up north – people are dreaming of the hills of Donegal
The Wild Atlantic Way begins in the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal. So, our map of the Wild Atlantic Way for your journey will start along here, taking in the stunning scenery and seaside towns along the way.
When travelling through the magical hills of the Inishowen Peninsula, you will encounter some of Ireland’s finest coastal scenery along your way.
You’ll travel along Irish roads, from Malin Head which is one of the best places in Ireland to see the Northern Lights, past Fanad Head Lighthouse and Tory Island, enjoying stunning scenery and Blue Flag Beaches along the way.
The awe-inspiring Gap of Mamore is not far from Buncrana. As you head further west, you’ll travel through the beautiful town of Dunfanaghy.
From here, you can catch beautiful views of Bád Eddie in Bunbeg, pass the majestic Errigal Mountain, and then to Ireland’s largest sea cliffs at Slieve League.
If you’re looking for some stunning scenery inland, we highly recommend checking out the incredible Glenveagh National Park. Donegal Town is also worth stopping if you have time.
The size and stature of the Donegal mountains and the vast layers of gold that line the coastline will leave you in awe as you continue on your Wild Atlantic Way journey.
Encountering Yeats Country – scenic views from Sligo and the Wild Atlantic Way
The marriage of Mullaghmore Head and Benbulben in County Sligo is the perfect way to take in the stunning scenery of Ireland’s west coast and is a formative illustration of the calibre of County Sligo.
Mullaghmore Head is Ireland’s ultimate surfing capital, complemented by a white, sandy beach and surrounded by luxurious green and the bashing of the wild Atlantic Ocean.
In the distance, take in Benbulben, and sit “under Benbulben” as famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats once did. Enniscrone Beach in Sligo is a Blue Flag Beach that is also well worth checking out for spectacular views.
Majestic Mayo – Ireland and her islands
The next stop on your map of the Wild Atlantic Way is County Mayo, one of Ireland’s largest counties, which is unsurprisingly teeming with natural beauty, both onshore and far across the sea.
You’ll pass the unique Downpatrick Head and, on your way to the picturesque town of Westport, keep an eye out in the distance for Achill Island and its stunning Keem Bay.
Meanwhile, the towering Croagh Patrick mountain peak will glance over you along your coastal drive on Mayo’s western roads. A true sight to behold.
Stunning scenery in Galway and Clare – the cultural citadel amongst the wild
The next leg of your Wild Atlantic Way journey covers counties Galway and Clare, which crosses from Connacht into Munster. It includes one of Ireland’s finest cities alongside its countryside charm.
Both Connemara National Park and Clifden Town are some of the gems that can be found alongside the Galway stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way.
There is also a ferry service that will take you out to the beautiful and historic Aran Islands. Of course, why not stay a night in Galway city, Ireland’s cultural capital?
Moving on to County Clare, your Map of the Wild Atlantic Way heats up once more. We take in the Burren and the awesome heights of the famous Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s outstanding features.
Doolin town is a lovely stop as you continue further south, as is Lahinch Beach and the White Strand of Dunbeg if you want to walk along the coast and breath in the Atlantic air.
Finishing the journey – the Kingdom and the Rebels
Perhaps some of the most memorable stops along the Wild Atlantic Way can be found in the Kingdom of Kerry, which is your next leg.
Start at Killarney National Park, drive through the Dingle Peninsula and the stunning Ring of Kerry, the best and most scenic coastal drive on the Emerald Isle.
Further out in the Kerry coastline and deep in the Atlantic are the Blasket Islands, Valentia Island, and later Skellig Michael, which are not to be missed. The latter is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and you will soon see why.
We would also advise a stop in the town of Kenmare. Other incredible spots include Conor Pass for spectacular views, the coastal roads of the Iveragh Peninsula, and the breathtaking Valentia Island.
Finally, as we enter Cork, despite it being the final part, there is still a plethora of places to stop and things to see along this wonderful part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Chief amongst them would be Bantry Bay, Healy Pass, and the Ring of Beara in West Cork.
Further along the Irish roads we go, and we would also recommend a stop along the Mizen Head Peninsula, one of the best things to do in Cork. Here, you will find Ireland’s most southern point, and conclude your trip in the stunning seaside town of Kinsale.
We also recommend the stunning scenery of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and Barleycove Beach. You should also visit the stunning Cape Clear Island, Garnish Island, which is a hidden gem in County Cork, Dursey Island, among many others.
Other notable mentions
Carrickfinn Beach, Co. Donegal: One of Donegal’s most beautiful beaches, this beautiful golden stretch hugs the Atlantic coast and is next to Donegal Airport.
Doolough Valley, Co. Mayo: Two lakes in County Mayo find their way through the high mountains of Mayo, making this a special journey.
Shannon Estuary, Co. Clare: A dolphin haven on the west coast and certainly a spot not to be missed.
FAQs about the Wild Atlantic Way
Is the Wild Atlantic Way signposted?
Yes, there are plenty of signposts along the Wild Atlantic Way that help to guide you. However, best to keep Google Maps close to be safe.
Are there many beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way?
Yes, there are plenty of beaches along the west coast! Some of our favourites are Mullaghmore Head, Carraroe Beach, Garretstown Beach, Inchydoney Beach, Kilkee Beach, Lahinch Beach, Derrynane Beach, and Barleycove Beach.
Is the east coast worth a visit?
Yes! While the Wild Atlantic Way is as good as it sounds, Ireland also has more to offer as it kisses the Irish Sea. Try Dun Laoghaire, Wexford, and the town of Kilkenny, for example.
Is there any more information on the Wild Atlantic Way?
Yes, we have plenty of further information, which can be found here in our new book.