Ireland Travel Guide: Top Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way route spanning across the west coast of Ireland showcases the grandeur of nature, the might of the ocean, and its impact on the region, along with the picturesque countryside in its entirety. Charming coastal towns and historical sites add to the appeal of this ethereal route. Each turn introduces a captivating aspect of this magical route.

The wild Atlantic, with its powerful tides and tempestuous nature, has molded the west coast of Ireland, creating a rugged terrain with magnificent cliffs, stunning bays and beaches, and mystical islands. 

Living amidst this wild yet enchanting landscape has helped maintain Irish traditions and language throughout the years. A journey through the Wild Atlantic Way is an experience through time, capturing the essence of the past.

Wild Atlantic Way

Discover the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a truly remarkable route that showcases the natural beauty and power of the western coast of Ireland. 

The diverse countryside offers stunning views, and enchanting villages and ancient monuments can be found throughout the landscape. Every turn reveals a new wonder and adds to the magical experience of travelling along this coastal road.

The wild Atlantic ocean, while untameable, has also been the force behind the creation of the remarkable terrain that makes up the west coast of Ireland. 

The result is a deeply indented and wild landscape that includes towering cliffs, spellbinding bays, and mystical islands. Living in isolation on this coast has helped preserve Irish traditions and language.

A trip along the Wild Atlantic Way is not only a journey through one of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in the world but also an opportunity to engage with Ireland’s rich past.

Connect With Us

Must-see sights of the Wild Atlantic Way

To get the best of your Wild Atlantic Way experience, allow me to suggest some highlights that may interest you. The 2,500km stretch traverses through charming villages, cliffs, beaches, mountains and more. 

I suggest exploring the Slea Head Drive in Dingle Peninsula, which offers stunning views of the Atlantic. The Cliffs of Moher, Irelands’ most visited natural attraction, provides an unsurpassed view of the Atlantic Coast. In Mayo, the Great Western Greenway offers a scenic cycling trail through Ireland’s most scenic countryside. 

In Connemara on Galway’s west coast, the Kylemore Abbey offers a unique historical experience, and the Burren region invites you to take a step back into Ireland’s mystical pre-historic past. 

The Wild Atlantic Way is bursting with magnificent sights, hospitable towns, and thrilling adventurous activities that are fitting for all ages. I hope these suggestions will help you experience an unforgettable journey along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Get ready for an exciting adventure around Ireland as we explore all the regions and discover their amazing top attractions. From the bustling Dublin city to the charming Galway town, your trip will be filled with unforgettable experiences. 

You can marvel at the stunning Cliffs of Moher or take a hike in the breathtaking Wicklow Mountains. Don’t forget about the incredible Ring of Kerry or the historical attraction of Blarney Castle. Ireland has a lot to offer, and we are excited to help plan your trip. 

With our guidance, we will create unforgettable memories and make your visit to Ireland truly spectacular.

More than 140 locations have been designated as “Discovery Points” through an official process. These particular locations have been distinguished locally with unique signposts. 

The list of “Discovery Points” in each county can be accessed via the County Pages on this website for Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, and Donegal. It is noteworthy that the top 20 of these locations are featured in this article along with accompanying maps for each site.

Old Head of Kinsale


The Old Head of Kinsale headland is a historic and awe-inspiring sight that extends for 3 km into the Atlantic Ocean. At its inception sits the Napoleonic Old Head Signal Tower, a restored viewing point that provides breathtaking views of the headland, the world-class Championship Golf Links, and the black-and-white banded Lighthouse. 

Furthermore, the site includes a museum and memorial garden dedicated to the tragic sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, which claimed almost 2000 lives off the coast. It is essential to note that access to the Old Head golf course and lighthouse is limited to members of the golf club, with a few exceptions during Heritage Week in August and May. 

During these times, buses are made available for locals and tourists to visit the lighthouse to witness its beauty and magnificence.

Dursey Island

Dursey Island

Dursley Island presents a unique experience for visitors as a designated “Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point.” Situated off the southwestern coast of Beara Peninsula, Cork, this small island covers just 6.5 km by 1.5 km, and is appropriately named as ‘Oileán Baoi’ in Irish, translating as the ‘Island of the Bull’ in Viking Norse. 

Its remarkable cable car ride, the only one in Europe crossing seawater, takes visitors on a thrilling trip over a cable elevated 26m (80ft) above the sea. Although the island has a bloodstained history with a tragic massacre in 1602 during the aftermath of the “Battle of Kinsale,” visitors can appreciate its natural beauty by spotting whales and dolphins from the cable car or walking along the coastal paths.

Mizen Head

Mizen Head Cork

Mizen Head is a fascinating location in County Cork, Ireland, and is considered to be the most south-westerly point of the country. The Signal Station at Mizen Head has been in operation for over a century and was once used to alert vessels of the rocky shoreline. 

With the first-ever Radio Beacon in Ireland installed in 1931, it is now open to the public. Visitors can find a visitor centre in the area which offers navigational and geological exhibits. It is just a 10-minute walk from the car park to reach the Signal Station and Visitor Centre. 

The location offers a chance to see various marine life including seals, seabirds such as kittiwakes, choughs and gannets, and even dolphins, minke, fin and humpback whales. The area also has a nearby café and gift shop on site. South of Mizen Head lies the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse on an outcrop known as ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’.

Loop Head

Loop Head

Located on the western tip of County Clare, Loop Head is a narrow peninsula that points out to the sea. With its dramatic views and excellent prescribed routes, it is an ideal destination for walkers. 

The Loop Head Heritage Trail is particularly worth exploring. Visitors can keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, basking sharks, seals, whales, and a wide range of sea birds. 

The shipping signal at Loop Head dates back to 1670, when it was originally a fire on the top of a single-story building. Today, the existing Loop Head lighthouse is open to the public, offering guided tours. 

If you climb to the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views from County Kerry to the Cliffs of Moher.

Skellig’s View, Bray Head, Valentia Island

Skellig Islands

Located on the western end of Valentia Island, Bray Head is a must-see location for tourists. From this vantage point, visitors can take in stunning views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Skellig Islands. 

The famed Star Wars movie ‘The Force Awakens’ was also filmed on these gorgeous islands. The island can be accessed either by ferry from the mainland at Renard Point to Knightstown on the island or via the bridge from Portmagee.

Bray Tower is another highlight located almost at the summit of Bray Head. Originally built by the English in 1815, the tower served as a signal tower during the Napoleonic Wars. 

In more recent times, the tower was used as a Navy signal station during World War II. Coastwatchers placed the word EIRE using stones during wartime to let pilots know they were passing over neutral Ireland. 

Visitors can explore the island’s numerous historically significant sites. A parking spot is available for €2, and a 90-minute loop leads to the tower, making it a perfect spot for adventure seekers.

Connect With Us

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher is a breathtaking and awe-inspiring natural wonder that you would not want to miss. Located in County Clare, this major attraction is a must-see on the Wild Atlantic Way. 

At an altitude of 702 feet or 214 meters and stretching over 8 km or 5 miles, it offers an uninterrupted panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. 

The cliffs are also a part of the UNESCO Global Geopark, which attests to its universal value and worldwide significance. The protected area of the cliffs is home to a diverse array of seabirds and rare flora and fauna, making it a sanctuary for nature lovers. 

Standing proudly on the edge of the cliffs is the remarkable O’Brien’s Tower, providing visitors with a 19th-century viewing area constructed by Cornelius O’Brien, a local landowner. The newly constructed and impressive visitor centre features exhibition halls that showcase the natural heritage of the area with great historical significance. 

Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking for a peaceful day out, a minimum of two hours is recommended to experience the full beauty of The Cliffs of Moher.

Mullaghmore Head

Mullaghmore Head

Mullaghmore Head is a dream destination for avid surfers, owing to its massive waves and consistent conditions that are perfect for surfing competitions. 

The remarkable seascape has been the backdrop of various international surfing events, making the spot popular among surf enthusiasts. Located in the charming village of Mullaghmore, it is a charming fishing village that boasts both a functioning harbour and a picturesque sandy beach. 

The beauty of Mullaghmore Head is unparalleled – from the stunning vistas of Benbulben that grace the sandy beaches, to the sweeping views of the ocean that enthrall and inspire, every view is more breathtaking than the last. 

A walk around Mullaghmore Head is an unparalleled opportunity to indulge in eye-catching photographic possibilities. Take a stroll northward towards the Atlantic, with the ocean on your right, and traverse the road around Mullaghmore Head, taking in the awe-inspiring views and admiring wild birds such as Fulmars, Oystercatchers, Manx Shearwaters, and Gannets. 

One of the gems you will discover during your walk is Classibawn Castle, which stands proudly on the headland. This walk is quite an easy one and should not take more than an hour, so don’t forget to take your camera and capture those wonderful memories.

The Slieve League Cliffs

Sliabh Liag Cliffs

Nestled in the heart of County Donegal, Ireland, lies an absolute gem known as Slieve League (or Sliabh Liag in Irish). This awe-inspiring landmark boasts of having some of the highest marine cliffs in all of Europe. 

Rising an impressive 601 meters high, the cliffs offer breathtaking views at every turn, making it a favorite Signature Discovery Point on Ireland’s renowned Wild Atlantic Way. 

Just a few kilometers from the top of the cliffs is a car park equipped with benches and picnic tables, making it the perfect spot to stop and take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. 

The area is steeped in history and culture, with a visitor center nearby where one can learn more about the rich heritage of the region. However, it’s essential to remember that fog can creep up on the mountain rapidly, so it’s crucial to exercise caution at all times. 

Lastly, for those who dare to explore further, you can always take boat trips around the cliffs from the nearby town of Teelin.

Fanad Head

Fanad Lighthouse

If you love exploring new places and embarking on scenic journeys, then you won’t want to miss out on the breathtaking destination of Fanad Head, nestled on the stunning north coast of Donegal. 

As you make your way towards this picturesque spot, you’ll be amazed by the stunning views that greet you along the way – from the rugged yet captivating beauty of Inishowen Peninsula to the tranquil waters of Mulroy Bay. 

The journey itself will be worth it, and once you reach this awe-inspiring location, you’ll see why! Make sure to admire the iconic “Fanad Lighthouse” and capture some unforgettable photos as a memento of your adventure. 

You also have the option of touring the lighthouse visitor center or treating yourself to self-catering accommodation. But the real charm of this area lies in its natural surroundings, which are perfect for outdoor activities like walking, picnicking or even trying your hand at water sports. 

Take your time and let the beauty of nature take your breath away.

Connect With Us

Malin Head

Malin Head

Malin Head is a truly exceptional destination that is not to be missed when you are visiting Donegal or the island of Ireland. This amazing location is the northernmost point in all of Donegal and the island itself. 

If you are a sailor or someone who enjoys tuning into weather and shipping forecasts, you are probably familiar with this iconic spot. Due to its strategic location, on a clear day, visitors to Malin Head can even catch a glimpse of the stunning hills of Scotland from this vantage point. 

It is a breathtaking and awe-inspiring location that is just waiting to be explored. Malin Head is perfect for adventure seekers who love activities like walking, fishing, and swimming.

If you’re looking for somewhere to go for a picnic, then Malin Head is the ideal location as it offers enchanting, panoramic views of Five Finger Strand, Inistrahull Island, and the Tory Islands.

Downpatrick Head - Dún Briste

Downpatrick Head

Downpatrick Head, or Dún Briste as it’s known in Irish, is a magnificent sea stack that rises a remarkable 45 meters above the roaring Atlantic Ocean, boasting captivating panoramic views and rugged natural scenery that is truly unforgettable. 

This remarkable natural wonder is indeed a sight to behold and truly a highlight of any visit to the Wild Atlantic Way. Despite the towering height, the stack is now a safe haven for beloved local avian species like cormorants, kittiwakes, and puffins, making it an ideal destination for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts alike. 

As you gaze upon this magnificent creation of mother nature, be sure to take note of the distinct rock layers that span back 350 million years, each representing a different period and evolution of the planet.

Once your visit is complete, be sure to make your way over to Mary’s Cottage Kitchen in beautiful Ballycastle, where you can treat yourself to a steaming cup of tea, and some delicious, hearty home cooking that will warm your heart and nourish your soul.

Clew Bay

Clew Bay

The gorgeous Clew Bay of County Mayo is home to a seemingly incredible amount of islands – one for each day of the year, as local lore would have it. 

But it’s not just the islands that make this bay special – its coastline boasts a stunning Blue Flag beach, and the surrounding area is dotted with intriguing submerged drumlins, shaped by the weight of ice during the Earth’s glacial past.

Visitors to the bay won’t be short of opportunities for fun and adventure. Those looking to take to the water can choose from a host of activities, including the ever-popular paddleboarding, kayaking, and water skiing. 

Of course, one of the best ways to truly soak in the picturesque sea views is to take a boat trip. The experience is sure to be a highlight of your trip, with memories that will last you long after you leave the bay behind.

As if all that weren’t enough, the area is also steeped in history. To learn more about the fascinating past of Clew Bay, take a look at the Clew Bay Heritage Centre, where you can delve deeper into the culture and traditions of this enchanting corner of Mayo.

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Nestled in the picturesque County Kerry, Dingle is a haven for literature lovers and creative enthusiasts. This charming Irish town brims with vibrant energy and makes for a perfect stop on your short break tour.

Wandering around its narrow streets, you’ll be captivated by the bustling pubs, where a tantalizing mix of live music, laughing locals, and warm hospitality will leave a lasting imprint on your soul. 

Overlooking the golden sands and crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a visit to the deserted cottages on the rugged Blasket Islands is a must-do. The panoramic views from the iconic Slea Head are breathtaking, making it a popular destination for tourists. 

But that’s not all! Dingle is synonymous with world-renowned seafood- succulent lobster, prawns, and freshly caught fish are not just a meal here, but a culinary experience. Immersing yourself in the colorful festivals, charming ambiance, and artistic vibes of this magical town will leave you longing to come back for more.

Beara Peninsula


Nestled in the southwest region of Ireland, the stunningly scenic Beara Peninsula in West Cork is a place of true natural beauty and wonder where one can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and allow the timeless air of the region to set the pace. 

The crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean merge with the Gulf Stream creating a microclimate that nurtures a profusion of plant life and greenery, so much so that exploring the rugged landscape and discovering new flora and fauna in this region can be a truly magical experience. 

Take to the seas and explore any of the hundred or so islands that dot the Beara coastline, where amazing sea life can be seen. Dabble in the rich history of the region as you explore castle ruins and hear tales of the past. 

When evening approaches, watch the sun dip into the horizon in vivid orange and pink hues as you take in one of the area’s stunning sunsets. If you’re more inclined to take to land, hike through the enchanting walking trails of the region, enjoy the fresh country air, and stay overnight in one of the quaint and charming towns along the peninsula.

Connect With Us

The most popular things to do on the Wild Atlantic Way



Explore the enchanting and friendly town of Kinsale, situated at the end of the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way experience. Take in the beauty of this charming town, and discover why it has become one of the most favored foodie destinations in all of Ireland. 

You’ll revel in the culinary delights created by local chefs using fresh, local ingredients. The picturesque Old Head of Kinsale offers a sensational experience for those wanting to acquaint themselves with the might of the ocean. 

Walk the 6km Old Head of Kinsale Loop and marvel at the stunning views and magnificent coastal sceneries. This trail is an easy and accessible path that takes you around the head, enabling you to experience the delights of the cliffs and enjoy the clear sea vistas. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to visit one of the most hospitable towns in all of Ireland and immerse yourself in its gastronomic and scenic wonders.

Killarney National Park: Other must see on Wild Atlantic Way

Things to do in Killarney

Have you heard of Killarney National Park? It is breathtaking! Encompassing over 26,000 acres of woodland, mountains, and pristine lakes, it is truly a natural paradise. 

Among the park’s features are oak and yew groves that are internationally renowned for their beauty and ecological significance, as well as the only red deer herd on the entire island. Additionally, Killarney National Park boasts the most expansive area of native forest in the entirety of Ireland.

What’s more, Killarney National Park holds special historical significance for the Irish people, as it was the very first national park of its kind in the Irish Free State. This important natural gem was established back in 1932, when the generous gift of the Muckross Estate was donated to the government. 

So, not only is Killarney National Park a natural wonderland that’s well worth a visit, but it has an important role in Ireland’s history and cultural heritage as well.



Connemara is a spectacular area located along the gorgeous Atlantic Coast, north of the picturesque GalwayThings to do in Galway City. 

This region boasts incredibly breathtaking natural beauty, with its extraordinary peninsulas, inlets, and islands. Additionally, it holds strong cultural ties, being renowned for its deeply rooted Irish language and culture. 

Connemara is the largest Gaeltacht region in Ireland, with over 22,000 daily Irish speakers residing there. Nestled in the northwest part of the area is the Connemara National Park, which is spread over an expanse of 2,000 hectares. 

The vast landscape encompasses everything from awe-inspiring mountains, bogs, and grasslands. Furthermore, Diamond Hill, which is located just outside the charming village of Letterfrack, is an exceptional hiking spot and one of the most frequently visited destinations in the national park.

The Burren

The Burren

The Burren, one of the most remarkable landscapes located along the Clare Coast in Ireland, has an interesting history behind its name. 

Derived from the Irish term ‘Boirinn’, which translates to ‘rocky district’, it is famous for its captivating karst landscape that was shaped by glaciers during the last ice age. 

The sheer force of the glaciers revealed the pitted limestone rock that dominates the entire region. But what makes the Burren even more fascinating are its several historic and prehistoric sites that offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region. 

Among these sites are the Corcomroe Abbey and Poulnabrone Dolmen, which are steeped in history and legends. The Burren also boasts the exceptional Aillwee Caves, located near Ballyvaughan, which are said to be over 350 million years old and provide an extraordinary underground experience.

Pristine peninsulas

Pristine peninsulas

There’s no denying that the Wild Atlantic Way is an amazing attraction for tourists all over the world. From the sheer length of the coastline to the stunning scenery, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit. 

However, there’s one aspect of this vast area that often goes overlooked: the peninsulas. These secluded areas offer an unforgettable experience that’s simply not available in the more popular tourist spots.

With the rugged coastline of Ireland undulating with stunning peninsulas – like Sheep’s Head and Inishowen Peninsula – it’s easy to see why the Wild Atlantic Way has become such a popular attraction.

But these quiet, unspoiled areas offer so much more than just beautiful views. You can discover secluded beaches, incredible lookout points, and so much more. Take, for instance, Rosguill in Donegal, which offers incredible panoramic views of Sheephaven Bay. Don’t miss the sandy strand of Trá na Rossan, which is just waiting to be explored.

The Drives: Wild Atlantic Way

If one is seeking shorter drives around the West Coast, there are several spectacular options to consider. For instance, the Ring of Kerry is undeniably one of the most renowned drives in the country. 

It takes visitors around the striking Iveragh Peninsula and showcases numerous natural and historical landmarks throughout the region. Likewise, Cork presents the Ring of Beara around the Beara Peninsula. 

This route is an incredible rural area that offers extraordinary sweeping views of Bantry Bay and Kenmare Bay, featuring a visit to Ireland’s only cable car. Visitors can easily complete these drives within a day or two, allowing them to soak in the beauty and charm of the West Coast in an efficient manner.

FAQs about places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way boasts an abundance of unique attractions, ranging from historic destinations, such as Dún Aonghasa Fort, to natural wonders like the Wormhole. Those seeking scenic shorelines and serene beaches have options like Murder Hole Beach, while adventure seekers can explore Skellig Michael. With so many choices available, travelers are sure to find an experience that caters to their individual preferences.

The driving route from end to end in the Wild Atlantic Way takes about 32 hours non-stop. However, such a hasty approach to this incredible experience is not recommended. To truly appreciate this journey, it is recommended for most travelers to take between 3 and 5 days to complete the route. If time and schedule permit, one can also opt to stretch the journey out over a week or two, allowing ample time to explore and indulge in the scenic beauty and cultural wonders along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Wild Atlantic Way, stretching across nine counties along Ireland’s Atlantic coast, is a remarkable tourism trail that spans an impressive 2,600 km (1,600 miles). It has become widely popular among motorists, bikers, and caravanners for offering a perfect blend of ancient history, breathtaking views, and warm hospitality. Considered one of the most distinguished road trip destinations globally, the Wild Atlantic Way promises an unforgettable experience for all its visitors.

Located in Achill Island, Co, the Atlantic Drive is a marvel to behold. This stunning portion of the Wild Atlantic Way has been recognized as one of the most picturesque routes globally, showcasing the rugged beauty of the coastline with its rocky headlands, cliffs, and inlets. Moreover, the sight of water shooting up from the blowholes is breathtaking when the waves are just right. Anyone seeking a unique and awe-inspiring driving experience should consider the Atlantic Drive as their destination. Its matchless natural beauty and one-of-a-kind scenery make it a must-visit for people planning to explore the area.

Table of Contents

Connect with Us

Discover Irish Isle offers a range of resources to help visitors plan a trip to Ireland. Our blog post highlights the best things to do in the area and provides insider tips to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience. 

We encourage you to explore our social media channels as well, where you can find additional information and travel inspiration. Trust our team of experts to guide you through the planning process and provide you with the tools you need to fully immerse yourself in the culture and attractions of Ireland.