If you’re a travel junkie, there’s nothing more exciting than starting your day not knowing where your hunger for adventure and thrills will take you! Your favorite way to travel is by car, where you decide on your own what’s next, without having to stick to departure times or event schedules. There’s simply nothing more brilliant for you than a road trip – and as the ultimate road adventure in Europe, the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is definitely high on your bucket list!

The 2,500-kilometer route along Ireland’s west coast is full of adventure, goosebump moments, and unspoiled nature! However, you don’t have to take a whole month off to drive the entire route. On the contrary: The Wild Atlantic Way can be perfectly adapted to your individual travel duration: From a mini road trip over the weekend to an endless road adventure, it’s all there.

With the five route suggestions below, there’s nothing standing in the way of your Atlantic adventure in Ireland!

The best route suggestions for your road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way!

Wild Atlantic Way Route 1: From Dublin to the West

Route: Dublin – Galway – Doolin – Kilkee – Dublin
Duration: 4 days

A mini road trip along Ireland’s west coast is perfect for a spontaneous adventure over a long weekend. Most flights from Germany to the Emerald Isle land in Dublin, alternatively you can start the same route from another Irish airport. Via the M4 and M6 freeways you can reach the west coast in less than three hours.

The small town of Galway is not only super cozy and typically Irish with its many colorful store fronts, but is also the ideal starting point to explore the west coast. After a night in a quaint Irish cottage, such as the small Cottage Retreat just outside Galway, you’ll head south to Doolin!

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Cottage Retreat* | with private garden | the perfect retreat | accommodation with fireplace

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Along the coast you will circle Galway Bay and come directly into the fascinating stone desert of the Burren: Here you will have the impression that you have landed in a completely different world, because the green island is anything but green in this area. The barren limestone cliffs stretch across the country and end in partly spectacular cliffs in the Atlantic Ocean! Especially fascinating is the Black Head, the Poulnabrone Dolmen and the cliffs Bothar nA hAilite, also called “Baby Cliffs”.

In your next stop in Doolin it is worth to take a walk towards Doolin Pier. If you continue walking here from the campground parking lot, you’ll come to a cool rocky stretch of coastline from where you can watch the sunset! Make your way back to your accommodation before it gets really dark, though, because the deep craters in the rocks will quickly become your undoing in the dark.

The next morning an absolute highlight is waiting for you south of Doolin: The Cliffs of Moher! The steep rock walls of the cliffs fall here almost vertically into the sea – hammer! With a length ofon 8 kilometers, the cliffs are suitable for a leisurely hike away from the tourist crowds at the visitor center. At a height of 214 meters, the thrill along the small path on the cliff edge is never far away!

Continue via Liscannor to Lahinch, where the Tasty Station restaurant is worth a quick stop to sample the delicious fish & chips or fluffy pancakes. Along the coast, you’ll make your way to Kilkee: stick to the narrow roads that lead you right along the sea – with another great view waiting for you around every corner, until your day in Kilkee comes to an end!

Start your last day with a walk up the cliffs of Kilkee, which are not as high and steep as the cliffs of Moher, but less visited. Before you make your way to the highway in the direction of the capital, the Loop Head is still on the plan. On the peninsula of the same name, the Bridges of Ross await you: of the original three rock arches that spanned the waves of the Atlantic here, one is still left. At the end of the headland you have a spectacular view from the lighthouse, which is the perfect end to your Wild Atlantic weekend!

Wild Atlantic Way Route 2: Donegal & the North

Route: Belfast – Malin Head – Tory Island – Slieve League – Belfast
Duration: at least one week

Your trip along the northern Wild Atlantic Way starts in Belfast. The Northern Irish capital is connected to County Donegal by a highway, so you can reach the northern end of the Wild Atlantic Way in about two and a half hours. If you have a little more time, it’s worth taking a detour along the brilliant coastline of Northern Ireland, where places like the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges or Ballintoy Harbour will blow your mind with plenty of unspoiled nature and a dose of Irish mythology!

Your road adventure starts in the Irish city of Derry: from here you set course for Malin Head at the tip of the Inishowen Peninsula. On the way there, you’ll pass many small bays and secluded beaches, and Culdaff Beach in the town of the same name is especially worth a short walk!

Shortly before you reach Malin Head you park your car at the “Wee House of Malin”. Here you will find the ruins of a small house, right next to a sea cave, where according to legend a holy old man used to live. The real highlight, however, is in the sea: huge rock pillars jutting out of the water everywhere – an awesome sight, especially in the evening hours!

The view from Malin Head of the beautiful coastal landscape that lies ahead of you is guaranteed to awaken the adventurer in you: from rugged cliffs, karstic rock islands and wild waves, to rolling green hills, this section of the route has it all! Be sure to include stops at Carrikabraghy Castle, Lenan Bay and Dunree Head.

Your route will take you through Buncrana and Letterkenny to the Fanad Head peninsula. At the end of this peninsula you should not miss a detour to the Great Pollet Arch, a rock arch that makes a super cool picture directly in front of the coast. If you have always wanted to spend the night at a lighthouse, you can stay at Fanad Head Lighthouse in one of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages and watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean from the breakfast table!

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Fanad Lighthouse* | gigantic experience | fantastic view | modern rooms with charm

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The Wild Atlantic Way leads you over a bridge further onto the Rosguill Peninsula, where some great bays and beaches are waiting for you. In the fine sand of Tranarossan Bay near the village of Downies you can chill out with a view of the turquoise blue waves, before you continue towards Horn Head: Here you can expect a hike through an untouched and largely deserted stretch of coast. The 180 meter high cliffs are best explored on foot on the Horn Head Loop Walk, which takes you past the ruins of an old chapel – the view from here is awesome!

Next, swap your car for a boat in Magheroarty to explore remote Tory Island. The 140 or so inhabitants on the small island make Tory the most northwesterly inhabited point in Europe. Not only do the people here speak their very own dialect of the Irish language, but until recently they even had their own unofficial king! Besides the funny idiosyncrasies of the Tory inhabitants, there is a lot of untouched nature, stark cliffs and a lot of loneliness on the island – the perfect place to take a deep breath!

Back on the mainland, it’s off to the Bloody Foreland. This is the name of the area around the village of Gweedore. The reason for this is that the setting sun bathes the landscape in a deep blood-red light! A picnic at sunset is a must here!

The journey continues to the south. On your way to Malin Beg, it is worthwhile to make short stops at Crohy Head, the Kilclooney Dolmen and especially in Port, one of the most remote places on the entire island. At the cliffs of Slieve League your Irish coastal tour comes to an end with the ultimate adventure: the One Man’s Path!

This is a super narrow path that takes you right along the grade of the cliffs, which are up to 610 meters high. When the salty wind hits you in the face on the highest sea cliffs in Europe and you look out over the seemingly endless Atlantic Ocean, your adventure heart is guaranteed to beat faster than at any other place! Or you can discover the mighty cliffs from a completely different perspective during a boat tour. With a bit of luck you might even meet dolphins, seals, basking sharks or whales! Via Teelin and Omagh you will return to Belfast in about three hours.

Wild Atlantic Way Route 3: From Galway to Donegal

Route: Dublin – Galway – Clifden – Westport – Slieve League – Malin Head – Dublin
Duration: at least ten days

Thenorthern part of the Wild Atlantic Way is rougher, more pristine and wilder than the section in the south of the island. From Dublin you start in the direction of Galway. The small city on the west coast of Ireland can be reached from the airport in about two and a half hours. From here, the road takes you north to Clifden and directly into Connemara National Park.

To get in the mood

Add the Sky Road near Clifden to your list: Here you have the impression that the road leads directly into the sky and the view from the parking lot on the cliffs is incredibly awesome! You should also spend at least one day in the national park. A hike up Diamond Hill is just as recommendable

as coasteering with the guys from Real Adventures – pure adrenaline!

The next stop on your trip is the only fjord on the Emerald Isle: Killary Harbour! The 16 kilometer long fjord awaits you with lots of adventures while hiking, wakeboarding or kayaking. Through the lonely Dolough Valley you will now set course for Westport.

A few kilometers further north, you’ll reach Clew Bay, which with its 365 small islands is a truly fascinating sight. You’ll also be following in the footsteps of pirate queen Grace O’Malley, who chose this area as her retreat in the 16th century

. After a short detour to Achill Island, the largest island in Ireland, where a hike into the lonely Annagh Valley is worthwhile, you continue to Bangor Erris.

On the neighboring Mullet Peninsula you will dive deep into Irish culture. The area is designated as a Gaeltacht, which means that Irish is predominantly spoken here – fascinating to actively experience this ancient language! In the south of the peninsula you will also find a mystical stone circle and several ruins from the 12th century.

On your way to Ballycastle, don’ t miss the sunset at Benwee Head near Carrowteige

– goosebumps guaranteed! A few kilometers north of Ballycastle one of the highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way is waiting for you: Dún Briste! The gigantic cliff pillar that juts out of the Atlantic about 50 meters off the coast here was separated from the mainland overnight by a blatant storm in the 14th century!

By the way, the coast between Ballina and Donegal Town is best surfing area

: No matter if you already belong to the enthusiastic surfers or if you always wanted to try surfing, this is the right place for you! The coastline along the beach of Enniscrone is perfect beginner material and with the coaches of the North West Surf School you will stand your first wave in no time!

Next, it’s worth taking a short trip to the foot of the Knocknarea Mountains, where a completely surreal and enchanted landscape awaits you in the Fairy Glen

. It’s on to Sligo and Ben Bulben, Ireland’s only table mountain. The view over the sea on one side and the green hills on the other side of the 527 meter high plateau of the mountain is awesome! Now the hottest surf spot of the Emerald Isle is on…

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