The Republic of Ireland is renowned for its culture, history and stunning natural beauty. Here are two tour routes that allow you to experience the country’s aquatic wildlife and just a few of its many beautiful and historic places.
Wild Atlantic Way
In 2,500km, the award-winning Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal touring route in the world. It runs north from Muff and around the County Donegal coast before heading down the west coast to Kinsale, passing 188 ‘Discovery Points’ and 15 ‘Signature Discovery Points’ on the way.
To see the highlights, from north to south:
Visit Malin Head to admire Hell’s Hole, a huge gap carved into the rock by the Atlantic—and, if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights—then conquer the steep and aptly named One Man’s Pass in Sliabh Liag to you will be rewarded with fantastic views.
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Head of Mullaghmore
At Mullaghmore Head, visit Classiebawn Castle, the beautiful Glencar Lake and Waterfall and the 6th century monastic ruins on nearby Inishmurray Island before traveling to Downpatrick Head. Here, you will find the huge sea stack, Dún Briste, inhabited until storms separated it from the mainland in 1393.
Cliffs of Moher
Explore the deserted village at Keem Strand and spot dolphins in Killary Fjord before visiting the famous Cliffs of Moher, part of UNESCO Global Geopark and Special Protection Zone. Enjoy the fantastic views, nature trails and the abundance of seabirds before continuing to Loop Head for some whale-watching.
Take a boat trip to the deserted Blasket Islands and the 6th century monastic settlement on Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, then ride Ireland’s only cable car to Dursey Island, with its lighthouse, the ruins of the castle and the standing stones.
Finally, walk over the arched suspension bridge to Mizzen Head and its museum before ending your journey in picturesque Kinsale, Ireland’s oldest town, with its dramatic views and the racecourse famous golf.
The Ring of Kerry
This 179km route starts and ends in Killarney, where there are 19th Century-old Muckross House and its magnificent gardens—The first National Park in Ireland. Walk towards Killorglin and you’ll pass Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, and King Puck, the goat statue that symbolizes Ireland’s oldest festival, the Puck Fair.
Next, visit the endless white sands of Rossbeigh Strand before heading to Cahersiveen with its 7.th fort of the century and 15th century Ballycarbery Castle.
Waterville’s natural beauty should be enjoyed in daylight, but stay until dark to see the stars and appreciate why it is part of the International Dark Sky Reserve. The next day, enjoy Derrynane House and its gardens and woodlands before heading to Staigue Fort, one of the largest ring forts in Ireland, and the nearby picture-postcard village of Sneem.
Kerry’s first Heritage Town, Kenmare, offers old world charm, fine dining and contemporary style in equal measure. Visit a pub or gallery before heading off through idyllic mountain passes to Moll’s Gap, a scenic stretch of road that winds between beautiful lakes. This road takes you back to Killarney National Park with its stunning Torc Falls.
Follow these two routes and you will know that you have truly seen the ‘best of the west’ in Ireland.