I love driving tours as a way to discover a new destination. There’s something inherently exciting about getting out on the open road and seeing what new sights are waiting to be discovered; for an instant we are like the explorers of old charting new courses. There are many great scenic drives around the world, from the Great Ocean Road in Australia to Route 66 in the US. One of the newest designated routes though is also one of the most exciting– Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Ireland was already home to one of the best drives in the world of course, the Ring of Kerry. Mostly a scenic drive though, the Ring isn’t nearly as long as the Wild Atlantic Way and doesn’t include some of the amazing outdoor adventures that driving along this western route provides.
The designation of the Wild Atlantic Way is a new thing, very new. As in, not all the signs are up yet. But locals and tourists in the know have called this part of Ireland not only the most scenic in the country, but amongst the most beautiful spots in the world. The route is Ireland’s first long-distance driving route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. The 2,500km final drive will have a core ‘spine’ or route with discovery points identified along the way. While the route can certainly be explored at one time, what’s more likely is that visitors will choose certain parts of the route to explore in greater depth.
What I love most about the concept is that it’s active, you DO things not just SEE them. (Although the sights are of course spectacular) You can check out Ireland’s famous surfing culture, do some fishing, hike along the incredibly green hills and of course stop along the way to enjoy Ireland’s famous cuisine. The drive isn’t just a drive, it’s a total experience.
I recently explored part of the southwestern portion of the route with Tourism Ireland, starting in Killarney and the Kingdom of Kerry to the Blasket Islands, Dingle and Cork; in just a few short days I saw some incredible parts of the country. I’ll write in much greater detail in the next few weeks, but the experience was one of my favorite travel journeys and has fostered in me a great desire to return and see even more of the Wild Atlantic Way.
So next to the Garden Route in South Africa and California’s Pacific Coast Highway Drive you can now include a new entrant, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
16 thoughts on “Sneak Peek: The World’s Newest Epic Drive – Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way”
Looks incredible from your photos. We love a good coastal road trip so this will be going to the top of the list! I look forward to hearing more about it in future posts. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Ben! It reminded me a lot of driving along the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island for the only reason that you feel compelled to stop for photos every few minutes. It’s that beautiful.
Wow! I didn’t even know about this. I’m so happy we now have a designated route that’s up there with some of the bigger ones. I’ll have to do this on one of my visits home sometime in the future :)
SO impressed that you got this post up already, Matt! Lovely photos. The WAW will definitely need to be added to great lists of road trips around the world.
Thanks Amanda! It really is an epic drive that I can’t wait to see more of.
Matt, is there an online resource or guide that lists the route and its highlights? A Google search only reveals a civic proposal map of the plan that’s not very hi-res. I realize this is a new “trail” but I would like to check some of this out when I’m in Ireland next May. Thanks, and keep up the great work. I read every day.
Hello Matt & Martin,
Failte Ireland has a link with more detail of this project. This webpage is gearded towards us in the tourism industry but I’m sharing this with you!
ps: great website Matt!
Thank you! I’ve been trying to find an answer to his question but hadn’t had any luck
Even in this age of webpages and online information overload it takes a travel agent to steer you in the right direction. It also helps that I’m from Ireland!
haha, point taken :)
Ditto what Amanda said! And what amazing photos you have! It is like a trip thru time itself. Thanks for sharing, we did have a wonderful time on this trip!
Thanks so much Cacinda!
Excellent images. I drove around that area many years ago and your shots bring back fond memories. Would love to re-visit.
I am lucky to live on a beautiful part of the Wild Atlantic Way – so much to see and do and parts of this new driving route will bring you to a hidden Ireland and away from the well trodden tourist areas. Have the cameras ready.!
Really stunning photos, and I think you’re right: we really wanting to make this about doing rather than just seeing for our visitors. For visitors to Ireland, and certainly for the people who come to see us here in West Cork it’s the things they do, and the people they meet that creates the real magic!
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