The Wild Atlantic Way will bring you to some sensational parts of Ireland. Yes, it can be wild and wildly beautiful, but you’ll also encounter the friendliest of people, memorable excursions and photographable locations. This section is a guide to roadtripping Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way by campervan and accompanies the YouTube series, which you can find here. Scroll down to find out more about touring Ireland, with useful tips, a list of links to video guides and written guides and helpful information about accommodation and car hire.
What is the Wild Atlantic Way?
The Wild Atlantic Way (WAW for short) is a tourist route along Ireland’s Western coastline, from Malin Head in Donegal in the North to Kinsale in the South. It connects significant historic, cultural and geographic features into a manageable road trip. If followed completely, the road trip is more than 2,500km (>1,550 miles) and combines staggering clifftop vistas with pounding waves, golden strands and the chance to meet some of Ireland’s friendliest people!
When I grew up in the North of Ireland, there was no ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, but the branding of this road journey is a sensible and strategic way by the Irish Tourism authorities to make sense of a complex mix of cultural and geographical riches in a way that connects them in a functional and followable manner.
Choose a section of the Wild Atlantic Way that suits the amount of time you have for your trip, the type of transport which you can access and to suit your budget. Unless you organise a coach trip or private driver, hiring a car is the only really viable way to reach these locations as public transport can be patchy at best in these locations.
Do I have to drive all 2,500km?
No way! You don’t. I did it by campervan so I could research, photograph and video everything for Planet Patrick. But you could simply start out at Dublin Airport, hire a car, choose a section of the Wild Atlantic Way, book your accommodation and go enjoy a chunk of it.
How long does it take to drive the entire route?
It took me more than two weeks in a campervan and I went quickly. I could easily have spent longer in some of the gorgeous locations.
What are ‘Signature Discovery Points’ vs regular ‘Discovery Points’?
The Tourist Board chose 15 attractions as ‘Signature’ discovery points, to indicate special status. Regular ‘discovery points’ might be just as interesting, but the ‘Signature’ designation helps narrow down things you should definitely see.
Should we get a campervan or stay in hotels?
There are camper hire places available in Ireland. In general, hire is quite expensive when combined with campsite fees and fuel. Check prices for your dates, but also look at car hire deals combined with hotels or B&Bs. I tend to check both so I have all the facts before making a choice.
Where should we stay? What is the accommodation like?
There is a wide range of hotels, B&Bs and campsites to stay in right along the Wild Atlantic Way to suit most budgets. Ireland might not be the cheapest place to stay overall, but at least the welcome is usually very friendly!
I do give many more accommodation options in the detailed blogs (see below) which go section by section through the entire route, but many people base themselves in Letterkenny, Galway or Cork. Click on the city names for the top hotels in each destination. I can personally recommend the following hotels:
Do you have a Recommended Itinerary?
A recommended itinerary will be sent out to newsletter subscribers (for free) as it becomes available.
How can we get more details on specific places?
Check out the Itineraries & Articles section above. Each itinerary provides an overview of the route with links to much more detail about great places to visit or stop. Plus the video guides give you a sense of each of those places. This series is being released weekly so further details are coming regularly – it’s worth signing up for the newsletter.
Sign me up for the free newsletter
Make sure to subscribe to my monthly free newsletter, as I’ll posting some serious Recommended Itineraries to newsletter recipients.