Complete Guide to the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland

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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.

Table of Contents

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.

WILD ATLANTIC WAY GUIDES & ITINERARIES

The stunning Fanad Head Lighthouse

Explore Donegal: Your Ultimate 3-Day Road Trip Itinerary on the Wild Atlantic Way

I have been visiting County Donegal since I was a teenager. My first memories are of visiting friends in Gweedore and the surprise of being able to park a car on Rossnowlagh Beach. Many years …

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Things to Do in Galway – Cellissimo Music Festival (May 2024)

NEWS: A new international cello festival will take place in Galway City and County from 18-26 May 2024. The festival includes masterclasses for students, showcases, performances and international-level concerts across a rich programme of events. …

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Guide to Tullagh Strand & Bay, County Donegal, Ireland

Tullagh Strand is a hidden gem of a beach that encircles the horseshoe-shaped Tullagh Bay on Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland. This is just the place to take a long walk and it will …

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Beyond Galway – 5 Must-See Day Trips from Galway

Galway is beautifully positioned as a base for day trips to the Cliffs of Moher, Kylemore Abbey and anywhere in the West of Ireland. If you’re already planning an Irish trip, Galway is a great …

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Guide to Visiting Doagh Famine Village, Donegal in 2024

Positioned on the picturesque Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal, Doagh Famine Village provides a unique insight into the Irish potato famine, something I felt I knew about to some extent but which I’d never before …

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A sweeping view of the Cliffs of Moher with summery pink flowers in the foreground of the picture.

Beyond Dublin – 8 Must-See Day Trips from Dublin

Most people’s introduction to Ireland is a stay in Dublin. Yes, the atmosphere is great, there’s a ton of history and the pubs are packed and have great music. But if you really, really want …

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Things to Do in Ireland – Bike Trip on Inishmore on the Aran Islands

A trip along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is made even richer by time spent exploring one of its most remote settlements. Inishmore is the largest of the three Aran Islands (Inishmore means “big island”) and …

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People getting on to a cruise boat at Doolin

Things to Do in Ireland – Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is the most popular excursion on the island of Ireland and the sensational light over the cliffs is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can go one better: witness the cliffs …

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How to Get Doolin Ferry to Inishmore (Inis Mór) on the Aran Islands

Doolin in County Clare is famous as the principal port for ferries coming from the Aran Islands to the mainland of Ireland. It’s the starting point for organised tours to the islands as well as …

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Complete Guide to the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are nothing less than awe-inspiring, a natural wonder famous for its sheer beauty and the dramatic coastal views. There’s a reason that the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s #1 Visitor Attraction. …

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Complete Guide to Dunguaire Castle, County Galway

Dunguaire Castle, a striking medieval tower located on one of the main routes through County Galway in Ireland, is a rich testament to the enduring nature of Ireland’s ancient monuments. The castle is perched on …

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Gregan’s Geosite & Corkscrew Hill, Ballyvaughan, Ireland

Gregan’s Geosite is a suggested viewpoint on the Wild Atlantic Way not far from Galway City near Ballyvaughan and en route to the Cliffs of Moher. It’s a stop which you can pause at, where …

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The front castellations of Kylemore Abbey in County Galway

Complete Guide to Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Gardens in 2024

Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful Abbey and Gardens in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Originally known as Kylemore Castle, it was a private home until 1920 when it was taken over by Benedictine nuns who still …

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Complete Guide to Downpatrick Head, County Mayo

Downpatrick Head in County Mayo has some of the most breathtaking views in County Mayo and along the Wild Atlantic Way. Located near Ballycastle on the North coast of Mayo, the stunning sea stack just …

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Complete Guide to Fanad Head Lighthouse, Donegal, Ireland

The lighthouse at Fanad Head in County Donegal stands proudly, like a beacon facing the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by a wild Irish landscape. The historic lighthouse here has been guiding ships for more than two …

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Complete Guide to County Donegal

Donegal sits proudly in the northwestern corner of Ireland, a county of remarkable landscapes, rugged coastline and rich culture. County Donegal faces into the wildest part of the Atlantic and its natural beauty draws people …

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Complete Guide to Malin Head, Donegal, Ireland

Malin Head in Donegal is the most northerly point of the island of Ireland, sitting at the very tip of the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal. It’s a startlingly beautiful windswept location that looks out …

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Complete Guide to the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland

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 …

READ MORE


Frequently Asked Questions about the Wild Atlantic Way

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:

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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.

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I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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