Wild Atlantic way Ireland

Atlantic road in Ireland

About the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way remains Ireland’s most popular touring route. The route captures the entire beauty of Ireland which covers over 2500 km stretch along the west coast.

The route stretches from Donegal all the way to West Cork. You will literarily be exploring the edge of Europe along the wild Atlantic, it has various UNESCO heritage sites, covers over 150 discovery points, and over 3500 attractions and activities.

You can decide to further explore any of these points by stopping for a while to take in a natural beauty and learn more about them.

To visit all locations on the wild Atlantic way route will take you up to 3 weeks if you rush it but can take you longer so that you can totally want to enjoy and experience the entire west coast.

The Tourism Index customer survey revealed that 42% would drive the Wild Atlantic Way again in the future. See experiences for Wild Atlantic Way route.


Explorers of this route usually begin their hiking trails, from Kinsale, Co. Cork, and follow the route that takes them around the spectacular coastal cliff-tops along Atlantic edge.


This article has been broken up into sections, all you have to do it is click the link below to jump to it.


Watch the video by Fáilte Ireland



If you are planning to visit the Wild Atlantic Way, Cliffs of Moher and places outside main cities, hiring a car is recommended by those visited. You can pick up a car hire at our Shannon Airport office where you will be able to access into the wild west of Ireland quickly.


Places to see on the Wild Atlantic Way

If you have limited time and want to just see the most talked about discovery points, look no further once you visit these locations, you have definitely seen the wild west of Ireland.

Malin Head


Malin Head this located on the Peninsula on the Northern part of Ireland called Donegal. This spot is one of the most beautiful locations on the west coast.


Come here to see one of the worlds’ oldest lighthouse it has been around for over two hundred years. If you like to be captured by nature then look no further. You can take part in activities such as fishing, walking to Hell’s Hole and spend some time taking in the amazing scenery and photography. While you also get to visit rock pools.


Achill Island

Next up the Achill Island located on the coast and surrounded by the rugged mountains and bogs. This location is ideal for so many outdoor activities which includes surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving and hillwalking. It is a paradise for anyone who wishes to experience the wild Atlantic way.


Achill Island, Wild Atlantic Way

Cliffs of Moher


One of Ireland’s most popular and picturesque tourist destinations, every year it gets over a million visitors especially in the summer months where they get the opportunity to witness the sunset from the edge of Europe.

You should not consider thinking you have visited the Wild Atlantic Way without a visit to the Cliffs. The cliffs are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction and on a good day, you see Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry. If you can only visit the Cliffs of Moher for a few hours, try to do so as the sun is setting, as this is one of the most spectacular views you will see anywhere in Ireland.



cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic Way

Ring of Kerry


The ring of Kerry is one of the most exciting driving path along the wild Atlantic way, this route cover over 179 km and it forms a long circular route that covers 4 villages on route.

This is the only tour which everyone is advised to travel anti-clockwise due to the narrows driving road.

The time to explore the Ring of Kerry full loop without stopping would take about 3 hours without traffic. Obviously, the to fully immerse yourself, it can take more, it can be done in a day, however, there are lots of places of interests & scenic viewpoints and activities on the route, we suggest spending a good full day or a weekend staying at different places where you can enjoy the route.

Wild Atlantic Way Route Map

Kinsale, Balitmore, Ring of Kerry, Valentia Island, Dingle, Kilkee, Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Galway, Connemara, Achill Island, Sligo, Glenveagh, and Malin Head.



How to do it

Having your own car to do this route is ideal, you'd be able to stop whenever you want whereas a coach is time limited and destinated stops only. Car Rental Ireland provides car hire service from nine locations in Ireland which you can easily pick up a car and do the Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive.

Officially the starting point of the route is Kinsale in County Cork however you can start anywhere on the trip or choose a smaller section. Below gives a guidelines to Kinsale;

From Dublin Airport, it is approx. 3 hours’ drive (166 miles)
From Cork Airport, it is approx. 33 minutes’ drive (17 miles)
From Shannon Airport, it is approx. 2 hours’ drive (90 miles)
From Kerry Airport, it is approx. 2 hours’ drive (77 miles)

The distance of the Wild Atlantic Way is 1553 miles.

Book a car with Car Rental Ireland and add Ring of Kerry drive to your itinerary.


Driving Itinerary

The Wild Atlantic Way is divided into seven different routes; this is to help ease the need to cover too much on one trip and helps you plan your day accordingly. The route has the Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal routes, with maps for each of them due to the long road and it also helps you pick out the route you wish to explore.


When you are heading into Kerry with your Rental Car, you’ll encounter Dingle, the Ring of Kerry and the North Kerry Head peninsulas, these regions are considered to be Ireland’s most outstanding countryside. Take the cable car to Dursey Island as the night draws in and you can experience 'Europe’s last sunset'.


If you are arriving into Shannon, from here you can head into Co. Clare, where you could visit the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, River Shannon, Loop Head Lighthouse and all these spots bring in visitors from all over the world, regardless of the weather or the time of year.


Galway City is also a lively city that awaits you. Close to Galway is Connemara and beaches where you will be able to visit.


Your journey then goes into Co. Mayo, where you will be able to see the remarkable Croagh Patrick Mountain which looms over the surrounding countryside, and you can make your way through the road bridge to Achill Island and visit the deserted village where the remaining locals mainly speak the Irish language, though you will still get to meet some locals that speak English.


Aran Islands are a venue for the Red Bull Cliff Diving, numerous pristine isolated beaches, thousands of intricate stonewalls which capture the imagination. The home of the famous Aran Sweater, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, a center for pilgrimage, and host to numerous quirky festivals. The Aran Islands represent a total release from the hustle and bustle of the mainland Ireland. Aran Island is also the Sligo seaside town is famous for its seafood and surfing, thanks to the waves off Mullaghmore Head.


Going to the northern part of the country brings you to County Donegal. This is where you will find Europe’s highest sea cliffs, known as Sliabh Laig, the Tory Island, and the Five Finger Strand beach on the Irishtown peninsula. With the right weather, Donegal is a fantastic setting to experience the aurora borealis which will make you realize the car rental experience was truly worth it.


This is really ideal for those driving a rental car as you can spend the time to explore fascinating locations along the routes. There are several apps available for guiding you through all the activities; if you are a hiker or you’re into walking, the ACTIVEME App would be ideal for both the Android and iOS.

For information on accommodation options for Cork.


Organizing a tour?


Alternatively, you could go with a company that organizes tours instead of a self drive option; Discover Ireland Tours are an Irish destination management company and has the local knowledge to provide the best experience possible.


TripAdvisor Reviews

"If the road has this sign, TAKE IT!" This is the way to see Ireland by car. This road, especially in County Cork and County Clare, is SO beautiful! The trek takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery and quint towns in all of Ireland. If we go back, we will DEFINITELY do more of it!

"What a beautiful piece of the world!!" Great views!! Bit of a warning, parts of the road are very narrow and have many tourists trying to take photos in the lane. Definitely deserves its title as one of the lonely planet "must drives"

"Fabulous scenery along the WAW" We thoroughly enjoyed our trip through Counties Mayo and Galway via the Wild Atlantic Way. The route skirts the spectacular coastline, which we drov south from Westport through the starkly beautiful Doolough Valley, Aasleigh Falls, around the fjord past Leenane, Kylemore Abbey, into Clifden in Connemara and south past Spiddal to Galway. In places the road is quite narrow and winding, but drivers are courteous and there's limited traffic congestion. Highly recommended!

"You need to rent a car and drive along this road!" A fantastic experience and really gave us a good idea of the beauty of the Irish atlantic natural scenery. Beaches, ocean views, villages, cliffs, moors, and lots more. The road was not too busy but of course sometimes a lot of people stopped at the same place to take pictures.

"Wild Atlantic Way" Have just completed our two week roadtrip on the Wild Atlantic Way. Without doubt one of the best holidays you could ever have. Breath-taking views, beautiful towns, fantastic restaurants & pubs along the way. So much to see & explore. 100% would recommend. Brilliantly sign-posted (few spots on the North end could be better sign-posted).

To view the other driving routes, visiting our Driving in Ireland page.