As Ireland’s most famous tourist trail, boasting rugged cliffs and stunning coastlines, there is plenty to be seen along the Wild Atlantic Way and there are plenty of places to add to your Wild Atlantic Way route, however you decide to travel it!
From historic ruins to rugged cliffs, beautiful beaches to sleepy islands, here are the ten best places to visit on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Brimming with natural beauty, traditional pubs, epic adventures, and more, there’s nowhere quite like the Wild Atlantic Way, and there’s nothing better than a full Wild Atlantic Way trip to see the very best part of Ireland!
Whether you’re planning on driving the Wild Atlantic Way or cycling the Wild Atlantic Way, let me tell you the best places to stop on the Wild Atlantic Way so you can get your trip booked, hire a car and get on the road in Ireland!
Wild Atlantic Way
Wild Atlantic Way Route
How long is the Wild Atlantic Way?
Otherwise known as ‘Ireland’s Route 66’, this breathtaking coastal route stretches 2,500 km (1,553 miles) along the west of Ireland taking in the very best places to visit on the west coast of Ireland.
What is the best way to travel the Wild Atlantic Way?
When planning your Wild Atlantic Way route and trip, it’s important to know how you are going to travel the Atlantic Coast in Ireland so you can create a realistic Wild Atlantic Way itinerary and route planner.
Unfortunately, walking the coast and relying on public transport only are not really options (unless you have a lot of time) (although this is a brilliant article on a 65-year-old man who did walk the Wild Atlantic Way!).
That’s why the following 2 options are the most common for a Wild Atlantic Way trip:
Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip
Driving Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is an amazing way to really get to know Ireland and be constantly amazed at the views Ireland provides and it’s the best way to see the top places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way!
Saying that, if you want to drive the whole Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland you will need a good 2 weeks, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more in order to travel the whole coast.
It may look like a small coastline (especially if you are from North America or Australia) but once you factor in the many stops to actually see the places you’re visiting, and the small country lanes that make up the Wild Atlantic Way roads, it does take a while to do this Atlantic Ireland drive!
On that note, here are my tips for driving in Ireland if you decide to do a Wild Atlantic Way road trip!
When travelling to Ireland, it’s common to see part of the Wild Atlantic Way which is what I did when I did a 3 day West Coast of Ireland road trip and I had the BEST time!
Whether you have the time to drive all of the Atlantic Coast of Ireland or just part of it, you can use the below best places to visit on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to pick and choose where you want to visit on your trip itinerary!
Cycling the Wild Atlantic Way
This is a popular way to travel Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and what’s best is that if you don’t feel confident cycling the coast alone, or don’t have anyone to do it with, there are lots of tours you can join! Just search for Wild Atlantic Way Cycling Tours to find one!
I really like this post about Cycling Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in 1 week! It gives a brilliant insight into the Wild Atlantic Way cycling route that Rachel took each day to see all of the coast and complete 2100km!
Wild Atlantic Way Map
I have pinned the 10 places below in this Wild Atlantic Way Map to help you plan and decide your Wild Atlantic Way route, especially if you decide to travel just part of it as you can pick the area that’s most appealing to you!
Best Places to Visit on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
10. Fanad Lighthouse, County Donegal
– a beautiful and historic landmark
One of the top places to visit on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is Fanad Head Lighthouse in County Donegal.
This historic lighthouse, located on Donegal’s Fanad Peninsula, dates back over 200 years to 1817. Initially built in response to the sinking of a warship in Lough Swilly, this iconic lighthouse today is one of the highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way.
9. Burren, County Clare
– for a unique landscape
The karst landscape of the Burren in County Clare makes it a fascinating and unique stop on your Wild Atlantic Way road trip.
Made up of a vast array of glacial-era limestone, archaeological sites, fossils, caves, and more, there is plenty to explore here.
As well as the natural appeal of this place, the Burren’s surrounding area is also a haven of Irish tradition, from food to music and more, so you’ll want to spend a bit of time here on your Wild Atlantic Way Route rather than just passing through quickly!
8. Achill Island, County Mayo
– for beautiful beaches
The largest island off Ireland’s coast, Achill Island, is not to be missed on your trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. For one of the most scenic drives in the world, I highly recommend driving Achill Island’s Atlantic Drive.
I had a last minute stop there on my Ireland road trip and I’m so glad I visited!
The island is also home to an impressive five Blue Flag beaches, including the iconic Keem Bay, where you might be lucky enough to spot some basking sharks swimming by.
7. Connemara National Park, County Galway
– one of Ireland’s most scenic spots
Home to some iconic sites, including Kylemore Abbey and Killary Fjord, you won’t regret passing through Connemara National Park on your Wild Atlantic Way road trip!
This stunning national park covers 2,000 hectares and comprises mountains, boglands, forests, and grasslands.
Here, you will encounter some of the most spectacular natural beauty the Emerald Isle has to offer. It’s perfect if you want to do some walking and to stretch your legs from all that driving!
6. Dingle, County Kerry
– a lively port town
Situated in the South West of Ireland, Dingle is a must-visit for scenic drives and traditional Irish culture.
Home to an array of small shops, pubs, and restaurants, there is always plenty going on in Dingle.
To make the most of your surroundings, we highly adding the Slea Head Drive to your Wild Atlantic Way route. On this 41.8 km (26 miles) loop, you’ll enjoy some of the best sights on the Dingle Peninsula.
5. Slieve League, County Donegal
– Europe’s highest accessible sea cliffs
Known as the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe at 1,972 ft (601 meters) in height, Slieve League in County Donegal is definitely one of the best places to visit on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, the seacliffs here actually rise three times higher and are just as breathtakingly beautiful.
They will also be much less busy than the Cliffs of Moher so they make one of the Wild Atlantic Ways best stops!
4. The Aran Islands, County Galway
– for a true taste of Ireland
Located just off the coast of Galway, no road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way is complete without stopping off at the Aran Islands.
Packed full of historical sites and natural beauty, the Aran Islands are not only one of the best things to do in Galway. Rather, this group of three islands is one of the best attractions the Emerald Isle has to offer.
And if you decide to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way, you can have a break on this day and visit the Aran Islands as part of a day trip from Galway!
3. Strandhill, County Sligo
– walk along the shore
If you fancy sinking your toes in the sand or surfing the waves, then you must stop off at Strandhill in Sligo.
Strandhill town is home to an eclectic mix of shops and eateries, as well as plenty of action-packed activities to suit all ages. Popular with surfers from near and far, the beaches around here are some of the best in Ireland.
2. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
– one of Ireland’s most iconic attractions
Towering over the Atlantic Ocean below, this rugged 14 km (8.7 miles) stretch of the west Clare coast is recognisable from movies and picture postcards advertising the Emerald Isle. It truly is top of the list of things to do in Ireland!
Reaching a maximum height of 214 m (702 feet), the stunning natural landscape here has provided inspiration for artists, musicians, and writers for generations.
You may have thought this would be number 1 of the best places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way and although it is incredible, it does get busy and I have a much better, and lesser-known spot to help you see the best place on the Wild Atlantic Way!
1. Skellig Michael, County Kerry
– one of Ireland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Topping the list of the best places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way Ireland is the fantastic Skellig Michael in County Kerry.
Located 12 km (8 miles) west of the Iveragh Peninsula, this craggy island is exposed to all the elements of the wild Atlantic Ocean and is famous for it’s puffins!
Accessible by boat from Portmagee in southwest Kerry, exploring Skellig Michael is sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget so make sure you plan this into your Wild Atlantic Way route!