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15 Places to Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life



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There's more to a Wild Atlantic Way road trip than watching the view unfold from behind the wheel.

A trip along Ireland’s most westerly route has become a veritable national rite of passage, and in-the-know explorers can tell you that seeking out the most unique, unmissable locations is what really puts the ‘wild’ in Wild Atlantic Way.

 
 
Downpatrick Head, County Mayo
 

When you’re yearning for an open road experience peppered with walks along far-flung headlands, visits to national wonders, and some of the most impressive historical structures to be found anywhere in Ireland, our selection of the 15 best places to see is here to help you get started. 

Choose your ideal starting point or plan an itinerary that takes in all the most intriguing spots the route has to offer - how you embrace the Wild Atlantic way of life is up to you. 

There truly is a flavour for every taste, you just have to know where to look.

 
  • Malin Head, County Donegal
 

MALIN HEAD – SCULPTED BY THE SEA

Ireland’s most far-flung point, rugged Malin Head in Donegal is like nowhere else on earth.

There’s wildlife, geology and history in spades here, and you can explore it all first-hand. Check out the watchtower at Banba’s Crown; built in 1805 as a Napoleonic lookout tower to keep watch against invasion, it was named after the patron goddess of Ireland, and is the country’s most northerly structure.

 
 
Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal
 

FANAD HEAD – OUT ON THE EDGE

Fanad Head in Donegal is home to miles of golden sand lapped by turquoise waves and capped by a gorgeous lighthouse to welcome you. The sweeping Blue Flag beach at Ballymastocker Bay was voted the second most beautiful in the world by Observer magazine, making it the perfect Wild Atlantic Way starting point for lovers of all things sea and sand.

 
  • Sliabh Liag, County Donegal
 

SLIABH LIAG (SLIEVE LEAGUE) – TOWERING VISTAS

Home to some of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe, the Sliabh Liag range in Donegal is one of the most gorgeous places in Ireland to visit, providing one of the finest views from the Wild Atlantic Way out across the wide expanse of the ocean. If you live for adventure, there’s no more exhilarating way to kick off your trip along the route than from atop its sheer granite faces; either way it’s not to be missed.

 
 
Mullaghmore, County Sligo
 

MULLAGHMORE HEAD – THE BIG ONE

Big wave surfers are in for a very special treat at Mullaghmore in Sligo, where the infamous Prowlers wave routinely throws up 100ft walls of bracing Atlantic swell. It’s a favourite among extreme watersports enthusiasts - as well as those who simply like to look on in awe - attracting thousands of visitors each year.

 
  • Downpatrick Head, County Mayo
 

DOWNPATRICK HEAD – LOCAL LEGEND

History lovers will adore this spot, a jagged Mayo headland that looms an astonishing 126ft above the crashing Atlantic and is named after the country’s patron saint, Patrick. In fact, it was here in the fifth century that St Patrick’s Church was founded, the ruins of which still stand today.

 
 
Keem Bay, County Mayo
 

KEEM BAY – MYSTERY ISLAND

Keem is a golden stretch of secluded, sandy beach that can be found on Ireland’s largest island, Achill, off the shores of County Mayo. Just a stone’s throw from the shore, the island’s eerie Deserted Village, abandoned in the early 20th century, waits to be explored.

 
  • Killary Harbour, County Mayo
 

KILLARY HARBOUR – GLACIAL BEAUTY

Geology buffs won’t want to miss this breathtaking spot in Mayo, one of just three glacial fjords (an inlet formed by the submergence of formerly glaciated valleys) in Ireland. Located in the heart of the country’s famous wild and dramatic Connemara landscape, Killary stretches for an impressive 16km and is over 45m at its deepest point.

 
 
Derrigimlagh, County Galway
 

DERRIGIMLAGH – ALLURING LANDSCAPES

The stark and otherworldly blanket bog of Derrigimlagh in Galway has an unusual claim to fame, for it was here that pilots Alcock and Brown crash-landed to safety after completing the world’s first transatlantic flight in 1919. The patchwork landscape of small lakes and peat bog will make you feel as though you’re in another world.

 
  • Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
 

CLIFFS OF MOHER – MAGNIFICENT MOHER

Looking out at the wild Atlantic from atop the towering Cliffs of Moher in County Clare is guaranteed to take your breath away. Head to the spectacular O’Brien’s Tower, and gaze out to sea towards the Aran Islands, or, if the conditions are right, keep your eyes peeled for thrill-seekers racing down the face of the elusive Aileen’s Wave.

 
 
Loop Head Lighthouse, County Clare
 

LOOP HEAD – STEEPED IN HISTORY

Loop Head peninsula in County Clare boasts panoramic cliff views, picturesque seaside villages and a lighthouse that’s served as a beacon for those at sea since 1670. It’s an invigorating place, perfect for capturing just the right photo of a huge Atlantic swell as it smashes into the cliffs, or the vibrant purple fields of heather that paint the landscape in the summer months.

 
  • Blasket Islands, County Kerry
 

BLASKET ISLANDS – TIMES GONE BY

Out on the very edge of Europe, off the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry, lie the sleepy Blasket Islands. After many years of hardship and emigration, the last inhabitants of this unique island community finally packed up for the mainland in 1953, leaving behind the remains of a way of life full of courage and intrigue. Today, you can celebrate their story at the Blasket Centre and learn all about this lost civilisation.

 
 
Skelligs, County Kerry
 

SKELLIGS – A GALAXY NOT TOO FAR AWAY

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Skelligs is comprised of two sandstone rocks cutting a striking silhouette as they rise steeply out of churning Atlantic Ocean. Just seven miles off Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula, on a clear day they’re close enough to see from the shore, while at certain times of year you can take a boat out to visit them. As famous for their sacred 1,300-year-old pilgrimage site as they are for recently being featured in the recent Star Wars films, they’re an unmissable addition to your Wild Atlantic Way itinerary.

 
  • Dursey Island, County Cork. Credit @Raymond Foggarty
 

DURSEY ISLAND – AWAY FROM IT ALL

Dursey Island off the Cork coast is the most westerly of the county’s inhabited islands and home to just three farming families. You can visit via Ireland’s only cable-car service, where you might just find yourself in fine company; sheep and cattle routinely take this transport option, too! 

 
 
Mizen Head, County Cork
 

MIZEN HEAD – WAY DOWN SOUTH

The craggy clifftop of Mizen Head in Cork is Ireland’s most southwesterly point, and an ideal place to begin your journey northwards along the Wild Atlantic Way. From here, you can catch sight of the imposing Fastnet Lighthouse, perched upon a rock known as ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’. For many emigrants during the Great Famine (1845 – 1849), it was the last of Ireland they would see as they sailed away to America. 

 
  • Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork. Credit @Raymond Foggarty
 

OLD HEAD OF KINSALE – FEEL THE SPIRIT

This scenic headland in Cork juts more than two miles out into the Atlantic and is home to a picturesque 17th-century lighthouse. Nearby, there’s plenty to do if you have time to spend, from getting a round in at the world-renowned golf course to strolling the vibrant streets of Kinsale town and savouring some world-class cuisine.


These stunning Signature Discovery Points offer up breathtaking experiences in the most beautiful locations in the country. Plan your scenic Wild Atlantic Way route here.