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Top 6 Places to Holiday in 2019



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Think you know the Wild Atlantic Way? Sure, Ireland's a pretty small country and you're probably familiar with many of the western seaboard's abundance of sights and delights – but have you ever dug deeper?

From feasts for the senses to rare outdoor thrills, forgotten cultural histories to island paradises, dive into the top places to visit, roam, relax and go wild in 2019. It’s time to discover a trip you’ll never forget, it’s time to holiday along the Wild Atlantic Way. 

 
  • Sliabh Liag Cliffs from Bunglas, County Donegal
 

Donegal

One county that certainly puts the ‘wild’ in Wild Atlantic Way, County Donegal is quite the northern marvel. Positively laden with mountains, serene sea loughs, ancient castles, a breathtaking national park and plenty of opportunity to use the native tongue (it’s the second-largest Gaeltacht in the country), a break here is a break with a difference.

If windswept’s what you’re after, a trip to some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs is just the ticket. Grab a moment of edge-of-the-world seclusion at Sliabh Liag, one of the Wild Atlantic Way's 15 Signature Discovery Points. Here, you can drink in those rolling Atlantic Ocean, Donegal Bay and Sligo Mountain views. There’s even more astounding beauty to soak up in the nearby village of Glencolmcille. Perched on the idyllic Sliabh Liag Peninsula and dotted with ancient Megalithic remnants, a roam around the scenery here is practically irresistible.

Ready to get schooled while overlooking sandy shores? Skip through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries during your cosiest history lesson yet at Glencolmcille Folk Village. A quaint cluster of cottages nestled by Glenbay Beach, each cottage recreates a different era of Irish history, making the past feel very much part of the present, and you feel right at home.

Find out more about Donegal

 
 
Knocknarea, County Sligo
 

Sligo

With shorelines that set the scene for some of poetry’s most famous verse, salty surf that never fails to entice all manner of thrillseeker, not to mention its fabulous feasts for every sense, County Sligo’s a real beauty.

Get out and about in what WB Yeats’ christened the “Land of Heart’s Desire”. Near Strandhill and Sligo Town, follow a beautiful walking route that hints at ancient regal history with Queen Maeve’s Trail. With its hefty 500+ wooden steps that lead you up to majestic Knocknarea Mountain’s summit (where the legendary warrior queen’s burial cairn lies), you can justly reward yourself after with some of the county’s lauded cuisine. Indulge your well-worked-up appetite in renowned vegetarian/vegan haven Sweet Beat or get really hands on at the Sligo Oyster Experience, where you’ll learn how oysters are farmed and harvested, try your hand at some shucking and finally, relax and savour the delicious oysters themselves!

Find out more about Sligo

 
 
Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, County Mayo
 

Mayo

You can happily lose yourself among bay after brilliant bay in gorgeous County Mayo. With Mweelrea - its highest peak - perched in the south and those invigorating Atlantic waves cradling its north and western edges, this landscape extends quite the invitation.

Get to grips with some long-gone cultural heritage in The Lost Valley, Louisburgh. With its ancient village ruins and undisturbed landscape, it’s an unforgettable way to learn more about The Great Famine and starkly brings the hardship endured to life. Also home to a working farm, visitors get a true taste of west of Ireland rurality and of course, mesmerising natural scenery. Considered ‘lost’ because access to it was treacherous until the late 1980s, this lush valley has been in the Bourke family for more than a century.

Just an hour away, you’ll find one of Ireland’s six stunning national parks. The exquisite 15,000 hectare expanse of Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park simply demands repeat explorations. Presided over by the glorious Nephin Beg mountain range and the Owenduff Bog, the park’s fascinating habitats, flora and wildlife (Greenland white-fronted geese, red grouse and otters - to name but a few!) mean there’s quite literally something for everyone to revel in. Be sure to take the short nature trail with exceptional views of Achill Island, for the real icing on the cake. The park’s visitor centre and its ever-inviting Ginger & Wild Café are open March to October, free guided trails with the rangers are available too! 

Find out more about Mayo

 
  • The island of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), County Galway
 

Galway

With its island idylls, medieval history, crisp Connemara shorelines and one of Ireland’s only glacial fjords, it’s not hard to find yourself under County Galway’s unique spell. A hive of activity and yet the perfect place for a quiet getaway, this puzzle of bays and coastal crannies has it all. 

Experience its rugged charm with a trip to any of its islands, Inis Meáin (Inishmaan) and Inis Oírr (Inisheer), two of the three iconic Aran Islands, boast a welcome, slower pace. Over on Inis Oírr, the smallest of the trio, take a stroll to the Plassy shipwreck. A steam trawler that was caught in a storm in 1960, the local islanders bravely managed to rescue the entire crew. A breathtaking viewpoint at the edge of a limestone cliff on Inis Meáin, don’t miss the chance to venture up to Synge’s Chair. So-named as it was playwright JM Synge’s favourite spot, it’s one way to feel wonderfully dwarfed by the expanse of ocean before you. Then stretch your legs on the picturesque Dún Fhearbhaí or Dún Chonchúir looped walks to get a real feel for the island. Watch the world go by and round off your island day with a refreshing drink at the island’s only pub, Teach Ósta – bliss!

Access to the Aran Islands is by a short ferry trip from either Doolin or Galway.

Find out more about Galway

 
 
The historical and stark beauty of The Burren, County Clare
 

Clare

Captivating County Clare always beckons with its lively traditional music culture, its thrashing surf and cliff-edges to spot marine mammals from. But on this trip, why not let its almost lunar-like landscape guide your intrepid explorations. 

A geological, archaeological, ecological and natural history gem, The Burren’s vast karst plateau is world-renowned, with parts of it a designated Special Area of Conservation. Brimming with fascinating flora – an astonishing 75% of Irish native species call it home – The Burren is of course, ripe for exploring on foot, but how about via electric bike? Nab your two-wheeled steed in Kilfenora with E-Whizz’s (guided and self-guided) bike tours and you’ll soon be zipping across this otherworldly scenery. 

Or get the best of both worlds and treat yourself to a fine wine and food cycling or walking tour! With Burren Fine Wine & Food’s one-of-a-kind tours, your every sense is indulged on tours that see each stage rewarded with something truly mouth-watering. Once you’ve had your fill of the overground, head 200 feet underground in Doolin Cave. Home to the Great Stalactite, the largest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere, prepare to marvel at the 10-tonne calcite juggernaut that was, remarkably, formed via a single drop of water over many millennia.

Find out more about Clare

 
  • Take a bracing walk along Sheep's Head, County Cork
 

Cork

Right down in the scenic depths of County Cork at the Wild Atlantic Way’s most southern tip sits a subtropical paradise, a flurry of island havens and each with their own special charm. 

See for yourself the wonder of its Gulf Stream climate on Garinish Island, nestled in beautiful Bantry Bay. A green-fingered slice of heaven, its stunning gardens are exquisitely designed and boast a wealth of horticulture not often seen on our shores. Hop on Ireland’s only cable car to while away the day on Dursey Island, just off the Beara Peninsula. The most westerly of Cork’s inhabited islands, you can go truly off-grid there, spying wildlife, rare birds and even the odd dolphin or whale. Finally, in Kilcrohane embrace all manner of dramatic coastline at Sheep’s Head, a beguiling cliff-top vantage point. A delightful antidote to modern life’s mania, the Sheep’s Head Peninsula is dotted with inviting villages, epic views and simply enveloping scenery.

Find out more about Cork

 
 

Exciting, charming and utterly unique, with these exceptional Wild Atlantic Way gems just begging to be explored, 2019 might just welcome your best holiday yet! Ready to pack those bags and head for the coast? You’ll find everything you need on our Holidays and Breaks page.

 

So much more to embrace

No matter what your tastes or passions are the Wild Atlantic Way has something for everyone


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