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Getting Around




There are so many ways to explore the Wild Atlantic Way. From islands and beaches to mountain passes, clifftops, woodland, bog, and more, there’s a mode of transport just right for each area that will enable you delve in, get around, and check it all out - all at a pace that suits you.

A good option for visitors looking to coordinate public transport to, from and on the Wild Atlantic Way is to visit Transport for Ireland online. This website brings together service information, directions and time estimates for bus, train and rail transport.
 

Jump to:

By Rail

By Car and Motorhome

By Motorbike

By Bus

BY BIKE

BY FERRY (TO THE ISLANDS)

ON FOOT

ON HORSEBACK

BY BOAT (SAILBOAT, YACHT)

BY SMALL SEA CRAFT
(CANOE, KAYAK)

   


By Rail

Travelling by train is one of the most relaxing ways to see the countryside. With no maps, no traffic jams and a cup of tea from the trolley, a train trip could be just the ticket.

A limited amount of railway routes operate exclusively within the Wild Atlantic Way regions, however, for many, a connection in Dublin City is often required. Check Iarnród Éireann for your specific route requirements, or see Getting Here By Rail.

 

By Car and Motorhome

Eager to leave no road untravelled? Travelling by car on the Wild Atlantic Way will get you exactly where you want to go on precisely your own terms. With 2,500km of stunning coastal route to explore, you can enjoy the freedom of going at your own pace and customising your adventure when and where you see fit. Whether renting from one of the numerous car or motorhome hire agencies all over Ireland or hitting the road in your own set of wheels, driving is a fun, favoured way to embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of life.

 

Regions and Itineraries

More than 30 custom driving itineraries are available, lasting anywhere from a few hours to several days, and all are open year-round, making planning a breeze.

Check out Itineraries, where you will find descriptions of each road trip on the route, along with suggestions for where to stop along the way.

Learn more about the Wild Atlantic Way’s best road trips here.

 

Car Rental Operators and Locations

Car hire companies are generally based in airports, ferry ports and the centres of most major towns and cities in Ireland. Motorhome rental companies can be found in most major towns and cities or at popular holiday spots.

Find the ideal rental for your trip here.

 

Practical Info

In Ireland, the majority of rental cars and motorhomes will be manual shift (not automatic). However, there are automatic options available. Should you require one, it’s advised to book well in advance of travel to avoid disappointment. It is also a good idea to book a satellite navigation or GPS system to get your bearings.

Remember to drive on the left, and to obey all traffic signals. Road conditions along the Wild Atlantic Way can vary widely, from smooth new motorways to narrow, bumpy country lanes, so take your time and stay alert. Changeable weather can affect driving conditions, as can the time of year chosen for travel; in the summer months, rural routes are naturally well-lit until 10 or 11pm, while in the winter those same roads can be completely dark from 5pm. In high mountain areas in winter, roads can become impassable due to ice and snow. Check AA Roadwatch before you go and stay tuned to local radio stations for the latest traffic information.

For more essential driving information, see our Travel Tips.

 

By Motorbike

For some, there’s only one way to truly experience the jaw-dropping scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way, and that’s from the saddle of a 150-horsepower machine. If a motorcycle road trip is your idea of real adventure, there are plenty of ways you can get cruising out on Ireland’s western seaboard. Escape to the coast and feel the freedom of travelling full-throttle.

 

Regions and Itineraries

From the rugged, unspoilt sea cliffs of County Donegal in the Northern Headlands to the beautiful, wooded back roads of West Cork on the Haven Coast, every mile of the Wild Atlantic Way is perfect for exploring by motorbike. With carefully planned itineraries that traverse astonishing landscapes throughout the six regions, all you have to do to create your ideal bike trip is to choose what you most want to see.

 

Rental Operators and Locations

Motorcycle hire companies can be found from one end of the route to the other, and many even offer tour packages so you can get the most out of your journey.

Find one to suit your tastes and hop on for the experience of a lifetime.

 

Practical Info

The same rules of the road apply to motorcyclists as to car drivers in Ireland; obey all signs and signals and drive on the left.

Anyone riding on a motorbike - front or back - is required by law to wear a helmet. Sidecars must be properly fitted to the left side of the motorcycle with the correct lighting installed.

Age restrictions for motorcycle rental in Ireland vary, but are generally around 23-25 years. Licensing requirements can vary from operator to operator, so be sure to check with the rental company well in advance. Insurance is mandatory and is usually provided as part of the rental agreement. If in doubt, double check.

Visit the Road Safety Authority online to learn more about motorcycle laws and vehicle safety in Ireland.

 

By Bus

Getting around the Wild Atlantic Way has never been easier. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery without the hassle of maps or parking. With bus stations in all major towns across the country and a comprehensive road network, there has never been an easier way to travel the route than by coach or bus.

 

Services and Operators

A diverse range of public and private bus and coach services offer transport to and from  locations all along the Wild Atlantic Way so you can customise your journey with ease. Visit Bus Éireann or Transport for Ireland to discover the operator that’s right for you.

Or for something with a few more bells and whistles, you can find tailored tour packages in practically every size, length and style imaginable catering to all tastes and preferences. Explore the wide variety of options here. Then simply climb aboard and enjoy the ride.

 

Practical Info

Travelling by bus or coach in Ireland is generally extremely safe, however, it pays to exercise caution as you would in any public place. Mind your belongings and avoid travelling with valuables. Pickpocketing is rare but can occur. Be aware of emergency exits and follow all instructions given by the driver.

Avoid crossing directly in front of or behind a bus, even if it is stopped. Stand clear of moving doors when accessing luggage compartments or whilst boarding. Always use the handrails when climbing or standing; stow luggage safely and use seatbelts where available.

Some buses in Ireland offer pay-onboard options while others require tickets to be booked and paid for in advance. Some pay-onboard options, with Dublin Bus in particular, do not offer change at the time of payment and instead will provide you with a receipt for change which you will need to bring to a dedicated office to redeem. Always check the operator’s terms and conditions before you go to avoid delays.

 

By Bike

Getting on your bike is a fun, healthy and easy way to explore sections of the Wild Atlantic Way. Feel the wind in your hair as you climb hills, cruise descents, traverse valleys and wind your way around scenic country roads.

Whether you bring your own bike or hire one while you're here, on-road or off-road, you’ll experience Ireland’s western seaboard in one of the most exhilarating ways possible when you go by bike.

 

Regions and Itineraries

Certain sections of the Wild Atlantic Way, such as the Great Western Greenway in County Mayo, provide dedicated cycling paths; in other areas, you’ll find cyclists just like you taking to the open road to discover the route.

With seven counties and six regions to explore, there’s a course, loop or terrain to suit you. For inspiration, check out Itineraries.

 

Rental Services and Locations

If you don’t have your own bike, fear not! There’s a wide variety of bicycle hire companies along the Wild Atlantic Way, and many offer great deals. Choose the freedom of a self-guided cycle or join a group - there’s a cycle tour operator to suit your tastes who will happily show you around your preferred area.

 

Practical Info

When cycling in Ireland, always ensure adequate visibility; use bright lights when cycling at night and wear reflective clothing such as a hi-vis vest at all times of day. Wear a helmet and know and use your hand signals, even if you think no one is around.

Keep to the left and obey all the same traffic laws as cars and motorbikes. Do not cycle on any footpath. Ensure your bike is in good condition before setting off. Carry water, snacks, a fully-charged mobile phone, patch repair kit and first aid kit with you, particularly when cycling into remote areas. Mobile signal coverage in Ireland is generally thorough, but there can be areas where dropped calls occur and access to WiFi is patchy.

Learn more about cycle safety in Ireland by visiting the RSA online.

Bikes can be taken on trains and buses with some restrictions. All InterCity trains have bicycle carriage facilities within the passenger compartment. These routes are restricted to two bicycles per service and incur a charge. On buses, Bus Éireann carry normal bikes for a fee in the luggage compartment. The bicycle must be a maximum of 1.8 metres in length and up to 0.865m in width to be carried.

Bicycles that are folded and covered can be carried on all services free of charge. It is recommended that customers reserve their bicycle spaces online where available in advance of travel. Just select the bicycle option when you are reserving a seat.

 

By Ferry (to the Islands)

The Wild Atlantic Way boasts a collection of beautiful islands, and no trip to the route is complete without a visit to at least one. Some islands are accessible via causeways and bridges, while the more remote ones can be visited only by charter boat. There’s even a cable car (Ireland’s only one!) that will take you to Dursey Island in County Cork. Most islands, however, require a ferry crossing to reach.  

A journey by ferry to one of the unique and beautiful islands of the Wild Atlantic Way is sure the be a highlight of any visit to the region. Read on to find out more about getting around by ferry.

 

Operators and Locations

From Achill Island to the Blaskets to Cape Clear, there are more than 20 ferry operators offering transit to the islands of the Wild Atlantic Way - some even offer guided tours.

Find the ferry journey that’s right for your trip here.

 

Practical Info

While some ferries, such as the one to Valentia Island in County Kerry, offer car transport to and from the islands, many do not as the islands themselves are quite small. In the latter case, parking will be available at the ferry terminal, and you will continue your journey from there on foot. Most ferries are wheelchair accessible, but always check with the operator directly to be sure.

Ferries depart from various small ports along the coast; use a GPS if driving and give yourself ample time before your scheduled departure for arrival, parking, and ticketing services if needed. Be sure to check sailing times with the ferry or boat operator before travelling as crossings can depend on weather conditions. Wherever possible, book your journey in both directions in advance, or as advised by the boat operator.

Always follow all instructions given by the ferry captain and use caution whilst onboard. Most ferry crossings are brief; however, if you suffer from seasickness be sure to have medication to hand. Check whether food or drink will be available onboard with the operator directly and plan accordingly.

 

The Wild Atlantic Way provides over 2,500km of coastline, much of it best explored on foot. Numerous paths, trails and looped walks provide excellent hiking, trekking, and rambling over a range of terrains, from bogland and forest to foothills, mountains, beaches and coastal cliffs.

 

Regions and Itineraries

If you’re eager to put a spring in your step, there’s no end to the walking and hiking options across all six regions of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Some of the more sought-after walks on the route include the Dursey Island Loop in County Cork in the Southern Peninsulas region and the ancient Pilgrim’s Path at Sliabh Liag in the Northern Headlands of County Donegal. Meanwhile, Ireland’s longest off-road trail, the Great Western Greenway, traverses part of the Bay Coast in County Mayo, and is perfect for those who want to escape the rush and find their feet out in the fresh coastal air.

Explore all the best walking and hiking itineraries here.


Tours

Trekking with a group is a great way to get out and see the sights while learning from an experienced local guide, making new friends and sharing wonderful memories. If a social stroll is more your speed, check out the range of great walking tours available all along the route.

 

Practical Info

Walking in Ireland means getting out into the elements, so preparation is key. Wear appropriate clothes for the weather and expect the unexpected; there really can be four seasons in one day on the Wild Atlantic Way! Several light layers that are easy to remove on the go are ideal, as is waterproof rain gear like a mac or a poncho. It’s always a good idea to ensure that one of your items of clothing is brightly coloured in case you get lost or become separated (if travelling with a group).  

Wear comfortable, broken-in shoes and bring an extra pair of dry socks. Make sure your rucksack is comfortable and not too heavy. Bring enough food and water for your excursion, along with a few extra rations in case of a change of circumstance.

There are no dangerous animals or venomous insects in Ireland, but you should still exercise caution in the wild; never approach or feed any animal, wild or domestic, unless invited to do so by its owner. Biting insects such as midges can be a nuisance; carrying bug repellent is always a good bet.

Always tell someone where you are going before you depart and check the weather forecast and sunset time. Carry a fully charged mobile phone and know the number for mountain rescue if rambling into remote or high altitude areas.

For more walking safety essential tips, visit Ordnance Survey Ireland online.

 

On Horseback

Lovers of the equestrian life will find the Wild Atlantic Way positively brimming with great horse riding opportunities and ways to explore the scenery from the saddle.

Take advantage of one of the many guided tours on offer throughout the six regions or set out atop your own horse or pony for a free trekking adventure al fresco. There are beaches, fields, trails, forests, and much more that are yours to discover in this fun and unique way.

New to the idea of taking the reins? Fear not, as choices abound for beginners and experts alike - from introductory lessons and rides to exhilarating excursions over mountains, woodland and coast.

 

Regions and Itineraries

There are stables and riding centres located all over the Wild Atlantic Way, from the endless unspoilt beaches of County Donegal in the Northern Headlands right down to the peaceful shores of County Cork and the Haven Coast.

Find the horse riding itinerary that’s just right for you here.
 

Riding Schools, Tours and Locations

Many horse riding schools and tours along the route operate year-round, rain or shine, and are approved by the Association of Irish Riding Establishments, meeting the highest standards of quality, safety and service. Find a school or tour operator near you.

 

Practical Info

When riding a horse in Ireland, ensure all gear such as saddle, harnesses, bit, reins, and stirrups are all in good condition. Wear a helmet and riding gear. Your guide, if you have one, will be able to advise you on the best things to wear to stay comfortable on horseback.

In Ireland, horses and riders have the right to travel on the road; if your journey brings you onto any route with vehicular traffic, you must follow all the same rules of the road as you would when driving a car. Stay to the left and obey signs and signals. If your horse shows signs of distress, alert your trekking guide or leave the road as soon as possible.

Expect the unexpected with regard to the weather and plan accordingly. Always follow any instruction given by a guide.

For more advice on horse riding safety in Ireland, visit Horse Sport Ireland online. For tips on taking your horse onto the road, visit the Road Safety Authority online.

 

By Boat (Sailboat, Yacht)

Whether you’re an avid angler, a seasoned sailor, or someone who simply loves the thrill of escaping to the high seas, the Wild Atlantic Way’s 2,500km of coastal route make it the perfect place to get out on the water.

On board a sailboat or yacht, you can set about spotting whales, dolphins, otters and seabirds, get away to the many islands that are waiting to be discovered, and enjoy the unique experience of seeing Ireland’s western shoreline from the sea.

 

Rental Services, Tour Operators and Locations

There are a number of ways to set sail along the Wild Atlantic Way; all you have to do is decide what kind of adventure you want to have.

A wide variety of fishing trips are available for the sea angling enthusiast, while sailors of all experience levels are invited to learn the ropes or tack their way up some of the most beautiful coastline found anywhere in the world. Cruises and boat tours are available for those who prefer to sit back and relax, while adrenaline seekers can get their pulses pounding on a powerboating adventure.

 

Practical Info

Staying safe on the water is essential to making great memories on your boating break.

The Department of Transport, through the Maritime Safety Directorate (MSD) and the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG), is the national authority with responsibility for maritime safety, security, communications and emergency services. If in distress and you have a VHF radio, they can be reached on Channel 16.

If piloting your own boat, be aware of the marine laws in the area. Ensure your navigation charts are up to date. Powerboats give way to sailing craft; always meet and overtake on the right. There should be a life jacket in good condition and of proper size for every person on board, along with anchor, flares or distress flag, safety line and ladder, first aid kit and spare machine parts. Let someone onshore know where you are going before departing, ensure your craft has recently undergone a thorough maintenance check, and always check your fuel levels with a dipstick or sight glass and carry extra in approved containers. For more information on sailing and boating safely in Ireland, visit the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland online.

If travelling with a tour, group, or licensed captain, always follow instructions when boarding, onboard, and disembarking. Carry essential gear - snacks, a fully charged mobile phone, sunblock and any medications (especially for seasickness) - in a waterproof pouch. In case of emergency, dial 999 or 112.

 

By Small Sea Craft (Canoe, Kayak)

The waters off Ireland’s western shoreline and the beautiful Blueways leading from point to point along the coast are renowned the world over for their cleanliness, quality, and abundance of diverse aquatic life, making an excursion in your very own kayak or canoe one of the most magical ways you can explore the Wild Atlantic Way.

If paddling out onto the open water is your idea of the perfect getaway, read on to learn all about getting around the route in this invigorating way.

 

Rental Services, Tour Operators and Locations

No matter how you want to explore Ireland’s western waterways, there’s a way to go that’s just right for you, from a day spent exploring Donegal’s unforgettable coves and cliffs to following Ireland’s irresistible Blueways water trails from shore to snorkelling spot.

If you haven’t brought your own kayak or canoe, there are rental and tour operators aplenty who will be delighted to help you get afloat. Find one here.

 

Practical Info

Spending a day on the water on the Wild Atlantic Day is a surefire way to make incredible memories to last a lifetime, but it’s essential that you ensure a few basic safety measures before you go. Plan your route in advance and go with a group or let someone on shore know where you are headed. If you’re new to kayaking or canoeing, go with an experienced friend or a guide or tour group.

The weather in Ireland can change quickly; be prepared for wet and cold weather - even in the summer months - and stay alert to changing conditions. Wear a lifejacket even if you are a strong swimmer; cold water can become dangerous in a matter of minutes.

Carry essential gear - snacks, a fully charged mobile phone, and any medications - in a waterproof pouch. In case of emergency, dial 999 or 112. If travelling with a VHF radio, the Irish Coast Guard can be reached on Channel 16.

For more tips on staying safe in the water, visit Canoeing Ireland online.

 


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