A one-of-a-kind adventure and the road trip of a lifetime, the Wild Atlantic Way’s stunning 2,500km stretch of coast offers all this and more.
Whether you want to dive into those invigorating sea swells, indulge in gastronomic gems or simply embrace those scenic vistas at a pace all your own; the route encompasses seven counties and never fails to create countless memories.
Discover for yourself just what makes this coastal getaway so special by visiting The Wild Atlantic Way website.
The official Wild Atlantic Way App has everything from places to see, where to sleep and eat, to festivals and events. It is the perfect travel companion along the West Coast of Ireland. Immerse yourself in the culture, music and food found in the towns and villages along the way, climb the most breath-taking heights and experience places that revive the soul.
Why not immerse yourself with a five day tour of the Wild Atlantic Way to unwind after the Dingle Marathon with five days on the Southern Peninsulas’ Touring Route. Climbing aboard Ireland’s only cable-car to a magnificent remote island, friendly marine life, old traditions kept alive, an enchanting World Heritage site and a genuine feeling of standing at the very edge of the world – it could only be the Southern Peninsulas of the Wild Atlantic Way. Here, the ancient ‘kingdom’ of Kerry meets bracing West Cork, framed by the stunning backdrop of five grand peninsulas dotted with mountainous character that stretch miles into the crashing Atlantic Ocean. Across five days, you’ll travel the entire region, from Dingle to Mizen Head – Ireland’s most southerly tip. Along the way; you’ll experience the Wild Atlantic Way of life as you mingle with friendly communities and discover their traditional skills and crafts. The region is also home to unique flora and fauna, centuries-old historical remnants, thrilling ways to walk or cycle your own path, and the prevailing sensation of stepping into a wild wonderland…
Stage 1: Conor Pass to Dingle (6.9km via R560)
Remarkable terrain makes up the first leg of this fantastic tour. Travel to the stirring town of Dingle via the Conor Pass (one of Ireland’s highest mountain passes at 456m high), and witness an exceptional glaciated landscape of mountains, lakes and views as far north as the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. Enjoy the beautiful drive up the mountainside from Brandon Bay and Castlegregory as you come around a twisty, picturesque stretch between Dingle and Kilmore Cross. A miniature capital city, Dingle is a bustling hub of activity, packed with things to do. Explore the colourful local shops (many of which double as cosy pubs), lift spirits in style at the 200-year-old Dingle Distillery and learn how to ‘eat like an Irishman’ at Dingle Cookery School! You’ll be shown how to make tasty pork sausages, colcannon and traditional brown soda bread, while picking up a few Gaelic phrases along the way.
Stage 2: Dingle to Killorglin (53km via R561 and N70)
Heading south to the Dingle Peninsula, you can go bird watching or look out for whales and dolphins before taking a break at gorgeous Inch Beach. Also on this pretty route, you’ll pass near the village of Annascaul, home of the South Pole Inn. This pub was once owned by the adventurous Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, and is well worth a visit. Killorglin is up next, completing a drive of just under of an hour. This gateway to the Iveragh Peninsula boasts the magnificent MacGillycuddy’s Reeks as a backdrop and is famous for its annual Puck Fair festival – where a goat is crowned king! The town is also home to one of Kerry’s most beloved cultural treasures, the ‘Seven Ages’ art exhibition by renowned local artist Pauline Bewick. This vast collection of art pieces, representing the first seven decades of Pauline’s life, draws its inspiration from both the Kerry countryside and elements of Irish mythology. Enjoy lunch locally, before hopping in the car for today’s final leg.
Stage 3: Killorglin to Rossbeigh Beach to Cahersiveen (42km via N70)
If you fancy stepping into Irish folklore on an invigorating looped walk, stop off at Rossbeigh Beach midway through your next journey. It has connections to the old Irish story of Tír na nÓg (the Land of Eternal Youth); one of the country’s most romantic legends. Moving on to the natural beauty of Cahersiveen (57 minutes from Killorglin), you’ll find a scenic haven with a busy marina regarded as one of the best deep sea angling spots in Europe. If you’re a history buff, look no further than the Old Barracks Heritage Centre. Situated in a former Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks, the exhibition features items relating to local history, archaeology, flora and fauna, the Fenian Rising and Irish political hero Daniel O’Connell. If you have time, visit Cahergal and Lecanabuaile; two nearby impressive dry stone forts, before spending the night in the town.
Stage 1: Cahersiveen to Waterville (45.7km via Skellig Ring)
The Skellig Ring drive (1hr 5mins) traces the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, combining ocean, islands, mountains, towns and villages. This glorious run leads to the village of Waterville, a beloved former haunt of one Charlie Chaplin, who has a statue in the area and a dedicated film festival in his name. Home to fantastic golf courses and open lakes like Lough Currane – which is great for salmon and trout fishing – this is a true escape. Shop at artisan craft markets, visit ancient historical sites and call in to Sea Synergy Marine Awareness Centre to learn about Waterville’s rich marine history.
Stage 2: Waterville to Caherdaniel (13.8km via Ring of Kerry/N70)
A 20-minute drive brings you to Caherdaniel on the southern coast of the Iveragh Peninsula. Framed by the rugged shores of Derrynane Bay, this charming village serves up many fun options for all the family. The 300-acre forest of Derrynane National Park holds Derrynane House; the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, now a heritage site and museum. A walk through its magical woodland is recommended, as it’s home to a delightful fairy trail which kids of all ages will adore! Other local options include a guided seaweed walk, thrilling watersports, or a beach trek with one of Caherdaniel’s equestrian centres. Finally, travel to Sneem (25mins). Get a good night’s sleep – you have plenty to discover tomorrow…
Stage 1: Sneem
Known as ‘The Knot’ in Irish, Sneem is a traditional village made up of picturesque houses and two little squares. You’ll also find a sensory garden, riverside wildlife trail, rare coral beach and Kerry Geo-Park, where you can explore local geology. Sneem is also a treasure trove of international artwork, featuring a panda sculpture donated by the People’s Republic of China at Sneem Sculpture Park, ‘The Risen Christ’ by Brother Joseph McNally on the grounds of St. Michael’s Church and the goddess Isis donated by the people of Egypt at ‘The Way the Fairies Went’. Outside of the village just short of five kilometres away lies the renowned Staigue Fort – one of the largest ring forts in the country.
Stage 2: Sneem to Kenmare (26.3km via Ring of Kerry/N70)
It’s just a half an hour to the ancient riverside town of Kenmare, where brightly painted craft shops, friendly local coffee shops and fabulous restaurants help create a buzzing, welcoming atmosphere. Founded in 1670, Kenmare is a designated ‘heritage town’ and as such there are some historical footsteps to follow in. Walk the local Heritage Trail (just a 30 to 45-minute stroll), venture to the town’s pier built in 1826 or take in Reenagross Wood which was first planted by the Marquis of Lansdowne over 200 years ago. Sample Kenmare’s food, drink and nightlife, then wind down in one of the great range of hotels and B&Bs before day four begins.
Truly embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of life on day four by immersing yourself in the resplendent Beara Peninsula; a remote and rewarding 48 kilometres stretch of mountains, lakes and seacoast. Two options are available – you can either visit Dursey Island by cable car or take one of the many walks in the peninsula before heading on to Bantry for the final day of your tour.
Option 1: Kenmare to Dursey Island to Castletownbere (92.9km via R571, R575 and R572)
Taking this route (2hrs) offers you the opportunity to visit the most westerly of Cork’s inhabited islands via Ireland’s only operating cable car. Running about 250m above sea level, the car carries just six people at a time on a quick but incredibly scenic 15-minute journey. The island is home to three villages and is part of the Beara Way Walking Trail, as well as being a terrific place to view wildlife. A variety of birds can be spotted here, including rare species from Siberia and America. You’ll also discover the ruins of O’Sullivan Beara’s castle; a 200-year-old signal tower with views stretching to the Skelligs and Mizen Head. It’s worth noting that there’s no eating or toilet facilities on the island so plan ahead of time and bring a packed lunch! Stay overnight at Castletownbere, driving back via the R572.
Option 2: Kenmare to Beara Peninsula to Bantry (78.3km via R571 and N71)
How does a day spent driving and walking on the Beara Peninsula sound? It’s a 41-minute drive from Kenmare to Beara but you’ll pass through scenic villages en route to Allihies, where you can stop at the fun and informative Copper Mining Museum and stretch your legs on one of the area’s many walking trails. There’s plenty of beauty in Beara, with many art galleries to take your fancy, including the Sarah Walker Gallery, Mill Cove Gallery and the Driftwood Craftshop.
Following a serene drive from Allihies – or Dursey Sound – through an unspoilt and gorgeous landscape that sweeps from the spine of the Caha Hills down to the shores of Bantry Bay and Kenmare Bay, enjoy one of the many bracing looped walks that the region has to offer. Afterwards, a relaxing piano recital in the village of Adrigole is the perfect way to finish off the day! American concert pianist David Syme and his wife Suzanne welcome guests into their beautiful home every Sunday afternoon for intimate concerts and tasty desserts – a winning combination! If you’d prefer something a little more intense, the Beara Way Cycling Route hugs the coastline, providing terrific views and a refreshing experience should you choose to hire a bike. Spend the night in Bantry (1hr 25mins from Beara) before getting ready to conclude this amazing journey.
Further options are available on your final day travelling the Southern Peninsulas. Start off in the bustling market town of Bantry and head in search of one of the two peninsulas yet to be explored – Sheep’s Head or Mizen Head.
Option 1: Bantry to Sheep’s Head to Schull (77.9km via N71 and L4704)
Turn off at Newton West on the N71 to reach Sheep’s Head (also known as Muntevary; 52 minutes from Bantry), an arresting treasure with glorious views, wild scenery and bright villages. Perhaps the best way to explore this ancient landscape is through the Sheep’s Head Way; an 88km circular walk that begins in Bantry and takes in low, rugged hills and spectacular cliff coastline. Adventurers will be delighted to know that the walk extends a further 60km eastwards toward Drimoleague, the beautiful Mealagh Valley and on to Kealkill linking to the gorgeous woodland terrain of Gougane Barra. If you fancy a more relaxing stroll, there are many other looped walks available. Finally, head to the fishing town of Schull (53mins) via the L4704 to conclude your exciting Wild Atlantic Way adventure.
Option 2: Bantry to Mizen Head (41.8km via R591)
Spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean from rugged rocky cliffs are the order of the day as you traverse the Mizen Peninsula following a 48-minute drive. Keep an eye out for whales, dolphins and basking sharks as well as the many birds that migrate annually to the region. Reach Ireland’s most south-westerly point at Mizen Head Signal Station where you’ll follow a path that leads 99 steps down to the bridge that connects the mainland with Cloghane Island; the site of a former signal station high above the waves.