All nature lovers who come to visit Ireland know that the Wild Atlantic Way is a must! This winding coastal road runs along the coast of western Ireland for nearly 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles). It is home to a variety of stunning landscapes, wildlife, and some of Ireland’s most important natural sites. So here is our top 10 best places on the Wild Atlantic Way!
From the Aran Islands to the Beara Peninsula, and from the limestone fields of the Burren to the towering mountains of the Black Valley, Ireland’s best spots are on the Wild Atlantic Way!
Also read our post: The best hikes on the Wild Atlantic Way
1. Malin Head
County Donegal in the north of the country is known for its breathtaking coastal scenery – most notably those of Malin Head Point. This place is the northernmost point of Ireland. If you find yourself at Malin Head in winter, you might even be able to spot the Northern Lights on the horizon!
Discover the fauna, geology and history of this region! Far north of Malin Head you can see the Banba watchtower. Built in 1805 to watch over possible invaders, it is named after the patron goddess of Ireland, Banba.
Have a drink in Ireland’s northernmost pub and take in the views of the Atlantic. On a clear day you can even see the Scottish Islands in the distance!
Also read our post: Where To See The Northern Lights in Scotland and Ireland
2. Slieve League
Another must on our ranking of the best places on the Wild Atlantic Way, the highest cliffs in Ireland! The Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal is an amazing place to visit! The beauty of the site is breathtaking.
If you love adventure, there is no more exhilarating way to start your journey than from Slieve League! You can visit the viewpoint via car or access the top of the cliffs via a narrow path. Either way, you will enjoy breathtaking view of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean!
Also read our post: 6 Less Common Things To Do Along The Wild Atlantic Way
3. Achill Island
Although Achill is Ireland’s largest island, it is still a little-known destination. This little gem is located in County Mayo, in the north west of Ireland.
A bridge connects Achill to the mainland, making it easy to get to the island. You will find heavenly beaches, rugged cliffs and beautiful hills populated by sheep!
You will also find Keem Beach which is regularly voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Also read our post: Visit Achill Island – 5 Must-Do Things!
Further down the Wild Atlantic Way, stands Connemara and its desolate landscapes.
The Connemara bogs are unique and characteristic of the landscape of the West of Ireland. This rugged and mountainous region north of Galway is a natural area of incredible beauty and therefore one of the best places on the Wild Atlantic Way!
As you tour the Connemara National Park and its information center, you can learn about the history of this exceptional region and its people.
Be sure to stop at Killary Harbor: this breathtaking location is home to Ireland’s only fjord. Killary Fjord stretches for 16 km and its maximum depth is approximately 45 m. You can also discover Connemara on foot on the Western Way.
Also read our post: Visit Connemara: Discover the West of Ireland
5. Aran Islands
The Aran Islands are three islands off the coast of western Ireland. These islands belong to the Gaeltacht, the part of Ireland where mostly Irish is spoken.
The approximately 1,200 residents of the Aran Islands have retained their traditional way of life. You can explore the islands by bicycle or on foot. And you can discover the various archaeological treasures they contain, such as the fortress of Dun Aengus, built on the edge of the cliff.
6. The Burren
Another area that is one of the best spots on the Wild Atlantic Way is the Burren Rocky Plains. The Burren is a desert karst plateau on the west coast of Ireland that consists of gray rock formations and is home to a variety of flora and fauna.
The region is also known for its many historical remains. We therefore advise you to stop to visit the Poulnabrone dolmen, the Aillwee caves or the Caherconnell Fort.
All of these sites can also be visited while hiking the Burren Way national waymarked trail.
Also read our post: The Burren: Interesting Facts
7. The Cliffs of Moher
The iconic Cliffs of Moher are arguably the best-known natural site on the Wild Atlantic Way!
These impressive cliffs, 319 million years old and rising 214 meters above the sea, provide habitat for countless species of birds and marine animals.
On a clear day the views from the cliffs are amazing, and you can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. From the edge of the cliff, you will hear the waves crashing on the rocks below, mingling with the cries of the thousands of birds that have made their home there.
8. The Black Valley
The Black Valley is a little gem tucked away in the Kerry region. For a long time this valley was one of the most isolated places in Ireland.
The landscapes of the Black Valley are breathtaking! You can reach this valley on foot via the Kerry Way or by car through the Gap of Dunloe. This winding road through mountains and along lakes has nothing to envy to the splendid landscapes of the Scottish Highlands!
9. Dingle and the Blasket Islands
Off the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry lies the Blasket Islands.
After many difficult years, the last inhabitants of this unique island community finally fled to the mainland in 1953, leaving behind the vestiges of a hard-working life.
Today you can uncover their history at the Blasket Islands Information Center and learn more about this lost civilization.
The Beara Peninsula is a lesser-known destination, which lies in the southwest of Ireland. It’s one of the country’s best kept secrets!
This beautiful peninsula features two mountain ranges, a valley, lakes and a winding coastline full of hidden beaches – a real slice of heaven! It is also home to the hidden-gem of Irish long distance hikes, the Beara Way.
Also read our post: 10 Highlights of the Beara Way: Beautiful West Cork