The Wild Atlantic Way, 2,500 km in length, is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world.
It is a route that begins on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal and goes through the counties Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry, and finishing in Kinsale, County Cork.
This route from start to finish unfolds the wonders of nature, the power of the ocean and its imprint on the west coast of Ireland, and the stunning countryside in all its diversity.
It is a route that showcases the sheer magnificence of Ireland’s West coast from stunning headlands and beaches to colourful villages and towns all infused with the history, heritage and tradition of this rugged coastline.
It is a route with its unrestrained and untameable tides and storms has continuously been moulding the west coast of Ireland.
With a constant meeting of water and land, a deeply indented and wild terrain has emerged with towering cliffs, spellbinding bays and beaches, mystical islands, always changing and never reaching the end.
Explore the route, one route broken into six regions and endless ways to enjoy it.
The Bay Coast Region of the Wild Atlantic Way, is a fresh-air playground, with its dazzling beaches and Blueway trails, and where people come to kayak, kiteboard, paraglide, swim and dive.
Riders trek across the sands on sure-footed Connemara ponies. Cyclists follow the Great Western Greenway, one of the world’s most scenic cycleways. Walkers climb the sacred Croagh Patrick Mountain and Twelve Bens range.
There’s history and culture too, from elegant Georgian Westport to the Clare Island stronghold of legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley and onward toward Connemara’s coarse and captivating Derrigimlagh Bog, a mosaic of tiny lakes and peat.
To uncover two remarkable events of the 20th century, stick to the Bog Road. Soon you’ll come across the scattered remnants of the world’s first permanent transatlantic radio station, built by the Marconi Company over a century ago, while not far away is a monument to Alcock and Brown, who crash-landed (without injury) into Derrigimlagh Bog in 1919, bringing an end to the world’s first nonstop flight across the Atlantic.
Looking west across the great sweep of Galway Bay, you can watch the sun go down behind the Aran Islands before spending a night in the City of the Tribes itself.
The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most visited natural attractions. It has a visitor centre set into the hillside. Discover O’Brien’s Tower, a 19th-century viewing tower, and there are many vantage points from which to admire the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher.
From the main platform you can see the south cliffs toward Hag’s Head. From the North Platform you can spot An Branán Mór sea stack, home of guillemots and razorbills, as well as the Aran Islands. Continue on to buzzing Doolin and surf at the popular Lahinch.
Then there’s the otherworldly Burren - a vast limestone pavement rich with rare flora, crossed by ancient green roads. Down to the Flaggy Shore, described by Seamus Heaney in his much-loved poem Postscript as a place that can “catch the heart off guard and blow it open”. Enough said?
The Burren National Park, in County Clare, is a region of outstanding significance in terms of its geology, geomorphology, natural history and archaeology. There are various marked trails that take you through many fascinating habitats.
It contains examples of all the major habitats within the Burren: Limestone Pavement, Calcareous Grassland and hazel scrub, Ash/Hazel Woodland, Turloughs, Lakes, Petrifying Springs and Cliffs.
Galway City is a thriving, bohemian centre on the western coast of Ireland famous for its festivals, culture and characters. Known as the “City of the Tribes” Galway is a gateway to the unique Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, the Connemara and the Burren region and is a joy to explore with its maze of cobbled streets and colourful shop facades. With the opening of the Dublin – Galway M6 motorway and excellent public transport links, Galway is both easily accessible and a popular weekend destination.
Galway City is one of the liveliest centres on the west coast of Ireland with cool culture, awesome art, adrenaline pumping adventure, and buzzing pubs and restaurants. It is also a popular seaside destination with beautiful beaches and a long winding promenade in Salthill. This is a cultural crossroads, and a bohemian hangout where you are guaranteed to meet remarkable characters. It is a joy to explore with its network of cobbled streets, colourful shop facades and a busy café culture.
Galway is also known as a festival city boasting many lively fun events throughout the year. It comes to a standstill every July for the seven-day Galway Racing Festival at Ballybrit racecourse. There is also The Cúirt International Festival of Literature, (April), the Galway Sessions traditional Irish music festival, (June), the Galway Film Fleadh, (July), the world famous Galway Arts Festival, (July), Galway International Oyster Festival, (September) and the Baboró International Arts Festival for Children, (October).
Once ringed by city walls, Galway has a compact centre and is a delight to stroll around. Explore its medieval streets dotted with landmarks such as Lynch’s Castle, and investigate the quirky Latin Quarter with its charming craft, book and vintage shops, iconic pubs and restaurants and which comes alive at night time.
Galway is a haven for the arts boasting two world famous cultural icons The Druid Theatre and Macnas. Roll back the years on a visit to Galway City Museum and get in touch with Galway’s marine side on a visit to the National Aquarium where you can get up close to fascinating underwater creatures.
At night take in a play, join in a traditional music session in an old world pub in the Latin Quarter, let your hair down at a late night club around Eyre Square or simply soak up the vibe on the bustling city streets.
Or simply slow it down by day. Time passes easily when you stop by the Salmon Weir Bridge and watch patient fishermen jostle with the tumbling River Corrib below. The Corrib River meets the crystal waters of the Atlantic Ocean at the Spanish Arch, where small fishing boats and wild birds provide an idyllic backdrop to the famous shimmering sunsets over Galway Bay.