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A Locals Guide to Irelands Wild Atlantic Way

WHAT IS IT?: The Wild Atlantic Way is a tourism trail around the west of Ireland which spans 2,500 km from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south. Along the way, you will find stunning Irish countryside, quirky traditional villages, and historic Irish landmarks. You will also be able to take in activities such as surfing, kayaking, and hiking.

A beach in Kerry along the Wild Atlantic Way

HOW TO GET HERE:

Cork Airport: This is the most convenient airport to fly into. It is the most popular airport in the west of Ireland and the second most popular in the entire country only behind Dublin. From the airport, you can take a 20-minute bus ride that goes directly to Kinsale, the start point of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Kerry Airport: This is a small airport in which Ryanair operates a small number of flights in and out of to countries such as England and Germany. It’s situated in between the two largest towns of Kerry which are Tralee and Killarney.

Shannon Airport: This is currently the only airport on the Wild Atlantic Way that flies directly to the U.S. You can take a bus to Limerick city which takes around only 40 minutes and from there you will be well connected to the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ireland West Airport: Another small airport but it does have quite a few flights to and from European destinations. In just over an hour bus journey you can find yourself in the exciting town of Westport. Fly here if you plan on visiting just the north of Ireland.

Donegal Airport: This is the most northern airport out of the lot. If you plan on beginning your journey here or just staying in the North of Ireland you should fly in here. Donegal airport has won numerous awards for its picturesque landing.

WHERE TO VISIT: No matter what part of the route you choose to visit you will have a wonderful experience. Depending on what activities you enjoy you should adjust your focus to those areas. For example, if you love national parks you should plan to include Glenveagh to your journey, or if the scenery is what you fancy you definitely need to schedule a stop at the Burren. But down below you can find my favorite towns.

1. BALLYSHANNON (Donegal) – Just an hour and a half drive from Donegal airport you will find yourself here near the Donegal and Sligo border. Here there is a charming traditional Irish town and for those of you who love history and outdoor adventures you can find Tullan strand, Kilbarron castle and Rossnowlagh beach just 5 km away.

2. WESTPORT (Mayo) – This is for anyone who wishes to seek out a colorful and vibrant Irish town. This is one of the largest towns along the Wild Atlantic Way and the National Famine Monument can be found here. This will be more about experiencing Irish town life but for nature lovers, you should check out Croagh Patrick which is nearby.

3. SALTHILL (Galway) – This is arguably one of the best places to be on a summer day in Ireland. This seaside town is just a 10-minute bus journey from bustling Galway city. You can poke your head into cozy shops and cafés along the main street and after a long day of exploring you can take a refreshing dip in their wonderful beach.

4. DINGLE (Kerry) – Dingle is one of the most popular destinations along the Wild Atlantic Way and it is easily accessible from Kerry airport. The area is known for its sandy beaches and rugged scenery. Whether your visiting prehistoric museums, going on scenic hikes or having a pint of Guinness in a traditional Irish pub, you will see why this is popular with tourists

5. BANTRY (CORK) – You could easily spend a week exploring the area and what makes it so great is that it can intrigue every traveler type. You can explore the Sunday farmers market in its pretty town, do some sightseeing at Bantry house, take a short 10-minute bus ride to explore waterfalls and nature reserves or go seal spotting on your way over to the gem of this trail, Garnish island.

Shops in Kinsale, Ireland

HELPFUL TIPS:

TRANSPORT– If you have a driving license I strongly suggest renting a car. In the west of Ireland, public transport doesn’t operate as much as the rest of Ireland. The landscape is very mountainous making it hard for buses and trains to pass here. If you don’t have a license though there’s no need to worry. You can get to most towns along the Atlantic way through buses. On some occasions, you will be able to use trains which are more comfortable but tend to be more expensive.

ACCOMMODATION: I’m sure by now you realize the west of Ireland is very much rural. The bad news is that you will not be spoilt for choice when it comes to hotels. The good news is accommodation prices arent as expensive as they are in cities such as Dublin or Cork. If you are on a budget you should try looking on Air B&B, you can find a fair amount of B&B’s at reasonable prices in this region. Another thing you should do is visit in summer, this is because there are many cheap camping grounds littered around this part of the country. One I can highly recommend myself is Eagle point camping in West Cork.

CLIMATE: Ireland’s climate is temperate and wet year-round. The coldest month is January with average lows of 4 degrees Celcius, its hottest month is July with average highs of 20 degrees Celcius, but no matter what the weather is like once you leave your accommodation always carry an umbrella because in Ireland you can easily experience all 4 seasons in one day.

A traditional Irish pub

For more information on the Wild Atlantic Way you can click on the link below.

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