15 Fantastic Stops Along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

While at Mizen Head, look for dolphins, whales and seals in the ocean below
While at Mizen Head, look for dolphins, whales and seals in the ocean below | © Michael Mantke / Alamy Stock Photo
An unmissable road trip, the Wild Atlantic Way tourist trail is 2,500km (1,553mi) long and features 157 discovery points and 1,000 attractions along the western, southern and northern coastlines of Ireland. Culture Trip has picked the 15 must-see places along the way.

Fanad Lighthouse

Historical Landmark
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

The crowing point of County Donegal’s Fanad Peninsula is a lighthouse dating back to 1817; it was built in response to the sinking of a warship in Lough Swilly, in which the sole survivor was a parrot. Still a functioning lighthouse, it’s one of 12 that make up the Great Lighthouses of Ireland – a new initiative allowing visitors the chance to visit or stay in an Irish lighthouse.

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Malin Head

Natural Feature

Looking out over the North Atlantic from mainland Ireland’s most northerly point at Malin Head feels a bit like reaching the end of the world, with little separating you from the Arctic other than the ocean – you can even see the Northern Lights from here if you time it right. This area is also home to the popular mobile coffee shop Caffe Banba, where you can enjoy a warm beverage while you take in the view.

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Slieve League

Natural Feature
Slieve League’s cliffs aren’t as well known as the Cliffs of Moher, but they are nearly three times taller. As Europe’s highest sea cliffs at 601m (1,972ft), seeing them is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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Galway

Natural Feature
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Welcoming and colourful, the harbour city of Galway has everything you could possibly want from an Irish locale, from fantastic places to eat and lively pubs to music venues and cultural attractions. It’s even the 2020 European Capital of Culture.

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Strandhill

Market, Irish
Strandhill is the biggest coastal village in County Sligo and among its most scenic, nestled at the base of Knocknarea hill and looking out across the Atlantic. A surfer’s paradise, the area also has a local market, seaweed baths, a golf club, plus plenty of restaurants and pubs.
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Ballina

Natural Feature

County Mayo’s Ballina town has some notable architecture, with many Georgian buildings, and is also the site of the Jackie Clarke Collection. This major private collection has more than 100,000 Irish historical artefacts, including letters from Irish revolutionaries, rare books, maps and much more.

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Cliffs of Moher

Natural Feature
Ireland, County Clare, Cliffs of Moher, 200 meter high cliffs, dusk
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Among Ireland’s most visited sites, the majestic Cliffs of Moher on the Clare Coast need no introduction. Providing views of the Aran Islands, the Maumturks and Twelve Bens (Twelve Pins) mountain ranges, and Loop Head Peninsula, these spectacular cliffs are a national natural treasure.
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Doolin Cave

Natural Feature

Inside the Doolin Cave in County Clare, you will find the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe. A staggering 7.3m (24ft) structure hanging from the ceiling, it was formed from calcium deposits from a single drop of water, dripping over thousands of years.

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Skellig Michael

Natural Feature
A lone visitor on the final few steps to the top of Skellig Michael or Great Skellig. Site of 6th to 8th Century Monastery
© Steve Tucker / Alamy Stock Photo

As the site of a former monastery and a location in the recent Star Wars films, the larger of County Kerry’s two Skellig islands is as arresting in person as it is on film.

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Slea Head Drive

Hiking Trail

Taking in some of Ireland’s most striking vistas, Dingle’s circular Slea Head Drive has so many fabulous stopping points that it’s impossible to pick just one. It’s best to set aside at least a half-day to get the most out of this breathtaking journey.

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These recommendations were updated on August 24, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.