Fanad Head’s stunning coastline will take your breath away. Pack a picnic lunch for a seaside feast on one of County Donegal’s many exquisite, sparsely populated beaches. While in County Donegal, take the ferry to the remote Tory Island. Or stay ashore and spend a relaxing day at Shandon Spa, where you can soak in a hot tub overlooking Sheephaven Bay. The Slieve League cliffs rise nearly three times as high as the Cliffs of Moher and draw only a fraction of the visitors, and the coast around the cliffs is a totally unspoiled stretch of the Atlantic. Drive out to Killybegs, Ireland’s largest fishing port, and enjoy fresh seafood.
Westport to Doolin
With Westport in County Mayo as your home base, explore the central coast. Drive northwest along a stunning scenic Atlantic route to Achill Island. Take in 360-degree views of Achill, Keel Bay and Clare Island from the summit of Minaun mountain. You’ll also be able to spot Croagh Patrick, where St. Patrick is believed to have fasted for 40 days.
Drive south to Doolin, passing through Leenane, where The Field was filmed. Stop for a few days and explore the charming harbor city of Galway, where bohemian vibes have found their place among historic streets. Next, take the road from Black Head to Dunguaire Castle, one of the most photographed castles on the west coast, then circle back to Fanore, passing through the famous karst limestone region of the Burren.
Dingle to Kinsale
The world-famous Slea Head Drive starts and ends in Dingle and passes by curious beehive huts built in prehistoric Ireland and Great Blasket Island. These popular sites attract many travelers, especially between June and August, the peak season. For a much quieter experience, head toward Brandon on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula, where the beaches are just as beautiful.
The Ring of Kerry, a magnificent 111-mile looped drive, reveals Ireland’s history in the rugged, ancient landscape, which is dotted with weathered monasteries and Iron Age forts. Leave later in the day and drive counter-clockwise via Killorglin from Killarney, and you’ll have the road to yourself by late afternoon.