Ireland is well known for its stunning scenery; the Emerald Isle’s dramatic landscapes, lush green countryside, remote beaches and breath-taking cliffs are high on most people’s must-see list. One of the best ways to see as much of this beautiful country as you can, in all its glory, is to drive. There are many roads in Ireland – away from the main motorways – that reveal the most spectacular views to those who visit them, so we’ve listed our pick of the best Irish drives below.
1. Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way requires a tad more commitment than the rest of our drives; this newly unveiled touring route has been hailed as not only one of the longest coastal routes in the world but also one of the most beautiful! This 1,553 mile route stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal, down the west coast of Ireland, to Kinsale, Co. Cork. Along the way, you’ll encounter some of the highest sea-cliffs in Europe, the most picturesque beaches in Ireland and maybe even catch a glimpse of some friendly bottlenose dolphins! If you don’t fancy driving the Wild Atlantic Way, you can see our guide to walking short sections of it, here.
2. Ring of Kerry
The unspoilt, rugged beauty of the Ring of Kerry means it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, behind Dublin. This 115 mile tourist trail follows the N70, N71 and R562 around the Iveragh Peninsula, taking in a wealth of breathtaking sights including the spectacular views from Ladies View (named after Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who fell in love with the scenery) and Bog Village, a unique village made up of 6 properties which have been restored to their original setting, including thatched roofing.
3. Causeway Coastal Route
The Causeway Coastal Route spans 120 miles between Northern Ireland’s most vibrant cities, Belfast and Londonderry, tracing the winding curves of the spectacular coastline in-between. The route takes in sprawling coastline, picturesque seaside villages and forest highlands. Make sure to stop off and experience wonders unique to this part of the world along the way, including the extraordinary Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (not for the faint hearted!) and the breath-taking UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway.
Escape the bustle of the Irish capital by heading south to the natural beauty of the Wicklow Mountains, known as the Garden of Ireland. Take the Military Road to get the best views; it can be a little windy and bumpy but the view is worth it. By taking Military Road, you’ll cross over the mountains and drive through the extensive heath-clad moors and bogs of the surrounding area. Turn east at the small village of Laragh to experience the delights of Glendalough Valley, home to Ireland’s oldest monastery settlement and picturesque teal corrie lakes.
5. Cooley Peninsula
The Cooley Peninsula in County Louth provides an alternative to some of the more well-known scenic drives in the country. This beautiful but remote peninsula was awarded a European Destination of excellence award for its “intangible heritage” and is well worth a visit. Take a drive on the R173 which circles around Cooley Peninsula, and discover the sweeping Mourne Mountains, mysterious Carlingford Lough and the medieval town of Carlingford which is brimming with rich historical heritage.
If you fancy getting in your car and heading to the Emerald Isle, make sure you check out our fantastic selection of self-catering cottages in Ireland. With over 750 properties across the country, we’d be more than happy to help you find somewhere nice to stay along the way!