We all have a travel bucket list filled with beautiful, fascinating, and bustling UK cities we plan to visit...
Escape the norm of tedious driving routes along long stretches of motorways and venture out on an incredible Ireland road trip this year.
No matter where you’re based within this beautiful country, there’s a plethora of picturesque driving routes to explore. From cascading coastal views around County Donegal, rural scenery in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, and ancient monuments around the historic Boyne Valley, there’s no better backdrop than Ireland.
Does touring Ireland by car sound tempting? Continue reading to discover the best Ireland road trips…
First on our list of Ireland road trips is the Donegal route. Starting at the quiet seaside village of Rossnowlagh, this journey spans around 263 miles over to the town of Buncrana, boasting sensational views of impressive peaks and coastal havens around County Donegal.
This daunting route is not for the faint-hearted, following uneven and rugged roads, which start at calm sandy shores, over to tall mountaintops and exposed landscapes. You’ll be pleasantly welcomed by diverse scenery, backed by the breath-taking Errigal Mountain which provides the perfect backdrop for a summer road trip in Ireland. Stop off during your journey and take a boat trip around Donegal Bay towards remote islands, or head into the centre of Donegal where you’ll find fascinating culture and historic attractions.
If you’re looking for a mix of coast, country and history, this Ireland road trip around Donegal may be the one for you.
Length: 263 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Not many Ireland road trips compare to the Wild Atlantic Way route. Spanning around 263 miles, this journey begins at Inishowen Peninsula and takes you through stunning coastal hotspots such as Donegal and Sligo, Achill Island, Connemara, Dingle Peninsula and West Cork, ending at the colourful town of Kinsale.
You’ll have to pack your overnight bag for this one. Depending on the speed of your journey and how often you stop to take in the scenery, this Ireland road trip can take a long as up to 20 hours to complete. Be wowed by the outstanding shorelines during your west coast of Ireland road trip, which present 2500km of high peaks, curved cliffs, and panoramic views around fishing villages, culture-filled cities, and exceptional coastland.
The Wild Atlantic Way Ireland road trip offers a rich experience for those who want to immerse themselves in a true Irish road trip.
Start: Inishowen Peninsula
Length: 1600 miles
Time: 20-30 hours
Ring of Kerry is a unique road trip in Ireland that can be completed in just a short afternoon. Recognised as an extremely popular driving route for visitors all around the world, this Ireland road trip takes drivers on a loop around the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula alongside rugged hills and tranquil lakes.
You’re certain to encounter a wealth of coastline views, as well as rural mountains within the Killarney National Park, historic ruins at Staigue Stone Fort, and the striking Kerry Cliffs. You can also visit the eerie summit of Skellig Michael, a real hidden gem in Ireland on the coast of County Kerry.
End: Ross Castle
Length: 125 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Enrich your knowledge of Irish history and head out on the Ancient Ireland Road Trip. Travel back through time as you’re transported into the Neolithic era and the first millennium where you can unearth fascinating Celtic plots, time-worn tombs and monachal cities.
Explore Ireland’s rich history as you pass the ancient burial mounds of Bru na Boinne and Loughcrew, tread across Rathcroghan’s prehistoric landscape, or visit the ceremonial site of the Hill of Tara. You can also visit dramatic monastic settlements at Cashel, Clonmacnoise, and Glendalough where the route ends.
If you’re a history buff looking for even more inspiration, browse through some of the best castles in Ireland.
Start: Bru na Boinne
Length: 329 miles
Time: 4-5 hours
For a truly unique driving experience, enjoy a winding Ireland road trip around the Dingle Peninsula. This journey takes you on adventurous twists and turns up a figure-of-eight hill with exceptional coastal views, not for the faint-hearted.
This route really is a treat for the eyes as you look over the edge of headlands towards crystal blue waters and historic castles, churches and monuments. Stop off on your journey and sample some locally-sourced seafood in the heart of Dingle or explore the waters and try your luck at some of the thrilling watersports on offer.
Length: 115 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
Next on our Ireland road trip guide is the beautiful journey from North Mayo to Sligo. This stunning route takes you from the bustling town of Westport towards the romantic town of Sligo where William Butler Yeats drew inspiration for many of his poetry and written work.
Let yourself be swept away by the secluded landscapes, which encompass Achill Island before stretching your legs on a peaceful walk around the famous ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’. Other must-do activities whilst you’re here include a therapeutic seaweed bath at Kilcullen in Enniscrone and surfing the waves on the shores of Achill Island.
End: Sligo Town
Length: 165 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the most impressive National Trust sites in County Antrim and perfect for a memorable Ireland road trip. Discover diverse landscapes around the sensational Causeway coast where you can be wowed by the incredible backdrop, which has been used for Game of Thrones and other TV shows.
Enjoy the enchanting views of historic rock formations, imposing sand dunes and castle ruins as you let the crisp air seep into your car window. Notable attractions include Dunluce Castle, National Trust’s Mount Stewart and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, as well as memorable days out at the cities of Belfast and Derry.
Length: 183 miles
Time: 2.5-3 hours
If you’re looking to venture out on a full day driving tour of Ireland’s best locations, then the East to West route may be the one for you! The truly beautiful Connemara landscape is a memorable backdrop for your Ireland road trip.
Decide on where you want to visit during this incredible Ireland road trip. Enjoy an overnight bar crawl in the heart of Dublin city before exploring Galway’s cultural hub, whilst Connemara boasts picturesque scenery for the quieter moments of your trip.
If you like the look of this Ireland road trip, discover more scenic drives in the UK.
Length: 280 miles
Time: 3-5 hours
The Boyne Valley Drive is an Ireland road trip rich in history, sure to take you back in time. Following a picturesque route from Oldtown over to Drogheda, there is plenty of ancient attractions to see on this route; from the imposing castles of Slane and Trim, the Newgrange Stone Age Passage Tomb, St. Oliver Plunkett’s preserved head, and the site, which held the Battle of the Boyne.
Foodies will love the chance to explore the Boyne Valley Food Series, offering guided tours, markets and food trails with local Artisan producers and farms. Some of the incredible producers include the Sea Louth seafood trail, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Merci Beaucoup Cakes, and the Slane Food Circle Tour. Indulge in these heavenly treats during your trip and stock up on these local delicacies to take home.
Length: 140 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
The Connemara Sky Road is a beautiful loop of rugged scenery that boasts a blanket bog landscape alongside rural mountains and out to Clifden Bay. This route is perfect if you’re looking for a short and sweet drive accompanied by classic Irish beauty and charm.
You can begin this quick Ireland road trip in the coastal town of Clifden, with a steep ascent up the coastal edge and passing the historic Clifden Castle on your way. When you reach the top, stop off at the car park, which offers a spectacular vantage point for a picnic as you take in the view during sunset. Other exceptional views from this point include the islands of Inisturk, Ardmore, Inis Turbot and Omey Island.
Length: 10 miles
Time: under 1 hour
The final route on our Ireland road trip guide is a trip around the Wicklow Mountains National Park, a journey short in length but definitely not short in beauty. This Ireland road trip route takes you from the lively city of Dublin and through the diverse landscapes of County Wicklow, often referred to as the ‘Garden of Ireland’.
Explore fabulous attractions as you drive through the Wicklow Mountains; including the Glendalough Valley and Monastic Site, the Guinness Lake, and Glenmacnass Waterfall. If you want to extend your drive, you can even take a detour around the Sally Gap Drive from Roundwood to West Wicklow.
Length: 32 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
If you’re looking to stretch your legs after a long car drive, check out our Ireland walking guide before heading back to an Ireland holiday cottage with your loved ones. For even more inspiration, our Ireland Travel Guide boasts everything you need to enjoy a memorable Irish holiday.
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