I love driving tours as a way to discover a new destination. There’s something inherently exciting about getting out on the open road and seeing what new sights are waiting to be discovered; for an instant we are like the explorers of old charting new courses. There are many great scenic drives around the world, from the Great Ocean Road in Australia to Route 66 in the US. One of the newest designated routes though is also one of the most exciting– Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Ireland was already home to one of the best drives in the world of course, the Ring of Kerry. Mostly a scenic drive though, the Ring isn’t nearly as long as the Wild Atlantic Way and doesn’t include some of the amazing outdoor adventures that driving along this western route provides.
The designation of the Wild Atlantic Way is a new thing, very new. As in, not all the signs are up yet. But locals and tourists in the know have called this part of Ireland not only the most scenic in the country, but amongst the most beautiful spots in the world. The route is Ireland’s first long-distance driving route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. The 2,500km final drive will have a core ‘spine’ or route with discovery points identified along the way. While the route can certainly be explored at one time, what’s more likely is that visitors will choose certain parts of the route to explore in greater depth.
What I love most about the concept is that it’s active, you DO things not just SEE them. (Although the sights are of course spectacular) You can check out Ireland’s famous surfing culture, do some fishing, hike along the incredibly green hills and of course stop along the way to enjoy Ireland’s famous cuisine. The drive isn’t just a drive, it’s a total experience.
I recently explored part of the southwestern portion of the route with Tourism Ireland, starting in Killarney and the Kingdom of Kerry to the Blasket Islands, Dingle and Cork; in just a few short days I saw some incredible parts of the country. I’ll write in much greater detail in the next few weeks, but the experience was one of my favorite travel journeys and has fostered in me a great desire to return and see even more of the Wild Atlantic Way.
So next to the Garden Route in South Africa and California’s Pacific Coast Highway Drive you can now include a new entrant, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.