Five unmissable road trips around the island of Ireland

winding road in irish hills

When it comes to self-drive holidays, Ireland should be close to the top of your list. Here, our friends at round up five of the island’s most breathtaking road trips.

Wild Atlantic Way

Stretching more than 2500km along the length of the island of Ireland’s west coast from Kinsale to Malin Head, the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, the Wild Atlantic Way is exactly what it sounds like – windswept, untamed and uniquely Irish.

Spectacular highlights include some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, the magnificent Slieve League Cliffs, Ireland’s only cable car on the Beara Peninsula; the majestic Cliffs of Moher, the dreamy Glencar Lake, wild surf and more.

Read: Ireland’s most stunning film locations

Game of Thrones®

From the Dothraki grasslands to the Kingsroad, George RR Martin’s epic landscapes are brought to life throughout Northern Ireland – and there is a lot to pack in.

Explore the 400-million-year-old caves at Cushendun (where Melisandre’s shadow-baby was born) or peek past Mussenden Temple to Downhill Beach (Dragonstone) below. And it’s not just the natural attractions that are on offer. Visitors can join guided tours, practise their archery skills, and even meet ‘direwolves’ at a range of Game of Thrones® experiences throughout Northern Ireland.

And for the ultimate immersive experience, the Game of Thrones Studio Tour at the Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge is a must.

Read: Canada’s top five road trips

Ring of Kerry

One of the island’s most lauded spots, the Ring of Kerry sits in the beautiful surrounds of Killarney National Park. Beginning and ending at Killarney, this is also the heartland of quintessential Irish villages, such as the vibrantly coloured Sneem, Waterville and Derrynane. And then there’s is the Bog Village, home of an authentic thatched village.

Ladies View (named for Queen Victoria and her ladies), with its sprawling vistas of the Lakes of Killarney, stands in stark contrast to the craggy Atlantic coast and the dramatic spikes of the Skellig Islands, and both are jaw-dropping.

Causeway Coastal Route

Known as “one of the world’s great road journeys”, the Causeway Coastal Route curves around the north-eastern coast from Belfast Lough to Lough Foyle. The journey meanders along imposing cliffs, crystal-clear waterfalls and characterful castles.

Along the way, visitors should make time for the Gobbins cliff-walk, the Glens of Antrim, and the geological marvel of the Giant’s Causeway, where remnants of an epic legendary battle and its 40,000 basalt columns have created some spectacular landscapes.

Read: European cross-border road trips

Ireland’s Ancient East

Spanning 5000 years of history across 15 counties, Ireland’s Ancient East boasts every facet of the island. Dotted across this lush landscape and rolling down to panoramic seascapes are megalithic tombs, medieval castles, holy treasures, ghostly gothic architecture and tombs that predate the pyramids.

Exploring the 6th-century monastic retreat of Glendalough is a must, so is gazing across the Irish Sea from the world’s oldest lighthouse at Hook Head. The one thing visitors can take away from a visit here is that Ireland’s ancient history is still very much alive.

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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