As the UK’s great Indian Summer shows no signs of abating, it feels almost perverse to already be casting our minds forward to next summer’s adventures. But really, there’s no better time to plan than now, with a sense of summer’s unbridled spontaneity still lingering in the air.
Next year, we’re embracing the freedom of the open road in the unsurpassed majesty of the Emerald Isle. Home to serene landscapes, towering cliffs, ancient castles, and quaint villages, Ireland offers scenic drives that will leave you awe-struck. Here are 8 of the most unforgettable road trips in Ireland that you cannot afford to miss in 2024.
The Wild Atlantic Way
One of the UK and Ireland’s most iconic road trips, covering an impressive 2,500 kilometres from Malin Head in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork, this trip will take approximately two weeks if driven non-stop. However, it is best savoured over a month. Experience the rugged beauty of Ireland’s west coast, with highlights including the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Skellig Islands in County Kerry, and the buzzing Galway city nightlife.
The West Cork Coastal Journey
As you can expect the above drive as many as 1,600 miles, then for a shorter version of the above, why not drive the West Cork portion of the Wild Atlantic Way?
Starting in the bustling town of Kinsale, known as Ireland’s Gourmet Capital for its exceptional local cuisine, particularly its seafood, you embark on a journey encompassing picture-perfect landscapes, rich history, and warm local charm. The winding road takes you past rugged coastlines, through rolling green hills, and colourful villages.
You’ll pass through the bustling market town of Skibbereen, the idyllic Glandore village, and onto the maritime haven of Baltimore. Venturing further, the route opens up to the Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southwesterly point, boasting dramatic cliffs and captivating ocean views.
As the guys at luxury self-catering accommodation gortadrohid.ie tell us, there are plenty of gorgeous holiday homes dotted along the drive that offer seclusion, privacy and magnificent views.
The Ring Of Kerry
This 179-kilometre scenic loop in southwest Ireland can be completed in a day, but to truly enjoy its beauty, consider a two-day trip. Immerse yourself in the Killarney National Park, visit the picturesque town of Kenmare, and behold the sweeping views from the Ladies View.
If you’re keen to broaden the scope of your road trip for at least a little longer, then driving the Dingle Peninsula is the natural extension to the Ring of Kerry. The peninsula is stunning and far less crowded. You can visit the town of Dingle, see Fungi the Dolphin, and drive the Slea Head Drive which offers dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Ancient East Trail
This 200-kilometre trail from Dublin to Waterford is a heritage-rich drive that can be covered in two days. Along the way, stop at the Rock of Cashel, explore the mediaeval Kilkenny city, and end with visiting one of the world’s oldest operational lighthouses at Hook Head.
The Sky Road, Clifden
An exquisite 16-kilometre circular drive in Connemara, County Galway, can be covered in a leisurely hour with stops. The highlights of this trip involve the magnificent Clifden Castle, the turquoise waters of Streamstown Bay, and the unparalleled views from the Sky Road’s highest point.
The Causeway Coastal Route
Taking you on 313 kilometres of splendour from Belfast to Londonderry, this trail should take you around three to four days. You’ll encounter highlights like the awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway, the ancient Dunluce Castle, and the adventurous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Concluding the scenic Causeway Coastal Route is Londonderry is a treat in itself, as the city is rich in history and culture. Visit the 17th century City Walls and the Guildhall within, showcasing Derry’s past. Stroll across the symbolic Peace Bridge to Ebrington Square, known for its art and events. Discover regional history at the Museum of Free Derry and maritime narratives at the Tower Museum.
The Burren Loop
This 160-kilometre loop can be comfortably completed in a day. Witness the unique karst landscape of the Burren, explore the Poulnabrone Dolmen – an ancient portal tomb, and relish the mouthwatering local Burren Smokehouse salmon.
Copper Coast Drive
This 50-kilometre stretch from Dungarvan to Tramore will take around an hour, excluding stops. This UNESCO Global Geopark boasts stunning views of the open sea, towering cliffs, deep valleys, and endless panoramas.
The Bottom Line
So pack your map, ready your camera, and hit these incredible routes for an unforgettable journey through Ireland’s landscape. Savour the dramatic vistas, cultural richness, and exhilarating twists and turns of these phenomenal road trips. Happy driving in 2024!