Posted 20 Feb, 2016 | 6 Comments
Posted in: Europe, Travel Blogs

Despite being the second most populous island in Europe with over 6 million people, Ireland still has a lot of pristine countryside and diverse landscapes to explore. There’s no better way to visit the rolling hills, craggy coastlines and shimmering lake countries, than by hiring a car and driving yourself (check out for deals).

As with any nationwide road trip, it’s best to have a few routes planned before you head out. Here are 5 road trips in Ireland that simply can’t be missed.

1. The Wild Atlantic Way

This 2,600 km long drive takes you past dramatic coastlines, dozens of historical landmarks, forgotten farmlands and into some of the most scenic terrain that Ireland has to offer.

The Wild Atlantic Way connects Donegal to Cork, winding from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north, down to the picturesque town of Kinsale in the South. Known as the world’s longest touring route, this drive takes in some wonderful culture along the way as well. You can stop at enchanting villages and get to know the local people, taste the regional foods and enjoy some craft beer at the pubs.

Image via:

A thick haze sometimes blankets the road on this drive, but it only adds to the enchanting mystery of this spellbinding part of the country. Don’t miss it!

Drive: 2,600 km

Duration: 5 days +

Best Places to Stay: In Kinsale, in Donegal, in Cork

2. The Burren Beauty

Also known as “the purple drive”, this 86 km route is set on the north-western corner of Clare County and is bordered by both the rough and wild Atlantic Ocean, and the more sedated waters of Galway Bay.

You’ll start in Kilfenora, passing through Lisdoonvarna as you head up the jagged shoreline towards Black Head, before eventually looping back down towards Carran and then returning to Kilfenora.

The Burren is a fascinating landscape of rock gardens and unforgiving cliffs that crash down into the sea beside the highway. The area extends over more than a hundred and fifty square kilometers and almost all of it is made up of barren, chalky limestone.

Don’t miss the little lighthouse just below the road outside of Black Head where you can get a glimpse of the mist-shrouded hills of Connemara that lie just across Galway Bay.

Drive: 68 km

Duration: 2 hours (4 hours with stopping)

Best Places To Stay: In Lisdoonvarna

3. Dublin to Galway

A great first drive for anyone landing in the nation’s capital, this drive is a truly magical tour across Ireland. Your first stop will be the Martello Tower in Dublin, then you’ll pass by the 13th century Trim Castle which is definitely worth a visit. Your final stop will be the lovely town of Galway, but make sure you stop at Atherny Castle and the enchanting walled town that surrounds it before you end your trip.

Image via:

Drive: 208 km

Duration: 4 hours

Best Places To Stay: In Athenry, In Dublin

4. The Sally Gap

This old military road was once the place where British Armed Forces flushed rebels into the hills, but today it is known as one of the most scenic drives in all of the Europe. You can start the drive in Dublin and loop all the way back after making the pass at 552 m.

The entire drive offers spectacular panoramic views of the blanket bog and the imposing Wicklow Mountains. The route passes though the mountains and past the Glencree valley, the inky waters of Lough Tay, Glenmacnass Waterfall and Kippure Mountain.

Image via:

Make sure you stop at the Glencree’s Visitor Centre, a building originally constructed to house soldiers who were guarding the pass, and the Glencree War Cemetary, a quiet resting place for German soldiers who died on Irish soil.

Drive: 70 km

Duration: 3 hours

Best Places To Stay: In Dublin

5. The Copper Coast

Get ready to experience panoramic seascapes, rugged cliffs, pristine bays and forgotten coves on this incredible seaside drive. Just 40 km long and connecting the towns of Dungarvan and Tramore in Waterford, you’ll pass through quaint villages like Boatstrand and Dunhill before arriving at the seaside resort town of Tramore.

The Copper Coast and its intimidating rock formations took over 450 million years to form and the vast and undiscovered topography deserves many stops to really appreciate it. Give yourself plenty of time to pullover and take photos, this is truly one of Ireland’s hidden gems.

Drive: 40 km

Duration: 2 hours

Best Places To Stay: In Dungarvan, In Tramore

Give Yourself Plenty of Time…

Ireland is a road trippers dreamland with literally dozens of impossibly scenic drives to choose from. You won’t be able to hit all of the best roads in one trip to the country, but you can certainly pick up a map, take advice from the locals and try to explore as much of the misty countryside as possible.

Consider getting a GPS as well. Most roads are well-sign posted, but if you’re trying to do multiple drives in a short time, a navigation system can save you frustration.

Drive safe!

Like it? Pin it! 🙂

Top 5 Most Scenic Road Trips in Ireland

Disclaimer: Goats On The Road is an Amazon Associate and also an affiliate for some other retailers. This means we earn commissions if you click links on our blog and purchase from those retailers.

Share this -

Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

Connect with Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift -

You may also like...

how to make money for travel 101 travel jobs to make money on the road
Travel Jobs Open Book

Want To Travel More?

We can help!

Sign up for our weekly newsletter and we’ll send you our 101 Ways To Earn Money For Travel eBook for Free, plus we’ll send you a series of emails to show you how to earn money and travel in a financially sustainable way.


6 thoughts on “Top 5 Most Scenic Road Trips in Ireland

  1. I was in Wild Atlantic Way two years ago and fell in love. So green, so rush, so rich! I can’t wait to go back!

  2. Ireland is NOT a part of the UK and although your little mistake seems insignificant – It is something that would put Irish people off reading your blog! We absolutely hate being lobbed into the UK. It’s the same as saying Canada is part of America. Ireland is NOT the UK….

  3. Fixed. Sorry for the mistake. I just meant that it’s nicer than many drives in the UK. Should have been worded differently.

  4. Hey guys, thanks for this post! We are headed to Ireland in March, and will even be there for St. Patrick’s Day! Yikes!!! We will be renting a car and driving around most of Ireland and hopefully up into N. Ireland too if we have time. Thanks for throwing together the top 5 road trips. We will surely be doing at least a few of these! I think I am most excited about the wild Atlantic way, but I’m sure the Burren Beauty and the Sally Gap will yield amazing scenery too! I’m definitely bookmarking this page for when we really sit down and nail down our itinerary! Thanks again for the info!
    Jason from ArboursAbroad

  5. Load all Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I want to...