The Wild Atlantic Way

Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin

The Wild Atlantic Way

Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin

From ancient tombs, island monasteries and mountain-top fortresses, we’ll help you to explore scenery with a story to discover the best places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Stretching from West Cork to the very northernmost tip of County Donegal, the Wild Atlantic Way (Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin) is fast becoming one of the world’s favourite long-distance touring routes. In 2017, I had the great privilege of writing a guidebook to the historical and archaeological sites of the Wild Atlantic Way for Collins Press. So I spent much of 2017 visiting every nook, cranny and cove of Ireland’s rugged western coast. During the process it became easy for me to see why it has captured so many people’s imagination. The untamed beauty of the green Irish landscape that ends in soaring cliffs often provides a seemingly endless view over the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. This is a journey that seeps into your bones, enriches your blood and quickens your soul.

The Wild Atlantic Way is rightly renowned all around the world for its stunning scenery. Ireland’s Atlantic coast is a landscape that has inspired countless painters and artists, writers and musicians. To travel the Wild Atlantic Way and breathe in the fresh ocean air is nothing less than a balm for the spirit, but along with incredible views Ireland’s western coast has a deep and rich cultural heritage, full of stories of mythology, romance, violence, intrigue and tragedy.

As all of the sites are within a coastal landscape, certain site types and themes are relatively prevalent, and reflect the nature of their location and geography. You will encounter a number of megalithic tombs overlooking the sea. As well as being repositories for the dead perhaps these great tombs served as territorial boundaries millennia ago, a clear symbol of ownership and boundary on the landscape for anyone travelling by the ocean – the highway of the day. You will visit remote ancient monasteries that reflect the tradition of seeking out isolated places for devoted worship; you will see great stone forts and later medieval castles that show the desire to protect and command safe harbours on this unforgiving coast; and you will see numerous Martello towers, coastal batteries, signal towers and other defensive installations from the nineteenth century, when the British sought to fortify the coast to prevent Napoleon’s armies from gaining a foothold in Ireland.

However, despite similarity in some individual cases, each region of the Wild Atlantic Way route offers a different story, a different vista and a different feeling.

So join us and we will explore sacred Neolithic landscapes and Bronze Age stone circles. We will climb up to an ancient fort high on a Kerry Mountain, and take a voyage to early monasteries on remote islands. We will visit medieval castles still locked in a gruelling siege with the relentless Atlantic Ocean, and we will explore elegant stately homes and vibrant towns where the past is ever present. Simply use our interactive map below to start exploring. If you’d like to dig deeper consider becoming one of the Tuatha – our members get exclusive content, expertly-crafted itineraries, online courses and much more that can help you to discover the very best places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way!

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way – Visitor Information

Getting Around the Wild Atlantic Way

Air Travel: The best major airport for the Wild Atlantic Way is Shannon Airport as it gives you a head start on the west coast and it is very convenient for the Clare and the Burren, Limerick, Kerry and Galway in particular. Plus it has the added benefit of avoiding Dublin traffic and the busy motorways leading to the commuter towns outside the capital. Saying that, Dublin Airport isn’t too far though, and it’s actually quicker to go from Dublin to the northern reaches of Donegal than it is to go up from Shannon. The Ireland West airport at Knock in County Mayo gives you great access to the lovely county of Mayo, and it is convenient for Sligo and Galway too. If West Cork is your heart’s desire, then Cork Airport would be handiest for you. There is also a small airport in West Donegal too, with flights to and from Dublin.  

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way by Bus:
Bus Éireann is Ireland’s National Bus Service. They have a dedicated Wild Atlantic Way timetable with some of the key sites and routes marked, see their pdf brochure here.

Car Rental Companies:
 
There are a number of rental car companies operating in Ireland, such as: Hertz, Europcar Avis Car Rental, Enterprise or Budget. If you have wheelchair or accessibility requirements, Motability Ireland rent cars and adapted vehicles too.

What to wear:
The Wild Atlantic Way can certainly be pretty wild! Ireland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, and quite often you can experience all four seasons in one day.  So suncream, raincoats and good walking shoes / boots are essential!

Accessibility:
Many of the sites we tend to feature are a good bit off the beaten track, and aren’t traditionally considered as tourist sites. They include ancient tombs on mountain summits, the crumbling ruins of long forgotten castles, and atmospheric but overgrown monastic sites. That wildness often means they can be difficult to access. However, there are a number of sites that are largely accessible to wheelchair users, with paths and ramps and accessible visitor centres. It’s really important to us that Ireland’s heritage should be as accessible as possible, so we are going to include information on what to expect on the information box of each site. However, if you have any updates about accessibility or if we need to make a correction to a post please do get in touch and let us know here.

Dog Friendly Sites:
As you can see on our team page, Peig is our chief osteobarkaeologist and an absolute dote, and we would bring her everywhere with us if we could. However, not all sites are suitable for dog walking. A number are situated on private farmland, others might have a strict ‘no dogs allowed’ policy, and others might be challenging for our four legged friends. We’ll include information on each post to let you know whether it is ideal for a good walk.