Here is a typical road trip up the west coast of Ireland, to discover all the wonders hidden between the cliffs and mountains.
Let’s start our road trip at Cork
Before leaving Cork, do not miss the 16th century Blackrock Castle, which is one of the town’s oldest landmarks. From Cork to the cute and peaceful village of Baltimore, you will be able to enjoy the colourful towns on the coastline and the amazing landscapes the road offers. Take the N71 south and just drive around the county of Cork, which is the country’s largest county. Busy on one side and wild on the other, the region’s deserted beaches will make you feel like you are alone on the planet.
West Cork especially, is often referred to as “Ireland at its finest”, because of its spectacular landscapes. Getting to Baltimore will only take you about 1.5 hours, without the many stops you will want to make along the way. Once you’ve arrived, take your time to enjoy a good salmon dish at a restaurant, take a couple of diving or sailing lessons or visit Carbery's Hundred Isles just off the coast, to fully enjoy the lifestyle.
When you’re ready, get back in your car and drive north (still on the N71) to Killarney National Park, which is about two hours away on this breathtaking coast road. The park offers an amazing landscape with many walking and cycling routes that visitors won’t soon forget. Killarney National Park includes MacGillycuddy's Reeks, a mountain range home to Ireland’s tallest peaks, the world famous lakes of Killarney and several gorgeous waterfalls. A good place to rent a bike and cycle through the forest and around the lakes all day long.
From the town of Killarney just after the park, you can drive to Limerick on the N21.
Limerick is an old city housing St. John’s Cathedral with the highest spire in Ireland. There are a lot of things to see and do there, and a day in Limerick to take a break from driving may not be a bad idea. Visit a museum or two and do brunch in a typically Irish café - it will do you good!
From County Limerick, you might want to go to County Clare to the north. The best option is to drive along the coast to admire the Cliffs of Moher, a special protected area considered to be the most amazing views of the Atlantic in Ireland. You can see a large part of the coast from the cliffs, all the way to Galway Bay in the north. When leaving Limerick, you should take the E20, then change to the N85 all the way to Lahinch to get to the coast, and then just follow the road west to the cliffs.
While driving through west County Clare, before getting to Ballyvaughan, don’t miss the Aillwee Cave and its underground lakes, the Birds of Prey Center and the Hawk Walks, which you can see and do at a very reasonable price.
If you keep driving north, you will soon enter County Galway. Sing-along to Galway Girl in your car and discover the fantastic town of Galway, with its architectural landmarks and charming shopping streets. Once you’re done with Galway, do not waste any time and drive north-west to visit Kylemore Abbey and its gardens, where you can even treat yourself to a fantastic home-cooked meal at Mitchell’s café. Also considered one of the top areas in Ireland for its beauty, the Connemara will help you understand what Ireland is all about.
A road trip like this one could go on for weeks, but it is probably better to do a little at a time to fully appreciate the beauty each county can offer.
To conclude your Irish road trip, you can either get back down to the south to Cork, or cross the country to the east to visit Dublin and have a good beer at the Guinness Storehouse.
To plan your accommodation, a good website to visit is the official tourism site, which will offer you accommodation for all budgets from historic houses to caravan and camping spots.