On the Wild Atlantic Way
Some people absolutely love dreaming and planning their holiday. Other people are either stressed out by the thought or scared by the amount of work involved. However, everyone wants to make sure that they are getting the experience they hope for. People book to come to Ireland to experience small friendly villages, to stand on wild seashores, swim on remote beaches, visit offshore islands and climb mountains
But how do you plan a holiday on the route, the while keeping your sanity and finding the best possible experiences and places to visit.
Research Is The Key
Sometimes, it doesn’t take much – perhaps, you know you want to go to Galway and Connemara and visit the Islands or perhaps you have a couple of weeks and want to do the highlights of the full route.
However, either way, it doesn’t really matter. The steps in planning your holiday are the same.
Decide what floats your boat
Nobody knows you and your family like you do. The reality is only you really know what you want, like, or hope to have. Sometimes the difference between a good holiday and a GREAT holiday is found in the small details. Do you like the bustle of the larger cities and towns and enjoy markets or pubs or would you prefer birdwatching on cliff edges or taking a ferry to a remote Ireland only you know
Weather and time of the year.
The weather along the whole wild Atlantic way is mild maritime, temperate climate January temperature on route is around 7 and the average July temperature is around 16.0 °C Effectively, You can experience rain at any time of the year although snow is rare. The driest months are April to July and the sunniest month is May.
They say there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes!
Where to Go
There are 8 counties or districts along the route going from North to South
The highlights of Donegal are wild Irish speaking Tory and Arranmore islands, Glenveagh National Park, Ards Penninsula, Portsalon Beach, Bloody Foreland, Slieve League sea cliffs and Donegal Town. Donegal is particularly wild and untamed. One of the best places in Ireland to see thousands of birds arriving in for the winter (Inch lough) or to watch Basking sharks in Spring (Malin head). You might even catch a glimpse of the Aurora borealis.
Sligo is further south and its highlights are great surf spots (Easkey, Mullaghmore, Streedagh), Archaeological sites like Meadbhs tomb, Drumcliff graveyard, and the iconic flat-shaped mountain Ben Bulben.
Mayo’s highlights include the pyramidal pilgrimage mountain Croagh Patrick, the dramatic sea stack at Downpark Head, ancient farm remains at the Ceide Fields and St Patrick monastery and Killala round tower as well as Westport possibly the prettiest town in Ireland.
Hidden gems in Galway include the Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey and castle, the Aran Islands and a selection of coral beaches (Mannin). It is also home to Inishbofin Island, and south Connemara Islands region with many islands Lettermore Lettermullan Gorumna interconnected by bridges. It has 50,000 acres of bogland (Roundstone Bog)and dramatic beaches such as Renvyle Beach. The cultural hub of Galway City is worth a visit.
Clare is a dramatic landscape of exposed limestone famous for its flowers (Burren Wilderness, Burren national Park) and its castles and high crosses (Dysart O Deas Castle) as well as the internationally famous Cliffs of Moher and excellent surfing and dive spots. Diving in Clare is reckoned to be amongst the best in the world (Kilkee Diamond Rocks/Fanore).
Limerick has only a small amount of coast line but it has perhaps the finest castle in Ireland King Johns Castle in historic Limerick City.
Kerry is called the Kingdom because of the sheer scale of the landscape. Highest mountains in Ireland with precarious mountain passes, Killarney National park with thousands of deer, dramatic waterfalls (Torc waterfall) and thousands of birds feeding in winter in the Shannon and fabolus beaches and estuaries (Inch Beach). Kerry is also home to the isolated Skellig rocks and Valentia Island as well as the lovely towns of especially Kenmare and Tralee.
Cork is known for its multicolored village of Eyeries and Allahies, and for its fine towns of Kinsale and Clonakilty. Cork has marine nature reserves with phosphorescence (Lough Hyne), Castles (Charles fort) and amazing beaches and sand dunes (Barleycove) The waters off Cork are exceedingly rich with thousands of seabirds as well as hundreds of Dolphins and many different types of Whales. It is considered to be the best whale watching in Europe
These places can all be found on the Atlantic Way Explorer app. Free to download from Apple and Google play stores
Wild Atlantic Way Information and Resources
There are many resources on line and books too
John McKenna, Sally McKenna Wild Atlantic Way : Where to Eat and Stay Author
Tom Cooper The Wild Atlantic Way and Western Ireland 6 cycle tours along Ireland’s west coast