The Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive of Ireland will take a while. You will find that you end up pulling your car over every chance you get to take in the incredible scenic views.
We had the opportunity to drive the entire Wild Atlantic Way from South to North. For 2500 km, we took in the beauty of the Atlantic coast having our minds blown with each turn.
Wild Atlantic Way – Best Scenic Views
While I'm sure we missed a few, here are our choices for top scenic spots on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way.
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1. Mizen Head
Mizen Head in County Cork was our first real scenic lookout stop on the Wild Atlantic Way. It's massive sea cliffs made for the perfect spot for a lighthouse. Situated in the most southwesterly point of Ireland, this was a strategic station for early cross Atlantic communication.
You can explore the museum showcasing life in the lighthouse and the Marconi radio room. There are pathways, viewing platforms, and a pedestrian bridge spanning a deep gorge. It's not overrun with tourists either.
We highly recommend stopping here and its a great place to grab a bite before you head on around the Ring of Kerry.
2. Clogher Head on Slea Head Drive
From Dingle, a day trip around Slea Head Drive is a must. There are several stops along the way, but our favourite scenic lookout was looking over at Clogher Head. The Atlantic Ocean was pounding against the coast as we looked out over the sea cliffs. It was a beautiful day and we spent a good hour hiking through the trails carved out in the area taking in different vantage points of the coast.
For another great 10 Best, visit The 10 Best Things to do in Dublin
3. Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher may not be the tallest sea cliffs in Ireland, but they are the most impressive. Jagged cliffs reaching a height of 214 metres plunge into the raging sea below. You can walk along cliff top paths for different viewpoints, but the best view is from the lookout point at the visitors centre. There's a reason they built it here. Go at sunset when the crowds are less and admission is free for one of the best scenic views on the Wild Atlantic Way.
4.Dun Aengus – Aran Islands
A trip along the Wild Atlantic Way wouldn't be complete without a stop at the islands. For a true sense of local living, choose an island to spend a night or two exploring. We made our way out to Inismor on the Aran Islands to view the remarkable two-thousand-year-old fort Dun Aengus. It's mostly a pile of rocks and ruins but you can see the foundation of what was once a great empire. But what is the most impressive part of the fort? The View of course. Located on the Atlantic Ocean it stands tall on sheer cliffs. There aren't any safety fences here, so be careful when you walk to the edge.
Tip: rent a bike and ride out to the fort to enjoy the day at your own pace. Rentals at Aran bike hire
5. Kylemore Abbey
Connemara in County Galway houses the impressive Kylemore Abbey. We stopped to visit our friend Fearghus at the Dolphin Guest House and wished that we spent more time in these parts. Luckily we'll be back in October, because we're going to be spending a lot of time in Connemara for sure! The Abbey is set in a picturesque location just waiting for people to photograph it in all its splendour. Compared to other castles and ruins in Ireland, this is just a baby. Built in 1867 as a private home for a wealthy doctor from London.
Note: make sure to try their apple pie and cream in the café, it's to die for.
6. Killary Harbour
Just a bit farther north from Kylemore Abbey is Killary Harbour, on Ireland's biggest and brightest fjord. Connemara tourism claims that it is Ireland's only fjord, but when we put that note out there on Twitter and Facebook, we received many an angry reply. We've found conflicting reports and found Lough Swilly, Carlingford Lough listed as fjords as well.
7. Slieve League
In County Donegal, you'll find the highest sea cliffs in all of Europe. These cliffs are more of sloping hills than the jagged cliffs of Moher, but they are no less spectacular. There isn't an entry fee here and there are walking trails along the top to take in various views. We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place but felt bad for the guy trying to sell his photos and the kids trying to earn a few bucks busking. Nobody was giving them a second look. Don't listen to the recommendations of leaving your car at the parking lot at the bottom. Pay the kid holding the gate a Euro or two to drive up. It's a long way to the top.
Read about Tips to Drive the Wild Atlantic Way
8. Horn Head
From the town of Dunfanaghy, it's a short drive to sunset at Horn Head. You can take a hike out to Horn Head or you can do as we did, pull off on the side of the road (there's a spot to park your car) and take a photo of Horn Head. I think that is the more impressive view.
You can also visit Northern Ireland without having to go through passport control, It's just a short drive from Ireland. Check out our Best Things to do in Northern Ireland.
9. Fanad Head
A little farther drive from Dunfanaghy is Fanad Head. We took the winding road out there for another sunset and found that nobody was around. Save for three other photographers, we were the only people standing on the huge sea rocks waiting for the sun to light up the sky behind the lighthouse. The Lighthouse was built in 1811 after frigate Saldanha sank while seeking shelter from the storm. An interesting fact was that the sole survivor of the ship was its parrot.
10. Malin Head
We finished off our Wild Atlantic Way drive at Malin Head, the northernmost tip of Ireland before making our way back South towards Dublin. This is yet another stunner of a scenic lookout. It's windy here and we can't imagine it ever being a calm day at Malin Head. It's worth spending some time in this area. Not a lot of tourists make it to Malin Head and you'll have most of it to yourself as you explore the villages and beautiful coastline.
Have you driven the Wild Atlantic Way? What are your favourite scenic lookouts? There are plenty more sights, after writing our list, we found National Geographic's Best of the Wild Atlantic Way and we barely had any views overlap!
For more information on visiting Ireland check out Ireland Holidays and for information on the drive visit Wild Atlantic Way. Flights provided by Aer Lingus, now offering direct flights from Toronto to Dublin.