Imagine the West of Ireland and you think of pretty coastal villages, dramatic seas, brightly-painted shops and bars and a warm welcome. Now you can enjoy all of this on the captivating coastal driving route now known as Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way.
Wild Atlantic Way with McKinlay Kidd
Your first destination in this tailor-made holiday touring Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, is the colourful village of Kinsale, less than an hour from Cork. Now firmly established as one of Ireland's premier destinations for foodies, you’ll find a host of restaurants covering all styles and preferences and with local seafood particularly worth sampling.
Whilst in Kinsale, you will get the opportunity to explore the cobbled streets and quirky shops of this historic and very colourful village, or take a trip along the coast, where you'll find plenty of beaches and welcoming villages. Perhaps head into the nearby city of Cork and visit the world-famous English Market.
Your second base will be Baltimore with its bustling natural harbour a haven for yachts and ferries to local islands. This is where the Irish themselves like to holiday, but they don’t mind sharing the secret! Seeing whales and dolphins in the wild is still one of the greatest thrills in nature, and it's perfectly possible on a boat trip in the company of an expert marine biologist from here – add an extra night and we will pre-book the whale & dolphin watching trip for you.
When in West Cork you will have time to explore on your own, perhaps heading further west to the village of Schull, with its colourful craft shops, drive to Mizen Head, visit the imposing Bantry House and estate, or enjoy one the numerous coastal walks in the Baltimore area.
Your journey now takes you northwest, with options to explore one or more of the fingers of land at the south of Ireland, including the Bere peninsula, before reaching the famous Ring of Kerry, and your next base. Many will take this chance to drive the famous Ring of Kerry, the 120 mile circular drive and one of the country's most popular tourist trails. Although busy, there are plenty of options to avoid most of the crowds and still enjoy the open views of the mountains, coast and islands of the area. Weather-permitting, the boat trip to view the dramatic island monastery at Skellig Michael is highly recommended and there are also plenty of walking trails around.
Turning north you cross the Shannon by ferry and reach County Clare, where you begin to feel the true influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Your next rather special hotel is right on the coast. You're within a short drive of the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, stretching 5 miles along the coast at a height of over 200 meters above sea level, with often breathtaking views; or head inland to explore the mystical landscape of The Burren, almost 100 square miles of limestone pavement, rich with ancient history, cave systems and unique flora. You might also take a boat trip to visit the famous Aran Islands.
For the final leg of your tour, pass Galway City and head to the west and the mountains, loughs and coastline of Connemara, where you will once again stay right by the sea, just beyond the traditional village of Clifden.
Connemara - one of the last true wild areas of Ireland - is a broad peninsula to the west of Galway city and is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Its' name derives from "Conmhaicne Mara" (meaning: descendants of Con Mhac, of the sea). With dramatic coastlines, high mountains, sandy beaches, great walking and cycling, not to mention colourful villages such as Clifden and Roundstone. With lively bars, lots of live music and great food, you won't be short of diversions.
You will have a full day to relax and take in the scenery of this, one of our favourite parts of Ireland - Connemara. As your tailor-made Irish holiday nears its end, it might also be a good time to treat yourself to a lasting memory: you’ll find tweed jackets and traditional knits, hand-crafted jewellery and special works by local artists in the shops and galleries in and around Clifden.