Ireland - Wild Atlantic Way
What is the Wild Atlantic Way?
The Wild Atlantic Way is set to be Ireland's first long-distance touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork.There are 156 strategically placed discovery points along the way.When completed, the almost 2,500 kilometer drive will be the longest defined coastal drive in the world.
Ireland - The scenery, the food, the people
I spent a week in Ireland, traveling along the Wild Atlantic Way.The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s first long-distance driving route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in northernmost Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork.I am convinced that it is a part of Ireland well worth exploring, and worth extending your trip in Ireland.
Here are some of the highlights:
Donegal and the northwest part are often overlooked when Americans are planning a self drive trip to Ireland.On the majority of time-stressed vacations, we wind up spending just 7 days in Ireland, which is just too short.Adding 3 days to such a trip can make such a difference in your travel experience.
The coastal route around western Ireland is a special trip with numerous once-in-a-lifetime experiences and spectacular scenic areas which will be some of the most memorable parts of your Ireland travels.It features the Wild Atlantic Way, with 156 discovery points for tourists along the way, including the highest sea cliffs in Europe, horse riding along the beach in Sligo, and numerous sites and experiences.
Day 1 We started out trip in Dublin and drove to Donegal in the northwest.Here are some of the experiences that I recommend:
Travel to Culdaff, Donegal.
Have lunch at the Front bar, Mc Grory’s, which has a great selection of food highlighting local produce with seafood a specialty.Their Seafood chowder, mussels or Inishowen oysters washed down with a perfect pint of Guinness is famous far and wide.
Travel to Donegal town.Drive through the Gap of Mamore on the way; descending from Mamore Gap offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.Check into the Radisson Blu Hotel Letterkenny, which is conveniently located across from a sampling of large shops.Have dinner at the Brewery Bar, Market Square, Letterkenny.
Day 2 Depart for Ardara to learn about the traditional Donegal tweed.Visitors learn how sheep are shorn of their wool, before it is woven into the cloth that is made into the durable tweed garments that are famous around the world.Some of the long-established weavers give demonstrations of their craft.We met Eddie Doherty.
Drive down the Glengesh Pass towards Glencolmcille Folk Village.See Silver Strand Beach, Malin Beag near Glencolmcille.Silver Strand beach is a spectacular hidden gem.It is horse shoe shaped, with the land circling the sea like a torc, the ancient jewelry which decorated clothing and served as a fastener as well.
The Folk Village Museum offers an excellent guided tour for the visitor where you will experience life as it was in the 1700’s, 1800's and 1900’s.The thatched cottages are exact replicas of those belonging to that era and are furnished accordingly.Travel towards the village of Carrick and onto the spectacular Sliabh Liag cliffs.(Slieve League), the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
Stop for buffet lunch at the Sliabh Liag Cultural Centre,and take the 5 minute journey by coach, down to the harbour to meet Paddy on the Nuala Star Teelin, a 36ft passenger boat that will bring you close to the spectacular Sliabh Liag cliffs, tanding at 600 metres.Take in many wonderful sights and a wide variety of sea life including seals; will you be lucky enough to spot dolphins or whales? Trip is weather permitting;wear warm clothing and comfortable footwear.If weather doesn't permit a boat trip.Take a stroll along the stunning Pilgrim'sPath up along the Sliabh Liag Cliffs.(We did both.)Don't forget to bring your camera!
Stop for afternoon tea at the award winning Kitty Kelly's restaurant and bistro located in a beautifully restored 200 year old farmhouse.Enjoy some Donegal fiddle music; dances performed by Joe Mc Guiggan. Watching Joe, the ancient art of dancing came alive.Sara Jessica Parker and Broderick are frequent guests.Their Irish home is nearby.This was one of my favourite stops, and an authentic Irish experience.The restaurant was lit by candlelight.The music was lively, and the dancing was mesmerizing.
Continue along the coast road towards Donegal Town, taking in some of the stunning viewing points including Fintra Bay.Enjoy a tour around Donegal Castle, Donegal town.Have dinner in the Olde Castle bar and restaurant.Overnight in Mill Park Hotel, the Mullins, Donegal Town.This lovely hotels combines Irish traditions with all the modern amenities, like a pool.A word of warning-you will need a bathing cap to use Irish swimming pools.
Day 3 Stop off at Mullaghmore Beach.Mullaghmore is one of the best big wave surfing locations in the world.A walk along the spectacular sandy beach can include sun and rain and some stunning scenery as well.Ours certainly did.Walk, too at Rosses Point.Starting from the Church of Ireland the walk takes you along the promenade where the Garavogue meets Sligo Bay.With the mountains to your left and the old village of Rosses Point to your right this stretch takes you to the Pier and the Lady Waiting on the Shore, dedicated to all the women from Rosses Point who waited behind as their loved ones went to sea.Visit famous Irish writer WB Yeats burial place and see the 6th century high cross at Drumcliffe church.
Travel to Grange for one of the best experiences, an hour long horse ride along the beach, or a carriage ride through the countryside.Enjoy the sensation of trekking on the beach.No experience is necessary.The horses are calm and easy-going.Dinner in the Pub with the Well at Harrys Gastro Pub, Rosses point promenade.The well is located under the tables of the pub, where fish swim in a well-lit cavern.There are a few town center hotels in Sligo.We stayed at the The Glass House, a whose interior is inspired by the orange and green swirls of the 1960s.
Day 4 The last day of the trip is one of the most special-a guided archeological and historical tour in nearby Stranhill.The town, coast and county are steeped in history and archeology.A walk through the dunes,along the beach, and beside the golf course with Seatrails was both educational and fun.The town too,has seaweed baths.Imagine relaxing back into a luxurious steaming bath of fresh seawater and wild, organic seaweed.Floating effortlessly in a soothing and tranquil state, your skin feels smooth and renewed.Breathe deeply and sense the tension, aches and pains simply slip away: an ideal way to unwind any time.VOYA Seaweed Baths and organic treatments are especially recommended for those who are over worked, stressed or simply seeking an effective natural detoxifying process for the skin. And the most impressive part-a 50 minute treatment is just $32.00.
To plan your own Wild Atlantic Way, contact Lynott Tours: Ireland@lynotttours.com or 800 221 2474
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