One of the best ways to see Ireland is by getting out of the cities and touring around the country. Listed below are the top five scenic drives in Ireland which are a must see during any tour of Ireland.
Irish Car Rental offer a wide range of car rentals which will meet your needs at a very competitive price if you are in need of a rental car. A guide to Renting a car in Ireland is incredibly useful and it includes a free car rental checklist for when you’re ready to start looking to hire a car.
Sheep’s Head Peninsula
Sheep’s Head Peninsula has long been a popular destination for hill walkers, the peninsula is also a stunning drive. The Sheep’s Head Way is a 88km trail which follows old roads and tracks around the peninsula from Bantry to the headland and back. The route combines low and rugged hills with coastline and cliffs. The walkway is very straightforward and can be walked during any time between April and October. The drive around Sheep’s Head Peninsula is just over 70km, but offers the same stunning views as the walk.
“A peaceful, unspoilt peninsula which as some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery.”
The start of the drive at Bantry’s south is generally devoid of villages, allowing you to see the magnificent cliffs along the Irish coastline. Drive around the hairpin bends on the road to Kilcrohane before heading off to Durrus. Stop by Good Things Café and Arundels pub, both in Ahakista. From the pub, you can view Dunmanus Bay, the pier, and a little farther off, a small beach. Also in Ahakista is Hillcrest House, a good place to spend the night.
Dingle is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland. The town is a mix of authentic Ireland and nature set against a stunning backdrop. The drive around the Dingle Peninsula starts at Castlegregory at the Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula, go west into Cloghane, passed Conor Pass and Dingle, and head west to Slea Head. After Ballyferriter, continue to Murreagh and Kilmalkedar, and finally, back to Dingle. The route is approximately 75 km and highlights are guaranteed around every bend.
On the road, you will see the ancient buildings of Gallarus and the revered site at Kilmalkedar. The Dingle Peninsula itself is dotted with striking ogham stones. Eat in Waterside’s renowned restaurant, Out of the Blue, where the fresh seafood dishes are world-class. Also try Dunquin’s Krugers pub, which has a spectacular view of the sea. If night befalls, stay in the century-old The Captain’s House in Dingle.
Bantry to Killarney
The trip from Bantry to Killarney is approximately 80 km. This route can become very congested during peak tourist seasons as you will surely find a long trail of pilgrims and campers on the highway.
During the drive, you will see a number of quaint villages, such as Glengarriff; herds of farm animals, especially sheep; and both freshwater and saltwater lakes. Drop by the Eccles Hotel, and watch boats coming from and going to the Glengarriff Harbour. At the end of the drive is Kenmare, Ireland’s gourmet capital. Choose from any of the popular restaurants on Henry Street, such as Mulcahy’s and Packie’s.
If you happen to reach the area by nightfall, you may want to consider staying over. Various accommodations are available for tourists, ranging from four-star hotels to campsites.
The 120 km-trip begins in Dungarvan, with its gorgeous coastline. Proceed to Stradbally and eventually head to Waterford. Continue to Clonmel, then to Ballymacarberry, and eventually head back to Dungarvan.
The Copper Coast in Waterford is the only geopark in the entire European continent. It was named as such because of the mines of copper that used to be present in the stretch. View the majestic Comeragh Mountains, the Nire Valley and Stradbally Cove. Make sure you try the Tannery in Dungarvan, which is an institution in itself, offering mouth-watering Irish dishes. You may want to stay the night in Hanora’s Cottage, which is right beside the Mahon River in Nire Valley.
Europcar offer a car rental location in Waterford should it be required.
Galway to Westport
The long trip, which spans approximately 230 km, starts in Galway city. Driving along the N59, head over to Clifden, past Connemara National Park and then to the center of Westport. Finally, go back south via N84, and back to Galway, maybe taking in Castlebar along the way. The Sky Road in Clifden is a must see for the stunning views of the Atlantic coastline and Connemara.
Enjoy the view of Killary Harbour from Blackberry Café in Galway. Stop over at Kylemore Abbey in Galway, where you can check out the church and craft shop and eat at the restaurant afterwards. After the long drive, spend the night at Quay House, a former monastery in Clifden.
If you have any suggestions for this list, or have any other suggestions regarding this article, please leave a comment.