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Road Tripping the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way does what it says on the tin. Think dramatic sea ...

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The Wild Atlantic Way does what it says on the tin. Think dramatic sea cliffs, crashing waves and windswept beaches, all joined up by road over a whopping 2500km. The route runs from Donegal in the north of Ireland all the way down the island's west coast, finishing in Kinsale in County Cork. This long coastal road has always been there of course, but now there's a shiny new sticker on it, just waiting to be added to your world road trip collection. Here's our guide for how to make the most of the Wild Atlantic Way - in and out of the car.

The north: from Londonderry to Galway
The Wild Atlantic Way begins at Derry/Londonderry (which has an international airport) and heads straight out to Ireland's northernmost point, Malin Head. Feel the wind in your hair here - as well as the Atlantic splash from the Devil's Hole.

The Donegal coast is all white sand beaches and chunky headlands. It's worth ditching the car for a bit here - for horse riding at Tullen Strand or to learn to surf at Pollan Bay, as well as to seek out local guitarist Brenton at the Corner House in Ardara for live Irish music.

Further south lies County Mayo, home to Ireland's first International Dark Sky Park. It's easy to escape light pollution for a spot of stargazing here, especially out on the remote Mullet Peninsula. There are unspoiled beaches along the calm Blacksod Bay coast here, as well as the lighthouse that sent the weather forecast that delayed - and ultimately saved - D Day in 1944.

A 90-minute drive around Blacksod Bay brings you to Ireland's largest island, Achill. Pop across the bridge here to climb Minaun, first by car and then, from the car park, by foot to a statue of Our Lady that looks down along the soaring sea cliffs to Keem beach.

It's good preparation for the best climb on the Wild Atlantic Way, at Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain. The walk up takes around two hours (coming down is slightly faster) and requires sturdy hiking boots and a tenacious spirit to tackle the steep stony slopes.

Just south of Croagh Patrick you'll enter Connemara, one of Ireland's most dramatically beautiful regions. You'll want to stop for pictures in brooding Doolough Valley and at Killary Harbour, Ireland's only true fjord.
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