Ireland is known for it’s amazing scenery and rolling hills. One of the top ways to enjoy the lush magic of the emerald isle is by driving its scenic winding roads, stopping off to enjoy picturesque villages, historic castles, ancient abbeys and wonderful sea views. Travel is mainly on country roads or two-lane highways, and though well-maintained they can become a bit windy and narrow. Thanks to the vast amount of untouched greenery, many roads are not marked, so there is often a sense of excitement that occurs when driving from one small village to the next, you never know what’s around the corner.
One of the highly recommended drives in Ireland is the Ring of Kerry. This is a circular route around the gorgeous county often referred to as “The Kingdom” for its stunning lake, mountain and coastal scenery. If you leave early enough, it is possible to complete the route in a single day. However, plenty of people choose to spread the drive over a two day period and often spend the night in one of the many local B&B’s dotted along the routes. The route is covered by a number of tour buses which travel in a counter-clockwise direction so it’s recommended that you travel in the opposite direction to avoid delays. Easy to follow if you land at Kerry, this route traverses the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range and the Gap of Dunhill, and then meanders among the enchanting hills and valleys of the Caragh Lake area until it winds up in the historic village of Glenbeigh. Once you’re here, follow the twisting seaside road to Kerry’s western peninsula, enjoying picturesque coasts, bays and villages as you head back round to the back beautiful Ross Castle and Torc Waterfall, as well as passing through the charming towns of Kenmare and Killarney.
The historic grandeur of the Connemara is one of the remaining unspoilt areas in Ireland and is home to the stunning Connemara National Park. This area also includes the wonderful beauty of County Mayo, full of prehistoric sites, monasteries and forts. As you drive out to the west from Galway Airport, your first place to stop off and enjoy Ireland will be at the quaint little town of Outhterard, surrounded by the glittering expanses of Lough Corrib. The winding road will then whisk you past the lush, craggy peaks of the Twelve Bens and into the lively town of Clifden. After marvelling at the nine deep miles of Ireland’s one and only fjord, Killary Harbor, make sure you then pay a visit to Kylemore Abbey before arriving in Mayo’s gorgeous town, Westport. Follow the road into the amazing lake regions, making a stop at the awe-inspiring medieval fortress at Castlebar.
Enjoy the famous Irish towns of Limerick, Clare and Galway as you coast along the Burren Drive, a drive that offers a breath-taking tour of the west of Ireland. If you fly to Shannon, you can hire a car and start your driving adventure at Limerick city and follow the coastal road through Ennis, perched on the River Fergus, the beautiful cathedral town of Kilfenora, and surfing mecca Lahinch. Continuing along the rugged western Ireland coastline, admire the majestic views and stand upon the 700-foot sea Cliffs of Moher, looking over the Aran Islands. Next stop could be in the lively spa town of Lisdoonvarna, famous for its festivals; after which the winding roads will bring you to the otherworldly limestone landscapes of the starkly beautiful Burren region. Circling back to Limerick, hop out to stretch your legs and take in the quaint homes, shops and markets of the pretty villages of Ballyvaughan, Kilnefora and Broadford.