Any experienced traveller knows if you want to know where the best places are to visit, you need to ask the locals. Well don’t leave it until you arrive to find out for the words you are reading now are indeed written by a local!
The usual mistakes tourists make when visiting Ireland is they’ll visit Dublin & never leave it ( overpriced tourist trap ) or they might sign up for a tour bus ( better but still not there ).
There are thousands of great things to see and do in Ireland, the problem is the majority of them are on the other side of the island from Dublin! The good news is, however, that Ireland is a fairly small country and thus travelling from one side to another takes a mere few hours.
Read before planning
When is the best time to travel?
Oddly enough, Irelands “Summer” tends to be wet. From personal experience, April / Easter / May tends to be the best time to visit. July and August occasionally get heatwaves but the chance of rain is higher. September is also usually quite good as the “back to school curse” kicks in as the kids are stuck inside while the suns out.
How you are going to travel
Never done one in Ireland personally but a visit to any of the major tourist attractions and you’ll see one.
Paddy Wagons is one of the most common buses around and offer day trips and multiple day trips. Be warned you’ll miss out on many other great experiences as these tend to just head to the major spots.
Motorbike rental / bring your own
Ireland can be a bikers paradise or curse, depending on the weather as Irelands geographical location means its very prone to wet weather, the grass is that green for a reason!
Weather charts can be very unreliable, especially in the northern parts from the likes of BBC, however I find Donegal Weather Channel to be quite accurate.
The roads for the most part are in great condition, the main dangers are other drivers, tractors, sheep, goats and other wildlife that may have found its way onto the road.
Car rental / bring your own
From personal experience, a roadtrip on the Wild Atlantic way is a blast and gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility over some of the other methods. You’ll also be a bit better protected from the rain and wind.
Like a car but an even safer option but you’ll miss out on the Irish hospitality if you choose to stay in your van.
Cycle / Walk / Hike
If you’re brave and fit enough, this is a great way to experience the coastline, there is also options for e-Bike rentals. There are a ton of hostels & camping sites but if you’re going for the wild option, read up on the law first. It is generally tolerated in Ireland.
How long have you got?
If you’re doing the entire coast, I’d recommend at least 2 weeks, otherwise if you only have a week, maybe focus on a specific area like Donegal, Ring of Kerry etc.
Finding your way around
There isn’t an “official” way you have to go, but you’ll be guided on the right path if you follow the signs that look like the one above.
Get a Wild Atlantic Way Passport before you start
Fantastic memento and logbook for keeping track of where you’ve been / places left to visit, we never got one and it’s my only regret.
Top places & things to see on the Wild Atlantic Way
Under rated thing about Ireland is the amount of castles and medieval architecture worth visiting. There are various round-towers, castles you can go inside and explore, ruins and more.
Father Teds House
The beaches are sandy gold, soft and perfect in the sun ( doesn’t happen too often ). However the water is only for the brave! Be warned it’s cold! Swimsuits are a must for most!
Donegal also has some well known surf spots and you can find an excellent resource on the surfing season here
Cliffs of Moher
Location used in “The Last Jedi” Amongst other locations scattered across Ireland. More Star Wars Ireland information here
Probably the most underrated item on the list, less touristy than Cliffs of Moher and features a much better walk through the countryside alongside it. Great for a hike / day out.
Located in Co Donegal
Various National Parks / Countryside
Lakes / Rivers
If a road trip is out of the question or you’ve been there done that, another amazing way to explore Ireland is along the waterways.
Rental boats I’ve been on
Having done the much more famous Canal Du Midi – I can tell you the waterways of Ireland are a much, much better experience. The water is a lot cleaner for one thing!
Great for fishing, exploring the countryside and small towns.
If you’re not used to seeing sheep, well, Ireland will blow your mind. They’re everywhere.