It may not seem like it when you’re on the commute or the school run but Ireland is home to some of the most stunning drives imaginable.
There are of course the tourist staples such as the Ring of Kerry – and why not, it is spectacular – but our small island is home to some big views and scenic routes that you may not have ever considered.
And with summer (now with added rain) still in full swing, which would you choose? A recent survey by Chill Insurance of 400 Irish people turned up some firm favourites – as well as some of these lesser known gems.
Pack a flask, get the ham sangers ready and stock up on Tayto – we’re off on a little trip…
Some 16% voted for the trip between Bantry and Killarney. And no wonder. It takes in the charming village of Glengarriff, along with its charming harbour and fleet of fishing boats. Further north along the N71, you’ll drive through the village of Kenmare near the head of Kenmare Bay. Set in undulating terrain, the town is characterised by its colourful buildings. It’s also renowned for its range of gourmet eateries – making it the perfect pit stop!
Just a fraction ahead of the Cork-Kerry road trip is another Atlantic favourite. The lazy drive from Galway to Westport. The Galway to Westport route has lots to offer, including the
picturesque town of Clifden. Set against the backdrop of the Twelve Ben’s mountain range, this is the perfect place for some sightseeing. You can also take a spin along the circular Sky Road, which runs for 11km and offers spectacular views over the surrounding area.
We are definitely a nation with one eye on the sea. Our love of our wild Atlantic coast should be no surprise – even if it brings with it wild Atlantic rain. More than one in 3 Irish people surveyed by Chill Insurance found this part of our isle their favourite drive. The Dingle Peninsula has some of the most dramatic scenery in Europe, and forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way. This includes the Slea Head Drive that takes in a large number of attractions and stunning views on the western end of the peninsula. The peninsula also features the Conor Pass, one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland. The views from the road are breath-taking, as the glaciated landscape of mountains and corrie lakes comes into view. From the summit there are views as far as the Aran Islands off County Galway.”
So that’s the Big Three but we all have our own hidden gems. Some of Ireland’s favourite bloggers shared their favourite road trips on the not-so-beaten track.
‘Being a Wicklow girl I have to choose the amazing drive of the Military Road, which winds its way through the spine of the Wicklow mountains. At times barren and wild, it takes in bogland, mountains, lakes and waterfalls. There is history everywhere around you, from the actual road you drive along, which was built by the English around 1800 to quash the Irish rebels, to Glencree where the German World War Cemetery lies, to Glendalough – one of the most impressive historical sites in the country that dates back to the 6th century. On a sunny day there’s nowhere in the world you’d rather be.”
“Being a Clare woman I must share with you what I believe to be one of the most stunning drives that Ireland has to offer and it is right here in Co. Clare. Thousands of people visit the Burren each
year and yes it is spectacular, but a little hidden gem that many of these visitors are unaware of and is not far from the Burren is ‘Corkscrew Hill’. Now this drive is not for nervous motorists – but for those who want to discover something extra special, take the N67 road that runs between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna. On a clear day, you will see truly stunning views – and it’s still
pretty amazing even if conditions are not so clear. There is a little viewing point at the top where you can park and admire the views over Ballyvaughan and Galway Bay.”
“Achill Island off the west coast of Ireland is renowned for its beautiful shorelines, dramatic sea cliffs and endless Blue Flag beaches. The 40km coastal drive will take you through a number of quaint, small villages on the island, as well as Granuaile’s Castle (one of Ireland’s great female pirates), and if you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins or basking sharks in the Atlantic
‘Achill Island is not only one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, but it also boasts some of Ireland’s best local seafood. A visit to the Chalet restaurant to try some Achill Island oysters, lobster and in-house smoked salmon is a must and there is nothing more satisfying than this after a day of breathing in that fresh, sea air.”
They didn’t make the top three but we still have a soft spot for the following trips.
It’s hard to disagree with any of the routes. Try them with your family or if you want to keep ‘Are We There Yet?’ refrains to a minimum, just you and your Significant Other in your life – your car 🙂
This is a collaborative post with Chill Insurance