With its dramatic coastline and remarkably unspoiled natural landscape, Ireland is unmatched when it comes to scenic driving routes. Roads wind over rugged cliffs and through lush valleys, with abundant opportunities for interesting detours. Below you will find details of some of Ireland’s most breath-taking drives.
A magnificent scenic drive takes you from Dunmore East along the edge of Waterford Harbour to the small villages of Passage East and Cheekpoint, about 10km upriver. The route takes in many historical sites, including the the Norman village of Killea (Cill Aodh) and the ancient megalithic tomb of Harristown, which dates from about 1600 BC. GoIreland.com provides a wide range of quality hotels in Waterford if you wish to avail of accommodation.
Yeats Country and Lough Erne
This drive is steeped in the poetry of WB Yeats and in the scenery painted so often by his brother Jack. Fishing in the two big Loughs Erne has been lauded by anglers, and visitors extol the cruising in the Ulster Lakeland. Views range from vast horizons at Lough Navar Forest’s mighty clifs to the tranquil peace of the Lake Isle of Innisfree. Check out GoIreland’s list of Sligo hotels and book from a range of budget and luxury accommodation.
The Achill Drive
The Achill Drive – (121km/76mls – Detour 22km/14mls)
Westport – Newport – Mulraney – Achill Sound – Dooega – Keel – Dooagh Keem Bay – Dugort
Leave Westport on the N59 road for Newport. On the right, 1km outside town , is a monument commemorating the Irish Land League’s most important meeting, in June 1879, which was addressed by the League’s two leaders, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt.
As you enter Newport, just before you cross the river, you will find details of a fine walking trail leading from Newport to Bangor. On the right, is a seven-arch viaduct erected in 1892 to connect the Westport to Achill Railway line.
After Newport, take the Achill Road. You will come quickly to a sign on the right, leading to the Nephin Drive. A series of lakes and mountains provide a very scenic drive, and on this road, too, is a Salmon Research Fishing Agency Centre where a summer visitor centre, tells the story of salmon.
Return to the main road, and as you approach Achill, you will see a sign to the left for Burrishoole Abbey (1 km), the ruin of a 15th century Dominican Friary, which is of historic interest.Westport hotels can be booked instantly should you wish to reserve accommodation in the area.
Dingle Slea Head
The Dingle Peninsula which stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean, is the most northerly of the mountainous promontories which form the indented coast of South-West Ireland. It stands apart for its dramatic mountains and coastal scenery and features a remarkable number of ancient sites. From Slea Head one can see the Blasket Islands, which are the last outposts of Europe and are known as the “next parish to America”. Many of the local community speak Gaelic as their first language. Book from a wide range of Dingle hotel accommodation should you wish to stay in the area.
The Rosses and Gweedore
Donegal contains the largest native Irish speaking population in the country. The scenic drive of the Rosses and Gweedore encompasses a large part of the Donegal Gaeltacht and Falcarragh.
Dungloe, the principal town in the Rosses, is an important game angling centre and colourful resort situated on an island-studded bay. Browse GoIreland’s list of Donegal hotels should you wish to avail of quality accommodation.
Conor Pass is best tackled on a clear day, past the 953m summit of Mount Brandon. Once over the pass, Brandon Bay opens in a fantastic geological model of lakes, river, and rock-strewn contours.
Ladies View is located between Kenmare and Killarney along the Ring of Kerry Route (N71). About 12 miles from Killarney, it offers stunning views of Killarney’s lakes, making it a major stopping point on any Ring of Kerry tour. The name dates back to 1861, when Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting were so inspired by the breathtaking vista that they named it Ladies View. Killarney hotel accommodation can be booked instantly with GoIreland.com.
Ireland’s most northerly point lies on this ragged triangular headland. Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly virtually isolate Inishowen from the rest of the county. The interior is a mix of low white farms and cottages huddling roped against the wind, and grand brown mountains rising toward Slieve Snaght. The scenic 160km route around the edge of Inishowen takes in Malin Head, castles, churches, High Crosses and pre-Christian antiquities.