Kay Henry Self Drive of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way

Sunday 2nd June – Sunday 23rd June 2024

Number of Travellers: 2
Duration: 22 Days / 21 Nights


Travel along the length of Ireland’s west coast, taking in some of our famous historic sites and highlights while at the same time exploring more off-the-beaten-path locations and stunning landscapes.  Along the way, you will get under the skin of Ireland, visiting sites associated with the country’s long and complex history from prehistoric times to the recent past.  Meeting local people and learning about life on Europe’s northwestern edge, you’ll uncover the natural history of the varied landscape from verdant green pastures to wild mountain scenery.

Itinerary at a Glance


  • Stand atop the iconic Cliffs of Moher away from the crowds
  • Explore the alien landscapes of the Burren National Park with a local farming couple
  • Cycle along Ireland's first car-free greenway
  • Enjoy some of the strongest bastions of traditional Irish music and food

Day by Day

Day 1 - Sunday 2nd June - Swainstown to Colourful Kinsale

Embarking from Swainstown this morning, your first stop in Ireland’s countryside is a foodie haven and the start point of the Wild Atlantic Way. Kinsale is a bolthole for Ireland’s most culinary-minded and its pretty harbour with mystical sea views is an idyllic place for an adventure. Follow a jaw-dropping coastal route through southwest Ireland as you learn of pirate invasions, famine and conflict. A visit to 17th century star-shaped Charles Fort or a sunset stroll along a waterside walkway is a perfect end to your day’s touring.

Overnight: Kinsale | Actons Hotel
Room Type: 1x Classic Double Room
Meals Included: None

Day 1 - Directions Read More +

Day 1 - Suggested Stops Read More +

The Rock of Cashel: an imposing medieval castle perched atop the hill overlooking Cashel, Co. Tipperary, which is about halfway through your drive. Stop by for a quick self-guided walk through the castle halls for a leg stretch, or join one of the regular public guided tours.

Charles Fort: taking the cake as one of Ireland’s most unique military forts with its star shape, Charles Fort is a 1.5 hour walk from Kinsale and offers sweeping views of the southern coastline. We recommend a visit later in the afternoon (last admission is at 5:00pm) and getting a sunset walk on the way home.

Day 1 - Dinner Details Read More +

We recommend dinner at Fishy Fishy for seafood lovers, otherwise The Supper Club for a look into Kinsale’s trendy European cuisine.

Day 2 - Monday 3rd June - The Wilds of West Cork

The options today are endless for an exploration day of West Cork! You can decide between a simple drive along the coastline – being sure to stop at Ireland’s southernmost point of Mizen Head – or take part in a guided adventure including a kayak in Kinsale Harbour or a short ferry over to one of the coastline’s many dotted islands. Your destination tonight is the village of Bantry, located right on the cusp of Cork and Kerry with immediate access to the wild peninsulas to be explored in the coming days.

Overnight: Bantry | The Maritime Hotel
Room Type: 1x Harbour View Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 2 - Directions Read More +

Day 2 - Suggested Stops Read More +

Mizen Head: Ireland’s most southerly point is also one of its most dramatic landscapes, with crashing waves and dropping sea cliffs abound. For those unafraid of heights, crossing the Mizen Head bridge to Cloghane Island offers a fully immersive Atlantic experience.

Drombeg Stone Circle: also known as the “Druid’s Altar”, the stone circle at Drombeg is over 2,000 years old and represents one of the most intact ancient stone sites in Ireland.

Kayaking Kinsale Harbour: our friends at Atlantic Offshore Adventures run a range of sea kayaking adventures based from Kinsale, with our recommendation being the half day Harbour Town tour to get a view of the village’s surroundings and history from a different perspective.


Day 2 - Lunch Details Read More +

If staying in Kinsale this morning, we suggest Lemon Leaf Cafe for lunch. If hitting the road earlier, Nico’s Food & Wine in Schull is a must-see.

Day 2 - Dinner Details Read More +

With a couple days of long driving behind you, we recommend dinner at your hotel tonight to settle in.

Day 3 - Tuesday 4th June - Hiking the Sheeps Head Way

Heading further west into Cork, discover an unspoilt, rolling green landscape so impressive it has been named a European Destination of Excellence. In fact, some of Ireland’s best dairy produce comes from this region – sampling the local cheese is a must. This timeless region never ceases to surprise where dramatic views, lush emerald hills and charming farmland abound. Embark on a short hike around a cliff side lighthouse which takes in sections of the Sheep’s Head Way, and experience some breathtaking views of the wild headland.

Overnight: Bantry | The Maritime Hotel
Room Type: 1x Harbour View Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Hike Details Read More +

Keep the driving to a minimum today and hike the 3 mile Lighthouse Loop at the far end of the peninsula. Click Here for hike details.

For a longer option with a bit of elevation gain, the Barán Loop takes you atop a small mountain for sweeping panoramic views.

Day 3 - Lunch Details Read More +

Weather permitting, it could be a great day for a packed lunch on the trail as the views will sure to be wonderful. Weather failing, Arundel’s by the Pier is the best spot on this remote and wild peninsula.

Be sure to stop into Durrus Cheese to meet the local farmers and sample some of their cheeses which are renowned around all of Ireland.

Day 3 - Dinner Details Read More +

The Snug Bar and Grill is a great choice for your first pub grub of the trip, or O’Connors Seafood as another hit for seafood lovers.

Day 4 - Wednesday 5th June - The Remote Beara Peninsula

The least visited of Kerry’s peninsulas, the Beara Peninsula is wonderfully wild. Along the way to an even wilder mountain pass, opt for the scenic rather than most direct route south which brings you to a paradisal island garden or even head over to an island accessed only by cable car. Your day of exploration culminates with a crossing into ‘The Kingdom” of County Kerry where your accommodation is set in the heart of the quaint and charming harbour village of Kenmare.

Overnight: Kenmare | The Lansdowne Hotel
Room Type: 1x Classic King Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 4 - Directions Read More +

Day 4 - Suggested Stops Read More +

Garnish Island: a tiny but paradisiacal island located just off the southern entrance to the Beara Peninsula, Garnish makes for a perfect morning trip with a quick return ferry from Glengarriff. Spend an hour or two strolling through the lush botanical gardens or relax in their peaceful outdoor cafe if the sun is shining.

Allihies Copper Mines: for any historical or geology buffs, the copper mines in Beara are a must-see. Visit the museum at your own pace or book a tour to learn a bit about the mining history in Ireland, not to mention the beautiful views from the old mining complex.

Dursey Island: at the far western tip of the Beara Peninsula is Dursey Island, best known as the Irish island only accessible by cable car! We highly recommend taking this unique journey over the sea which cannot be experienced anywhere else in the country.

Day 4 - Lunch Details Read More +

We recommend lunch at either Breens Lobster Bar in Castletownbere or O’Neills Bar in Allihies for some midday pub grub.

Day 4 - Dinner Details Read More +

We recommend dinner in Kenmare tonight, with some of our favourites being No. 35 or Mulcahy’s for delicious traditional Irish fare.

Day 5 - Thursday 6th June - Foraging Along the Ring of Kerry

Into the southern part of the Ring of Kerry, the landscape becomes wilder and more rugged. At a secluded bay, join a foraging expert and storyteller for a seaweed discovery and tasting walk to uncover the Kerry coast’s edible gems. Together, discover how to sustainably harvest these sea plants, learning how they earned their reputation as a super-food. Enjoy a few nibbles of seaweed yourself, including the flavoursome variety, Duilleasc, which sustained the monks on Skellig Island, the rock pinnacles rising dramatically from the sea on the horizon, or Nori, the famous Sushi roll wrapping.

Overnight: Kenmare | The Lansdowne Hotel
Room Type: 1x Classic King Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 6 - Friday 7th June - Killarney National Park

Nestled on Killarney’s doorstep is Ireland’s first national park, Killarney National Park. Delight in a short hike through the verdant woodlands and along the lakeshores of Killarney, keeping an eye out for the park’s herd of red deer and taking in the gorgeous views that make this region special. Step back in time to both the Middle Ages at an imposing mediaeval castle, along with the 19th century Victorian era with a mansion house and tea room overlooking the glistening lake. Finish the day with the hour drive up to the remote northern side of the Dingle Peninsula in your country house hotel.

Overnight: Dingle | Shores Country House
Room Type: 1x Classic Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 7 - Saturday 8th June - Hiking the Dingle Way

The Dingle Peninsula is home to a rich collection of European archaeological sites. Hike past standing stones, prehistoric monuments, and clochains or beehive huts that are thousands of years old. Weaving along parts of the Dingle Way and an upland trail over Mount Eagle, drink in stunning coastal views along impressive trails. Enjoy beach walks from Ventry Beach before ending your hike at Slea Head, Ireland’s westernmost point. From here, gaze out over the Blasket Islands – once home to a thriving island community, harsh conditions led to their abandonment in the 1950s.

Overnight: Dingle | Shores Country House
Room Type: 1x Classic Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 8 - Sunday 9th June - The Iconic Cliifs of Moher

Most visitors to the iconic and jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher only see one short section. But the best way to fully experience the magic of the Cliffs of Moher on foot is to hike the full length of the cliffs. From the visitors centre to the the Napoleonic tower at Hag’s Head, walk the cliff-side path where emerald fields roll out to one side, and cobalt-blue waters swirl at the base of the cliffs to the west. Falling some 700 feet and winding in and out, the Cliffs of Moher merit their celebrity status. In the evening, we recommend visiting one of Doolin’s many buzzing traditional music pubs which make the village the unofficial capital of Irish music.

Overnight: Doolin | The Doolin Inn
Room Type: 1x Courtyard Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 9 - Monday 10th June - The Burren Farmhouse Walk and Lunch

Be sure not to fill up too much at breakfast today, as your first activity today involves meeting with local farmers on a tour of the craggy, alien landscapes of The Burren, a place said to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings. End the tour with a picnic sampling of the farm’s delicacies as your guides regale you with stories and lessons taken from the unique methods of farming demanded by The Burren’s unique landscape.

Overnight: Doolin | The Doolin Inn
Room Type: 1x Courtyard Room
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 10 - Tuesday 11th June - Day Trip to The Aran Islands

Today, spend your time exploring the Aran Islands: three distinctive, wild and remote isles that once held a position of great trading power in ancient Ireland. Now a bastion of traditional language, culture and music, they are as interesting as they are beautiful. Inis Mór (the largest of the three) is home to a prehistoric semi-circular stone fort and is best explored by bicycle. Stop for lunch at a locally sourced thatched roof cottage and take a leg stretch off the bikes by taking the short hike up the cliff side stone fort of Dun Aonghasa, before returning back to your ferry in the late afternoon to return to the mainland.

Overnight: Doolin | The Doolin Inn
Room Type: 1x Courtyard Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11 - Wednesday 12th June - Break Day in Louisburgh

On your own time today, make your way up from Doolin to the seaside village of Louisburgh in County Mayo. Your drive will take you through Galway city if you choose, where you can stop for lunch in one of the unofficial western capital’s many lively restaurants and cafes.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 12 - Thursday 13th June - Break Day in Louisburgh

Day 13 - Friday 14th June - Break Day in Louisburgh

Day 14 - Saturday 15th June - Break Day in Louisburgh

Day 15 - Sunday 16th June - Break Day in Louisburgh

Day 16 - Monday 17th June - The Coastal Beauty of Sligo

Leaving the wilds of County Mayo behind this morning, get ready for another day of activity as you are introduced to Ireland’s northwest and Sligo. Your day will centre around the seaside village and worldwide surfing capital of Strandhill, where you will tackle the hike up Knocknarea Mountain. Legend has it that the Warrior Queen Maeve is buried beneath the massive stone cairn atop the mountain, where her resting site boasts panoramic views of the northwestern coasts. Unwind in the afternoon with a locally renowned, relaxing seaweed bath in Strandhill before making your way into Sligo town for the evening.

Overnight: Sligo | The Address
Room Type: 1x Classic Double Room
Meals Included: None

Day 17 - Tuesday 18th June - The Towering Slieve League Cliffs

The Slieve League Cliffs are some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe (three times the Cliffs of Moher). One of our favourites hikes in these little-visited cliffs follows an ancient pilgrimage path where the remains of a mass rock (an illicit church) stands, arriving at the top of the cliffs. You’ll get the chance to do something few visitors get to do: stand atop the edge of the Slieve League Cliffs which offer terrific views of the cliffs, the Atlantic Ocean, the mountains of Sligo and Donegal Bay. In the evening, continue onward to the Fanad Peninsula to experience the remote beauty of the northern Donegal countryside.

Overnight: Dunfanaghy | Arnolds Hotel
Room Type: 1x Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 18 - Wednesday 19th June - Glenveagh National Park

Just on the doorstep of your accommodation is the expansive Glenveagh National Park. Joined by a local guide for today’s hike, wander the cultivated castle gardens set in this romantic landscape before continuing our walk along a winding path through the Derryveagh Mountains. Passing abandoned settlements and forlorn ruins, learn the history of what life was once like in this desolate wilderness.

Overnight: Dunfanaghy | Arnolds Hotel
Room Type: 1x Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 19 - Thursday 20th June - Drive the Inishowen Peninsula

The ancient territory of the O’Doherty clan of Co. Donegal is among the most remote regions of Ireland. Its northern shore is on the restless Atlantic Ocean with Lough Swilly forming its western boundary and Lough Foyle to the east. This parcel of undiscovered Ireland is perfect for outdoor lovers and budding photographers. We’ll be sure to provide a range of stops along the way from clifftop walks to ancient mythical site visits, leading you well on the way to finish your day crossing the Northern Irish border and settling into the town of Bushmills, known internationally for its whiskey distillery just outside of town centre.

Overnight: Bushmills | The Causeway Hotel
Room Type: 1x Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 20 - Friday 21st June - Exploring Rathlin Island

This morning, make the short crossing across the waves to Rathlin Island. The history of the isle is entwined in folklore, the best known being that of Robert the Bruce, who, when driven from Scotland in 1306, is said to have found inspiration to reclaim his crown by watching a spider’s perseverance when building its web. Today, Rathlin is home to Northern Ireland’s largest bird sanctuary and also three enchanting lighthouses. Enjoy exploring the salt-stung cliffs, ancient woodlands and secluded beaches before returning back to the mainland in the late afternoon.

Overnight: Bushmills | The Causeway Hotel
Room Type: 1x Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 21 - Saturday 22nd June - Walking the Causeway Coastal Route

Starting the trail straight from your hotel doors this morning, follow a stunning coastal route – the ‘secret’ way to visit the Giant’s Causeway – to see why the Causeway Coast was named as top region to visit by Lonely Planet. Admire castle ruins, dramatic cliffs, stunning beaches and picturesque harbours and even visit a few places that inspired and appeared on HBO’s Game of Thrones. The grande finale is at the spectacular Giant’s Causeway – octagonal columns of rocks created by feuding giants or volcanic activity – myth or science, you decide!

Overnight: Belfast | Ten Square Hotel
Room Type: 1x Classic Double Room
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 22 - Sunday 23rd June - Belfast City and Return to Swainstown

Stroll through the lively streets adorned with colourful murals that tell tales of the city’s resilience and transformation. We’ll recommend the best way to learn more about this fascinating city and its turbulent history, whether it be self-guided through the city streets or by booking a local black cab or walking guide. Taking your own time, eventually make your way back down south to your friends in Swainstown where our time together will come to an end. We hope you have had a fantastic time exploring the wilds of the Irish coasts with us, and cannot wait to welcome you back to our friendly shores.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Trip Details

Inclusions Read More
  • 16 nights’ accommodation in 3- and 4-star hotels along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
  • Breakfast each morning where accommodation is included the prior night
  • Guided seaweed foraging experience along the Ring of Kerry
  • A working farm tour & lunch within The Burren National Park
  • A day hiking guide exploring Glenveagh National Park
  • All return ferries for island day trips
  • Personalised trip design and delivery
  • Snacks throughout the trip
  • 24 hour in-country support from the Wilderness Team
Exclusions Read More
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the inclusions (e.g. most lunches and all dinners)
  • Activities and entrance fees not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Gratuities for the main driver guide
Pricing Read More

The price of this trip is4,590 per person and is based on availability at the time of booking. Note that all hotels have already been booked as outlined in the day-to-day itinerary.

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