What is the Wild Atlantic Way?

If you’re planning on visiting us here on the Emerald Isle, then a trip along the Wild Atlantic Way should be near the top of your list from day one!

Obviously the west coast of Ireland has existed in its beautiful, rugged form for millennia but more recently Tourism Ireland, the tourism body for the entire island, helped to brand and market this part of the country for a global audience.

It has proved a massive success, so let’s dig in to what you can expect on a visit!

What is the Wild Atlantic Way?

Quite simply the Wild Atlantic Way is a huge tourism trail that covers the west coast of Ireland and includes some parts of the north and south of the country. 

It’s also unique because it’s one of the longest-defined coastal routes in the world and spans an epic 2,500km or 1,600 miles – meaning some serious amount of walking or driving needed to cover the whole thing! 

Interesting Facts about the Wild Atlantic Way

This coastal trail, running the length of the west of the island, is the perfect escape for tourists and locals alike.

That might sound like some typical marketing speak but it’s true! If you want to spend a few days, or even a few weeks at a slower pace, exploring majestic coastal cliffs, barely touched beaches, some of the best seafood in Europe, and glorious pubs (and pints of Guinness!) alongside traditional Irish culture, then this is the place to do it.

A few interesting facts about the trail include:

  • The Wild Atlantic Way passes through nine counties and three provinces 
  • The Wild Atlantic Way includes 156 official discovery points 
  • The Wild Atlantic Way attracts millions of visitors from across the globe every year 
  • The Wild Atlantic Way has only recently been established by Tourism Ireland in 2014
  • When navigating the Wild Atlantic Way you can expect to find an abundance of wildlife 

What Wildlife can you Expect to Find Along the Wild Atlantic Way?

What wildlife you can actually expect to encounter when visiting the Wild Atlantic Way?

Luckily the trail is teeming with wildlife, much of it naturally closely associated with the coastal landscape and climate, including:

  • Minke Whales
  • Kingfishers
  • Otters
  • Butterflies
  • Choughs
  • Basking Sharks 
  • Migrant birds

It’s highly recommended that you take a pair of binoculars along so you don’t miss out on any wildlife sightings. Especially if you plan on taking boat tours or long coastal walks.

Must-Sees on the Wild Atlantic Way 

So, at a length of 2,500km, you’re probably not going to be able to cover it all in an average two-week holiday so we have cherry-picked some of our highlights that you may wish to consider visiting when navigating the Wild Atlantic Way:

  • Malin Head – Ireland’s most northernly point on the island, in Donegal
  • Curraghduff Farm – book an experience with the alpacas which will be perfect for the whole family
  • Fanad Head – find the lighthouse and experience the jaw-dropping views of the outstanding area of natural beauty
  • Mullaghmore Head – this stop in Sligo is a surfer’s paradise where the waves regularly reach 50ft
  • Killary Harbour – one of only 3 glacial fjords in Ireland 
  • Cliffs of Moher – we have already written an entire article on these, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on seeing them
  • Skelligs – this UNESCO World Heritage site is up there as one of the top places to visit and featured in the Star Wars franchise as a filming location
  • Mizen Head – Ireland’s most south-westernly point, in Cork

These are only a few of the many, many highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way and you could spend a lot longer exploring the area.

Guided Trips on the Wild Atlantic Way

There are plenty of guided trips to parts of the Wild Atlantic Way that are well worth considering if you want to learn more about the area, you’re visiting through knowledgeable tour guides who will be able to answer your questions. 

The type of guided trip you’re able to embark on will depend on where in Ireland you’re departing from and this will also dictate the length of the trip, but examples include:

  • Departing from Galway to the Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher and Cliffs of Moher Cruise. This trip will take 10 hours and will cost approximately €70/£60 per person. 
  • Departing from Galway you can embark on a guided tour of Connemara with a 3 hour stop at Connemara National Park. 
  • Departing from Dublin you can take a two-day Wild Atlantic Way trip which covers areas such as the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and an overnight stay in Dingle Peninsula. This trip will cost approximately €190/£160 per person.

This is just to get you started, and give you a rough idea of what you might expect.

We hope you enjoy your trip along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Get lost on the beaches, along the windy country roads, and in the pubs surrounded by great craic and great beer. Enjoy!