QUIZ: Ireland’s most scenic summer drives
Find out which scenic drive suits you best.
Nothing quite says the Irish summer like going for a drive. Packing up the car with the buckets and spades, making a playlist and loading up the family for a day of summer fun. With so many amazing scenic drives in Ireland, the hard part is deciding exactly where to go! With miles and miles of gorgeous coastline, there is nothing better than spending the day driving along windy Irish roads to catch a sunset, stopping on the way for a well-deserved 99 and snapping some of the stunning scenery.
Forget the trusty sat-nav, just go with a rough idea and let the road take you. Sure isn't half the fun getting a bit lost and having to ask the locals for directions? You'll end up finding special places and discovering the unexpected out on the Irish coast.
With so many great scenic drives around the country, we have come up with a shortlist with a mix of well-known routes and lesser-known drives to get you set for your next day trip. Take our quiz to find out which scenic drive suits you best. Then all you need to do is fill up the car and hit the road!
Fanad and Rosguill Peninsula, Co. Donegal
Distance: 34 miles
Donegal is truly spoilt with so many of Ireland’s most scenic drives like the Inishowen 100 in the north and out by Slieve League to the west. The best loved by Donegal natives has to be Atlantic Drive near Downings. We recommend starting off in the cute seaside village of Rathmullan then heading towards Portsalon (below) via the coast roads. The drive into Portsalon, known as Knockalla, has one of the most stunning views of the county as the beach comes into full view on approach. On the Fanad Peninsula, stop off at Fanad Lighthouse, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Then make your way to Downings. From there take Atlantic Drive, the 12km loop around the Rosguill Peninsula with views of Horn Head in Dunfanaghy to the west and Inishowen to the east. Coming off the loop, you’ll pass by An Sibin Ceoil, the music pub is famous for great Donegal seafood. Come for the food and stay for the craic!
Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry
Distance: 31 miles
When it comes to scenic drives in Dingle, Slea Head grabs all the headlines but Castlegregory to the north of the village is a great hidden gem. After a walk on the beach at Castlegregory, head towards Dingle by the Conor Pass. The Conor Pass (below) is the highest mountain pass in Ireland and the scenery has to be seen to be believed. The distant views of Dingle and the dramatic drops to the valleys below are incredible. Make sure to pull in at the viewing point to take a few snaps. The road then winds down into Dingle. If you are looking for something quick to eat, park up and order a fish supper from Reel Dingle Fish — it won’t be hard to spot, it’ll be the only chippy with McKenna plaques! Your next stop is Annascaul, home of arctic adventurer Tom Crean. The South Pole pub was owned by Crean and stands as a monument to him, filled with lots of mementos and exhibits from his journeys. Not far from Annascaul is Inch Beach, the perfect place to end your drive by catching the Kerry sunset.
Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
Distance: 35 miles
The recent opening of the Déise Greenway has put Waterford back on the map as a top tourist destination but the best way to see the Copper Coast has to be by car. Starting off at the fishing village of Dunmore East head south to Tramore sticking to the coast roads. Tramore is known for its serious surf so if you can spare a few hours, book into T-Bay surf school to catch some waves. If you would prefer to stay dry, have a cup of tea and a traditional Waterford breakfast ‘blaa’ in their great little café. As well as the 3-mile long strand which is perfect for a relaxing stroll, you can hike up the adjoining dunes to catch some unrivaled views of the beach. Start driving further south in the direction of Dungarvan by the coast, passing by the villages of Bunmahon and Stradbally along the way. You could wile the hours away just walking around this charming market town but why not book into Tannery restaurant on Quay Street for some proper fine dining.
Connemara, Co. Galway (above)
Distance: 27 miles
While the Wild Atlantic Way has become the ultimate driving route in Ireland, taking the whole route from Malin to Mizen could take weeks. The section in Connemara has all the best of the west and can be enjoyed in just a few hours, perfect for a day trip. The Clifden Sky Road is considered by many to be the most scenic drive in Ireland so where better to start. The Sky Road loop is just 7-miles long and takes in some of the most remarkable views in all of Ireland out to the Atlantic Ocean and back to the town of Clifden. You can also spot the offshore islands of Inishturk and Turbot. At the end of the loop, stay rural by driving towards Claddaghduff and then Sheeauns on the edge of Connemara National Park before taking the short trip over to the spectacular Kylemore Abbey. The walled garden and sprawling grounds make the perfect location for a picnic. For a real treat, have afternoon tea in the Kylemore Abbey Tea House.
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