While it may seem like an eternity before your next sun holiday, why not explore the Irish landscape to satisfy the wanderlust in you! Experience our glorious heritage by visiting historical attractions and admiring our unrivalled coastal scenery. I’ve teamed up with Liberty Insurance Ireland to share some of our scenic drives that are sure to delight; the only thing we can’t guarantee is the weather!
Hook Head Peninsula
Located in the South East, Hook Head Peninsula offers beautiful scenery just 40 minutes’ drive from New Ross and 1 hour from Waterford City. From Tintern Abbey, you can start the Ring of Hook Coastal Drive which is less than an hour long. On this scenic road trip you will experience a host of thrilling sites such as Fethard Castle, Loftus Hall, Duncannon Village and Fort, Hook Lighthouse, Churchtown Church and more. If you feel like stretching your legs, you can visit Hook Head lighthouse, which was built over 800 years ago by William Marshal. It is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world and you can climb the 115 steps to enjoy the spectacular view from the balcony.
From Tralee, drive 30 minutes to Annauscaul village on winding scenic roads to visit Annascaul village, the birthplace of Tom Crean (1887-1938), the famous Antartic explorer. The pub that Tom and his wife opened in 1920 is still in business so you can pop in for refreshments before heading further west for Dingle town. From Dingle, take the R559 to enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery of the Slea Head Drive. Views of the Blasket Islands and the Skellig Islands are breath-taking as you drive through Ventry, Dunquin, Ballyferriter and Ballydavid. If you are feeling adventurous when you arrive back into Dingle, head to the north side of the Peninsula by taking the Conor Pass, down to Brandon village which is nestled at foot of Mt Brandon. Enjoy a pit-stop at Murphy’s Bar at Brandon pier before you complete the loop of the Peninsula by driving back to Tralee, through Aughacasla and Derrymore.
Inistioge & River Nore Valley
Located 25 km from Kilkenny city, picturesque Inistioge delights visitors with a beautiful drive through the River Nore Valley and is also home to the beautiful grounds of Woodstock Gardens. Woodstock is a ruin of a mid-18th century house built by Sir William Foynes, with 50 acres of formal gardens and parkland adjoining. Between 1840 and 1900, the house was extended by Colonel William Tighe and his wife Lady Louisa Lennox. The house was burnt down in 1921 following occupation by the Black and Tans but the main façade can still be seen on the grounds. The garden has been restored and maintained by Kilkenny County Council and offers a beautiful walk through the estate. Toilet facilities are available and the playground beside the car park will tire out anyone who still has energy after walking the grounds. Before you head home, pop down to Inistioge for an ice cream!
The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
Approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Coleraine, you can behold the spectacular Giant’s Causeway, a geological wonder where tens of thousands of interconnected stone columns were formed by cooling volcanic basalt. The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national nature reserve located on the beautiful Antrim Coast. According to local folklore, the mythical Fionn Mac Cumhaill built the causeway in order to cross the North Channel to Scotland. Onsite facilities and guided tours make it a must for anyone who wants to learn more about Ireland’s geology and heritage,
The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
If you haven’t visited the Cliffs of Moher since your school tour, maybe it’s time to pack everyone into the car and refresh your memory. Standing 214m at their highest point, the cliffs stretch for 8 kilometres along the Atlantic coast of County Clare. On a clear day, you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara. Looking to the south you can see the Blasket Islands and the Dingle Peninsula. The cliffs can be accessed 8 km from Doolin village and you can enjoy the stunning coastal scenery as you drive to Ireland’s most visited natural attraction. Onsite facilities are available to make you day more enjoyable and heed the warnings to stay on the right side of the roped-off cliff face!
The Connemara Loop
This spectacular 85 km drive is a good way to experience the landscape of North West Connemara. The loop takes you through small villages, prehistoric bog land, stunning coastal and majestic mountains. Some of the villages you’ll visit are Maam, Leenane, Killary Fjord, Lettergesh, Tully Cross, Renvyle, Letterfrack, Kylemore, the Inagh Valley and Recess. There are a variety of activities available such as abseiling, horse riding, swimming and clay pigeon shooting available enroute should you want to do more than sightseeing. The Connemara Loop is only 45 km from Galway City and the variety of changing landscape and coastal views are very pleasing to the eye!
Ireland is a treasure trove of surprises just waiting to be discovered! We have so many areas of natural beauty and historical importance on our doorstep that should be experienced, so put one of these drives on your to-do list. Let your car take you on a new adventure! If you want to discover great car insurance while you get a car insurance quote online today.
Disclosure: I received compensation for this post from Liberty Insurance Ireland. Though the content is still to my usual standard and aligned with my interests and beliefs.
All photos used are my own with two exceptions noted in the captions.