The 5 Best Drives in Ireland

17/03/2015

Known for its stunning natural beauty and wealth of history, you could spend a lifetime exploring the roads of Ireland and still feel like you’d only seen the half of it. From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to quaint fishing villages, you can take in a huge variety of sites while driving the Emerald Isle. And while Ireland has invested heavily in its motorways and A roads, it’s off the busiest thoroughfares where you’ll find some of the country’s most charming drives.

We’ve selected 5 of the best routes through Ireland. Follow these roads and you’ll see crumbling lighthouses, national parks, ancient castles and much more besides. Whether you’re looking for something to take your breath away or somewhere to quench your thirst at night, these routes will introduce you to some of the incredible sights Ireland has to offer.

A2 Portrush to Ballycastle (27 kilometres)

The Portrush to Ballycastle stretch of the A2 is known as one of the world’s greatest drives, not least because it takes you past the UNESCO World Heritage Site of The Giant’s Causeway. Don’t write off the rest of the route or you’ll miss the gorgeous harbours of Ballintoy and Portbradden, Ireland’s oldest Whiskey Distillery in Bushmills and the clifftop castle of Dunluce. Without a doubt, this drive is one of Ireland’s most beautiful.

Bantry to Killarney (76.7km)

This route begins in Bantry on the coast of County Cork before heading through Glengarriff Forest, where you’ll see some of the finest examples of Ireland’s national tree, the Sessile Oak. Just after the route’s halfway point you’ll cross the beautiful Kenmare Suspension Bridge, which dates back to 1834, before heading into the rugged mountainous territory of Killarney National Park. When you emerge in Killarney, we’d recommend taking advantage of the clear mountainous air in one of its many Hotel Spas.

Wexford to Waterford via Hook Head (103 km)

Founded by Vikings in 800AD, Wexford is the perfect base for a long drive. Before setting off, take some time to explore the ruins of Selskar Abbey, where Henry II supposedly did penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. The drive down the Hook Head peninsula takes you to the world’s oldest working lighthouse where you’ll more than likely get a light soaking from the sea spray. Neighbouring Hook is the idyllic village of Crooke, where the Earl of Pembroke supposedly instructed his men to land ‘by Hook or by Crooke’ in an attempt to capture the port of Waterford.

Ring of Kerry (200 km)

First a word of warning: head clockwise around the Ring Of Kerry to avoid delays from tour buses, which have to travel in the other direction. There are a number of unforgettable sights along the route, including the Torc Waterfall at Killarney and the ruins of Loher stone fort, built by Early Christian Chieftans in 990AD. If you feel like stretching your legs, there’s an established walking route known as The Kerry Way, which roughly follows the same route as the Ring of Kerry drive.

Ring of Beara (137km)

Ready for a drive through the mountains? This route begins at Glengarriff, where the road clings to the jagged cliff sides of the Caha mountains. It then passes through a number of towns before rising 334 metres above sea-level on the Healy Pass. Complete the route in a day or take your time to soak in the incredible sights- the choice is yours.

Have you driven any of these routes? Did we miss anything out? We’d love to hear from you, get in touch via Twitter at @fuelGenie.

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