A rural and not particularly densely populated island country, Ireland is a dream destination for those of you who like to hop in a car and go explore. A country whose countryside consists of rolling hills, lush fields, golden meadows, rugged coasts and barren mountains, road trips in Ireland are the stuff lifelong memories are made of. And now, early fall, is the absolute best time of year to go for one of these 5 amazing Irish road trips. The high season has come and gone, and with it the masses of tourists as well. Fall colours are slowly taking over the landscapes. Crisp mornings are replaced by still-pleasant afternoons.
5 Amazing Irish Road Trips
Ring of Kerry
Possibly the greatest of all the amazing Irish road trips, the Ring of Kerry is a 179-kilometer loop drive around a peninsula in County Kerry. Taking in everything from towering mountains to deserted beaches, and from impossibly picturesque coastal villages to imposing castle ruins, this is one of the amazing Irish road trips, that give you the ultimate impression of what Ireland is all about. Highlights include Killarney National Park, Ross Castle, the town of Waterville and Derrynane House, the old home of Daniel O’Connell.
Starting this road trip in Kilkenny, one of Ireland’s most historic little cities, you will soon find yourself in quintessential Irish countryside. On your way to Cashel, home to St. Patrick’s Rock—also known simply as the Rock of Cashel—, you will meander through gorgeous farmlands and over pleasantly undulating hills. The Rock of Cashel is one of the major historic attractions in southern Ireland, encompassing the ruins of a Georgian cathedral, medieval monasteries, Cormac’s Chapel and a round tower. The trip continues through the Golden Vale, just south of the Rock of Cashel, which is Ireland’s main dairy farming region. There are a few spectacular lookout points on the hills flanking the valley.
Connemara is arguably the most desolate and rugged place on the entire island. Its landscapes characterized by bare wind-blasted mountains, swampy peat bogs, wave-beaten beaches and countless shimmering lakes, this is the perfect place for remote hikes and revitalizing self-reflections. Make sure to visit Connemara National Park, Killary Harbour and Kylemore Abbey.
The Burren is a strong competitor with Connemara for being Ireland’s wildest region. Located south of Galway—Connemara lies north of Galway—the Burren is a 250-square-kilometer karst landscape. It consists of hardly anything else than grey rocks and stones, grassy fields and barren hills. It’s without question one of the most unforgiving places in Ireland, yet it is dotted with fascinating archaeological sites. There are more than 90 megalithic tombs, several ringforts, portal dolmens and a striking Celtic high cross. An Irish road trip around the Burren isn’t complete without a visit to the jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher, the most visited natural attraction in all of Ireland.
Situated on the far northern coast, in Northern Ireland, in fact, the Antrim Coast makes for one of the best coastal road trips in Ireland. This phenomenal drive begins in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast and ends at the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meandering its way along the Antrim Coast, the road takes you past highlights such as Carrickfergus Castle, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Old Bushmills Distillery, among many others.