Irish Drives – Seven Of The Best
If you’re hiring a car in Ireland you’ll surely want to know where the best driving routes are – and this is where we come in.
We’ve put together seven of the most attractive driving routes across Ireland, so you can really get the best out of the Emerald Isle from behind the wheel – check out our guide…
Ireland is custom designed for driving tours, with top quality accommodation scattered all over the country and good roads running through all the main sight seeing spots.
Be sure to check out the DoChara guide to Irish road signs before you set out:
1. THE RING OF KERRY – Kerry
Perfect if your touching down at Kerry Airport, this is undoubtedly one of the best loved and most well known drives in Ireland. Located in the South West, The Ring of Kerry does a circular tour of the beautiful mountain, lake and coastal scenery of the county known as The Kingdom’.
Starting at Killarney, you’ll pass the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range before snaking in and out of the majestic Caragh Lake area and on to the quaint village of Glenbeigh. What follows is a winding coastal road down to the western peninsula of Kerry, taking in innumerable unspoilt beaches, bays and championship golf courses. You’ll then swing back towards Killarney via the majestic town of Kenmare.
Starting in the South West, this superb route takes in the surfing beaches and buzzing towns along the West of Ireland through Limerick, Clare and Galway. Ideal if you’re landing at Shannon Airport, you’ll start at Limerick City and motor along the coast via the bustling town of Ennis, passing through the surfing hotspot of Lahinch.
Next you’ll come across the beautiful views over Liscannor Bay and the famous Cliffs of Moher, which look out onto the Aran Islands. Keep going and you’ll arrive to the mighty festival town of Lisdoonvarna, famous for its party atmosphere, before hitting the impressive limestone landscapes of the Burren region. You’ll then circle back towards Limerick City, via the quaint villages of Ballyvaughan, Kilnefora and Broadford.
The Connemara region is renowned the world over for it’s rugged beauty and warm people. If your landing at Galway Airport then this drive is definitely a must. Head north west via the picturesque town of Oughterard, taking in the waters of Lough Corrib. You’ll meander past the craggy, rugged peaks of the Twelve Bens towards the handsome and buzzing town of Clifden, right in the heart of the Connemara region.
Make for the attractive Killary Harbour area, taking in the incredible age old architecture of Kylemore Abbey along the way, before coming to Westport in Mayo. This attractive town precedes the lake regions surrounding the old medieval settlement of Castlebar, last but not least on the famous Connemara tour.
4. THE INISHOWEN PENINSULA - Donegal
This route is within touching distance from Derry Airport, and can also be reached easily from Belfast International and Galway Airport. Sitting at the very northern tip of Ireland, the Inishowen Peninsula is virtually an island, its rocky landscapes separated from the mainland by the clear lakes of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly.
Driving along the coast you’ll take in the marvellous Malin Head, innumerable picturesque villages and an abundance of ancient Celtic architecture, with the windswept bays and beaches and the mountains of Slieve Snaght providing the perfect backdrop.
This drive is easily accessible from both Derry Airport and Belfast International. Make for Newry in County Down before heading for Downpatrick, passing through the old smuggling village of Hilltown. Downpatrick itself is home to the grave of St Patrick and an old medieval town well worth viewing. Head then towards the sailing mecca of Killyleigh, before taking in the picturesque coastal resort of Bangor and on towards Carrickfergus, then Glencoe.
Follow the panoramic route towards Lough Larne and the ancient Ballygally Castle, before circling round the North Antrim coast via the famous Giant’s Causeway and back onto Newry. This comprehensive route can take up to four days, but it’s well worth it, just be sure to set aside a good amount of time!
This drive is perfect if your landing in at Dublin Airport. Head to the city’s south side and drive through the Rathfarnham area towards Wicklow. Make for the picturesque village of Enniskerry, taking in the gardens, lakes and waterfalls of the Powerscourt Estate before heading for the old monastery ruins of the Glendalough. Continue on to Laragh via the old Military Road, before passing through the charming village of Avoca and on towards Arklow.
Circle back via the green Mount Usher Gardens of Ashford towards the seaside town of Bray, via the Devil’s Glen of Newtownmountkennedy and the attractive coastal resort of Greystones. Continue on to Killiney and Dalkey, taking in the majestic views of Killiney Bay along the Vico Road, before hitting Dun Laoghaire and eventually the centre of Dublin.
Ideal if your touching down at Waterford Airport or landing in at Rosslare Harbour, this superb drive takes in some of the best scenery in the land, remaining largely unspoilt by tourism. Head north for the quaint coastal town of Dungarvan, before making for the Comeragh Mountains where the beautiful cliffs and peaks sit above the Nire Valley.
From here drive to Clonmel and on towards Portlaw, passing over the River Suir. You’ll take in forest land and captivating woodland parks, before hitting the coast road back to Dungarvan, via the top class seaside resort of Tramore.
We’ll that’s the lot – we hope these drives come in useful, though of course you don’t have to stick to them. Half the fun of touring a country is discovering the unknown… and if you want a more comprehensive list of Irish driving tours just check out the Goireland website.
Thinking of heading to Ireland? Book Car Rental Ireland at excellent rates.
Of course we welcome any questions, suggestions, stories or anecdotes from you, so feel free to give us a shout… just drop us an email and we’d be happy to talk to you. Enjoy the Emerald Isle!