In need of a quick break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? A drive along Ireland’s idyllic west coast is the escape you’ve been searching for. With miles and miles of white-sand beaches, peaceful walking trails and spellbinding natural landscapes, you’ll be blown away. See some of the country’s best and most dramatic geography around every turn and enjoy the remoteness of the winding roads. Flying the flag for traditional Irish culture the area is a haven for music, art and in some spots, the ancient language. Take the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the authentic experience and discover natural wonders with our list of the best places to see in Ireland.
One of the most visited attractions in Ireland, Clare’s cliffs are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region. Take in the 360 degree views from each one of the three vantage points and watch an array of birds soar above the Atlantic ocean from the clifftop walkways. Head over to the northern platform next to the highest point on the structure, for breath-taking views of the bay and sleepy isles nestled in the middle of the sea. Other features of the area include a sea stack, O’Brien’s Tower and the puffin colony that makes its home on Goat Island. After a few hours of exploring the landscape, have a coffee break in the visitor centre and plan your next excursion of the day.
When planning what to see on the west coast of Ireland, it’s impossible to leave out this long-established tourist route. Boasting quaint seaside villages, rugged hillsides, spectacular cliff faces, hidden beaches and more walking trails than you could ever wish for, this is the best way to see all that the west has to offer. Along the way stop off at Kenmare for a collection of stunning cliffsides, look out at Star Wars Island and take a wander through the 7th century monastery at Skellig Michael. This photographer’s paradise is overflowing with wildlife and striking scenery backed by the Atlantic ocean that changes as the light fades.
The unspoilt landscape of the lakes rival the Ring of Kerry for top spot as the best place to visit in Ireland. Set against the background of the impressive Maum Turk and the Twelve Bens mountains, the site is also home to Ireland’s only Fjord. Famed for its undeniable beauty, the lakes are one of only two places in Ireland where sheep have the right of way so keep your eyes peeling when driving along. Well worth the visit, you won’t find much else preserved to the same degree as Galway’s lakes.
Nestled in the southwest region of Clare, the Burren’s karst landscape of bedrock has a unique aesthetic of clints and grikes made from glacial-era limestone. The area is covered with cliffs, caves, fossils, archaeological sites and interesting rock formations. As part of the Burren National Park, the iconic Irish site has a large collection of flora with a mixture of artic and alpine plants that are renowned internationally. You’ll even find orchids scattered across the landscape as well as the symbol of the site, the bright blue alpine flower. No visit to the west is complete without taking the time to walk across the cracks of one of the best places to see in Ireland.
At Downpatrick Head, 50 metres off the north Mayo coast, Dun Briste sea stack sits 45 metres high in the middle of the sea. Many rumours speculate how the piece of land became separated from the island but it’s most commonly thought to have been swept away by a huge storm. Coming from the Gaelic word meaning broken fort, Dun Briste was formed around 350 million years ago. The flat surface covering the top of the sea stack is a now a safe haven for an array of birds including puffins. Truly a spectacular sight, you absolutely can’t miss it!
Heading to the west coast soon? Make sure to tag us in your photos of the best places to see in Ireland using the hashtag #ryanairstories for the chance to be featured on Ryanair’s social media channels.
Flights to Knock
- Lucy Norris