This article first appeared on the emasphere
Located in the west of Southern Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way is a breathtaking destination to visit for a few days of fresh oceanic air, outstanding scenery and gourmet food.
If you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive escape, this picturesque area should definitely be one to consider.
I recently had the opportunity to discover Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. It was a super quick trip (two nights and one full day), but it just showed how easy it is to travel here, and relax and enjoy the area’s best bits, all in a short amount of time.
This is how we did it.
As we were only there for the weekend, I just took a carry-on suitcase with me and my handbag. Ryanair now offers a complimentary service where they put your carry-on suitcase in the hold, so you don’t have to worry about storing it when you board. You can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the speedy flight.
To get around the Wild Atlantic Way, I would recommend either hiring a car for the weekend with Ryanair Car Hire or organising a driver/guide. We had wonderful drivers from Optimum. They were so friendly and were super knowledgeable about the area, which was great as we were able to experience a local’s insight.
Falls Hotel & Spa was a gorgeous place to stay in Ennistymon, about a 45 minute drive from Shannon airport. The hotel is in the prime location to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, with the idyllic coast, tourist hot spots and fabulous restaurants only a short drive away.
An old manor-style house, the hotel itself is charming. Surrounded by lush green gardens and a trickling stream, it’s a peaceful and relaxing area. The hotel boasts large bedrooms and ornately decorated dining and lounge areas.
If you really feel in the need for some zen time, there’s a spa with an array of blissful-sounding treatments. Fancy exercising? There’s a gym and pool area with your name on it.
BARRTRA SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Barrtra Seafood Restaurant is located in a rustic, shabby-chic house, with Liscannor Bay on it’s doorstep. I absolutely loved our lunch at this homely, family run seaside restaurant, especially due to it’s delicious dishes crafted with fresh and quality local produce.
For 40 Euro, we enjoyed the ‘surprise’ menu, of which you could choose from vegetarian, meat or seafood, and consisted of rud beag (a little nibble), a starter, sorbet, main course and a dessert. I chose the vegetarian surprise, and it was absolutely divine.
My highlight – the desserts, which were mouthwatering. I had a lovely almond sponge cake, but others had Eton mess and chocolate cake – yum!
The food at Barrtra not only tasted good, it looked good too – the presentation was as if it was out of an expensive London restaurant. We were beyond impressed.
Roadside Tavern is a local’s favourite. The cosy pub, has a fun, lively and friendly atmosphere, and is the perfect spot to enjoy beer sampling from their onsite microbrewery, Burren smoked Irish organic salmon tasting from the smokehouse next door, a hearty meal, or a few relaxed drinks.
We came here for dinner and were blown away by the dishes. Again the dessert was everyone’s favourite – a lavender pannacotta created by a Michelin Star pastry chef from Paris – how could you say no?! After dinner, we relaxed by listening to a local band play catchy Irish music on banjos, which was the icing on the cake after our fantastic meal. A great authentic local experience.
Oonagh from Wild Kitchen took us on a foraging walk on the seashore in Lahinch, which was such an interesting and eye-opening experience. She explained to us the different plants and how to identify them, shared what we could/couldn’t eat and what was in season.
There is huge nutritional value in plants, and although there are over 8000 edible plants around the world, many of us only eat a small majority, meaning we can potentially lack the nutrients we need.
Oonagh creates her own dips and preserves, and we were lucky to try the seaweed chutney and hawthorn ketchup, which both tasted absolutely delicious.
I really recommend this unique experience. Oonagh is a fantastic guide and is so passionate about nature and wild food, and she’s inspired me to add more seaweed into my diet (it is a real superfood). The seaside scenery is absolutely picturesque too.
CLIFFS OF MOHER
As one of Ireland’s most visited natural attractions, the Cliffs of Moher is a site you have to go and see while you’re visiting the Wild Atlantic Way. The immensely breathtaking cliffs stretch for 8 kilometres along the cost of County Clare. Atop the cliffs provides the most spectacular views of the Atlantic coast line.
You’ll find the Visitor Experience Centre midway along these cliffs, where you can visit to discover more about the history behind this ginormous natural site and the wildlife living around it. Close to the visitor centre, you will also find 800 metres of protected cliff side pathways, viewing points, and a 19th century viewing tower.
Pop your walking shoes on and enjoy the fresh air, while soaking up the magnificent views – that’s what we did!
The Burren is unlike anywhere I’ve been before. The 350 square kilometre limestone plateau in North Clare was formed 320 million years ago under a tropical sea. The name of the Burren comes from the Irish word ‘bhoireann’, which means a stony or rocky place – the perfect description for this lunar landscape-like natural attraction.
The Burren is not only super peaceful, but it’s also an interesting area to explore to find a mixture of plants, wildlife and natural formations. The views of the coast are of course fantastic too.
- Emma Spencer