6 charming towns and villages of the Wild Atlantic Way
Greencastle, County Donegal, Northern Headlands
Once home to the acclaimed Irish playwright Brian Friel, who lived here from 1960 until his death in 2015, Greencastle rests on the edge of Lough Foyle in County Donegal. With a lively port and pleasant beach, the village takes its name from an early 14th century castle, the ruins of which loom over the entrance to the lough. As well as being perfect for enjoying the natural wonders of the stunning Inishowen Peninsula, the village is also home to the popular family-run Kealy’s Seafood Bar, which overlooks the pretty harbour.
Westport, County Mayo, Bay Coast
Pirate queens, traditional music, leafy river walks and genteel 18th century elegance make Westport one of the most enjoyable towns on the Wild Atlantic Way. This is one town where you’ll never be short of things to do, from cycling the Great Western Greenway out to Achill Island, to climbing Croagh Patrick, to visiting the islands that dot Clew Bay. And after a day’s sightseeing, Westport will welcome you back with characterful pubs such as Matt Molloy’s, great restaurants such as The Tavern and great places to stay such as Ardmore Country House.
Clifden, County Galway, Bay Coast
Nestled at the edge of where the Owenglin River flows into a bay, Clifden is known as the “capital of Connemara” for good reason. This lively town is a hub for the epic surrounding landscape and is an enjoyable mix of shops, traditional pubs and great seafood restaurant such as Mitchell’s. On days out of town, you can explore the nearby coral beaches at Mannin Bay, go horseriding on the beach at the village of Cleggan, spend an afternoon at the picturesque Kylemore Abbey or walk the trails of the Connemara National Park.
Doolin, County Clare, Cliff Coast
Thatched-roofed cottages, friendly music pubs, and a perfect setting in the heart of County Clare has made Doolin one of the most popular destinations on Ireland’s west coast. From the village, you can take a walk on the wild side on the Cliffs of Moher Cliff Path, which hugs the coast closely all the way to the cliffs themselves or reach out into the Burren, a dramatic karst limestone plateau with its remarkable flora and fauna. After dark, soak up the cracking traditional music scene that Doolin is famous for in pubs such as Gus O’Connor’s and McGann’s.
Dingle, County Kerry, Southern Peninsulas
With bright, colourful shop fronts and cafés, and a row of fishing boats moored along the quay, Dingle in County Kerry is the very epitome of wild Atlantic charm. Bohemian and cultured, buzzing with festivals and fun nights out, Dingle celebrates its seafood heritage in restaurants such as Doyle's and Out of the Blue, and turns on the traditional charm in some of the best pubs in the world, where you can enjoy a Dingle Gin or a pint of local Tom Crean’s beer. Take a trip out on the water to get an ice cream fix at Murphy’s.
Eyeries, West Cork, Southern Peninsulas
Travelling the quiet country roads that wind through the scraggy, rust-coloured hills of the Beara Peninsula is an experience to cherish. In this stunning West Cork wilderness, it’s easy to feel utterly alone, apart from the inquistive sheep who scamper skittishly over the landscape. But amidst this seeming isolation are warm, lively villages such as the little gem of Eyeries. Set on a headland overlooking the Coulagh Bay, the village is typical of the area with its terrace of colourful houses and neat main street. It’s a beauty.