The Wild Atlantic Way is a 2,500km driving route along half of Ireland’s coastline; it’s far too much to tackle in one go, so is divided into more manageable sections like the southwest ‘Cliff Coast’. Sure, you’ll see the famous Cliffs of Moher with thousands of day-trippers, but Ireland’s Cliff Coast has so much more to offer it deserves a more leisurely visit. Here are five of my favourite things in this magical place.
Stay & Eat Wild Honey Inn (Co. Clare)
Guests in the sunny front parlour really do say ‘top of the morning to you’ and spacious, cosy rooms look out over an ancient garden. There’s the best soda bread and Irish butter in the Michelin-starred bar/restaurant and the omelette Arnold Bennett is my favourite breakfast ever.
Drink Curtin’s Roadside Tavern (Co. Clare)
Ireland’s craft beer scene means there’s a lot more than Guinness to try, like the delicious Burren Brewery Gold, Red or Black brewed at this traditional pub. Perfect alongside a bowl of cider apple, capsicum and roast garlic soup with wonderful heavy local bread.
See The Burren (Co. Clare)
This surreal moonscape inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It’s desolate yet enchanting, dotted with strange succulents and grasses, Bronze Age and early Christian sites. Ideally you’ll walk it, but there’s also a wonderful single lane driving track along the edge of the national park.
Drive Loop Head (Co. Clare)
South of the Cliffs of Moher lies this virtually deserted peninsula, with each bend in the road opening up more gasp-worthy vistas than the last. Allow time to lie on spongy grass on cliff edges and soak in views of secluded bays, pounding waves, sea stacks and blow holes.
Irish Pub & Music McMunns of Ballybunion (Co. Kerry)
Take the car ferry across the Shannon to this classic old pub opposite 16th century castle ruins. Stroll the cliff walk for great views of the bridged sea stack, then enjoy simple pub fare and live music by resident musician songwriter Mickey MacConnell of ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’ fame.