The Wild Atlantic Way winds its way along the west coast of Ireland from Cork in the south to Donegal in the north. Taking in some of the most epic scenery Ireland has to offer, the Wild Atlantic Way is known for its stunning beaches, vast cliff faces, and rolling green hills.
Spots such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry have captivated people the world over, inspiring travellers both near and far to plan a trip to Ireland. However, it’s often the spots that fly under the radar that show off the real magic of this island.
Want to know what it’s all about? Read on to discover our top five epic hidden gems along the Wild Atlantic Way that you won’t want to miss.
5. Flaggy Shore, Co. Clare
If you find yourself in north County Clare, one area you won’t want to miss is the incredible Flaggy Shore peninsula. Stretching half a mile from the tiny coastal village of New Quay to the historic Martello Tower at Finvarra Point, this coastal stretch is abundant in scenic beauty and geological wonder.
Defined by low cliffs and rock formations that act as clues to the history of Ireland’s last Ice Age, which occurred over 12,000 years ago, you can discover everything from fossils embedded in limestone to unusual rock formations that define the craggy coastal landscape of Ireland’s west coast.
If you want to make the most of the experience, we recommend setting off along the Flaggy Shore Loop Walk, an easy-going coastal trail that allows you to take in all the wild and rugged beauty of this area. At 9.2 km in length, this is the perfect place to reconnect with nature as you take in views of the stunning Galway Bay and Lough Murree.
Make sure you check out the 300-year-old Linnane’s Lobster Bar in New Quay. It’s the perfect place to get fed and watered. By fed, we mean traditional seafood chowder and by watered we mean a creamy Guinness, of course.
4. Black Valley, Co. Kerry
County Kerry is the place to go if you want to discover some of the most incredible landscapes and remote scenery that Ireland has to offer. From stunning waterfalls to the highest mountains in Ireland, there’s a reason this southern county is nicknamed the ‘Kingdom’.
A paradise for hikers and nature lovers alike, this remote valley in the midst of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range connects the famous Gap of Dunloe to Moll’s Gap, one of the most scenic spots along the Ring of Kerry.
Aside from the epic mountainous surroundings of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, one spot you won’t want to miss is the abandoned cottage hidden along the way in this isolated valley. Having become quite a hit on social media, this cottage gives a fascinating insight into rural life in Ireland in years gone by. Check out this viral video.
3. The Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork
Located in the southwest coast of Ireland, Cork’s Beara Peninsula is often overlooked in favour of neighbouring routes, such as the Dingle Peninsula and the Mizen Head Peninsula. However, we’d highly recommend you add this epic route to your Irish bucket list.
Along the way, you’ll discover quaint and colourful towns and villages like Allihies and Eyeries, natural wonders such as Glengarriff Woods, Garnish Island, and Gleninchaquin Park, and truly unique experiences like the Dursey Island Cable Car and a boat tour around Bull Rock Island.
If you fancy soaking up some salty sea air, you’re in luck. There are lots of beautiful beaches along the way to enjoy, including the stunning white sand Ballydonegan Bay near Allihies and the award-winning Garnish Beach near Dursey.
2. Great Blasket Island, Co. Kerry
The principal of the 6 Blasket islands, Great Blasket Island sits just 3 miles off the tip of the famous Dingle Peninsula. Isolated and remote, a trip out here offers a real chance for adventure.
If you’re visiting between April and September, you’ll be able to jump on the ferry from Dunquin Pier or Ventry. The journey takes between 20 and 40 minutes and offers a great way to soak up the breathtaking scenery of the area.
The island doesn't see the high levels of tourism that other spots along the Wild Atlantic Way enjoy. However, this is part of what adds to its charm as you can enjoy some of the most incredible scenery in Ireland without the distraction of huge crowds.
Some experiences you’ll want to check out while you’re here include the 4-hour-long Great Blasket Island Looped Walk, which takes you along an old trail with incredible views out over the Wild Atlantic
We also recommend heading out on an Eco Marine Tour for the chance to see the island from a different perspective, and if luck’s on your side, you might even spot the locals… porpoises, dolphins, and occasionally even orcas!
1. Glassilaun Beach, Co. Galway
Located in the scenic area of Connemara in County Galway, Glassilaun Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches along the coast of Ireland. A white sandy cove overlooked by the mighty Mweelrea Mountain and met by crystal clear Atlantic waters, this is the perfect place to get yourself into the water
A horseshoe-shaped cove looking out towards a number of small islands set just off the coast of Galway, this is thee spot for losing yourself in the breathtaking sunsets that the west of Ireland is so well-known for.
Abundant in raw natural beauty, it’s rare that Glassilaun Beach becomes overcrowded outside the height of the summer holidays. So, this is a great place to explore the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way all to yourself.