Connemara to Donegal Self Drive Tour
DRIVING TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
- The variety of scenery on this driving tour - from wild, rugged coastlines shaped by the power of the Atlantic to steep-sided mountains dropping into shimmering lakes.
- It is true what they say about the Irish people and no more so than in the west of Ireland. Warm and generous hospitality is in their DNA and their genuine interest in visitors to their region is unmatched.
- A vibrant, colourful and fascinating history and culture abounds all along the Wild Atlantic Way. You will visit towns, villages, communities and cities that offer endless options for rich and memorable experiences unique to Ireland.
- We are there for you all the way should you need us and like all our tours every detail of planning and organisation will already be taken care of before you even begin your holiday.
Chloe’s favourite place to pause: The tiny village of Drumcliff in Co Sligo, along the route of the Wild Atlantic Way. With the backdrop of Ben Bulben mountain and WB Yeats’ grave under the tree at the church door this is a place which holds much history and natural beauty.
Check out this video on driving the Wild Atlantic Way to see what is instore for you! The Porsche is not included in the tour!!
Your Tour in brief
This is an 8 day (7 night) driving vacation starting any day from April to October.
The tour starts in the village of Leenane in Connemara, Co Galway but you will collect your hire car at Dublin or Cork airports. The tour finishes in Dublin.
Equipment and information:
Manual compact car including CDW insurance (with excess), Theft protection, unlimited mileage, VAT, airport & locations fees.
Drivers must be at least 25 years of age, full and clean licence for at least 2 years compulsory.
All extras including extra insurance cover, GPS, additional driver, automatic option, baby/child seat etc must be paid directly by the driver on arrival.
Full route notes and map of the area are also provided and explained to you.
You can choose from two accommodation options - 3* hotels or approved B&Bs and guesthouses where a full Irish breakfast is included for you on each morning.
Further information on getting to/from Ireland can be found here
Arrival to Dublin Airport
Arrive at Dublin Airport and collect your rental car. Your first journey is to the start point of your driving holiday in Connemara in the picturesque village of Leenane, Co Galway. Conor or Gabriel will meet you either on the evening of arrival or the following morning (depending on your arrival time) to go through your itinerary and answer any questions you have about your tour. Your first night's accommodation will be here in Leenane village which sits nestled at the head of Killary Fjord and at the foot of the Maamturk mountains. Despite its size, you will have the choice of excellent local dining, traditional pubs and the chance to meet locals and visitors alike. In the morning you will wake to sweeping views over Killary Fjord and the mountains which dominate this special place.
Leenane to Westport
Today your destination is the heritage town of Westport and to reach it you will drive through some of the most remarkable, yet lesser-known scenery on the Wild Atlantic Way. The journey begins along the shores of Killary Fjord, before entering the dramatic valleys at Delphi and Doolough. The narrow road winds along deep lakes with mountains soaring away from the road. Reaching the coast at the small market town of Louisburgh the route follows the southern shore of Clew Bay to the foot of Ireland's famous pilgrimage mountain, Croagh Patrick. If the weather allows, climbing the mountain via the pilgrims’ trail is well rewarded by the 360 degree views over Clew Bay and its reputed 365 islands. You then have just a short drive to bring you to Westport Town. Carefully planned and built in the eighteenth century and recently voted the best place to live in Ireland, it has a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere for you to experience.
Setting off towards north Mayo but staying by the coast your drive today will take you through the town of Newport with its impressive railway viaduct and on to the seaside village of Mulranny. Renowned for its blue flag beach and sweeping views of Clew Bay this is a great place to stop and take a walk. Discover the romantic boardwalk leading from the hotel to the swimming beach across the sands - a throwback to a more leisurely era. Explore one of the golden, sandy beaches or the Great Western Greenway cycling and walking trail, created along the route of the old railway line from Westport to Achill Island. Your destination for tonight is not far now as you cross the sound to Achill Island. There is much to see on the island including several exceptional blue flag beaches ideal for walking, swimming or watersports. A visit to the deserted village, abandoned in the nineteenth century, is also a must in connecting with the often-harsh history of this western island.
Sligo / Strandhill
Continue north along the Wild Atlantic Way and into the wilds of North Mayo, through Ballycroy National Park. This is a vast area of preserved native peatland and mountain, the story of which is explained in the excellent visitor centre. The Erris Head is your first stop where a short loop walk will give you a taste of the bracing Atlantic air and the surging power of this rugged coastline. The landscape has changed with bog stretching out from you in all directions but the views, though stark in places, are no less memorable. You will then leave Co Mayo and enter Co Sligo a county famed for its striking mountain silhouettes, pretty seaside villages and of course its association with WB Yeats. Taking the road to the coast you will stay tonight in the village of Strandhill where the strong Atlantic swell has made this a popular destination for surfers from across the globe.
We recommend you begin your morning with a walk along the promenade or if you are feeling brave a quick refreshing dash into the Atlantic Ocean. This will certainly ensure a clear head for driving! You can also choose to stop in nearby Sligo town and enjoy shopping or a coffee along the river quay in Co Sligo’s main town. The road then takes you in a northerly direction towards the coast through the tiny village of Drumcliff where the poet WB Yeats was buried in the small churchyard there. There is also a museum in the church dedicated to the Yeats family and a quaint coffee and crafts shop - well worth a visit. Watch out for the castle silhouetted against the sky on the headland at Mullaghmore as you progress northwards and enjoy the unique shape of Ben Bulben mountain, one of Sligo's best-known features. Your day will finish in Donegal Town, a small friendly town in south Donegal where you will spend the night.
Today you will continue north on your driving holiday in Donegal, inland for now, towards the county town of Letterkenny. Here you will divert west towards your next stop at Glenveigh National Park. This is a magnificent place to visit with exceptional views of mountains, lakes, forestry and native peatland. If you are fortunate you may even catch sight of a rare golden eagle in flight! The estate has a fascinating history and it can be hard to believe that the castle at the centre of the park was a home. The last person to live there was an American gentleman, Henry McElhinney until he generously bestowed it upon the Irish people in 1984. Leaving the Park, you will make your way to Ireland's most northerly point at Malin Head through the Inishowen peninsula and the finishing point of the Wild Atlantic Way. This remote area is home to a strong, close-knit community who are proud of their place at the top of Ireland. You will stay nearby tonight.
Malin Head to Dublin
Spend your last morning on the Wild Atlantic Way by enjoying a loop walk at Malin Head and don’t forget to take a photo at the official end of the country! Time to leave and you will be driving today to Dublin and the last night of your driving tour of Ireland, this time amongst the bright lights and exciting pace of our capital city. Quite a contrast with where you have just been!
Drive back to Dublin airport, return you rental car and continue on your onward journey.
The B&B option means you will get to stay in a family home where the personal touch and attention to detail is second to none. A true Irish welcome awaits you as well as home-cooked food, comfort and a taste of traditional Irish life.
While you may be staying in part of the family home this does not mean that you will not have privacy and high standards of accommodation you require. Cosy rooms, modern facilities and care and attention are what these properties excel in.
When you select this tour you will have the chance to stay in either hotels or B&B/guesthouse accommodation. The 3* hotels that have been selected are all comfortable, well-appointed properties which also boast their own character and style. You may find yourself in a historic manor house hotel, one with a modern twist or get a 'room with a view' overlooking a shimmering lake or a golden beach.
However they all share the same high standards of hospitality and service and will guarantee you a warm welcome, good food and a relaxing experience after your day on the road.
Double/ Twin/ Triple
Terms and conditions
To secure your booking, we will request 30% deposit per person. Please note this is a non-refundable payment. The balance payment is due 30 days before the tour starts.
If your tour start date is within 30 days of booking, the full, non-refundable payment is required upon booking.
We do not organise travel to/from Ireland. However there is some useful information on our “Getting To Ireland” page.