We would always suggest renting a car when travelling to Ireland, as Ireland is such a small country with a little preparation and a car you can see a lot of what Ireland has to offer.
Shannon Airport is in the West of Ireland, the west is full of beautiful charming little towns and Counties. The four main places to see in the West of Ireland are as follows:
The Wild Atlantic Way:
The route stretches from Donegal all the way to West Cork. You will literarily be exploring the edge of Europe along the wild Atlantic, it has various UNESCO heritage sites, covers over 150 discovery points, and over 3500 attractions and activities. This trip can only be described as a one-of-a-kind adventure and the road trip of a lifetime, the Wild Atlantic Way’s stunning 2,500km stretch of coast offers everything you would expect from Ireland and more.Whether you want to dive into those invigorating sea swells, indulge in gastronomic gems or simply embrace those scenic vistas at a pace all your own; the route encompasses seven counties (Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal) and never fails to create countless wonderful memories.
The Burren: This is definitely a drive for those history buffs out there. This spectacular route brings you through the winding roads and allows you to soak in the dramatic views during the drive. You will experience vast wild landscapes, abandoned cottages, castles, ring forts, and much more if Ireland history. From Shannon, it is approx. 1-hour’ drive (37 miles).
Loop Head Peninsula:
Branching off the Wild Atlantic Way route, the Loop head Peninsula route is a 50 miles scenic drive along the West coast in Co Clare, Ireland. Starting from Kilrush and around looping back to Kilrush again. As this is a lesser known driving route, one of the benefits is that you are not sharing with a crowd of tourists, allowing you to explore and enjoy what the area has to give. The scenic Loop Head Lighthouse is one of the 157 signature points from the Wild Atlantic Way route. There is a small museum exhibition for people to learn about its’ history and a guided tour inside the lighthouse to the top to enjoy the 360-degree views.
Sky Road and Clifden:
Clifden, the largest town in Connemara, is nestled between the Twelve Bens mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of Clifden Bay. The area is known for its rich landscape and heritage. Clifden has an impact on all who visit. It is a charming little town, with something to suit everyone. Just out from Clifden is the beautiful Sky Road, this is one of the number one tourist attractions in the entire Connemara region. The circular route is just 11km long and takes you out west from Clifden. Simply put, the scenery along the Sky Road is out of this world.
A few other places not to miss during your time in Ireland are:
If you are looking to venture a little further out and explore all of Ireland, one not to be missed in Dublin City. Dublin City Centre remains the heartbeat of Dublin it’s full of character and life, we cannot recommend it more. The River Liffey divides the city you get to tour between both sides of the River by crossing the famous O’Connell bridge. Each side has a lot to offer. Don’t forget to visit the infamous Temple Bar, to really get a feel for the Irish culture.
Another beautiful city not to miss is Cork City, one of the oldest cities in Ireland and has a rich archaeological record with plenty of stunning buildings. Cork was built on estuarine islands in the marshy valley and gradually developed up to the steep hills rising to the north and south. The earliest recorded settlement was the 7th-century monastery founded by St. Finbarr’s. Cork is a vibrant city, it offers so much for tourists to enjoy.
Kildare is about an hour outside of Dublin City and is a good trip to make when already visiting Dublin. While in Kildare, you can visit the Maynooth Castle, Castledermot Abbey, Burtown House, Donadea Forest Park, Castletown House. This charming and quaint little town will certainly put a smile on your face.
Wicklow: Wicklow is approximately 1-hour drive also from Dublin, driving south from the city centre will get you to Wicklow. While in Wicklow you can trek the Wicklow Mountains or Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk – both offer stunning views and plenty of green scenery.