The Ultimate Guide to Ireland’s Iconic Wild Atlantic Way in County Clare

Are you planning to drive the iconic Wild Atlantic Way? Don’t overlook the must-see destinations in County Clare

County Clare and Doolin have a lot to offer for travellers following the route. In this article, we look at facts, discovery points and must-see’s along County Clare’s stretch of this ultimate Irish Road Trip Route – The Wild Atlantic Way.

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of Ireland’s most famous attractions. With 1600 miles (2600 km) in length, it is one of the longest-defined coastal routes in the world.

Image shows oldtimer travelling Irelands Oconic Wild Atlantic Way

What is the Wild Atlantic Way?

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest-defined coastal touring routes in the world. The route winds its way through 8 counties, all along the Irish west coast. From the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south. 

Whether you start at the very beginning or in the middle, the Wild Atlantic Way is well-signposted in both directions. Once you are on the route you can’t miss it!

How can I visit the Wild Atlantic Way?

The Wild Atlantic Way can be travelled by car, tour bus or bike and is one of a kind. Along the way, you experience natural beauty combined with rich history and welcoming hospitality. 

For those travelling from our Lodges or Doolin, we have also accumulated options for private transportation here.

What can I see on the Wild Atlantic Way in Clare?

There are many discovery points along the Wild Atlantic Way which all make great stops for exploring. We get into the details of County Clare’s 17 Discovery Points a bit further down in this article. 

The entire Wild Atlantic Way is covered in specific landmark signposts. These allow you to easily find the right spot and to capture iconic and scenic shots. The signs themself made history and you can even purchase a small version as a souvenir for your home in many shops along the way or online.

What makes Doolin a good base to discover Clare’s stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way?

Geographically, Doolin is well placed in North Clare and only a stone’s throw away from many must-see destinations and discovery points.

Nestled amidst dramatic cliffs and charming pubs, Doolin is the perfect base for exploring the route within County Clare and beyond. From historical journeys to nature walks, you can expect to have wonderful and diverse scenery when exploring from Doolin.

Where can I stay while exploring the Wild Atlantic Way?

There are a number of accommodations for any budget and preference. From hotels over Bed and Breakfast accommodation to self-catering cottages. 

We welcome guests in our Lodges @ Sea View House for over 30 years. We offer luxurious Lodges with private hot tubs, sun decks and a fully equipped kitchen for 2-10 people in the heart of Doolin.

Staying with us means, you don’t only get to stay in a prime location and have the peace of your own Lodge – No, you can also make use of services such as a private breakfast buffet, private chef, private massage therapist and more.

Find out more about our Lodges and offers here.

County Clare is a true gem on the Wild Atlantic Way

It is a tapestry woven with rugged coastlines, ancient castles, and vibrant culture, forming a crown jewel of Ireland’s renowned Wild Atlantic Way. From the towering Cliffs of Moher to the otherworldly Burren landscape, Clare promises an unforgettable experience for every traveller.

Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points in County Clare

Clare’s Wild Atlantic Way route leads you past 17 unique Discovery Points, including the Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head, two of our Signature Points, along our breathtaking coastline.

So let’s have a look at what you can explore in Clare (Discovery Points sorted from North to South):

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland, County Clare Discovery Points. Map including Loop Head and Cliffs of Moher

The Burren’s Flaggy Shore – North Clare

One of the northernmost areas of County Clare is the Flaggy Shore, which is one side of a short peninsula that extends from the settlement of New Quay to Finvarra Point.

Known for its limestone pavements and fossils embedded in the rock, particularly the “Biokarst” sculptured rocks that line the shore. The Flaggy Shore is known for its amazing vistas of Galway Bay and the mountains beyond, even if the shoreline itself is equally lovely.

Ballyvaughan Pier – North Clare

Situated in the northwest corner of The Burren, a globally renowned landscape, Ballyvaughan Pier can be found within the charming Ballyvaughan village.

Nestled along the southern shores of Galway Bay, with Gleninagh Mountain towering nearby, the harbour boasts a 50-meter-long pier and an active quay frequented by boats navigating the bay.

Murrooghtoohy – North Clare

Surrounded by the Aran Islands and Oranmore Bay to the east of Galway City, Murrooghtoohy, located at the northernmost point of County Clare, offers breathtaking views over Galway Bay.

Murrooghtoohy Discovery Point is distinguished by the ‘lunar’ scenery of the Burren having smooth rocks and flanked sheer valleys known as ‘grykes’. Abundant flora develops within these grykes some specific to the Burren.

Fanore Beach – North Clare

Perfect for swimming, walking, or simply soaking up the Atlantic charm, Fanore Beach boasts golden sands, epic dunes, and surfer-approved waves.

Located in the heart of the UNESCO Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark in North Clare and backed by an extensive sand dune system which is protected by the European Habitats Directive.

Rain or shine, Fanore shouldn’t be missed. Have a look here.

Doolin Pier – North Clare

Doolin Pier is more than just a launching point; it’s a vibrant hub where nature, history, and culture converge. Our Doolin Pier juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, marking the fascinating geological boundary between the Burren’s limestone heart and the sandstone and shale landscapes that dominate southwest Clare. 

If you don’t stay in Doolin overnight, make sure you don’t miss out on visiting one of Ireland’s most photographed towns.

Our charming village is home to traditional Irish Music, a rich Pub culture, amazing food and the entrance to the Doolin Cliff Walk which brings you right to the Cliffs of Moher.

Aran Islands – Reachable from Doolin Pier

Your fastest way to the Aran Islands starts in Doolin, County Clare! A quick ferry ride whisks you to the magic of the three Aran Islands! 

  • Inis Oírr (Inisheer): The smallest and closest island, offering charm and history, dry-stone walls, castles and shipwrecks.
  • Inis Meáin (Inishmaan): The middle island offers boasting green fields, dry-stone walls, and dramatic ocean views.
  • Inis Mór (Inishmore): The largest island stretches over 7.4 miles with historical sites and captivating landscapes. Inishmore is also home to various Hollywood film locations!

Ferry times from Doolin range from 15-35 minutes, setting the stage for your island adventure.

Image shows group of visitors enjoying the views at the Cliffs of Moher from the Doolin Cliff Walk.

The Cliffs of Moher – Signature Discovery Point – North Clare

Ireland’s crown jewel, the Cliffs of Moher, demands no introduction. Soaring 214m and stretching 8km, they defy photo recreations – their magnificence needs to be witnessed firsthand. As Ireland’s top attraction, they offer unparalleled views from O’Brien’s Tower, perched atop the highest point. 

You can explore the Cliffs from various access points, including the Doolin Cliff Walk –  a truly magical experience. For a different view, take the Ferry from Doolin Pier and experience the Cliffs from the water.

Clahane – North Clare

Clahane offers unhindered panoramic views of Liscannor Bay and beyond to Spanish Point and Mutton Island. The village of Liscannor is located on the north side of the bay, and the village of Lahinch is at its eastern end.

Lahinch Beach – North Clare

Surfers Paradise – Lahinch Beach is a magnificent crescent-shaped beach at the head of Liscannor Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way. As one of Western Europe’s leading surf centres, Lahinch attracts people worldwide to its many surf schools yearly. The beach is also a popular destination for lovers of other water sports, including swimming, kite surfing, sea kayaking, and diving. Lahinch is home to the world-rated Lahinch golf links.

Spanish Point – West Clare

Spanish Point Beach is nestled in the horseshoe-shaped Mal Bay in West Clare. A beautiful beach with a Wildlife Information Point.

Doughmore Bay – West Clare

Doughmore Bay is situated in the village of Doonbeg in West Clare. Stretching 4.5km, you can enjoy a walk on its long sandy beach. The area has become a popular spot for surfing but with challenging waves.

Kilkee Cliffs – West Clare

Not as famous as our neighbouring Cliffs of Moher, but worth a visit. Embark on the Kilkee Cliff Walk, starting at Diamond Rocks Cafe and following the rugged coastline. Witness the dramatic shipwreck site of Intrinsic Bay, the sparkling Diamond Rocks, and the idyllic Foonagh Bay. Ascend Moveen Hill for panoramic glory. Choose a brisk 5km stroll or a challenging 8km loop, soaking in the beauty with every step.

Bridges of Ross – West Clare

The Bridges of Ross, located near Kilbaha village on Loop Head Peninsula’s western side by Ross Bay, offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Originally three sea arches, only one remains. Despite this, they’re still called “bridges.” Park nearby and take a short walk to see the remaining arch—it’s worth it!

Loop Head – Signature Discovery Point – West Clare

As the second Signature Discovery Point in County Clare, Loop Head in West Clare is showcasing some of Ireland’s most breathtaking natural scenery.

This narrow land strip is bordered by the Shannon Estuary on one side and the mighty Atlantic Ocean on the other. At the peninsula’s tip lies Loop Head Lighthouse, marking the westernmost point of County Clare’s coastline, with North America lying beyond.

While the lighthouse is a highlight, the entire peninsula, recognized as a European destination of excellence for aquatic tourism, beckons exploration.

Kilrush Marina – West Clare

Kilrush Marina is a Blue Flag Marina – one of the world’s most recognised eco-labels. The Marina’s strategic location also makes it an ideal base from which to explore the 100 km long Shannon Estuary and gives access to the 200 km long inland waterway system of the majestic river Shannon and its lakes and canals. 

Cappagh Pier, Kilrush – West Clare

Cappagh Pier’s oldest part dates back to 1764 and is one of the most important factors in the development of Kilrush.

Today, the Pier is used very occasionally by ships, but you can find many locals and visitors jumping off the pier to enjoy the sea.

Scattery Island – off Kilrush – West Clare

Scattery Island, situated off the northern bank of the Shannon Estuary, is home to an early Christian settlement founded by St. Senan in the sixth century. Highlights include a 36-meter round tower, ruins of a cathedral and medieval churches, a lighthouse, and an artillery battery. Once, inhabited until 1978, the island now offers a glimpse into its 1,500-year history and diverse wildlife. Accessible via a 20-minute boat trip from Kilrush Marina, visitors can explore independently or join a guided tour.

Killimer Port – West Clare

The Killimer Port in West Clare is home to Shannon Ferries, which operates a car ferry that crosses the Shannon Estuary, connecting Killimer in Clare to Tarbert in County Kerry. The Ferry saves you time when heading from County Clare to Kerry or vice versa and guarantees a memorable 20-minute journey across the estuary. If you have the Irish Charm on your side, you might even spot some Shannon dolphins.

Clare beyond the Wild Atlantic Way

This is just a taste of what County Clare offers. Depending on your interests, you can delve deeper into its heritage by visiting Kilfenora Cathedral, delve into Celtic myths at Craggaunowen Castle, or discover hidden gems like the enchanting Kilshanny Cottage Gardens. The Burren National Park partially stretches along the Wild Atlantic Way, but has much more to offer and endless attractions, walking and hiking trails for every fitness level. 

So, pack your bags, lace up your boots, and prepare to be fascinated by our beloved County Clare. Be prepared for the wind whipping your hair and the spray of the sea!

Doolin and the Wild Atlantic Way await, promising an adventure that will stay with you long after you leave our shores.

We look forward to having you stay with us for your Wild Atlantic Adventure in and around Doolin.

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