- Explore the wilder parts of Ireland’s beautiful Atlantic coast, visiting some of the country’s most remote locations & its best mountain and coastal scenery.
- Connect with the people of Ireland away from the main tourist tracks.
- Visit deserted islands & villages, hike to ancient tombs, cycle the route of an old railway and stay in converted coastguard stations and manor houses.
You will be met off your flight by your personal guide at the Airport on Day 1 of the trip. Full details on how to get to Ireland, please see our section on Travel to Ireland.
The more remote parts of Ireland’s Atlantic coast offer some of the country’s most dramatic scenery. It’s no surprise that the bohemian surf and artistic communities that live here keep these gems to themselves.
Here life moves at a slower pace. The locals are excited to show you the ropes in their own little corner of Ireland. While there are less international tourists, there is no shortage of breath-taking scenery as you explore hidden locations along the Wild Atlantic Way. The highlights of your trip will include exploring ancient, mountain-top tombs with a local archaeologist, kayaking on the lake that inspired WB Yeats’ most famous poetry and hiking some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. You will also cook your catch on a deserted west coast island and cycle the route of an old railway right to the door of your hotel. The landscape will come alive with the myths and legends of this region’s famed oral history, as relayed by the characters that you will meet along the way. Your expert private guide will help you interpret the geology and wildlife of this ancient landscape as you experience it through a range of activities on land and water. Retire each night to boutique manor houses and converted coastguard stations in enviable locations, all of which offer the best in seasonal, locally sourced fine-dining. While the locations might be off the beaten track, we know all the best traditional pubs for music and a pint of Guinness.
Day 1– Sligo
Your personal guide will meet you in Dublin from where you will transfer to the west coast. Sligo is the surf capital of Ireland and home to some of Ireland’s most dramatic mountain and coastal scenery. The landscape is dominated by Ben Bulben, Europe’s only table top mountain. After lunch, it’s time for the first hike of your trip, a short one to get your adventure started. You will meet a local archaeologist at Carrowkeel, a passage tomb that predates Egypt’s pyramids by 800 years. Some can be entered by crawling through a narrow passage, if you’re feeling brave! The views from the top are spectacular and from here you will see the outline of Europe’s largest megalithic cemetery as your guide explains the human history of the landscape. Your base tonight is an award-winning country house, where dinner based on local produce is around a communal dining table.
Day 2– Lough Gill and Strandhill
This morning you head to Lough Gill for a kayak experience with a local big-wave surfer, where you will learn a little more of the history and geology of this glaciated landscape. Immortalised in the poetry of WB Yeats, on the lake you will paddle alongside pristine old-growth forest or explore the lake’s many islands. Alternatively you can take to the Atlantic by kayak and visit a local seal colony. After lunch in the coastal surf village of Strandhill, there is the option of hiking up Knocknarea, the location of one of the largest neolithic cairns in Ireland. From the top, views stretch over rural farm land to the east; across the rolling waves of the Atlantic to the west; and towards Donegal Bay & Ben Bulben to the north. This evening you head to the vibrant town of Sligo, where we know the best pubs for a traditional music session and a well-earned pint of Guinness.
Day 3– The Erris Peninsula
Continue west along the Wild Atlantic Way, stopping first at a seaside village where you have the option to indulge in an Irish coastal highlight- a seaweed bath – at a traditional bathhouse complete with Edwardian cast iron tubs and cedar steam boxes. After lunch at an award winning local pub, we stop at Downpatrick Head, to walk along some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. You will see the lone sea-stack of Dun Briste and the blow hole where the sea has undercut the headland. Legend has it that when a local pagan chief refused to convert to christianity, St Patrick struck the ground with his crozier breaking the portion of the cliff where the chief was standing into the sea. Your base for the next few days is a small boutique hotel on the remote north Mayo coast.
Day 4– The Inishkea Islands
Today you will join a local boatman for a private charter boat to the deserted Inishkea islands. Once home to Ireland’s largest whaling station these small islands have been uninhabited since the 1930s. On the way out to the islands there’s time to fish the clear blue waters that surround the peninsula and, arriving on the island in time for lunch, you will learn how to clean, fillet and grill your catch on the island’s empty golden beach. Along the way you will hear about stories of piracy, famine and pagan heritage from your skipper whose family were among the last to leave the island. You will also learn of the area’s association with the well-known Irish legend of the Children of Lir. On the island you will explore deserted villages, early Christian relics, holy wells, sand dunes and bird colonies and take in the breathtaking views of the mainland and Blacksod Point.
Day 5– The Great Western Greenway
This morning a short drive takes us through Ballycroy National Park, an area of extensive blanket bog where peat has developed on undulating ground, overlooked by the Nephin Beg mountain range. This wilderness area is the largest intact blanket bog in Western Europe. After coffee and cakes in the fishing village of Newport, you will pick up your bikes for the your day on Ireland’s longest off-road cycleway. The Greenway follows the route of the famously scenic Westport to Achill railway, closed in the 1930s, and offers dramatic coastal views as you head towards mountainous and remote Achill Island. You can take your time as we explore the valleys, waterfalls, beaches, bronze age forts, and ruins along the trail. Ride directly to the front door of your accommodation, where you can watch Atlantic waves crashing on the cliffs of Achill Island from the comfort of your bedroom. The food here is the best in the west.
Day 6– Achill Island
A stronghold of the pirate queen, Grace O’Malley, in the 15th century, its towering cliffs, and westerly location give Achill island the interesting history and archeology that come with being an important strategic location. The fascinating history of this remote outpost reveals itself on today’s walk which takes in the sweeping mountain of Sleivemore, with the option of hiking to the summit. Highlights include a deserted famine village that offers fascinating insight into the lives of ordinary people in Ireland of the 1800s. Almost 90% of Achill is covered in blanket bog, so as you go you will also learn about the flora and fauna of this unique ecosystem. If a shorter walk is on the cards, the white sand beach on your hotel’s doorstep beckons for a final blast of fresh Atlantic air. Tonight there’s a chance to sample the best pint of Guinness on the island in a traditional pub.
Day 7– Departure
Today you will make your way slowly eastwards, stopping in the midlands town of Athlone, the geographical centre point of Ireland. From here you will boat up Ireland’s longest river, the Shannon to the ancient monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise. Clonmacnoise dates back to the 6th century. You will learn about life in early Christian Ireland with tales of monks, monarchy and viking raids. Your guide will drop you to the airport or you can extend your trip and add on a few nights in Dublin City before flying home.100% satisfaction guarantee - We beleive our tours are world class. To back that up, we are the only Irish travel company to offer a no strings attached, 100% satisfaction guarantee