Explore Ireland’s southwest regions on the Wild Atlantic Way. Starting in Cork, before heading to Kinsale, the gourmet capital of Ireland, you’ll tickle your taste buds as you travel through some of Ireland’s most delightful towns and villages. Journeying though the wilds of the Beara Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry and onto the Dingle Peninsula you’ll whet your appetite for travel in the Emerald Isle!
On arrival at Cork airport you will pick up your hire car/On arrival in Rosslare you will drive your own vehicle to Cork where you will stay for the first night of your trip.
Cork is Ireland’s second largest city, has a vibrant centre and is worth wandering around. Here you can visit the English Market, one of Europe’s oldest food markets, where you will find fresh, local delicacies, from farmhouse cheeses and fresh seafood for which West Cork is world-famous, to locally-blended spices, Ireland has come along way from just being known for cabbage and potatoes!
Once you have enjoyed the day exploring this vibrant city, enjoy dinner in one of the many diverse restaurants the city has to offer or for a unique taste of old Cork look no further than the long standing ale house steeped in tradition that is The Mutton Lane Inn.
This morning you head south to the foodie haven and the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, Kinsale, a bolthole for Ireland’s most culinary-minded and home to the Michelin starred Bastion restaurant. This pretty harbour is and its mystical sea views is an idyllic place for the start of your road trip. You’ll be following the coastal route through southwest Ireland you’ll hear of pirate invasions, famine and conflict.
Kinsale is also home to great sea fishing, so you can charter the boat HARPY for either a halfor full day and head out to try your hand at deep sea angling, or enjoy a Wildlife tour, awonderful opportunity to encounter marine wildlife around the famous Old Head of Kinsale.The waters are rich in fish bird life and cetacean like seals, dolphin, porpoise and whales.This headland is often used as a landbased viewing spot by the Irish Whale and DolphinGroup, (IWDG). Smaller species are around nearly all the year like seals, porpoise, dolphin,and minke whale.
A visit to 17th century star-shaped Charles Fort or a sunset stroll along a waterside walkway is a perfect end to your day’s touring before heading to your accommodation for this evening.
Tonight you will stay at Perryville House, an elegant and distinctive period townhouse overlooking Kinsale Harbour. A masterpiece of Georgian architecture, with later Victorian embellishment, Perryville House was built in 1820 by Captain Adam Warren Perry for his family whose ancestors continued to reside here until the late 1950s. It had various owners from then until 1997 when fired by the beauty, character and history of this lovely house, Andrew & Laura Corcoran undertook the mammoth task of refurbishing and bringing it back to its former glory. Each of the 25 tranquil, spacious rooms is unique in size, design and furnishings and all are beautifully appointed in finely-finished, bespoke luxury. Many rooms enjoy beautiful harbour and sea views and there is lift/elevator access.
This morning continue along the coast route to Clonakilty, head of the tidal Clonakilty BayFamous for it’s sausages, Clonakilty boasts beautiful beaches, green surrounds and a mix of activities for everyone from water sports and adventure to golf, and a proud heritage.
The Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney Island, just a few miles from Clonakilty, is renowned not only as one of the most family friendly beaches in West Cork but also as one of the most beautiful. Vast expanses of sand and dunes provide excellent surfing conditions. Or Dunworley Beach is a real hidden gem on the Clonakilty coast. This tidal beach is perfect fora serene swim or walk along the cliffs and is popular with bodyboarders and surfers alike.
The gardens at Fernhill are the perfect place to relax and unwind or take a trip to Lisselan House, on the banks of the Argideen River.
Clonakilty Distillery offers (pre booked) behind the scenes tours, at the end of which you can enjoy a tutored tasting with an expert tour guide, sampling a range of premium quality whiskey, including a selection of limited cask collaboration releases, which are availablenowhere else.
Set overlooking two stunning beaches with endless views of the ocean, Inchydoney IslandLodge and Spa is long renowned as one of Ireland’s most exclusive and tranquil retreat and will be your accommodation for tonight. The Lodge and Spa combines a stunning location, luxurious accommodation, unique seawater therapies and mouth watering dining to create a most special getaway.
The Island Spa at Inchydoney is home to Irelands first Seawater Spa, offering a unique experience in Seawater Therapies as well more traditional Spa Treatments and Rituals.
The hotel's main dining room is the "Gulfstream Restaurant", named after its unique location overlooking the stunning West Cork coastline, the beaches of Inchydoney and the mesmerising Atlantic Ocean below. The restaurant is situated on the third floor of the hotel and therefore commands beautiful views of the surrounding area below.
The food concept is based on using ingredients from the county of Cork and showcasing the best local suppliers and artisan producers.
Today you are free to explore The Beara Peninsula. In this breathtaking region, there are plenty of options for short walks, taking in some quiet coastal landscapes or the widening expanses of the Caha Mountains with views to Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula and beyond. Spend time in the coastal village of Bantry where the spectacular views and the 17th century Bantry House are worth a visit. Or take the ferry out past the seal colony to the exotic gardens of Garnish Island where world-renowned garden design fuses with native West Cork plants.
Blairscove House is situated on the picturesque inlet of Dunmanus Bay. Untouched by mass tourism, it appeals to visitors who want to get away ‘far from the madding crowd,’ yet desire premium facilities in terms of service and food, with home from home comforts in terms of welcome and accommodation. Around the courtyard of a Georgian House, beautifully restored with cobbled paths, shrubs and flowers, are the restaurant and four stylish suites or small apartments which can be rented on a bed and breakfast or self-catering basis. Formerly a piggery, coach house and servants’ quarters, each suite is individually and very lovingly decorated with a quirky mix of contemporary and antique furnishings. The restaurant is located in the barn which completed the quadrangle of farm buildings serving the former manor house. It is high like a church and the tall windows overlooking Dunmanus Bay were recesses through which the hay was pushed down to the animals from the loft above. Some say that about 250 years ago the building was part of fortifications complete with two watchtowers. Following restoration in 1981, the restaurant has become known for the best of Irish meat grilled on a roaring fire in the dining room, an impressive display of ‘help yourself’ starters as well as a mouth-watering selection of desserts.
On to the Ring of Kerry today, you’ll be driving through miles of green, rolling hills, exploring colourful Irish towns, and see a fantastic stretch of Ireland’s rugged coastline. There are some gorgeous spots along the route well worth your time, such as the mountains at Moll’s Gap, Staigue Stone Fort, Portmagee and the views out to the Skellig Islands, and the magnificent Kerry Cliffs. Skellig Michael is a remote island and home to an ancient monastery and Puffin nesting site. For a unique experience, consider the day trip out to Skellig
Your home for the next 2 nights is The Park Hotel in Kenmare, nestled peacefully in an idyllic setting overlooking Kenmare Bay. Kenmare is a Heritage Town like no other. Just a three-minute stroll from the hotel there are a variety of boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafés to explore. So, for lovers of antiques, cashmere, delicious local food, traditional pubs and music it is all on your doorstep. That is if you can bare to leave the secluded surroundings of the hotel! Dating from 1897 each of the bedrooms enjoy a spacious sitting area furnished with antiques and objects d’art while most have a full water view or private veranda. The Dining Room with its silver ladened sideboards, acclaimed menu and service is classical in every sense of the word. After a heavenly day touring the coastal roads, playing some of the world’s best golf courses or surrendering to the holistic pleasures of SÁMAS, the hotels Deluxe Destination Spa, evenings can be spent watching the legends of the silver screen in The Reel Room, a 12-seat cinema showing some of the great classics nightly.
Enjoy the day exploring Killarney today. Killarney National Park is the most famous of Ireland’s national parks, with good reason. Discover some of Killarney’s most breathtaking mountains, lakes and waterfalls. Historic manor houses and abbeys makes for an interesting visit but Killarney is best explored via its beautiful looped forested and mountain hikes or by heading out onto the lakes of Killarney in a traditional boat.
Continue along the Wild Atlantic Way this morning and to the Dingle Peninsula. You’ll be spending the next two nights in Dingle, one of Ireland’s most colourful towns and also home to Fungie, Dingle’s resident dolphin!
Probably the best part of the Dingle Peninsula is the Slea Head Drive, the coastal road on the far western end of the peninsula, which has been etched out of the steep hillside, following every contour of the coastline. It is narrow, and winding, and precarious. Taking you through historic sites, Irish speaking villages, famous Hollywood film locations with close up views of the world renowned Blasket Islands and distant views of the Skellig Islands on the south western horizon. The Slea Head Route is most enjoyable when done slowly over a number of hours or days allowing time for the many interesting stops and detours along the way. A minimum of a half-day should be set aside for the journey.
There’s plenty of accommodation choices here to suit all budgets. Pub culture is intrinsic to the slow-paced way of life of the town and with an impressive 32local watering holes buzzing with life seven nights a week, you’ll be sure to enjoy some Irish craic!
The FourStar Castlewood Hotel is Dingle’s newest boutique property, located just a five minute walk from the lower centre of Dingle town. The house is designed to make utmost advantage of the fabulous views of Dingle Bay. All areas of the house are elegant and sophisticated with an eclectic mix of old and new. Timeless antique pieces and a stunning art collection make Castlewood House a feast for the senses.
The elegant drawing room overlooks Dingle Bay where you can sit and relax and just watch the world go by enjoying a glass of wine or Afternoon Tea by the fire. The room has a library of books, travel guides, style magazines, board games and jigsaws for your enjoyment. A small selection of antiques and collectables are for sale in Collectors Corner or you can take a small piece of Dingle home with works of art by Irene Woods which are on permanentExhibition at Castlewood House. The bedrooms are individually themed and equipped with all the modern amenities one would expect. Each room is a haven of peace and tranquility and has a character of its own.
Today you can take your time returning to Cork; there are numerous places to stop enroute as you wind your way back to either the airport to return your vehicle or to Rosslare to take the ferry back to Pembroke.
Over the years we have researched and refined the list of vehicle equipment that we provide. The equipment is identical in every vehicle but we always ensure you have the essentials for each country and its respective driving conditions.
We have access to a range of vehicles for this itinerary. Should you wish to use another vehicle, just let us know and we will include it it your itinerary.
All our itineraries are tailor made, but here are some of our favourite routes and camp combinations.