What is the Wild Atlantic Way?

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The Wild Atlantic Way (or WAW) is a 2,600km – 2,700 km route along the rugged West Coast of Ireland that takes you through up to 9 of the 32 counties on the island of Ireland.

You can make it through 10 counties if you encroach into Derry in Northern Ireland at the start or end of your trip.

The actual distance depends on the routes you decide to travel. On this site, I have a few extra routes close to the WAW which are worth visiting if you have time. They add another 200+km to the distance.

The Wild Atlantic Way works its way from Head of Kinsale in co. Cork all the way North along the West Coast of Ireland to the Inishowen peninsular in co. Donegal in the North. Or you can travel South, depending on your preference.

The Wild Atlantic Way has been developed by Fáilte Ireland to encourage tourism to the West coast of Ireland, which is full of wonderful scenery and things to do and see.

inch beach in kerry on waw
The beautiful Inch Beach in County Kerry

The Wild Atlantic Way Map

The Wild Atlantic Way works its way from Kinsale in co. Cork all the way North along the West Coast of Ireland to the Inishowen peninsular in co. Donegal in the North.

wild atlantic way map
Map of the Wild Atlantic Way, showing the route in red

Signature Points and Discovery Points along the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way route passes 15 so-called ‘Signature points’ (iconic must-see destinations) along the way which are as follows:

Click on the link to bring you to the relevant route.

Signature points are marked with a red coloured icon on the route maps. You can find the icon colour legend in the link. This will help you navigate to the sites you wish to visit.

In between these signature points, there are, of course, many sights to see and things to do.

Wild Atlantic Way Signs

Along the road you will see signposts like this one to indicate the direction of the Wild Atlantic Way using the blue WAW logo:

wild atlantic way signpost
Showing a right turn to Ballinspittle going South along the WAW

You have to love some of the Irish place names!

The official Wild Atlantic Way route also has a few hundred ‘Discovery’ Points along the way. These are normally indicated with a sign like this one, showing the WAW logo:

wild atlantic way discovery point signpost
Discovery Point Signpost

Discovery points are marked with an orange coloured icon on the route maps. You can find the icon colour legend in the link.

These ‘Discovery points’ are normally marked at the spot with a rusty metal sign with the official Wild Atlantic Way wavy logo on the top, like this one:

wild atlantic way marker sign

Normally Discovery points are accompanied by an information board giving useful info about the local points of interest, looking like this:

wild atlantic way discovery point information
Information Board at Aasleagh Falls

You may be surprised to find some places marked that are not on the WAW documentation, and others may be difficult to find. But that just adds to the fun, making it like a treasure hunt.

This site will give you original information and photographs of all the 200 or so recommended Discovery points along the route that I consider worth visiting, having been there myself or having had them recommended.

Note that some of the Discovery points and Signature Points are actually Islands so you may have to take a ferry or a cable car (Dursey Island) to get there!

dursey island cablecar
Credit : foto.rigg.at

Some of the pictures may show grey skies and others blue, but that just indicates the weather variations you may encounter during your trip. After all, Ireland is known for having 4 seasons in a day!!

I hope the information you will find on this site will enhance your visit and enable you to have the greatest time during your trip.

How long does it take to travel the Wild Atlantic Way?

This is entirely up to you. Your method of travel, your budget, what you wish to see along the way, the weather, and your travel companions can all affect the length of your trip.

Looking at the total distance you are looking at 50-60 hours of actual driving time. But do not think you can do this in a few days!

With photo stops, filling-up stops, lunch stops, sleep and convenience breaks along the way you will need to at least triple that. It has taken me several weeks, with short stops.

And believe me, unless you are really confident, you may not be wanting to drive all of these roads at night. Especially if you want to visit museums or other sites of interest during your trip.

You will find the roads are a real mixture of quality two-lane tarmac roads to single-track narrow roads, some of which may even be gravel or maybe even with some grass growing in the middle. But do not expect to find much 4-lane motorway or highway along the WAW. It is not that kind of road trip.

ballagbeama gap
Ballagbeama gap

Driving in Ireland

If you are at all worried about driving in Ireland, try reading this article about driving in Ireland. And remember to drive on the left!

The WAW is such a beautiful road trip, you will want to take your time to enjoy it fully.

Your journey will basically take as much time as you can spare, and one thing is for sure, that is that you will want to come back for more.

Of course, not everyone has the time to do this journey in one go. You can always just do the trip in stages, depending on your interests and the amount of time you have available.

In one week you can still do a reasonable stretch of the WAW and see a lot.

Travel Quote

Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”

Muhammad Ali

I myself have travelled the WAW in several stages to obtain the content for this website. To give you an idea, it took me 3 full days to visit all the sites in Donegal on the bike, without having any time to stop and visit museums etc. I will do that on later visits.

And it was all worth it just to get a shot of the last WAW sign in Muff:

muff sign end of waw

So decide what you want to see when you plan your trip. Use my website and my routes to help you.

But how to best travel the Wild Atlantic Way?

There are many ways to travel the WAW; by car, by camper, by motorcycle, like myself, by bicycle, or if you are really ambitious and have plenty of time, you could even try public transport.

But personally, I think the best way is by car or motorcycle. When you travel by car you are in charge of your own destiny and can go pretty much where you wish.

In a camper you are likely to find that some of the roads and car parks are inaccessible and height limited which may restrict where you can go.

On a motorcycle, you are more limited in the amount of camping gear you can travel and more exposed to the Irish weather, but you are more aware of your surroundings and on the right bike you can go off the beaten path.

If you wish to read more, then read my post ‘How to travel the Wild Atlantic Way’.

Either way, you will have a wonderful adventure.

Now readHow to use this site’ to get the most out of your trip.

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by Gav

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