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5 breathtaking Irish coastal drives

COASTAL DRIVES AROUND Ireland are a treat in themselves, with spectacular skies, and views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Here are five coastline drives around the island of Ireland that definitely have the wow factor…

“With spectacular skies, and views that stretch as far as the eye can see.”

1. The Inishowen 100 – 160km

The Inishowen 100 gets its name from the approximate distance in miles of the route, which runs along the Inishowen Peninsula in Co Donegal. Most of this route hugs the rugged coastline and you’ll pass through charming villages, historical sites and deserted beaches as well as the most northerly point in Ireland, Malin Head.

Unpack your picnic and stop for a stroll at Glenevin Waterfall Park, one of Inishowen’s most spectacular natural attractions, with dedicated picnic areas and striking views of the surrounding coast and countryside.

2. The Copper Coast – 166km

You’ll need a full day to take in the rugged Waterford coastline that stretches between Tramore and Dungarvan. It’s known as The Copper Coast due to the extensive copper mining industry that thrived there in the nineteenth century.

In 2015 the Copper Coast became a UNESCO Global Geopark. This coastal route encompasses panoramic seascapes, dramatic cliffs and secluded bays and coves as well as quaint seaside resorts with blue flag beaches.

3. Sheep’s Head Peninsula – 70km

A drive along the Sheep’s Head peninsula, situated between Cork’s Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay, takes you past loads of interesting sites such as Lord Bandon’s Folly, Glanlough and the forts of Baunta and Brahalish. The peninsula isn’t very wide, meaning you’ll get wonderful views of the ocean on either side during the drive, so that should keep all passengers happy. Stop for a picnic at Vaughan’s Pass which is located at the end of a narrow, windy road. Here you can enjoy fine views across Bantry Bay with your flask of tea and biscuits.

4. Doohoma Head to Erris Head – 50km

If you’re out West, try a drive along Mayo’s Mullet Peninsula. The winding road from Doohoma to Geesala skirts Tullaghan Bay with views across Blacksod Bay to Slievemore. Driving towards Erris Head you’ll pass through Belmullet where you can stock up on fresh local produce for your picnic. Continue north toward Erris Head and when the road runs out, park up and walk the 5km sign-posted loop. The most perfect picnic pitstop along this route is an old, derelict concrete lookout hut. Okay, it isn’t exactly pretty but the views from here are wild and wonderful and the hut will provide a little shelter from the wind.

5. The Causeway Coastal Route – 350km

This route stretches 350km from Belfast to Derry in a grand arch of beautiful beaches, charming fishing harbours, historic castles, vibrant valleys and cliff top walks. The main tourist attractions along the route are the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giants Causeway, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t visit some of the lesser-known attractions. One of these is the picturesque little harbour and hamlet of Portbradden. Game Of Thrones fans should pencil in a stop at Downhill Beach, aka Dragonstone, where GOT’s Seven Idols of Westeros were burned.

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