Despite its proximity and shared history, Ireland remains a
misunderstood and neglected destination for most UK tourists.
However, with several airports, an excellent road network and stunning coastal scenery, the 1,553 mile Wild Atlantic Way is a perfect way to introduce kids to the UK's closest neighbour, with several towns and cities along the route catering to families.
Where to fly into
A surprising number of airports connect the UK with the Wild Atlantic Way. Flying into Cork Airport in the south is a logical starting point. It's also possible to fly to Kerry Airport in the west or Shannon and Knock in the Midlands. However, if you want to enjoy the entire route, Cork is the ideal starting point, though flying to Dublin and driving west is a possibility.
Points of Interest
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches from County Donegal in the north-west of Ireland to Cork in the south and takes in the country's west coast and many of its most notable cities. The route is broken into five sections, each with numerous attractions of its own. For those with children, flying into the city of Cork is a good starting point. The city is small and easy to get around, and has a number of educational museums.
From Cork, take the road west to Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland's most scenic roads, with beautiful mountains and meandering roads. In recent years, it has begun to attract visitors in greater number after scenes from Star Wars films The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were shot on the beautiful Skellig Islands, a former monastery seven miles offshore. Boat tours run from March to October and should be booked in advance. Other notable places of interest along the route include the beautiful Cliffs of Moher in Clare, and the city of Galway. Though small, it has a number of restaurants and cafes and is a good alternative to pricier, more crowded Dublin in the east.
Like the UK, Ireland has enjoyed a culinary renaissance in recent years, with a heavy emphasis on fish and seafood. Most towns, cities and villages have at least one decent restaurant or pub serving decent food, while the cities each have their fair share of high quality restaurants. Kenmare, in County Kerry, is particularly popular with foodies, while Idas Dingle, in the same county, celebrates the best produce of the Dingle Peninsula.
Things to note
Ireland's road system is much better than
in previous years. Heavy EU investment links counties and cities far more
efficiently than in the past. That said, the Wild Atlantic Way's windy roads
can be misleading. While road quality is good, their meandering nature
means it often takes far longer to get between places than a map would suggest.
Extra caution should be exercised when driving in rainy conditions, which can
be fierce at times with heavy sea breezes.