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My Top 10 Travel Trends in Ireland For 2021

Sarah Downpatrick Head (1)

Pod travel, cruise holidays, responsible travel, and exploring The Wild Atlantic Way, are just some of the travel trends in Ireland for 2021, check out my top ten below.

 

There is no doubt that 2020 is a year that we all want to forget. Most of us were unable to travel overseas, and with travel restrictions constantly changing, we had to cancel or defer holidays in Ireland too. Hopefully, 2021 will be a brighter year for all of us, and we will get back travelling regularly again. However, it is likely that some travel restrictions will remain, so it is important to keep an eye on key travel trends, to know what holidays will be the most sought after in 2021.

 

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I hope to be able to travel overseas, and that there is robust testing in place at airports in the near future, but nevertheless, many people may still choose to stay at home next year. With this in mind I thought I would let you know what I believe will be the top travel trends in Ireland, to help you plan a much needed vacation. Watch out for a post on overseas travel trends coming soon.
 

 

 
Top Tip: If you are booking a holiday many months in advance, you should try to book a room with a free cancellation policy. There may be changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or you may have to cancel at the last minute. This means you can secure a holiday for 2021 now, but with no risk attached.
 
Read: My top tips for holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19
 

 

 

Here are my top 10 travel trends in Ireland in 2021

 

1. Holiday homes on the Wild Atlantic Way

holiday homes on the wild atlantic way will be a top travel trend for 2021

If there is one positive to take from 2020, it is how much we learned to appreciate our home country. I saw some stunning images of Ireland’s dramatic coastline posted on social media throughout the summer, and have a long list of places that I wish to visit as a result. From sea swims to cliff walks, there is no doubt about it, the most sought after accommodation in Ireland is one thats close to the sea.
 

 

 
One of the other key travel trends that emerged during Covid-19 is the popularity of holiday homes and Airbnbs. As well as the extra space that a holiday home brings, it also allows for flexibility with dining, and helps with privacy and social distancing. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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When you add both of these travel trends together, you get the holy grail of holidays for 2021 – the elusive holiday home beside the sea.

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the most searched terms for Irish holidays, and I can only assume it will be the same in 2021. And it’s not just natives that want to visit – Lonely Planet rated The Wild Atlantic Way the 21st best experience in the world, on it’s Ultimate Travel List. I discovered some stunning beaches myself in Mayo this summer, and I hope to visit some of Donegal’s hidden gems next year.

Read: The best places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way
 

 

 

2. Hotels with self catering lodges on site

hotels in Ireland with lodges

Following on from the trend of self catering holiday homes, is there anything better than having the benefits of a self catering lodge, with the facilities of a hotel on site? This is my ideal holiday accommodation.

I like to have a nice bar and restaurant close by, and ideally a swimming pool, but also to have the freedom and space that a lodge brings. I particularly love when breakfast is included in the cost. Not only do I love hotel breakfasts, but it also gives me that extra push I need to ensure I get up early in the morning!

Read: 20 hotels with lodges in Ireland
 

 

 

3. Pod travel

travel trends for 2021 - pod travel

With restrictions on house visits and pubs, an overnight stay or a weekend get-together should prove to be a big travel trend in 2021. Travel pods or quarantine bubbles are a safe way to hang out with extended family or friends, without the worry of mixing with strangers.
 

 

 
The range of holiday experiences are endless. You may decide to book a few rooms in a hotel, but I personally think that a large Airbnb or hotel lodge will be the more popular options. You can also rent an entire castle or a large cabin cruiser.

Read: 20 Airbnbs in Ireland for groups for large family holidays
 

 

 

4. Cruise holidays

 

Similarly to getting a holiday home on the Wild Atlantic Way, trying to book a cruiser on the River Shannon in July was next to impossible – believe me I tried!

A river cruise is a great way to explore many of Ireland’s towns and villages in one trip. You also get a great sense of achievement by captaining your very own boat.
 

 

 
You don’t need a license to rent a cruiser, and you can enjoy the freedom of deciding where or when to stop. Self-drive River Shannon cruisers range from 2-10 persons and can be hired in Carrick-on-Shannon, Athlone, Lough Ree and Banagher, Portumna and Whitegate on Lough Derg.
 

 

 
You can also enjoy the lakes around Lough Erne, in Co. Fermanagh. They tend to be quieter than the Shannon, so you really get the feeling you are exploring on your own. If you fancy a cruise holiday next summer, I suggest you book it now…

See more here
 

 

 

5. Pet friendly hotels and holiday homes

pet friendly holidays will be one of the popular travel trends for 2021

Covid-19 has seen a massive upsurge in people buying pets. With ‘staying in’ being the new ‘going out’, 2020 seemed like the perfect year to get a pet. I predict that many people will want their pets to come on holidays with them, making pet-friendly holidays a big travel trend in Ireland in 2021. 
 

 

 
The good news is there are so many pet-friendly hotels and holiday homes in Ireland, so it should not prove too difficult to find the right holiday for you and your four-legged friend – but I advise you to book in advance if you wish to travel during school holidays.

Read: 40 hotels in Ireland that allow dogs

Read: 20 Dog-friendly Airbnbs in Ireland
 

 

 

6. Outdoor activity breaks 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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As well as a new found appreciation for nature in 2020, it seems that we have adopted a grá for outdoor activities too. At the beginning of July, it was almost impossible to buy a wet-suit, kayak, or even a surf board, despite the fact that outdoor specialist store, Decathlon recently opened in Dublin.
 

 

 
Sunrise swims and sea kayaking became the norm on Instagram, and I believe trying outdoor activities and experiences will be one of Ireland’s key travel trends in 2021. I tried horse-riding and falconry for the first time this year and loved them both. I would like to try more new experiences next year, it turns out you don’t need to travel overseas to experience something new…

All that being said, if you fancy going surfing or kayaking next summer, get shopping for a wetsuit now!

Read: The best adventure holidays in Ireland
 

 

 

7. Bucket list experiences & unique stays

 luxury hotels in Ireland and unique stays - travel trends

If travel restrictions are still in place, and holidays are kept to a minimum, I predict many will splash out and visit somewhere special next year. The added incentive of claiming 20% back as a tax refund might also encourage people to spend a little more.

Read: How to claim money back with the spend and stay scheme
 

 

 
Did you know that Ashford Castle has an exclusive Hideaway Cottage, or that you can stay in a private Lake Lodge in Lough Eske Castle? The Cliff House Hotel has the beach house of dreams, and the secluded Inis Meáin Suites look like the ultimate luxury retreat.
 

 

 
Airbnb have lighthouses, treehouses as well as luxury cottages with private beaches – you can even rent a castle for a private stay. 2021 might be the year to scratch something off your Irish bucket list.

Read: Ireland’s bucket list, unique stays and luxury hotels in Ireland
 

 

 

8. Glamping

travel trends in Ireland for 2021 - glamping holidays

Our new found love for nature has seen a massive surge in people looking for camping holidays. However, we are also fond of our creature comforts, and with Ireland’s unpredictable weather, glamping is quickly becoming the new camping.
 

 

 
‘Glamping’, or glamorous camping, can really mean anything from a fancy tent with a mattress, to a glass bubble dome in the woods with a waiter service. There are adult-only glamping sites for the ultimate romantic getaway, as well as camp sites with lots of facilities for kids, including kids clubs and aqua parks.
 

 

 
It is important that you choose the right glamping site for you. Some of my favourite memories of glamping in Ireland are cooking on an open fire, and having a private outdoor deck to enjoy the morning chorus. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…

Read: Top picks for glamping in Ireland

Read: Airbnb glamping sites in Ireland
 

 

 

9. Responsible travel

eco friendly hotels in Ireland

Sustainability is a hot topic in many aspects of life, and travel is no exception. A recent survey from booking.com shows that 55% of travellers are more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago, and 70% would be more likely to book a property if they know it’s planet friendly.
 

 

 
Eco camps like Pure Camping and Nire Valley Eco Camp are some of my favourites, but it is great to see more and more hotels getting sustainable too.

The Europe Hotel & Resort in Killarney operates entirely on 100% renewable electricity, as well as being heavily focused on food sustainability and seasonality, monitoring and improving recycling, and reducing waste materials and water consumption.
 

 

 
The eco-friendly Gregans Castle Hotel in Co. Clare is a founding member of the Burren Ecotourism Network and The Burren Food Trail, and are members of the Green Hospitality Programme.

Their tree planting has created a new habitat for wildlife, and weed killers or harmful chemicals are not used in their gardens. Most foods are sourced from local producers, and interiors consist of natural fabrics, pigment paints and natural bath products. They also offer a wide selection of eco-tourism experiences for their guests, and offer free bicycles to explore the local area. 
 

 

 

10. Last minute short breaks

last minute hotel deals in Ireland

With travel and dining restrictions likely to continue into 2021, I predict there will be a large increase in last minute hotel breaks. An overnight stay with dinner in a local hotel might become a regular activity, and short last minute breaks should prove popular with people looking for great value hotel deals.
 

 

 
Remember to check my website regularly for the best last minute hotel deals in Ireland. As soon as hotels re-open, I will be promoting lots of hotel deals – watch this space!  
 

 

 
I hope this post travel trends in Ireland will help you plan a trip away in 2021. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed in hotels may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotel for clarification. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or you need to cancel due to personal reasons.
 

 

 
Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.  Read more in my privacy policy.

 

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

Holidays in Ireland

The Best Places to Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

Beach Diamond Coast Hotel

Glamping pods, luxury five-star resorts, coastal hotels and Airbnbs with private beaches, check out my top places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way. 

 

Not only do Irish people consider the Wild Atlantic Way one of Ireland’s top attractions, but recently Lonely Planet rated it the 21st best experience in the world, on it’s Ultimate Travel List. When I think of ultimate travel experiences, Galapagos Islands, Antartica, Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu spring to mind, so if one of these ultimate travel experiences is on our own doorstep – isn’t it about time we explored it?

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I, like many Irish natives, have driven a part of the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way trail, but I know we have so much more to explore. The Wild Atlantic Way stretches from Donegal as far as Cork and passes through nine counties. I have listed some of my favourite places to stay along the Wild Atlantic Way below.
 

 

 
I have chosen hotels and Airbnbs with stunning coastal views, luxury five star hotels, as well as top glamping sites – all great places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way. I hope they will help plan an epic adventure soon.

 

 

 

 

Donegal:

Donegal is not only the starting point for the Wild Atlantic Way, but it is also the county with the longest coastline in Ireland. It is home to some of Ireland’s best beaches, one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, The Slieve League Cliffs and Ireland’s second largest National Park, Glenveagh National Park.
 

 

 
There are so many accommodation options to choose from. Lively towns like Bundoran will offer a completely different experience to quiet villages on the Inishowen Peninsula.  Here are my top picks:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Best hotel in Donegal for Wild Atlantic Way views: The Shandon Hotel

It is difficult to choose just one beach hotel in Donegal, as there are several great places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Sandhouse Hotel is superbly located right on the beach and is a great alternative, but I have chosen the Shandon Hotel & Spa because it has a swimming pool, leisure centre, and spa on site, just in case the weather is not in your favour.

beach at shandon beach hotel, a great place to stay on wild atlantic way

The Shandon Hotel overlooks the beautiful Sheephaven Bay and is within walking distance of the beach. This reasonably new Donegal Hotel (opened in 2016) boasts sea views from almost every bedroom. The outdoor Canadian hot-tub is a firm favourite with guests and also boasts stunning sea views. Check out the great reviews on TripAdvisor here.

Check prices here

 

Read: The best beach hotels in Ireland
 

 

 

  • Best luxury hotel in Donegal: Lough Eske Castle

Lough Eske Castle is steeped in history and romance. Dating back to the 15th century and set within 43 acres of native woodland on the shores of Lough Eske, it certainly has the wow factor. It blends its historic past with modern luxury beautifully, and has a luxury spa with a swimming pool for the ultimate relaxing break.  

Lough Eske Castle - a luxury hotel on the wild atlantic way

Check prices here

 

Read: Best hotels in Ireland for luxury and romance
 

 

 

  • Best Airbnb in Donegal with sea views:  5-star Cottage with private beach

If isolation is what you seek, this Donegal stone cottage will fit the bill perfectly. Located on its own private beach, surrounded by seven acres of land, it is surely one of the most secluded beachfront Airbnbs on the Wild Atlantic Way  – the public can only access this beach via a boat.

cottage near the beach in Donegal, Wild Atlantic Way

The cottage is over 100 years old, and retains its original thatch, overlaid with a modern roof. It is now equipped with all mod cons, even Netflix, if you fancy a cosy night in.  With two large bedrooms, it is ideal for a family or group of friends and you can even bring your pet along with you.

Check prices here

 

Read: The best Airbnbs in Ireland near the beach
 

 

 

  • Best glamping in Donegal: Portsalon Luxury Camping

Portsalon campsite is home to five luxurious yurts, with king sized beds, wood burning stoves and carpeted floors. The outdoor decking comes with a hammock, firepit and barbecue area, as well as stunning sea views over one of Donegal’s best beaches. Communal bathrooms and kitchen facilities are available beside the yurts and there is  24-hour complimentary wifi available.

glamping in donegal ireland, Wild Atlantic Way

 

Check prices here

 

Read: My top picks for glamping in Ireland
 

 


 

Sligo / Leitrim:

As well as a rugged coastline and stunning beaches, Sligo is also home to the iconic flat-topped Benbulben mountain. Ireland’s answer to Table Mountain dominates the landscape, and is visible throughout the west of the county. Don’t miss Drumcliffe Church too, the final resting place of WB Yeates which is located at its foothills.
 

 

 
Mullaghmore Head is one of Ireland’s best surfing locations, and Coney Island is another hidden gem that shouldn’t be overlooked – you can drive or walk across the 5km causeway from Rosses Point, if you are there at low tide.

Benbulben, Sligo
Photo by Andreas Brunn, Unsplash.
 
  • Best hotel in Sligo for Wild Atlantic Way views: Diamond Coast, Enniscrone

The Blue Flag Enniscrone beach is renowned as one of the safest beaches on Ireland’s west coast. Its golden sand stretches for 5km, making it popular with families and water sports enthusiasts.
 

 

 
The Diamond Coast Hotel is just a short walk from Enniscrone beach and is very popular with couples and families. There is a choice of dining options and large rooms with kids facilities for families.

Enniscrone is one of the best places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

 

 

 

 

  • Best glamping in Leitrim / Sligo: Teapot Lane, Leitrim

You may not be aware of this, but Leitrim has 2.4 miles of coastline on the Wild Atlantic Way. I have chosen Teapot Lane, as not only is it one of Ireland best glamping sites, but it is also just a short drive from the coast. In fact Mullaghmore beach in Sligo is just a ten-minute drive away.

tree house glamping in Leitrim, close to the Wild Atlantic Way

Teapot Lane offers a wide selection of accommodation including yurts, a vintage caravan, and even a treehouse. The treehouse boasts a king sized bed, a wine fridge, and a swing chair to relax and enjoy the view.
 
See more here

 

 

 

  • Best Airbnb in Sligo with sea views: Three-bedroom home on the beach in Enniscrone

This three-bedroom beach house offers panoramic views of the beach, and the sun sets right in front of the living room. Located in heart of Enniscrone, with direct access to the beach, the location couldn’t be better. The house is very well equipped, with two bikes, a surf board, body boards, buckets and spades and a fishing rod. 

beach house in Sligo, one of the best Airbnbs on the Wild Atlantic Way

Check prices here
 

 


 

Mayo:

Can you think of a better way to explore the Wild Atlantic Way than by bicycle? Mayo’s Great Western Greenway is a 42km cycle track from Westport to Achill exploring Mayo’s beautiful coastline. If you are feeling even more energetic you can climb the Holy mountain, Croagh Patrick.
 

 

 
Many of you may know that I visited Mayo this summer, and I was blown away by its stunning beaches. Don’t miss Achill Island, Ireland’s largest island, and home to some of the best beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Erris Peninsula has some of Ireland’s best kept secrets, including Claggan Island. DownPatrick Head is also a must see – I could go on on on, best check out my blog posts below:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Top 10 things to do in Mayo

Read: 3 beaches in Achill you have to visit
 

 

 

  • Best hotel in Mayo for Wild Atlantic Way views: Mulranny Park Hotel 

The Mulranny Park Hotel boasts an idyllic location overlooking Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick Mountain, and also happens to be located on most scenic section of Great Western Greenway. You can swim in the Blue Flag Mulranny Beach, cycle on the Greenway or enjoy the hotel’s indoor leisure centre. As well as standard and deluxe rooms, its also boasts two-bedroom apartment suites which are very popular with families.

Mulranny Park Hotel Donegal is one of the best beach hotels to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

Check prices here
 

 

 

 

  • Best luxury hotel in Mayo: Ashford Castle

Can you think of anything better than staying in a 13th century castle? I recall driving across the moat and seeing Ashford Castle for the first time – it was like being inside a fairytale. Awarded the accolade as a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, Ashford castle is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way.

As well as lavish interiors and a choice of dining options, you can enjoy a host of sporting activities or relax in the stunning spa.

Ashford castle is one of luxury hotels to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

Check prices here
 

 

 

  • Best glamping in Mayo: Belmullet Coastguard Station, Claggan Island

I spotted these luxurious glamping pods recently and I can’t wait to see them first hand. They are located on Claggan Island – which was only officially declared an island in 1991. Claggan Island is about 12km from Belmullet and is linked to the mainland by a narrow, sandy causeway, and is surrounded by stunning beaches. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The luxury Pods can sleep up to four adults and have a toilet and washbasin, with full access to the dedicated kitchen and shower area. Tents can be pitched beside the pods for additional €15 per day.

Check prices here
 

 

 

  • Best Airbnb in Mayo with seaviews: Achill Atlantic House 

You only have to look at the image below to see the unobstructed views that lay in store if you stay at the Achill Atlantic House in Mayo. You will also have private access to Cloughmore Beach, which is just 50 meters away, Achill’s Atlantic Drive is just five minutes walk from the house and you can find your own ‘catch of the day’ at the local harbour.

best Airbnb's in Ireland near the beach on Achill Island, the Wild Atlantic Way

Check prices here
 

 

 

 

Galway:

With one of Ireland’s most vibrant cities, a stunning coastline, and some of Ireland’s top tourist attractions, it is no surprise that Galway is one of the most popular places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way.
 

 

 
The Connemara coast boasts stunning beaches, superb dining options, and is home to the fjord of Killary Harbour. Don’t miss the drive through Killary Harbour and Doolough Valley, which connects Galway to its neighbouring county, Mayo. Kylemore Abbey is another top attraction that shouldn’t be missed.

Kylemore Abbey

 

  • Best hotel in Galway for Wild Atlantic Way views: Connemara Sands Hotel & Spa

With private access to the Blue Flag Mannin Bay beach, the Connemara Sands Hotel is one of the best beach hotels on the Wild Atlantic Way. With crystal clear waters, fine food, chic interiors and a Voya seaweed spa, it is not surprising that it has received excellent reviews on Tripadvisor.

Connemara Sands Hotel is one of Irelands best beach hotels on the Wild Atlantic Way

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  • Best luxury hotel in Galway: Glenlo Abbey Hotel 

Glenlo Abbey is located on an 138-acre estate on Lough Corrib, and has been welcoming guests since 1740. The on site facilities are impressive, and include Falconry, archery, fishing, golf, and the Abbey movie theatre.

However, the pièce de résistance is the Pullman Restaurant, which is two former carriages that once served on the Orient Express. Who needs overseas travel when you can dine in the Orient Express on the Wild Atlantic Way?

Ireland's best hotels - Glenlo Abbey on the Wild Atlantic Way

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  • Best glamping in Galway: Podumna Glamping Village

The Podumna Glamping Village have a selection of pods, huts and cabins, some sleeping up to six people. All pods are fully insulated and come with bedding, heating, and a deck with barbecue, table and chairs.

If you wish to have a large family gathering or group event, you can hire the exclusive use of Podumna Village for your party.

glamping pods in ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way

See more here
 

 

 

  • Best Airbnb in Galway with sea views: Folan’s Stone Cottage, Roundstone

Folan’s Cottage is located just metres from a quiet sandy beach in Connemara. Rebuilt in 2010 from two ruined stone cottages, it is your picture perfect Irish hideaway. With three bedrooms, a large kitchen, underfloor heating throughout, and a south facing terrace with sea views, it is surely one of the best Airbnbs on the Wild Atlantic Way.

airbnb beside the beach in galway on the Wild Atlantic Way

See more here
 

 

 

 

Clare:

The Cliffs of Moher is arguably one of the most iconic attractions on the Wild Altantic Way, but Clare is also home to to the Loop Head Peninsula, which should not be overlooked. The stunning Bridges of Ross and the lively town of Kilkee are popular tourist spots, as are the beach towns of Spanish Point and Lahinch. 

The Burren and the traditional much town of Doolin are also unmissable if visiting Clare.

Cliffs of Moher on the Wild Atlantic Way

 

  • Best hotel in Clare for Wild Atlantic Way views: Armada Hotel, Spanish Point

With the Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands and the Burren on your doorstep, as well as the traditional Johnny Burke’s Irish pub on site, its no surprise that the Armada Hotel is one of Clare’s most popular hotels. I recommend booking a sea view room or suite, which offer stunning Wild Atlantic Way views.

Armada Hotel Spanish Point is one of the best places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

See more here
 

 

 

  • Best luxury hotel in Clare: Dromoland Castle

Dromoland Castle has been welcoming guests since the 16th century. I stayed here many years ago with my husband and enjoyed a wonderful weekend. This luxurious five-star hotel is full of history, grandeur and romance – a royal stay is guaranteed. 

Dromoland Castle is one of the best hotels in Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way

Check prices here
 

 

 

  • Best for glamping in Kerry: Purecamping, Kilkee

Purecamping was my first experience of glamping in Ireland and I loved it. Located in Loop Head, just 7 kilometers from Kilkee, it has all the feels of a retreat, but with great amenities close by.
 

 

 
You can choose to stay in one of the 5-metre bell tents which sleep up to four people, complete with its own deck and fire pit, or one of their wooden cabins, some of which can accommodate families of six.  

family glamping on the Wild Atlantic Way

 
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  • Best Airbnb in Clare for sea views: Modern apartment with sea views, Lahinch

If you are looking for the holy grail of sea side holiday homes along the Wild Atlantic Way, look no further. This modern 2-bedroomed home has a 270 degree view of the sea, with stunning floor to ceiling windows overlooking Liscannor bay and the Cliffs of Moher.

top airbnbs to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

The open plan living area has polished concrete floors and there is a rotating stove in the middle of the living area. This has to be one of the best Airbnbs in Ireland, and it is one that is firmly on my own Irish bucket list! 

Read: Luxurious Airbnbs in Ireland near the beach

See more here
 

 

 

 

Kerry:

‘The Kingdom’ as Kerry is widely known, is home to some of Ireland’s top attractions. Kilarney National Park, the Ring of Kerry Drive, and the Gap of Dunloe are just some of its must-sees, but its coastline which includes the Dingle Peninsula, Valentia Island and the colourful town of Kenmare are all great places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Slea Head Drive on the Wild Atlantic Way

 

  • Best hotel in Kerry for Wild Atlantic Way views: Dingle Skellig Hotel

The Dingle Skellig Hotel is superbly situated overlooking Dingle Bay. The hotel also has a leisure club, swimming pool, spa, and outdoor hot tub – so if you just want to relax, you can do that too! Rated excellent on TripAdvisor, this is one of the most popular places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Dingle Skellig Hotel on the Wild Atlantic Way

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  • Best luxury hotel in Kerry: Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare

Sheen Falls Lodge enjoys an idyllic location overlooking Sheen Waterfalls, as well as being within walking distance to the picturesque town of Kenmare, and located on the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way. A Relais & Chateaux Hotel, it boasts fine food and wine and a host of activities, as well as spa and indoor heated pool.

luxury hotels on the wild atlantic way

See more here
 

 

 

  • Best Airbnb in Kerry with seaviews:  Skellig Rest Cottage, Waterville 

Skellig Rest is a beautiful 100 year old cottage, that offers stunning views of the Skellig Rocks. Located between Waterville and Caherdaniel and just 5km from Derrynane beach, it is not surprising that it is listed as one of the top Airbnbs in Ireland.
 
best airbnb in kerry on the wild atlantic way

The Kerry Way walking trail is at the end of the garden, and you can enjoy sunset views from your own private hot tub or garden hammock.
 

 

 
As well as superb facilities including a hot tub and sauna, you will find Skellig Rest equipped with robes and slippers, a telescope and binoculars, perfect for star gazing at Kerry’s International Dark Sky Reserve.

 

 

 

  • Best glamping in Kerry: The Hideaway at Dromquinna Manor 

For couples looking for the ultimate luxurious retreat, The Hideaway is the place to go. You will be staying in a custom made African safari tent, over looking the lake on the grounds of Dromquinna Manor. A delicious breakfast basket will be delivered to your tent every morning and you can enjoy dinner in The Boathouse in the evening. This is one of the most unique places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way.

best glamping place to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way

Read: My top picks for glamping in Ireland

See more here
 

 

 

 

Cork:

Ireland’s largest county sure packs a few punches. As well as having a vibrant city, it is home to some of my favourite coastal towns in Ireland. West Cork has so much to offer, there are so many highlights, including colourful towns like Kinsale and Skibbereen as well as smaller villages like Baltimore and Glandore.

Don’t miss the Beara Peninsula drive, take the cable car to Dursey Island and cross the famous footbridge at Mizen Head.

mizen head, cork on the Wild Atlantic Way

 
  • Best Cork hotel for Wild Atlantic Way views: Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa

The multi award-winning Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Hotel is located on a stunning Blue Flag beach which has been voted Ireland’s best beach by Tripadvisor for the last three years. The spa boasts unique seawater therapies and it has been voted Ireland’s Leading Spa Resort at the World Travel Awards seven times! 

Inchydoney hotel one of the best beach hotels in Ireland

See more here
 

 

 
However, it would be remiss of me not to give a special mention to Eccles Hotel in Glengarrif. This landmark hotel is located close to Garnish Island and Gougane Barra, two places that are unmissable if visiting the Wild Atlantic Way.

See more here
 

 

 

  • Best luxury hotel in Cork: Hayfield Manor 

The prestigious five-star Hayfield Manor hotel has all the charm of a country house, yet is located just a short stroll from Cork City, and a half hour drive from the Wild Atlantic Way. However, with two award-winning restaurants and the Beautique Spa with indoor heated pool, you may find it difficult to leave.

Hayfield Manor - one of Ireland's best hotels

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  • Best for glamping in Cork: Ballyvolane House

If you want to try a luxury glamping experience but are not too keen on cooking, then Ballyvolane House is the place to go. You will enjoy a full-service glamping experience, with all meals, drinks and afternoon tea provided in the main house, as well as a ‘glamping box’ provided with essentials.
 

 

 
There are different glamping options to choose from. The ‘glamping ark’ is ideal for couples, while bell tents sleep up to two adults and two children. 

glamping holidays in ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way

Check prices here
 

 

 

  • Best Airbnb in Cork with sea views: The Boat House, Baltimore.

The Boat House in Baltimore - luxury airbnbs in ireland for large families

The Boat House location in West Cork is idyllic. This four-bedroomed house is one of ten properties on an island estate, reached by a stone bridge. It is ideal for a large family, or if there are a group of families or friends who wish to travel together, you can rent more of the properties on Inis Beg estate.
 

 

 
It is also located close to Baltimore and Skibbereen, so if you fancy a change of scene, you don’t have too far to go. You will also have access to an indoor heated swimming pool during your stay. 

See more here

 

See all homes here

 

 

 
I hope this post on the best places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way will help you plan a trip to the west coast of Ireland soon. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotels and holiday home owners for clarification.

I always recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb with free cancellation in case there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you.
 

 

 
These hotels and homes were researched independently. Some have links direct to the hotels websites, while others have my affiliate links attached to third party websites, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

Note as I am an Airbnb Associate, I will receive a small commission if a booking is made via Airbnb, but at no additional cost to you. Read more in my privacy policy.

 

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

Holidays in Ireland

3 Beaches in Mayo You Have to Visit

Mayo-22

Missing the Med? These beaches in Mayo might make up for it.

 

I’m just back after a fabulous few days in Mayo, a county that really surprised me. There is so much to see and do in Mayo and we only scratched the surface. I have yet to cycle The Great Western Greenway, climb Croagh Patrick, take a boat trip to Clare Island or visit Ballycroy National Park – needless to say I am already planning my return trip. However, I did manage to check out some of the best beaches in Mayo, and I was seriously impressed. Check out my Instagram Highlights from my trip to Mayo here.
 

 

 
I am convinced that some of Ireland’s best beaches are in Mayo. I missed out on Mulranny Breach, Old Head and Cross Beach – from what I am told these are equally as stunning, but from my own personal experience, these are beaches in Mayo that you simply have to visit!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Keem Beach, Achill

Keem Beach is a little piece of heaven. So many locals from Mayo recommended that I visit Keem, so I duly obliged. It is located at the western end of Achill Island, and is easily accessible by road – the clifftop drive is pretty impressive too. I recommend going early so you can get a parking spot right at the beach.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It is virtually uninhabited so you wont find surf schools or coffee shops, but that’s part of its charm. The sheltered cove beach has white sand and crystal clear water – it felt like a beach from the Caribbean, rather than the west of Ireland.
 

 

 
It is surrounded by mountains and cliffs which you must explore. Make sure you hike the mountain behind the beach to catch the most breathtaking views, it takes about 40 minutes to get to the top. Watch out for the former look-out post, it is one of Ireland’s best Instagram locations. You can also choose to walk along the top of the cliffs towards Achill Head, the most westerly point of Achill Island. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Keel Beach, Achill

Keel Beach stretches for 4km and is one of the most popular sandy beaches on Achill Island. It is a haven for water sports such as kitesurfing, surfing, windsurfing and of course swimming. This is the place to experience the surfy vibes of Achill. Don’t miss lunch, or even a home-made cake, at The Beehive. Pure Magic Lodge is a great place to stay if you are looking for an active holiday with a lively atmosphere, and I’m told their pizzas are pretty good too.

best beaches in Mayo
 

 

 

Silver Strand Beach, Louisburg

Silver Strand Beach is another beach that came highly recommended, but I made the mistake of only visiting it on our way home. It is a stunning secluded beach, and although remote and unspoilt, it is only 15km from Louisburg. Surrounded by green headlands, high sand dunes, and blessed with crystal clear waters, it is the picture perfect Irish beach – I’m thinking Failte Ireland need to come here for their next Wild Atlantic Way campaign.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There are eleven Blue Flag beaches in Mayo, these three are favourites from my own personal experience. I am sure when I visit the rest of them I will be editing this post accordingly. Watch this space. 
 

 

 

Like this post? You might also like:

20 luxurious Airbnbs in Ireland near the beach

Top Airbnb Glamping sites in Ireland

 

holidays in Ireland

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

Holidays in Ireland

West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Eyeries_opt

Whilst I do love a trip abroad, there is also something special about a ‘staycation’ in Ireland. When Chill Insurance asked me to write about my favourite #HiddenDrive, it was an easy task. From West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula is, in my opinion, one of Ireland’s best road trips.

 

After a recent stay in Bantry, county Cork, we decided to do a little exploring with the kids.  My husband and I had not taken a road trip from Bantry to Kenmare since before we were married, so it was about time we returned to one of Ireland’s best #HiddenDrives.

Taking the N71 from Bantry for a twenty minute spin will see you into Glengarriff, right in the heart of west Cork. Glengariff is known by locals as ‘the Natural Meeting Place’. On the Beara peninsula, a town of approximately 800 inhabitants, it can get very crowded in peak season. The popular Eccles hotel is a magnet for tourists, it is a great place for lunch with sea views. We took the short ferry ride to Garnish Island which I would highly recommend. Renowned for its beautiful gardens, it also boasts a Martello Tower which offers stunning views of the bay from the top. The kids loved it too.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Once back on the road, we left Glengarriff, turning onto the R572 and drove south west along the Beara Peninsula. An hour (and about 50 kilometres) later we reached the fishing village and sailors favourite, Castletown Berehaven. Also known as Castletownbere, it is the principle town along the Beara Peninsula, two and half hours from Cork city. A little known fact, Castletownbere is the second largest natural safe harbour in the world. If you have the time, you must visit MacCarthy’s Bar. Genuine and original with groceries on sale in the front of the premises and a bar to the rear. It also won Irish pub of the year in 2016, so that’s as good an excuse as any to pay a visit! Much to my husbands dismay, we did not stop and kept driving. We were only about seven kilometres from Allihies, Co. Cork. Pulling into Allihies, we were now as far away by road from home as we could be! Allihies is 394kms from Dublin making it the furthest village in Ireland from the capital. Just some more trivia for you! 🙂

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

It was time for lunch and we chose O’Neills Bar in Allihies, famous for its ‘warm atmosphere and delicious local food’. Once inside, you feel instantly welcome with an open fire, piano and old photographs, creating a homely atmosphere. The sun had decided to make an appearance so we ordered food and opted to sit outside. You are pretty much on the roadside as you sit on the wooden benches. We had soup and toasted sandwiches, crab salads and the kids tucked into fish and chips. If you have time, try the restaurant upstairs too. They will never admit to it but O’Neills is possibly one of the most iconic bars along the Wild Atlantic Way and has featured on posters worldwide promoting Ireland as a holiday destination.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Next stop Eyeries, a village renowned for the bright pastel paintwork of its terraced houses and the sweeping views of the Beara Peninsula. Eyeries is one of those places that demands you to stop, grab a camera and walk for a while. Overlooking Coulagh Bay and the Atlantic ocean beyond, Eyeries is a place where you can let the sound and smell of the ocean take your thoughts. Here we walked the beach and did a little beachcombing before the final push to Kenmare and our next overnight stop.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Most people might take the direct route from Eyeries to Kenmare along the R571 but we knew better. Driving north out of Eyeries, past the post office, take the coastal road to Kilcatherine for the most breathtaking scenery. You will drive through Ballycrovane. This small fishing harbour also offers spectacular views of Coulagh Bay. Continuing on the road you will arrive at Kilcatherine and then head back towards the R571 to Kenmare. As you drive, look left out to sea were you will see the world heritage and monastic site of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig Rock in the distance. Perhaps more famous of late for being the reclusive home of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

 

Leaving the Kilcatherine coastal road behind us we rejoined the R571 and made our way to Kenmare in Co Kerry, crossing the county border between Cork and Kerry, just north of Ardgroom. The road is mostly along the coast and can be precarious in places but breathtaking at the same time. It was only about 40 kilometers to Kenmare but the last leg of our Beara Peninsula adventure took a little over an hour to complete before we made it to our hotel.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

The total journey from Bantry to Kenmare via this amazing drive is about 175 kilometers and should only take you about three and half hours to do without stopping. However in my opinion, you will need a full day to do it properly. Stop for coffee, stop for lunch, tour the villages, listen to the ocean and give your head peace.

So there you have it, my favourite #HiddenDrive is from west Cork into south Kerry along the Beara Peninsula. Whatever you do, don’t rush it, take your time and Chill.ie. 😉

 

This post was sponsored by Chill Insurance.

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah.

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

Travel

Feather Down Loop Head, Glamping At It’s Finest!

Featherdown

It is safe to say that camping is not one of my favourite activities. Even when the camping is upgraded to ‘glamping’, it is still going to take something extraordinary to tear me away from a nice luxury hotel.

So when the nice people at Feather Down asked me if I would like to try out their latest offering in Clare, I was somewhat hesitant, but nevertheless off I went. My husband was excited to go, presumably thinking that he was ‘Man The Hunter’ and the idea of living off the land appealed to him. My children were excited at the thought of crab hunting, torches, and a lighthouse. Me? Excited? Not so much……! So Friday evening rolled around, perhaps quicker than I would have liked. We loaded more luggage than necessary into the car and like Ossie and Tayto with kids in tow, we headed “Into The West”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Kevin and Trea are the owners of Pure Camping, a very well equipped, award winning and evidently popular campsite in the small village of Querrin, 7 kilometers from Kilkee in County Clare. If I said that Querrin is on the south side of Loop Head, that might give you a better idea of its location. Pure Camping is a terrific retreat and combines rest and relaxation with a ‘getting away from it all’ kind of feel. Also, Trea is a qualified yoga instructor and offers classes on site, so if thats your thing……

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

The Feather Down Farm ethos of providing space for people and a departure from their hectic lives is commonly known around Europe, but this is their first site in Ireland. They provide space for families and friends to take part in activities that don’t involve a screen in front of your face! It is somewhere people can give each other full attention without distractions, this is also in keeping with the Pure Camping ethos. So out of this coming together, came two ‘Frills’ tents from Feather Down located in the ‘Orchard’ on the Pure Camping land. Being the only two in Ireland, they are aptly titled “Feather Down, Loop Head”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

As we left the motorway behind us, we drove onto gradually smaller, narrower roads and eventually arrived about three hours later at Pure Camping, our home for the next two nights. Kevin met us at the bottom of the laneway and gave us a brief chat about the highlights of the area. From the local pier and crab-hunting, to the dolphin watching which left daily from Carrigaholt, which is “just out the road”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Then, led by candlelight, our enthusiastic host showed us to our tent. As I type the word tent, I realise this does not adequately describe what we were led to. Real beds, a couch, a six-seater table, a small stove, running water and most importantly, an INDOOR TOILET. Kevin’s enthusiasm for the place was absolutely contagious. All he kept saying was, “Wait ’til ye see it lads!” about every aspect of the so called “tent”. Meanwhile I was having my own Meryl Streep/Out of Africa moment. It wasn’t camping, it wasn’t ‘glamping’. All it needed was Robert Redford and I was set! We even had an outdoor shower with unlimited hot water! This was camping in style, comfort and warmth, and not a sniff of damp in the air.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After being shown around by Kevin, my husband and daughter made their way down to the local pub/shop/restaurant/undertaker/mechanic to get some supplies. It is about 5 kilometres away at the crossroads where you turn for Pure Camping, so best get your own supplies on the way in. Although I think my husband had a sneaky pint with my five year old whilst there! Anyway, we lit the fire/stove and twenty minutes later we were cooking by candlelight.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After a great nights sleep in very comfortable beds, the kids took off exploring. There were lots of other children to play with, who were staying in tents on the Purecamping grounds. The facilities on site are excellent. There is a large indoor playhouse and plenty of open fields for kids to play and kick ball. They have a pizza oven where kids ( and adults) are encouraged to make their own pizzas. This is a good way to meet your fellow campers too!

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

At night time everyone gathered around the large campfire, some cooking fish that they had caught that day, others toasting marshmallows. There was plenty of beer and wine, starry skies and best of all – plenty of chat.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

There is lots to do around Loop Head. The highlight for the kids being a visit to the Loop Head lighthouse, were we got to climb the seventy metres to the top. On a clear day, you can see the Blasket Islands in Kerry we were told. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour when we visited, with low cloud and fog rolling in off the Atlantic. When you walk west out from the lighthouse to the cliff edge, you will be standing on the most westerly point of the country or in other words, the nearest point of Ireland to the United States of America, 6,000 plus kilometers away.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After the lighthouse, we made our way to Keatings Bar and Restaurant for some lunch. Billed as the last pub before New York, they serve great seafood and pubgrub, so well worth a stop. After lunch it was back in the car for the short drive to the Bridges of Ross, a naturally formed sea arch near the village of Kilbaha. There used to be three but two have since succumbed to the force of the sea. Still worth a visit though and you’ll get some scenic and rugged pictures whilst you are there. It is the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, after all….

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After a good walk and getting a little wind blown, it was back to the car and back to Feather Down Loop Head. We got some more supplies in Kilrush and made another meal on our stove. There is a BBQ on site too and a large picnic table outside your tent so depending on the weather, you can eat inside or out. It’s amazing what you can cook with a frying pan and a hot stove!

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Next morning, whilst the kids were playing outside, we packed up our belongings, loaded the car and said our goodbyes to our hosts, Trea and Kevin. Sad that we could not have stayed the third night, but we had to get back to Dublin. En route we passed  Trump Doonbeg, we simply had to pay a visit. I am not a fan of the man, but this luxury beach hotel in Doonbeg is fabulous. We had lunch in the golf club which was not only substantial but affordable too. You need to be a hotel guest if you wish to eat in the hotel though. After a brief wander around the grounds, we were on the long road home.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

The luxury Doonbeg hotel and the Pure Camping campsite are worlds apart in their offerings but both unique in their own ways. The Feather Down tent reminded me of time we spent in Tanzania before our children were born. Tanzania is still one of my favourite holidays and anything that reminds me of it comes out ‘Trumps‘ for me. Sorry Donald, Feather Down wins this election!

For more information, visit the Feather Down website.

 

Sarah.


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