Driving is one of the most relaxing and practical ways to enjoy Ireland and, for visitors arriving from the UK in particular, it need not be the hair-raising experience that driving abroad often seems to be. As in the UK driving is on the left, roundabouts are common and narrow roads in fog or rain (not to mention the occasional wild sheep wandering in front of your car) should pose no particular problem to the seasoned British driver. With stunning landscapes, charming towns and a coastline to rival any other, Ireland is best enjoyed at your own pace and the flexibility afforded by self-drive is a freedom well-worth taking advantage of.
If you’re preparing to embark upon a self-drive tour of Ireland, then plan these unmissable routes into your itinerary to witness Ireland’s magical landscape in all its beauty.
Dublin to Portlaioise (Wicklow Mountains)
Barely outside Ireland’s culture-rich capital Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains dominate the rugged countryside offering breath taking views of pine-covered slopes. Here you can marvel at the country’s highest waterfall, Powerscourt, or soak up the stunning scenery of Glendalough, the Valley of the Two Lakes where Ireland’s finest monastic settlement can be explored.
If you’re arriving by plane, with a variety of car rental companies available at Dublin Airport including National Car Hire, Hertz, Budget and Avis, you can be confident of securing a vehicle for your journey around Ireland.
The Sheeps Head Peninsula
A favourite among hikers, the Sheeps Head Peninsula offers visitors a stunning drive around an 88km trail from Bantry to the headland and back. From here you can enjoy the spectacular coastline and the virtually unspoiled countryside where daffodils grace the scene as early as January due to the temperate climate brought by the Gulf Stream. With a variety of walks for all abilities, a self-drive tour can be combined with some invigorating hiking to explore one of Ireland’s most beautiful locations.
The Copper Coast
Forming a circular route from Dungarvan to Waterford, Clonmel and Ballymacarberry, the Copper Coast gains its name from the underground copper mines that used to dominate the region. This 120km road trip takes in the stunning coastline, the Comeragh Mountains, the Nire Valley and Stradbally Cove, not to mention the renowned Tannery in Dungarvan which serves authentic Irish dishes to hungry passers-by.
The Beara Peninsula
From Killarney, close to the acclaimed Killarney National Park, a variety of enjoyable coastal drives can be enjoyed including the Beara Peninsula. In this area which is rich in myths and legends you can witness serene lakes, ancient Neolithic graves and stone circles, rugged mountains and traditional fishing ports. For waterside peace and beauty Ballydonegan Beach is an unmissable stop while mouth-watering seafood dishes await you in the many restaurants of the lively town of Castletownbere.
A tour of Irelands innumerable eye-catching landscapes is sure to be practical, relaxed and enjoyable on a self-drive holiday, where you can revel in your freedom to follow your own itinerary at your own pace, absorbing the magical scenery of this spectacular country.