It’s been a long few months of walking the loop around the house. At this stage, you probably know the name of every dog within your townland and are itching to escape. With no more radii or county bounds standing between you and, well, anywhere in the country, it’s only right that you should feel overwhelmed by choice. At Roadwatch, we like to think we know a thing or two about a good road-trip. Stop-offs are a must, so if you do get out of your car, keep your distance from other visitors and don’t forget to pack your face covering and hand sanitizer along with your crisp sambos. Whether you’re craving the sea air or reaching for a higher altitude, this list of scenic drives should aid your decision-making and satisfy that wanderlust.
Slea Head, Kerry
Popular amongst drivers, walkers and cyclists alike, the Slea Head Drive loops around the Dingle Peninsula and is sure to seduce you with its incredible coastal views. Forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll find ample signage for the route once you get to Dingle. En route to Slea Head itself, surfers and swimmers can take a dip at Ventry Beach and historians can visit the stone Beehives at the ruins of Dunbeg Fort. The Slea Head Viewing Point provides the best view of the Blasket Islands, and you can even catch a ferry there further along at Dún Chaoin (Dunquin). There are plenty of other historic ruins to be seen as you continue (Gallarus Oratory, how are ya?), and en route back to Dingle you’ll feel puny driving alongside Mount Brandon – Ireland’s second tallest mountain.
The Sally Gap, Wicklow
Usually when we mention The Sally Gap in our traffic bulletins, it’s to tell you to avoid, avoid, avoid; a dusting of snowfall turns the route into an ice rink fairly quickly. In the summertime though, we’re urging the opposite – go, go, go! The Sally Gap is essentially the crossroads of the two main roads running through the Wicklow Mountains. There are plenty of viewing points to stop off at for photos and a hike. Head south along Military Rd (R115) to Glendalough, or venture east to Powerscourt Waterfall. History buffs can take a brief detour by turning off Military Rd near the Dublin bounds for Glencree, where you’ll find Glencree Cemetery – Ireland’s only German war cemetery.
Glendalough, County Wicklow
Sky Road, Galway
Even the name is enticing. Forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, Sky Road trails from the picturesque town of Clifden out into the Kingstown peninsula, before taking you back into the town via the N59. At 16km long, you’ll wish it went on forever as you spin alongside Connemara’s famous stone walls, looking out over the Atlantic at Inisturk, Turbot Island and co. Venture off the beaten track and there’s plenty to explore, with several megalithic tombs just waiting to be found. After you’ve travelled the route and reached the N59, don’t even think about heading home. You’re only a 15-minute drive from Connemara National Park. It’ll be dark before you know it!
The Causeway Coastal Route, Derry/Antrim
You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to enjoy the Causeway Coastal Route. Stretching along the coast from Derry all the way to Belfast, you might need a few days to take it all in; but if it’s a day-trip you’re after, Discover Northern Ireland have broken it down into 4 handy stretches. The hour-long drive between Mussenden Temple and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is particularly jam-packed with sites, taking in Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, Ballintoy Harbour and the Giant’s Causeway itself. With all those stops, watch an hour-long drive turn into several – though you may need to check which attractions are back open to visitors before you go!
The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
The Comeragh Drive, Waterford
The Comeragh Drive is perfect for the explorer who likes to veer off-route. An easy place to start is on the N25, where you’ll find a signposted turn-off for the Comeragh Drive between Dungarvan and Lemybrien. Taking a detour for a trip up to Mahon Falls is essential. Park the car and stroll up to the 80m waterfall, before returning via The Magic Road – where cars mysteriously roll uphill! Back on the Comeragh Drive itself, following the signposts will lead you all the way to Ballymacarbry, where you can follow signs for the Nire Valley Drive for postcard-worthy views.
Boyne Valley Drive, Meath/Louth
Fancy a trip through your 3rd class history book? Dubbed as ‘9000 years of history in one valley’, the Boyne Valley Drive may be different from your coastal cruise, but it’s no less impressive. The route will take you through the towns of Navan, Kells, Trim and Drogheda with a star-studded historical line-up featuring Newgrange, The Hill of Tara, Trim Castle and the Battle of the Boyne in between. A set of wheels and this interactive map are all you need.
Newgrange, County Meath
Most of these routes are enjoyed by walkers and cyclists alike, so make sure to leave them plenty of space if driving by. Before every road-trip, it’s important to carry out these car safety checks as the last thing you want on a road-trip is to break down in the middle of nowhere. If the worst does happen, members of AA Rescue can call on our patrols no matter where they break down, or what time of the day. If you choose to pair your drive with a couple of nights away, AA Travel Insurance also covers staycations of 2 nights or more.