Ireland is a country that has always held my heart. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Ireland thanks to a boyfriend whose family was Irish, visiting each year for weddings and family events, I quickly fell in love with this beautiful country. I'm not sure what it was that charmed me so much – the people, the culture, or the endless rolling countryside and rugged cliffs that drop down to the ocean. Perhaps it was the beautiful wedding we went to at Waterford Castle and danced all night at, maybe it was the pubs we walked into that were filled with live music and laughter, or perhaps it was the days we spent walking on beautiful southern beaches. All I know is that Ireland charmed me long ago and has forever stayed close to my heart. Read my post on Seven Things I Love About Ireland. Since travelling, I have so many Irish friends that I have met all over the globe, and each one has always welcomed me into their lives with open arms. Now, it's been almost five years since I was last over there and it seems far too long for someone who used to visit twice a year! Now I dream of returning and road tripping the country.
After spending so much time in Australia on the road, I've really discovered the magic of a road trip and the wonder of waking up somewhere new each day. Having the independence to explore at your own pace and to find hidden treasures along the way that you never could have dreamed existed. It's a freedom unlike any other and one that every traveller should experience at least once in their life. For those who don't have the time to dedicate to a huge Australian road trip, why not start smaller and explore a country like Ireland that lies right on your doorstep? Not only is it just an hour's flight from London airports but the actual island is small enough to enjoy in a matter of days whether you try and cover as much as possible, or just focus on the things that drive you to explore.
A new e-book created by Chill Insurance provides the perfect guide to planning your trip, whether you're interested in history, art, music, food or family fun. The guide offers advice on what sights you don't want to miss out on when exploring, which could help you plan the perfect road trip. History buffs will want to ensure they make a stop at Dublin Castle, the Rock of Cashel and, of course, Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. While arty types might prefer to spend time in Dublin where they'll find the National Gallery of Ireland, the Sphere Within A Sphere sculpture, and just a few hours drive away, the Limerick City Gallery of Art. Family trips can centre around attractions like Dublin Zoo, or head outside and island hop around the beautiful Aran Islands before heading into the darkness of Doolin Cave. There are no end of ways to see the real Ireland, one that will draw you back to visit again and again as it did with me. I did a bit of research to discover some of the best road trip routes to really take in some of Ireland's most beautiful spots and picked out four of the road trips I would absolutely love to do.
Choose your perfect road trip route:
The Wild Atlantic Way – 590 miles – 5 days
For Star Wars lovers, this could be the perfect route for you, taking in the rugged cliffs and moody skies that provided the stunning backdrop for the story of the battle against the Dark Side. Road trippers will travel from from the Southern Peninsulas of Cork and Kerry, past the cliffs of Clare, to Donegal's Northern Headlands taking in otherworldly landscapes along the way. Now you too can follow in the steps of the Jedi taking in magnificent views of the Atlantic.
- Star Wars
- Wild Atlantic Way
- Dingle Peninsula
- Skellig Michael
- Malin Head
- Mizen Head
The Causeway Coastal Route – 154 miles – 4 days
The true legend of Irish road trips - this stunning route takes in some of the most well-known sights between Belfast and Derry-Londonderry. This is one trip to take your time on with the whole Atlantic coast dotted with sandy beaches, fishing villages, gorse-covered valleys and beautiful clifftop paths. With cute little villages and plenty of pubs along the way, it's the perfect place to pick a few gems to explore each day at your own pace. Give yourself the time to get out of the car and really take in this epic landscape, and to enjoy the sights and sounds of this legendary land.
Discover Ireland's Ancient East – 252 miles – 5 days
Flying into Dublin and after a taste of Ireland's unspoilt shores? Imagine untouched beaches, stunning coastline and delicious seafood as you make your way along the east coast down towards Cork. Take a step back in time to one of the most ill-fated voyages to depart these shores by learning about the Titanic, spend your days walking on the endless beaches and be sure to work up an appetite before visiting villages famous for the freshest seafood straight off the boats.
- Titanic Experience Cobh
- Ballycotton, County Cork
- Tramore Beach
- Kilmore Quay
- Wexford's Ballinesker and Curracloe beaches
- Wicklow Gaol
Game of Thrones Territory – 330 miles – 3 days
Looking for inspiration for your trip? Well look no further than your favourite TV show and spend a few days exploring Northern Ireland, home to more Seven Kingdom locations than anywhere else in the world. If you're obsessed with Game of Thrones, how better to peel yourself away from the screen than to see the place that inspired some of the most beautiful scenes? Stretching across 330 miles and taking three days, the trip takes in sights including the real-world Westerns, the lush Riverlands which lie side-by-side with the Iron Islands, the Dothraki Sea and Winterfell.
- Tollymore Forest Park
- Quentin Castle & Bay
- Glenariff Forest Park
- Cushendun Caves
- Binevenagh Mountain
These are just four routes that I would love to road trip, but it doesn't stop there. Depending on what most inspires you to travel – movies, whiskey, walking, food, history – there really is a different trip for everyone. For such a small place, Ireland is a very diverse destination and visitors have the luxury of being able to design a trip that will ignite their passions and their love for the country. You can find more inspiration for planning your perfect road trip here.
What's the best road trip you've done? Have you been to Ireland - what was your favourite place? Can you recommend any places to visit?
- First image: Giuseppe Milo