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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

Wild Atlantic Way, Cork to Connemara

Explore dramatic coastal scenery & welcoming villages on this self-drive holiday touring the Wild Atlantic Way from Cork through Kerry to Connemara.

Imagine the West of Ireland and you think of pretty coastal villages, dramatic seas, brightly-painted shops and bars and a warm welcome.  Now you can enjoy all of this on the captivating  coastal driving route known as Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Wherever you travel, you will encounter moments of magic, moments to treasure and experiences that you will want to  return to, again and again.

Our specially designed self-drive tour takes a leisurely approach to the southern half of the driving route, starting in Cork, famous for its superb seafood before traversing Kerry with its spectacular scenery. Then its on to County Clare and the mysterious landscape of the Burren before reaching Connemara, with its dramatic coastline, beautiful beaches and fascinating social history.

As always, this holiday features our careful selection of hand-picked accommodation in delightful guest houses and hideaway coastal hotels. We’ve done the leg-work and the research so that you can enjoy every moment of your precious holiday time, and explore well off the beaten path.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Apr - Oct

Why not...

add a whale-watching boat trip during your stay in Baltimore?

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Day One – Kinsale

Your first destination in this tailor-made holiday touring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, is the colourful village of Kinsale, on the south-west coast and less than an hour from the city of Cork.  With it’s situation right by the sea, this spot is world-renowned for culinary delights, from the freshest local delicacies to more internationally-inspired menus. We’ll use our local knowledge and connections to point you in the right direction of the current hotspots.

Your hotel in Kinsale

The hustle and bustle of Kinsale is mere steps away, yet the private garden grounds give your accommodation a welcome air of tranquility.  All rooms are very tastefully decorated with dark wood floors and simple white walls to set-off the vivid works of art which provide an air of sophistication.  You’ll receive a warm reception from your hosts who will willingly offer the most-up-to-date advice to help you book the best of the  local eateries.

Day Two – Things to see & do in Kinsale

Time to explore the cobbled streets and quirky shops of this historic and very colourful village. Alternatively, take a trip along the coast, where you’ll find plenty of beaches and welcoming villages.

Day Three – to Baltimore

Your second base, less than two hours further south, is the seaside village of Baltimore with its bustling natural harbour a haven for yachts and ferries to local islands.  This is where the Irish themselves like to holiday, but they don’t mind sharing the secret!  Seeing whales and dolphins in the wild is still one of the greatest thrills in nature, and it’s perfectly possible on a boat trip in the company of an expert marine biologist from here – add an extra night and we will pre-book the whale & dolphin watching trip for you (see pricing details below).

Your hotel in Baltimore

Just on the outskirts of the village, this traditional inn features a bar area crammed with memorabilia of years gone by, leading into a bright and airy restaurant.  Eat sumptuously-fresh seafood as you gaze out to the boats bobbing on the water, or chat over a Murphy’s with the locals.  Rooms are extremely spacious and neatly decorated with splashes of cheery colours.  A feeling of being beside the seaside pervades the place, and the welcome is every bit as friendly as you’d expect.

Day Four – things to see & do in West Cork

Time to explore on your own, perhaps heading further west to the village of Schull, with its colourful craft shops, drive to Mizen Head, visit the imposing Bantry House and estate, or enjoy one the numerous coastal walks in the Baltimore area.

Day Five – to Kerry

Your journey now takes you northwest, with options to explore one or more of the fingers of land at the south of Ireland, including the Bere peninsula, before reaching the famous Ring of Kerry, and your next base.

Your hotel in Kerry

In a fabulous waterside location just off the Ring of Kerry, you’ll find a delightful hidden gem guest house. Accommodation is spread across two buildings, with eclectic decor spanning art deco to the 1950s and 60s. Views across the water are captivating – it’s a great place just to chill with an aperitif fromm the small bar which also serves light meals. Otherwise it’s a short drive to traditional Irish pubs and good restaurants for evening entertainment.

Day Six – things to see and do in Kerry

This is your chance to drive the famous Ring of Kerry, the 120 mile circular drive and one of the country’s most popular tourist trails.  Although busy, there are plenty of options to avoid most of the crowds and still enjoy the open views of the mountains, coast and islands of the area.  Look out for the myriad squiggly signs of the Wild Atlantic Way highlighting spots of interest.

Day Seven – to Clare

Turning north you cross the Shannon by ferry and reach County Clare, where you really experience the pounding might of the Atlantic Ocean.  Your next rather special hotel is right on the coast.

Your Hotel in Clare

Just a stone’s throw from the shingle beach and the Atlantic Ocean, this majestic tower house effortlessly combines contemporary with classic.  Where else can you stay in such splendour, yet be encouraged to help yourself to a beer from the fridge in the country-style kitchen?  With the right timing,  you’ll glimpse chef and his team in full flow preparing superb dishes for dinner.  Relax and enjoy these later in the elegant restaurant with the beautiful backdrop of the sun setting over the sea.  The staff will share the history of the house with you – how it was saved from rack and ruin by a local man, who used to play in the grounds as a child.  The upkeep of this architecturally-intriguing building presents constant challenges – by staying here, you will play your part in contributing to its long-term preservation.

Day Eight – Exploring Clare

With a sheer drop of over 200m into the sea, the Cliffs of Moher are a spectacular sight. Unsurprisingly, the visitor centre is one of the most popular places along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, so we recommend a trip early or late in the day to enjoy them without too many crowds. It’s easier to find a bit of solitude by heading inland to the unusual and fascinating landscape of the Burren – with over a hundred square miles of limestone pavement and network of narrow country lanes. We can arrange a local guide to accompany you if you wish to learn more about the ancient history, legends and flora and fauna of the area. Another option is to take a boat trip to visit the famous Aran Islands.

Day Nine- to County Galway

For the final leg of your tour, pass Galway City and head to the west and the mountains, loughs and coastline of Connemara, where you will once again stay right by the sea, just beyond the traditional village of Clifden. The peninsula of Connemara retains a wild-side, with peat bogs stretching inland to the towering Twelve Bens.  Its’ name derives from “Conmhaicne Mara” (meaning: descendants of Con Mhac, of the sea)and it is a delight to meander along roads right by the dramatic coastline and sandy beaches.

Your Hotel in Connemara

Gems don’t come much more hidden than this one.  As you head through Clifden and out onto a narrow, winding road, the wild countryside and panoramic sea views open up in front of you. Finally you arrive at your guest house, a little haven just a short distance from the shore. Wooden floors, natural fabrics, hand-made furniture and many sea-side trinket add to the homely atmosphere. It is hard to take your eyes away from the glorious views out to the sea, dotted with rocks and islets.  Clodagh is an infectiously enthusiastic hostess, and will point you in the right direction for walks to secret coves, as well as preparing excellent breakfasts and dinners from fresh, local produce.

Day Ten- things to see and do in Connemara

A full day to relax and take in the scenery of Connemara, one of our favourite parts of Ireland.  As your tailor-made Irish holiday nears its end, it might also be a good time to treat yourself to a lasting memory: you’ll find tweed jackets and traditional knits, hand-crafted jewellery and special works by local artists in the shops and galleries in and around Clifden. The town is crammed with traditional pubs and excellent local restauarants too.

Day Eleven – Return Home

You are about two hours from Shannon airport, or four from Dublin. This route could work equally well in reverse, from Connemara to Cork.


Map Cork to Connemara Wild Atlantic Way

This holiday tours round the south and west of Ireland, round the coast of County Cork, then to Kerry, north through Clare and finishes in Connemara, County Galway.


£1095 per person for April & October, £1145 per person for May to September, for 10 nights on a bed & breakfast basis.

Why not add a half day whale-watching boat trip and extra night in Baltimore for £120 per person.

Travel to Ireland

We would be delighted to book your travel to Ireland for this holiday.

The most convenient ferry routes are those from Pembroke or Fishguard to Rosslare, though connections through Dublin are also possible.

There are direct flight connections to Cork from many UK airports including London airports, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Luton, Southampton and Edinburgh. You could also easily base this holiday on return flights to Dublin.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

All Ireland itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

On a nostalgia trip to the west of Ireland

On a nostalgia trip to the west of Ireland

As a child I spent a very memorable holiday in Connemara, in the west of Ireland. Although we had explored many parts of Ireland and Scotland before, ...


Check availability for Wild Atlantic Way, Cork to Connemara

This holiday can be arranged from April to October

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