Take the road trip of a lifetime and discover one of the world’s most dramatic coastlines set against the backdrop of the rugged Atlantic Ocean. Experience Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way! This magnificent Irish coastal route runs the length of the country’s west coast, from Donegal in the North to Cork in the South. In total, the drive is approximately 2 500 km long, filled with no less than 160 discovery points, 26 islands and 150 hidden gems to see. The experience it so 'out of this world', that you'll feel like you're in a whole other galaxy. That may be why the Star Wars franchise decided to use the rugged cliffs and moody skies as a setting for the most recent release, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi...
Donegal, a galaxy not so far away
The best place to start your Wild Atlantic Way road trip is at the beginning, in Donegal. But before you begin your journey, discover the city that inspired George Lucas. With a weather-beaten coast spotted with sea stacks, Blue Flag beaches and offshore islands, no wonder so many scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII were filmed on the Inishowen Peninsula. During the shooting, a Mountain Instructor was employed as a personal safety assistant to the actors during filming. And the climbing company is now offering a ‘Star Wars Movie Tour’ in the form of a walking tour. Not a Star Wars fan? Not to worry, the scenery is enough to convince you! Oh, and if you've already seen the film and ARE a fan, you'll remember those cute little creatures called porgs. Well, turns out we can thank Mother Nature for them as they were created thanks to visual effects based on the real puffins that inhabit Skellig Michael, a island off the coast off County Kerry, Ireland. Want to learn more about the filming of Star Wars in Ireland? Check out this website!
May the force be with you to explore Malin Head
Malin Head is the most northerly point of mainland Ireland and is situated on the Inishowen peninsula. It was the area most used in the filming of the Star Wars movie. It's famous for being home to the region's most attractive sandy beaches and is surrounded by the rugged coastal landscape. Malin Head is also home to some of the largest sand dunes in Europe. The area is known for its history and folklore, as well as being popular for activities like hiking, swimming, fishing, photography and much more. From the famous Five Finger Strand at low tide you can spot the ship wreck of Twilight, which sank in 1889 on its way to Derry. The area is filled with fascinating sights, so make sure you plan to spend at least a day or two here. It is worth travelling to Inishtrahull Island to visit the two hundred year old lighthouse on the promontory. On clear days, it is possible to see all the way across to the Scottish hills from here. And if you want to have a picnic, there's no better spot than on the last headland before Greenland. It is also a good place to start if you want to experience subterranean cavern of Hell’s Hole or the picturesque natural arch, known as Devil’s Bridge.
Take the road less traveled in Letterkenny
The Wild Atlantic Way route starts with the northern most peninsula and the town of Letterkenny in the untouched and virtually unexplored area known as the Northern Headlands. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Letterkenny provides you with the ideal base for day trips in the local area and is the ideal starting point for your great Atlantic adventure. This first section of the route is approximately 530km long, and unravels some of Ireland’s most dramatic nature along the way, including some of the highest cliffs in Europe. Here are some highlights:
Walk the cliffs of Slieve League
On the south west coast of County Donegal you find the spectacular cliffs of Slieve League, Sliabh Liag in local Gaelic. They are said to be the finest of its kind in the whole of Europe. The walk in is well worth the trek as the cliffs reveal their beauty before your eyes (but there is a car park a few miles away from the cliffs). Along the way, you're greeted with splendid views of the Sligo Mountains, Donegal Bay and the dramatic Atlantic Ocean. The highest point, Bunglas, stands at just over 600m, with the ocean raging below. It is no wonder this area is considered to be sacred and has been a place of Christian pilgrimage for thousands of years. In fact, its history delves a lot deeper than this. To learn more, visit the award winning Slieve League Cliffs Centre and find out about the local area and its culture, food and crafts.
It's is possible to experience these amazing cliffs from the sea by taking a boat trip from nearby Teelin Harbour. If you are looking for wilder experiences, you can also swim with dolphins or even go whale watching from here. May and June are particularly good months for this.
Get your photo fix at Fanad Head
For more breath-taking views and some epic photography opportunities, Fanad Head should definitely be on your bucket list of places to see. A quick check online shows you an array of beautiful images from the Fanad peninsula and the lighthouse on the edge of its cliffs. Try playing some background music from the Irish singer, Enya, and this will set the perfect mood to discover the best of Ireland. It is majestic, raw and mysterious. Nothing compares to actually seeing this with your own eyes, taking in the smell from the sea and the panoramic views from your surroundings.
Fanad Head lies between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay and really is an idyllic place. Looking down from the cliffs you'll see Ballymastocker Bay in Portsalon: the beach was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world. It is a haven for exciting activities like sports, golf or hiking. The beautiful lighthouse here makes the perfect photo subject for your holiday album.
Without doubt, there is a lot to see and do in the County Donegal, as well as on the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way. This really is just a taste of what this incredible region has to offer.
Get inspired with the video below, and then book your stay with Radisson Blu!