You can now get your kicks… on the Wild Atlantic Way. The iconic route has ranked alongside America’s Route 66 as one of the world’s ultimate road trips by Lonely Planet.
It is namechecked alongside classic routes like Australia’s Great Ocean Road and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Road in a new book of the 50 best drives in the world.
The travel bible dubbed the rebranded 2,500km route from Kinsale to Derry at the tip of the country as “untamed and utterly divine”.
“Ireland’s west coast is a dramatic procession of deserted beaches and towering cliffs where traditional music and ancient castles abound,” said the new travel book, ‘Epic Drives of the World’.
The route, which has reinvigorated tourism all along Ireland’s coast, is named alongside the planet’s most famous road trips.
Lonely Planet uses the famous Oscar Wilde quote of “savage beauty” to describe the Irish scenery.
“Ireland’s west coast is battered by Atlantic rollers, strewn with jagged cliffs and littered with wide beaches and sandy coves,” says Lonely Planet.
“It’s a place where inky lakes shelter between mountains, sinewy stone walls clamber across hillsides and trees are frequently bent double by the wind. The roads here are narrow and winding, grass often grows along a hump in their middle and a herd of sheep can easily scupper all plans.”
Donegal’s “gloriously deserted beaches” also get a call-out in the description of the country’s most-renowned road trip.
The route has been credited with a tourism boom in the region – and yesterday the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience in Co Clare recorded one million visitors for the fourth year in a row.
The Clare County Council-owned attraction has undergone substantial investment in recent years and it notes that its position as a signature point along the Wild Atlantic Way has contributed to its growing popularity.
“These significant visitor numbers are fantastic for the local tourism sector and the wider West of Ireland economy,” said Katherine Webster.
The other Irish route named among the 50 road trips on the planet is Northern Ireland’s Coastal Causeway Route, now heavily signposted with ‘Game of Thrones’ locations.
“The lonely shores of Northern Ireland might just be the perfect day-tripping antidote to Belfast’s urban core,” noted Lonely Planet.
The chapter entry features a description of a journey along the route from Belfast to the North Coast – and back again. It alludes to the huge tourism boon of ‘Game of Thrones’ with visitors from all over the world trekking to the route to see various locations for the TV smash hit.
“Road signs advertise the Dark Hedges up ahead – one of the many recesses of Ulster now famous as a backdrop for the TV phenomenon ‘Game of Thrones’,” says Lonely Planet.
‘Epic Drives of the World’ also features wilder driving routes from across the world such as a trip across the salt flats of Bolivia.
Each entry includes a first-hand account of exploring the route with advice for planning a short or long driving adventure.
The Lonely Planet tome also has 200 more trip ideas, from coastal roads and desert drives to wine trails and cultural cruises.
The introduction to ‘Epic Drives of the World’ captures the lure of the classic road trip: “No matter who you are – youthful or more mature, solo or with a family in tow – the open road is irresistible to travellers.”