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Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Day 12. Newport to Sligo

Today, we’ll be visiting a place that’s older than the pyramids, before driving along the gorgeous Mayo coastline that leads to Sligo.

Grab your breakfast in Brannen’s and then get on the road!

1. The Céide Fields

ceide fields mayo

Photo by draiochtanois (shutterstock)

Newport to the Céide Fields – 1 hour and 5-minute drive (leave Newport at 9:030, arrive at the Céide Fields for 10:05).

Beneath the boglands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields – the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world. The Céide Fields consist of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs.

The magnificent stone walled fields, which extend over thousands of acres, are a whopping 6,000 years old. 6,000… mad stuff!

Enjoy the drive on the way from Newport and then drop into the Céide Fields visitor centre for a ramble around.

2. Downpatrick Head

dun briste sea stack

Photos by Wirestock Creators (Shutterstock)

Céide Fields to Downpatrick Head – 18-minute drive (spend 1 hour at the Céide Fields, arrive to Downpatrick Head for 11:25).

You’re in for another early-morning treat. This is hands-down one of my favourite places to visit in Mayo.

Jutting out of the ocean and rising roughly 40m above the wild Atlantic waves, Downpatrick Head treats visitors to unparalleled views of the enormous Sea Stack known as Dún Briste.

Dun Briste (and the surrounding cliffs) were formed around 350 million years ago when sea temperatures were higher and the coastline was a greater distance away.

There’s something incredible about stand out near the edge of the cliff (be careful!) at gazing at 350 years’ worth of exposed rock layer. Spend a bit of time having a gander.

3. Enniscrone for lunch and a walk on the beach

Enniscrone village sligo

Photo by walshphotos/

Downpatrick Head to Enniscrone Beach – 48-minute drive (spend 35 minutes at Downpatrick head, arrive to the beach for 12:48)

We’re going to grab a spot of lunch in Gilroy’s Bar in Enniscrone. Get fed and then head to Enniscrone Beach for a stroll to let the food settle.

4. Walking the Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail

Knocknarea Mountain Walk

Photo by Anthony Hall (Shutterstock)

Enniscrone Beach to Knocknarea – 47-minute drive (leave Enniscrone at 14:00, arrive at Knocknarea for 14:47)

We’re going to take the Queen Maeve Trail up Knocknarea Mountain, which should take us around 1 and a half hours to complete.

This mountain dominates the Sligo skyline from many angles, so you should get a good look at from the distance as you approach.

When you leave the car park, follow the path along the bog bridge all the way until you reach the summit. You’ll be treated to panoramic views of Sligo from the top.

5. Fish and Chips by the sea

shells cafe sligo strandhill

Photo via Go Strandhill

Knocknarea to Shell’s Cafe – 11-minute drive (leave Knocknarea at 16:40, arrive at the cafe for 16:51)

You’ll have built up an appetite after the stroll, so we’re heading to Shell’s Café for fish and chips by the sea.

Eat up, grab and coffee (and a cake, if you like) and walk outside to soak up a lungful of sea air.

6. Glencar Waterfall

glencar waterfall

Photo by David Soanes (Shutterstock)

Shell’s Cafe to Glencar Waterfall – 30-minute drive (leave Shell’s at 17:30, arrive at Glencar for 18:00)

If you’re familiar with the work of W.B. Yeats, then you may recall mention of a line in his poem ‘The Stolen Child’ that goes, ‘Where the wandering water gushes From the hills above Glen-Car’.The place he referenced was none other than Glencar Waterfall, stop #6 for today.

This is a beautiful place to spend some time listening to the music of the water as it tumbles into the water from above.

7. The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive

gleniff horseshoe sligo

Photo by Hugh Sweeny via Failte Ireland

Glencar Waterfall to the start of the Gleniff Horseshoe Drive – 35-minute drive (leave Glencar at 17:25, arrive for 18:00)

The final stretch of our day takes us on a lovely little drive that’ll take you through a part of Sligo that has graced many an Instagram feed.

Pop ‘Gleniff Horseshoe Drive’ into your phone or sat nav and start making your way there.

The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive is a roughly six-mile loop of single lane road enveloped by spectacular mountain views.

We’re going to take our time on this drive. Get out of the car at will and bask in the beauty that inspired one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets.

8. Enjoying Benbulben from your Bed

benbulben farmhouse bed and breakfast

Photo via Benbulben Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast

It’s time to check-in to our base for the night. I can’t recommend Benbulben Farmhouse B&B enough!

This place featured in our guide of the best places to stay in Ireland if you’re looking for an out-of-this-world view, and it’s not hard to see why from the photo above!

Check-in and chill for the evening. You’ll be waking up to an incredible view of Benbulben from the comfort of your b&b the following morning.

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Adrian Scullion

Tuesday 29th of November 2022

We are planning for a three week trip using your 18 day guide which has been really useful. We will be travelling in our 7.2m Motorhome. Are there any roads on the route that you think we should avoid. Thanks Adrian and Sheila


Thursday 29th of September 2022

How many miles in total?

Mark Vanstone

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

Great guide Keith - we are planning a 10 day trip in a motorhome with our dog Max, I don;t see anything related to some of the locations as to whether they are dog friendly or not e.g. if a visitor attraction do they let dogs in or if beaches are you allowed to walk your dog on it (or between certain dates only) etc...I understand you may not have a dog but any guidance you can provide would be well received - thanks

Kim Medcalf

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Looks like a great itinerary, thank you. Can you tell me the total average number of km a person would drive on this trip? I am trying to get an idea of what gas would cost. We would rent a small car. Thanks


Saturday 16th of July 2022

Loftus House is closed while it’s being turned into a luxury hotel.

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