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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/shutterstock.com

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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John Duke

Monday 4th of April 2022

Morning Keith O Hara I have been looking at your 18 days tour of Ireland I am arriving on the 14th April at Rosslare can I start my tour on day 2 I am driving a small camper van can you tell me about camp sites on my around please and do I have to book or just turn up my name is John Duke

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hey John! You'll find campsites in most counties along that trip. The best way to do it is to just give it a Google and then suss out a spot with good reviews (I've never stayed in a campsite in Ireland, so I wouldn't like to lead you astray). In terms of booking. I'd recommend doing so if you're visiting during the busier months of the year, like summer. I hope this helps!

Julie

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

This was a great trip to read through. I understand how tired you are after writing so much - my husband and I are coming to Ireland from the U.S. in May 2022 for 3 weeks, and I've been planning everything myself for many months. Lots of great suggestions for places to visit, things we shouldn't miss, etc. Also, many of the things you suggested are already part of our plans, so it made me feel like I had done a good job! Thanks for all of the great help - we can't wait for the trip to begin!

Jan

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Really digging this blog!! I have the travel blog so bad and Ireland is next on the list - your recommendations are speaking to me! Thanks for taking the time to create all the wonderful road trips / ideas.

Akshay Bansal

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Hi Keith,

I am considering travelling to Ireland this summer via road-trip and AirBnBs. While researching, I found your blog and found it very helpful and resourceful.

I am travelling from New Delhi (India) with my extended family (infants, toddlers, siblings, wife, parents etc.). Assuming this might be our only trip to Ireland together as a family, I am interested in covering Ireland comprehensively within a limitation of 11-13 days.

Is it possible to shorten the suggested 18-day itinerary to the above duration by bypassing some of the locations or sites. I understand this would mean we missing a few locations, but need your help.

Uli Moissidis

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Hi Keith, I am planning our road trip to Ireland in october and I love your Instagram account. I like to use your suggestions for our schedule. On day 11 you suggest to leave Westport and Achill on the same time (16:55) ? So this is a pretty long day ;-) I prefer to stay an extra night on Achill Island. What do you think? Thanks Uli

Keith

Monday 12th of August 2019

Aha! OK, that's clearly a mistake on my part. I'll get those times updated!

I love Achill, personally.

There's nothing bad that can come from a second night spent there.

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