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

Day 2: Wexford and Waterford

Day 2 is going to take us through Wexford, with stop-offs at Curracloe beach, Hook Head Lighthouse and Loftus Hall before continuing on to Waterford.

It’s a busy aul day but you’ll be seeing plenty over the course of your spin. As is the case with all of these road trips, you chop and change wherever you fancy!

1. Ballinesker Beach / Curracloe Strand

curracloe beach wexford ireland
Photo via Failte Ireland

The drive from the Glendalough Hotel to Curracloe Beach will take 1 hour and 25-minutes. Aim to leave the hotel at 9 and arrive at the beach for 10:25.

If you’ve ever watched the movie Saving Private Ryan, then you may recognise our first stop of the day.

The D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan was filmed at Ballinesker Beach / Curracloe Strand back in 1997 due to its similarity to Omaha Beach in Normandy.

I walked this beach back in July – it’s well worth taking an hour or so to stroll along the sandy shores before taking a detour through the forest to the right of the beach for a ramble.

2. Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey Wexford
Photo by Brian Morrison

The spin from Curracloe to Tintern Abbey should take around 45 minutes in the car. Aim to spend an hour at Curracloe and arrive to Tintern at 12:20.

You’ll find Tintern Abbey on the west shore of Bannow Bay in Wexford. Once one of the most powerful Cistercian foundations in the South East, the Abbey is now a big (and incredibly well maintained) crumbly ruin.

Although the Abbey is the big attraction for visitors, the majority of the people that I chat to that have visited mention the walled garden as being the highlight of the trip. Check out both for a double-whammey!

If you fancy taking a guided tour and learning about the history, it’ll cost you €5 (Adult price) and lasts 45 minutes.

Top tip: if you nip into the coffee shop, grab a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream! They’ll make your mouth happy!

3. Hook Lighthouse

hook head lighthouse
Photo by Neville Murphy via Failte Ireland

Thankfully, the drive from Tintern Abbey to Hook Lighthouse will only take 25-minutes drive. Aim to spend an hour at Tintern and arrive at Hook at 13:45.

Once voted the number one lighthouse in the world, Hook Lighthouse has been marking the entrance to Wexford Harbour for at least 800 years.

One of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world, the present structure dates back 800 years to the medieval tower of Hook.

Grab a cup of coffee in the café after your long drive before climbing the 115 steps to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the mighty view of the Wexford coastline.

4. Loftus Hall

loftus hall old
Photo via Loftus Hall

Next up is Hook Lighthouse. To get from Hook to Loftus Hall will take 7-minutes in the car (spend an hour at Hook Lighthouse and arrive at Loftus Hall at 13:55).

You’ll find the towering structure known as Loftus Hall on the wild and windy Hook Peninsula in County Wexford.

It’s a large, old mansion house that was built in the mid-1300’s during the time of the black death by the Redmond family. According to legend, the mansion is haunted by both the devil and by the ghost of a young woman.

If you fancy a bit of a scare, you can take a guided interactive tour of the ground floor of Loftus Hall (lasts around 45 mins).

5. Tramore for Foooood

walking along tramore beach
Photo by Luke Myers

We’re off to Tramore, next. The drive from Loftus will take just over an hour (aim to spend an hour at Loftus Hall and arrive at Tramore for 16:00).

Head for the Vee Bistro in Tramore and fuel up. We’ve a bit of driving left to get through today, so pour the coffee into you, also.

6. Kicking off the Copper Coast with Dunhill Castle

Dunhill Castle from afar
Photo by Luke Myers

The drive from Tramore to Dunmill Castle shouldn’t take any longer than 15 minutes (spend an hour eating and arrive at the castle for 17:15).

If you’re not familiar with the Copper Coast, it gets its name from the 19th Century copper mines that lie at its heart.

The area is made up of 25 kilometres of magnificent coastline that’s just itching to be explored. Our first stop on the Copper Coast is a short spin from Tramore – Dunhill Castle.

This castle was built in the early 1200s by a crowd called ‘The la Poer family’, who became infamous in the 14th century after they launched a load of attacks on Waterford City.

Drop by the castle and have a little ramble around.

7. Kilmurrin Beach

Next up is Kilmurrin Beach (10 minutes from Dunhill Castle). Spend 20 minutes at the castle and arrive at the beach for around 17:45.

The tiny little beach of Kilmurrin is an often overlooked stop-off point, but perfect for anyone looking to stretch the legs and gulp down some fresh sea air.

If weather permits, plonk yourself down on the sand and enjoy the view of the horseshoe-shaped cove, with rugged cliffs rising beautifully on either side.

8. Bunmahon Beach

Bunmahon beach waterford
Photo by Copper Coast Geopark via Failte Ireland

Our last stop of the day, Bunmahon Beach, is a handy 5-minute drive from our previous stop and it’s the last stop before heading to our accommodation for the night.

Bunmahon Beach is a beautiful spot that stretches for around 5km, and is backed by sand dunes with tall cliffs at each end.

You’ll probably be all beached out at this stage, but this place is definitely worth stopping by.

9. Bed for the night

Cycling past the Kilmacthomas Viaduct
Photo by Luke myers

I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Faha Lodge tonight. It’s a handy 13-minute drive from Bunmahon Beach and the reviews are brilliant.

If you fancy a bit to eat, take the short 5-minute out as far as Kilmacthomas and grab something to make your belly happy.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I have been using your guide for the past few months to plan my Ireland trip set for April 2019. I figured it was about time I dropped a comment!! 🙂 Your guide has helped me tremendously as it seems to encompass everything we are looking to find in Ireland…. raw natural beauty, unique experiences, good coffee, and good beer! Can’t thank you enough. I hope to comment again once we return!

    • Ah, thank you. I’m glad. Getting comments like this make it worth it.

      I hope you’re trip goes well.

      Cheers,

      Keith

  2. This is seriously the best travel guide ever. I was getting stressed because I’ll be solo traveling all of March and haven’t planned much (by design) and this gives the perfect outline of exactly the things I want to do and see. So thank you for the enormous amount of time this must have taken. So much appreciated.

    • Haha! Cheers dude.

      Glad you found it useful. This took roughly 3 weeks of research and writing… and rewriting.

      I hope the trip goes well.

      Keith

  3. We’re traveling to Ireland in November, 2019 and thank you very much for your outline and information. Question: On maps, it shows Northern Ireland almost like another country. Do you need anything to pass from Ireland to Northern Ireland and back, or is it all in the same? Seems trivial, but it could make a big difference if we plan to do things in Northern Ireland and then we could possibly not have the proper travel documents. Also, do you know if your passport is all you need or if you need a travel visa? Thanks for your time. Have a great day!. WandanTexas

    • Hi Wanda,

      You’re welcome.

      Northern Ireland is technically part of the UK, so it is regarded as a different country.

      Currently, there is no form of ‘hard’ border, but there’s been a lot of talk about the potential of one with Brexit looming.

      If you’re driving a rental car, this is where things can get tricky. I had one from Europa car recently and was told I’d be automatically charged (they have GPS devices within the rental) whenever my car passed into Northern Ireland – the max total charge was 90 euro, I believe.

      If you’re renting a car, be sure to check this in advance.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith

  4. Hi,
    This is a great guide, but if you had a few extra days…
    Three Castle Head is also stunning. You are close enough to it when you are heading for brow head. Well worth it!
    Lough Hyne in Skibbereen is also beautiful, lovely forest walk and salt water lake to swim in. Night time kayaking with the bioluminescent water a must!
    Enjoy,
    Joanne

    • Thanks for the recommendations Joanne.

      Love Lough Hyne in particular. Did the forest climb with my dad last summer on a hot day in July – great spot!

  5. Question for Keith and others. We have a wonderful opportunity to spend a month in Ireland and in previous trips we’ve enjoyed many of the same activities you do…hiking, enjoying the featured sights and geography in general, informal dining, great pubs, etc. We have never been north of Westport, county Mayo. Would it be worth it to spend a week in the Sligo / Donegal region? If yes, we would rent a house for the week. Is there a town that would be central to this region that you could recommend as a home base? We would be there in late August/early Sept 2020.
    Thanks in advance for your response (or anyone else who could add their thoughts)

    • Hi Bill.

      Abbbbbbbbbbbsolutely spend a week in Sligo and Donegal.

      There’s a tonne of things to do in both, regardless of whether you decide to do something active or just chill.

      Personally, I’d spend half in Sligo and half in Donegal.

      Here’s a guide to 48 hours in Sligo that should help, along with a 3-day guide to the best things to do in Donegal.

      In terms of where to stay – I love Strandhill and Rosses Point. For Donegal, it’s hard to beat Ardara.

      I hope this helps!

      Keith

  6. 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

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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