Killary Harbour – Wild Atlantic Way

Killary HarbourKillary Harbour (An Caoláire Rua) forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way and sits comfortably between County Galway and County Mayo. Accessed from Connemara near the N59, the harbour is actually a fjord that separates the two counties. It’s another fascinating point of interest on the Way and well worth a visit.

Killary Harbour is 16km long and is one of three glacial fjords in Ireland. The scenery is of course, stunning. With wide expanses of green hills with mountains as a backdrop, it’s another natural wonder in an island full of them. Yet we never seem to get bored of seeing them as they all have something a little different to offer.

The sky is huge here. While there are mountains in the distance, the region is fairly low. Rolling meadows and low hills fill the parts of the horizon not dominated by mountains in a full 360 degrees. The harbour is deep, tranquil and lovely to behold. It’s a calm place, full of serenity and history and one we would never tire of enjoying.

On the way to Killary Harbour, you can see Croagh Patrick in the distance. It was here that St. Patrick fasted for 40 days and 40 nights so he could do penance and banish snakes from Ireland.

Back to Killary Harbour and the mountain backdrop changes to Mweelrea to the north, Connach’s tallest mountain and Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens to the south. The settlements of Rossroe and Leenaun are nearby and are well worth a visit on your way to or from the harbour.

As well as walking along the fjord, you also have the option to have a guided tour by a local expert or to ride along on a Connemara pony. Either offers a unique opportunity to see the region from a different perspective and to immerse yourself in local culture. Pony riding is popular here and you will see many horses and ponies being ridden while you’re wandering around.

If you have an interest in history, the Green Road runs alongside Killary Harbour that you can walk along. This road formed part of the famine relief program in the 19th century, providing the means to get food inland during those harshest of times. It’s a 9km walk and is worth the time for the scenery alone, even if history isn’t to your taste.

The Killary Harbour part of the Wild Atlantic Way is most definitely Ireland, but could also be in Scandinavia. It’s a green land full of light, quiet and amazing scenery and it’s no wonder it was chosen as a signature point along the tour.

If you’re planning to travel Wild Atlantic Way, has a selection of high quality holiday cottages for you to use along the way. Perfect for your Irish adventure!

Keem Strand – Wild Atlantic Way

Keem StrandSet in County Donegal, Keem Strand is another signature discovery point along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s one of three points that includes Mullaghmore Head and Downpatrick Head in a 625km part of the Way that make up one of the most interesting parts of this west coast route.

The Wild Atlantic Way is a new venture for Ireland and one that’s set to become an iconic route alongside Route 66 and Land’s End to John ‘o Groats. It’s a spectacular tour that can be done in a single trip or broken up into multiples and enjoyed over years.

Either way, has the perfect stopovers for your journey, however you’re doing it!

Keem Strand is set on Achill Island, one of Ireland’s biggest islands and one of its best kept secrets. It’s a secluded area that sits at the head of a valley between the Benmore cliffs and Croaghaun Mountain.

The horseshoe shaped bay contains a blue flag beach that is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. The scenery is dramatic, the setting lovely, the bay peaceful and the entire region is devoid of the noise and clutter of modern life. It’s an ideal escape from the world and well worth a visit.

If you were to imagine your perfect beach location, we think Keem Strand would come close. Lovely golden sand, a calm, quiet bay, clear water, sunshine, a faint breeze and plenty of space to spread out and relax. It’s time away from the world and an opportunity to enjoy nature in all its beauty.

If you want a bit more action, there are water sports opportunities nearby along with surf schools and local amenities.

To get to Keem Strand, you head north to Golden Strand near Slievemore Mountain. There is an old settlement nearby called the Deserted Village which you can explore if you feel like it. If you would like to know more about the village, local archaeologists run guided tours at regular intervals. Either way, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Keem Strand is just one of many stops along the Wild Atlantic Way, yet it’s also one of the most alluring. The idea that somewhere so idyllic could be found within a couple of hours travel from where we live is surprising.

The quality of the landscape, the warm Irish welcome and the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere makes the Wild Atlantic Way a must-see for anyone who has ever wanted to visit Ireland.

If you need somewhere to stay while you’re here, can help. Use the search function on this page to find the perfect holiday cottage for your trip.

Old Head of Kinsale – Wild Atlantic Way

Old Head of KinsaleThe Old Head of Kinsale in County Cork is regarded by many as the official start of the Wild Atlantic Way. However, as you can begin or end your Way experience in either direction, it can also be considered the last point too. It forms the Kinsale to Clonakilty section which stretches for 92km.

Kinsale is a lovely seaside town on the coast in County Cork. It has lots of history in its buildings, Desmond Castle, Charles Fort and of course, having been the ground for the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. It is a fantastic place to begin or end your tour of the Wild Atlantic Way.

The town is friendly, welcoming and full of quaint shops, artisans, pubs and restaurants. There are also numerous fishing charters that run out of the harbour if you fancy trying your luck.

The Old Head of Kinsale is a coastal promontory that edges out into the Celtic Sea. On top sits a lighthouse with the traditional red and white horizontal stripes. It makes for an excellent landmark and is well worth a visit if you can get to it.

The lighthouse was built in the 17th century to one Robert Reading to warn shipping of the rocks. The RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat 11 miles offshore in 1915. It adds an element of gravitas and history to the point which only adds to the character. The sinking indirectly led to the United States entering the war on the side of the Allies.

A golf course has effectively blocked access to the Old Head of Kinsale from the land side, with fencing and a gate. However you can take a boat trip from Kinsale around the Old Head of Kinsale and see it that way. You can also enjoy the cliffs and take in the Old Head from a distance outside the course.

Clonakilty is another lovely seaside town with lovely coloured houses, a bustling centre, plenty of pubs and restaurants. It’s also the birthplace of Michael Collins, the person who was instrumental in making Ireland a republic. That fact is celebrated here almost everywhere.

Other highlights include the Drombeg Stone Circle, Galley Head Lighthouse and Timoleague Abbey. There are of course, lots of things to see and do in Clonakilty before leaving the town and making your way back to Kinsale.

It’s a shame you can’t get up close and personal with the Old Head of Kinsale, but the area it beautiful enough to make up for it. The trip between Kinsale and Clonakilty is a worthy beginning, or end, to the Wild Atlantic Way and we enjoyed every minute of it!

We feature a number of holiday cottages in and around County Cork. Just search from the box on the left to find something special!

Skellig Viewpoint – Wild Atlantic Way

Skellig ViewpointSkellig Viewpoint in County Kerry is an excellent opportunity to take in some of that amazing Atlantic coastline while also viewing the Skellig Islands. Skellig Viewpoint forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way in County Kerry and is rapidly becoming one of the highlights of the route. The islands have always been a local attraction with people coming from all around to watch the birds and to check out the archaeology.

There are three sandstone rocks that make up Skellig Islands but only two are named. Skellig Michael and Small Skellig stand proud against the battering of the Atlantic Ocean and are what draws so many visitors each year. Skellig Michael is the archaeological site, with an ancient monastery on it. Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To support the site, the Skellig Experience Centre was built to tell the story about the islands and the monks that lived upon Michael. It also discusses the seabirds on Small Skellig and the lighthouse nearby too, offering a complete overview of this loveliest of regions.

Small Skellig is for the ornithologists. It plays host to the second largest colony of gannets in the world and the Ring of Kerry is never without a pair of binoculars or two watching what’s going on.

If you’re lucky and the weather is agreeable, boat trips run regularly out to the Skellig Islands from the mainland. It takes around 45 minutes to get there and you can climb the 600 steps from the dock to the monastery if you’re feeling energetic enough!

Your boat will likely also make a circuit of Small Skellig to take a look at the island and the birds on it. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with this Irish landmark and offers some amazing scenery to boot.

County Kerry has a lot to see and do in its own right too. It even has its own “Kerry Way” which is a 214km long path that loops around Killarney. Kerry Way forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way but is a walkable, self-contained section.

The Kerry Way passes through Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Waterville, Sneem and Kenmare, each of which is worth a visit. It takes approximately nine days to complete if you don’t stop too long admiring the view, absorbing Irish culture and sampling the local produce!

The Wild Atlantic Way has been designed to take in some of the very best of Ireland and Skellig Viewpoint is certainly one of them. Add in the Kerry Way and you have a great excuse to stay even longer to enjoy everything Ireland has to offer.

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Downpatrick Head – Wild Atlantic Way

Downpatrick HeadContinuing along the Wild Atlantic Way route having visited Fanad Head, we move on to Downpatrick Head. Another part of an amazing coastline on the northern edge of Ireland.

Located a couple of miles north of Ballycastle village in County Mayo, Downpatrick Head is an impressive area of coastline that includes a lovely coastal walk as well as drive. Downpatrick Head itself is a rugged landscape that includes cliffs, a rock stack and thousands of wild birds.

Highlights includes the ruins of an ancient church, a holy well and a stone cross. All remnants of what was a church of St. Patrick. It is believed that St. Patrick himself founded this church, so plays an important role in local and national religion. You can often see pilgrims wandering around the ruins, walking in the footsteps of a saint.

There is a statue dedicated to St. Patrick in the grounds of the church. It was built in the 1980s to replace an original that had stood for decades before.

From Downpatrick Head itself, when the weather is agreeable, you can see the Staggs of Broadhaven. This is a small collection of islands beyond the solitary stack just off the coast. The big stack is called Dún Briste (broken fort) and stands hundreds of metres tall, holding out alone against the might of the Atlantic Ocean.

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the setting is amazing. The wild sea crashing against the solitary rock stack circled by seabirds all day long. From a geological perspective, you can see the layers and layers of rock from the various ages of the earth. If ever you wanted to see how the earth around you is formed, this is it.

Near Downpatrick Head is Céide Fields, a Stone Age field system and visitor centre. The location shows the old fields, ancient stone walls, settlements and tombs. All have remained in fantastic condition thanks to the peat soil in the area.

While not as old as Dún Briste, it shows how long this green and pleasant land has been home to humans and how we have constantly tried to mould the landscape to our own needs. It’s well worth a visit if you have the time.

Downpatrick Head is an amazing piece of landscape included within the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s dramatic, isolated, ancient and historic. It has something for everyone and plays an essential part of the whole that is the Way.

Remember, has a huge selection of holiday cottages in the north of Ireland. Check them out if you're planning to walk the Way!

Join us next week as we visit Skellig Viewpoint!

Fanad Head – Wild Atlantic Way

Fanad Head LighthouseFanad Head on the Fanad Peninsula is our next stop while we traverse the Wild Atlantic Way. It is located between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay on the north coast of County Donegal in Ireland.

This section of the Way covers around 60km and has some of the most amazing coastal views imaginable. I think we’re going to be saying that a lot during our tour, so please bear with us!

The Fanad Head section begins in Letterkenny and heads north along Lough Swilly. The gradual incline takes in some of the lovely green countryside of County Donegal until you close to the coast and see Ballymastocker Bay. There are three amazing beaches in the bay and if the sun is shining is well worth a sit down to admire.

These beaches in Ballymastocker Bay have apparently been voted some of the most beautiful in the world. While we can’t comment on that claim, we find it easy to believe when the sun is out!

Head north to Fanad Head itself and you see the lighthouse. The Fanad Head lighthouse sits high on the dramatic cliffs looking north into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an impressive sight that again, has apparently been voted the second most beautiful lighthouse in the world after the Lindau Lighthouse in Germany.

Whatever the truth of that claim, the absolute truth is that the lighthouse and the region is breathtaking. If you want to see Fanad Head from a different perspective, there are boat tours run by a charter company from Rathmullan. Well worth a try if you want to see the Head from the sea.

Heading west to the Rosguill Peninsula, you’re faced with some of the most rugged coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way. Follow the road further west and around the coast to Horn Head for a perfect example of nature at work and the awesome power of the sea as waves crash against the coast even on the calmest day. It’s something to be see and photographed extensively!

From here you can see the old signal tower and if it’s clear enough, Tory Island that lies 14km off the coast directly opposite.

The Fanad Head part of the Wild Atlantic Way offers spectacular scenery, amazing views, a glimpse of the raw power of nature and some of the best beaches anywhere in the world. For those reasons alone it’s well worth a visit. has a wide range of holiday accommodation dotted along the Irish coast, so check out our listings for holiday cottages nearby!

Join us next time as we continue from Fanad Head to Downpatrick Head along the Wild Atlantic Way!

Malin Head – Wild Atlantic Way

Malin Head - Wild Atlantic WayThe first stop on our tour of the Wild Atlantic Way is to Malin Head. Located on the Inishowen Peninsula, it’s Ireland’s most northerly point and the exposure creates some exceptional views.

Malin Head in County Donegal has one of the most dramatic coastlines of anywhere. It’s famous for the coastal landscape as well as lovely golden beaches and the Way takes in some of them from the outset.

Malin Head is the headland that features Banba’s Crown, the actual most northerly point. Banba was a mythical Queen of Ireland and features in local folklore. The Crown itself features a weather station, part of the BBC’s Shipping Forecast network.

The Crown also features The Tower. The Tower is a now abandoned building built in 1805 for the Admiralty and was later used as a signal station to communicate between Europe and the USA. It was one of the most important data links between the two continents for many years until undersea cable was laid to provide telephone connections.

This is a great spot for spending time, having a picnic, enjoying the view, taking pictures of doing whatever it is you like to do. It’s the most northerly point in Ireland, next stop north is Greenland!

Just north of Malin Head is Inistrahull Island featuring a working lighthouse that still illuminates the night sky every 30 seconds. The lighthouse is over 200 years old and is one of the last surviving working houses anywhere in the UK.

East of Malin Head is Ballyhillion beach. Ballyhillion beach is a sequence of raised beaches, a legacy of when County Donegal was compressed under a glacier during the last ice age.

Travel along the beach across some of the largest sand dunes in Europe to Five Finger Strand from Knockamany Bens and see the wreck of the Twilight at low tide. It sank on its way to Derry in 1889 and is a focal point for photographers and sightseers alike.

This first step on the Wild Atlantic Way sets the scene nicely. There is all the dramatic coastline you can handle, there are historic buildings, lovely beaches, nice places to spend time and lots to see and hear. It’s an ideal segue into seeing more of Ireland and the best way to start a tour.

If you’re planning to travel the Wild Atlantic Way or visit Malin Head, have some quality accommodation within easy reach. Check them out!

Wild Atlantic Way

Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a dramatic 1500 mile coastal route on the west coast of Ireland. It stretches from County Donegal to Kinsale, County Cork and is one of the most spectacular routes anywhere in the world. It takes in the Atlantic coastline, the Irish countryside and more spectacular scenery than you can shake your camera at.

The Wild Atlantic Way includes 15 signature points. They are:

  • Malin Head
  • Fanad Head
  • Downpatrick Head
  • Skellig Viewpoint
  • Old Head of Kinsale
  • Keem Strand
  • Killary Harbour
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Loop Head
  • Mullaghmore Head
  • Radharc na mBlascaoidí – Blaskets View
  • Sliabh Liag – Slieve League
  • Sliabh Liag
  • Derrigimlagh
  • Dursey Island
  • Mizen Head

Each offers some fantastic vistas of either the Atlantic Ocean or the lovely Irish countryside. The road between them is in excellent condition and is very well signposted. A lot of effort has gone into making the Wild Atlantic Way a proper tourist destination and it shows.

Following the way, you traverse seven Irish counties, hundreds of towns and villages, some unexpected sights, heritage sights and get to experience more of that famous Irish hospitality than you will anywhere else.

Driving the Way is definitely the way to go. There isn’t a pothole in sight, the roads twist and turn, include long straights, ascents and descents and provide a driving experience to be adored. The scenery isn’t bad either!

The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest established coastal road in the world and despite it being 1500 miles long, will seem like it’s over in a flash. The Way has fifteen distinct highlights which we will mentioned in each of the following fifteen posts.

However, including the hotels, rest stops, restaurants, scenic areas and markets, there are as many places to see as there are miles to drive.

Of course, you don’t have to drive it. There’s no rush here. There’s no urge to complete. There’s just a relaxed way of life that is content to experience life as it happens. You could cycle, bus or walk it if you preferred.

Given the sheer size of the Wild Atlantic Way, we would suggest planning your route carefully, including some of our holiday cottages along the route. Do yourself a favour though, don’t rush. Don’t try and pack the entire journey into a week. Do it the Irish way. Take your time, see the sights, experience the life and get to your destination when you’re good and ready!

For the next fifteen posts we will be highlighting a signature destination along the Wild Atlantic Way. Join us next time for the first instalment, a visit to Malin Head!

Top UK attractions according to visitor reviews part 2

In the second part of our list of the top UK attractions, we continue the good work we began in part one. This list has been compiled from the top attractions according to users of Trip Advisor.

The list is designed to give you an idea of things to do and places to see while enjoying one of our many top quality holiday cottages. Located throughout the UK, our 15,000 holiday rentals offer a bit of luxury, a holiday escape or a place from which to explore.

We have already discussed The Royal Yacht Britannia, Houses of Parliament, The Bomber Command Memorial, The Tower of London and Durham Cathedral. So let’s continue our list!

1.  Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle in Berkshire is a short distance west of London and is one of the oldest working castles in the world. Home to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family, the castle is one of the best preserved of all our historic buildings.

Much of the castle is off limits, but tours take you round as much as it’s possible to see. If you see the royal standard flying, you know the Queen is home while you’re there!

2.  Big Ben

Back to London for the next landmark in our list. Big Ben in the Elizabeth Tower in the Palace of Westminster is something every visitor to the capital should see and hear.

While you can’t do much but look at it from the outside, it forms such a part of our national identity that you simply must see if for yourself at least once.

3.  Cragside House and Gardens

Cragside House and Gardens in Morpeth, Northumberland is a National Trust site and an amazing place to visit. Originally home to Lord Armstrong, a famous landscaper and inventor, the house was the first place in the world to use hydroelectricity.

It also has some of the most beautiful grounds of anywhere in the UK. We also have lots of quality holiday cottages in Northumberland too.

4.  Liverpool Central Library

Liverpool Central Library is a surprising hit with Trip Advisor users. Ranked 9th in the top 10 list of places to see in the UK, the library is certainly impressive. Some of the rooms are curious shapes, the newly restored Picton library is amazing and the sheer number of books is simply staggering.

If you’re into history or literature, the Liverpool Central Library is definitely somewhere you need to visit.

5.  Edinburgh Castle

Last and certainly not least is Edinburgh Castle. Ranked tenth in the list, this castle overlooking the city is as impressive to look at as it is to tour round. It’s full of history, intrigue and marvellous things to see. The guided tours are well worth it if you want to get the most out of your trip.

The Royal Mile leading up to the castle is well worth a visit too!

So that’s our top ten UK attractions as voted for by Trip Advisor users. Each is fantastic in its own right and well worth a day or a few hours of your time. Let us know how you get on if you try them!

Top UK attractions according to visitor reviews part 1

We may be a small island on the northern edge of Europe, but we do have a lot to offer. It’s an island full of character, history, quirkiness and culture which is why so many people visit here.

Here at, we have over 15,000 holiday cottages spread across the entire United Kingdom. From County Down to Cornwall, the Shetland Islands to Shepherds Bush and everywhere in-between.

If you’re considering staying in one of our fine holiday rentals, this two part blog series on top UK attractions is for you. Wherever you are staying in the UK, there is always something to do as this list proves.

What follows is the top ten attractions according to user reviews from Trip Advisor.

1.   The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed in Edinburgh and is ranked the top visitor attraction in the UK. It’s a fantastic piece of boatbuilding, history and state extravagance. It’s also the former floating home of the Queen and has travelled over a million miles in her service.

The Royal Yacht Britannia is a living museum and a fantastic place to visit. The city of Edinburgh isn’t bad either!

2.   Houses of Parliament

We may not always like the decisions made there but the Houses of Parliament are a significant part of Britain’s identity. The Palace of Westminster as it’s correctly called is a fantastic piece of architecture and is well worth a visit if you’re in the capital.

It’s also full of history and holds regular guided tours during the week, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.

3.   Bomber Command Memorial

The Bomber Command Memorial is a relatively new attraction but has made a real impact since opening. Located in central London by the Thames, this new memorial commemorates the thousands of airmen who lost their lives during World War 2.

The memorial itself is made from Portland stone and contains a lovely statue of airmen in pose. Well worth a visit!

4.   The Tower of London

The Tower of London is another fantastic British landmark with lots of history, over 1000 years of it. The building itself is amazing, the Brown Jewels are lovely and the living history throughout gives a real sense of the depth and importance of what has gone on here since its founding.

The Yeoman Warder tours are a real highlight and full of interesting stories and anecdotes making them a must-see during your visit.

5.   Durham Cathedral

Heading out of the capital, we go north to Durham Cathedral. Even those not of a religious persuasion will enjoy the architecture and history of this great building. This World Heritage site is sited next to Durham Castle which is also worth the trip.

The cathedral has an amazing library, lots of special events and of course is a place of worship. There really is something here for everyone!

Those are the first five of our top UK attractions. Wherever you are in the country, whichever of our holiday cottages you’re staying in, there’s bound to be plenty of things to do nearby. These are just a few.

Join us next time for the remaining five. What do you think they will be?