You might find you have some spare time over the Christmas holidays or early January. Sometimes people forget that even in the winter, there are some unforgettable experiences just waiting to be discovered. It is Ireland after all so you could get a beautiful sunny day for a road trip in January! We have teamed up with our friends in Europcar to come up with a list of our Top Winter Road Trips in Ireland for 2017. You guys might also have some road trips or places to add to the list so be sure to leave a comment below and share your favourite winter road trip with us.
Waterford is full of beautiful places to go on road trips and adventures. The Copper Coast, as many of you know, is one of our favourites road trips here at OnTheQT. What I would highly recommend is to drive along the Copper Coast and onto a little seaside town called Ardmore. The Copper Coast is an outdoor museum of geological records; it stretches along the coast from Kilfarassy Beach, near Fenor in the east to Ballyvoile Beach near Stradbally to the west. Enjoy the drive along the Copper Coast but be sure to make a stop at Ardmore.
While in Ardmore, get some fresh air on the Ardmore Cliff Walk. The walk takes you on a route around Ardmore Head and Ram’s Head, passing the Samson wreck and Father O’Donnell’s Well. The worn foot path keeps your attention throughout with unbelievable sea views, wildlife and friendly faces walking past. We did this walk recently and a local told us that at Father O’Donnell’s well, if you walk around 3 times backwards and sit on the seat in the middle, you can then make a wish!! We dont know how true this story is but we never let a wishing opportunity pass us by! Another historic feature on the walk is the shipwreck. A crane ship, called The Samson, was wrecked on Ram Head during a December storm in 1987 as it was being towed from Liverpool to Malta. The wreck is still there and is a very popular diving spot nowadays. As you walk the cliff walk, you will come across the shipwreck half way through the walk. The Cliff Walk is known for its spectacular scenery, wildlife and the OnTheQT team definitely agrees. This breath taking coastal walk, with the blue sky, sunshine(hopefully), fresh winds, historic features and amazing wildlife is a great way to spend a day. Afterwards, I would highly recommend dinner in the White Horse restaurant on the main street(and order the banoffee pie as it is EXTREMELY nice there). You will have earned it after your walk and drive.
Clonakilty is always a great spot to head towards for a road trip. A quirky town with beautiful gems surrounding it waiting for you to explore. Recently, we took a drive towards Inchydoney from Clonakilty and we couldn’t believe the beauty that surrounded us. It was a cold, crisp afternoon and the sun was glistening on the water as we drove past. Of course, when we got there we just had to go explore!
With crystal clear waters, fascinating sand dunes, and glistening rock pools, the Inchydoney beach is a must to explore during your visit. Nothing beats a stroll along the soft sand in Inchydoney especially when you are all muffled up in your hat and scarf and the fresh breeze is blowing in your face. A hot chocolate always tastes extra nice after a walk like this and you can pop into the Inchydoney Hotel for a little treat by the fire afterwards.
Inchydoney is one of my favourite locations to head for a surf so if you want to stretch those legs and are feeling a little adventurous, why not hit the waves.
GIANT’S CAUSEWAY COASTAL ROUTE
I have actually been on more road trips in Northern Ireland in the winter then the summer and I would highly recommend it. The Giant’s Causeway Coastal Route is definately one for your bucket list. Stretching from Belfast to Derry~Londonderry, it takes in some of the most incredible spots in Ireland. Around every corner you see even more beauty and gems steeped in history. All you can see for miles is striking blue coastal views and the rugged landscape which makes it a perfect drive. A cold crisp day with bright blue skies… what more could you ask for?!
We came across two places steeped in history during our trip that we got out of the car to explore a little more. The first stop was Kinbane castle which lies just outside Ballycastle. We went to explore the remains of the castle, while also going to the peak to catch a glimpse of the scenic view from the highest point. The stone castle was built in about 1544 by Colla McDonnell. All the remains now is a large gate tower and two flanking walls. The next spot was Torr Head. This walk/hike takes about 15-20 minutes but it is most definitely worth it for the views all around. From the top you can easily see Scotland which is only 16 miles away.
With less daylight hours in the winter months, you might be looking for a road trip or adventure that isn’t going to take too long. I always think Killarney is a great spot with spectacular short drives surrounding it. Killarney is a place where no matter what road you take, you will end up somewhere beautiful. Take a drive out of the town itself towards Muckross Park and beyond. The views that surround you will take your breath away. Take a stroll around the stunning lakes and national park and take in the nature and beauty all around. The National Park is the first of it kind in Ireland. Now stretching over 100km through diverse ecology and mountain ranges, the park is extra special due to having the only native herd of red deer in Ireland, and the most extensive covering of native forest in the country!
Another spot I would highly urge you to drive towards is Ross Castle. I was there for the first time this year and it was spectacular. I would suggest bringing a hot chocolate or a little picnic with you and enjoy it overlooking the spectacular views. I think this is my new favourite spot in Killarney full of history and wildlife(I actually saw a red deer when I paid it a visit but it was 7am).
I would also recommend driving out towards the Gap of Dunloe which lies just outside Killarney. You dont need to do the full drive, even the first 10 minutes will take your breath away. The Gap of Dunloe is a beauty gem that just takes your breath away. The Gap of Dunloe is the perfect spot for a walk with picturesque views throughout. It is also a popular route to cycle and I honestly couldn’t think of a nicer route. Complete Perfection.
I would highly recommend a drive into Killarney town itself to soak up the festive atmosphere. I know it’s winter but be sure to try Murphy’s Ice Cream while you walk through the town… you just can’t go to Killarney or Dingle without trying it!!
There is a beautiful drive around Lough Corrib which lies just outside of Galway city. It takes approximately 2 hours and is a fantastic scenic drive. The route starts and ends in Galway and provides a picturesque circular drive along the short of Lough Corrib. Throughout the drive you can see the castles, ruins, scenery and you might even meet a some sheep along the way on the road! As you move along the route the landscape changes to make way for the mountains. A drive that will give you variation throughout.
We hope you enjoyed some of our top places for a road trip over the winter months and festive season. There are so many beautiful places in Ireland, its so hard to just pick 5 so if you have any gems yourself just leave a comment below and we would love to hear about them. We are always looking for new places to explore.