Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way by Motorcycle - Part 1: Introduction

The west coast of Ireland attracts more and more individual travellers every year - and rightly so: the landscapes there are simply gorgeous, the cultural sites and small towns are extremely inviting and many vacationers still report years later about the pleasant hospitality they experienced in Ireland.

It is all the more surprising that many motorcyclists have never heard of the Wild Atlantic Way!
And many motorcycle travellers have not even put Ireland on their wish list for a motorcycle trip yet.

Achill Island, Wild Atlantic Way Achill Island, Wild Atlantic Way

This is really a pity, because a trip along the Wild Atlantic Way is surely one of the most beautiful travel experiences you can have as a motorcyclist in Europe.

In the following series of articles, I would like to introduce you to the wild west coast of Ireland. This first article gives you some general information about the Wild Atlantic Way and in the following articles I will show you some of the most beautiful coasts of the Wild Atlantic Way from the point of view of a motorcyclist in words and pictures. 

I hope to inspire you for this beautiful and still too unknown place, the emarald isle of Ireland!

Coast of Northern Donegal, Wild Atlantic Way Coast of Northern Donegal, Wild Atlantic Way

General Information about the Wild Atlantic Way:

The Wild Atlantic Way or WAW describes a tourist route along the west coast of Ireland. With a length of about 2500 kilometres, the WAW is the longest continuous coastal road in the world. It begins at Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula in the north of Ireland and ends at Kinsale in the south of Ireland.

WAW sign in southwards direction WAW sign in southwards direction

The route of the Wild Atlantic Way is marked by special signage, which also indicates the directions of north or south. There are over 180 Discovery Points along the WAW, which point out particularly beautiful photo motifs and provide information about these places on boards. Among them are 15 Signature Points, which are specially designated because of their scenic uniqueness.

Map of Wild Atlantic Way and Signature Points Map of Wild Atlantic Way and Signature Points

The 15 Signature Points of the Wild Atlantic Way:

1. Malin Head
2. Fanad Head
3. Slieve League
4. Mullaghmore Head
5. Downpatrick Head
6. Keem bay
7. Killary Harbour (Killary Fjord)
8. Derrigimlagh
9. Cliffs of Moher
10. Loop Head
11. Blasket Islands
12. Skellig Islands
13. Dursey Island
14. Mizen Head
15. Old Head of Kinsale

Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic Way Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic Way

What you can expect from a motorcycle tour along the Wild Atlantic Way:

Rough, windswept coasts, rocky cliffs hundreds of meters high, where the wild Atlantic breaks foaming. And then there are quiet bays and white sandy beaches with azure blue water that invite you to linger.

You will drive through evergreen hills dotted with sheep, past medieval castles and monasteries and feel the magic of the Druids in the thousands of years old Celtic Ringforts and Dolmens.

And when you take up your evening quarters in one of the many nice little towns along the Wild Atlantic Way, you will enjoy the pleasant, uncomplicated hospitality of the Irish, their relaxed cheerfulness and sociability.

The hearty meal recharges your inner battery and with music and a good pint of Guinness, you let the many impressions of the day pass you by again, before you sink into the plush pillows of your B&B room and look forward to your next driving day.

Kinsale, WAW Kinsale, WAW

The best time to travel by motorcycle in Ireland:

Statistically, May and June are the driest months in Ireland. The warmest season in Ireland is from mid-June to end of July. The motorcycle season in Ireland for most Irish people is in the warm months from May to September.

April and October can also be very nice months for motorcycle touring in Ireland, but can also have cool and wet weather. During these months it is a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast and then book at short notice.

Many Irish families spend their summer vacations on the coasts of Ireland. In this period, from the end of June to the end of August, you can expect the most tourists at the Wild Atlantic Way. However, the tourist crowds in Ireland are much smaller than, for example, on the Mediterranean, so that only in some very popular places by the sea it becomes significantly crowded.

Sherkin Island, Wild Atlantic Way Sherkin Island, Wild Atlantic Way

The best motorcycle clothing for Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way

In spring and autumn you can expect temperatures of about 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) in Ireland. In summer it is more like 18-25 degrees Celsius (65-77 degrees Fahrenheit) . There are sometimes higher or lower temperatures, but these are good guidelines from climate statistics and a lot of personal experience.

In winter it can rain a lot and you can get stormy winds. In the warmer months from mid-May to mid-September, permanent rain is rather the exception. The weather on the west coast is then often changeable with several intervals of sun, clouds and short showers in one day. Of course, you can also have a lot of sun or rain more often, it's really hard to predict.

A good all-season motorcycle suit with a removable thermal lining is best suited to handle all weather situations in Ireland. A textile suit with a waterproof membrane will keep you dry and dry by itself quickly as well. Alternatively, you can ride in a leather suit if you have an additional waterproof rain suit with you.

Beara Peninsula, Wild Atlantic Way Beara Peninsula, Wild Atlantic Way

Ideally, you should also have motorcycle boots and gloves with a climate membrane and a full-face or flip-up helmet with a full-face visor. You can also ride with a jet helmet in summer. This should then have a full length visor to cover your face well in case of rain.

Other than that, all you need is one set of light street clothes and some underwear and personal items for your motorcycle tour. Keep your luggage as light as possible, if something is missing, you can get almost everything in Ireland.

The airlines usually accept a motorcycle helmet as hand luggage, and you can wear your motorcycle jacket on the way there and back. So the rest of your luggage fits into a big sports bag - and that's all you need.

By the way, you can rent complete motorcycle helmet and clothing with your rental motorcycle from us (www.easycruiser.tours).

To Motorcycle Rental in Ireland click here

Planning a motorcycle trip along the Wild Atlantic Way:

How many days does a ride along the Wild Atlantic Way take:

If you want to travel the entire stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way by motorcycle, you should plan on about 10-14 days of riding time.
The route is over 2500 kilometers long and you can expect daily stages of about 200-250 kilometers per day due to the road conditions.

The roads are often very narrow, and the road quality is not always good. You may not be used to driving on the left side of the road, you may want to allow some time for sightseeing and of course you may need a little break during the day.

If you add to that one of the two days off-riding in nice cities and add the times for arrival and departure, you will have to budget about 2 weeks of vacation time.

Trying to cover the route in just a few days is not recommended at all. You will simply miss out on the most beautiful impressions if you cut short the most beautiful routes due to lack of time. 

If you have only a few days of time available, it is better to ride only a part of the WAW and do it with no rush at all.

The best tip for a motorcycle trip on the Wild Atlantic Way: Take your time!

Mizen Head Signal Station, WAW Mizen Head Signal Station, WAW

Where to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way:

The Wild Atlantic Way is well developed for tourism and there are numerous hotels and B&Bs along the route and in all the main towns.

B&B, or bed-and-breakfast is the most original form of accommodation in Ireland. Often there are only 4 or 5 guest rooms, which are very nicely and personally managed by a family that lives in the same place. Here you get the best travel tips from locals and enjoy lovingly home-cooked hearty Irish food. B&Bs are usually also a little cheaper in price than the big hotels.

But the bigger hotels score with 24h reception, big restaurants and pubs, swimming pools and other amenities. There are also home-stays, hostels and campsites.

All of these accommodation options can be easily booked with one of the major booking apps, such as booking.com or airbnb.com.

Do you have to book your accommodation in Ireland in advance? In the summer months from mid-May to mid-September, I would definitely recommend it, from my own experience. Especially in July, many accommodations are booked up well in advance.

In spring and late summer/autumn, I personally, book only one or two days in advance. This way, I can ride my motorcycle in a relaxed way without having to worry too much about the next overnight stay and still be flexible enough to adjust my route along the way.

Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, WAW Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, WAW

How to find the most beautiful routes for motorcyclists on the Wild Atlantic Way:

You have several options for this: If you rent a motorcycle with us (www.easycruiser.tours), you can also book a travel description in addition, in which the complete route with highlights, sightseeing and accommodation tips is already described in detail. In addition, you have map sections and many photos to facilitate the planning in advance. Your rental motorcycle is equipped with a Tomtom motorcycle GPS sat nav, on which all important route points are already stored. So you can easily find your way on the road.

To motorbike tour roadbooks

Alternatively, you can drive to the 15 Signature Points mentioned in the text above, or to a part of them. Or you can just drive on good luck to the west coast and follow it. You can't really go wrong!

The most important tips for a motorcycle trip in Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way:

  1. Drive the small roads, explore the hidden headlands and small bays and take your time.
  2. Don't cut the road short and avoid the big national roads and motorways.
  3. If you find a place particularly beautiful, stay there for a little while.
  4. You don't even have to drive all around the island, but you should give the Emerald Isle in the azure Atlantic Ocean enough time to let its magic work on you.

In the following articles of this Wild Atlantic Way series, I will show you some of the most beautiful coastal routes for motorcyclists with many photos, so that you can already get an idea of your next motorcycle in beautiful Ireland!

To Motorcycle Rental in Ireland click here

To part 2 of this WAW series

Back to Blog Overview

Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg, March 2022

Picture credits: Title image: Dingle Peninsula, easycruiser.tours. All other photos: easycruiser.tours. Map of WAW: discoverireland.ie.
Sources: ireland.com, wikipedia.org, disoverireland.ie.