Travel

Friday 19 October 2018

Ireland's Top 10 tourist attractions: Which 'genius idea' topped our poll?

Reader Travel Awards 2018

Wild Atlantic Way (Connemara). Winner of Ireland's top tourist attraction in our 2018 Reader Travel Awards. Pic: Big Smoke Studio/Fáilte Ireland
Wild Atlantic Way (Connemara). Winner of Ireland's top tourist attraction in our 2018 Reader Travel Awards. Pic: Big Smoke Studio/Fáilte Ireland
Reader Travel Awards 2018, as revealed in Weekend Magazine and Independent.ie.
Cliffs of Moher. No.2 in our reader poll. Photo: Deposit
Connemara, Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: Big Smoke/Fáilte Ireland

Online Editors

What's your favourite big hit, hidden gem, coastal attraction or city museum for 2018? Our readers have voted!

Ireland's top tourist attraction 2018

Winner: The Wild Atlantic Way

It’s hard to believe the Wild Atlantic Way is just four years old.

Given that the 2,500km touring route covers the western seaboard, of course, you could argue that it’s millions of years old.

But who’s arguing? Nothing breeds satisfaction like success, and Fáilte Ireland’s flagship has caught the imagination, our readers wholeheartedly confirm.

“It’s a genius idea,” you told us — an “incredible journey” that is “already an iconic road trip… with some of the best beaches in the world”.

Ireland’s Top 10 tourist attractions 2018

  1. Wild Atlantic Way
  2. Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare
  3. Giant’s Causeway, Co Antrim
  4. Killarney & Ring of Kerry
  5. Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
  6. Glendalough, Co Wicklow
  7. Slieve League Peninsula, Co Donegal
  8. Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry
  9. Hook Head, Co Wexford
  10. Spike Island, Co Cork

The Wild Atlantic Way “has something for everyone. It can be walked, cycled or motored,” you added. It boasts “stunning, rugged scenery” and makes “a great walking holiday.”

Our judges described the route as a “game-changer”, an initiative that has inspired businesses to up their game, restaurants to revamp menus, and activity providers to introduce a whole new range of things to do.

Sure, it includes already-iconic stops like the Skelligs and Cliffs of Moher, but the route caught our readers’ eyes just as much for its smaller moments — be it Clifden’s Sky Road, the Sheep’s Head, or secret beaches stashed away in the folds of Donegal’s coast.

Skellig Michael, seen in an aerial photograph this winter. The island, with a monastic settlement dating from 588AD, is a major location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael, seen in an aerial photograph this winter. The island, with a monastic settlement dating from 588AD, is a major location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael's six beehive huts seen from the air - the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael is home to thousands of Atlantic puffins, at least from March to September. These colourful, enigmatic seabirds spend their summers on the island, breeding and fattening their chicks on locally available food which often comprises of high calorie sand-eel and sprat. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
The monastic Island of Skellig Michael was founded in 588 by Saint Fionán - for 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. It's a main location for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael, home to one of Europe's better known but least accessible monasteries. The word 'Scellic' means a steep rock. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael's monastic huts - for 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Located 12 kilometres off the coast County Kerry’s Inveragh Peninsula, Skellig Michael is the most spectacular of all the early medieval island monastic sites. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Ceann Sibéal or Sybil's Head, on the Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry. It features as a location in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Ceann Sibéal or Sybil's Head, on the Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry. In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the location is used to replicate the monastic Island of Skellig Michael. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
An aerial shot of Skellig Michael, which has six beehive huts situated almost at the summit of the 230-metre-high rock. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Skellig Michael first became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits cinemas on December 15. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
View from Skellig Ring, Iveragh Peninsula, Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Ceann Sibéal or Sybil's Head, on the Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Telling a few ‘Porgies’…Local Guide Muiris Walsh of Iveragh Historical Tours dresses as ‘Chewbacca’ in the newly named ‘Porgmagee’ (Portmagee) Co Kerry, where Film Stars and crew departed for Skellig Michael, the Location of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan
Spectacular: Skellig Island, taken from the air. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

“The scenery is fantastic when it is not raining,” you said. But heck, it’s fantastic even when it is raining.

Heading into its fifth year, the Wild Atlantic Way has become a truly trademark Irish experience. Best of all, it’s just getting started.

Details: wildatlanticway.com

Your say:

“I love the Wild Atlantic Way in Mayo. Achill Island, the amazing food in Westport, Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick and the beautiful drive from Louisburgh to Leenaun via Doolough Valley. It’s just breath-taking!”

Read more:

Top 10 Wild Atlantic Way walks - a day out for every fitness level! 

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