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Friday 31 March 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# beside the seaside
5 breathtaking Irish coastal drives to check out while the weather's great
Pack up a picnic and hit the road.

COASTAL DRIVES AROUND Ireland are a treat in themselves, with spectacular skies, and views that stretch as far as the eye can see.

But thanks to our recent spell of good weather, you can make a day of your next drive, with a picnic stop en route. And if the weather takes a turn, shelter in your car and enjoy those tumultuous skies from inside.

Here are five coastline drives around the island of Ireland that definitely have the wow factor…

1. The Causeway Coastal Route – 350km

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This route stretches 350km from Belfast to Derry in a grand arch of beautiful beaches, charming fishing harbours, historic castles, vibrant valleys and cliff top walks.

The main tourist attractions along the route are the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giants Causeway, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t visit some of the lesser-known attractions. One of these is the picturesque little harbour and hamlet of Portbradden.

Game Of Thrones fans should pencil in a stop at Downhill Beach, aka Dragonstone, where GOT’s Seven Idols of Westeros were burned.

2. Sheep’s Head Peninsula – 70km

Shutterstock / (Richard Semik) Shutterstock / (Richard Semik) / (Richard Semik)

A drive along the Sheep’s Head peninsula, situated between Cork’s Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay, takes you past loads of interesting sites such as Lord Bandon’s Folly, Glanlough and the forts of Baunta and Brahalish.

The peninsula isn’t very wide, meaning you’ll get wonderful views of the ocean on either side during the drive, so that should keep all passengers happy.

Stop for a picnic at Vaughan’s Pass which is located at the end of a narrow, windy road. Here you can enjoy fine views across Bantry Bay with your flask of tea and biscuits.

3. The Inishowen 100 – 160km

shutterstock_1058859260 Shutterstock / shawnwil23 Shutterstock / shawnwil23 / shawnwil23

The Inishowen 100 gets its name from the approximate distance in miles of the route, which runs along the Inishowen Peninsula in Co Donegal. Most of this route hugs the rugged coastline and you’ll pass through charming villages, historical sites and deserted beaches as well as the most northerly point in Ireland, Malin Head.

Unpack your picnic and stop for a stroll at Glenevin Waterfall Park, one of Inishowen’s most spectacular natural attractions, with dedicated picnic areas and striking views of the surrounding coast and countryside.

4. Doohoma Head to Erris Head – 50km

Shutterstock / Maria_Janus Shutterstock / Maria_Janus / Maria_Janus

If you’re out West, try a drive along Mayo’s Mullet Peninsula. The winding road from Doohoma to Geesala skirts Tullaghan Bay with views across Blacksod Bay to Slievemore.

Driving towards Erris Head you’ll pass through Belmullet where you can stock up on fresh local produce for your picnic. Continue north toward Erris Head and when the road runs out, park up and walk the 5km sign-posted loop.

The most perfect picnic pitstop along this route is an old, derelict concrete lookout hut. Okay, it isn’t exactly pretty but the views from here are wild and wonderful and the hut will provide a little shelter from the wind.

5. The Copper Coast – 166km

Shutterstock / Cushla Monk Shutterstock / Cushla Monk / Cushla Monk

You’ll need a full day to take in the rugged Waterford coastline that stretches between Tramore and Dungarvan. It’s known as The Copper Coast due to the extensive copper mining industry that thrived there in the nineteenth century.

In 2015 the Copper Coast became a UNESCO Global Geopark. This coastal route encompasses panoramic seascapes, dramatic cliffs and secluded bays and coves as well as quaint seaside resorts with blue flag beaches.

Take a pitstop at the Bog of Fenor where you’ll spot some of the 225 different plants and animals in this biodiversity-rich habitat.

More: 5 of the most spectacular driving routes through the landscape of the South West>

More: Want an adventure this summer? Here are 4 of the most epic European road trips>

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