Travel expert Sarah Slattery has some ideas for trips by car that will take you to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes.

Planning ahead, particularly when it comes to travel, has been difficult this year. According to research from Carzone, 75% of people have had to change their 2021 holiday plans due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, now that inter-county travel is back, many of us are keen to discover our beautiful island, with 82% planning to holiday at home this year.

According to the research, of the people planning an Irish holiday, 93%, will be driving for over two hours to reach their destination.

Longer road trips can be a source of anxiety for different reasons: will my electric car get there with one charge? How will I keep the kids occupied?

Preparation for a car journey is key with the research finding that sunglasses, snacks and music are the top three essential items for a road trip. Car safety is also an issue, with a tyre pressure check (73%), car cleaning (58%), and an oil and filter check (52%) all listed as essential services before a road trip.

So, once you have taken care of all of these things, where to go? From mountains, valleys, rugged cliffs and colourful towns, there are many scenic drives and spectacular road trips around the country. Here are five of the best.

1. The Beara Peninsula
The Beara Peninsula in West Cork is a great option for a summer road trip. Starting in the village of Glengarrif and ending in the vibrant town of Kenmare, the drive is approximately 128km or about 3 hours driving time. Allow for a full day or longer to appreciate everything it has to offer and explore the many gorgeous towns, villages, cove beaches and the country’s only cable car along the way.

Allihies, The Beara Peninsula
Allihies, The Beara Peninsula

2. The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry has long been one of our favourite road trips because of the stunning scenery, quaint villages and vibrant towns along the way. The drive is approximately 180km but is best driven over a few days so that you can stop to see all the sights. It is recommended that you do the drive in a clockwise direction, particularly when international visitors return, as tour buses travel anti-clockwise due to the narrow roads.

The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry

3. The Causeway Coast
The Causeway Coast is one of the best road trips in Ireland and will allow you to see many of Northern Ireland’s top attractions along to the way. The drive begins in Belfast and stretched 212km to Derry and is best done over a few days in order to appreciate it properly and stop at some of the amazing sights, including the famous Giant’s Causeway.

 Giants Causeway, Causeway Coast
Giants Causeway, Causeway Coast

4. Keem Bay, Achill Island to Leenane, Connemara via Doolough Valley
The drive from Keem Bay in Achill Island to Leenane in Connemara is one of the most scenic in Ireland and a great choice for a summer road trip. The drive is 115km and is best enjoyed if you are spending some time in either Mayo or Galway. Make sure to stop at Keem Bay for a day at the beach, which was named Ireland’s best beach by Lonely Planet this year.

Keem Bay
Achill Island

5. Glencree to Glendalough via the Sally Gap
The drive from Glencree to Glendalough via the Sally Gap is one of the most popular in Ireland and will suit many as it can also be started in Bray or Enniskerry. Both of these starting points will bring you onto Wicklow’s Old Military Road, which runs across the spine of the Wicklow Mountains.

Once you reach the Sally Gap crossroads, you can continue south towards Glendalough, drive west to Blessington Lakes or east to Roundwood. I suggest the latter, which will also bring you to Glendalough, but via the stunning lakes of Lough Tay and Lough Dan.

Sally Gap
Sally Gap

Sarah Slattery in collaboration with Carzone, the largest digital automotive marketplace in Ireland and the UK. carzone.ie