The Emerald Isle, with its Wild Atlantic Way, Ancient East and Causeway Coast, has beautiful coastlines galore to discover, whether you head north, south, east or west

Words Anne-Claire Heels


Glamping at night in Ireland

The mere mention of heading to Donegal conjures up images of getting away from it all. And you’d be hard pressed to find a more lovely way of doing that than at Port Salon Luxury Glamping in the north of this northernmost county of the Republic. This acclaimed site is the stuff of getaway dreams. It offers five yurts with luxurious king-sized beds, cosy interiors and wood-burning stoves, all against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery and a three-mile-long sandy Blue Flag beach on the Atlantic inlet of Lough Swilly. Explore Ballymastocker Bay, see Fanad lighthouse on the headland just north of Portsalon, and soak up views of Great Pollet Sea Arch. From climbing, surfing and kayaking to birdwatching, horse-riding and hiking, it’s hard to imagine a more ideal destination for those who love the great outdoors. If you time it right and are lucky, you might even see the Northern Lights…. There is a two-night minimum stay for bookings in July and August, see website for prices and availability (

For more glamping holidays, read 10 Best Glamping Spots by the Sea


Beautiful hotel in Ireland

If the show-stopping combination of stunning shores and majestic mountains is what makes your heart soar, then set a course for Kerry. On the Iveragh Peninsula, in what’s known as ‘the kingdom’ of Kerry in Ireland’s south-west corner, you’ll find the Parknasilla resort. Nestled on 500 acres along the Wild Atlantic Way with the village of Sneem to the west and the popular town of Kenmare to east, this luxury hotel estate has been offering warm hospitality in Ireland’s tourist heartland for 126 years, whether you’re staying in its beautiful suites and rooms, or self-catering in the courtyard lodges and woodland villas. Savour the best of Irish produce as you gaze out on a Kenmare Bay sunset from The Pygmalion Restaurant. Whether it’s the spa and saltwater hot-tub or golf, swimming and walking trails, there’s no shortage of things to do here either, in a region steeped in heritage and folklore. See for special offers.


Lighthouse with sea view

At the base of bumblebee-striped St John’s Point Lighthouse in north-east Down, the Irish Landmark Trust has a couple of holiday cottages where you can really spend a night right on the coast. Sea views are absolutely guaranteed when you book into JP Ketch, a charming former keeper’s cottage sleeping four, the perfect place for a spot of R&R in rugged surroundings. Reconnect with nature – discover Strangford Lough, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or the National Trust’s Murlough National Nature Reserve, with its extensive dune system in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains, both a short drive away. And the nearby county town of Downpatrick is home to historic Down Cathedral – its churchyard is the resting place of St Patrick himself. Prices for JP Ketch start from £318 for two nights (


Beach on Achill island

Achill, Ireland’s largest island, is linked to the mainland county of Mayo via a road bridge, making it a very easy option for an island getaway. With a number of Blue Flag beaches, impressive cliffs, a wealth of water sports and a family pub (famous for its live Irish music) that claims to be ‘the most westerly pub in Europe’, this unspoilt Atlantic isle has plenty to keep visitors busy. Check out picture-perfect Keem Bay, book a boat trip, and try the famous Achill mountain lamb – you’ll see sheep coolly defying gravity as they graze on near-vertical cliff-sides all over the island with nothing between them and the rolling Atlantic Ocean far below. Traditional Irish cottages Achill Beach Cottage, sleeping four, is a stone’s throw from the beach on the north of the island, and offer characterful accommodation with modern comforts. Prices start from €168 per night and there’s a minimum stay of three nights here in the summer, but trust me, you’ll probably want to stay for longer (

Read next A Weekend in Clifden, Ireland


Castle view from above

This is one for the history buffs. Museums, abbeys, round towers, churches, castles – they’re all here in abundance in Ireland’s Ancient East. The Boyne Valley is probably best known for that famous battle in 1690, but it’s a peaceful place these days. Drummond Tower was built much later, in the 1850s, and this Victorian folly is now a gorgeous holiday rental with a roof-top terrace that offers 360˚ views of the surrounding lush green countryside of Louth. Expect a warm welcome, gaze out over the treetops when you awake, switch off in the charming sitting room and have sundowners on top of your world. The historic walled town of Drogheda where the River Boyne meets the Irish Sea is close by – here you can find out more about the Battle of the Boyne – and going back even further in time is the extraordinary Newgrange site in the neighbouring county of Meath, a passage tomb complex that dates back more than 5,000 years, making it older than Stonehenge and Egypt’s pyramids – an astonishing and atmospheric experience for those who love to delve into the past. Louth is well known for its seafood too, with many fishing villages in the county, and the Carlingford Oyster Festival takes place a bit further up the coast every August. To book a stay, go to


Surfing in Ireland

Clare is famous for the mighty Cliffs of Moher, the otherworldly limestone landscapes of The Burren, Fr Ted and traditional Irish music, and the seaside town of Lahinch has become a firm favourite with surfers over the years located as it is right on the Atlantic Ocean coastline of this western county. Cregg Beach 9 is a stunning contemporary house with three en-suite bedrooms sleeping six, an open-plan living area and spectacular ocean views, all just a short walk from the beach and the lively town. Lahinch is surf central, with Liscannor Bay’s Atlantic breakers drawing those who want to learn and experienced surfers alike, so you’ll find surf schools and stores a-plenty here. The town has an energy and atmosphere all of its own, as well as interesting little shops and places to eat, and a highly respected golf course that dates from the 19th century if you fancy something a little more sedate at any stage. If you’re after a sociable surfy stay that’s bound to be memorable, then this is the one for you – make a beeline for Lahinch. Prices for Cregg Beach 9 from £373 per night (


View of the James Turrell Irish Sky Garden

Close to small sandy Tragumna Beach and the picturesque town of Skibbereen in West Cork sits the 163-acre Georgian Liss Ard Estate, with a private lake, gardens and woodland, and its fascinating Irish Sky Garden – a striking oval crater designed by renowned landscape artist James Turrell – where you are invited to lie down on a plinth and watch the changing skies above your head without any distractions, thanks to its high sides. The more time you spend losing yourself in this mesmerising mindful activity, the longer you’ll want to do it… There are 25 large rooms here – stay in the Manor House itself, the adjoining Mews or the Victorian Lake House. Dine in the two AA Rosette-awarded restaurant – afternoon tea is always a treat. Make the most of the pristine grounds by booking midnight kayaking, or a rowing boat to go fishing in, or laze over a picnic on the lawn. Characterful Skibbereen is rich in history, a favourite with foodies, and a short drive from lots of lovely little fishing villages on the south coast. See for prices and availability.


Horse box glamping

The Oat Box was a 1960s horse lorry in its former life, and is now wonderfully quirky accommodation for two set on elevated farmland (hello hens!) close to the north coast in Co Derry. This vintage van is not lacking in comfort however, with a bespoke oak kitchen with Belfast sink, complete shower facilities, a king-size bed and even a wood-burning stove in case of chilly evenings, so snuggle up with your loved one in this cosy haven and forget your old routine for a while. There’s a little balcony too, and a private outdoor dining area with sun loungers and a fire-pit, made for those long summer evenings. It’s close to the Blue Flag beaches of seaside towns Portrush (known for its surfing) and Portstewart (golf), and just four miles from Bushmills, for those partial to a drop of fine Irish whiskey, as well as Coleraine with its shops and restaurants. And world-famous attractions such as The Giant’s Causeway, the Mussenden Temple and the old city of Derry-Londonderry are all within easy reach too. Go on, make some new memories… (from £120 a night,, the property reference is 1564)

Read next 10 Vintage Vehicles to Stay in Beside the Sea


Sunset at beach in Ireland

Sligo is synonymous with surfing in most people’s minds. (Although WB Yeats or perhaps latterly Normal People might also get a mention…) This northwestern county also has steadily built up a reputation as a brilliant place for adventure breaks. And the four-star, family-friendly, Diamond Coast Hotel – situated directly on the Wild Atlantic Way and overlooking Killala Bay, Enniscrone Golf Course and within walking distance of sandy Enniscrone Beach – makes an ideal base from which to explore this location. The hotel prides itself on its generous family rooms, and there is a great kids club to keep little ones occupied while parents take a well-earned rest in addition to a babysitting service, plus dining options from formal restaurant to casual bistro to hotel bar. There’s also a plethora of activities to do as a family in the surrounding area. Water babies learn how to ride the waves at the surf school in Enniscrone, and enjoy making a splash at Water Point Aqua Park, and the hotel can arrange stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking, bike hire, horse-riding, hill-walking and pitch and putt. Special family holiday packages are available, book direct to get the best deals at


View of sandy beach
Ireland’s ‘sunny south-east’ is traditionally where Dubliners head on their holidays for a change from the city, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s only a couple of hours from the capital by car, Wexford has the kind of beaches that have Hollywood calling – films as different as Brooklyn and Saving Private Ryan are just two that shot scenes on this county’s impressive shores – and it’s generally the place that gets the warmest driest weather in Ireland. Courtown is one of the popular family holiday spots along this coastline, and that’s where you’ll find The Beach House, a fabulous modern property that offers direct access to the beach. Sleeping eight in four stylish bedrooms, it has a spacious open-plan living area, panoramic views and a deck overlooking the sea equipped with a barbecue for al fresco dining, all of which make it an ideal family escape. And of course for those travelling from Britain, ferries from Wales come into Rosslare Harbour, just 42 miles down the coast – what could be simpler? Prices for seven nights from £636 (

For more travel inspiration, head to our Places section or pick up a copy of the magazine

For more travel inspiration, head to our Places section or pick up a copy of the magazine