Most visitors arrive to Ireland by plane. Dublin, Shannon and Knock airports offer direct onward connections to the Joyce Country and Western Lakes region.
Located just outside of Dublin City, Dublin Airport is roughly a 3hr drive from the most of the geopark region main towns.
Several easy options are available for travel to the geopark project area from Dublin Airport, including public and private bus and coach transport, and a wide range of car rental companies. Some buses offer direct transport to locations along the route, while others bring you into Dublin City Centre, from where you can connect to a wider range of options for customised travel.
Train services from Dublin City can be accessed via taxi from the airport (approximate cost €30) or any one of several, frequent bus services, including Dublin Bus 747, to the major Intercity railway stations at Heuston and Connolly. Dublin Airport is Ireland’s national airport, serving major airlines worldwide.
Shannon Airport it is the second busiest airport in Ireland and is a significant connections hub for international flights. Transport services to Galway city by public and private operators, as well as taxi and car hire are available onsite.
The 51 bus, operated by Bus Eireann and located a 3 minute walk from the terminal, offers an hourly service to Limerick Bus Station, which is an easy 1m walk to Limerick Colbert railway station. From there, you can head north towards Athenry and then west to Galway or further north to Castlebar and Westport via Athlone. The journey by bus from the airport to the bus station takes approximately 30 minutes.
Aer Lingus operate daily flights at Shannon to and from London Heathrow, while Ryanair operate flights to London Gatwick and a number of other European destinations.
The closest major city to Shannon Airport is Galway, with a 1hr 15m drive time.
Ireland West Airport Knock
Ireland West Airport Knock is conveniently located in the heart of the west of Ireland, within an hour’s drive of the coast. This is the perfect place to arrive by plane for visitors to the Joyce Country and Western Lakes region.
Ireland West Airport Knock is located on the main N17 North – South road, halfway between Galway and Sligo. There are daily flights from UK regional airports and regular flights from Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. Bus Eireann operates coach services to Ireland West Airport Knock from Galway and Mayo.
The nearest railway station to Ireland West Airport Knock is Claremorris (31km) or Ballyhaunis (22km). These stations can be accessed by airport cabs or via the 64 bus, located a 2min walk from the terminal building at Lurga, Knock Airport bus stop. Also operated by Bus Eireann, the 64 takes approximately 28 minutes to reach the Claremorris, Dalton Street stop, and from there it’s roughly a 7m walk to the Claremorris railway station, with connections to Castlebar and Westport.
With over 300km of scenic route across many different landscapes, the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark Project offers great driving opportunities. You can hit the road in your own set of wheels or avail of the wide range of rental car agencies in operation all over Ireland. Visitors to Ireland should note that the majority of cars are manual transmission; it is recommended that drivers who prefer an automatic book well in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
For visitors to Dublin wishing to visit the Wild Atlantic Way by car, a large range of car hire services are available both from Dublin Airport or from various locations around the city. Dublin City is encircled by the 45.5km-long M50 motorway; with many itineraries comprising some travel time on the M50, your best route out of the city will depend on your starting point. The M50 and certain other large motorways may include tolls, so you may choose to explore the quieter country roads as an alternative.
From Dublin Airport – 230km/2hr 31m approx.
Follow the signs to the M50 Southbound. Take the M4 and M6 all the way to N6 in Galway. Take N84 north to Headford.
Get full route details and alternative routes here.
From all locations in Dublin City Centre – 225km/2hr 27m approx.
Follow R148 and N4 to M4 in South Dublin. Take the M4 and M6 all the way to N6 in Galway. Take N84 north to Headford.
Get full route details and alternative routes here.
From Dublin Airport – 250km/3hr 6m approx.
Follow the signs to the M50 Southbound. Take the M4 all the way to N4 in Longford. Take the N5 west towards Westport and turn south at Castlebar on N84 towards Galway.
Get full route details and alternative routes here.
From Dublin Airport – 240km/2hr 45m approx.
Follow the signs to the M50 Southbound. Take the M4 and M6 all the way to N6 in Galway. Take N59 northwest to Oughterard.
Get full route details and alternative routes here.
Dublin City has two main Intercity train stations – Dublin Connolly and Dublin Heuston. Be sure to check your itinerary carefully to ensure you arrive at the correct station for your departure, i.e Dublin Heuston for the connections to Galway city and the Mayo towns of Castlebar and Westport. Ticket prices can vary widely; always check Iarnród Éireann for the lowest fares.
To the gateways of the geopark region
Intercity trains run a few times a day from Dublin Heuston to Castlebar and Westport, Co Mayo, including Sundays. Tickets cost a maximum of €40.00 for an adult single and €42.45 for return.
Several Intercity trains run daily from Dublin Heuston to Galway Ceannt station. Tickets cost a maximum of €36.65 for an adult single and €39.10 for return.
Although Ireland’s rail network is extensive, there are many locations in the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark region that can only be accessed by road. Let someone else do the driving by hopping on board one of Ireland’s many public or private bus services. Ireland’s national bus network.
Provides hundreds of daily routes, including Expressway lines from Dublin to Galway and in between Castlebar and Galway, and regional, rural and town-to-town services throughout the region.
Private bus operators
also offer the option to travel in style, with some even offering tours so you can take in the scenery with the help of a knowledgeable on-board guide.
Finally, a wide range of specialised tour operators can be found in the wider area; all you have to do is sign up, sit back, and soak it all in.
GoBus provides round-trip service from Galway to Dublin Airport and Dublin City Centre on the 720 bus, as well as round-trip to Cork on bus 707.
Citylink offers several daily routes to Galway from Dublin Airport and Dublin City Centre.
Be sure to visit Transport for Ireland to find more routes by bus.
Galway to Clifden via private coach with Citylink.
Galway to Westport via custom bus with Butler’s Tours.
By Car and Motorhome
Eager to leave no road untravelled? Travelling by car in the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark region will get you exactly where you want to go on precisely your own terms. With over 300km of scenic route to explore, you can enjoy the freedom of going at your own pace and customising your adventure when and where you see fit. Whether renting from one of the numerous car or motorhome hire agencies all over Ireland or hitting the road in your own set of wheels, driving is a fun, favoured way to embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of life.
Car Rental Operators and Locations
Car hire companies are generally based in airports, ferry ports and the centres of most major towns and cities in Ireland. Motorhome rental companies can be found in most major towns and cities or at popular holiday spots.
Find the ideal rental for your trip here.
In Ireland, the majority of rental cars and motorhomes will be manual shift (not automatic). However, there are automatic options available. Should you require one, it’s advised to book well in advance of travel to avoid disappointment. It is also a good idea to book a satellite navigation or GPS system to get your bearings.
Remember to drive on the left, and to obey all traffic signals. Road conditions in the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark Project can vary widely, from smooth new motorways to narrow, bumpy country lanes, so take your time and stay alert. Changeable weather can affect driving conditions, as can the time of year chosen for travel; in the summer months, rural routes are naturally well-lit until 10 or 11pm, while in the winter those same roads can be completely dark from 5pm. In high mountain areas in winter, roads can become impassable due to ice and snow. Check AA Roadwatchbefore you go and stay tuned to local radio stations for the latest traffic information.
For more essential driving information, see the Travel Tips from Fáilte Ireland.
For some, there’s only one way to truly experience the jaw-dropping scenery of the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark region, and that’s from the saddle of a 150-horsepower machine. If a motorcycle road trip is your idea of real adventure, there are plenty of ways you can get cruising out on Ireland’s western seaboard. Escape to the coast and feel the freedom of travelling full-throttle.
Rental Operators and Locations
Motorcycle hire companies can be found from one end of the route to the other, and many even offer tour packages so you can get the most out of your journey.
Find one to suit your tastes and hop on for the experience of a lifetime.
The same rules of the road apply to motorcyclists as to car drivers in Ireland; obey all signs and signals and drive on the left.
Anyone riding on a motorbike – front or back – is required by law to wear a helmet. Sidecars must be properly fitted to the left side of the motorcycle with the correct lighting installed.
Age restrictions for motorcycle rental in Ireland vary, but are generally around 23-25 years. Licensing requirements can vary from operator to operator, so be sure to check with the rental company well in advance. Insurance is mandatory and is usually provided as part of the rental agreement. If in doubt, double check.
Visit the Road Safety Authority online to learn more about motorcycle laws and vehicle safety in Ireland.
Getting around the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark region has never been easier. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery without the hassle of maps or parking. With bus stops in many towns and villages across the region and a comprehensive road network, there has never been an easier way to travel the route than by coach or bus.
Services and Operators
A diverse range of public and private bus and coach services offer transport to and from locations throughout the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark region so you can customise your journey with ease. See our interactive map that includes the bus lines and stops or download the public transport map here. Or visit Bus Éireann or Transport for Irelandto discover the operator that’s right for you.
Travelling by bus or coach in Ireland is generally extremely safe, however, it pays to exercise caution as you would in any public place. Mind your belongings and avoid travelling with valuables. Pickpocketing is rare but can occur. Be aware of emergency exits and follow all instructions given by the driver.
Avoid crossing directly in front of or behind a bus, even if it is stopped. Stand clear of moving doors when accessing luggage compartments or whilst boarding. Always use the handrails when climbing or standing; stow luggage safely and use seatbelts where available.
Some buses in Ireland offer pay-onboard options while others require tickets to be booked and paid for in advance. Some pay-onboard options do not offer change at the time of payment and instead will provide you with a receipt for change which you will need to bring to a dedicated office to redeem. Always check the operator’s terms and conditions before you go to avoid delays.
Getting on your bike is a fun, healthy and easy way to explore most of the Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark region. Feel the wind in your hair as you climb hills, cruise descents, traverse valleys and wind your way around scenic country roads.
Whether you bring your own bike or hire one while you’re here, on-road or off-road, you’ll experience Ireland’s western seaboard in one of the most exhilarating ways possible when you go by bike.
Rental Services and Locations
If you don’t have your own bike, fear not! There’s a wide variety of bicycle hire companies along the Wild Atlantic Way, and many offer great deals. Choose the freedom of a self-guided cycle or join a group – there’s a cycle tour operator to suit your tastes who will happily show you around your preferred area.
When cycling in Ireland, always ensure adequate visibility; use bright lights when cycling at night and wear reflective clothing such as a hi-vis vest at all times of day. Wear a helmet and know and use your hand signals, even if you think no one is around.
Keep to the left and obey all the same traffic laws as cars and motorbikes. Do not cycle on any footpath. Ensure your bike is in good condition before setting off. Carry water, snacks, a fully-charged mobile phone, patch repair kit and first aid kit with you, particularly when cycling into remote areas. Mobile signal coverage in Ireland is generally thorough, but there can be areas where dropped calls occur and access to WiFi is patchy.
Learn more about cycle safety in Ireland by visiting the RSA online.
Bikes can be taken on trains and buses with some restrictions. All InterCity trains have bicycle carriage facilities within the passenger compartment. These routes are restricted to two bicycles per service and incur a charge. On buses, Bus Éireann carry normal bikes for a fee in the luggage compartment. The bicycle must be a maximum of 1.8 metres in length and up to 0.865m in width to be carried.
Bicycles that are folded and covered can be carried on all services free of charge. It is recommended that customers reserve their bicycle spaces online where available in advance of travel. Just select the bicycle option when you are reserving a seat.
The Joyce Country and Western Lakes Geopark wider offers a number of paths, trails and looped walks that provide excellent hiking, trekking, and rambling over a range of terrains, from bogland and forest to foothills and mountains.
Regions and Itineraries
National Trails (walking and cycling) in the area
To see the National walking and cycling trails in more detail, visit https://www.irishtrails.ie/
1 Murrisk Loop; Murrisk Mountain Loop; Murrisk Pier Loop
2 Killeen Killadoon Beach Loop & Killeen White Stone Bog Loop
3 Inishturk – Lough Coolaknick Loop
4 Inishbofin Island – Westquarter Loop
5 Letterfrack Poetry Trail; Diamond Hill Loop; Connemara National Park
6 Marconi Loop
7 Inis Nee Loop
8 Luibin Mhairois
9 Luibin Garumna – Slí Chonamara
10 Siuloidi na Ceathrun Rua
11 Maigh Cuilinn (Moycullen) Heritage Trails
12 New Village
13 Ard na Gaoithe – Ardnageeha Loop; Cong Forest; Cong Pigeon Loop
14 Clonbur Wood Loop
15 Kilmaine: Church Walk ; Killernan Loop; Nature Walk
16 Tourmakeady: Lake Walk; Loop; Nature Walk
17 Moorehall Walk
18 Clogher: Holy Well Loop; Bog Loop; Red Walk
19 Great Western Greenway; Westport Cycle Hub
20 Louisburgh Cycle Hub
21 Clifden Cycle Hub
22 Derroura Mountain Bike Trail
The Western Way
The Western Way is a long-distance walking trail of more than 200 km that passes through Counties Galway and Mayo. The trail begins in Oughterard, Co Galway, and finishes in Bunnycibbellan, Co Mayo. This map focuses on the section that passes through the aspiring geopark area, from Oughterard to Westport.
There is a public car park at Oughterard.
Distances and times of trail sections:
Oughterard – Maam: 24 km – 6-8 hrs
Maam – Leenaun: 29 km – 6-9 hrs
Leenaun – Aasleagh: 3.5 km – 1 hr
Aasleagh – Sheeffry: 12 km – 3-4 hrs
Sheeffry – Westport: 25 km – 6-8 hrs
Please note, some parts of the trail pass through private land, so please seek permission from landowners/holders.
Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail
The Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail traditionally starts in the village of Balla and ends in the village of Murrisk. The trail is 63 km and does not include the mountain ascent. It is national way-marked the whole way. The difficulty is moderate, though the final ascent is classed as difficult. The terrain varies from woodland, to bog, to minor roads to mountain tracks. The minimum gear recommended is hiking boots, waterproofs, snacks and water.
Distances and times of trail sections:
Balla – Ballintubber: 17 km – 4 hrs
Ballintubber – Aghahower: 27 km – 6 hrs
Aghagower – Murrisk: 19 km – 5 hrs
St Patrick’s Causeway
Also known as Tóchar Phadraig, this ancient pilgrim path begins at Ballintubber Abbey and finishes about 35 km away on Croagh Patrick. The minimum hiking gear recommended is hiking boots, waterproofs, snacks and water, as this hike can become difficult, especially in the winter months. In addition to the terrain, there are also about 113 stiles to climb over.
For health and safety reasons, a minimum of two people must walk together. Furthermore, all walkers must register with Ballintubber Abbey and sign a declaration.
Please note, there is a registration fee of €10. For more information, visit https://www.ballintubberabbey.ie/tochar-phadraic/ or email [email protected].
Seanbhóthar, The Old Road, is a 10 km paved walk between the villages of Corr na Móna and Clonbur which takes about 2 hrs 30 minutes. The walk has a maximum climb of 80 m and is mostly along the country roads.
Trekking with a group is a great way to get out and see the sights while learning from an experienced local guide, making new friends and sharing wonderful memories. If a social stroll is more your speed, check out the range of great walking tours available all along the route.
Walking in Ireland means getting out into the elements, so preparation is key. Wear appropriate clothes for the weather and expect the unexpected; there really can be four seasons in one day in the west of Ireland. Several light layers that are easy to remove on the go are ideal, as is waterproof rain gear like a mac or a poncho. It’s always a good idea to ensure that one of your items of clothing is brightly coloured in case you get lost or become separated (if travelling with a group).
Wear comfortable, broken-in shoes and bring an extra pair of dry socks. Make sure your rucksack is comfortable and not too heavy. Bring enough food and water for your excursion, along with a few extra rations in case of a change of circumstance.
There are no dangerous animals or venomous insects in Ireland, but you should still exercise caution in the wild; never approach or feed any animal, wild or domestic, unless invited to do so by its owner. Biting insects such as midges can be a nuisance; carrying bug repellent is always a good bet.
Always tell someone where you are going before you depart and check the weather forecast and sunset time. Carry a fully charged mobile phone and know the number for mountain rescue if rambling into remote or high altitude areas.
For more walking safety essential tips, visit Ordnance Survey Ireland online.
New to the idea of taking the reins? Fear not, as choices abound for beginners and experts alike – from introductory lessons and rides to exhilarating excursions over mountains, woodland and coast.
Riding Schools, Tours and Locations
Many horse riding schools and tours along the route operate year-round, rain or shine, and are approved by the Association of Irish Riding Establishments, meeting the highest standards of quality, safety and service. Find a school or tour operator near you.
When riding a horse in Ireland, ensure all gear such as saddle, harnesses, bit, reins, and stirrups are all in good condition. Wear a helmet and riding gear. Your guide, if you have one, will be able to advise you on the best things to wear to stay comfortable on horseback.
In Ireland, horses and riders have the right to travel on the road; if your journey brings you onto any route with vehicular traffic, you must follow all the same rules of the road as you would when driving a car. Stay to the left and obey signs and signals. If your horse shows signs of distress, alert your trekking guide or leave the road as soon as possible.
Expect the unexpected with regard to the weather and plan accordingly. Always follow any instructions given by a guide.
For more advice on horse riding safety in Ireland, visit Horse Sport Ireland online. For tips on taking your horse onto the road, visit the Road Safety Authority online.
Rental Services, Tour Operators and Locations
There are a number of ways to set sail along the Wild Atlantic Way; all you have to do is decide what kind of adventure you want to have.
A wide variety of fishing trips are available for the sea angling enthusiast, while sailors of all experience levels are invited to learn the ropes or tack their way up some of the most beautiful coastline found anywhere in the world. Cruises and boat tours are available for those who prefer to sit back and relax, while adrenaline seekers can get their pulses pounding on a powerboating adventure.
Staying safe on the water is essential to making great memories on your boating break.
The Department of Transport, through the Maritime Safety Directorate (MSD) and the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG), is the national authority with responsibility for maritime safety, security, communications and emergency services. If in distress and you have a VHF radio, they can be reached on Channel 16.
If piloting your own boat, be aware of the marine laws in the area. Ensure your navigation charts are up to date. Powerboats give way to sailing craft; always meet and overtake on the right. There should be a life jacket in good condition and of proper size for every person on board, along with anchor, flares or distress flag, safety line and ladder, first aid kit and spare machine parts. Let someone onshore know where you are going before departing, ensure your craft has recently undergone a thorough maintenance check, and always check your fuel levels with a dipstick or sight glass and carry extra in approved containers. For more information on sailing and boating safely in Ireland, visit the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland online.
If travelling with a tour, group, or licensed captain, always follow instructions when boarding, onboard, and disembarking. Carry essential gear – snacks, a fully charged mobile phone, sunblock and any medications (especially for seasickness) – in a waterproof pouch. In case of emergency, dial 999 or 112.
The waters off Ireland’s western shoreline and the beautiful Blueways leading from point to point along the coast are renowned the world over for their cleanliness, quality, and abundance of diverse aquatic life, making an excursion in your very own kayak or canoe one of the most magical ways you can explore the Wild Atlantic Way.
If paddling out onto the open water is your idea of the perfect getaway, read on to learn all about getting around the route in this invigorating way.
Rental Services, Tour Operators and Locations
No matter how you want to explore Ireland’s western waterways, there’s a way to go that’s just right for you, from a day spent exploring Donegal’s unforgettable coves and cliffs to following Ireland’s irresistible Blueways water trails from shore to snorkelling spot.
If you haven’t brought your own kayak or canoe, there are rental and tour operators aplenty who will be delighted to help you get afloat. Find one here.
Spending a day on the water on the Wild Atlantic Day is a surefire way to make incredible memories to last a lifetime, but it’s essential that you ensure a few basic safety measures before you go. Plan your route in advance and go with a group or let someone on shore know where you are headed. If you’re new to kayaking or canoeing, go with an experienced friend or a guide or tour group.
The weather in Ireland can change quickly; be prepared for wet and cold weather – even in the summer months – and stay alert to changing conditions. Wear a lifejacket even if you are a strong swimmer; cold water can become dangerous in a matter of minutes.
Carry essential gear – snacks, a fully charged mobile phone, and any medications – in a waterproof pouch. In case of emergency, dial 999 or 112. If travelling with a VHF radio, the Irish Coast Guard can be reached on Channel 16.
For more tips on staying safe in the water, visit Canoeing Ireland online.