Stick the kettle on lads, I’m about to take you on a virtual trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. We set out on this trip in July 2021 with 2 kids in tow. It was actually a 9 day trip, but one of the days and nights was spent with family, so we will breeze passed that as I don’t think they would really want me to be promoting a stay in their home on here to God knows how many people.
The aim of this blog is to offer you some inspiration and ideas of places to stay and things to do and see if you are visiting Cork, Kerry, Clare or Mayo.
Day 1: Clonakilty, Co. Cork
We started our trip in the beautiful town of Clonakilty in Co. Cork. The plan was that we would drop our luggage off at our hotel and head straight for Inchydoney beach. The sun was splitting the stones so this seemed like the perfect place to spend the day.
If you have travelled anywhere with kids before (even to the local shop) you will know that things rarely go to plan. We checked into the Clonakilty Park Hotel, dropped our bags in the apartment that we would be staying in for the night and had a little stroll around the hotel. Well that was that, once the kids caught sight of all of the activities available in the hotel there wasn’t a hope in hell we were getting them out of there.
We started the afternoon off with a round of adventure golf in the adventure centre that was right behind our apartment. I’m sure you’re wondering who won the golf, but don’t worry about those finer details it’s the taking part that counts i.e. I didn’t win. The adventure centre is located on the grounds of the Clonakilty Park Hotel, other activities available in the Adventure Centre are:
- Aerial Trekking High Ropes Course
- Climbing Tower
- Zip Line
- Power Fan Jump
Next up we hit the playground, the huge pirate ship in the playground was a big hit with both kids (aged 2 and 6). After the playground we headed for the jungle gym (you need to book this in advance at the desk in the leisure centre). The jungle gym is set out over 3 floors and is packed with ball pits, slides, and even has a separate toddler area. This jungle gym has been the topic of conversation at bed time EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. since this trip. That will tell you how much the kids enjoyed it.
It is suitable for 4-11 year olds and is a fully supervised facility, where parents sign their children in and out. One entry a day may be included in your family package or alternatively, the charge is €4 an hour, per child.
We had dinner booked for half 8 in the restaurant so we made our way back to the apartment to get showered and ready for the evening. I was looking forward to chilling with a nice meal and a glass of vino after a fun filled day. Remember what I said earlier about things never going to plan with kids? Well this was the point that Ellie informed us that her new friend that she made earlier in the day told her about the evening entertainment and how they were doing TikTok dance challenges the evening before at the entertainment. So that was the end of the dinner plans, we grabbed a quick pizza in the marquee beside the cinema (yes you read that correctly, there is a cinema in the hotel), and headed for the entertainment.
The evening entertainment was such a laugh, we had bingo, dance challenges, a quiz, and just so much craic. The atmosphere in the room was class, and everybody was commenting on how it felt like pre covid times.
We were booked in to go swimming the next morning at 8am but that didn’t happen. I couldn’t drag myself or the other lazy lumps out of bed for it. Instead we had a little lie on, followed by a gorgeous hot buffet breakfast, and finally a coffee from the Coffee Dock in the Leisure Centre before checking out of the hotel.
I couldn’t recommend the Clonakilty Park Hotel enough lads honestly it is one of the best family hotels we have stayed in.
Day 2: Clonakilty, Co. Cork and Killarney, Co. Kerry
Once we had checked out of the hotel we headed 3 minutes up the road to West Cork Model Railway Village.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect here as we had never been to a model railway village before. I couldn’t believe how many model villages they had on site, I only expected to see one. The detail in all of the model villages were unreal. I wasn’t the only one who was taken aback by the experience either, the kids were in awe of all of the structures and trains.
The model railway village also has a playground, picnic area, train ride, little electric boats, diggers, coffee shop, and gift shop all on site too. If you are taking a trip to the model railway village make sure to check out the sensory garden to the left of the car park on your way out.
Next stop: Inchydoney beach. I wasn’t leaving Clonakilty without visiting Inchydoney. I had heard so many amazing things about this beach and it did not disappoint.
It is a Blue Flag beach, perfect for swimming and surfing. Parking can be quite tricky as it gets very busy here in the Summer months so if possible set out for the beach nice and early.
There is a surf school right on the beach and lots of coffee and food trucks dotted along the roadside.
I would have happily parked myself on that golden sand for the day but we had a bit of a journey ahead of us so I settled for a couple of hours jumping the waves with the kids and soaking up the stunning views.
After a bit of magician work in the carpark trying to get changed into dry clothes we hopped back in the car and we hit the road for our next stop – Killarney, County Kerry.
We arrived in Killarney at around 7pm and checked into Parkavon Hotel. I was blown away by the size of the family room that we were given. It was so big that the kids spent the first half an hour in the room playing hide and seek. It felt like we were staying in an apartment again because it was so spacious. If you want to have a little nosey you can check out the room tour on both my Instagram grid and in the highlights on my page too.
Once we were settled in and got freshened up we headed down to the hotel terrace to enjoy some cocktails and dinner. I’d like to say that one of those cocktails on the left was Brian’s but he’s a Guinness man so I enjoyed every last sip of both of those drinks.
The food was delicious, the kids had sausage and mash, and goujons and chips. I had a Thai curry and Brian had a burger and chips. Just look at that burger lads, it was class. The setting that they have created on the terrace for outdoor dining is so relaxing and welcoming. It’s outdoors but feels like you are indoors because it is covered in, so it’s perfect for the lovely Irish weather.
While sipping on cocktails on the terrace for the evening would have been my preference, unfortunately the kids tend to call the shots when we are away so we raided the vending machine for lots of goodies and headed back up to the room after dinner. The vending machines in the lobby have a contactless payment option which was super handy since we never carry cash anymore.
The rest of the evening was spent watching a movie and having a little tea party in the room with all of the goodies.
Day 3: Killarney, Ring of Kerry, and Valentia Island, Co. Kerry
We finished off our stay in Parkavon Hotel with a lovely breakfast. The breakfast is table service for both hot and cold breakfast items. As you can see from the picture, there is plenty of choice and you are sure to find something to suit all of the family.
Parkavon Hotel also has a leisure centre, sauna, swimming pool, and kids pool too. It is within walking distance of Killarney town centre so would make a perfect base if you are planning a family trip to Killarney in the coming months.
One of the reasons we chose Parkavon Hotel was due to it’s proximity to Killarney National Park. The first stop on our Ring of Kerry trip was Ross Castle in Killarney National Park which is less than 10 minutes away from the hotel so it was the perfect spot for us. The castle is open daily from 9am – 5pm, just pop Ross Castle into Google maps and it will take you straight to the free car park that is adjacent to the castle. Entrance to the site is free this year (2021) as it is an OPW site.
We took a stroll around the castle and soaked up all of the breath-taking views of the lakes. There was an option to take a horse and cart ride around the park, rent row boats, or to hop on a boat tour of the lakes but we had a jam packed day ahead so time wasn’t on our side. There is also a coffee and ice cream hut beside the castle. They only accept cash here, no card payments. Don’t make the same mistake as us and be sure you have some change to keep the kids happy.
The next stop on our Ring of Kerry trip was the spectacular Ladies View. You can park directly in front of Ladies View and will find a lovely little spot across the road called Altitude where you can enjoy a coffee, beer or some lunch on the rooftop terrace. You will be hard pushed to find a more scenic lunch spot in Ireland.
We left Ladies View and drove the windy roads through Molls Gap before arriving into Kenmare, unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side, it bucketed down for this part of the journey so we got to see very little of Molls Gap, but on a clear day you would be treated to some astounding views.
Next up you will drive through the beautiful, colourful towns of Kenmare and Sneem. If you are luckier than us and get a dry day for your trip I would definitely recommend grabbing a coffee and taking a stroll around both of these little towns.
Our next stop was O’ Carroll’s Cove, and while it was still lashing rain we didn’t want to let it ruin our trip so we braved the elements and took a little stroll along the sandy cove beach. We popped into O’ Carroll’s Cove beach bar for some delicious chowder to warm our bellies before hitting the road again.
Derrynane Beach was next on our list. I had heard so many great things about this beach before our trip so I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. I was also a little apprehensive that I had built it up a bit too much in my head and that it would be a bit of a let down. I was very wrong. It is officially one of my favourite beaches that I have ever stepped foot on. The views are insane, you need to make it a priority to visit here soon.
We drove along the Skellig Ring next in the hopes that we could make to the Kerry Cliffs before they closed, but alas it wasn’t to be. I wasn’t too devastated though because with the visibility on the day I could barely see two foot in front of me.
Day 4: Valentia Island, Ring of Kerry, and Tralee Co. Kerry
The Valentia Island Car Ferry leaves from right outside The Royal Valentia, so we decided to hop on the ferry instead of driving back up to the land bridge. I’m not going to lie, I was a tad nervous looking at the size of the ferry and the weather condition being quite blustery didn’t help either, but it was absolutely grand. The boat had started moving and we were a good bit across the water before I even realised we had left, so that will tell you how smooth the sailing was.
The ferry costs €8 one way, or €12 return and you can pay cash or card when you are onboard. They run a continuous service from Easter to early October. The roll-on roll-off ferry takes approximately 10 minutes to cross from Reenard Point to Knightstown.
We made a quick pit stop in Cahersiveen for coffee. When you are driving through Cahersiveen coming from the ferry there will be an Inver garage on your right hand side. There is an Insomnia coffee shop, Apache Pizza, and deli in the garage and there is a playground right behind it.
We made a little unplanned stop off in Kells Bay House and Gardens to stretch the legs. The gardens are spread out over 17 hectares overlooking Dingle Bay, and they contain a large collection of sub-tropical plants.
Kells Bay Gardens are open daily to the public.
Opening times are daylight hours from 09:30 to 19:00 daily all year round.
In summer months the gardens are open until 21:00
November / December opening times, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
There is also a Thai restaurant on site, we didn’t have a chance to try this out as we wanted to get to our next hotel by early afternoon, but you can check out the menus and find more info here.
We arrived into Tralee just after 3pm, and made our way to our hotel for the night: Manor West Hotel. From the second we walked through the doors of Manor West we knew we were going to thoroughly enjoy our stay. We were met by the most beautiful décor in the lobby and the check in was flawless and super friendly. We had 2 interconnecting rooms for the night which were spacious, and modern. They also have underfloor heating in the rooms which would be so cosy for winter time (or any time of year in Ireland actually).
Once checked in we decided to take a stroll around outside the hotel. There is so much on your doorstep here, right across the road form the hotel you will find a McDonalds, and you will also see Manor West retail park and shopping centre.
The highlight of our stay here for the kids was without a shadow of a doubt the playroom in the hotel. The Den can be booked at reception, you will be given a time slot and told to come back to reception to collect the key for the room before hand. During your time slot in The Den you will have the room all to yourselves, which is testament to how serious the hotel are taking the current Covid guidelines. They have a great variety of toys in the play room that would suit up to age 10 I reckon. They have a gym, pool, kids pool, underwater loungers, swan jet, therapy pool and jacuzzi in the hotel also, however it was closed during our stay.
It was some craic trying to peel our kids out of this room for dinner, they would have happily stayed in there for hours.
We booked a table in the hotel bar for dinner and drinks that evening. The food was mouth-watering, I ordered the citrus marinated chicken pasta and it was hands down the nicest meal of our entire trip.
Day 5: Tralee, Ballylongford, Tarbert, Co. Kerry, and Ennis Co. Clare
We started day 5 off with breakfast in Manor West Hotel. Breakfast is all table service at the minute, including your drinks, tea/coffee and toast etc. I went with the Eggs Benedict, Brian had the Mini Irish Breakfast and the kids chose the Amercian Style Stacking Pancakes. The food in Manor West is an easy 10/10 for us, every dish we had in the hotel was packed full of flavour and presented beautifully.
Once we had checked out of the hotel we headed in the direction of Ballylongford. Brian’s brother had recommended that we go to see Carrigafoyle Castle, and I am so glad that he did.
Carrigafoyle Castle wasn’t on our original itinerary, so if I hadn’t stupidly left the itinerary at home we never would have had time to stop and see this absolute gem.
There is a spiral staircase at the rear that brings you to a balcony very close to the top of the castle. The views from this balcony are incredible.
The castle is open to the public from May – September 10am – 6pm.
Once we were done exploring Carrigafoyle Castle, we headed for Tarbert to jump on the ferry over to Killimer, Co. Clare. The ferry from Tarbert to Killimer takes approx. 20 minutes. If you book your tickets online at least 30 minutes before departure you can avail of a 10% discount. We weren’t aware of this at the time so we paid when we got onto the boat and the price for us one way was €22. It was a much bigger ferry compared to the one we went on a few days previous in Valentia Island. We were able to get out of the car and spend the 20 minutes walking around the top deck taking in the views. Once we hit Killimer we had to wrestle Oscar back into his car seat, he was having a ball running around the ferry and wasn’t best pleased that he had to get back in the car.
You can find the timetable, and more details about the ferry here.
Once we disembarked the ferry with a screaming Oscar on our hands we headed straight for Ennis, Co. Clare. Ennis is a 45 minute drive from Killimer Ferry Terminal.
We checked into our accommodation: Ardilaun Guesthouse in Ennis, Co Clare.
By this stage we had all pretty much hit a brick wall, we were shattered. We drove 2 minutes down the road from Ardilaun Guesthouse and got some McDonalds and brought it back to the room. Once the kids had filled their bellies they got a new lease of life and spent the evening in the gardens at the back of the guesthouse having water fights, chasing the robot lawnmower and watching in awe as the fish jumped out of the river that runs adjacent to the property. Our room was so spacious and had a sliding door that opened out onto the gardens at the back of the guesthouse which was so nice.
Day 6: Ennis, and Kilkee, Co. Clare
Our first stop on Day 6 was The Flying Alpaca, which is a family run Alpaca Farm in Kilkee, Co. Clare.
They have three types of alpaca experience to choose from:
1 Meet and Greet experience: you’ll go into the fields to meet the alpacas, take all the pictures and ask all the questions you want, you will feed them and cuddle them. It usually takes 30 minutes and it’s €7 per adult, €5 for kids under 12yo, free for kids under 2yo.
2: Alpaca trekking in addition to experience 1, you also walk with them on the lead for a short trek. It is usually 1 hour long and it’s €15 per person
(Kids under 12 will share the lead with an adult; not available for kids younger than 8yo)
3: Full alpaca experience: same as the 2 but you’ll also have a fleece spinning demonstration, you can try our traditional spinning wheel, homemade food and drinks are provided €25 per adult, €15 per kid under 12yo. It is usually 2 hours long
We opted for experience 1, because the kids were a little young for the other 2 experiences, but if we ever make it back there without the kids we would definitely opt for the full experience.
Afterwards we took the short 20 minute spin out to Kilkee Cliffs. OH MY GOD what a spot. The views of the cliffs were out of this world, I still get butterflies even just thinking about them.
They may not be as popular with tourists as the Cliffs of Moher, but they are just as breath taking. There are no barriers so please be careful especially if like us you have young kids in tow.
After a wet and blustery trip around the Alpaca farm and Kilkee Cliffs we were dying for a coffee, so we headed straight for Kilkee and parked up next to the beach. We enjoyed a fab coffee from Espresso Bar while watching all the brave souls launching themselves into the water from the pier. It looked like so much fun, but the heating in the car and the hot coffee were just a little bit more appealing.
At this point it was almost 5pm, so we hit the road back in the direction of Ennis. We had one last stop before putting our heads down for the night in Ardilaun Guesthouse.
We stopped for Dinner and drinks in one of Ireland’s oldest family run pubs: Fanny O’ Deas. They had the cutest little heated huts out the back and lots of other options for outdoor dining too. The food was really nice, and Brian said the Guinness was top notch too.
Just at the rear of the pub/restaurant you will see a decent sized playground too. We avoided letting the kids catch sight of this though because it was bucketing down.
Days 7 & 8: Ennis, Killinaboy, Co. Clare and Castlebar Co. Mayo
Once we checked out of the fab Ardilaun Guesthouse we headed for Craggy Island. Ok, that’s not strictly true as Craggy Island doesn’t exist but we did head to see The Parochial House from Father Ted. A lot of articles that we had read online stated that the Google Maps location was incorrect. We decided to take a chance on it anyway and it landed us straight at the gate. It is worth going early in the morning as there’s very little parking at the house. It’s on a very narrow country road, with space for a max of 2 cars facing the gate.
Pre Covid we would have been able to book into the house for afternoon tea, however at the minute the tours have ceased and so we settled for seeing it from the gate and enjoying the views of the burren on the drive away from the house.
It was so surreal seeing the house in real life. It brought back so many fond memories from childhood of sitting down with the family to watch the show.
We spent the last 2 nights of our trip in the stunning Breaffy House Hotel in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. We had great plans of visiting Achill Island and other spots around Mayo during our stay at the hotel but the weather wasn’t on our side and at this stage we were more than ready to just chill out for a couple of days.
We couldn’t have picked a better spot to chill out either. The hotel is set on 101 acres of woodland and there is so much on the ground to explore. They have a fairy trail, two playgrounds, mini golf, spa, swimming pool, kids pool, and more.
The kids made so many little friends here, and it was so nice to be able to let them go into the playground to play with their friends while we chilled out with a drink in the outdoor seating area. The way it is set up with the playground right in front of the outdoor seating area is fantastic.
This was our 2nd time to stay in Breaffy House Hotel and it definitely won’t be our last.
And that’s a wrap on our 8 day Wild Atlantic Adventure. I hope this post gives you lots of inspiration places to stay and things to do along the west coast of Ireland.
If you have any questions at all pop over to my Instagram page and drop me a DM, I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.
Last but not least, don’t forget to share this post with your family & friends and lets inspire others to get out there and explore our beautiful country.