For quiet back roads and rural byways, Ireland is uniquely satisfying. The island nation has its showy headliners, to be sure: the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast and the Book of Kells at Trinity College in the east; the Neolithic megatomb known as Newgrange (which is older than the Egyptian pyramids) and the Star Wars-famous Skellig Islands. What’s more, cities like Dublin, Cork and Galway offer up an eclectic blend of new and old (think nouvelle cuisine restaurants alongside shops selling penny candy). But many find the essence of Ireland lives along its country lanes, in places bearing names as poetic as the landscape: Inishbeg, Skibbereen, the Great Blasket Island. Here, lambs bleat in the breeze near stone walls that have stood for centuries. And no one, by the way, is too busy to chat with a stranger. Thanks to Ireland’s excellent education system and a centuries-old storytelling tradition, the Irish are some of the world’s best raconteurs, and you’ll find that the spontaneous encounter—a conversation with a farmer in the pub, or the woman who invites you home for tea when you ask for directions—becomes as treasured a part of your trip as anything you’d set in your itinerary.
How to go: Nearly every drive’s a scenic one in Ireland, and customized driving tours are a great way to see much of the countryside. Your AAA Travel Advisor—through their connection with the Ireland experts at trusted AAA tour partners—can help you plan a driving trip that takes you to little-known treasures and suits your interests and budget. There are a wide range of trip options, from driving yourself to going with a private chauffeur (it’s more affordable than you think).