This Coastal Road Trip Showcases Quaint Towns, Stunning Hikes, and the Best of Celtic Culture

Follow the Celtic Route for a road trip that promises endless natural beauty, headland hikes, stories of ancient times, and unbound Celtic spirit.

St Davids Cathedral. St Davids is Britain's smallest city and is in the county of Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Alan Tunnicliffe Photography/Getty Images

Though they're separated by St. George's Channel, a body of water connecting the Irish and Celtic Seas, West Wales and Eastern Ireland share intertwined histories; stunning landscapes and wildlife; and welcoming cultures ripe with myth, legend, and song.

To combine the two into one (ferry-connected) road trip, drive the Celtic Route through the coastal counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire in Wales. Then, head over to Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford in Ireland.

Hiking trails, quaint towns, cozy eateries, historic sites, and nature-focused hotels mirror each other from across the pond and promise an idyllic getaway. Here's a week-long itinerary hitting all the highlights.


Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, and Ceredigion

Day 1

A view from Hiking Llyn Y Fan Fach in Carmarthenshire, Wales

Stacey Wreathall

We kicked off our adventure at the northern edge of the Black Mountains in the county of Carmarthenshire and headed straight for Llyn Y Fan Fach, a stunning glacial lake nestled in Brecon Beacons National Park.

Feeling adventurous, we chose the nine-mile circular walk, which took a swift four-and-a-half hours and allowed us to appreciate Llyn Y Fan Fach in all of her glistening, 25-acre glory. With mainly smooth terrain, the loop was gentle underfoot, presenting the occasional challenge but remaining manageable for a hiking novice like myself.

After a day in the great outdoors, we drove into the heart of the town of Laugharne and checked into the Dylan Coastal Resort. We immediately fell in love with our beautiful luxury lodge, secluded on a cliff overlooking the Taf estuary and the Gower peninsula. Before we knew it we were relaxing in our pre-heated hot tub and enjoying Champagne-worthy views.

Day 2

View from the Dylan Thomas Boat House + Estuary in Carmarthenshire, Wales

Stacey Wreathall

A stay in Laugharne would be incomplete without venturing into town. Here we were greeted with a Medieval castle and the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, the iconic writing place of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Bordered by the swirling sand of the estuary, it's easy to see why the writer spent most of his days penning his most famous work here. 

Later, we drove 30 minutes to the iconic harbor town of Tenby and spent the afternoon feeling the sand between our toes and exploring its maze of cobbled streets. Soon enough we were looking for a pitstop. Located between Tudor Square and Tenby Harbour, we found The Qube Restaurant, a cozy setting for a delicious seasonal supper. If you want to stay into the later hours, head down to their recently unveiled cellar bar for a Welsh Kiss — a smooth-talking cocktail.

Day 3

Lunch from Sea Foraging and Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Stacey Wreathall

There are many ways to explore the natural beauty of the Pembrokeshire coast, but we chose a foraging course with local expert Craig Evans. Starting in the woodlands, we dug for wild garlic. Then, on the windswept coast, we learned to hunt for cockles and spot soft-shell clams. Finally, our work paid off, as we enjoyed a seafood barbecue feast alongside Llew, Craig’s golden retriever and furry helper. He was, as the Welsh say, "proper lush," and we were smitten.

We ended the day driving through winding country lanes to discover the Wildernest, a retreat snuggled deep in the rolling hills of Ceredigion. After a day braving the coastal elements, we wanted for nothing while putting our feet up next to the log burner in our private lodge. For the ultimate stay, cozy up on the private veranda with a cup of tea and watch the morning sunrise as it emerges over the meadow ahead.

Day 4

View from the Wildernest Stoep Lodge in Ceredigion, Wales

Stacey Wreathall

With an early start on the agenda, we headed to the county of Ceredigion. Walking boots in tow and with plenty of fresh air to wake the senses, we trekked from Aberporth to Tresaith along three kilometers of relatively easy footing. With rock pools, villages, and beaches, there’s plenty to see along the way. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you set off.

A pilgrimage down to St David’s, Pembrokeshire, is imperative on a trip to West Wales. Britain’s smallest city is home to a colossal 6th-century cathedral with free entry. Here, you can experience the ancient grounds and marvel at the beautiful stained glass windows that depict the life of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. From the moment you step inside, expect to be utterly captivated; we felt so at peace here. We lit a candle and sat in one of the many spaces for quiet reflection. 

Make time to explore the high street, a stone's throw from the cathedral, where you'll find cute gift stores and a handful of gourmet eateries. We hopped into Grain, a small pizzeria with a creative menu featuring a delicious fusion of Welsh and Italian flavors — Ndu-ja Like It Spicy and Land of My Fathers really hit the mark. Book ahead of time, as homemade pizza and craft beers certainly draw in a crowd. Iechyd da! (That's cheers in Welsh, by the way.)

Day 5

Before bobbing over to Ireland, we spent a couple of hours exploring Strumble Head on the Pembrokeshire coast. We drove to the highest point of the rocky headland for unrivaled views of the lighthouse before spending some time in the lookout hut hoping to spot dolphins and baby seals. If you have time, there are plenty of hiking trails in the area with a treasure trove of rocky coves and Iron Age ruins to explore.

From here we drove 10 minutes to the Fishguard Ferry Port and headed to the southeast of Ireland, Rosslare. We were aboard the Stena Line ferry for approximately four hours and enjoyed some afternoon R&R. 

Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow

Arriving in Ireland’s Ancient East, we drove to the oldest city in the country, Waterford. Having dropped our bags at Faithlegg, a beautifully restored 18th-century mansion hotel, we headed straight into the center of town. To kick off the second leg of our trip in style, we headed to Bodega Restaurant and Bar. With a mouthwatering menu featuring fresh local produce and Mediterranean flavors and a friendly atmosphere, we never wanted to leave. I ordered the prawn linguine and thought I was in heaven. If you love a good cocktail, order It's about Thyme and expect it to arrive with a bouquet of Thyme — a true aromatic delight.

Day 6

The view from the drive to Waterford island, Ireland

Stacey Wreathall

A day in Waterford is best spent taking in a slice of Irish life, meeting local people, and learning about Ireland’s rich history. 

Visiting the House of Waterford Crystal, known globally as producers of the best collectable crystalware in the world, is an absolute must. Book a VIP tour and you’ll be guided through mesmerizing craftsmanship, from glassblowing to intricate cutting. 

With innovative design all around us, we admired beautiful handcrafted pieces, some commissioned by the late Queen Elizabeth II. After seeing the mastery unfold in front of our very eyes, we found ourselves dreaming up our very own commission projects. 

For more local tours, Waterford Whisky is a unique distillery on a mission for natural flavors. You’ll sample some of their finest creations, observe what happens behind the scenes, and learn why their agricultural methods are groundbreaking in the world of organic and biodynamic whiskies.

Day 7

View of the water from The Wild Rooms in Wexford, Ireland

Stacey Wreathall

The County of Wexford treated us to a plethora of Irish delights, including Hook, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world, and the JFK Memorial Park and Slieve Coillte. Getting around the peninsula is so easy, you’d be forgiven for spending a whole day simply driving, stopping, and marveling.


View from the bed at The Wild Rooms in Wexford, Ireland

Stacey Wreathall

Keeping with the theme of embracing our natural surroundings and reconnecting with nature, we were excited to be spending our final night at The Wild Rooms at Tara Hill Estate. Located in Wexford, our wood-clad luxury cabin was seamlessly etched into the landscape with floor-to-ceiling windows. A stroll down to the nearby beach is a must — we even spotted a seal. Before bed, we paused to take in the vastness of the star-filled sky and enjoy the tranquillity.

Day 8


Aerial view of the upper lake in Glendalough, Wicklow, Ireland

Stacey Wreathall

As chance (or expert planning) would have it, our road trip brought us full circle. Our adventure ended in Wicklow, hiking through the Glendalough National Park, at the Valley of the Two Lakes. Mirroring the first day of our trip, we encountered more remarkable scenery spanning breathtaking lakes. It was the perfect bookended to our trip. 

Suckers for a spectacular view, we opted for the short, yet moderately challenging hike that brought us to the Poulanass waterfall and then onto the Upper Lake. Plan to spend the best part of your day here. Pay €4 for parking and collect a map from the Visitors Centre. Stick to the color assigned to your route and look out for color-coded arrows located around the park. (Don’t forget your camera!)

Before heading back, we took one final longing gaze, breathed in the woodlands, ran our fingers through the dancing reeds, and said farewell to the rushing energy flowing along the lake below us. A landscape that truly lifts the soul, you’ll be planning your return visit before you leave.

To plan your own Celtic road trip, visit

Stacey Wreathall is a UK-based freelance writer covering all things travel and wellness. Find her on Instagram

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