You'll get a wild and windy adventure on the unspoilt Achill Island. Just off County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, the island offers rugged coastline, vast green mountains and peat bogs to explore. Learn to surf or kitesurf on one of five Blue Flag beaches, take on a cycling trail or wander between quaint homesteads. The island teems with natural beauty, such as the shores of Keem Bay that inspired the writings of Graham Greene.
At an Achill Island hostel in a former Victorian mansion, you're guaranteed seaside vibes and fresh air around the spacious grounds. If you're on a budget, look out for places that include breakfast with your stay. Most Achill Island hostels have complimentary Wi-Fi, so you can take a break from the great outdoors by streaming a film. Or get to know other travellers over a Guinness at a hostel with its own on-site bar.
If you want a village feeling with your stay on Achill Island, head to Dugort. It's based at the foot of Slievemore Mountain, making it a worthwhile starting point for hikes or trips to its two peaceful beaches. When you're not swimming, surfing or picnicking on the sands, Keel is worth checking out for its few shops and places to grab a bite. To stay close to the mainland, Mallaranny village is a mix of woodland and coastline marked by the Great Western Greenway cycling and walking path.
Make the most of the Blue Flag beaches and take a surfing lesson while you're on the island. Keel strand is a popular place for catching a wave, and you'll have your choice of schools to help you do it. Have a go at windsurfing or kitesurfing before lacing up your hiking boots for a trip to Slievemore or Croaghaun. Two of the highest cliffs in Europe, these towering peaks offer climbs and hiking trails that reward those who tackle them with staggering views.
Achill is accessible only by bridge. If you're coming from far away, Ireland West Airport Knock will get you within a 75-minute drive of the island. For the freedom to travel around, it's worth looking into car rental. You can take the bus, but timetables are seasonal so make sure to check them before heading out. If you're up for intense pedalling, hiring a bike can be a good way to see the scenery.