Pick up your hire car at Shannon airport and get ready for some serious culture and breathtaking views.
"We're the real Ireland - the gateway to County Clare! Dublin may have the prestige and the Guinness but if you want to find out what this country is all about you have to travel further west."
There's nothing much to see in Shannon itself - it's an airport town - but it is indeed the gateway to County Clare, which boasts incredible countryside and some of Ireland's finest outdoor pursuits opportunities.
This is rural Ireland: things don't have to happen at 1000 miles per hour, there is plenty of space for everyone and the surrounding scenery is truly memorable.
They are friendly, to be sure, and you will definitely receive the warmest of welcomes. But that does not necessarily mean you'll understand all you hear.
Ask yourself why County Clare is so green and then pack your brolly!
Try Irish root soup, a County Clare favourite. It's a puree of sweet potatoes, carrots and leeks.
County Clare man Paddy Hannan went over to Australia in the late 19th century and set off a gold rush after discovering the precious metal near Kalgoorlie. There's a statue of him in the town to this day.
Awarded town status on New Year's Day 1982, Shannon town was originally designed to provide housing for the people working in the area's newly created airport.
"What will really get into your soul is that County Clare carries a song in its heart." - Lonely Planet
All of the Shannon Airport car hire desks are located on the ground floor of the terminal building.
The first duty free shop in the world was opened at Shannon airport in 1947. Back then, it only sold cigarettes and whiskey, but now you can get a whole range of souvenirs including jewellery, ceramics decorated with intricate Celtic knot patterns and traditional shortbread.
Cash machines are available in the arrivals hall.
It would almost be rude to visit Shannon Airport without calling in to the Sheridan Food Pub located in the departures lounge. This bar and restaurant is named after Joe Sheridan, inventor of the Irish Coffee and it still serves up his original recipe over 60 years after its creation.
Although you’ve got a rental car to cruise around the emerald isle in, don’t forget to pack your umbrella. And your kagool. And your wellies. This part of Ireland receives a lot of rain.
We compare prices from leading suppliers
This former school and chapel in the town of Ennis is now home to a small but fascinating museum that recounts the history of County Clare, dating back as far as the Bronze Age.
You can park in the public car park which is at the back of the museum, next to the Temple Gate Hotel.
This research centre in Kilrush educates visitors about the local marine life and wildlife in an involving way, mixing information on conservation with a dollop of fun - dolphin sounds and skeletons for starters.
There is a public car park in the town centre near Vandeleur Street.
A trip to the handsome town of Lahinch is worth it for this lovely gallery alone. Local artists exhibit their work, which is inspired by the Ireland around them.
There is parking on Main Street, where the gallery is located.
Daring types looking for adventure can get their adrenaline rush at the university in Killaloe. Everything from kayaking to archery is within a short distance of the campus.
There is a public parking area two minutes' walk from the entrance gate.
A holiday in Ireland wouldn't be complete without some kind a jig. Irish musicians regularly perform here in Ennis, but for those less willing to bust a Gaelic move, there are films and exhibitions too.
There is a local authority car park immediately adjacent to Glor where you can park your hire car.
This is one of Ireland's top tourist attractions, but there's plenty of room for everyone on the five-mile stretch of coast where the Atlantic Ocean crashes spectacularly into cliffs that rise up to 214 metres above sea level.
Follow the N18 to Ennis and from there take the N85 heading to Ennistymon. Take the N67 towards Lahinch and follow signs for the Cliffs.
Sitting very prettily on the northwest coast of County Clare, this seaside village can be whatever you want it to be - either your tranquil retreat, your party town or something in between.
Doolin is situated just six miles north-east of the Cliffs of Moher - follow the R478.
The name Burren is Irish for 'stony place', which is appropriate for this vast and unspoilt area of limestone. It's beautiful, in a dramatically bleak sort of way, and has some great tombs and relics.
Take the R471 out of Shannon before joining the N18. Join onto the R473 which will take you all the way there.
Although now uninhabited this island, which lies at the mouth of the River Shannon in Kilrush, has had its fair share of destructive visitors, from Vikings to Tudors. It boasts monastic ruins and some gorgeous scenery.
Head out on the N19 until you get to the N18. Take the N68 before joining the N67 to Kilrush. It's then a short boat trip from the marina.
" I don't think you can get the full experience of what County Clare is about by sticking with public transport because they can't take you to all the places that there are to see. Carrauntohill Cliff, for example, can't be reached without a car. But it's easy driving around the county. There are, admittedly, a lot of narrow roads but as long as you are careful - particularly when it's wet - they won't be a problem. The only time you're likely to encounter any traffic problems is in Ennis town on a Sunday when there's a football match. Otherwise you'll enjoy the peace and quiet of driving here. "