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Ireland Trip Planner

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Top attractions in Ireland

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All related maps of Ireland

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Known as the Emerald Isle, explore Ireland’s rolling green hills, amazing historic sites, and lively pub culture.

Ireland, the Emerald Isle, conjures up a unique assortment of images – lush green landscapes, old town charm, traditional folk music, the shamrock – and, of course, ubiquitous cozy pubs. In fact, Ireland is this and much more – it is a beautiful country with stunning nature and vibrant, cosmopolitan cities, offering opportunities for both adventure and retreat.

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Ireland's illustrious capital is known for its literary traditions, an upbeat pub scene, and a wealth of cultural and historic sites.

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The Irish people offer ready smiles and a warm welcome, and the country’s history and culture can be as intoxicating as the local whiskey. And the weather? The locals are known to expect 4 seasons in one day, hence their motto: There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!

Dublin , Ireland’s bustling capital, is often the starting point of an Irish vacation. A flat city, divided in two by the River Liffey, has several bridges uniting it, the most famous of which is the O’Connell Bridge, and it is easy to get around the city by foot. Dublin’s historic buildings include the 13th century Dublin Castle , the 12th century St. Patrick’s Cathedral , and the Parliament building. Temple Bar, a riverside area with cobblestoned pedestrian walkways, is one of Dublin’s most visited districts. It is home to the historic Trinity College , Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, and the Meeting House Square with its delightful galleries, boutiques, pubs, and a weekly food market. Dublin’s picturesque parks, most notably St. Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park , are city highlights, and the National Museum of Ireland is a destination for archeology enthusiasts and those wishing to explore Irish heritage. End your day at one of the city’s many pubs, reveling in the live traditional Irish music among the native Dubliners.

Kilkenny , Ireland’s smallest city and best preserved medieval town, is a short drive from Dublin. Characterized by its grey limestone architecture, Kilkenny boasts the imposing 12th century Kilkenny Castle . Explore nearby Waterford , a famous Viking port city and Ireland’s oldest, famous for its architecture, culture, cuisine – and its crystal. Tour the renowned Waterford Crystal factory , one of the only that has preserved the craft almost unchanged over the centuries. On your way to a scenic drive on the Ring of Kerry , a 112-mile coastal route spanning breathtaking scenery and medieval ruins in Ireland’s rustic southwest, stop at Blarney , climbing to the top of the Blarney Castle to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone – but only if you’re seeking the gift of gab! The town of Cork , known as the culinary capital of Ireland, is nearby, boasting a trendy foodie scene and cultural revival.

The town of Killarney , famous for its beauty, history, and hospitality – as well as its world class restaurants, is a great base for exploring the nearby Killarney National Park with its pristine lakes and extraordinary mountain and ocean views, and Gap of Dunloe , a narrow mountain pass between two spectacular mountain ranges. A coastal walk along the majestic Cliffs of Moher is an unforgettably beautiful experience.

Galway , a coastal city in the west, is known as the festival capital of Ireland. Its hub is the 18th century Eyre Square, which offers a traditional and bohemian Irish experience – shops, pubs, boutiques, and galleries surrounded by medieval architecture. Don’t forget to taste the famous oysters, their local specialty!

In Northern Island, Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Dubbed “the 8th Wonder of the World” by the Irish, the area’s 40,000 basalt columns - mainly hexagonal - which descend into the ocean are said to have resulted from an ancient volcanic eruption.

Belfast , the cultural heart of the north, has spectacular natural beauty and a rich history as well as outstanding museums, famed wall art, beautiful gardens, and lively markets. It is home to the Belfast Castle and the interactive Titanic Experience which is located on the slipways where the Titanic was built and launched over 100 years ago.

Need guidance? Leave the leprechaun legends aside, and start planning, organizing, and booking your customized dream trip to Ireland using RoutePerfect’s unique set of planning tools. Unlike any other company, Routeperfect offers its exclusive Popular Itineraries written by tourism professionals and experienced travelers to jumpstart your planning, helping you to personalize your travel and book your accommodations so that you can experience the country YOUR way.

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The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip Itinerary and Travel Guide

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: February 5, 2024

The ultimate guide to planning an epic Ireland road trip itinerary!

We’ve been lucky enough to explore countless countries, and it’s fair to say that it takes a lot to impress us.

But when we visited the Emerald Isle and explored the country on a two-week Ireland road trip, it honestly took our breath away.

Ireland boasts a rugged coastline, rolling pastures, picturesque lakes, quaint villages and some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met.

It also has more pubs per capita than any country we’ve ever travelled to, and we knew that was going to help cement Ireland in our list of favourite countries ever.

When we found out we were heading to Ireland in October to speak at the TBEX Europe conference we decided to rent a campervan and do an epic road trip around the country.

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Ireland had been at the top of Alesha’s list of must-visit destinations since she was a kid, and we couldn’t be more excited to finally explore the European nation.

Having travelled in a campervan around Canada, Australia and Chile we knew that it was definitely the best way to see a country, and with the stories we had heard from travellers about the landscapes in Ireland we were sold on the van life.

After some research we found out the best campervan company in Ireland is Bunk Campers , and we decided to get something a bit more luxurious for our journey.

All the campervans we had owned or rented over the years were just basic vans, with a small bed and tiny kitchens.

This time we rented a fully kitted out campervan, and it was nice to have luxuries like running water, hot showers, a toilet (only number ones!!!) , a heater (so good on those cold mornings) and a dining table to sit at.

Once we picked up our campervan in Dublin we had two weeks for road tripping Ireland the best we could.

Of course two weeks is nowhere near enough time to see everything on a road trip in Ireland, but we were lucky that we had about eight days beforehand as well to see more of Kerry County, Dublin and Ireland’s Ancient East.

What we did see though made us fall in love with Ireland even more, and we’re already making plans on returning in the near future for a longer trip.

Here’s our guide, including tips, highlights and our full Ireland road trip itinerary.

Achill Island Sunise

Table of Contents

The Ring of Kerry

Ireland’s ancient east, donegal’s wild atlantic way, loop head peninsula, the giant’s causeway, achill island, the ring of beara, day 1 – dublin to wexford (150km), day 2 – wexford to cork (190km), day 3 – cork to kenmare via the ring of beara (200km), day 4 – kenmare to killarney via the ring of kerry (140km), day 5 – killarney, day 6 – killarney to tralee via dingle (160km), day 7 – tralee to lahinch via loop head (160km), day 8 – lahinch to galway via doolin (100km), day 9 – galway to achill island via kylemore abbey (200km), day 10 – achill island to donegal via ballina (220km), day 11 – donegal to londonderry via slieve league and malin head (250km), day 12 – londonderry to belfast via the giant’s causeway (190km), day 13 – belfast, day 14 – belfast to howth (or dublin) via newgrange (180km), want to save this for later pin it, 8 highlights of our ireland road trip.

Our Ireland road trip was an incredible experience, and we really fell in love with the country after our 2 weeks driving around.

We even took a quick trip into Northern Ireland (which is actually a part of the United Kingdom) , and we’re glad we did, as it added some other great stops into our itinerary.

From the famous Giant’s Causeway to the Kerry Cliffs, exploring the history of Ireland’s Ancient East to walking through the Dark Hedges, these are the highlights of our Ireland Road Trip.

Want to know where to go on a road trip in Ireland? Read on…

Dark Hedges Game Of Thrones Northern Ireland Road Trip Campervan

Arguably the best driving loop in the entire country, the Ring of Kerry starts off near Killarney in the southwest of the country and takes in the beautiful coastal scenery of the Iveragh Peninsula.

If you leave from Killarney the Ring of Kerry is about 214km long, not including all the detours, but every single kilometre of that is an absolute joy.

Check out these epic day tours and activities you can do in Killarney !

Head in a clockwise direction from Killarney, straight to Kenmare and then onwards to Sneem. This is to avoid the tour buses, which are forced to drive in an anti-clockwise direction.

Every time you see a photo opportunity make sure you grab it! The landscape is out of this world, and ranges from sprawling farmland to lush forest, with jagged mountain peaks and a dramatic coastline topping it off.

The highlight is the Kerry Cliffs near Portmagee, with towering rocks dropping spectacularly into the sea, and you can even see the famous Skellig Islands in the distance on a clear day.

If you have the time, and the weather is nice, make sure you take a trip to the Skelligs, home to puffins and landscapes that can be seen in the latest Star Wars movie.

The Ring of Kerry roads are extremely narrow, so make sure you drive with care.

Ring Of Kerry Cliffs

While the rest of the country boasts a world class coastline and jaw-dropping landscapes, for those with a love of culture and history then Ireland’s Ancient East is a destination where one day can easily turn into seven.

You can begin your journey in this fascinating area with a night (or more) at Waterford, delving into the Viking history that has been around for over 1000 years. Don’t miss out on the King of the Vikings virtual reality exhibition!

Head to Wexford and take a tour of the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience. This authentic, interactive exhibition of what it was like to travel in an immigrant ship (complete with the actual Dunbrody ship!) back in the 1700s is absolutely remarkable, and while we are usually dubious of recreations, this was world class!

Enniscorthy is a gorgeous heritage village that was also home to centuries of sometimes tragic history.

The castle is well worth visiting, but don’t miss out on the views from Vinegar Hill, which was actually the location of a fierce battle between British and Irish soldiers in 1798.

Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world, and if you’re looking for an iconic photo you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place than here.

By far the best attraction in Ireland’s Ancient East is the Irish National Heritage Park .

This sprawling venue has been built to showcase more than 9000 years of Irish history. Kids and adults alike will be completely entranced by walking around the traditional dwellings that have been recreated on the grounds.

Passionate actors share stories of what it was like to live in the times when humans first settled in the Emerald Isle, and the hardships endured over the years.

To complete the experience don’t miss out on a traditional Viking dinner in the restaurant. Expect ribs cooked underground on coals, hearty soups and fresh bread, all washed down with craft beer!

You’ll be required to dress up in old-fashion clothes as well, but don’t worry about the quality of food – it’s absolutely impeccable, and much healthier and tastier than would have been found back in the day.

Vinegar Hill Sunset

The entire west coast of Ireland has become known as the Wild Atlantic Way , and the slick marketing campaign by the tourism board isn’t without just cause – It’s absolutely phenomenal, and should be the main objective of any Ireland road trip.

One of the more incredible, yet often skipped, areas of the country is Donegal County up in the far north of the Republic of Ireland.

The town of Donegal itself is enjoyable, with some great pubs, cafes and restaurants to keep you entertained, but it’s only when you hit the coast that you start to see the county’s true potential.

Slieve League is the main attraction, with its marvellous hiking trails that offer stellar views over the Atlantic Ocean and cliffs that almost rival the ones found in Kerry.

The drive out to Meencarrick is superb, and it is one of the nicest coastal routes in the country. Don’t miss driving out to the headland for some hiking next to the cliffs.

The entire length of ocean roads in Donegal is great, but make a special detour to Malin Head, the northernmost point in the Republic of Ireland (even further north than Northern Ireland).

It will be super windy, but the views are great and the bucolic roads to get there are alone worth the trip.

Slieve League Donegal

In the list of big attractions in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are right near the top. These soaring, vertical rock faces tumble into the sea, and stretch for kilometres like an impenetrable barrier against the Atlantic.

They are also supremely crowded with tourists.

Instead head a bit further south to the Loop Head Peninsula, where you can find similar landscapes and scenery with no entrance fee charged, and almost nobody else to get in the way.

You won’t find fences here either. If you want to walk right up to the edge of the cliffs, you can (just be careful).

If you have time, do both. But if you just want to choose one, skip the Cliffs of Moher and instead hit up Loop Head Peninsula.

Loop Head Peninsula

Although the Giant’s Causeway is actually in Northern Ireland, it is still one of the best places on the Emerald Isle and should not be missed during your road trip itinerary.

Thousands of basalt, hexagonal columns rise out of the sea creating one of the most magnificent geological environments in the United Kingdom.

Legend has it that a giant built the Causeway as a path to connect Ireland with Scotland so he could take part in a fight, and if you use your imagination you can almost picture the columns forming a bridge between the two nations.

Walking around the Giant’s Causeway can easily take a few hours, with plenty of great photo opportunities and even some hiking trails around to occupy your time.

The audio tour that can be purchased from the wonderful visitors centre tells the legend, geology and history of the Giant’s Causeway, and is worth the price.

If you’re trying to keep your costs down though you can actually visit the Giant’s Causeway for free. Park in the closest town and hitch or take a bus to the site, then walk around the visitors centre.

Giant's Causeway

When we were driving around Ireland we met one or two people that had mentioned a place called Achill Island, but it never came up as a ‘must do’ in our conversations.

Still, when we realised it would only be a short detour to check it out, we decided we had nothing to lose by making the visit.

It was one of the best decisions we made.

Achill Island is an absolute delight, and boasts ridiculously beautiful beaches, wonderful headlands, quaint fishing villages and fun adventure activities to enjoy.

After crossing over on the bridge we drove to the end of the road, and couldn’t believe the kind of views that surrounded us.

Sheep wandered on the steep farmland with an impossible ocean vista rolling out in every direction. Hills climbed all around us, offering great hiking for those feeling active.

We ended up watching sunset from a water reservoir that looked out over the whole town of Keel, and finding a place to camp next to an inland lake close by.

With more time you could rent some surfboards or kites and hit the ocean, or head up into the mountains for some trekking.

When we return to Ireland we’ll definitely be giving Achill Island a bigger portion of our schedule.

Achill Island Sunset

The Ring of Kerry is the go-to for road trips in Ireland, but the nearby Ring of Beara is just as beautiful, without the people.

Just like its neighbour, the Ring of Beara is a coastal loop that takes in the absolute best vistas of the Beara Peninsula.

You’ll find sheep grazing on pastures that butt up against the ocean. The roads twist and wind like a snake weaving through a field, and requires a lot of concentration to navigate.

Unfortunately the weather was quite bad on the day we did the Ring of Beara, but even then whenever we did get a glimpse of the landscape we were absolutely blown away.

Ring Of Beara

Stonehenge might be the most famous Neolithic site in the United Kingdom and Ireland, but it definitely isn’t the oldest.

Only a few hours north of Dublin is the spectacular Newgrange archaeological site; a huge, circular stone structure that was built over 5200 years ago as a passage tomb and temple.

Approaching Newgrange is not what you would expect. It is surrounded by farmland, and you can see cows and sheep walking around just on the other side of the fence. But the site itself is wonderful.

The main tomb takes up over an acre of land, and stands 15m tall with an 85m diameter. It’s part of a larger complex as well, surrounded by other tombs named Knowth and Dowth.

One of the most remarkable things about Newgrange is that the entrance passage is aligned to let in a beam of light during sunrise during the winter solstice.

Guides can show you this phenomenon at any time of year though using flashlights.

You must head to the Visitors Centre to purchase your tickets first, which is actually a bit far away from the Newgrange site.

They offer free bus transport with your ticket from the Visitors Centre to Newgrange, but we recommend taking your own car to the site.

We didn’t know you could do this and spent almost 2 hours total waiting – not because of crowds, but because that was just the way the bus schedule worked. Save yourself the headache and drive your own car to the site.

Newgrange

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

We ended up renting our campervan to try and find the best Ireland road trips for two weeks and managed to see a lot of the country.

However it did end up being a bit rushed, and you could easily extend this to a month if you wanted to do all the amazing side trips and hiking excursions around.

This is the exact itinerary that we followed, although where possible we’ve given alternatives that might be worth spending the night in.

Our trip was plagued with storms and a hurricane (yes, a hurricane), so we had to skip a few things.

We don’t mention many places to stay, because most of the time we slept in our campervan, and you can find your own spots along the way, or stay in any one of the dozens of epic B&Bs in the country .

We’ll definitely be adding to our list once we do our next Ireland road trip.

Road Trip Of Ireland Itinerary

Once you’ve picked up your campervan in Dublin (and of course visited the Guinness Storehouse, which is a must see) head out of the city aiming for the town of Wexford in Ireland’s Ancient East.

The drive itself won’t be overly beautiful, but chances are you’ve picked up the rental in the afternoon and the goal is to just get out of the city.

In Wexford and the surrounding area there are plenty of things to do that could take up a few days of your itinerary. Some of the best things to do around Wexford are:

  • Visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience in Wexford.
  • Do the King of the Vikings Experience in Waterford.
  • Go to Hook Lighthouse.
  • Spend a few hours at Dunmore Adventure Centre , which has a tonne of activities to enjoy, like kayaking, sailing, climbing, windsurfing, and our absolute favourite, the Wibit Waterpark. Ever seen the show Wipeout? Well Dunmore East has one of these giant inflatable parks set up out in the harbour! One of the funnest things we have ever done.
  • Hang out at Ireland’s National Heritage Park.
  • Go cycling along the Waterford Greenway.
  • Hang out in Enniscorthy and climb Vinegar Hill.

Hook Lighthouse

You can take your time driving to Cork and visit some of the great attractions in the area, or just enjoy the beautiful country scenery.

Get out and enjoy the beautiful coastal walks around Ardmore, and have lunch at the phenomenal Cliff House Hotel.

The roads are quite good and Cork itself is a fun city. Plenty of great pubs and restaurants to enjoy, and some great attractions nearby:

  • Visit Blarney Castle and kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Also don’t forget to spend some time walking around the stunning grounds.
  • Eat at Cliff House Hotel…Trust us on this one.
  • See the colourful houses in Cobh.

Blarney Castle

Leave early on this day because the plan is to tackle the beautiful Ring of Beara driving loop on the way to Killarney.

From Cork take the backroads to Ballylickey, then head onto the Beara Peninsula. You’ll be thankful you left early because this loop will take you all day with all the photo stops.

Once you finish the loop spend the night in Kenmare, which is a beautiful little village.

Some of the main attractions along the way are:

  • Drive the spectacular Ring of Beara.
  • Walking around Kenmare.

After a delicious breakfast in Kenmare head west onto the Ring of Kerry, and make sure those camera batteries are charged!

This loop is the most famous, and arguably the most beautiful, drive in all of Ireland, and if you get a sunny day it might end up being one of the best road trips of your life!

If you’re into hiking, or want to do some of the day excursions around the Ring of Kerry you might need to break up your trip into two or three days.

  • Visit the Skelligs – Two rocky islands off the coast of Ireland home to an old monastery, puffins, and was used as a film scene in the latest Star Wars movie.
  • Hike around the Kerry Cliffs.
  • Hang out at Derrynane Beach.

Be careful of the roads along the Ring of Kerry – they are twisting, narrow and often busy with tour buses!

Ring Of Kerry

After a few days of driving you deserve a well-earned rest. Except you’re now in Killarney, and there are so many things to do in Killarney that you could easily fill a week with activities!

We spent 4 days in Killarney before we started our road trip, and loved it so much we came back! You’ll be spoilt for choice here, whether you’re into history, gardens, adventure activities or simply drinking beer.

  • Rent a bicycle and explore Killarney National Park.
  • Go on a river cruise .
  • Visit Ross Castle and the Abbey.
  • Check out Muckross House and the gardens.
  • Get into nature at Torc Waterfall.
  • Head out to the Gap of Dunloe and admire the world-class scenery.
  • Drink delicious beer at Killarney Brewing Company.
  • Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain.

If you want to splash out and enjoy a night outside of your campervan, then head to the best luxury hotel in Killarney, Muckross Park Hotel .

Torc Waterfall Killarney

Once you’ve managed to pry yourself away from Killarney (it might take a while), you have another epic drive to check out on your Ireland road trip.

Drive out to Dingle, a wonderful town that would make a nice base for a day or two, and move out to the end of the Dingle Peninsula.

This captivating area is home to the Slea Head Drive, another magnificent loop that features rolling hills jutting up against steep ocean cliffs.

As you’re now on the Wild Atlantic Way you can expect to see more than your fair share of coastal scenes, but this one around Slea Head is pretty special.

It’s not just cool scenery – there’s also a bunch of history, with stone beehive huts peppered along the coast and the impeccable Gallarus Oratory adding to the awesomeness of Slea Head Loop.

Spend the night in Tralee after doing some of the best attractions around Dingle:

  • Head out on the Slea Head Drive.
  • Visit the Gallarus Oratory, and all the beehive huts along the way.
  • Drink some Dingle Gin.
  • Do a boat trip to see Fungie the Dolphin.

Slea Head Drive

Today isn’t a long day driving, and you really have two options on how you want to head to Lahinch – you could take the ferry, creating an excellent short cut, or drive out to the city of Limerick.

We personally decided to skip Limerick, even though we had heard good things, as we much prefer to be in the countryside. Plus there’s a massive highlight to see along the way!

While it’s only a short drive today your timing will be dependent on the ferry schedule that gets you across the small harbour from Tarbert to Killimer. Make sure you get there early in case you have to wait.

Once you get on the other side drive out to Loop Head Peninsula, home to some of the most wonderful cliffs in the entire country, and they’re completely free!

If you have time, or really love cliffs, you could also do the Cliffs of Moher, although these are very touristy. Spend the night in Lahinch, a wonderful beach town with a colourful main street.

  • Take the ferry from Tarbert to Killimer.
  • Drive out to Loop Head Peninsula and see the cliffs.
  • Visit the Cliffs of Moher.
  • Rent a surfboard and hit the waves in Lahinch.

Colourful Farmhouses

On this day we unfortunately had to wipe all the attractions from our schedule as a hurricane hit the country, and we ended up bunkering down in the small town of Ennis to wait out the storm.

However if we had our time again, we would drive from Lahinch to Doolin, which is meant to be an amazing little beach village that gets a lot of rave reviews from our friends.

Then keep following the coast, eventually finishing up in Galway.

This stretch also could be turned into a two-day journey, with all the things to do.

  • Take a boat out to the Aran Islands, a World Heritage Site where the locals speak Irish as well as English and ancient, ruined churches are just waiting to be explored.
  • Grab a pint in one of Doolin’s colourful pubs.
  • Follow the sea and enjoy the Wild Atlantic Way views.
  • Go out to Spanish Point.
  • Party the night away in Galway.

Lake Views

If you’ve ended up partying a little too hard in Galway you might need to break this journey up into two days, as you’ll be leaving late. But if you’re feeling fresh get a move on early!

The first stop is going to be Kylemore Abbey, a sensational old castle with some of the most beautiful gardens in all of Ireland.

Keep following the road around and make a beeline for Achill Island, where if you’re not careful you may get stuck for a day or two.

  • Wander around Kylemore Abbey and the gardens.
  • Reach the end of the road on Achill Island and be blown away with the views.
  • Take a swim at the beach in Keel.
  • If you have more time enjoy all the hiking and surfing opportunities around Achill Island.

Kylemore Abbey

The beautiful drive takes in the countryside around Ballycroy, which is surprisingly delightful and has lots of great hiking opportunities.

The area around Ballina has some cool, old friaries, and once you get to Sligo you’ll find tonnes of outdoor adventures to enjoy.

If you have time before settling in Donegal do the drive out to Slieve League, otherwise you can do it in the morning.

Finishing up in Donegal hit up one of the excellent restaurants and down it all with a pint of Guinness.

  • Go for a hike in the Ballycroy National Park.
  • Visit the 600-year-old friaries near Ballina.
  • Head up one of the mountains or lakes in Sligo.

Beach Achill Island

It’s another long drive today, which could also be broken up if you had the time, because the Donegal area has a lot of epic scenery and activities to enjoy.

The first thing you should do is enjoy the coastal drive out towards Slieve League, taking the side roads that turn down into the tiny fishing villages along the way.

Slieve League is hugely impressive, and with more time you could do the hike to the cliffs, or if you’re trying to fit it all in a day you can simply drive to the top and check out the views.

Get back in the car and head straight up to Malin Head, the northernmost point in Ireland. Afterwards head back south towards Londonderry.

We personally headed to Quigley’s Point and stayed at the Foyleside Caravan Park as we needed power to charge our laptops, and we enjoyed the spot.

  • Don’t miss out on Slieve League – epic cliffs and gorgeous ocean views.
  • The road to Meencarrick has some beautiful, old village and surf beaches to check out.
  • Fall in love with the scenery around Glenveagh National Park.
  • Stand at the northernmost point of the Republic of Ireland in Malin Head.

Malin Head

You’ll be spending the next few days in Northern Ireland, which means you’ll get to visit one of the United Kingdom’s most popular tourist attractions, the Giant’s Causeway.

Stick as close to the coast as possible on the drive to the Giant’s Causeway, stopping along the way to take some pictures.

Spend a few hours wandering around the famous basalt hexagonal columns, then get back in the car and make the drive into the countryside.

Swing by The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney – an avenue of enormous, twisting beech trees that is one of the most photographed places in the whole country.

It was already a popular spot, but when the HBO series Game Of Thrones filmed a scene there it was propelled into another level of busyness. Still, it’s worth seeing, even if you don’t know anything about the series.

Afterwards head into Belfast for the night, or pick a caravan park outside of town.

  • Enjoy the coastal road in Northern Ireland.
  • Walk across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge near Ballintoy.
  • Walk (don’t drive) down the Dark Hedges.
  • Check out the Giant’s Causeway. Remember you don’t have to pay to enter if you don’t want to visit the information centre or use the carpark.

Giant's Causeway Walk

The Northern Ireland capital is filled with intense history, fascinating murals, a world-class museum and more than its fair share of awesome pubs.

Belfast is a city that oozes with grungy atmosphere, and whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny that it has an overwhelming character that should be experienced.

We were really looking forward to visiting Belfast, and it did not disappoint. To really appreciate the city though you should be willing to embrace the tragedies of the last few decades, and admire how it has bounced back.

  • Spend a few hours in the marvellous Titanic Belfast, known for being one of the world’s leading tourist attractions. Get your ticket here .
  • Join a free walking tour of Belfast to learn about the city’s political history.
  • Check out the Crumlin Road Gaol.

Titanic Belfast

For the last full day jump on the highway and head south of Belfast. You can easily be in Dublin in 2 hours, but it’s worth stopping off at the Neolithic site of Newgrange.

As mentioned above, Newgrange is one of the real highlights of any Ireland road trip, and learning all about the massive passage tomb is splendid, especially when you consider it’s older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids!

If you need to be in Dublin tonight then you can be in the city quite easily, but personally we recommend heading to the fishing village of Howth , only 30 minutes from the city.

Howth is genuinely wonderful, and the perfect place to finish up your Irish road trip. You can park your van by the dock and head out to get fish and chips, or if you want a perfect place to stay head into the only hotel in town (yes, the only hotel in town), King Sitric .

  • Visit the ancient Neolithic site of Newgrange.
  • Go for a hike around Howth, or enjoy the best seafood in the country at King Sitric Restaurant.

Sunset Howth Ireland Road Trip Campervan

Tips For a Road Trip of Ireland

Driving a campervan around Ireland is definitely the best way to see the country.

Having your own wheels is one thing, but having your own home is the icing on the cake!

Still there are some things you need to keep in mind before you start this fun adventure. For another good reference, check out this article on renting a motorhome in Europe.

Here are some tips for renting a campervan in Ireland.

  • Bigger isn’t always better:  The roads in Ireland can be notoriously narrow, and having a giant RV isn’t ideal in the Republic of Ireland. We went with the Aero model from Bunk Campers and it was a good balance of size and comfort, without being too big for the roads.
  • Try to free camp where possible:  This is the whole bonus of having a campervan – You get to save on accommodation! In the Republic of Ireland we never had a problem finding a carpark or patch of grass to pull up for the night. We stayed next to a lake in Achill Island, behind a bus station in Ennis, on top of Vinegar Hill and plenty of other spots. It’s not always glamorous, but at least it’s free!
  • Sometimes you’ll have to stay in a caravan park: In Northern Ireland wild camping is illegal, so you have to stay in a caravan park. They’re not too expensive (sometimes 20 Euros or less), but they come with the added bonus of amenities like laundry, proper bathrooms, electricity hook ups and wifi.
  • Buy a prepaid SIM card from 3: Having data on the road is important, and we picked up a prepaid SIM from the telephone company 3. For 20 Euro we got unlimited 4G data and unlimited texts and calls for a month. We could also hotspot our laptops off of our phone with it. Get one from any 3 store.
  • Don’t underestimate driving distances: You might look at one leg and think, “Oh it’s only 150km, we’ll be there in 2 hours,” but that’s not always the case. Road conditions can slow you down, as will the hundreds of photo stops along the way. Don’t be too ambitious when planning your schedule.
  • Head south and drive clockwise: The weather in Ireland moves from the Atlantic Ocean and moves across the country heading northeast. A tip we got from the manager at Bunk Campers is to head south to Kerry County and drive clockwise. That way if you get nice weather you can basically follow it north.

[box] Our Ireland road trip adventure was made possible thanks to our partnership with Bunk Campers and support from Failte Ireland . All thoughts, opinions and pints of Guinness drunk at Irish pubs are, as always, our own.[/box]

Campervan View Ireland Road Trip Campervan

Alesha and Jarryd

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Thanks for informative blog

How would you cut this down to just 10 days, Dublin to Dublin? Which stops are musts and which ones could we skip?

Loved reading this post! Really appreciate how comprehensive this all is. helps a lot as we try to figure out a two week itinerary for us taking a car over from France on the ferry!

Best Itinerary and photos.. Thanks for sharing the content.

This itinerary sounds great. It would be helpful to have a map. We are hoping to book vrbo’s along the way. We will rent a car and drive the coastline. Would love any tips.

Hello, I know you shouldn’t drink and drive anywhere but I rather ask the question and be safe. It seems that it would be difficult not to have a beer or two at a pub while in Ireland, so… what is the law regarding alcohol level allowed while driving? also… is there any law against having a bottle of wine or any other spirit in the motorhome to enjoy while parked?

Hi Marcelo, you definitely should not drink drive anywhere as you are putting yourself and other people in danger. You could harm yourself or others. Or worst, you could even kill someone or yourself. Definitely no go in any country.

As for the alcohol limit and the alcohol in the motorhome, we are not too sure. Sorry

Kylemore Abbey is not actually a castle. It is a monastery built on the grounds of the Castle. There are nuns who live there now and it also has a beautiful walled garden.

I am Irish and while you did see a lot on your trip, there is a lot more for you to discover when you next arrive here.

I would love a map of your route! I would also love to know where you parked each night. Did you stay at campsites or just parked in random spots. Thanks

Hi did you have a map. so I can download..it looks amazing.. we are going in April for 2 weeks .just me the wife and ted the dog ..happy holidays steve

Hi Steve, we had downloaded maps.me and the areas we need offline. You can pick up a sim card with data for cheap and we used this. There is great apps to help you plan your trip in Ireland also.

Hi Ashley, we had downloaded maps.me and the areas we need offline. You can pick up a sim card with data for cheap and we used this. We used Safe Nights Ireland to find cheap camping spots and there are many websites on the internet recommending free spots. All the best. Happy planning

Wow, Amazing pictures and fantastic guidelines. Thanks for the share!

Thank you so much. 🙂

Just reading your blog on the ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast with our camper van down below. So thanks for sharing your route with us. We are travelling around the world for a year and have 2 weeks in Ireland on our itinerary.

It would be great if you could also add a screen shot of a google map with your route. That would be helpful for readers to get a picture of your route.

Thanks for the pics and tips.

Hi Carolyn, what a trip. Sounds like you are going to have a great time. We followed the island anti – clockwise but you can definitely make up your route as everyone want to see something different. All the names above are in google and easy to find. There is also an app called Wild Atlantic Way. This is great to route out a road trip also. Have a great

Hola me gusto mucho la ruta en autocaravana por Irlanda, queremos ir en Agosto pero solo tenemos dos semanas incluyendo dia de llegada y salida desde Estados Unidos. Somos 6 y no quisieramos dormir todos los dias en el autocaravana. Cree usted que podamos ir rentando hoteles en el recorrido los dias que nesecitemos o seria complicado ya que es temporada alta?

” Hello, I really liked the motorhome route through Ireland, we want to go in August but we only have two weeks including day of arrival and departure from the United States. We are 6 and we would not like to sleep every day in the motorhome. Do you think we can rent hotels on the tour on the days we need or it would be complicated since it is high season?” comment above

Thank you for your message Yannet. I just translated it above as it may help others too. What a great trip you have planned. In the quieter towns you can easily book a hotel. But in the bigger cities such as Belfast, Killarney, Dublin, Dingle and other popular tourist places you may struggle. Definitely book ahead as your party is large and you know all 6 of you will have accommodation. There are great websites for freedom camping or low cost camping. Have a wonderful trip

Amazing trip – you’ve inspired us to do a week travelling in a campervan with our family in July, but yes only a week. We have family in Dingle to look up so will definitely be heading south and going clockwise. It looks cheaper to hire a campervan from London area (where we live) and ferry over instead of hiring in Ireland. Bit nervous to wild camp but hopefully it will workout! Would we need to pre book any campsites?

Hi Katherine, that is amazing. What a trip it is going to be. Dingle and the surrounding area is stunning. When you rent the camper from London make sure insurance covers you to go over to Ireland and Northern Ireland (if you are planning on going up there also). Personally with one week I would stick to the south and do a loop. There are some stunning drives down there. With wild camping in Ireland, it is illegal but tolerated. Just obey the leave no trace policy (even toilet paper). There is a a website called Safe Nights Ireland where you can park in peoples properties for a small fee if that feels better for you. If you are in a city and need to find a campground check out Camping Ireland website. Here is a great article below about camping in Ireland. If you do plan to stay in a campground definitely pre book as July may be busy. Have a great family trip and take lots of photos. 🙂

https://www.bunkcampers.com/en/holiday-advice/camping-guide/wild-camping/

Ireland road trip is very attractive to enjoy with awesome memories.

It definitely is. It is a stunning country. 🙂

We will be cruising with stops in Belfast, Dublin and Cork…Any suggestions of where to start a road trip as I don’t think we will need to go back to these places.

Hi Christine, Starting in Dublin and do a little loop of the south heading back past Dublin and then a loop in the north. When you do rent, make sure you can take the rental car/camper into Northern Ireland. Sometimes there are issues. Hope I answered your question. Let me know if I didn’t. Have a great trip.

Awesome recall of your trip! I am heading there next week and getting a campervan as well. Considering I have never traveled this way, reading stories like yours makes me even more excited!

So awesome. You will have a blast. We love Ireland. It was a lot of fun with the campervan. Have a great time and watch those tight Irish roads. It can get a little crazy sometimes.

This sounds amazing! I’m planning a trip (in July) to Ireland- but will only have 4 days 🙁 eek. Going to be a challenge to decide on which places to visit! (will most likely hire a car though to get around)

Hi Mel, so awesome you are heading to Ireland. Your trip is short but doesn’t mean you can’t see some awesome places. There is a lot to do and see. There are tour companies that will do trips up or down to place. Just be prepared for full on days with incredible views. If you don’t want it to be so hectic there is a lot to do around Dublin. Have an amazing trip and you can head back there in the future. 🙂

Your photos are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing! I love traveling by campervan, so it’s great to know that is an option in Ireland.

Thanks so much Veronica. Ireland is a perfect place to campervan.

Stunning photographs! I love this post and so much detail. I am from the UK and still haven’t made it over to Ireland! Hopefully in the near future though! Thanks for sharing and the huge inspiration!

Thank you so much Mike. Ireland is amazing. Such a beautiful country. You will be amazed. Hope you get there soon. Happy travels.

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  • Destinations

Perfect 10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary (Detailed Map+Tips for Planning)

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Ireland is known for its stunning landscapes and rich history, making it a great destination. Here is your go-to resource for planning a 10-day Ireland road trip itinerary ! This itinerary is based on my own experiences and is designed to help you navigate the country’s roads and discover the best of its treasures.

With a detailed map and practical tips, you’ll be well-equipped to explore everything from the iconic Cliffs of Moher to the streets of Dublin. This guide will ensure you make the most of your time in Ireland.

  • 1. Map of 10-Day Ireland Road Trip itinerary
  • 2. DAY 1 - Arrival and Dublin
  • 3. DAY 2 - Dublin
  • 4. DAY 3 - Dublin to Killarney
  • 5. DAY 4 - Killarney National Park and Ring of Kerry
  • 6. DAY 5 - Dingle Peninsula
  • 7. DAY 6 - Tralee to the Cliffs of Moher
  • 8. DAY 7 - Cliffs of Moher
  • 9. DAY 8 - Doolin to Portrush
  • 10. DAY 9 - Northern Ireland
  • 11. DAY 10 - Belfast and Drive Back to Dublin
  • 12. Intrepid Scout's Tips for 10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Map of 10-Day Ireland Road Trip itinerary

DAY 1 - Arrival and Dublin

  • Arrive in Dublin
  • Trinity College and the Long Room 
  • Ha’penny Bridge
  • Temple Bar District 

Settle Into Your Accommodations in Dublin

GOOD TO KNOW: Day 1 in Dublin will start with your arrival in the vibrant city. Next, you will dive into Dublin’s rich history and culture with a visit to Trinity College and the awe-inspiring Long Room. Next, you will cross the iconic Ha’penny Bridge and immerse yourself in the Temple Bar District, known for its pubs, live music, and street performers. Finally, you will settle into your accommodations in Dublin.

Intrepid’s Tip:

Read: 14 Tips for First Visit to Dublin to Help You Explore Ireland’s Capital

Trinity College and the Long Room

Start your Dublin exploration with a visit to Trinity College . Established in 1592, Trinity College is the country’s oldest university and boasts a rich history.

The Long Room , part of the college’s Old Library, is a majestic hall lined with shelves of ancient manuscripts and rare books. Among these literary gems is the Book of Kells , a 9th-century manuscript renowned for its intricate illumination and religious significance.

Long Room at Trinity College

Long Room at Trinty College 

Ha'penny Bridge

The Ha’penny Bridge , a beloved Dublin landmark, spans the River Liffey and connects the north and south sides of the city.

Officially known as the Liffey Bridge , it earned its nickname from the toll of half a penny that was once charged for crossing. Designed by engineer John Windsor in 1816, the bridge is an elegant cast iron structure with ornate detailing, making it a picturesque symbol of Dublin.

Today, the Ha’penny Bridge is a popular pedestrian thoroughfare , offering stunning views of the river and the city skyline.

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Ha’penney Bridge in Dublin

Temple Bar District

The Temple Bar District is a lively neighborhood that is steeped in history. Named after Sir William Temple, it has evolved into a bustling area filled with pubs, restaurants, galleries, and street performers.

In the heart of the Temple Bar District, you’ll find an array of pubs, each offering its unique atmosphere.

Start your pub-hopping adventure at The Temple Bar , an iconic spot known for its lively ambiance, live music sessions, and extensive drink selection. For a cozy retreat, head to The Auld Dubliner . If you’re seeking history along with your pint, visit The Norseman, housed in a building dating back to 1696 or The Brazen Head established in 1198, it claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub.

The Temple Bar in Dublin

The Famous Temple Bar in Dublin

The Brazen Head Pub in Dublin

The Oldest Brazen Head Pub in Dublin

Read: 14 Delicious Traditional Irish Foods You Must Try During Your Visit to Ireland

Booking accommodations in Dublin at least 3 months in advance is a really good idea. My recommendation is to book your accommodations the minute you know the dates of your travel. Dublin is a busy place and the best accommodations are in high demand, particularly during peak tourist seasons.

If you’re willing to splurge, The Merrion Hotel stands out as my top choice. Its superb location, spotless rooms, and exceptional turn-down service make it an excellent option for a luxurious stay. I always look forward to staying at the Merrion.

Following closely, yet at a much lower price is The Mont . It has a great location that will place you within proximity to the city center while still offering a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

Another place that I stayed at is Hyatt Centric The Liberties . It offers modern amenities. The rooms are clean and comfortable.

My recommendation is to check them all out and see what fits your budget. You will be staying in Dublin for 2 nights.

DAY 2 - Dublin

Dublin Castle

Christ Church Cathedral

Kilmainham goal.

  • Guinness Storehouse

GOOD TO KNOW: On Day 2 you will begin at Dublin Castle, then visit Christ Church Cathedral. Next, you will discover the poignant past of Kilmainham Gaol before ending your day at the iconic Guinness Storehouse.

Begin your second day in Dublin with a tour of Dublin Castle .

Constructed in the 13th century on a former Viking settlement, it served as a military fortress before adapting to various roles, including as a prison, treasury, and court of law.

From 1204 to 1922, it was the seat of English and later British rule in Ireland. In 1922, it was handed over to the Irish government and repurposed as a government complex.

Dublin Castle

Next, visit Christ Church Cathedral .

Founded in the 11th century, it is one of the city’s oldest buildings . With its impressive Gothic architecture , the cathedral has been a place of worship for over a millennium.

Inside, you can admire its stunning stained glass windows, ancient crypts, and intricate carvings. Make sure to take a 1-hour self-guided tour of the cathedral .

INTREPID’S TIP: Don’t miss the chance to climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city.

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral 

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

Continue your Dublin exploration with a visit to Kilmainham Gaol .

This historic prison, dating back to the 18th century, played a significant role in Ireland’s struggle for independence . It housed many notable political prisoners, and its stark conditions provide a sobering insight into Ireland’s turbulent past.

Make sure to take a guided tour to learn about the prison’s history and the stories of its inmates, including those involved in the Easter Rising of 1916.

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Kilmainham Goal 

The Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is the final stop on our itinerary. It is a testament to the rich heritage and brewing tradition of Guinness, Ireland’s most famous beer.

The storehouse spans seven floors and offers tours of Guinness’s history, ingredients, and brewing process.

Additionally, you can enjoy a variety of experiences, including the  Guinness Connoisseur Experience , where they can learn about the art of tasting Guinness like a pro, and the  Gravity Bar , which offers stunning panoramic views of Dublin while enjoying a complimentary pint of Guinness.

Time to head back to your hotel for the second night in Dublin.

For More Information About Dublin Read: 2 Days in Dublin (15 Top Things You Can’t Miss)

DAY 3 - Dublin to Killarney

Glendalough, rock of cashel, blarney castle, drive to killarney and settle into your accommodations.

GOOD TO KNOW: Day 3 of your itinerary is packed with historical and scenic delights. Begin your day exploring the ancient monastic settlement of Glendalough, followed by a visit to Kilkenny. Continue your journey to the Rock of Cashel and nearby Hore Abbey. Next, make your way to the coastal town of Cobh. Before the day ends, stop at Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and receive the gift of eloquence. Finally, head to Killarney to spend the night.

The first stop on today’s itinerary is Glendalough , located in the Wicklow Mountains .

It is an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. It’s renowned for its well-preserved ruins, including churches, round towers, and Celtic crosses, which offer insights into Ireland’s early Christian history.

The site is surrounded by scenic glacial lakes, towering cliffs, and dense forests.

You can easily spend a day in Glendalough, however, we have not more than 1-2 hours at this location, so here is a condensed version where you can still experience the essence of Glendalough even with limited time available:

  • Start by exploring the main highlights of the monastic settlement , including St. Kevin’s Church and the round tower. These central features offer a glimpse into the site’s rich history and architectural significance.

10-Day Ireland Road Trip itinerary

St. Kevin’s Church And the Round Tower in Glendalough

  • Take a brief stroll to one of the nearby glacial lakes , such as the Upper or Lower Lake for a chance to soak in the natural beauty of the area.
  • Take a moment to enjoy the stunning views of the valley and surrounding mountains from one of the designated viewpoints or walking trails.

Glendalough in Ireland

Glendalough Upper Lake 

The next stop is Kilkenny , a medieval town. Kilkenny is often referred to as the “Marble City”.

GOOD TO KNOW:  Kilkenny, Ireland has been known as the Marble City for centuries because of its history of exporting black marble to Britain . The marble, also known as Kilkenny Marble or Kilkenny Black Marble, is a fine-grained, dark-colored carboniferous limestone. The city’s streets are paved with Kilkenny marble flagstones, which are highly polished and glisten when wet.

Here are some key highlights to explore during your visit:

  • Start your tour with a visit to Kilkenny Castle , a fortress dating back to the 12th century. Explore the castle’s impressive interior, including its grand halls, art galleries, and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

  • Next, head over to St. Canice’s Cathedral renowned for its medieval architecture and iconic round tower.

Kilkenny St. Canice's Cathedral

Kilkenny St. Canice’s Cathedral

  • Finally, take a stroll along Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Trail, which begins at St. Mary’s cruciform church and graveyard , established in the 13th century. Along the way, you will learn about Kilkenny’s history as Ireland’s medieval city.

You might want to check out Kilkenny: Historical Highlights Walking Tour . I thought it was great! It is about 2 hours long and takes you through the medieval streets of Kilkenny.

The next stop is the Rock of Cashel, situated on a limestone hill, it features ancient ruins such as a medieval castle, cathedral, and round tower.

It was originally home to the Eóganachta, Kings of Munster. In 1101, it was donated to the Church by King Muirchertach Ua Briain.

St. Patrick visited in 450, baptizing King Aenghus and establishing Cashel as a bishopric.

The round tower dates back to this time. Cormac’s Chapel , built in the 1100s for King Cormac, still stands. A cathedral, erected later, was destroyed in fires in 1495 and 1647.

Book your tour tickets here .

Rock of Cashel

Aerial View of the Rock of Cashel

Next to the Rock of Cashel stands Hore Abbey , a historic ruin dating back to the early 13th century. Founded by Benedictine monks, it served as a place of worship for centuries .

Despite facing attacks and periods of abandonment, it remains a fascinating site to explore. You can wander among its crumbling walls and striking tower, imagining the monks who once inhabited this spot.

Hore Abbey

Hore Abbey 

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Next, you’ll visit Cobh , a coastal town with a strong maritime history. As the last port of call for the RMS Titanic in 1912 , Cobh is home to the Titanic Experience Cobh , located in the original White Star Line ticket office.

The town features colorful streets , historic architecture, and scenic waterfront views. Visitors can explore attractions like St. Colman’s Cathedral

There are plenty of local cafes so make sure to grab some lunch and a coffee before you head out.

Cobh

St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh

Cobh

Colorful Houses in Cobh

Continuing your journey, you’ll arrive at Blarney Castle , an iconic medieval fortress located near Cork.

Dating back to the 15th century, Blarney Castle is renowned for its legendary Blarney Stone , said to grant the gift of eloquence to those who kiss it.

You can climb to the top of the castle’s battlements to kiss the stone and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Additionally, the castle’s beautiful gardens , including the Poison Garden and Rock Close, offer spots for exploration.

Check out this tour: Easy Access – The Blarney Stone & Castle Gardens Tour . It lets skip the long ticket lines with convenient access tickets to Blarney Castle and Gardens. Afterward, you can take a guided walking tour of the charming Blarney Village.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle 

Ahead of you is a drive to Killarney. You will stay in Killarney for 2 nights.

My top choice for a stay in Killarney is undoubtedly The Killarney Park Hotel . Its blend of old-world charm and modern amenities will provide you with an unforgettable experience. I always select a room overlooking the garden and make sure I have at least one meal at their restaurant.

My second choice, Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa , is a perfect retreat in Killarney. You will like its modern feel, spacious rooms, and generously sized bathrooms.

DAY 4 - Killarney National Park and Ring of Kerry

Ross castle, muckross abbey, torc waterfall.

Ladies View 

Kenmare Stone Circle

The Kerry Cliffs

Valentia Island 

GOOD TO KNOW: Day 4 takes you through Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry. You will start at Ross Castle, then visit Muckross Abbey and Torc Waterfall. Next, enjoy the panoramic views at Ladies View before seeing the Kenmare Stone Circle. End your day at the Kerry Cliffs and Valentia Island.

Begin your exploration of Day 4 at Ross Castle , a historic fortress located on the shores of Lough Leane in Killarney National Park .

Built in the 15th century by the O’Donoghue clan, it served as a stronghold during Ireland’s turbulent past.

You can take a guided tour of the castle interior, which features furnished rooms and exhibits detailing its storied past.

Ross Castle in Killarney National Park

Ross Castle in Killarney National Park

Next on your itinerary is Muckross Abbey located within Killarney National Park.

Muckross Abbey, founded in the 15th century, is a medieval ruin with a well-preserved cloister and intricate stonework.

The abbey has served various purposes over the centuries, including as a place of worship, burial site, and refuge.

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park 

Torc Waterfall  is another popular attraction in Killarney National Park. It plunges approximately 20 meters (66 feet) over rocks into a pool below, surrounded by lush greenery.

INTREPID’S TIP: You have two options to reach Torc Waterfall: either hike the Torc Waterfall Loop Trail or park nearby and take a short walk to reach it. There are 2 parking lots. One is located no more than 5 minutes from the waterfall, and the second one is about 25-20 minutes away from the waterfall.

GOOD TO KNOW:  Torc Waterfall’s name comes from ‘torc,’ Gaelic for wild boar. Legend says a cursed man, turning into a boar by night, lived in a cliff cavern. Discovered by a farmer, he offered riches to keep quiet but vanished in anger, creating the waterfall as he disappeared into a nearby lake.

Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park

Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park

Ladies View

The next stop on the itinerary is Ladies View . It offers panoramic vistas of the landscapes surrounding Killarney National Park.

The name “Ladies View” is said to originate from the admiration of the stunning scenery by Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting during her visit to the area in 1861.

Ladies View in Killarney National Park

The Kenmare Stone Circle is an ancient archaeological site located near the town of Kenmare. Dating back to the Bronze Age, it is one of the largest stone circles in southwest Ireland.

The circle consists of 15 standing stones, with a diameter of approximately 17 meters (56 feet). Each stone varies in height, with some reaching over 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall.

The purpose of stone circles like this one remains a subject of speculation, but they are often associated with ceremonial or ritualistic practices.

Kenmare Stone Circle

Next on your itinerary are the famous Kerry Cliffs .

These dramatic cliffs soar to heights of over 300 meters (984 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean, offering breathtaking views of the rocky shoreline below.

The Kerry Cliffs

The Famous Kerry Cliffs on Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

You can take in the awe-inspiring vistas from designated viewing points along the cliff edge.

The Kerry Cliffs are definitely a must-visit stop on any tour of the Ring of Kerry!

The Kerry Cliffs

Aerial View of Kerry Cliffs on Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Valentia Island

Next on the itinerary is Valentia Island , one of my favorite stops on the Ring of Kerry.

Valentia Island is accessible via a bridge from the mainland near Portmagee or by ferry from Cahersiveen.

One of Valentia’s notable landmarks is Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs , offering panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the Skellig Islands.

Valentia is also known for its rich history, including ancient stone forts, monastic sites, and the Valentia Island Tetrapod Trackway, one of the oldest known footprints of a vertebrate animal.

Additionally, the island is home to the Valentia Island Lighthouse , which has guided ships along the Wild Atlantic Way for over 200 years.

Valentia Island

For More Information About Killarney and Ring of Kerry Read:

9 Amazing Things to Do in Killarney National Park (Maps+Tips)

22 best stops on the ring of kerry (map+top attractions at each stop), perfect 1-day ring of kerry drive itinerary, day 5 - dingle peninsula, minard castle, beehive huts.

  • Slea Head Viewpoint
  • Blasket’s View

Dunquin Pier

Gallarus Oratory

  • Drive to Tralee and Settle Into Your Accommodations 

GOOD TO KNOW: Day 5 of your itinerary takes you on a scenic journey along the Dingle Peninsula. Begin your day with a visit to Minard Castle. Continue to explore with a stop at the Beehive Huts. Pause at Slea Head Viewpoint and Blasket’s View. Make a detour to Dunquin Pier . Finally, traverse the stunning Conor Pass.

The first stop on your Dingle Peninsula adventure is the historic Minard Castle . Perched on a hill overlooking Kilmurry Bay, this ancient fortress, constructed by the Fitzgerald clan, stands as a testament to the region’s rich history.

Although now in ruins, Minard Castle was once a formidable stronghold, boasting four stories with vaulted ceilings on its lower levels. Sadly, the castle met its demise during a siege by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1650, leaving no survivors.

Minard Castle on Dingle Peninsula

Aerial View of Minard Castle on Dingle Peninsula

The next stop on the Dingle Peninsula is beehive huts also known as clocháin. Here you can discover a unique piece of Ireland’s ancient past.

These conical stone structures are crafted using the ancient drystone corbelling method, a technique where rings of stone are meticulously stacked on top of each other, forming a snug, pointed roof.

Dating back over 1,400 years to the Neolithic period, these huts are characteristic of the area’s rich Celtic tradition and are commonly associated with religious sites.

Beehive Huts on Dingle Peninsula

Beehive Huts on the Dingle Peninsula 

Best Stops on the Dingle Peninsula Drive

Best Stops on the Dingle Peninsula Drive 

Ceann Sléibhe (Slea Head) Viewpoint

The next stop is Ceann Sléibhe (Slea Head) , a promontory on the Dingle Peninsula.

It is located in the westernmost part of the Dingle Peninsula and connects the rugged landscape to the small villages of Ballyickeen and Coumeenoole.

The viewpoint offers stunning views of ancient forts, beaches, historic churches, and the Blasket Islands.

Ceann Sléibhe is renowned for its role as a filming location in movies such as “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Far and Away.” Additionally, it is part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a scenic coastal route spanning the entire west coast of Ireland.

Sle Head Viewpoint

Radharc na mBlascaoidí / Blasket's View

The next stop on the journey is Radharc na mBlascaoidí , also known as Blasket’s View .

This scenic viewpoint offers breathtaking vistas of the Blasket Islands, a group of rugged and uninhabited islands off the coast.

The viewpoint offers a stunning perspective of the island’s dramatic cliffs, rolling hills, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Blasket’s View is in my opinion a highlight on the drive where you can soak in the natural beauty of this remote and wild coastline.

Blasket's View on Dingle Peninsula

Blasket’s View on the Dingle Peninsula 

The next stop is another highlight of the drive, Dunquin Pier , also known as Dun Chaoin Pier.

Dunquin Pier is a historic landmark situated at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean offering stunning views of the coastline and the nearby Blasket Islands.

Dunquin Pier has served as an important transportation hub for centuries, providing access to the islands and serving as a lifeline for the local community.

Aerial View of the Dunquin Pier on Dingle Peninsula

Aerial View of the Dunquin Pier

The next highlight on the Dingle Peninsula Drive is Gallarus Oratory . It is one of the finest examples of early Christian architecture in the country.

This ancient stone structure, dating back to the 7th or 8th century , is renowned for its remarkably well-preserved corbelled roof and dry-stone construction. The oratory is shaped like an upturned boat , with a small entrance on its western side.

Gallarus Oratory stands as a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of its builders, who constructed it without the use of mortar.

Gallarus Oratory

Head of you is the drive to the town of Dingle and then your journey will continue to the famous Conor Pass .

Conor Pass stands as Ireland’s highest mountain pass, reaching an impressive height of 456 meters above sea level.

The narrow and twisting road spans approximately 12 kilometers between Dingle Town and Kilmore Cross, boasting an average gradient of 5.6% and bridging a vertical ascent of 399 meters.

Connor Pass

Drive to Tralee and Settle into Your Accommodations

Head of you is the drive to Tralee.

In Tralee, my two recommended places to stay are:

Ballygarry House Hotel & Spa : This elegant hotel offers luxurious accommodations in a tranquil setting just outside Tralee. With stylish rooms, excellent dining options, and a relaxing spa, Ballygarry House Hotel provides a perfect blend of comfort and sophistication.

The Ashe Hotel : Located in the heart of Tralee, The Ashe Hotel offers modern and stylish rooms, along with top-notch amenities and attentive service.

All Best Stops on Dingle Peninsula: 16 Best Stops on the Dingle Peninsula Drive (map+detailed tips)

DAY 6 - Tralee to the Cliffs of Moher

Adare manor.

GOOD TO KNOW: Today’s trip from Tralee to Doolin includes two standout stops: Adare Manor and Limerick. Admire the stunning architecture of Adare Manor before exploring the cultural heritage of Limerick, home to attractions like King John’s Castle and the Hunt Museum. Then, head to Doolin, settle into your accommodations, and get plenty of rest for the next day’s hike along the Cliffs of Moher.

The first stop on today’s itinerary is Adare Manor , a 19th-century Neo-Gothic manor house that sits on an 840-acre estate in County Limerick.

Adare Manor was built in 1832 and it has some impressive features such as 365 leaded windows, 52 chimneys, and four towers representing days, weeks, seasons, and days of the week.

The Great Hall , designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, is a standout architectural marvel and you should not miss it.

Adare Manor

Adare Manor 

Adare Manor also houses a Michelin-starred restaurant and the afternoon tea gallery , however, reservations are highly recommended if you are interested.

My recommendation is to check out a self-guided tour of the Manor House and Manor Museum . The tour offers insights into the estate’s architecture and gardens.

The next stop on the journey is Limerick .

The 3 standouts in Limeric for me are King John’s Castle , a 13th-century fortress, the Hunt Museum that houses a diverse collection of artifacts, artworks, and antiquities spanning over 2,000 years of history, and the scenic River Shannon , Ireland’s longest river, that flows through the heart of Limerick. Here are some highlights you should know about each place:

  • King John’s Castle was built between 1200 and 1210 at the behest of King John of England. The castle’s construction was intended to assert Norman dominance over the Gaelic Chieftains of the West during the first Norman conquest of Ireland.

Interestingly, despite its name, King John never set foot in the castle, having passed away before its completion in 1216. It wasn’t until centuries later that the fortress came to be known as “King John’s Castle”.

The castle itself is a formidable structure, boasting an array of impressive features including a massive gatehouse, battlements, corner towers, curtain walls, and drum towers.

Make sure to take a tour of the castle and ascend the towers for sweeping vistas of the city and river below.

King John's Castle in Limerick

King John’s Castle in Limerick

  • Next head over to the Hunt Museum . The Hunt Museum is a cultural gem. It houses a diverse collection of artifacts and artworks spanning over 2,000 years of history.

Founded by John and Gertrude Hunt in 1978, the museum is housed within the historic 18th-century Custom House overlooking the River Shannon.

The museum’s collection includes items ranging from ancient Egyptian artifacts and medieval religious objects to fine art pieces by renowned artists such as Picasso, Renoir, and Yeats.

One of the museum’s highlights is the collection of medieval and Renaissance objects, including intricately carved ivory pieces and illuminated manuscripts.

The Hunt Museum

The Hunt Museum in Limerick 

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

  • Finish off your visit to Limerick with a stroll along the River Shanon . There are lots of cafes and restaurants, so make sure to grab something to eat before heading out to Doolin.

Settle Into Your Accommodations in Doolin

After visiting Limerick head over to Doolin and settle into your accommodations.  You will stay for 2 nights in Doolin.

My recommendation is to check out West Haven House . It offers very clean and comfortable accommodations with scenic countryside views.

Another option is Hotel Doolin , situated in the heart of the village, which features comfortable modern rooms. Its onsite restaurant serves farm-to-table cuisine.

DAY 7 - Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of moher walking trail.

GOOD TO KNOW: Today, you will embark on a hike along the famous Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail will offer you the opportunity to experience the stunning coastal scenery on foot, with the option to start at either the Doolin trailhead or Hag’s Head.

My recommendation is to begin at Hag’s Head .

Park at the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Center , then take a free shuttle from the Visitor’s Center to the Hag’s Head parking area near the Hag’s Head Viewpoint.

The distance from Hag’s Head. Viewpoint to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre is approximately 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) along the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk.

The trail follows the rugged coastline, providing breathtaking views of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean along the way. While the walk can be challenging due to uneven terrain and steep sections, it offers an unforgettable adventure amidst some of Ireland’s most spectacular landscapes.

Cliffs of Moher

Aerial View of the Cliffs of Moher 

Cliffs of Moher

DAY 8 - Doolin to Portrush

Ashford castle.

Slieve League

Settle Into Your Accommodations in Portrush

GOOD TO KNOW: Day 8 starts with exploring the unique landscape of The Burren. Next, you will visit the majestic Ashford Castle. Then, journey to Slieve League, home to some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs. Finally, settle into your accommodations in Portrush, a charming seaside town.

The first stop on Day 8 of your journey is the Burren , a unique limestone landscape.

Stretching over 250 square kilometers, the Burren is renowned for its otherworldly terrain, characterized by vast expanses of exposed limestone pavement, rocky outcrops, and karst formations.

Despite its seemingly barren appearance, the Burren is home to many flora and fauna, including rare alpine and Mediterranean plants that thrive in its limestone crevices.

The Burren

The Burren 

One of the things you should not miss is the iconic Poulnabrone Dolmen , an ancient megalithic tomb dating back over 5,000 years.

The Burren

Iconic Poulnabrone Dolmen

Next is Ashford Castle , turned into a luxurious five-star hotel. Originally built as a medieval castle in the 13th century, Ashford Castle has been transformed into a grand Victorian estate.

The castle grounds are open to the public for walking , with a nominal fee of 5 Euro per person. Upon arrival, request a map from the doorman for a self-guided tour around the estate. You will be able to discover many of the filming locations for the popular TV series “Reign.”

My recommendation is that you pre-book lunch to secure a table and also give you an opportunity for an extra glimpse of the castle’s interior, which is open to patrons only.

Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle 

If you thought that the Cliffs of Moher were spectacular, just wait and see Slieve League !

Slieve League is home to some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe , towering dramatically over the Atlantic Ocean. These majestic cliffs reach heights of over 600 meters (1,968 feet).

Slieve League

GOOD TO KNOW: The most popular viewing point is known as One Man’s Path , a narrow trail that winds its way along the cliff edge, providing exceptional views.

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Tonight you will be staying in Portrush.

For a comfortable stay consider the Inn on the Coast in Portrush. It is a retreat after a day of exploring the stunning attractions of the Causeway Coast.

Alternatively, the Portrush Atlantic Hotel is a good option as well. It provides modern accommodations and excellent amenities.

DAY 9 - Northern Ireland

Dunluce castle.

Giants Causeway

  • Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

The Dark Hedges

  • Drive to Belfast and Settle Into Your Accommodations 

GOOD TO KNOW: On day 9, you will say goodbye to the charming Portrush, and embark on a journey through Northern Ireland’s iconic landmarks. You will start with the awe-inspiring Dunluce Castle, perched dramatically on a cliff’s edge. From there, you will venture to the geological wonder of the Giant’s Causeway with hexagonal basalt columns. Next, you will test your nerves at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, suspended over breathtaking coastal views. As the day progresses, you will visit the Dark Hedges, where ancient beech trees form a mystical canopy. Finally, you will arrive in Belfast, where you can unwind and rest.

Dunluce Castle , perched dramatically on a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic, is a must-stop on your Ireland road trip.

The castle is accessible by a bridge , which makes a thrilling entrance to its historic grounds.

Aerial view of Dunluce Castle in Ireland

Aerial View of Dunluce Castle / 10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Originally built in the 13th century by Richard Óg de Burgh, the 2nd Earl of Ulster. The castle’s present ruins primarily date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, with its history entwined with the McQuillan and MacDonnell clans.

Dunluce Castle gained fame as the seat of House Greyjoy in the hit TV show Game of Thrones. It is a tourist hotspot with many day tours from Belfast and Dublin.

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Dunluce Castle 

Dunluce Castle in Ireland

The next destination on your itinerary is the legendary Giant’s Causeway , a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its spectacular natural beauty and geological wonders. Here, you’ll encounter over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, each with a unique hexagonal shape, formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago.

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

Legendary Giants Causeway

These columns, typically five to seven irregular sides, stand as witnesses to the forces of nature that shaped them over 60 million years ago. From volcanic eruptions to slow cooling and rising sea levels, the Giant’s Causeway is a testament to the incredible power of geological processes .

As you explore, take note of the distinctive “ball and socket” joints , where horizontal fractures create a convex bottom face and a concave upper face.

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway 

Giants Causeway

Carrick-a-Rede

Next up is Carrick-a-Rede . It’s famed for its 66-foot chasm crossed by a rope bridge, initially built by salmon fishermen over 350 years ago.

Carrick-a-Rede

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge 

You should definitly brave the bridge for stunning coastal views and an adrenaline rush.

Once you cross, explore the Carrick-a-Rede Island and soak in the natural beauty.

Carrick-a-Rede

Next on your itinerary are the Dark Hedges , a mesmerizing avenue of beech trees. Planted in the 18th century, these gnarled trees create a hauntingly beautiful tunnel, making it a must-see stop on your Ireland road trip.

To capture the atmosphere of the Dark Hedges, the best time to visit is during sunset when the golden light filters through the branches. Make sure to use a wide-angle lens to capture the full breadth of the avenue.

The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

Mesmerizing Dark Hedges

Drive to Belfast and Settle Into Your Accomodations

As you wind down your day of exploration, it’s time to drive to Belfast and settle into your accommodations .

For a cozy and hassle-free stay, I highly recommend the Ibis Belfast City Centre . With its clean, modern rooms and a delicious hot and cold breakfast to kickstart your morning, it’s the perfect home base. Plus, its proximity to downtown shopping and lively pubs means you’re never far from the action.

Alternatively, if you’re seeking a touch of luxury and some elegance, look no further than the Europa Hotel . From its prime location to its impeccable service, every detail is crafted to ensure your comfort. Make sure to indulge in a memorable dining experience at the hotel’s restaurant

DAY 10 - Belfast and Drive Back to Dublin

Howth cliff walk.

Flight Back Home

GOOD TO KNOW: On the final day of your Ireland adventure, you’ll kickstart your morning in Belfast with a brief exploration, choosing from options like the Titanic Belfast museum, Crumlin Road Gaol, or a guided political tour. Afterward, venture to Howth for a picturesque cliff walk along the stunning coastline. Then, it’s time to head to Dublin for your flight back home.

Start your day in Belfast with a short exploration before heading to Dublin for your flight home. Here are some options to consider:

  • Crumlin Road Gaol : Step back in time with a visit to this historic prison, which operated for over 150 years.

Take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history, including its role during the Troubles, and explore its eerie underground tunnels.

  • Ulster Museum : Discover Northern Ireland’s rich history and culture at the Ulster Museum.

From ancient artifacts to contemporary art, the museum offers a diverse range of exhibits to explore, including the renowned Irish Game of Thrones tapestry. Free entrance .

  • Titanic Belfast : Immerse yourself in the story of the Titanic, from its construction in Belfast to its tragic maiden voyage.

Explore interactive exhibits and artifacts in this iconic museum, located on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard. Book your tickets here .

Belfast Titanic

Stunning Titanic Belfast Building

If you prefer a guided experience, consider joining one of these tours:

  • Belfast: Political Taxi Tour : Hop into a taxi and embark on a guided tour of Belfast’s political murals and peace walls.

Learn about the city’s complex history and the legacy of the Troubles from a knowledgeable local guide. Book tickets here .

  • Belfast: Political Conflict 3-Hour Walking Tour : Lace up your walking shoes and delve into Belfast’s turbulent past on this informative tour.

Visit key sites associated with the city’s political conflict, including murals, memorials, and peace lines. Book your tickets here .

Whichever option you choose, you’ll have a couple of hours to delve into Belfast’s history and culture before continuing your journey to Dublin.

Next on your itinerary is the Howth Cliff Walk . This picturesque trail offers stunning views of Dublin Bay and the Irish Sea with the iconic Baily Lighthouse standing as a picturesque landmark along the route.

Despite limited time, you can still enjoy a portion of the well-defined trail. The trail is accessible from the Howth DART station

10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Howth Cliff Walk with Baily Lighthouse in the Distance

Dublin and Flight Back Home

After enjoying the Howth Cliff Walk, it’s time to head back to Dublin and prepare for your flight home.

Reflect on your experiences in Ireland as you return to the city.  Grab a meal at a local spot, and maybe pick up some souvenirs. Then, head to the airport, ready to fly home with memories of your trip.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for 10-Day Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

  • Drive on the left: Always remember to drive on the left side of the road during your Ireland road trip, and be mindful of roundabouts and traffic flow.
  • Rent a compact car: Irish roads are often narrow and winding, so opt for the smallest car that can comfortably accommodate your travel group and luggage. This will make navigating tight spaces and narrow roads much easier.
  • Mind pedestrians and cyclists: Pedestrians and cyclists are common along Irish roads, especially in rural areas and scenic routes. Exercise caution and be prepared to yield to them, especially on narrow roads and blind corners.
  • Check rental requirements: Ensure you meet all rental car requirements, including age restrictions and documentation like an International Driving Permit if necessary. Review your rental contract carefully to avoid any surprises.
  • Drive cautiously: Speed limits in Ireland may not always reflect safe driving speeds, particularly on smaller roads with limited visibility. Take your time, especially on unfamiliar routes, and be prepared for unexpected hazards.
  • Self-service gas stations: Gas stations in Ireland typically require payment inside the shop after pumping gas. Familiarize yourself with this process and be prepared to pay before hitting the road.
  • Delay car rental in Dublin : If you’re starting your trip in Dublin, consider delaying your car rental until you’re ready to leave the city. Parking in Dublin can be expensive and challenging, so save yourself the hassle and expense by renting a car when you’re ready to explore beyond the city limits.
  • Plan for toll roads: Some highways and bridges in Ireland have tolls, so be prepared to pay with cash or card.

More Information About Ireland:

20 Must-See Sights and Attractions in Ireland (Your Essential Guide to the Emerald Isle)

14 Delicious Traditional Irish Foods You Must Try During Your Visit to Ireland

16 Best Stops on the Dingle Peninsula Drive (map+detailed tips)

You Might Also Like: 

82 Quotes About Ireland And the Irish Spirit Celebrating the Emerald Isle

102 Beautiful Irish Proverbs and Sayings Offering Timeless Lessons

92 Irish Blessings And Wishes Embracing Joy on St. Patrick’s Day

Read All the Posts about Ireland in:

Ireland Travel Guide

Read All the Posts About the Europe in: 

Europe Travel Guide

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Photo of a rowboat in a lake in Killarney National Park Ireland--definitely be prepared for all weather when putting together your Ireland packing list!

Planning a Trip to Ireland: Your Easy 9-Step Checklist

So, you’ve decided it’s time to visit the Emerald Isle–which means, if you’re anything like us, you probably can’t wait to start officially planning your trip to Ireland!

Ireland is an incredibly beautiful and interesting country, and no matter where you go, you’re bound to find something incredible.

This Ireland travel checklist is designed to make sure your trip is as smooth as possible, so that you spend zero time stressing and instead get to concentrate 100% of your time on those impossibly green landscapes.

Here are the nine steps you need to complete when planning a trip to Ireland!

Cows standing in a green field with the sun setting behind them--plan to see a lot of sights similar to this when taking a trip to Ireland.

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Table of Contents

Step 1: Check visa requirements.

Step 2: take the biggest step in planning a trip to ireland: book tickets, step 3: outline your ireland itinerary., step 4: book your rental car (and read the fine print). , step 5: finalize your ireland travel budget., step 6: book your accommodation., step 7: make a packing list (and shop). , step 8: purchase travel insurance., step 9: make your arrival plan..

Based on the geographic readership of this blog, odds are that the vast majority of you will not need a visa to visit Ireland for up to 90 days for tourism purposes. This includes citizens of the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and of course, anyone from an EU member state.

You will want to make sure that your passport has at least six months validity left, a common entrance requirement when traveling.

Please note that while Ireland is an EU member state, it is not part of the Schengen Zone.

Of course, while I strongly doubt that this policy will change in the near future, you should always confirm visa requirements through official sources before traveling!

Kate Storm in a blue long-sleeved shirt overlooking Killarney Natoinal Park--a must-see spot when planning a trip to Ireland!

Once you buy your plane tickets, your trip to Ireland is official!

While Dublin is most likely to be the best airport to fly into, don’t forget to search prices at other airports as well. The airports in Cork, Shannon, and Belfast are all worth checking given how little time it takes to run a Google search.

If your dates are somewhat flexible, we also suggest checking prices a few days before and a few days after your intended arrival and departure dates–you never know what deals you may happen across!

Rocky coastline along Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula drive Ireland

Ireland can be a difficult place to narrow down an itinerary for–in large part because nearly every place in Ireland is a delight to visit!

If you’re taking an Ireland road trip, which is easily among the most popular ways to explore the island, we recommend making a loop around the island beginning and ending at a single starting point (which is probably Dublin).

From there, you can add and subtract destinations based on the time you have available.

Popular destinations that end up on most Ireland itineraries include the Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, and the Cliffs of Moher.

Less crowded places that we adore include the Dingle Peninsula, County Wexford, County Mayo, and Slieve League Cliffs.

Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal Ireland--definitely consider a stop here when planning a trip to Ireland!

If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, most likely, you’re planning to rent a car.

Now is the right time to pick out your rental car–we use and recommend Discover Cars  to find which company has the most competitive prices. For our most recent Ireland trip, that ended up being Sixt.

Be sure to read the fine print of your rental contract carefully, including checking to see if you need an International Driving Permit (some companies require it) and whether there are any license restrictions you need to be aware of.

Also, if you’re planning to travel into Northern Ireland, be sure to let your rental company know–there may be an additional fee for this (and a large fine if you take the car into another country without asking, open border or no).

Check rental car prices for your trip to Ireland with Discover Cars today!

Photo of car parked on the side of the road during an Ireland road trip. Two bikers are visible passing by on the right side of the photo.

Now that you know how much it’s going to cost to get to and from Ireland and how much your rental car costs will be, it’s time for the next step in planning a trip to Ireland: calculating your travel budget.

We recommend dividing the amount of money you have set aside for your Ireland vacation after paying for the above fixed costs and a travel insurance policy (more on that below) into the number of days you’ll be visiting Ireland.

That will give you a good baseline of how much you can spend each day–remember, this money will need to cover lodging, food, tours and activities, gas for your rental car, and any other travel odds and ends.

Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford Ireland

Once you’ve outlined your Ireland itinerary and decided on a rough nightly budget for your lodging, it’s time to choose all the delightful hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns you’ll get to stay at during your trip to Ireland.

If you’ll be traveling with a car, keep in mind that staying at country properties a bit outside of major cities can have several benefits: not only will prices be lower, but parking will likely be easier to come by. Plus, staying at small, family-run country bed and breakfasts is an iconic Ireland experience!

This is especially true in Dublin, where prices for lodging are staggeringly high as compared to most places in Ireland. We recommend limiting the nights you spend there to the bare minimum to free up more of your budget for other adventures in Ireland.

Afternoon tea in Belleek Castle Ireland shot from above

If you’d like to stay in a castle for at least one night of your trip, you may be surprised at how inexpensive they can be. We adored our stay at Belleek Castle , for example, and rates there start under $200 USD/night!

Here are a few of our absolute favorite properties we’ve stayed at in Ireland–it’s likely not all of them will be compatible with your Ireland itinerary, but we’d recommend any of them (and in case you’re curious, we personally paid for our stays in all of them).

Hotels in Ireland We Love

Belleek Castle (Ballina) — We knew we wanted to book at least one night in a castle hotel while in Ireland–and we’re so glad we chose Belleek!

The castle itself was stunning, the rooms beautiful, the afternoon tea a complete delight, and the tour of the castle a complete surprise–we definitely didn’t expect to personally handle several-centuries-old weapons on the tour, that’s for sure!

Check rates & book your stay at Belleek Castle today!

Exterior of Belleek Castle Ireland

Inishross House (New Ross) — If I had to sum up Inishross House in a word, it would be  hospitable . This is exactly the kind of B&B you come to Ireland for: everything from the colorful breakfast room to the comfortable room to the helpful and attentive couple who ran the B&B was an absolute delight.

The included breakfast was phenomenal and kept us full for most of the day!

County Wexford, where Inishross House is located, is a bit under the radar as compared to some of the more popular places to add to an itinerary when planning a trip to Ireland–but it ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip and we would love to go back to explore it again.

Check rates & book your stay at Inishross House!

Full Irish breakfast served at Inishross House New Ross--when planning a trip to Ireland, definitely keep in mind which hotels serve delicious breakfasts like this.

Find Us Farmhouse (Macroom) — Located in the countryside and nestled between a few farms, the Find Us Farmhouse is the most peaceful place we stayed in Ireland. 

In addition to the comfortable rooms and wonderful hospitality, the breakfast–and the beautiful breakfast room–were enormous highlights.

We loved staring out our bedroom window and watching the cows graze just a few feet from us, and it was definitely an experience worth having at least once on a trip to Ireland!

Check rates & book your stay at Find Us Farmhouse!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm in breakfast room at Findus Farmhouse Ireland

Danloes Thatched Cottage (Kenmare) — This small cottage is hundreds of years old–but you’d never know it from the bedrooms! The property has been beautifully redone, though you do get hints of its history when you admire the gorgeous fireplace in the kitchen.

Located just a short drive from Kenmare and within easy reach of both the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, we loved our stay at Danloes Thatched Cottage.

Check rates & book your stay at Danloes Thatched Cottage!

By this point of planning a trip to Ireland, you’re almost ready to go! Next up: packing.

Packing for Ireland can be a bit trickier than throwing a standard packing list for travel in Europe together: the climate is both cool and wet, and traveling in Ireland normally leans more toward enjoying beautiful nature with a side of adorable small towns than it does hitting up major cities.

You can read our full suggested Ireland packing list here , including links to our personal favorite gear.

Kate Storm sitting on a wooden split level fence in Ireland with countryside behind her.

In the meantime, here are a few things to be sure to pack for Ireland:

Waterproof Boots — In my opinion, waterproof boots are an absolute must-have item on your Ireland packing list year-round. They’ll keep your feet warm and dry regardless of the circumstances, they’re comfortable to wear, and they can be fashionable, too!

This is my pair , and I adore them. Even when my jeans got completely  drenched (like just-climbed-out-of-a-pool levels of drenched) during a rainstorm in Dingle, they still kept my feet completely dry. Jeremy wore these and loved them.

Travel Adaptors for Ireland  — Ireland uses the same plugs that the UK does–and note that these are different from the bulk of mainland Europe. Double-check you add the right ones to your Ireland packing list!  We use these  and have never had any issues.

Rain Jacket —  Having a rain jacket is a huge asset when visiting Ireland, and if you don’t already have one, we absolutely recommend picking one up when planning a trip to Ireland.

This is mine , and I love and recommend it. It folds up incredibly well to fit into your suitcase, it’s comfortable and flattering for photos, and–most importantly–it’s completely effective at keeping you dry.

Jeremy opted not to bring one and definitely had plenty of regrets whenever the rain started pouring! This one is a great choice for men.

Kate Storm on Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, facing away from the camera and wearing a yellow raincoat.

Comfortable Day Bag  — We currently use  Pacsafe’s sleek anti-theft backpack  and love it, but if you don’t want to shell out the cash for this trip, that’s totally understandable. Just aim for something comfortable to wear, not flashy, and medium-sized–we used a  Northface Jester backpack  for years and loved it as well.

Binoculars  — Coastal regions in Ireland are home to all sorts of delightful creatures, including a wide variety of birds (like puffins!) and beautiful dolphins. Binoculars are an inexpensive & easy-to-pack item for your Ireland packing list, and they’ll greatly enhance your trip to the coast!

trip planner to ireland

Definitely plan ahead and pack these as precautions! I’m always so glad to have it along, including on our recent ferry to Inisheer in Ireland.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm hold tall swords in front of other antique weapons at Belleek Castle in Ireland

Don’t forget to buy travel insurance when planning a trip to Ireland!

While Ireland is an incredibly safe country to travel in, traveling in general opens you up to vulnerabilities you simply don’t have at home: if you lose your luggage, have a fender bender in your rental car, get pickpocketed, or–heaven forbid–get injured, you’ll be glad you have the insurance.

This goes double for those of us used to driving on the right side of the road: while learning to drive on the left in Ireland is definitely doable, those tiny roads don’t leave a lot of room for error!

Given how inexpensive travel insurance is when purchased in advance (especially as compared to the cost of flying to and then renting a car in Ireland), it’s well worth the investment.

We use and recommend Safety Wing for trips to Ireland.

Check travel insurance policy inclusions and prices for your trip to Ireland here .

Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland

Once you finally finish planning your trip to Ireland and board your plane bound for the Emerald Isle, you’ll still have one final logistical hurdle to overcome before kicking off your adventures: getting from the airport to wherever you’re going next.

Depending where you fly into and whether you’re renting a car immediately (if you’re staying around Dublin for a couple of days, we recommend waiting until you’re ready to leave) or not, you may be driving yourself, grabbing a taxi or Uber, or, assuming you land in Dublin, taking the Airlink bus into town (if you do choose the bus option, be sure to price out a transportation pass as well).

All of these options have their pros and cons, but the time to decide isn’t when you’re jetlagged, exhausted, and desperate to be done traveling.

A little advance planning can go a long way, and ensure you step off the plane confident that you’ve planned the perfect Ireland trip.

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Torc Waterfall with a woman in a yellow rain jacket looking up at it. Black text on a white background says "Planning a Trip to Ireland What You Need to Know"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

14 thoughts on “Planning a Trip to Ireland: Your Easy 9-Step Checklist”

This is wonderfully put together. My husband and I have Ireland on our bucket list…next. I am bookmarking this for now, but will look at it closer when get serious about planning this adventure. We’d much rather do it this way than a guided tour. Thank you for putting this together! Annie

Thank you so much, Annie. So glad it was helpful, and hope you guys get a chance to visit Ireland soon!

I am really glad I came across this blog, good information for first timers like me, I plan to start in Ireland and visit a few other places, traveling in a budget can be challenging but I believe it is possible. How do you keep connect with your home base is one of my important concerns.

Thanks, Elizabeth! We stay in touch with loved ones back home primarily through Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

thanks for this awesome blog–planning a trip with my 22 year old daughter to Ireland and then she is continuing alone to Scotland–all your information is quite useful….

So happy to hear that, Margie! Hope you guys have a wonderful trip. 🙂

I can’t bear to rent a car knowing we’ll be driving the opposite way that we’re used to. Is it as easy to get around Ireland by train as it is in France or Italy?

Sadly, it’s definitely not as easy! There are trains in Ireland, and paired with buses you can certainly plan a non-driving itinerary.

But, much of Ireland’s charm lies in its nature and small towns, and it will be harder (though not impossible) to access those without a car.

Your best bet, if you want to visit Ireland independently without driving, would be carefully planning your itinerary around certain train and bus routes (be sure to check the timetables!), and combine that with organized day trips to attractions you don’t want to miss.

I love your blog, so much great info and advice. I’m leaving for Ireland in 2 weeks. Being a Navy Vet in the 90s in Japan, I once had an international DL which I’m sure is no longer valid. I’ve booked a hotel Wed-Sat in Dublin then I have 3 days to explore. Do I need to get an international driver’s license again to be able to drive legally? I’d really like to do a B&B Saturday night then the Belleek Castle Sunday night and it seems like driving will be the best, esp since I’m an avid photographer. I’ll fly out Tuesday morning…

Thanks, Larry!

Luckily, international driving permits aren’t required for Ireland, you can drive there on your US license for vacation (but for any future trips–international driving permits have be renewed each year, so it’s good you’re thinking about it!).

One snag with rental cars we’ve run into in Ireland, though (and nowhere else, oddly enough), is the age of your license. Depending on the state in the US, the “date issued” will be the date you last renewed your license, which we of course do once every several years. In Ireland, though, some companies use that as proof of how long you’ve been entitled to drive at all–and you need a license of a certain age to rent a car.

Once we ran into that issue the first time (which we solved by changing car rental companies in the Dublin airport–it was a stressful half hour or so!), we started checking the contracts of each rental company and reaching out in advance to make sure we had the paperwork we need.

Just something to keep in mind, but long story short, you shouldn’t have any issue driving in Ireland. Enjoy the open road!

Thank you so much for taking the time, and sharing, this comprehensive account on travel to Ireland. It has been many many years since we travelled abroad. It is exciting and intimidating!! It has been a pleasure reading this.

So happy to hear that, Gail! Hope you guys have a fantastic time visiting Ireland. 🙂

We just decided to go to Ireland in 2 short months! This was a great read full of tips!!

When we travel we normally like being spontaneous and booking our stays each morning. Is that easy and feasible in Ireland?

Did yall do any train or boat trips?

Thanks so much for the awesome tips and suggestions!! 😆

How exciting! You guys are going to have a great time. 🙂

In general, Ireland is a place we like to book lodging ahead for–the more rural a place is, the earlier we like to plan, and countryside bed and breakfasts with limited rooms in Ireland definitely qualify. 🙂 However, since it sounds like you’re going in March (so well outside of the summer high season), you’ll likely have more flexibility than most visitors.

I’d recommend at least glancing at the options available in advance, to see how many places are open and available (some close for the winter), and see if there’s enough variety for your personal comfort level.

Of course, the more flexible you are on both location and price for your lodging, the less important it is to plan in advance.

If you’re going to be in Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day, I’d recommend booking ahead there, as it’s a popular time for international tourists to visit the city.

As far as trains, we’ve never used them in Ireland–they exist, but not nearly at the density of some places in Europe, and for getting to tiny villages and nature spots, a car is much easier. Ireland is an amazing road trip destination! However, if you want to add in a few trains, you sure can.

Ferries and boats are definitely an option as well, especially for visiting small outlying islands. We’ve taken the ferry from Doolin to Inisheer a couple of times and loved it: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/6-favorite-moments-on-inisheer/

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The perfect ireland itinerary.

The Perfect Ireland Itinerary

Heading to Ireland and not sure where to go? This is the perfect Ireland itinerary!

the perfect ireland itinterary

Happy St. Patricks Day! We were lucky enough to be in Ireland for St. Paddy’s last year and it’s a country we really fell in love with. To celebrate, I wanted to share my idea of the perfect Ireland itinerary.  If you’re planning a trip to Ireland , having this itinerary will make your life easier.

Planning a Trip to Ireland

In all my trips to Ireland, I’ve discovered some real gems on this beautiful emerald isle. It has so much natural beauty that it almost hurts your eyes to look at all that green! There are also so many cultural and historical sites that you must see in Ireland that it could potentially take you a lifetime!

For a more in-depth look at some amazing places in Ireland, check out this massive list of the  best places to visit in Ireland   before planning your Ireland itinerary.

When you’re planning a trip to Ireland, it’s important to know that you won’t be able to see it ALL, even though you’ll REALLY want to! I’ve tried to pick the best things to see in Ireland that will give you a really good feel for both countries! I hope this Ireland trip planner will be helpful as you choose where to go and what to do.

Don’t want to do all the planning?

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all your options in Ireland? I can’t blame you! There’s a lot to do and see and the Emerald Isle is a lot bigger than it seems. Luckily, you’ve got me do the planning for you. The best trips to Ireland are planned by someone who’s been and lived there. 

I’ve created this detailed Ireland Road Trip Itinerary that has everything you need in one convenient place. It really takes the guesswork out of deciding where to go, where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. I’ve spent years researching this itinerary and I truly believe this will give you the most amazing trip! 

Ireland Itinerary

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Ireland Itinerary complete with interactive maps and daily schedule? Click the yellow button below.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews and blog posts here are our top picks for visiting ireland:, get an easy ireland itinerary.

Ireland Itinerary

Our favorite hotels in Ireland

  • Castle Hotel: Ashford Castle
  • Dublin Hotel: Moxie Dublin
  • Killarney: Killarney Royal Hotel
  • Northern Ireland: The Fitzwilliam

Our favorite tours in Ireland

  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Northern Ireland Tour
  • History Tour of Dublin
  • Dublin Food Tour
  • Book a Photoshoot in Ireland

Renting a Car in Ireland?

If you want to see authentic Ireland, I recommend you drive yourself. If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use:  Rental Cars  and  Expedia Cars.  We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.

Want to See More than Ireland?

If you’re interested in extending your trip to Ireland, it’s easy and super cheap to hop a flight over to  London ,    Scotland ,  or the rest of Europe. I love combining trips to Ireland with a trip to Scotland as well. You can find the   perfect itinerary for Scotland and Ireland here. 

Getting to Ireland

Ireland is a truly beautiful country and one of the cheapest places to fly to in Europe from the United States right now. I’m constantly finding good deals to Ireland.

In fact, we just purchased tickets to Shannon, Ireland from Boston for $500 TOTAL for our entire family of six through Norwegian Air’s killer sale a few weeks ago and I also helped my sister book from New York to Dublin for $450 round trip per person. If you want to know how we get crazy deals on flights read How to Fly for Cheap or Nearly Free.

Best Time to Travel to Ireland

Where to stay in ireland.

Just as Ireland can be one of the cheapest countries in Europe to fly into, it’s also quite affordable to stay in Ireland. While there is an abundance of beautiful luxury castles and hotels to stay in , there are also really affordable Airbnb houses all over the island. We stayed in a beautiful 4 bedroom house on the coast for two months and fell in love! You can find our Airbnb here. 

We stayed in a beautiful, huge farmhouse in Wexford for 2 months for only $2,000. For a party of 7, that’s a great deal! Be sure to grab this $55 coupon for Airbnb

Airbnb Coupon $55

I’ve created this Airbnb Wishlist for you that holds just a fraction of the affordable housing on the island! If you’ve never stayed in Airbnb before, please read my 16 Rules for Airbnb. 

Affordable Airbnbs in Ireland

ireland itinerary

Packing List for Ireland

It’s no secret that the weather in Ireland can be a little…insane…I’m not sure there’s a better word to describe it. You want to be sure you’re prepared for the elements, but also be sure you don’t overpack. Here’s what to pack for Ireland:

Click here for my full Ireland Packing list

I personally own these two raincoats and these two pairs of boots and I LOVE them!

The  pink raincoat   is not lined and is good for warm days or good if you want a waterproof raincoat to go over a regular jacket. The  yellow raincoat   is nice and lined for a good medium weight waterproof jacket. You’ll need a really good pair of rain boots that you can also be comfortable walking in.

trip planner to ireland

These  Eddie Bauer boots   are quite possibly the best thing that have ever happened to me! Not only are they the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned (ask anyone I know…they’ve heard me rave about these boots), but they are waterproof, AND they come with a lifetime warranty. I bought a pair over 5 years ago and I wear through the soles about every year and a half because I wear them everywhere! When they wear out I just bring them to any Eddie Bauer store (even though I bought them on Amazon)  and they give me brand new ones! They’re the BEST investment I’ve ever made. You can buy them  here.

These  Hunter rain boots   are really high quality, last forever, are completely waterproof, and have a good grip on the bottom for walking. I really love my Hunters, but they’re definitely not as comfortable as the Eddie Bauers.

For more info on what to pack for Ireland, follow  my packing list for Ireland or Scotland   or   this detailed Ireland packing list .

Perfect Ireland Itinerary 10 days or more

While I am not an Ireland expert, we did live there for 2 months and were able to see most of both countries (yes Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate countries). And I’ve since been able to visit Ireland two more times, and we plan to go again this year. 

I think I’ve created the perfect Ireland itinerary for the first time visitor who wants to see as much of the island as possible. The good thing about this itinerary is that you can cut out whatever you want and move on to the next location if it’s too much for you.

I realize that I’m missing a lot of amazing things Ireland has to offer and I will probably receive some backlash for this, but these were some of OUR favorite finds in Ireland!

When you go to Ireland, I suggest that you rent a car. There is so much to see and driving will be the best way to see  Ireland and everything it has to offer. An Ireland road trip is my favorite way to see the island. 

Please, for the love of Ireland, do NOT spend your whole trip in Dublin! There is so much more that this beautiful island has to offer!

You can do this Ireland itinerary f orwards or backward, it doesn’t matter. I selfishly like this route (clockwise) because while driving along the coast, the passenger has a good view out the window and since that’s usually me, and I’m the one with the camera, that’s the way I’d go!

Remember you’ll be driving on the LEFT! Honestly, it’s easier than you think and your brain picks it up pretty well after a day or two. Just be alert!

How long will this Ireland road trip take?

Well, that’s really up to you! I’ve seen people do this Ireland road trip in only 10 days. That’s a little ambitious if you ask me. If you really want to hit all of these best places to visit in Ireland in one trip, then I would plan about 2 weeks for your whole journey. If you have less time in Ireland, simply cut out a few stops. It’s not the end of the world, and you’ll have an excuse to come back!

So without further ado, here is the perfect Ireland itinerary:

  • Stop 1: Dublin
  • Stop 2: Killkenney
  • Stop 3: County Waterford & County Wexford
  • Stop 4: Cork
  • Stop 5: Killarney National Park
  • Stop 6: Dingle Peninsula
  • Stop 7: Cliffs of Moher & The Burren
  • Stop 8: Galway
  • Stop 9: Northern Ireland
  • Stop 10: Belfast
  • Stop 11 : Back to Dublin

the perfect ireland itinerary

10 Places You Must See in Ireland

These are my top ten picks for what to see in Ireland. You can pick and choose which cities look good to you and skip over the ones you aren’t interested in. Don’t feel like you need to do it all unless you’ve got the time. For me, this is the best of Ireland!

ireland itinerary

Arrive! If you’re flying into Dublin (be sure to check other airports in Ireland like Shannon and Cork for good deals ), spend a day and a half or so in this beautiful city. See the book of Kells, eat in a few pubs, take a tour. Here is a great list of things to do in Dublin.

Stay the night in Dublin and take a day to get over your jetleg before heading out on your Ireland road trip. There are some beautiful hotels and great Airbnbs in Dublin. Here is a list of affordable Airbnbs in the city. 

ireland itinerary

Here is a great guide for spending one day in Dublin.  And if you’re heading to Ireland with kids you can find great information here. 

2. Kilkenny

ireland itinerary

Kilkenny is a charming and historic town with lots to see and do. There is a great little farmers market outside the castle and street performers usually line the streets. It’s a great town to wander and enjoy the cobblestone streets and ancient buildings. 

This town has deep religious roots with well-preserved churches and abbeys that are amazing to see. Be sure to visit Black Abbey and St. Canice’s Cathedral.

You can tour the castle, the old abbey, pop into the shops and sup in a pub! Here are more cool things to do in Kilkenny .

You’ll want to stay at least one night in Killkenney to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere. Here are affordable Airbnbs in Killkenney.

Ireland Itinerary Airbnb

3. County Waterford & County Wexford

ireland itinerary

South East Ireland or “Ireland’s Ancient East” is one of the most overlooked areas of Ireland in my opinion. Don’t skip this if you want the perfect Ireland itinerary! There are so many hidden gems that I’m going to bring to light!

ireland itinerary

You’ll want to stay in Wexford or Waterford. We stayed for two months, but two days will do if you must. We rented this gorgeous Airbnb near Tintern Abbey.

4. Cork & Blarney Castle

For most, Blarney Castle is a must see when visiting Ireland. You can kiss the Blarney stone and receive the gift of gab!

Cork is a beautiful city to wander. Visit the English Market, an indoor sort of farmers market with lots of interesting things to see and eat! Here are 33 things to do in Cork city.

If you’re interested in seeing more castles, Ireland will not disappoint! Read about the top 5 Castles to visit in Ireland.

5. Killarney

ireland itinerary

Killarney is home to the beautiful Killarney National Park, Muckross House, Traditional Farms, Ross Castle and more. It’s definitely worth a visit and could really be considered for an entire vacation. I recently spent a whole week in Killarney and fell in love. You can r ead more about what to do in Killarney here,   but here are the main stops you won’t want to miss:

  • Muckross House
  • Muckross Traditional Farms
  • Muckross Abbey
  • Ross Castle
  • Innisfallen Island
  • Murphy’s Ice Cream
  • Quinlin’s Fish n Chips

I would recommend staying in Killarney for several days. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful National Park that you may not want to ever leave. There are some great hotels in Killarney as well as charming Airbnbs.

Affordable Airbnb Homes in Killarney

Ireland Itinerary Airbnb Killarney

6. Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula Ireland

If you’re on a tight schedule, I recommend you skip the more popular and time-consuming Ring of Kerry and instead drive the Dingle Peninsula. It’s a beautiful stretch of land with some of the most stunning scenery in all of Ireland. Read about what you can see on the Dingle Peninsula here .

7. The Burren National Park &   Cliffs of Moher

ireland itinerary

The Burren: The word “Burren” comes from the Irish word “Boíreann” which means a rocky place. This is a pretty fitting name because it is covered in Limestone Pavement. It’s like visiting another planet. Read more about the Burren here .

The Cliffs of Moher are something that you just have to see for yourself! They are beyond breathtaking. Don’t skip this stop! Plan on several hours to see the Cliffs of Moher. There is a really neat visitor’s center where you can learn about the cliffs and also about the puffins who nest there. There’s also a great cafe with lots of options.   Here are some tips for taking kids to the cliffs .

Ireland Itinerary

Galway is a gorgeous Irish town and a must visit. Here is a guide to visiting Galway .

9. Northern Ireland

ireland itinerary

Named as one of Lonely Planet’s regions not to miss in 2018, Northern Ireland is truly a treasure! There is so much to see in Northern Ireland, but it is small enough that you can see most of it in 2 days if you’re quick. Be sure to see these top sites:

  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Carrick-a-Rede Bridge
  • Dark Hedges

Remember that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and will use the pound sterling instead of the Euro. You will not need your passport to cross from Ireland to Northern Ireland. Here are some things you will not want to miss in Northern Ireland .

I would plan for 2 nights in Northern Ireland. It’s a beautiful place to slow down and take in the sites. We stayed in this lovely Airbnb next door to a field of sheep.

Affordable Airbnb Homes in Northern Ireland

Perfect Ireland Itinerary

10. Belfast

Ireland Itinerary Belfast

Drive to Belfast and spend a day seeing the city. Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland (a separate country and part of the United Kingdom). There are so many awesome things to do in Belfast, even though it often gets overlooked as a destination in Ireland. Here is another guide to visiting Belfast .

11. Howth & Back to Dublin

ireland itinerary

Visit the Howth Cliffs and eat fish and chips in Howth. There are a million pubs and fish and chips shops. I’ve tried several and they’ve all been good. You can read more about walking the Howth Cliff path loop here. Also, read about taking kids to Howth here .

And now you’re back to Dublin! See as much as you can, eat in as many pubs as possible and don’t forget to catch your flight back home! This is the perfect Ireland itinerary for us and we hope it helps you out on your visit to Ireland!

Best Ireland Tours

While I love a good Ireland road trip and exploring on my own, it’s sometimes nice to have someone else do all the work. If you’re looking for a little more ease in your travel or don’t want to drive, check out these best Ireland tours from Get Your Guide.

Have you been to Ireland? What did we miss? Shoot us an email  or get in touch on Facebook or Instagram . We’d love to hear from you and we’d love if you pinned this for later…

Be sure to follow my Ireland Board on Pinterest for more great ideas for your trip!

trip planner to ireland

If you would like to follow along with us day by day you can follow @wanderlust.crew on Instagram or on Facebook   or on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter! We would love to hear from you!

Wanderlust Crew

Practical Tips for Booking your Trip

Book Your Flight s and Car Find a budget airlines by using  Skyscanner . This is my favorite way to search for flights because they crawl websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know you’re getting the best deal. Learn more tips for finding the best flight deals here. For cars, I like to use Rental Cars because they have good filters and its easy to search for multiple companies.

Book Your Accommodation My preferred way to stay around the world is VRBO . I find it usually gives you a unique local experience in any destination. If you want to stay in a hotel, use  Booking , as it consistently gives the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. I use them both all the time.

Always Get Travel Insurance Travel insurance protects you and your family against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s peace of mind in case anything goes wrong. I never travel without it. I’ve been using World Nomads for the last few years and love how easy it is to use. I have also used Allianz . Compare rates to see which is best for the coverage you need.

Looking for ways to save money on travel? Check out my  resource page  for the companies I use for traveling! I share everything I use to save me time and money.

trip planner to ireland

Wanderlust Crew

48 thoughts on “ the perfect ireland itinerary ”.

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Wow I badly want to go! We are planning a 6-12 month Euro road trip in a few years so this is going on the planning board! How long did you spend in total and how long at each spot? I find the hardest thing to do is budget time.

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I totally agree. It’s so hard to budget time, when you’ve never been somewhere. I think 2 weeks is a good amount of time to pack it all in. Of course longer is better! We stayed for 2 months and still missed so much of this beautiful place! How exciting about your Euro trip! We fell so in love with Europe last year that we are going back next year!

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Great itinerary! My husband has always wanted to go to Ireland…we’ll have to check out those deals! I was wondering the same as Christine…how long do you think a family would need to really see everything on this itinerary to the fullest?

Oh I think 2 weeks would be ideal to do all of this and not be too rushed, but you could technically do it in a week. I hope you make it there. It’s such a special place!

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Great itinerary! I’m a travel consultant and went to Ireland 2x in a year and just fell in love with it. I mention a lot of these points to my clients…also, note how amazing traveling by the Wild Atlantic Way is. Another place, the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel in the Connemara area is wonderful! Such beautiful grounds with a lot to do. Be sure to check out the pretty Connemara ponies ? [email protected]

Oh yes! I’ve had several people suggest those to me! I haven’t done any of those, but we are heading back in February so I will put those on my list for sure! Thanks!

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The Connemara region IS lovely. We enjoyed our staff at the Ballynahinch Castle — Twp days of rest and relaxation in the middle of a three-week visit. Beautiful grounds.

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Planning on visiting Ireland we can organise This perfect Itinerary for you.

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Thank you, I have just been searching for information about this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure about the source?

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Ii did this same trip about 5yrs ago I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am saving to go back a second time. The scenery is amazing and the people are so friendly

So excited for your trip back! It’s truly an amazing country!

What would be the best time of year to go?

Any time is a good time to go to Ireland, but I love it in the Spring if you don’t mind some rain!

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I only have 3 days to go to Ireland to visit thank you for the recommendation in advance

Have so much fun!

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Planning an Ireland trip next year 2020, for my 60th birthday. Want to travel at our leisure in a rental car but I would like to know what you suggest as far as reserving places to stay before going. I know we must pre-pay ABNB but what would availiblity look like if you just show up in many of the places you recommend seeing? Want to have flexibility but don’t really want to sleep in the car! Probably travelling April or May 2020. Thanks!

Hi Gayle, I totally understand wanting flexibility. With hotels I think that is fine, but many Airbnbs require at least 24 hour notice for booking. I’ve never done last minute accommodations, but I also have 4 children, so it’s harder to find. In general, I don’t recommend it. My advice is to really decide what you want to see and to be realistic about driving times. Map everything out before going. Best of luck, please let me know if you need any help planning. I’m excited for your trip!

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Love this! My husband and I are planning to go end of August and are trying to decide if we need a travel agent. About how long does it take to get from place to place driving? Would you suggest staying in a new hotel each night? Our plan is 7 days right now.

Hi Taylor! How exciting. You’re going to LOVE Ireland! I would recommend staying in Dublin (1 night), Co. Waterford (1 or 2 nights), Cork (1 night), Killarney (at least 2 nights), near the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare (1-2 nights), Northern Ireland (at least 2 nights), then Back to Dublin. You might not have time to do this entire route. It’s quite a bit of driving. I’d pick maybe 4 things that you really want to see and stick to that for 7 days. Let me know if you need any help planning. Have so much fun! -Vanessa

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Hi! I just completed my isle tour, and most of it was based off of your suggestions! I landed in Dublin, then traveled to Portstewart, then back down to Kilkenny (which turned out to be my absolute favorite!), then headed over to Cork, then Galway, then back to Dublin. I just have to say I had an amazing trip and I wanted to thank you for your article!! Giants Causeway was impressive, Blarney Castle and the property surrounding it was stunning, Cliffs of Moher was breathtaking, and I simply can’t wait to go back!

Hi Malli! Thank you SO much for letting me know how your trip was! It sounds like you had an amazing time. Ireland never disappoints! I hope you’re able to make it back sometime soon. I was randomly looking up houses for sale in Ireland today haha! Just love that island! Thanks again! It means the world! xo Vanessa

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This May, I and my husband are travelling to the emerald country for the second time. Two years ago we decided to explore Dublin solely, but this time we’d love to stay longer and see more of local nature. Thank you for this elaborate itinerary. We’ll try to make most of it.

Hi Lynn! That is so exciting! You’re going to love it even more than Dublin, I promise! May is a wonderful time to go! The daffodils are just poking their heads up now and everything should be in glorious full bloom and nice and green for you by then. Have an amazing time. I’d love to know what you ended up doing when you return! Keep in touch. Thanks again! xo Vanessa

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Your guide to Galaway with the link doesn’t work or doesn’t take it to a correct source. Thanks for this post though!

Thank you so much for letting me know! I’ve just updated the link. Have an amazing time in Ireland! xo

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Ireland Road Trip: 7, 10 and 14 day Itinerary

LAST UPDATED: 28th February 2024

The Republic of Ireland is a beautiful country with a fascinating history, super-friendly people, and SO much to see and do. I had 2 weeks in Ireland to explore by car and was determined to make the most of the time.

If you’re planning your own Ireland road trip, hopefully, the highlights of my epic journey will inspire you. From bumpy boat trips to islands inhabited only by seals, birds and the brutal Irish weather to the exploration of UNESCO Geoparks and dramatic coast paths high above the Atlantic Ocean, there’s something to delight everyone.

I travelled by car, boat, bicycle, and my own two feet. I ate homemade cake in museum tea shops, supped Guinness on seaside piers, and sampled traditional stew in pubs filled with the sounds of Irish music.

This ultimate Ireland road trip planner for 7, 10 and 14 day itineraries will help you create the best route in southern Ireland. 

Ring of Kerry- Ultimate Ireland road trip

Ireland Road Trip Planning Tips

How long to spend in ireland.

Honestly? As long as possible! Ireland is a beautiful country with a fascinating history, super-friendly people, and SO much to see and do. I spent a glorious 14 days in Ireland, and it felt like the perfect time to see everything without rushing.

Touring Ireland by car is ideal if you don’t like sticking to a rigid plan dictated by train and bus times. If somewhere captures your imagination, and you want to explore more, travelling under your own steam allows you to change your itinerary.

When is the Best Time To Visit Ireland?

The best time to visit Ireland depends on the individual. For some, spending St Patrick’s Day in a chaotic and vibrant Dublin would be an amazing experience; for others, it would be a total nightmare! Various regional festivals celebrate Irish culture , The Gathering in Kilkenny, County Kerry is one of the best and would be worth timing your visit to attend. 

Irish weather is unpredictable throughout the year, and sunshine is never guaranteed, even during the height of summer. My tip? Be prepared for anything, take waterproofs and warm layers as well as sunglasses and you’ll have fun, even in the rain. 

For the ultimate Ireland road trip, travel in late April and May for long days of light and mild weather or early autumn when the crowds have left and the winter chill hasn’t yet arrived. During these off-peak times, you will also get better deals on ferry prices, flights, and hotels. 

Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore

How To Get To Ireland

I travelled from the UK to Ireland on Irish Ferries, a company that has won the ‘Best Ferry Company’ award more times than any other in Ireland. It was a simple and quick booking process, and the journey was seamless.

Cars are allowed on the boat, and there is no limit on your luggage meaning you can pack all the  road trip essentials . So, for an enjoyable crossing that sets you up for a relaxing and fun holiday of touring Ireland by car, I heartily recommend Irish Ferries; read about  my experience on the Ulysses .

Irish Ferries offer fast and cruise travel options from Holyhead to Dublin and between Pembroke in South Wales and Rosslare. Prices start from £119, and you can book either single or return tickets at   IrishFerries.com

If you’re not arriving from the UK or travelling by ferry isn’t for you, Dublin has an international airport served by 44 airlines, and upon arrival in Dublin, the public transport links for onward travel are excellent, or you may want to hire a car. 

Hiring A Car In Ireland

Don’t leave car hire as an afterthought.

If you do, you’re likely to book in a panic without thinking about what you need and what represents a good deal.

Look Carefully At The Car Insurance

Car rental insurance feels deliberately confusing, so it is worth thinking carefully about what you do and don’t need and what might already be covered by your credit card.

Age Requirements

You need to be at least 25 to hire a car in Ireland and will need a valid driving licence and ID.

Is Public Transport An Option?

Renting a car can be expensive and Ireland has good transport links and plenty of fantastic tours that will take you off the beaten path.

Compare Prices And Choose A Reliable Company

Discover Cars   is an award-winning car rental company with great Trustpilot reviews. I have used them on some previous trips and would happily recommend them.

Methods Of Payment

Some car rental companies will only accept payment via credit card or allow you to u

Travel Insurance For Ireland

Even though you have taken out car insurance, you still need travel insurance to cover other eventualities. Here are some tried-and-tested travel insurance options to check out;

Get 5% off your travel insurance with HeyMondo . Benefit from 24-hour medical assistance, 365 days a year with single, multi-trip, and long-stay insurance, cover for Covid-19 and non-refundable expenses. The handy app makes this a simple process! They give a little back too by contributing to ‘Doctors Without Borders’.

SafetyWing for Digital Nomads . Benefit from 24/7 assistance, comprehensive and medical cover including Covid-19. Buy insurance whilst you are travelling, with the option of global health insurance.

Prefer A Group Tour Of Ireland?

If a self-drive tour of Ireland is not your preferred way, there are plenty of incredible multi-day group tours with knowledgeable guides. So if you decide you’d like to skip the hassle of driving, check out these options;

  • 4 Day Southern + Western Ireland Tour
  • 6 Day Southern Ireland Tour from Dublin
  • 9 Day National Geographic Iconic Ireland Tour 

14 Day Ireland Road Trip

Day 1-3 | dublin.

Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and it’s a city where you will find delicious food, interesting museums, and the legendary Irish craic. Visit around St Patrick’s Day, and experience parades, street theatre, and a fabulous festival atmosphere. 

The best way to discover the rich history of Dublin is on a free walking tour with a knowledgeable and hilarious guide. The National Gallery of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland are both feasts for the eyes, and a trip to Trinity College to see the Book of Kels is a must. 

After a few hours of learning about Ireland’s history, you’ll be hungry, so head to The Oval Bar and enjoy a bowl of their famous Irish stew. After lunch, take a walk along the river Liffey to see the iconic bridges of Dublin, the Famine Memorial, and the Custom House. 

Read my  Dublin itinerary  – a great way to start my Ireland road trip 

Long Library, Trinity College Dublin

Day 4-5 | Dublin Bay – Dalkey & Howth

These beautiful towns are the two highlights of Dublin Bay and they are both within easy reach of Dublin City by car, train, or bus. You’ll need at least a day to appreciate the delights each. 

Day Trip To Dalkey 

The interactive tours of Dalkey Castle are fun and informative thanks to the guides who dress in full costume and become historical characters such as a cook and archer. Brilliant! 

A hike along the coast to see the stunning views is an excellent way to blow away the cobwebs before a well-earned lunch of Dublin Bay prawns at The Queen’s Bar. 

Taking the kayaks around the rugged coastline of Dalkey Island, learning the ancient history, and watching seals was a special moment.  My Dalkey experience  was a wonderful day trip from Dublin. 

Day Trip To Howth 

Howth is a lovely village where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The way-marked clifftop walks provide breathtaking views of  Ireland’s Eye , an island that is home to grey seals, rare birds, and ancient relics. It can be reached by boat from Howth harbour.

After locally caught fish and chips and ice cream on Howth Pier, head to the beautifully decorated local church and then go for a windswept stroll at Bailey’s Lighthouse.  Visiting Howth  is the perfect escape from Dublin’s busy streets. 

Baby gull on Ireland's Eye, off Howth, Dublin Bay

Day 6 | Enniscorthy

On a 14-day self-drive tour of Ireland, it’s essential to make a plan so you see all the amazing sights the country has to offer. So, on my way to Tramor, I stopped at Enniscorthy in County Wexford. 

Enniscorthy is a picturesque and friendly town with lots of history. It is the home of the National 1798 Rebellion Centre, the Battle of Vinegar Hill, and a well-preserved 13th-century castle, and some beautiful beaches. 

Enniscorthy Castle

Day 7 | Copper Coast + Mahon Falls

The Copper Coast route is named after the massive mines of the 19th century. The area is now a  UNESCO Geopark , a name given to places with international geological significance, and has some of the most spectacular scenery in Waterford County. 

This awesome route can be driven or cycled. It is 25 km long and runs between Tramore, with its fine beach, and the quaint waterfront town of Dungarvan. On your way back to Tramore, stop at the magnificent Mahon Falls. 

Highlights of the Copper Coast  include Newton Cove, where you can wild swim from the stony shore, and the Metalman statue of a sailor who warns seagoers of tricky waters. Kilfarrasay Strand is a lovely stretch of sand on which to stretch your legs before heading to the mining heritage site at Tankardstown. 

Kilfarassy Beach on Copper Coast - Ireland road trip

Day 8 | Waterford City

Waterford City is the home of the Waterford Viking Triangle, a hub of three museums that tell the story of the Vikings in Ireland and more recent history in compelling ways. New additions to this fascinating learning centre include the Museum of Time and the Museum of Silver. There’s a free walking tour taking them all in. 

In the afternoon, explore the vibrant murals added to the town walls during the annual Street Art Festival. If you have time, the Waterford Crystal Factory is a beautiful and interesting place to visit. The exquisite crystal art it produces will make great souvenirs for your two-week Ireland tour. 

Rain or shine, there is plenty of things to do for a fun-filled day  exploring Waterford City .

Strongbow and Aoife Statue in Waterford Viking Triangle

Day 9 | Drive To Killarney Via Blarney Castle

Before you leave Tramore, start the day with a little zen at the  Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens  which commemorates the Greek-Irish literary figure, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn. The garden displays represent his biographical journey through the different stages of his life from his Victorian childhood to living in the US, travelling extensively, and finally settling in Japan and marrying into a Samurai family. This is just one of the many  beautiful gardens of Ireland .

Blarney Castle  is a two-hour drive away from Tramore and a 90-minute drive from Killarney, my next overnight stop. The castle was built six hundred years ago by an Irish chieftain, Cormac MacCarthy, a charismatic man who managed to stop Queen Elizabeth I from taking his castle with his gift of the gab. The frustrated Queen called his stalling ‘blarney.’

The Blarney Stone, or The Stone of Eloquence, is the source of myth and legend. Was it a stone soaked in the blood of the ill-fated lover of the Queen of the Faeries? Or was it a thank-you gift from Robert Bruce for helping him defeat Edward II and is part of the legendary Stone of Scone on which the Scottish Kings were crowned?

Of course, I couldn’t come all this way without kissing the Blarney Stone. It’s not as easy as you may think as it is built into the castle wall. I had to need to lie down, hold onto metal bars, and tilt my head backward.

Did you know the Blarney Stone is 85 feet off the ground? Just one of the many  interesting facts about the Blarney Stone  you should know before you visit.

Blarney Castle- Ireland Road Trip

Day 10 | Ring Of Kerry Drive

The Ring of Kerry is a magical drive of 179 km. It’s a jaw-dropping route around the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula that reveals panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, pretty villages where you can have tea and cake, dramatic mountain scenes, and swooping seabirds. I drove round clockwise, the opposite way to tour groups, so I had some of these gorgeous places to myself. 

I loved the lake and rolling green hill vista at Ladies Views, the colourful houses at Port Magee, and eating a delicious lunch at the seafront village of Waterville and beautiful St Finian’s Bay. The Stague Stone Fort, an atmospheric 2,500-year-old ruin and the 19th-century Derryanne House that sits proudly in the heart of the National Park are both well worth a visit. 

Journeying through this incredible landscape was the first time I felt rushed on this trip as there was so much to see! If I’d had an extra day in my itinerary, I would have included the Dingle Peninsula too.

Cliffs of Kerry - Ireland

Day 10 | Limerick

Limerick, a Viking town founded in 922AD, is a 1-hour 40-minute drive from Killarney. This pretty place has been at the centre of bloody battles and political intrigue from its inception, and there are many historic places to visit on a day trip here. King John’s Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral are two highlights.

Limerick is on the River Shannon, and that waterside location has made it an important place for trade and commerce in Ireland for generations. It is famous for exquisite handmade lace. The story of Limerick’s more recent history is told in the People’s Museum. Art galleries, the Hunt Museum, and the Limerick Gallery are fantastic too. 

The town was named the Irish City of Culture in 2014 and received lots of investment; new shops, bars, and restaurants appeared, and it is now a great night out. 

Enjoy a friendly welcome from the locals as you discover the charms and  attractions of Limerick .

Day 12 | Cliffs Of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are awe-inspiring vertical edifices that tower over the swirling Atlantic Ocean below. They formed 320 million years ago and run eight miles along the coast of County Clare. The panoramic views from the cliffs toward the Isles of Arran will stay in your memory forever and it is especially beautiful at sunset. 

The paths around the cliffs are well-maintained and perfect for a walk, just stay away from the edge! You can wander south towards Hag’s Head, about 5.6km away. The path north to Doolin is currently closed. 

There’s a visitor’s centre with craft shops, an excellent café and lots of information about the seabirds who call the cliffs home. O’Brien’s Tower is a folly built by a local landlord and MP in 1835 to impress the women he was stepping out with. Climb it in good weather to see extended views of Connemara across Galway Bay. 

The Cliffs of Moher are part of a unique landscape called the Burren and both have UNESCO Geopark status. The archaeological, geological, and botanical significance of this karst limestone-rich area and the seven dedicated geo sites make it an enthralling and eerily beautiful place to visit.

The Burren scenic drive is 41 miles long and starts at Kilfenora, a historic cathedral town. Before you set off, take the time to visit the Burren Visitor Centre to understand the weird terrain you’re about to drive through.

Cliffs of Moher - Tour of Ireland road trip

Day 13 | Ferry To Inishmore From Galway

Inishmore is the largest of the Isles of Aran, and you can reach it by ferry from Galway Bay or Doolin. On the island, you’ll find Ireland at its most authentic. It is the home of traditional music and one of the few places left where Irish is the dominant language. 

I left the car in Galway Bay as only local cars are permitted on Inishmore. Hiring a bike was the best option for me as I wanted the freedom to explore at my leisure. The seal colony was disappointing as I didn’t see any. The huge views were worth the stop, however. 

The Worm Hole cave was a natural marvel, and I loved Dun Aengus Fort, an imposing ancient stone fort with massive walls and a defensive pattern of spikes. My favourite part of my visit to Inishmore was cycling gleefully along the quiet lanes of the old cottage road with the wind in my hair. It felt remote, rugged, and like I was seeing the real Ireland. 

The Aran Islands are a treasure worth experiencing, any traveller will be transfixed with the bucolic  magic of Inishmore .

Inishmore on Aran Islands

Day 14 | Drive To Dublin Via Kilkenny

I didn’t want to waste the last day of my Ireland road trip. So, instead of driving straight back to Dublin for the late-night ferry to Holyhead, I stopped in Kilkenny. The main attraction is  Kilkenny Castle  and Parkland, a Victorian remodelling of a 13th-century castle. It has an absorbing history, informative tour guides, and outstanding homemade cakes in the café. 

Kilkenny  is a medieval town, and it was a joy to wander down the cobbled streets and feel the history underneath my feet. The ancient architecture is remarkably well-preserved, and the Medieval Mile Trail brings old stories to life. 

The Smithwick’s Experience is one of Kilkenny’s newest tourist attractions and is the story of the town’s love affair with their 300-year-old beer. The tour is very hands-on, you’ll be milling the malt and stirring the mash, so it’s good fun.

Dublin is 90 minutes away from Kilkenny, so before I left, I had a bite at Kyteler’s Inn, a pub built in 1324. The food was tasty, and the old building had lots of gorgeous little nooks and crannies to explore. The stained-glass windows are works of art in themselves. 

trip planner to ireland

More Ireland Road Trip Itineraries

Ireland road trip 10 days.

  • Howth + Ireland’s Eye
  • Copper Coast
  • Blarney Castle + Killarney
  • Ring of Kerry
  • Cliffs of Moher

Ireland Road Trip 7 Days

Handy links for your ireland road trip.

Here are some useful links for your Ireland road trip, find tours, and where to stay. These are companies I have used and can recommend with confidence.

Accommodation In Ireland

  • Best accommodation deals with  Booking.com
  • Top hostel deals with  Hostelworld
  • Experience Irish hospitality, stay with locals via  Homestay

Tours In Ireland

  • Multi-day tours in Ireland with  G Adventures
  • Book attractions and multi-day tours with  Viator
  • Discover tours and things to do in Ireland on  Tripadvisor

Transport For Ireland

  • Hire your  own wheels with Discover Cars
  • Check train times with  Irish Rail
  • Travel from the UK to Dublin or Rosslare with  Irish Ferries .

PIN FOR YOUR 2 WEEK IRELAND ROAD TRIP

Guide to the perfect Ireland Road Trip from Dublin

Disclosure : This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. It comes at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Vanessa Ball // She Wanders Miles

I'm a content creator for She Wanders Miles ♡ Digital marketer, photographer, hiker, and nature lover ♡ Passion for slow, sustainable and responsible travel ♡ Join me in discovering our beautiful world across 7 continents.

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The Best Time to Visit Ireland

Weather & Climate

Airports in Ireland

Driving in Ireland

Best Castle Hotels

How to Spend Two Weeks in Ireland

Top Places to See

Things to Do in Ireland

Free Things to Do

National Museums of Ireland

Best Walks to Take

Castles to Visit

Cliffs of Moher

Blarney Stone

What to Do Along the Wild Atlantic Way

Places to Golf in Ireland

Foods to Try

Best Irish Drinks

Your Trip to Ireland: The Complete Guide

trip planner to ireland

Known for its dramatic seaside scenery and idyllic country landscapes, Ireland can offer the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Stop for a live music session in a village pub or head for the big cities of Dublin and Belfast for cutting edge cuisine and cultural activities. While old traditions are alive and well on the Emerald Isle, Ireland has a non-stop social scene as well. Whether you want to hike the sea cliffs or soak up history, here is the ultimate guide to planning your trip to Ireland.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit :  Ireland’s reputation for rainy weather is well deserved and there is a good chance that you will encounter some wet days at any time of year. The weather tends to be mild but cool in April and May, and heading to the country in spring is a good way to beat the tourist crowds that arrive in June, July, and August. September is also a good time to visit Ireland before the winter weather arrives. Keep in mind that the weather tends to be rainy in the west of Ireland at any time of year.

Language:  The Republic of Ireland has two official languages: English and Irish  . It is rare to hear Irish spoken outside of areas known as Gaeltacht, which are found around the west coast of Ireland. However, you will see signs in both English and Irish as you travel. English is spoken in Northern Ireland, as well.

Currency:  The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro, while in Northern Ireland the currency is the Pound sterling  . Credit cards are widely accepted but some smaller businesses will still only accept cash so it is a good idea to carry some cash at all times.

Getting Around:  If you plan to stick to the capital cities of Dublin and Belfast, there is little need for a car. Both cities are compact enough to explore on foot and Dublin has a good public transportation system. Major towns are well connected by private coach bus, but it is a good idea to hire a car if you want to see rural Ireland or crave a bit of flexibility in your schedule. Keep in mind that Ireland drives on the left and automatic cars are fairly rare, so book your rental car ahead of time if you plan to road trip around the Emerald Isle.

Travel Tip:  While traveling in the offseason is a good way to beat the crowds, some accommodations close up for the winter season (between mid-October and April 1 st ). Hotels and B&Bs can be in huge demand in summer, and around holidays and festivals, so it is best to reserve these as far in advance as possible once your trip dates are finalized.

Things to Do

Ireland is the perfect vacation destination for music lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and slow travelers who like to experience local lifestyles by exploring small towns and villages.

  • Take a walk: Ireland has six national parks   as well as incredible hills and landscapes. Walking is a popular pastime and does not require you to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Go to the pub: No trip to Ireland is complete without a few nights in the pub. This is where you will find live traditional music, homestyle food, local beer and plenty of comradery.
  • Plan a Road trip : To see as much as possible, plan to experience at least one of Ireland’s best drives. Perhaps you want to experience the Beara Peninsula or explore the Causeway coast – the small towns and unexpected scenery you will discover along the way is what makes Ireland a truly special place to visit.

Explore more attractions with our full-length articles on the best things to do in Dublin , the 20 places to see in Ireland , and the ultimate guide to the Wild Atlantic Way.

What to Eat and Drink

The most traditional Irish food comes from the produce and livestock that have been a part of the rolling landscape for centuries. Many pubs and restaurants will serve a version of classic dishes such as beef and Guinness stew, roasted lamb, Irish steak, and of course, potatoes. Be sure to start the day with a fry – also known as a full Irish breakfast. The hearty morning meal comes with eggs, sausage, rashers (bacon), black pudding, beans, roasted tomato, and toast. Ireland is also famed for its dairy, so be sure to try real Irish butter on homemade brown bread.

To wash it all down you can order a Guinness, Ireland’s most famous stout which is still brewed to this day in Dublin. Other popular beers include Kilkenny and Harp, though imported beer, like Corona and Coors Light, is also becoming more common. Ireland is also famous for its whiskey, which you can find served with water at most bars. For something non-alcoholic, tea is particularly popular and the most common brands are Barry’s and Lyons. It can be found at all times of day, served with milk on the side.

Hungry? Read more in our article about  the best restaurants in Dublin,  the  best places to eat in Limerick , and the best pubs in Dublin .

Where to Stay

Most flights in and out of Ireland transit through Dublin and the Irish capital city is a wonderful place to spend a few days. Stay in the city center to take advantage of seeing most of the city on foot. After a couple of nights in the big city, you may be ready to experience the rest of Ireland. Many people choose to head south to Cork or Limerick and use these cities as a base to explore the small towns and villages. Belfast in Northern Ireland is also a lively city and the gateway to the stunning Antrim coast. Alternatively, head west out of Dublin for Galway and spend your days hopping between the towns along the Wild Atlantic Way.

For more information on where to stay, explore the   different Dublin neighborhoods to stay in, and our recommendations on the best hotels.

Getting There

The most common way to arrive in Ireland is by plane. However, there are also ferries that travel to the Emerald Isle. Once in Ireland, renting a car is the best way to explore most of the country. It’s not necessary (or recommended) to get a car if you plan to stay in Dublin, but having an independent set of wheels is almost necessary if you want to explore the rest of the country. Buses and trains are available, but the limited schedules will seriously constrain any travel plans.

The main airport in the Republic of Ireland is Dublin Airport . Other airports in Ireland and Northern Ireland include:

  • Shannon Airport, a smaller international airport located in County Clare in the south of the Republic. This was once the busiest stop for transatlantic flights but now serves mainly UK destinations, with limited (i.e. once a week) flights to European cities.
  • Belfast International Airport (BFS) is the larger airport near the Northern Ireland capital (it is located about 20 miles outside the city). Flights to Belfast can be more expensive than flights to Dublin, so many people choose to fly into the Republic and catch a convenient coach bus to the north.
  • George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD) is quite small but very close to Belfast, located just over a mile from the city center. It serves mainly UK airports.

For a complete guide, read more about all of the airports in Ireland .

Culture and Customs 

The Irish love to banter and it can feel like teasing, but it is all meant in good fun. You are welcome and expected to join in trading a few verbal jabs and sharing jokes to keep the "craic" going. Irish wit and humor move at lightning speed.

Pubs are the most common place to socialize in Ireland. This is where friends meet up and strangers become friends.

Music is a huge part of Irish culture and traditional live music sessions are commonplace. Some are planned and others come together naturally when enough musicians gather at the same pub. If you hear the crowd singing along, join in.

Tipping is not expected and certainly not needed at a pub. Some restaurants add a service charge for groups of eight or more, but this should be clearly noted on the menu and indicated on the bill.

If someone offers to buy you a drink at a pub, it is fine to accept. Keep in mind that drinking in Ireland works in “rounds” so if someone offers to get the next round of drinks, it is implied that you will return the favor when the glasses get low again.

Money-Saving Tips

  • If possible, avoid traveling to Ireland in July and August when the number of visitors rivals the number of residents. This is when accommodation prices are most inflated and will seriously cut into your budget.
  • Rural Airbnbs are becoming more common in Ireland. Renting a little cottage can be both romantic and budget-friendly. If you prefer a more personal touch, regular B&Bs are also easy to come by and tend to have lower prices than traditional hotels.
  • Beers are relatively cheap if you are planning a night out, but restaurant prices can be steep in comparison. Eat in or try some of the most beloved Irish fast food joints to save some cash.
  • If you plan to spend a few days in Dublin, it is worth buying a Leap Card to save money on public transportation. You can also download the FreeNow taxi app, which sometimes offers discount codes and promotions on cab rides.

Learn more about the cheapest ways to have fun by exploring the best free things to do in Dublin . 

Tourism Ireland . "Languages of Ireland."

Tourism Ireland . "Money in Ireland."

National Parks & Wildlife Service . "National Parks in Ireland."

Dublin Guide: Planning Your Trip

Ireland's 20 Largest Towns and Cities

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7 Day Ireland Itinerary – Ultimate Road Trip Guide For The South

Last Updated April 25, 2024 William Tang

You are here: Home » Travel Itineraries » 7 Day Ireland Itinerary – Ultimate Road Trip Guide For The South

This 7-day Ireland itinerary guide is broken into three main parts – trip planning decision points, the comprehensive breakdown of each day, and my personal planning tips.  This is meant to be super comprehensive and is everything I would have wanted to know when I planned this South Ireland road trip, along with what to see in 7 days.

Ireland is a place where legends, epics, and science fiction become reality.  Ireland is a breathtaking ancient landscape, rolling green hills and craggy sharp rock. Ireland is céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes).

Read more about Ireland

  • Things you have to see and do on your Ireland road trip
  • 6 of the Best Things to do in Galway
  • Must-read Ireland travel guide

TOP TIPS FOR TRAVELING IRELAND

  • Our favorite spot – You’ll discover this as you go through the itinerary but if I had to pick, I’d say it was our day at Skellig Michael , not only as a Star Wars nerd, but our timing in being able to see the puffins in droves.  Truly a special day.
  • Where to stay – We used Booking.com for all of our stays and is great for finding those charming B&Bs. Alternatively, you can always see if hotel corporate codes might work for you.
  • Renting a car – An important part to a road trip is obviously a car. Save the most money through car rental coupon codes and always start your search with Discover Cars and RentalCars so you know what the best deals are.
  • Flights – International flights are never cheap, but with the Skyscanner “Everywhere” feature you can find the best deals. Check how much it would be for you to get to Ireland!
  • Insurance – This is a must for a road trip! Check out the best travel insurance .
  • Hottest deals – Bookmark our frequently updated travel deals page .

In This Article

Recommended travel time

Areas to focus, best time to go, packing essentials, where to stay, flying into ireland, interactive map, itinerary day 1 – a peek inside the ancient east, itinerary day 2 – from castles to a ring called kerry, itinerary day 3 – magic on skellig michael, itinerary day 4 – a day in killarney, itinerary day 5 – coastal adventures on dingle peninsula, itinerary day 6 – mighty cliffs and the burren, itinerary day 7 – clash of gaelic sport and dublin delight, itinerary flexibility and changes, frequently asked questions, travel resources for your next trip, ireland road trip planning.

downtown dingle streets in 7 day southern ireland itinerary road trip

Planning a South Ireland road trip isn’t hard.  There’s a few things to consider as you put everything together before you start planning.

For more details make sure to read everything you need to know when you plan a trip to Ireland .

There’s three scenarios here: 1) You have limited vacation days, 2) you found a flight deal with specific dates, or 3) there’s flexibility.

If it’s #1 or #2, you already know your answer but if it’s #3, things become intriguing.  It’s in part dictated by your decision on how much you’d like to see and the pace at which you travel.

Our week in Ireland wasn’t enough to see everything we wanted in the south but was the perfect amount to see the highlights.  I’d say Ireland in 7 days is a bare minimum and your itinerary will be decently packed.  Any less, you’ll have to focus on less regions or drive aggressively which isn’t recommended.

Two weeks is the perfect amount whether you decide to deep dive in a specific area or see the whole island.  For the sake of keeping this guide focused, let’s say you only have 7 days to work with.

A week in the Emerald Isle is certainly not enough but if you’ve got limited time like we did, you’ll have to make a pretty critical decision.  Do you focus on the North, South, or the whole island?  Do you want to take it slow or hit up as much as you can? 

The island of Ireland is divided into two parts.  The majority of the land is covered by the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland) and the other sixth is Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom to the northeast.

One of the most recognizable places of Ireland is Giant’s Causeway and it’s the reason you’ll want to come to this part of the island.  The unusual basalt pillars are incredibly unique and will boggle your mind.  In the north, it’s cities like Belfast and Derry which present the most compelling and fascinating political history if you’re interested in learning about that and the complicated past around Ireland’s independence.  There is plenty to see here and it’s just as beautiful as the southern part of the island.

Other highlights include:

  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
  • Dark Hedges
  • Donegal – There’s a reason why this region was picked as ‘Coolest Place on the Planet for 2017’ by  National Geographic Traveler

7 day ireland itinerary focused on the southern parts and what to see

There is no official “southern Ireland” borderline but we’re labeling that as everywhere below the line connecting Galway to Dublin.

Southern Ireland is dramatically different in terrain and sights than the north.  The south is where you’ll find a majority of the larger cities of Ireland including Dublin, Cork, Galway city, and Limerick.

Our main reason for doing a South Ireland road trip is to experience the Ring of Kerry, Skellig Michael, Dingle, Connemara National Park and explore castles and ancient ruins.

The full loop

The island itself isn’t that large (area wise, it is in fact smaller than Iceland) and doing a loop is certainly possible in 7 days.  It’s an ambitious schedule but definitely possible.

Ultimately we chose to do the south because we had done Northern Ireland on a separate short stopover trip and wanted to see a different side to Ireland.

The summer months are short and in the winter most things in the country are shut down.  As a result, it kind of makes it simple in terms of when to plan your trip.

July and August are the peak of high season; school is out and you contend with the large hoards of tourists, both domestic and international.  On average these months have a high of 20C.

Spring and fall are going to be a bit temperamental but, if you’re okay with rain, you’ll find awesome flight deals and cheaper hotels.  Expect the temperatures to be colder though with highs of 15C.

temperature chart for ireland throughout the year for when is the best time to go

The sweet spot, however, has to be June .  It’s during the summer solstice with the longest days of the year and it’s the start of high season.  You get the best of amazing weather and smaller crowd sizes.  It was incredible that there was enough light to sightsee until 10PM.

Packing for a South Ireland road trip shouldn’t be too hard as you’ll be staying at B&B’s and hotels all the way through.

Since you’ll have access to a car you don’t have to pack ultra-light.  You will want to rent the smallest car possible though, which means minimal trunk space.

Waterproof – You’re not going to skip every spot you have on your itinerary because of rain.  This means that you’ll have to brave the elements.  Have rain gear with you in case you need it.

GPS – If you have a data plan, using your smartphone for GPS will be your first choice so you can leverage any traffic information to take the most optimal route.  If not, a stand-alone unit will work just as well. Don’t assume your car will have GPS built in.  Before your trip, make sure you save areas offline on Google Maps and Save/Star all your destinations.  Google Maps will work offline (minus traffic adjustments).

Money – Ireland is part of the EU and as such, Euro is the currency.  Cash or credit is widely accepted.  If you’re from Canada, make sure you have the right credit card to either minimize on foreign exchange fees or maximize points.

Always cool – In the summer, it tops out in the low 20Cs.  Evenings drop down to the 10Cs or lower so pack accordingly.  I had a light Quiksilver hoodie always ready to go in the car in case things got chilly.

You can find other gear that I recommend for a trip to visit Ireland below.

  • Columbia Women’s Outdry Ex ECO Tech Jacket  – Whether it’s this or another waterproof jacket, the key is to have a light and durable outer layer that will at least keep your upper body dry.
  • Helly Hansen rain pants – We were lucky enough to never needs these on our trip but have learned from Iceland, it is always good to have pants that you can slip on.
  • Columbia Conspiracy Titanium OutDry Trail Running Shoe – To round out the waterproofing gear, having good shoes that perform well during hikes, walks, and rain is so important.  We love these shoes because they’re breathable, low profile which is good for summer, and very comfortable.
  • Travel towel – B&B’s are great at providing amenities like towels, but the one instance for us where we needed this was at Galway Glamping .  Whether you need it or not, these are super compact and can be useful in other scenarios like if you get wet from the rain, decide to go to the beach, or do surfing lessons.
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set  – These are awesome for any travel you do.  We’ve been using this set for awhile to keep our shirts organized, underwear together, and all our random loose cables and chargers in one spot.
  • Victorinox Travel Organizer – Ireland was so safe that we didn’t feel the need to travel with a money belt so organizers like this were perfect to keep my passport and travel papers nice and tidy.
  • Toiletry kit – The hanging toiletry organizer is a must for any traveler.  We’re a big fan because the hook allows you to hang this off of a vanity mirror or towel rack in a hotel/hostel and gives you counter space.  Kits like this are small but surprisingly allow you to pack a ton of things inside.
  • Travel power bar – Surge protectors such as this that take 1 outlet into 3 is helpful especially if you have to charge a bunch of things at night. You never know how many outlets your B&B or hotel is going to have so this is super handy.
  • Cigarette USB adapter – USB plugs in cars are notorious for being slow charging.  Get one of these chargers for the cigarette adapter to allow two USB devices to be charged at the same time and at a faster rate.  The one we used was unfortunately a slow speed one.
  • Power bank – If you have more devices you want to charge on the go and you’ve run out of ports/adapters in the car, it’ll be smart to have a basic power bank as your back up.  This Xiaomi one has a ton of capacity (10,000 mAH) and is super light.
  • Car phone holder – If you’re going to be using your phone as your GPS, don’t forget to bring a holder. Our favorite are these magnetic ones which clip to an air vent.  The unfortunate thing for us was that we didn’t account for our rental car to not have a regular air vent which made it near impossible to mount.  We eventually found a way but it was at a weird angle and the phone would periodically fall off.  The kind of things you don’t really think about when you’re packing right?

Slieve Elva B&B Bedroom in 7 day ireland itinerary road trip

After deciding the focus area of your trip and having a rough idea of the spots you want to see, the next step is figuring out where to stay.

The best part about Ireland is the hospitality and it’s a big reason we had such a great time.  The scenery blew our minds, but those conversations with the owners of the B&Bs and hotel staff made for a lasting impression.

B&B’s:   You’ll only find hotels in the big cities. In the country-side you’re going to rely on family owned B&B accommodations.  Each one is unique and the best part is the delicious breakfast included.

Hotels:   In the bigger cities you’ll have the option to stay at a hotel.  We quite enjoyed our big rooms, luxurious beds, and room cleaning when we had the opportunity.  Not to say we didn’t have that at the B&Bs, but it was nice to go into a hotel knowing the level of service and quality that you’d expect.

Glamping:   When I found out about Galway Glamping with Mongolian yurts, I knew we had to try it.  You get an experience that gets you into the charming countryside setting while not sacrificing the comforts of a hot shower, kitchen, and lounge rooms.  Similar to B&Bs, the hosts are just as accommodating, friendly, and helpful.

Places we stayed across Ireland in 7 days:

  • Kilkenny – Newlands Lodge
  • Portmagee – Skellig View White Room Airbnb
  • Killarney – The Lake Hotel
  • Dingle – An Portán
  • Lisdoonvarna (near Doolin) – Slieve Elva B&B
  • Galway – Galway Glamping
  • Dublin – The Croke Park Hotel

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Advice:

  • Be careful about check-in times.  Typically there are very specific time slots where they expect you to come in.  If you aren’t able to, make sure you reach out to them beforehand, give the owners an estimate of when you’ll arrive, and get approval.
  • When glamping, make sure to ask what facilities are available so you come prepared.  In Galway Glamping’s case, they did not provide towels so we had to bring our own travel towel .

AirTransat Plane in Dublin

The main international airport is Dublin (DUB) but there are also airports in Shannon (SNN), Belfast (BFS), Cork (ORK), and Knock in West Ireland (NOC).

Coming from Canada, Dublin airport will be your primary access point into Ireland.  Our choice of airline is Air Transat .  We flew economy and were greeted with great leg room, a solid entertainment system, excellent service and amazing food.

If you’re coming from another part of Europe, you have even more airports open to you.

  • Kerry Airport : Served by flights from Dublin, Manchester, London-Luton, London-Stansted and Frankfurt.
  • Waterford Airport:  Served by flights from London-Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, Bordeaux, Lorient.
  • Galway Airport:  Served by flights from Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradfort, London Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton.
  • Donegal Airport
  • Sligo Airport
  • George Best Belfast City Airport
  • City of Derry Airport

These options allow you to get creative with your itinerary.  For instance, instead of doing a round trip journey in and out of Dublin, you could start in Dublin on the East side of the island to Shannon on the West.

Table of Contents

The 7 Day Ireland Itinerary

With the basics covered, the next step is to plan your day by day Ireland itinerary.

This high level outline shows everything we did across the 7 day road trip including sights, restaurants we tried, where we stayed, and invaluable insight we learned through adventure and misadventure.

This is meant to be a guideline because everyone’s situation will be different.  That said, if you’re looking for a baseline to start from, this guide is probably the best out there.  Sign up to become an insider and get access to the downloadable spreadsheet .

Glendalough Monastic City

If you’re coming from North America, you’ll most likely be taking a red-eye flight, flying out in the evening and arriving the next morning.  This means you may be too tired to hit the ground running.  For us, we tried to sleep through the flight so that we’d have enough energy to last the first day.

Upon landing in Dublin and out of the airport by 1PM, we made an explicit decision to hit the road right away.  There’s more details in the driving section of our road trip guide but since I knew driving in Dublin was going to be a headache, it seemed more logical to finish there, return the car in the city and then rely on local transportation.

After picking up our rental car from Europcar we found our way to Glendalough in the gorgeous Wicklow Mountains region.  Glendalough Monastic City ruins were very impressive and almost fairytale-like with the Round Tower, Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, the high crosses in the graveyard, and the priest’s house.  Make sure not to miss the walk up to the Upper Lake which has a postcard worthy view.  It’s roughly a 30 minute walk each way.

We then drove to the city of Kilkenny, our final destination of the day.  We arrived too late to do the Kilkenny Castle tour but there was plenty to see walking around the grounds, including the massive green park on one side and the rose garden on the other.

After dinner, we treated ourselves to Murphy’s Ice Cream.   Our favorite flavor has to be their Dingle Sea Salt, try it!

If we had more time:

Smithwick’s Experience – Smithwick’s ended up being our beloved beer for the trip and would have loved to have done this tour.  They also had an evening experience that sounded fun.

what to see in ireland in 7 days - itinerary road trip map day 1

PETRONELLA RESTAURANT & CAFE

Quaint restaurant down a small alleyway in Kilkenny that serves excellent European dishes that span Irish to Italian.  Ordered the Baked Goatsbridge trout and Pappardelle pasta and both were very good.  Loved the decor here as well.  Best part was when the manager, Frank, came out to greet all the customers to see how everything was.

TripAdvisor

newlands lodge b&b kilkenny - where to stay in ireland in 7 days

NEWLANDS LODGE

Just outside of Kilkenny, this B&B is a lovely property that will exceed all expectations whether it comes to the spacious rooms that are impeccably clean, friendly service from owners Mairead and Jimmy, and delicious all-inclusive breakfast.

Booking.com

Tips and Tricks:

  • Car rental and driving tips – See everything you need to know to plan a trip to Ireland . We found our car rental via Discover Cars .
  • Parking at Glendalough – We parked at the first parking lot we saw which turned out to be the Glendalough Hotel.  The parking was “free” and we weren’t ticketed although I’d say in high season it may not be as easy as it was for us.
  • Glendalough Monastic City – No admission required.
  • Relieve and hydrate – The walk to the Upper Lake is long and there isn’t much cover at the main site so either use the visitor center or Glendalough Hotel for the bathroom facilities.
  • Kells Priory – This is an off-the-beaten-path spot that would be worth considering in your itinerary.  Read more about it here .

will kissing the blarney stone in ireland itinerary

With a full stomach from our Irish breakfast, we hopped into our car and made our way to the Rock of Cashel .  

On a green hill with banded limestone, ancient fortifications create a ring around the Gothic cathedral, round tower, and chapel.  We were able to walk through the open, yet remarkably intact, ruins while also enjoying the rolling countryside of Tipperary.

Next stop was the famed Blarney Castle just outside of Cork.  The grounds of Blarney Castle and Gardens are huge and require a half day to fully explore everything.  We walked straight to the castle tower to line up to kiss a stone famed for giving the gift of eloquence.  

Wrapping up at Blarney Castle, we rushed through Killarney and connected to the Ring of Kerry to start our counter-clockwise rotation.  

The scenery at this point dramatically changed from tree lined country roads to coastal cliffs and crashing waves.  This is where you’ll appreciate having your own car .

After a few impromptu stops along the way, we made our final stop of the night at Kells Bay House & Gardens .  Here, we had a lovely and surprisingly authentic Thai meal at their in-house Sala Thai Restaurant.

We had the Summer Solstice on our side and there was still a ton of light out after dinner.  This made navigating the road to Portmagee and over to our Airbnb much easier.  Sadly, we had to skip pretty much everything along the way along this part of the Ring of Kerry except a quick stop at a gas station to pick up breakfast and snack items for the next day.

  • Cork – It would’ve been nice to explore Cork and their English Market and visit the Cobh Heritage Centre.
  • Blarney Gardens – I would have loved to have spent more time doing the various walks around the Poison Garden, Fern Garden, Arboretum, and the endless other garden walks that explore the mystical and magical landscapes.
  • Killorglin – This is the first town we passed by along the Ring of Kerry.  We zipped right through but I would have loved to have stopped here even for a few minutes to get a feel for a small town like this one.
  • Cahirciveen – This is home to the Ballycarbery Castle and the Old Barracks which is built in the Schloss style.  Legend says they mixed up plans for this and a building designed for somewhere in Punjab, India.

southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 2 - what to see in ireland in 7 days

SALA THAI RESTAURANT

This is the in-house restaurant as part of the Kells Bay House property.  As someone that’s had a lot of Thai food, I have to say that the curries, noodles, and skewers we had were all very good and very authentic.  The only knock I’d have on this place is the service.  Our order took way too long to get to the table and only after following up did they realize that they missed our order completely and had to make it from scratch at that point.

trip planner to ireland

SKELLIG VIEW WHITE ROOM AIRBNB

A no frills kind of Airbnb that I booked pretty early on because I was worried that the town of Portmagee would sell out.  Our host, Marie, was very accommodating of our late check-in request and I appreciated the free passes to Kerry Cliffs.  The room was just the right size and in relatively clean condition.  Wifi included as well.

Check rates

Tips and Tricks :

  • Rock of Cashel – Parking is right up the narrow road right at the base of the hill.  It’s an automated parking system where you pay the machine when you’re leaving.  This parking costs 4.50 EUR.  To save money you could park in town and walk up.  Entrance is 8 EUR per person.
  • Blarney Castle  – Be ready for lines to kiss the Blarney Stone.  If you’re not in a rush, I recommend doing the other parts of the garden, waiting for the line to subside and then doing the castle itself.
  • Blarney Gardens –   Entrance is 14 EUR per person booked online.

Will wielding a Sith lightsaber at Skellig Michael

Thinking about what to see in Ireland in 7 days, this is my #1 must-do.  The entire pilgrimage experience of zipping across the North Atlantic to discover that the white tipped Little Skellig was in fact covered by white gannets and adorable puffins that made Skellig Michael their home.  Then following in the ancient footsteps of Luke Skywalker and Rey up to the monastery itself was pure magic.

The 2.5 hours we had on the island seemed like a lot initially but once we started climbing the steps and exploring the beehive huts of the monastery, time passed quickly.

Back on the mainland and after lunch, we explored the lesser-known Valentia Island.  We wouldn’t have known about this part of the Ring of Kerry if it wasn’t for incredible photos I had seen from this area.  With the higher vantage points of Geokaun Mountain (5 EUR per car) and the slate quarry behind Valentia Lighthouse (5 EUR per person), the scenery was as close to postcard perfect as it gets.

We then continued along our ring road journey by joining up with the Skellig Ring where we stopped by Kerry Cliffs (4 EUR per person) which is an impressive view of the jagged edged rocky coast.  It’s at the edge of the peninsula where the land rises and then sharply drops into the ocean.

The driving adventure continued along until rejoining the main Ring of Kerry.  Due to time, we couldn’t stop in the towns along the way.  From Waterville and onwards, it was straight driving.  Since we weren’t close to the coast there wasn’t much to stop and see.

At Molls Gap , we took a quick break before descending into Killarney National Park with sunlight starting to wane.  We were able to make quick stops at Ladies View where you can see where the glaciers carved through the valley before the opening into Killarney itself.

It was late by the time we checked into The Lake Hotel so no restaurants were open.  We hopped downstairs to the Devil’s Punchbowl Bar , grabbed a pint, and ordered a sandwich.

  • Waterville, Sneem, Caherdaniel, and Kenmare – It would’ve been nice to take our time through these idyllic coastal towns but I feel the trade off of spending more time on Valentia Island and the Skellig Ring was worth it.

southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 3

THE BRIDGE BAR

With barely any time to snack on Skellig Michael, we were famished by the time we arrived back in Portmagee.  Right along the main street is this nice little local restaurant which gets all the Skellig tourists.  Their fish and chips definitely hit the spot.

The Lake Hotel Suite

THE LAKE HOTEL

A historic hotel that is full of character but doesn’t show its age.  The rooms here are incredibly spacious and comfortable.  Breakfast as part of the B&B package was of the highest quality and the perfect charge-up for the day.  Location wise, it can’t be beat either being practically on Killarney National Park Grounds with that amazing view of the old castle ruins at the footsteps of Lough Leane.

  • Booking:  You must book at least 4-5 months in advance in order to guarantee a spot for a specific date.  If you haven’t, don’t fret because cancellations happen all the time.
  • Casey’s Tours to Skellig Island
  • Skellig Michael Cruises
  • The Skelligs – Force Awakens Boat Trip – Leaves from Ballinskelligs which is a totally different pier from Portmagee
  • Skellig Boat
  • Skellig Walker Cruises
  • Skellig Michael Voyage
  • The Skelligs Tour – Departs from Caherdaniel
  • Skellig Experience Visitor Centre also has a page for boat tours here .
  • Weather:  If the weather is poor for the boats, they’ll cancel the trip.  That’s why Skelligs Rocks ensured we called the morning of to confirm whether the trip would be a go or not.  There’s not much you can do here other than perhaps planning 2 days in the Ring of Kerry area so that if one day doesn’t work, you can reorganize things so you can have a second day to attempt a trip out.
  • Boat ride:   With the speed of the boat, you’re not going to get that rocky, nausea inducing feeling that folks sensitive to being on the water get.  That being said, the water does get choppy especially on the way out which is why you have to wear the waterproof gear provided by the boat.  For those that get sea sick easily, they do offer medicine on board prior to leaving the pier if you need it but nobody on our boat ride had issues.  Make sure you tuck your camera away once the boat is out in open water because you will get very wet especially if you sit near the back.  The captain was also nice enough to provide big zip-loc bags in case.
  • Difficulty:   There are two main sets of steps to the Monastery but I would say it’s relatively easy.  The first set slowly winds up with some natural spots for breaks.  The steps are wide enough to allow people to pass.  The second set of steps are more steep but if you take your time, you’ll make it up with no issues.  Compared to the Inca Trail where altitude was in effect , this felt very easy since it only required short spurts of energy.
  • Tour:  Make sure you stick around for the educational talk given by one of the rangers when you get to the Monastery.  I don’t think there’s a fixed schedule but I could be wrong.  It felt like it was every hour.
  • Valentia Lighthouse  – Admission to here was 5 EUR per person but didn’t think it was worth it.  The lighthouse and the small museum weren’t too interesting and the views weren’t anything special.  What was a nice view was in fact from the slate quarry which is visible when you look back inland from the lighthouse.  From here you get sweeping views of the lighthouse and the sprawling peninsula fingers that meet here.
  • Skellig Ring – The Skelligs are in view for most of the drive around here and was honestly more of a joy to drive through compared to the Ring of Kerry because the large coaches don’t come here.  There weren’t designated stops per say but it was a joy to find pullovers to see the villages below.
  • Ring of Kerry –  I would recommend driving counter-clockwise which is the official designated route for all the coach buses.   I’d much rather be stuck behind one and feel comfortable that opposing traffic will have to yield and when the opportunity arises to pass.  The driving section will cover this in more detail but I’ll say two things. 1) The speed limit is way too high so don’t feel pressured to drive that fast and 2) As scary as everyone made driving the ring sound, it wasn’t that bad because you’re never at a cliff’s edge and there are usually tiny pull offs for oncoming cars.

The view into Killarney National Park from Ladies View

After a hearty breakfast at The Lake Hotel , we ventured about the hotel grounds.  The hotel backs right into the largest lake of the national park and as part of that, there’s also the ruins of The McCarthy Mór Castle.

You’ll need a full day exploring Killarney National Park because it’s huge.  For us, we wanted to hit up the main sights.  We were able to see Muckross Abbey, Muckross House, Torc Waterfall, and Ross Castle.  I was probably most impressed with the Abbey and its courtyard that must’ve inspired Tolkien.

Wanting to spend time in the town of Dingle, we hit the road right after we finished at the castle.  The drive through the southern coast of the peninsula was amazing with views of the water as you winded through.  The Ring of Kerry side was always visible across the water and we made quite a few stops along the way.

We quite enjoyed our time in Dingle as we were able to take a relaxing stroll along the main streets of town, popping into the small shops that were painted in a variety of colors.   After dinner, we also made sure we tried a few more flavors at Murphy’s Ice Cream.

  • Killarney National Park – I would’ve loved to have done a few hikes in the park.  I was also sad that we weren’t able to take the boat across from Ross Castle to the Meeting of the Waters and Old Weird Bridge.
  • Gap of Dunloe – This was part of the plans but had to be cut.  There’s an awesome hike there that takes around 2 hours with breathtaking views of the lake, a heritage cottage, and the surrounding mountains.
  • Killarney City – If there’s one city we completely skipped because of time, it was Killarney.  It’s supposed to be a charming city with great food options like Quinlan’s Seafood Bar and Lane Cafe Bar.

southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 4

OUT OF THE BLUE

If you love seafood, this is your spot.  The seafood chowder is out of this world.  The fish is all locally caught and fresh and it comes through in the two dishes we had – sea bass and pollock were probably the best of the entire trip.

An Portán B&B in Dunquin, Dingle, Ireland

This is one of the few B&Bs located on the western part of Dingle Peninsula which is the perfect spot to launch into the main sights along Slea Head Drive and the ferry out to the Blasket Islands.  The owners, Rónán and Geraldine are warm and friendly hosts that also serve up delicious breakfast.  The rooms are spacious, clean, and even come furnished with a rocking chair.

Will In Front of Wild Atlantic Way Sign in Dingle

Starting in Dunquin, which is where our B&B was located, was a bit of a blessing and a curse because it allowed us to jump right into Dunquin Harbour and The Blasket Centre but since driving counter to traffic is highly inadvisable as we were told, we had to cut across the mountain in order to drive on Slea Head Drive in the clockwise direction.

When it comes to Slea Head Drive , there really wasn’t a specific sight that you’re looking for.  It’s very much a look out into the ocean as you’re driving around.

We were told that the Famine Cottages are a tourist trap so we skipped that.  There are also beehive huts along the way but because as we had done Skellig Michael, we passed as well.  Cross at Slea Head is a good spot for a quick stop where you’ll see great views of the Blasket Islands.  From there, you can see Coumeenoole Beach .  The beach is a good spot for a picnic and there’s a nice hike to the peninsula’s edge.

We continued around the peninsula with stops at Clogher Head, which is more or less another beach, and the Louis Mulcahy Pottery studio (good for a bathroom break and quick peek).

We drove back into town for another quick stop before detouring north to cross Conor Pass.  At the peak, there’s a carpark where we stopped briefly to check out the magnificent sights here.  You can see the coast in the distance, farms at the valley floor, along with lakes and cliffs.

This is when the heavy driving started as we had to wind up Northeast towards Limerick before turning Northwest.  Along the way, we stopped in the city of Ennis where it started pouring but we ducked into Cruises Pub for dinner.

  • Gallarus Oratory – This was on our itinerary for the drive around Dingle but because we didn’t have enough time, I quickly flew the drone and continued along our way.
  • Quaint small towns of Dingle – Our B&B hosts recommended that we stop by Ballydavid but short on time, we had to skip them.
  • Blasket Islands – This is a full day kind of event but if you had a couple of days in the area, we recommend getting a ferry over to the Great Blasket Island to create your own eco adventure.

southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 5

CRUISES PUB

This spot was a bit of a happy accident for us.  Originally we wanted to eat at The Cloister Restaurant & Bar but they weren’t taken anyone without reservations.  This pub was full of energy when we stepped in with a Gaelic football match televised with live Irish music.  There was a good selection of local beer here on top of comfort Irish bar food.  The Guinness meat pie and bangers and mash were perfect.

Slieve Elva B&B Room

SLIEVE ELVA B&B

Just outside the town of Lisdoonvarna is this amazing B&B which features cosy guest rooms which are both spacious, clean, and modernly renovated.  What makes any stay special is the hospitality of the owners Kris and Ireen who will go out way to make you feel at home.  Their breakfast is marvelous and you will love their personal touch of home made bread and jams.  On top of that, each room gets Ireen’s homemade biscuits.  This would be my B&B of choice for anyone want to visit Cliffs of Moher or The Burren in County Clare.

7 day ireland itinerary dingle driving direction suggestion

  • Driving in Dingle – Having done the drive myself, I can confidently say that you do not want to drive counter-clockwise.  Slea Head Drive is designated as a two way road but some parts along the coast are only wide enough for one car.
  • Tarbert to Killimer Ferry – Instead of driving through Limerick as we ended up doing, there’s an alternative route that involves a ferry from Tarbert and goes across to Killimer.  We were originally going to do this but it didn’t save us any time so we just kept on driving.  However, if you plan it well or just have a more flexible schedule, check the schedule beforehand and this’ll be a great way to cut down driving time.  It costs 19 EUR per car or 17.10 if you book online .

visiting cliffs of moher on day 5

We started off by crossing through the countryside before dropping to the coast.  Where there were rolling valleys before, large forested areas popped up and the ground burst with streams of sharp jagged limestone.

The Cliffs of Moher were staggeringly impressive with its continuous sheer drop of 214 meters that winds out as far as the eye can see.  Where the vistas truly opened up was beyond the fences of the maintained park.  There, I only dared to walk to the death-defying edges a few times before following the ridge line down to the most northern point.   We ended up spending quite a bit of time here.

Our next stop was Burren Smokehouse .  What we learned was that the Smokehouse itself is just a store and next to it on the same street is the Storehouse.  We grabbed a sample platter to eat one of our few lunches on the trip.  It was so good that after lunch we picked up a few for home.  The tricky part was figuring out how to keep it refrigerated the remainder of the trip.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in Burren National Park , followed by a quick walk around the portal tomb, Poulnabrone .  The Burren region is out of this world.  Even though we didn’t get to do a full hike in this geopark, it shows the power of glaciers that carved through and left behind limestone pavement with fissures created by rainwater dissolution.  The end result is something that is so dramatically different from anywhere else in Ireland.

We closed out the day in Galway , my favorite city in Ireland.  We didn’t get to stay there long but it was somewhere that was full of energy with all the street performers.  Pedestrian streets ruled the downtown core, making it easy to walk and so approachable with its many shops and restaurants.

At the end of the night, we drove outside of the city to get to Galway Glamping where we had a chance to meet the owners and get a full tour of the grounds.  This night was hands down the most memorable of stays with an eclectic assembly of furniture in the Mongolian yurt which was surprisingly very cozy and warm thanks to the electrical heater.

Pedestrian Streets of Galway

We closed out the day in Galway which has got to be my favorite city in Ireland.  It’s not like we even got to stay there that long but it was somewhere that was full of energy with all the street performers.  Pedestrian streets ruled the downtown core which made it easy to walk and so approachable with its many shops and restaurants.

At the end of the night, we drove outside of the city to get to Galway Glamping where we had a chance to meet the owners where they gave us the full tour of the grounds.  This night was hands down the most memorable of stays with eclectic assembly of furniture in the Mongolian yurt which was surprisingly very cosy and warm thanks to the electrical heater.

  • I put together an article about top things to do in Galway .  Head over there for more ideas.
  • Ballyvaughan Fairy Fort – A hidden spot in The Burren, this ring fort is said to be on the road up to Poulnabrone, just opposite the left hand turn into the Ailwee Caves. Access is restricted but it’s supposedly easy to walk in.
  • Ballyvaughan – Pretty thatched cottages, nice crafts shops, and restaurants.
  • Aran Islands – The easiest way to get there is by catching a ferry from Doolin.  I’d recommend staying overnight at a minimum.  There are 3 islands in the chain but the most interesting is Inis Mór which features the cliff tops prehistoric ring forts.  A ton to see and explore here.
  • Burren National Park – I’m still a bit disappointed in the hike we attempted here.  With a little better planning, I would’ve picked a better marked hike.
  • Aillwee Cave/Pollnagollum  – Pollnagollum is a secret spot but if you know where to look, you can find the cave that inspired Lord of the Rings’ character, Gollum.  Entrance to the longest cave in Ireland, the more accessible way is through Aillwee Cave which is open to the public.  The best way to see it is to join up with a local caving tour ( Back West Adventures ).

southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 6

THE BURREN STOREHOUSE

Everyone raved about The Burren Smokehouse and their restaurant (Storehouse next door) and it sure didn’t disappoint.  After our morning at the Cliffs of Moher, we made our way over here for a quick bite.  While they have a ton of other great menu items such as their pizza, what we really wanted to try was a sampling of their smoked fish. Luckily they have the Smokehouse Platter which has 6 of their products.  Two of us shared one plate and it was just right for a half lunch.  There’s often live music playing here as well.

Galway Glamping Mongolian Yurt

GALWAY GLAMPING

The most unique accommodations of our Ireland itinerary.  Who would’ve thought we’d be able to stay in a Mongolian yurt in the middle of the Irish countryside.  What used to be an estate in ruins, the grounds have now been converted to this eclectic mix of yurts, axe-throwing, group games, party rooms, and other funky rooms.  What makes it glamping is that all rooms are furnished and powered while also including super clean bathroom, kitchen, and lounging facilities next door.

Book Directly

  • What the entry ticket is actually for – The entry ticket is only to get into the mass lot across the street.  Once you’re parked, all you do is cross the street and that’s it.  This kind of makes sense because there’s no way to police the cliffs to the north and the south.  Anyone can walk in.  They just bank on everyone driving.  You do have to get in the same line as everyone regardless if you purchase your ticket online ahead of time.
  • How to get in for free – There’s a farmer that has land right next to the most northerly edge of the cliffs who is apparently super cool with people parking along the road as long as his car can still drive through.  The photo below is the spot that you should be looking for.  If you’re coming from the north, you’ll see this before the mass parking lot.  You can use either side as you can see.
  • Best time to go – If I were to do it again, I’d definitely plan to go after 4PM.  During the middle of the day, there are way too many tourist buses and the sun is right above you which creates incredibly harsh shadows.  I’ve seen the photos and sunsets are epic here.
  • Best spots for photos – To get that postcard perfect shot, you need to leave the official bounds of the tourist site (there are signs that let you know).  We couldn’t do both ends but chose to hike to the northern edge which gives a full view of the pinnacle and a long depth of cliffs front to back.

Directions to get free parking at Cliffs of Moher

  • Burren National Park – This park is unique because there aren’t any specific boundaries and isn’t run like a national park that we’re used to.  That’s why the visitor center is in the nearby town of Corofin.  We didn’t go there and just plotted a route to the park via Google Maps.  In retrospect it wasn’t a good idea because I had no clue where the hike trails were.  At the Gortlecka Crossroads, we saw a bunch of cars parked here so we did as well.  Thing is, there’s only one board here that indicated there was a trail here.  We tried to follow it but eventually got side tracked by a gate opening that we thought was the right way.  Long story short, we gave up and turned back.  Either we are terrible at hiking or the trails are just poorly marked.  Lesson learned:  Get a trail map from the visitor center first.
  • Tunnel toll – When driving up to Galway, we hit an unexpected toll since there’s a tunnel you have to go through.  This is an unattended machine so you have to make sure you have enough coins for this.  The toll is 1.90 EUR.
  • Galway parking – You’re probably not going to find free parking here.  We circled around for a bit to see if we could get free parking to no avail.  In the end, we found a paid lot.

rainy evening in front of temple bar in dublin ireland with umbrella

On our last full day in Ireland we started early.  We had an exciting morning planned with Clash Gaelic Games and we needed to travel East to get there.  While that sounds daunting, it was mostly on the motorway (highway) and took about 2 hours.

Neil and Gareth from Clash Gaelic Games

One thing you need to understand about Ireland is that while European football is popular, it pales in comparison to the Gaelic sports.  Gaelic Football and Hurley are the top two sports in the country and what better way to end off the trip than to get to learn how to play these two sports.  I had found out about Clash Gaelic Games through my research and I thought it was such a fun way to learn about culture while burning a few calories and making a fool of ourselves.  

After our mini workout, we had to get into the city, check into our hotel, cab over to Kilmainham Gaol prison, then make it late to Trinity College’s Old Library to see the Book of Kells .  We were able to stroll the streets and get some retail therapy at the hyper cheap Penny’s following.

With one night to make it count, we had dinner at L. Mulligan Grocer and spent the rest of the night drinking Guinness and listening to live Irish music at The Temple Bar .

  • Dublin  – I would have liked to have seen St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Green, done more shopping, tried more restaurants, and drank a little harder.
  • Pubs – The Temple Bar is the most popular one in the city but there are so many other good ones including The Dame Tavern and The Brazen Head.
  • Guinness – While we weren’t big fans at the beginning, this famous stout grew on us throughout the trip.  The Guinness Storehouse is in Dublin and would be a fun place to visit for any lover of this beer. You can get advance tickets here .
  • Newgrange – While technically not in Dublin, north of the city is a large and ancient burial site built of stone and architectured to only let light into the ritual chamber at sunrise on Winter Solstice.
  • Howth – This is a village north of Dublin and near Portmarnock.  Located on a bulbous peninsula and featuring sweeping coastal views, it includes a superb food and crafts market.  It’s a place that gives you a flavor of everything we saw on the west coast without driving too far from Dublin.
  • Malahide Castle & Gardens – While I’m sure this would’ve been impressive, we couldn’t fit this in with how long Clash went.  I wasn’t too sad in this case though since we had seen Blarney Castle & Gardens and I imagine it would be somewhat similar.

southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 7

L. MULLIGAN GROCER

It’s a peculiar name for sure and it’s a bit far from the city centre but well worth it for the wide range of craft beers on tap and menu items.  We tried a most interesting watermelon wheat beer which tasted like…you guessed it…watermelon!  Our Moules Frites and Free Range Chicken Kiev were most excellent.

The Croke Park Hotel in Dublin

THE CROKE PARK HOTEL

This Doyle Collection hotel is located right next door to the famed Croke Park stadium where all the biggest Gaelic sport matches are held.  This signature hotel in the Dublin is a contemporary hotel that is big on comforts.  Their mattresses are heavenly with velvety duvets, there’s good table space to work, comfy furniture to relax, and the marbled bathrooms.  If you get the packing that includes breakfast, you’ll be treated to a wide buffet selection including honey straight from the honeycomb and my favourite, the croissants, which were delightful.  The staff was incredibly friendly and lastly, parking is included for free.  It’s the perfect hotel to launch your Dublin adventures from.

  • Clash Gaelic Games  – While it was a bit of a specialized session with just the two of us, if you’re traveling with a big group of friends or if you’re a family, this is a great way to stay active and honestly try something you’d never be able to do anywhere else.
  • Driving in Dublin – Everyone said “don’t do it” and they were right.  The core is a mess especially with the construction going on.  You do not want to drive in the city.  Taking a cab or local transit is the way to go so make sure you either return the car rental, wait to rent the car later, or your hotel has free parking.
  • Uber – I experienced the most peculiar thing with Uber in Dublin.  There were numerous times when I’d order a cab and while it was on its way, they could cancel the ride.  I couldn’t understand why this kept happening until I realized that all the Uber drivers were regular cabbies essentially.  Every cab had Uber and another local app running on their phones and so they had to allegiance to any one of them and if they found a more convenient ride along the way, they’d take it.  On top of that, Uber also doesn’t display prices because it’s all standard meters.  At the end of the day, just understand that hailing a cab or ordering an Uber is no different.  In Dublin, I’d say hailing is just easier if you’re in a busy area because you won’t get canceled on.
  • Kilmainham Goal is 8 EUR per person (plus booking fees online) and Book of Kells is 10 to 13 EUR depending on peak or off-peak hours per person.

Trips never go as planned.  This one was no different.  For the most part though, nothing dramatically changed where we had to restructure things around.  This trip was one where I simply packed too much in and had to make the call to fast forward if time was running low.

sunset in kilkenny ireland with street and castle in background

Here’s a little insight into why I feel that our plans deviated to help in your own planning:

  • Not starting the day early enough – We could’ve fit more in if we hit the road after breakfast by 8AM instead of 9 or 10AM on most days.
  • Taking too long in each spot – Between photos, videos, drone, and eyes, we spent more time than we had planned for.
  • Driving time according to GPS is inaccurate – If you drove by Ireland’s ridiculously high speed limit and didn’t stop, sure, but the reality is that you’ll be making stops to take photos of the views and you’ll be slowing down around all corners and when there’s opposing traffic.
  • Skipping meals – This is more of what happened as a result of a packed schedule.  Since we always had breakfast included by our B&Bs or hotels, lunch was the first thing to go out the window.
  • Unexpected stops – You can’t plan for these but we stopped along the Ring of Kerry to help a couple with their flat tire which put us behind.  Alternatively, I didn’t have much planned for Dingle but we got a long list of suggestions from the B&B, so we ended up spending more time there before driving out of the peninsula.
  • Losing track of time – As much as it was a massive advantage to have incredibly long days (usable light up until 10PM), it was also easy to just keep going.  As a result, there were a few times where we got to our dinner spot too late and had to make alternate plans.

So there you have it, the itinerary guide for a south Ireland road trip.  It was an ambitious trip for sure, but we only covered a small portion of everything Ireland has to offer.

Hopefully you’ll be able to use this as a starting point for your trip planning and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Make Trip Planning To Ireland A Breeze Make sure to read this companion travel guide to planning the best road trip in Ireland.

No, as long as you have a valid driver’s license you do not need an international one. A valid driver’s license allows you to rent a car as well. Note that there are different age requirements in Ireland when it comes to renting a car, be sure to look into that if concerned.

The amount of days really depends on what parts of Ireland you’d like to see and if you’d like to take your time seeing them all or not. You’ll need to decide if you want to do the north part, the south or the full loop. In our case, 7 days was barely enough to tour southern Ireland, but to do the full loop we would recommend more.

The best month to travel Ireland is June. There’s not as much rainfall during this month and the days are longer due to summer solstice, therefore you get more time to do and see more.

What you should read next

  • A Week in Ireland – Enchanting Castles, Wild Coastline, and Star Wars
  • 10 Must-See and Do Things For Any Road Trip in Ireland
  • Ireland Road Trip Travel Guide – Everything You Need To Know
  • Why You Absolutely Must Do A Road Trip Around Ireland In Photos

7 Day Ireland Itinerary - Ultimate Road Trip Guide for the South Story

If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100% .

Credit cards: Don’t get burned by hidden fees on top of terrible exchange rates. When we travel now, we use the Wise Card . Simply load it with the currency you need before you go and use it as a regular VISA or their digital wallet card. Use their free app to track how much you have and top up when you need to.

Flights: Of all the booking search engines, Skyscanner is the most helpful and easy to use thanks to their Everywhere feature . Kayak is also another that’s we will often check as well.

Car Rental: If you’re looking to save money, these car rental coupon codes will be a true game-changer. Otherwise, DiscoverCars and RentalCars are great places to start.

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Data: We’ve been a huge fan of wifi hotspot devices like PokeFi (use code GAP24300) because their rates are so good and you can use it globally but recently, we’ve really loved using eSIMs. The best one is Airalo . Save money by getting region-specific eSIMs and use referral code WILLIA9500 to get $3 USD credit on your first purchase. Ubigi is another one that we’ve had success with where they uniquely offer 5G coverage. Use code AWESOME10 to save 10% on your first order.

Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs plus they have their Genius tier discounts . The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.

Vacation Rentals: Your first instinct will be to check Airbnb but we always recommend checking VRBO as well if you’re looking for a vacation rental.

Tours: When planning our trips, we always check both Viator and GetYourGuide to at least see what’s out there in the destination that we’re going to. They often have different offerings and prices so check both.

Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.

  • Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
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  • SafetyWing – A perfect fit for long-term nomads.
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  • InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.

If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.

About William Tang

William Tang is the Chief of Awesome behind the award-winning Going Awesome Places which is focused on outdoor adventure, and experiential travel. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring photography and videos, and writing detailed itineraries and travel guides. He is a member of Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and Travel Massive. He has also been featured in publications such as Reader's Digest, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal, and Haute Living. Make sure to learn more about William Tang to find out his story and how Going Awesome Places started.

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Laura Baker says

March 8, 2023 at 11:41 PM

Thank you sooooo much for your informative guide on Southern Ireland. I truly enjoyed reading about your adventures. Keep on adventuring and sharing it with all of us!!

William Tang says

March 9, 2023 at 1:18 PM

Thanks for stopping by! You’re welcome and oh how I miss the southern part of Ireland. Hope you have an amazing time when you go!!

Sara Riobom says

June 22, 2022 at 12:21 PM

Really cool article, William. As a fellow travel blogger I am finding it hard to find really informative and honest articles to plan my trip to Ireland, and yours helped a lot. Thanks! :)

June 23, 2022 at 8:48 PM

I’m so glad Sara!!

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My Ideal Ireland Itinerary 7 Days Road Trip (+ Map)

A re you itching to visit the Emerald Isle but only have a week to explore? It’s a relatively small country, so it’s doable. This Ireland itinerary for 7 days will show you how to enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside and lively Irish culture in a one-week Ireland road trip.

For most travelers, starting and ending your Irish road trip at Dublin Airport makes logical (and financial) sense. But for those who can start their trip in Dublin and end it at Shannon Airport, there are other destinations in this beautiful country you can squeeze into your 7-day Ireland itinerary.

My detailed guide below suggests two different routes for both options. Either way, you’ll have an epic and memorable time in Ireland! It’s one of my favorite countries! Keep in mind, this itinerary does not take into account travel time, most flights from the US will depart in the evening and arrive the next morning.

Ireland Itinerary 7 Days: Option 1 (Dublin to Dublin)

This 7-day Ireland itinerary is based on my actual road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland with my teen daughter. We had a wonderful time, so I’m sharing many of our lessons and stops to help you make the most of your visit.

Day 1: Dublin to Belfast

Day 2: Belfast to Derry

Day 3: Derry to Westport (or Galway)

Day 4: Westport to Galway

Day 5: Galway to Dublin

Day 6: Dublin

Day 7: Leave Dublin

Alternative Route Thoughts:

If you’re willing to drive and tour at a faster pace, you could try to combine parts of the Northern Ireland itinerary in order to allow you to visit the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland if you’re set on flying in and out of Dublin.

The Dingle Peninsula Slea Head Drive is considered one of the highlights of the area and the star of the Wild Atlantic Way region. But it is on the opposite end of the island from Northern Ireland, so with only 7 days, adjustments are needed. My route includes some of the Wild Atlantic Way between Westport and Galway, and is more accessible. However, some feel strongly about visiting the Dingle Peninsula.

Look at my list of things to do and see and decide which are your priorities if the Dingle Peninsula (pretty drive that will take about 3 hours) is a priority, AND you have to fly in and out of Dublin. If you want to prioritize Northern Ireland and the southwest area of Republic of Ireland, you might look at a route like this: Dublin – Derry – Galway – Dingle/Killarney (2 nights) – Dublin (2 nights)

I wouldn’t choose this fast pace, but it is an option if you’re trying to make the most of a limited week. The better option in my opinion would be to try to add on a day or two. Ideally, you’d plan a 10 day Ireland itinerary if you want to see most of the highlights. Or just plan to come back again!

My recommendation if you only have 7 days and want to see most of the popular regions is to fly into Dublin and out of Shannon Airport, which I list that alternate itinerary farther down in my post.

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin Airport and Explore Belfast

Waste no time at Dublin Airport by renting a car and driving north to Northern Ireland. Many flights from North America are red eye so you can start your 7 day Ireland itinerary in the morning. Don’t worry, you’ll end your trip in Dublin.

Renting a Car in Ireland

Take note that, unless you specify, your rental car will have a manual transmission. Request an automatic if you don’t want to tackle switching gears and driving on the left side of the road! Trust me, this isn’t the time to learn to drive standard or to try and remember that time in your childhood when you borrowed your buddy’s stick shift car.

You will need to have full coverage auto insurance for accidents or damage. Many times I rely on my credit card for car rental insurance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve both have primary rental car coverage. But, confirm that Ireland and Northern Ireland aren’t excluded from your coverage.

Also, be prepared to show proof of the coverage at the rental counter. This can typically be printed from your benefits page but consider calling or chatting with customer care to ask for written proof of rental coverage. Otherwise, you’ll need to add collision coverage to your rental.

You can use Google Maps to navigate Ireland’s narrow roads, but it will often take you the fastest way which isn’t always the best way for tourists. We had a GPS device added to our rental and found it would sometimes route us differently than Google Maps.

Most of the time Google Maps was great but twice we should have listened to the GPS, one of which was driving back to Dublin from Cliffs of Moher when Google Maps took us back roads that were very tight and slow going and the GPS would have gotten us onto a highway much faster.

On your first day, head to Northern Ireland. The total drive time from Dublin to Belfast is just under two hours covering 162 km/100 miles, so you should have plenty of time to explore Killeavy before traveling to Belfast and staying there one night.

Note: The Republic of Ireland measures speed in kilometers/hr while Northern Ireland measures in miles/hr. Money is also different as Northern Ireland uses the British Pound Sterling (£) and Ireland uses the Euro (€).

Malahide or Killeavy

You’ll hop in your car and start heading to Northern Ireland but I recommend at least one stop along the way to help get outdoors and help your body adjust to the time change. There are two stops I’d recommend as you make your way to Belfast, either Malahide or Killeavy. Both will help you get outdoors and have a castle.

Malahide is what I’d consider a Dublin suburb. It’s home to the popular Malahide Castle and Gardens, which is a more touristy operated castle with decor and extensive gardens. Malahide is also on the coast and there is a popular 4 km Malahide to Portmarnock Coastal Walk to get an outdoor fix on your first day. The town itself has a large number of cute restaurants and shops for a great afternoon break on your first day.

If you’re looking to get out of the city on your first day, plan for a stop in Killeavy instead. Located just over the Northern Irish border, Killeavy is a small town and a great place to stop for a break in an official area of natural beauty.

Check out Killeavy Castle Estate (there’s a hotel there now but you can still check out the castle grounds) or the Slieve Gullion Forest Park. This area of woodland has links to Celtic mythology! If you’re in Killeavy around lunchtime, stop at Johnny Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant for a bite to eat.

And if you’re not in a rush and have an extra night beyond this 7-day itinerary, consider booking a stay at the Killeavy Castle Estate. It’s absolutely beautiful and a great way to unwind after a busy travel day. We overnighted in Killeavy and even visited their spa to help us relax after traveling. The extra day helps you relax and start to acclimate to the time change.

If you’re not staying overnight in Killeavy and following my 7 day itinerary, hop back in your car and head to Belfast next.

Political Mural Black Cab Tour

When you arrive in Belfast, park your rental car and let a tour guide drive you around for a change! From the 1970s to the 1990s, Belfast was at the center of a pivotal moment in Irish history called ‘the Troubles’. 

A great way to learn more about it is to book a Black Cab Tour around all the neighborhoods and dozens of political murals that document the era. Driving is much faster than a walking tour which is ideal because there are lots of things to do in Belfast!

Shopping in Belfast

Need souvenirs or just have lots of room in your suitcase to fill? St. George’s Market is a 19th-century covered weekend market selling everything from street food to antiques. Born in Belfast is a great place to shop for local, artisanal gifts. Note that it’s only open on the weekend.

Note: Ireland’s currency is the Euro but Northern Ireland uses Great British Pounds. Bring a good travel credit card with no foreign exchange fees so you can pay in both currencies with no problems. We didn’t need cash at all during our trip as everywhere we visited accepted credit cards.

Ride Hydrobikes on the River Lagan

Dublin has the River Liffey, but Belfast has the River Lagan. Take a fun, self-guided tour down this river on hydro bikes and see landmarks like the Prince Albert Clock, the yellow Harland & Wolf cranes, and the Big Fish. Check out Lagan Adventures to learn more about booking this fun water activity!

This is a fun activity that is unique, but can be skipped if you’re running low on time or would rather have more time at the Titanic museum.

Titanic Belfast Experience

While riding the hydro bikes you’ll sail past the Titanic Quarter, home of Belfast’s docks and where the infamous ship was built in the early 1910s. Titanic Belfast is a state-of-the-art experience that opened in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic on its first voyage.

You can learn more about the ship’s design, the people who built it, and everything else there is to know about the Titanic. You can even find violins and deckchairs found on the Titanic’s wreckage among the exhibits. It can be an emotional experience for some, but is a must-do for anyone who is fascinated by the Titanic story.

Evening in Belfast

Belfast has tons of fantastic restaurants in its Cathedral Quarter. Check out The Dirty Onion and Yardbird for a more relaxed meal or The Muddlers Club for fine dining. Don’t forget to check out the cool neon signs down Commercial Court which look best on a dark, rainy evening.

Overnight in Belfast

You’ll spend your first night in Belfast and I have two great hotel recommendations for you. Ten Square Hotel was where I stayed most recently and is in a central location with a view of the beautiful City Hall building.

And the Maldron Hotel Belfast City is also centrally located, upscale, and has amazing reviews. I also love that both these hotels have restaurants in case you’re too tired to go out after arriving and just want to grab dinner, or breakfast, at your hotel.

Day 2: Drive the Scenic Causeway Coast

On the first full day of your Ireland itinerary for 7 days, you could drive straight to Derry from Belfast along the motorway (the name for highways in Ireland). But then you’d miss the scenic drive along the Causeway Coast. This drive was possibly our favorite part of the entire trip!

This coastline stretches across the top of Northern Ireland and features otherworldly landforms, medieval castles, rope bridges, and more. You can even see out to Scotland on this scenic route (on a clear day).

Driving from Belfast to Derry via the coast is approximately 114 miles in distance and will take three hours without stops. Set off early so you have as much time to make stops as possible, trust me, the views are amazing and you’ll want plenty of time to enjoy the trip.

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

With a history dating back 250 years, fishermen used to cross this rope bridge (an older version of the one installed in 2008!) to catch salmon on a small island. Carrick-A-Rede is a 66 ft-long rope bridge suspended 100 ft above the Antrim coast and offers an exciting experience as well as incredible sea and coastal views. The water around the coast here is so blue, you’ll think you’re in the Caribbean.

The hike is about 1.8 miles and will take you about an hour to an hour and a half to explore. I would consider it a simple walk for people used to physical activity, but does require effort and stamina. I highly recommend pre-booking your visit as they do limit access and you don’t want to show up and have access sold out for that time frame.

If you’re craving a snack or drink, stop by Carrick-A-Rede Bar & Restaurant before or after your bridge walk. It’s located past the rope bridge if you’re driving from Belfast, so works well as a stop after your walk on your way to the next stop, Giant’s Causeway.

Giant’s Causeway

Your next stop is one of the best things to do on the entire island of Ireland, hands down. The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a four-mile-long stretch of coastline comprising thousands of basalt columns that interlock in an otherworldly form.

You can walk over these columns as much as you want for as long as you want, it’s completely free to visit! You just need to pay for the parking lot and visitor center.

I’ve walked town below on the rocks on a trip and most recently we did the cliff hike above the coastline and it offers a completely different view of the landscape. A great activity for active visitors, although there is a shuttle you can pay for to help drive you from the visitors center down to the main rock formations if you have mobility issues.

Afterwards, head into the nearby town of Bushmills for lunch where you can eat at Lorna’s Kitchen or Flash in the Pan fish and chip shop.

Dunluce Castle

Just a few minutes along the coast from the Giant’s Causeway is a beautiful ruined castle overlooking the coastline, Dunluce Castle. This 16th-century castle was once the main stronghold of Clan MacDonnell. Of all the castles to visit in Northern Ireland, this one is convenient and offers some amazing coastal lookout views!

Overnight in Derry

Derry (aka Londonderry) is Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, so you’ll have no trouble finding places to eat for dinner or things to do. If you arrive in Derry early, make sure you see the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle, Free Derry Corner, and The Derry Walls. These are 17th-century defensive walls that circle the city and offer the best views.

One of my daughter’s absolute favorite stops on our trip was our overnight in Derry. While many itineraries will have you skip this city so that you can immediately get to the west coast of Ireland, I’m chiming in to say it’s worth stopping here.

We arrived in Derry in the evening and walked the entire circle of the walls. The walls encircle the central part of the city and it’s about a mile walk. There are multiple access points on and off the walls, so it’s a convenient and fun way to get around the city.

For dinner, Castle Street Social is a cool, laidback bistro and The Bentley Bar is better for live Irish music and grills. We loved our upscale pub dinner at the Wig Champagne Bar in Bishops Gate Hotel . I’ve stayed at this hotel twice and have loved it every time. It is a luxury property, but the price is not as crazy as you might expect.

Day 3: Explore Derry and Drive to Westport (or Galway)

Derry is Northern Ireland’s second city, so spend enough time visiting the main sites. But don’t linger too long, because on the third day of your Ireland itinerary for 7 days, you’ll be driving back into the Republic of Ireland and along the west coast.

Driving from Derry to Westport in County Mayo will take approximately three hours to cover 149 miles/240 km. It will take a little longer to make a stop well worth visiting en route ! Spend one night in Westport or the surrounding area. If you don’t spend too long in Derry, you could overnight in Galway instead of Westport.

If you like visiting eclectic museums, you’ll spoiled for choice in Derry. Museum of Free Derry covers the region’s local civil rights history, The Siege Museum specifically covers a specific historical moment in 1689, and the Foyle Valley Railway Museum with lots of old-timey trains.

If you haven’t already, watch the hilarious Netflix sitcom Derry Girls which is set in this city. There’s a mural of the main characters on Orchard Street, as well as lots of other murals you’ll see as you walk around.

Make the first stop on this part of your road trip to the city of Sligo, a place known for its literary heritage (W.B. Yeats was born here). Make a stop for lunch at the traditional Walker 1781 pub which serves a mix of light, European fare.

Ashford Castle

Continue driving towards Westport but make a slight detour south to Ashford Castle. This 13th-century estate is now a hotel, but you’re free to wander its lavish interiors and well-manicured gardens.

If you have the bank balance, you could always stay overnight here instead of Westport. Keep in mind that this five-star hotel could set you back around $1,000 a night!

Overnight in Westport (or Galway)

Since Westport is a large town on Ireland’s west coast, you have plenty of dinner options. Cobbler’s Bar & Courtyard is a relaxed grill or check out Friends Bistro which is a good all-rounder for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For overnighting, consider staying at The Wyatt Hotel in the heart of town or the Westport Coast Hotel on the water.

If you have time, take a stroll along the Carrowbeg River. There are lots of cute medieval bridges like the Doris Brothers Bridge.

Alternative option: if you’re willing to leave Derry early and drive farther, you can try to combine parts of days 3 and 4 and overnight in Galway. This will allow you to use day 5 to drive the Dingle Peninsula and possibly see Cork on your way back to Dublin.

This will not be a relaxed road trip and will require early starts, but it will give you the chance to see one of the other most popular tourist regions of Ireland during your 7 days. If you choose to overnight in Galway, consider staying in the main central city area at the well-rated Park House Hotel or The Huntsman Inn .

We stayed at the g Hotel and Spa and found the location out of the way and not ideal for strolling the streets of Galway. But the property does have nice rooms and restaurants, plus a spa. It reminded me of a US casino hotel experience.

Day 4: Explore Connemara National Park and Galway

Ireland has six national parks, and you’ll be able to visit at least one by following this Ireland itinerary for 7 days. Visiting during the summer months is a great time to visit Ireland as you can take advantage of the long days and good weather (well, better weather) for outdoor activities.

Westport is only 78.5 km/49 miles north of Galway City (which will take just over one hour to drive without stopping) but there are some great things to do on your journey along the west coast.

Ireland’s entire stretch of coast along the Atlantic Ocean is called the Wild Atlantic Way. It stretches 2,600 km/1600 miles from Malin Head in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. You won’t have time to drive the entire scenic route during your week in Ireland, but you will see some of it on Days 4 and 5. Stay in overnight in Galway.

Kylemore Abbey & Gardens

While there are tons of beautiful stately homes across the country, none are as special as Kylemore Abbey. This 19th-century mansion has been occupied by Benedictine nuns since the 1920s and they’re still there today. You can tour the house and walk around the gardens as well as visit the nearby Kylemore Church.

One of the best things about this abbey is its stunning location. It’s surrounded by woodland and sits on the banks of the Pollacapall Lough on the edge of Connemara National Park.

Connemara National Park

Speaking of the national park, it’s also worth a stop on your drive. Poke your head into the Visitor Center and if you have the time, tackle the nearby Lower Diamond Hill Trail. It’s only a 1.8-mile loop walk and you can continue onto the Upper Diamond Hill Trail if that trail is too easy. 

Just a stone’s throw further than Connemara National Park is Clifden, a cute, small town on the coast. Off The Square Restaurant is the perfect stone-walled café to stop for lunch, and there are some interesting memorials dotted around the hills outside the town.

Walk along the coast to the John D’Arcy Monument, dedicated to the founder of Clifden, or drive to the Alcock and Brown Memorial. These British pilots completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight in 1919 which landed right outside of Clifden.

As the home of traditional Irish music and other Celtic legends, Galway is an essential stop on any Ireland itinerary for 7 days. Head to the colorful Latin Quarter where there are dozens of colorful pubs. Many licensed pubs allow accompanied children to enter until 9 pm, so check for notices around the door before entering.

Galway’s main street, Quay Street, stretches through the Latin Quarter and this is where you can find stores selling the famous Claddaugh jewelry. These Celtic pieces have a unique symbol with two hands to represent friendship, a heart to represent love and a crown for loyalty. They are the perfect souvenir!

Head under the Spanish Arch to the harbor and check out the Galway City Museum if you want to learn more about the city’s local and maritime history. Check out the Róisín Dubh for the best live music performances in the city. 

For dinner, The Dough Bros is budget and kid-friendly. Tigh Neachtain Pub & Restaurant has the best of both local Irish cuisine and traditional folk performances.

Day 5: Witness the Cliffs of Moher and Drive to Dublin

It’s time to get back to Dublin so you can explore Ireland’s capital city before hopping on your flight back home. Not before swinging by one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, of course.

Driving from Galway to Dublin via the famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and Limerick will take approximately five hours as you’ll need to cover 356 km/226 miles. Stay overnight in Dublin for the last two nights of your 7-day itinerary in Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk and Visitor Center

Drive from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center and learn more about the formation of these incredible sea cliffs. They climb 702 feet tall at their highest point and stretch 14km/nine miles along the coast.

Then, walk out to the coastal path and explore different vantage points. On a clear day, you should be able to see out to the Aran Islands. Many companies run day tours to the Aran Islands from Galway, but you might not have time on your 7-day Ireland itinerary.

Lunch in Limerick

Stop for lunch in Limerick, the fourth-largest city on the island. You have lots of options but Story Café is perfect if you want to eat something light while The Locke Bar Gastro Pub is perfect for a filling sit-down meal.

Hang around before continuing to Dublin as there are lots of things to do in Limerick. Visit the 19th-century Milk Market where you can pick up souvenirs or snacks for your ride. King John’s Castle is an imposing medieval fortress that sits right on the River Shannon that you can visit too. 

Evening in Dublin

Since you have a pretty long drive, you probably won’t reach Dublin until the evening. Walk to the historic Temple Bar neighborhood for dinner. It’s named after an actual 19th-century, bright red pub in the area that you can’t miss.

If you’re traveling with kids and you’ve struggled to find pubs that will admit those under 18 (the drinking age in Ireland) then head to Temple Bar before 9 pm to listen to music. If you’re not visiting with kids, walk a few minutes west along the River Liffey to Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub. 

Old Storehouse Bar or Cobblestone Pub are perfect places to enjoy dinner in Temple Bar. They both boast life music too.

Overnight in Dublin

You’ll have plenty of places to choose from if you want to stay in Dublin. My experiences have been with The Davenport and Trinity City Hotel , both are gorgeous upscale properties in convenient locations to walk to many of the popular sights. If you don’t want to deal with city driving and parking and can stay a bit outside of the city center; I’ve stayed at Clontarf Castle , which is a unique property and near a bus route with easy access into Dublin.

Day 6: Explore Dublin

Dublin is the perfect place to spend the last day of your trip. If it’s your first time in Ireland, you can’t miss it! But it’s a big city and there are many options for spending your final full day. Book two nights’ accommodation in the city.

One great option is to find a parking lot for your rental car and check out the top tourist attractions in Dublin’s city center. Or, if you’re not keen on visiting a city or checking out day tours, you can drive out to County Dublin’s picturesque coastal towns like Skerries, Malahide, and Howe. 

If you want to stay in the capital, this itinerary will show you the best way to enjoy the city. I have a two day Dublin itinerary that might be useful, but find some of the highlights below.

Trinity College Library & Book of Kells

Start in the southeast part of the city at Trinity College Dublin. This is the most prestigious university in Ireland, and where you’ll find Trinity College Library. It’s famous for its 16th-century Long Room which features two stories of stacked bookshelves (it looks like something out of Harry Potter !).

It’s also famous for the Book of Kells . This is one of the oldest books in the world which was handpainted in the 9th century. They just launched a brand new experience that has made seeing the book a little more exciting than the previous old plaque style exhibit.

Something important to note is that almost all of the books have been removed from the Long Room as part of a redevelopment project. However, the new tour experience uses projections to help you still appreciate the history of the space.

St. Stephen’s Green

Dublin has lots of adorable parks so you have to see at least one during your trip. Merrion Square is a great choice, but St. Stephen’s Green is more central. It’s small but has a small pond, statues dedicated to some of Ireland’s literary greats, and is surrounded by rows of Georgian townhouses with colored doors.

Grafton Street

Walk underneath the Fusiliers’ Arch in the northwest corner of St. Stephen’s Green and you’ll be standing at the top of Grafton Street. This is a pedestrianized shopping street that is always lined with musicians playing for money (aka buskers). If you’re not a fan of pubs then this is the best spot to listen to local music.

Grafton Street also has a number of great shops for souvenir shopping. A couple of my favorites are the Aran Sweater Market for authentic wool sweaters and clothing, Claddagh Jewellers for Irish jewelry, and Seasons of Ireland for cheesy tourist gifts.

Dublin Castle

Continue walking west to Dublin Castle. This is a well-preserved castle dating back to the 13th century with museums, libraries, and state apartments. There’s also a small garden that you can explore and an onsite café which is perfect for lunch. 

Christ Church Cathedral

Just across the road from Dublin Castle is Christ Church Cathedral. St. Patrick’s Cathedral (named after the country’s famous patron saint) is arguably a more important building as it’s Ireland’s national cathedral, but it’s a little further away.

Christ Church Cathedral started as a Viking church almost 1,000 years ago although the current building dates back to the 13th century. Inside, you’ll find a mummified rat and cat (they both got stuck in the organ) and a ‘homeless Jesus’ statue on the bench outside.

Guinness Storehouse

One of the most popular attractions in Ireland, you have to check out the Guinness Storehouse during your first visit. In 1749, Arthur Guinness signed a legendary 9,000-year lease on a disused brewery at St. James’s Gate. Today, the famous dark ale is brewed elsewhere but the original location is now a visitor center.

The Guinness Storehouse covers the brewing process, the history of the company, and fun advertising displays. It’s surprisingly family-friendly and everyone either gets a pint of Guinness or a soft drink in the Gravity Bar at the end of the tour. It offers 360-degree views across the whole city of Dublin!

You can make reservations for one of the restaurants at Guinness Storehouse, or head back towards your hotel and check out the Temple Bar area for food and drinks.

Temple Bar Neighborhood

Return to Temple Bar for your last night in Ireland. There are lots of restaurants serving a range of cuisines if you’ve had more than enough savory pies, potatoes, and root vegetables during your seven-day trip!

Day 7: Depart from Dublin Airport

It’s time to head back to Dublin Airport and finish up your seven days in Ireland. Depending on the time of your flight back, you may have a little time to see parts of Dublin you missed the day before.

Leave plenty of time to travel to Dublin Airport as you will have to return your rental car too.

Ireland Itinerary 7 Days: Option 2 (Dublin to Shannon)

Day 1: arrive in dublin and explore.

The first day of this alternative 7-day Ireland itinerary starts in Dublin. Instead of traveling to Northern Ireland immediately, explore Ireland’s capital city first. You’ll spend one night in Dublin. This part is almost identical to Day 6 of the first itinerary.

You can either travel into Dublin by bus or taxi and pick up a rental car in the city center the next day, or pick up a car at the airport and find a parking lot near your hotel. You won’t need a car to get around Dublin! It’s super walkable and traffic is a nightmare.

Note: It may be more expensive to pick up a rental car at Dublin Airport and drop it off at Shannon Airport. Since traveling around Ireland using public transport is difficult to impossible, factor this extra cost into your budget.

Day 2: Travel from Dublin to Belfast

The next stop on this alternative Ireland itinerary for 7 days is Belfast. It’s similar to day 1 of the first itinerary, except you might not have time to stop in Malahide or Killeavy. You may also have to visit a Dublin attraction or two in the morning before you set off, like Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral.

Spend a couple of hours in Dublin wrapping up the top attractions before driving north and exploring the Northern Irish capital. Driving this 105-mile/166 km journey will take around one hour and 45 minutes. Spend one night in Belfast.

Day 3: Drive the Scenic Causeway Coast 

This day of this alternate itinerary is pretty much exactly the same as Day 2 on the first itinerary. Drive from Belfast to Derry via the coast which is approximately 114 miles in distance and will take three hours without stops. 

But you will absolutely want to stop as many times as possible on this stunning scenic drive! Check out all the best places to stop under Day 2 before staying overnight in Derry.

Day 4: Explore Derry and Drive to Galway

In this itinerary, you’re essentially combining Days 3 and 4 of the first itinerary and driving from Derry to Galway, returning to the Republic of Ireland. This will be your longest driving day at over three and a half hours, covering 172 miles/277 km. 

You will most likely have to compromise on road trip stops. This will probably include skipping Westport and Clifden. 

If you want to see Connemara National Park, you’ll have to head in a different direction to Ashford Castle. And if you want to see more of Galway, spend less time in Derry.

Day 5: View the Cliffs of Moher and Drive to Killarney

The biggest change from the first itinerary to this one is that you get to visit Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Many people who visit Ireland say that County Kerry is one of the best places in the country, so it’s well worth visiting!

Driving south from Galway to Killarney takes around two and a half hours, but you will want to extend that drive for another 90 minutes to make a special road trip stop. Follow the Wild Atlantic Way from Galway so you can check out the Cliffs of Moher. This will make your whole drive take around four hours, covering 263 km/163 miles.

If you have any time left at the end of the day, take that time to explore Killarney National Park. Spend the next two nights in Killarney, using it as your home base.

Killarney National Park

Although Connemara National Park is beautiful, everyone who visits Ireland gushes about Killarney. It boasts such natural diversity including huge lakes, rolling green hills, waterfalls, and historic sites.

If you have time, hire a kayak or canoe and sail on Lough Leane. You can visit the ruined structures of Ross Castle and Innisfallen Abbey.

Head to Muckross House, a 19th-century mansion in the park where Queen Victoria once stayed. Torc Waterfall is nearby which is an impressive site only a short walk into the woods from the parking lot.

Evening in Killarney

Killarney has lots of pub restaurants serving traditional Irish food and some even have live music playing every night. Murphys Bar & Restaurant and John M. Reidy are both great options.

Day 6: Drive the Scenic Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula

The Ring of Kerry is a 179 km/111-mile coastal loop drive around the Iveragh Peninsula. If you were to drive without stopping, it would take around three and a half hours. Along with the Dingle Peninsula drive, they are two of the most beautiful coastal drives in the country.

Unfortunately, you won’t have time to drive around both routes. But no matter which one you pick, you’re guaranteed to have the best time exploring the Kerry countryside and you can head back to Killarney for dinner.

Option 1: Ring of Kerry

Due to the narrow roads, drive in a counter-clockwise direction so you can lessen the chance of having to reverse for local traffic.

Some of the highlights of the Ring of Kerry drive are Rossbeigh Beach and Kells for views across the sea to the Dingle Peninsula. Cahergal Stone Fort in Cahersiveen dates back to the 7th century and there are lots of other cool ruined castles and forts in the area.

Stop in Portmagee for a fish and chips lunch from Fisherman’s Bar. It’s a cute little colorful port town with ferries to the Skellig Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the Kerry coast.

Kenmare is another essential stop on the Ring of Kerry Route. You can check out Kenmare Stone Circle (over 4,000 years old!) and Ladies View at the end of Killarney National Park. It’s one of the best vantage points in the park.

Option 2: Dingle Peninsula

If you choose to drive around the Dingle Peninsula instead, drive clockwise to follow the most popular direction of traffic. Head first to Inch Beach, a 5 km-long sandy beach that juts out into the sea and is widely regarded as one of the best beaches in Ireland.

Continue along the coast to Dingle Town, the start and finish of the 30-mile-long scenic Slea Head Drive around the tip of the peninsula. You can stop for lunch before or after completing this part of the drive where you can have your pick of fish and chip shops like The Fish Box. 

After Dingle, stop by the Beehive Huts which are the well-preserved former homes of early Christian monks. They’re over 1,400 years old! Stop at Dunmore Head for the best views of the Blasket Islands before continuing to the unique Dunquin Pier.

Back at Dingle, take the N86/N70 road back to Killarney which is much wider and more pleasant to drive on.

Day 7: Depart from Shannon Airport

On the last day of your Ireland itinerary for 7 days, drive back up north from Killarney to Shannon Airport. This will take just under two hours covering a distance of around 175 km/84 miles. 

If you have a late flight, you can check out parts of the Ring of Kerry or Killarney National Park that you might have missed over the previous two days. Leave in plenty of time in case you have any unforeseen delays! You’ll need to return your rental car as well as go through security. 

Use This Ireland Itinerary for 7 Days as Your Guide

No matter your flight plans, you can use one of my Ireland itinerary for 7 days to navigate your entire trip! Both include all the major cities like Dublin and Belfast and beautiful scenery like the Giant’s Causeway and Cliffs of Moher. You can’t go wrong!

Are you itching to visit the Emerald Isle but only have a week to explore? It’s a relatively small country, so it’s doable. This Ireland itinerary for 7 days will show you how to enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside and lively Irish culture in a one-week Ireland road trip. For most travelers, starting …

Do I need a visa to travel to Ireland?

Mar 30, 2024 • 4 min read

Couple running through Dublin's Temple Bar.

Ireland offers visa-free travel to citizens of many countries © David Levingstone / Getty Images

Visiting Ireland is a cinch if you’re visiting from a country that requires no visa or with whom Ireland has a visa waiver agreement. If you are visiting from a country with a visa requirement, then things can get a little more complicated, but here’s what you need to know to get you started.

Ireland is a small island, but it is home to two jurisdictions – which means two sets of immigration laws. Let us talk you through how it works.

Mother and son enjoy the rocks of Derrynane beach on the Ring of Kerry, Ireland on a sunny day.

Do you need a visa to visit the Republic of Ireland?

If you are from the EEA (the EU plus Norway , Iceland and Liechtenstein ) or Switzerland , you don’t need a visa to visit or work in the Republic of Ireland which is part of the EU.

British citizens in Ireland and Irish citizens in the UK (including Northern Ireland) hold a unique status under each country's national law courtesy of the long-standing Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement, which allows them to travel and work freely within the CTA. 

US citizens can visit Ireland for tourism or business without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the duration of their stay, but there is no requirement for it to be valid for any longer than that. For longer stays or to work or study, Americans will need to apply for a visa, which they can do through the official website of the Irish Embassy in Washington, DC.

Ireland has a visa waiver agreement with 56 other countries, including Australia , Canada , New Zealand and South Africa . A complete list of the exempted countries is available on the Citizens Information website.

Visa requirements for the rest of the world

Citizens of all other countries require a short stay "C" visa if they want to visit Ireland for any reason including tourism, visiting family, getting married or even if they wish to transit through Ireland.

The application process is laid out in detail by the Irish Immigration Service , and must be completed before travelling to Ireland. Families travelling together need to fill out applications for each individual as there’s no family visa option.

A man sits on stone wall talking to another man with a bicycle in a green park in Dublin, Ireland

What you need to know about working holidays visas 

Citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States may be able to apply for a Working Holiday Authorisation through the Irish embassy in your country. This allows you to come to Ireland to work for a certain period, but it’s only available to applicants aged between 18 and 30 (35 in some cases).

No matter where you are coming from you will have to register for an Irish Residence Permit as soon as possible after you arrive in Ireland if you intend to stay more than 90 days.

How much will a visa cost?

There are three kinds of short stay visas. A single entry visa is €60, while a multi-entry visa – where you wish to come in and out of the country on multiple occasions over the course of the visa validity period – costs €100. Transit visas are €25.

The fee covers only the administrative cost of processing the visa; it does not cover the cost of submitting any additional documents. For specific information on any additional charges or costs, refer to the website of the Irish embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

The Irish Immigration Service has a dedicated page on how to pay the visa fee.

Young women cross the Peace Bridge in Derry, Northern Ireland

Visiting Northern Ireland

Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and therefore not part of the EU, there is no physical border between the Republic and the North, which means frictionless travel between the two jurisdictions.

Like the rest of the United Kingdom, visas are generally not needed for stays of up to six months for tourism or visiting friends and family – if you are a citizen of the EEA nations, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, South Africa and the USA.

However, since 2022 citizens of countries that do require a visa are covered under the terms of the British-Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS) , which allows for mutual recognition of short-stay visas between the UK and Ireland. This means that a British short-stay visa will be valid for travel onward to Ireland, and an Irish short-stay visa will be valid for travel onward to the UK. Visas that are valid for use under this scheme will have "BIVS" endorsed on them.

Citizens from countries requiring a visa should apply for a visa from the country in which you will arrive first. The vast majority of international arrivals to Ireland are through Dublin, but if you are arriving into Belfast first, you will need to apply for a visa from the UK Home Office, where you will also find a full list of those countries that require one.

A visa for the UK lasts six months and costs £115.

Ready to plan your trip to Ireland? Here are your next steps:

  • Plan your trip to Ireland with this guide to top things to do . 
  • Read on for the best time to go to Ireland .
  • Save this transportation guide on the best ways to get around.
  • These road trips will take you to all the highlights in Ireland. 
  • Get into the great outdoors in Ireland with these top hikes to tackle.

This article was first published Mar 23, 2021 and updated Mar 30, 2024.

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The Best Travel Medical Insurance of 2024

trip planner to ireland

Allianz Travel Insurance »

trip planner to ireland

Seven Corners »

trip planner to ireland

GeoBlue »

trip planner to ireland

WorldTrips »

Why Trust Us

U.S. News evaluates ratings, data and scores of more than 50 travel insurance companies from comparison websites like TravelInsurance.com, Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip, plus renowned credit rating agency AM Best, in addition to reviews and recommendations from top travel industry sources and consumers to determine the Best Travel Medical Insurance Plans.

Table of Contents

  • Allianz Travel Insurance
  • Seven Corners

Buying travel insurance is a smart move for any type of trip, but you may not need a policy that covers everything under the sun. If you don't need coverage for trip cancellations or delays because you're relying on your travel credit card to offer these protections, for example, you may find you only need emergency medical coverage that works away from home.

Still, travel medical coverage varies widely based on included benefits, policy limits and more. If you're comparing travel insurance plans and hoping to find the best option for unexpected medical expenses, read on to learn which policies we recommend.

Frequently Asked Questions

The term travel insurance usually describes a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes coverage for medical expenses as well as trip cancellations and interruptions, trip delays, lost baggage, and more. Meanwhile, travel medical insurance is coverage that focuses on paying for emergency medical expenses and other related care.

Travelers need international health insurance if they're visiting a place where their own health coverage will not apply. This typically includes all international trips away from home since U.S. health plans limit coverage to care required in the United States.

Note that if you don't have travel health insurance and you become sick or injured abroad, you'll be responsible for paying back any health care costs you incur.

Many travel insurance policies cover emergency medical expenses you incur during a covered trip. However, the included benefits of each policy can vary widely, and so can the policy limits that apply.

If you're looking for a travel insurance policy that offers sufficient protection for unexpected medical expenses, you'll typically want to choose a plan with at least $100,000 in coverage for emergency medical care and at least that much in protection for emergency medical evacuation and transportation.

However, higher limits can provide even more protection from overseas medical bills, which can become pricey depending on the type of care you need. As just one example, Allianz says the average cost of emergency medical evacuation can easily reach up to $200,000 or more depending on where you’re traveling.

Your U.S. health insurance policy almost never covers medical expenses incurred abroad. The same is true for most people on Medicare and especially Medicaid. If you want to ensure you have travel medical coverage that applies overseas, you should purchase a travel insurance plan with adequate limits for every trip. Read the U.S. News article on this topic for more information.

The cost of travel medical insurance can vary depending on the age of the travelers, the type of coverage purchased, the length of the trip and other factors. You can use a comparison site like TravelInsurance.com to explore different travel medical insurance plans and their cost.

  • Allianz Travel Insurance: Best Overall
  • Seven Corners: Best for Families
  • GeoBlue: Best for Expats
  • WorldTrips: Best Cost

Coverage for preexisting conditions is available as an add-on

Easy to purchase as needed for individual trips

Relatively low limits for medical expenses

No coverage for trip cancellations or trip interruption

  • Up to $50,000 in emergency medical coverage
  • Up to $250,000 in emergency medical evacuation coverage
  • Up to $2,000 in coverage for baggage loss and damage
  • Up to $600 in baggage delay insurance
  • Up to $1,000 for travel delays
  • Up to $10,000 in travel accident insurance
  • 24-hour hotline assistance
  • Concierge services

SEE FULL REVIEW »

Purchase comprehensive medical coverage worth up to $5 million

Coverage for families with up to 10 people

Low coverage amounts for trip interruption

Medical coverage options vary by age

  • Up to $5 million in comprehensive medical coverage
  • Up to $500,000 in emergency evacuation coverage
  • Up to $10,000 in coverage for incidental trips to home country
  • Up to $25,000 in coverage for terrorist activity
  • Up to $500 in accidental dental emergency coverage
  • Up to $100 per occurrence in coverage for emergency eye exams
  • $50,000 in coverage for local burial or cremation
  • 24/7 travel assistance
  • Up to $25,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment per traveler
  • Up to $500 for loss of checked baggage
  • Up to $5,000 for trip interruptions
  • Up to $100 per day for trip delays
  • Up to $50,000 for personal liability

Qualify for international health insurance with no annual or lifetime caps

Use coverage within the U.S. with select providers

Deductible from $500 to $10,000 can apply

Doesn't come with any nonmedical travel insurance benefits

  • Up to $250,000 in coverage for emergency medical evacuation
  • Up to $25,000 for repatriation of mortal remains
  • $50,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment

High limits for medical insurance and emergency medical evacuation

Covers multiple trips over a period of up to 364 days

Deductible of $250 required for each covered trip

Copays required for medical care received in the U.S.

  • Up to $1,000,000 of maximum coverage
  • Up to $1,000,000 for emergency medical evacuation
  • Up to $10,000 for trip interruptions
  • Up to $1,000 for lost checked luggage
  • Up to $100 per day for travel delays
  • Up to $25,000 in personal liability coverage
  • Medical coverage for eligible expenses related to COVID-19
  • Ability to add coverage for your spouse and/or child(ren)
  • Repatriation of remains coverage up to overall limit
  • Up to $5,000 for local burial or cremation 
  • $10,000 to $50,000 for common carrier accidental death

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Holly Johnson is an award-winning content creator who has been writing about travel insurance and travel for more than a decade. She has researched travel insurance options for her own vacations and family trips to more than 50 countries around the world and has experience navigating the claims and reimbursement process. In fact, she has successfully filed several travel insurance claims for trip delays and trip cancellations over the years. Johnson also works alongside her husband, Greg, who has been licensed to sell travel insurance in 50 states, in their family media business.

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The Irish Road Trip

20 Days In Ireland: 56 Detailed Itineraries To Choose From

By Author Keith O'Hara

Posted on Last updated: December 29, 2023

20 Days In Ireland: 56 Detailed Itineraries To Choose From

Yep, we have 56 20-day Ireland itineraries ready and waiting for you.

Ehhhhhh… but why 56 you ask?! The reason for the ridiculous level of detail is that we’ve tried to cover every  (I hope…) way of spending 20 days in Ireland.

Each of our 20-day itineraries was meticulously planned and:

  • Follows logical routes we’re confident that you’ll love
  • Has a detailed stop-by-stop itinerary
  • Makes planning a trip to Ireland very easy

Below, you can pick a 20-day Ireland itinerary based on:

20 day ireland itinerary

WAIT!   Please take 20 seconds to have a glance at the graphic above – it will help you pick your perfect Ireland itinerary below!

As you can see, we have 20-day Ireland itinerary guides that cover every angle imaginable. To find your perfect itinerary, make sure to read section below carefully .

How to browse our Ireland in 20 days library

Slieve League

Photos via Shutterstock

The quickest way to find the best 20-day Ireland itinerary below is to click on your starting point from the list of places below.

We’ve used Ireland’s main airports and ferry terminals for our starting points. Simply click on one of them and you’ll be brought to itineraries that begin from that point:

20 days in Ireland from Dublin

Merrion Square

First is our 20-day Ireland itineraries that start in Dublin. This is one of the more popular routes, as Dublin Airport is where many visitors land into.

There are two sections below and they have been split up into on how you plan on getting around Ireland .

As we outlined in this graphic , ‘Fast Trips’ will suit people looking to see/do as much as possible and who don’t  mind moving accommodation frequently while ‘Slow Trips’ are ones where you’ll change hotel/B&B as little as possible.

For those using a car

  • A 20-day slow trip for those with good fitness
  • A 20-day slow trip for those with low fitness
  • A 20-day fast trip for those with good fitness
  • A 20-day fast trip for those with low fitness

For those using public transport

A speedy overview of this route.

Kylemore Abbey

You’ll spend the first couple of days in Dublin, where you’ll visit the likes of Trinity College , the Guinness Storehouse and some of the finest old-school pubs in Dublin .

You’ll then travel across to Galway for a couple of nights where you can explore the city and take a day trip to Connemara.

The route then takes you down into Clare and Kerry before cutting across to Cork and then back to the start point. Over the course of your 20 days in Ireland you’ll:

  • See many of Ireland’s top attractions
  • Drive the Ring of Kerry
  • See Kylemore Abbey
  • Explore the Dingle Peninsula

20-day Ireland itinerary from Shannon

Loop Head

Shannon is another popular 20-day Ireland itinerary start point as it’s home to the popular Shannon Airport.

We’ve split the itineraries up into two sections – the first is for those of you with a car and the second is those of you relying on buses, trains and tours.

As we explain in this graphic , our fast 20 days in Ireland itineraries are for those who want to explore as much as possible and who don’t  mind moving about a lot.

Our slow itineraries are for those of you who want to move accommodation as little as is physically possible.

St Mary's Cathedral

One of the reasons that I love Shannon as a start point is that there’s very little driving needed to get to a multitude of bases for your first handful of nights.

Our routes use Limerick City as a base for the first night (plenty to see here along with great pubs and restaurants) before continuing down into Kerry and on to Cork.

It then follows the coast around and up to Dublin where you’ll take day trips to Wicklow and the Boyne Valley before making your way back to your start point. If you follow our route from Shannon, you’ll:

  • See some of the best things to do in Clare
  • Visit the largest of the three Aran Islands
  • Explore Killarney National Park
  • Take in some of the most notable castles in Ireland
  • Visit the famous Blarney Castle and tackle the many things to do in Cobh

20-day Ireland itineraries from Belfast

Titanic Experience

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

If you’re spending 20 days in Ireland and you’re beginning your journey from Belfast, this section will be right up your street.

Belfast is a great start point for a trip to Ireland as it gives you plenty of options/routes to play with.

As we outline in this graphic , we’ve split up our itineraries below into two sections – 1 is for those with a car and another is for using buses, trains and organised tours.

Giants Causeway

We’ve given you several ways to spend 20 days in Ireland above, and they vary a lot based on fitness level and mode of transport.

If you’re fit and you have a car, you’ll be visiting the Mourne Mountains early in the trip. You’ll also see the likes of the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle in Antrim.

If you follow our itineraries from Belfast, you’ll:

  • Explore the Causeway Coastal Route
  • See some of the best places to visit in Belfast
  • Explore Glendalough  
  • Get a taste of the Glens of Antrim

20 days in Ireland from Wexford

Hook Lighthouse

If you’re spending 20 days in Ireland and you’re arriving by ferry, the chances are you’ll be landing into Rosslare in County Wexford.

Now, those of you following this route are going to see parts of Ireland that many tourists tend to overlook, including the wild Hook Peninsula .

As is the case with all of our itineraries, we split them up below by the mode of transport that you’re using. If you’re confused about ‘Fast Trips’ and ‘Slow Trips’, refer to this graphic as it’ll clear everything up.

Annestown Beach

A disclaimer: This 20-day Ireland itinerary varies hugely depending on how you’re getting around.

The bus services around some of the more rural parts of Wexford make getting to some parts of the county impossible.

If you follow our itineraries from Wexford, you’ll:

  • Explore the often-missed Hook Peninsula
  • See the buzzy little town of Kinsale in Cork
  • Tick-off many of the best things to do in Killarney
  • See Kilkenny City, Waterford City and plenty more

20 days in Ireland from Cork

Cobh

Our 20-day Ireland itinerary guides that begin in Cork focus on the bottom half of Ireland, as you can see from the graphic above.

These routes take in a plethora of gorgeous walking trails, scenic drives and countless historical sites.

As usual, we’ve split them up for those of you with a car and for those of you without.

Kinsale

County Cork is a great start point for a road trip, especially for those visiting for the first time and looking to see Ireland’s ‘main’ attractions.

Our routes begin by giving you a taste of Cork City (English Market, Cork Gaol, etc.) before taking you through the wonders of wild West Cork .

You’ll then follow the coast right the way around to Kerry and up into Limerick before nipping across to the capital and then back down Cork. If you follow our itineraries from Cork, you’ll see:

  • The wild Beara Peninsula
  • Many of the best things to do in Kerry
  • A chunk of Limerick, Tipperary and Clare
  • Plenty more

Ireland in 20 days from Knock

Benwee Walk

Photo left + bottom right: Gareth McCormack. Top right: Anne-Marie Flynn (via Failte Ireland)

Up next is our 20 days in Ireland guides that start and end in Knock in County Mayo. Now, there likely won’t be a huge number of you beginning your journey from here.

However, it’s a popular starting point for some, so here we are. This is one of my favourite routes as you’re thrown straight into a corner of Ireland that many tourists tend to miss – Sligo.

Although it’s wedged between the very popular county of Donegal, many visiting tend to overlook it. If you add it to your itinerary, you’re in for a treat.

Below, you can pick itineraries kicking off in Mayo based on trip speed, your fitness levels and how you’ll get around (we explain how to browse the itineraries in this graphic ).

Streedagh Beach

Those of you kicking off your 20 days in Ireland from Knock are in for a treat, as it’s a stone’s throw from the best the west of Ireland has to offer.

This road trip starts with a bang, taking you straight to the scenic county of Sligo, where you’ll spend the first few days.

You’ll then take in the glorious Mayo coast before moving down through a chunk of the Wild Atlantic Way.

You’ll then cut across to the capital, where you’ll spend a day exploring some of the many things to do in Dublin before taking a day trip to Wicklow and another to the Boyne Valley. If you follow our route from Knock, you’ll:

  • See the magnificent Achill Island
  • Explore scenic ‘Yeats Country’
  • Sample many of the best things to do in Mayo
  • Discover the finest landscapes in Wicklow
  • See some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland

20-day Ireland itinerary guides beginning in Donegal

Lough Salt 

Photo left: Chris Hill. Others: Nomos Productions (via Failte Ireland)

The last of our 20 days in Ireland guides begin in Donegal. For those of you with a car, you have a lot of flexibility, and you’ll make the most of it if you follow our itineraries.

For those of you using public transport, you’re much more limited as Donegal has very limited services in places.

As always, we’ve split the different itineraries up into sections for those of you with a car and for those without.

Horn Head

Right, a disclaimer – the car itineraries differ  massively  in comparison to the public transport itineraries. The reason for this is that public transport in parts of Donegal is  very  limited.

However, we’re confident that you’ll enjoy the routes we’ve chosen. For those of you travelling by car, you’ll explore a good chunk of Donegal, taking in the best of its scenery.

You’ll then move down along the coast and into Sligo, Mayo and Galway before spinning back up to Belfast and around the coast to a part of Donegal you missed at the start.

If you follow our route from Donegal, you’ll:

  • See the incredible Slieve League Cliffs
  • Tackle the Inishowen 100
  • Explore Connemara and many of Galway’s top attractions
  • Visit the lively town of Westport
  • Tick off some of the best things to do in Donegal

FAQs about exploring Ireland in 20 days

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is 20 days in Ireland enough?’ to ‘What route is best?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is 20 days in Ireland too long?

Definitely not. While Ireland is no where near as big as the likes of Canada, getting around it takes time. 20 days will give you enough space to explore a nice chunk of the island.

What to do in Ireland for 20 days?

It’ll depend on you and how you like to travel. If you want to see as much as possible, follow one of our ‘Fast-Trips’ above. If you want to take it slow, pick one of our ‘Slow-Trips’.

Where to spend 20 days in Ireland?

Again, this will depend on you and whether you’ve been here before and what you want to do. If it was me and I was visiting for the first time, I’d aim to arrive in Shannon and then explore the lower half of Ireland.

trip planner to ireland

Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 35 years and has spent most of the last 10 creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries . Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.

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