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The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip Itinerary and Travel Guide

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  • 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.


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

Hi, We’re Alesha and Jarryd!

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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 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 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 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. 🙂

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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The Perfect Ireland Road Trip Itinerary You Should Steal

The Perfect Ireland Road Trip Itinerary You Should Steal

May 8, 2024 //  by  Follow Me Away //   98 Comments

Planning the perfect Ireland road trip itinerary does not have to be stressful or overwhelming.

No matter where you choose to visit in Ireland, you are in for a real treat! There are so many amazing things to do in Ireland ! I love Ireland so much and keep coming back for more!

Planning your trip to Ireland last minute?

Make sure to book your hotels and tours in Ireland in advance to ensure availability! Here are our top picks for your trip!

Top experiences and tours in Ireland:

  • Cliffs Of Moher + Galway From Dublin (Top pick!)
  • Guinness Storehouse Ticket (Often sells out)
  • Northern Ireland tour from Dublin (Highly recommend NI!)
  • Wicklow Mountains tour from Dublin (Multiple stops!)

Top Hotels In Ireland:

  • The Dean Cork (Modern with indoor pool)
  • Jurys Inn Dublin Parnell Street (Over 11,000 reviews + epic location)
  • The Lodge At Ashford Castle (Pretty and historical)
  • Slieve Donard (Luxury castle hotel in Northern Ireland!)

I have explored Ireland from top to bottom and have yet to be disappointed by a single place!

Ireland is a diverse country that offers something for everyone and this ultimate Ireland itinerary hits it all.

My Ireland road trip itinerary is written in a clockwise manner around the island, but feel free to modify it or go counter-clockwise if you want!

For this Irish road trip itinerary, I am not specifying an amount of time so that you can make the drive as time allows for your schedule.

If you are planning a trip to Ireland , I am here to help with tips and full itineraries!

Cute, watercolor map of Ireland and Northern Ireland with top attractions and towns labeled.

If you have two weeks, consider spending a few days in each location to take in the gorgeous beaches and beautiful waterfalls in Ireland !

Now, let’s dive into one of the best Ireland driving routes!

Aerial view of a winding coastal, Ireland road with the blue ocean on one side and green fields on the other side.

Begin Your Ireland Road Trip By Flying Into Dublin

The Dublin Airport is a major international airport and flights into Ireland are often relatively affordable.

In fact, the reason I went to Ireland on my first trip was because it was so cheap to fly into! I had no clue how amazing the country was and am very glad I went on a whim!

Since you will be renting a car in Ireland , picking up your rental from the Dublin airport is a great and affordable way to go about securing your vehicle.

If you are doing the itinerary counter-clockwise, you will fly into Belfast Airport in Northern Ireland.

Make sure to check out my tips on driving in Ireland .

Early morning at the brick and red-painted Temple Bar in Dublin on an Ireland road trip,

Stop 1: Explore Dublin To Begin Your Ireland Road Trip

Dublin is the largest city in the Republic of Ireland and has so much to do. I recommend a quick stop in Dublin and then getting out to visit the rest of what Ireland has to offer.

No Ireland itinerary would be complete without a stop in Dublin, but the rest of Ireland is much less expensive and way cooler in my opinion!

Spend as long as you like in Dublin but I recommend 1 to 2 nights.

Best Things To Do In Dublin:

Have a Guinness in the Temple Bar area.  Temple Bar is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Dublin. It is lively and the perfect place to experience your first Irish pub!

The Temple Bar itself is a great place for dinner and a pint. Even though it is touristy it is still a cool thing to add to your itinerary for Dublin.

Book Here: Dublin: Generation Pub Crawl

Walk through St. Stephens Green. I love nature and St. Stephen’s Green is like the Central Park for Dublin! It is so relaxing and pretty with lots of flowers and walking paths.

Visit Dublin Castle. There is a real castle located in the heart of Dublin! It is the perfect introduction to castles in Ireland!

Visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells. You  must pay Trinity College and the famous library a visit when you are in Dublin! It is stunning and unlike anywhere else in the world!

Book Here: Dublin: Fast-Track Book of Kells Ticket & Dublin Castle Tour

Experience the Guinness Storehouse. If you love beer, visiting the Guinness Storehouse is the best possible way to start your Ireland itinerary. You get beer included and will learn about the history!

Book Here: Dublin: Guinness Storehouse Entry Ticket

Where To Stay In Dublin

Dublin has a shortage of hotel rooms and as a result, they can be expensive! I recommend spending a shorter amount of time in Dublin to save money.

I have an entire post detailing where to stay in Dublin if you want more information.

Best Hotels in Dublin: 

  • Mid-Range: Academy Plaza Hotel . Check Rates:
  • Luxury: The Westbury Hotel . Check Rates:

View down the Long Hall in Trinity College in Dublin with a high, curved ceiling and two stories of bookshelves and busts of people.

Stop 2: Enjoy Rock of Cashel And Hore Abbey

I did the Rock of Cashel as a day stop on my way from Dublin to Cork, but you can spend the night in the area if you want more time to explore. Rock of Cashel is very popular for a good reason!

It is an epic ruin set on the top of a hill surrounded by sheep. Does it get any more Irish than that? This is a fun place to stop when driving through Ireland!

Overcast day over the stone Rock of Cashel with gravestones.

There is an entrance fee to visit the Rock of Cashel. However, the outside is the best part and a dream for photographers!

If you are looking to get off the beaten path, visit the nearby Hore Abbey instead. You can see Hore Abbey from the Rock of Cashel but significantly fewer people visit there.

Hore is Gaelic for grey, which is the color the nuns wore back in the day. The abbey ruins are magnificent!

The view of the Rock Of Cashel from Hore Abbey and the field beside it is worth making this a stop on your road trip of Ireland itinerary.

Best Hotels Near Rock of Cashe l:

  • Affordable: Cashel Town BnB . Check Rates:
  • Mid-Range: Baileys Hotel Cashel . Check Rates:

Overcast day at the stone ruins of Hore Abbey during an Ireland road trip.

Stop 3: Visit Ireland’s Ancient East

Cork is just a few hours away from Dublin and is worth a stop on your Ireland road trip itinerary. It is close to many of the top stops in Ireland’s Ancient East. You will not be disappointed!

See Cobh During Your Ireland Road Trip

When visiting Cork, you must make the 30-minute drive to the colorful town of Cobh! It is one of the prettiest towns in Ireland and a must-see during your trip!

Cobh was the last stop the Titanic made before crossing the Atlantic. If you’re interested in the history of this doomed ship, check out the amazing Titanic Museum.

While in Cobh, visit the church high on the hill and explore the colorful local neighborhoods. While the town is small, there are quite a lot of things to do in Cobh for a fun day trip!

Best Hotels in Cobh:

  • Mid-Range: Commodore Hotel . Check Rates:
  • Mid-Range: WatersEdge Hotel . Check Rates:

Woman in a dress in front of the colorful card houses and the cathedral in Cobh, Ireland.

Kiss The Blarney Stone

Kissing the iconic Blarney Stone is one of the most popular and unique things to do in Ireland. The stone is found in Blarney Castle on the sprawling Blarney Estate right outside of Cork.

The estate is massive and you could spend an entire day there. I recommend budgeting at least 3 hours to kiss the Blarney Stone, explore the Blarney Manor where the family lived, and explore the landscaped grounds.

You must stop here when driving around Ireland!

Book Here: Blarney Castle Full-Day Tour from Dublin

Best Hotels Near Blarney Castle: 

  • Mid-Range: Blarney Castle Hotel . Check Rates:
  • Mid-Range: Maranatha Country House . Check Rates:

Woman in a dress in front of the stone Blarney Castle House on a sunny day.

Stop 4: Drive The Ring Of Kerry

No road trip around Ireland is complete without a drive on the famed Ring of Kerry!

Please note that the Ring of Kerry is quite a harrowing drive with extremely narrow roads. There are also large tour buses that go by quickly so you must be very careful.

If you see a car coming down the road, it is best to pull over and wait for it to pass before proceeding. This is one of my top tips for road trips in Ireland.

Visit Kerry Cliffs

The Kerry Cliffs are like a miniature version of the Cliffs of Moher. They are located in the middle of the Ring of Kerry along the Skellig Ring.

The Skellig Ring is a short circle drive at the end of the Ring of Kerry. It is easy to spot with many signs. You can even see the Skellig Islands, where Star Wars was filmed, from the Kerry Cliffs!

The Kerry Cliffs are home to many seabirds and make for a wonderful walk to explore the cliffs during your Ireland itinerary.

Book Here: From Killarney: Ring of Kerry Guided Day Tour

Rugged Kerry Cliffs with bright blue water below and green fields at the top.

Ride The Car Ferry To Valentia Island

Valentia Island is located near the Kerry Cliffs and is a must-see on a Ring of Kerry road trip. If you drive the Skellig Ring, Valentia Island is less than 2 km away!

The island is home to a stunning lighthouse and quaint seaside towns. Valentia Island can be accessed near Kerry Cliffs by a bridge or by a ferry on the other end of the island.

I recommend arriving on the island by the bridge and exciting by the car ferry which has a small fee. It is a fun and unique thing to do on an Ireland road trip!

Aerial image of a white lighthouse on a rugged rock outcropping on Valentia Island.

Where To Stay On The Ring of Kerry

There are a ton of fantastic places to stay along the Ring of Kerry for all budgets. No matter where you stay, you will be close to nature. This makes getting around Ireland by car so easy.

  • Mid-Range: Valhalla BnB . Check Rates:
  • Luxury: Parknasilla Resort & Spa . Check Rates:

Sunset aerial photo of the Parknasilla Resort & Spa on the water with green trees all around.

Stop 5: Explore Killarney

Killarney is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in Ireland ! The city is vibrant and welcoming with breathtaking scenery.

Killarney is a wonderful place to stop on your Ireland road trip because the area is so diverse and truly has so much to offer!

Best Things To Do In Killarney:

Muckross House and Killarney House . These beautiful, historic homes are located in the Killarney area and are both fascinating places to visit.

Muckross House is located a bit out of the city and can be quite busy. The grounds are stunning!

Killarney House is located in the heart of Downtown Killarney. You are free to walk in and out of the grounds as you please!

Torc Waterfall. This pretty waterfall is a unique stop on your road trip in Ireland!

It is located right off the main road and is an easy walk to visit. It is a must-see because of how unique it is! Torc Waterfall tops my list of the best hikes in Ireland !

Ross Castle. This castle is beautiful and easy to get to. It is located in the heart of Killarney on a lake.

It is completely free to visit the castle and view it from the outside. There is a fee if you want to go inside, but I think the best views are from the outside near the lake!

Killarney National Park. The town of Killarney is located right on Killarney National Park and there is so much to see and do.

I recommend driving through the Gap of Dunloe and seeing Ladies View during your Ireland road trip.

Book Here: Killarney: Killarney National Park Private Tour

Young woman standing next to a river and the stone Ross Castle on a cloudy day.

Where To Stay In Killarney

Killarney has plenty of lodging options! It is quite a popular town and for good reason! Here are some of my recommendations for where to stay in Killarney during your Ireland road trip.

Best Hotels in Killarney: 

  • Mid-Range: The Brehon & Spa . Check Prices:
  • Luxury: Aghadoe Heights . Check Prices:

Aerial view of an orange sunset over the quaint town of Killarney with a church on an Ireland road trip.

Stop 5: Visit the Dingle Peninsula

I have done multiple Ireland road trips around the entire country and the Dingle Peninsula is one of the most spectacular places! It will beat all of your prior expectations and the views go for miles!

This is one area where you will want time to enjoy everything so think about extending your Ireland road trip for longer in Dingle!

Must-See Stops On The Dingle Peninsula:

Slea Head Drive . This is one of the most epic things to do on your Ireland road trip. This loop drive starts and ends in the town of Dingle.

It offers stunning cliffs, Star Wars movie locations, mountains, quaint towns, and breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. You will love discovering the best stops on Slea Head Drive !

Dunquin Pier. This is an iconic postcard destination on the Dingle Peninsula. It is located in the town of Dunquin on the Slea Head Drive loop and is a ferry pier.

It is quite a good photo location for catching the sunset. You will have lots of fun walking down to the water.

Connor’s Pass . This is the highest pass in Ireland and a wonderful addition to your itinerary. Be prepared for slow driving and very narrow roads.

Conner’s Pass is beautiful but the roads are quite thin so be sure to pull over well in advance for any oncoming traffic.

Dingle Town. The town of Dingle is a must-see on your Ireland road trip because it is so cute and centrally located. There is so much to see and do!

Walk around the shops and grab an ice cream while you enjoy the waterfront.

Book Here: Ireland: Dingle Peninsula Day Tour

Woman walking the stone path at Dunquin Pier. with rugged rocks in the ocean.

Where To Stay In Dingle

Dingle is a wonderful and quaint place to stay in Ireland. There are a bunch of nice hotels and cute bed and breakfasts.

Best Hotels in Dingle: 

  • Mid-Range: The Lighthouse . Check Rates:
  • Luxury: Dingle Benners Hotel . Check Rates:

Colorful, wooden boats docked in the Dingle harbor.

Stop 6: Check The Cliffs of Moher Off Your Bucket List

Is there anything more iconically Irish than the Cliffs of Moher? Even if you don’t generally like to do “touristy” things, the Cliffs of Moher are a must on the best Ireland vacation itinerary!

I recommend budgeting at least 2 hours to see the Cliffs of Moher. Seeing these gorgeous cliffs in person will blow your mind and exceed your expectations!

You can also stop by the Visitor Center for some education and also grab a bite to eat before heading out to the views!

This is one of the more dangerous things you will do on your Ireland road trip, so make sure that you practice extreme caution!

Book Here: Galway: Gaze Across the Stunning Cliffs of Moher and Burren

There are a lot of fabulous Irish Castle Hotels near the Cliffs of Moher if you are looking for a unique place to stay!

Stormy sunset over the ocean and the Cliffs of Moher.

Stop 7: Drop By Doolin For Irish Charm

Doolin is an adorable town just 10 minutes north of the Cliffs of Moher. If you are already visiting the cliffs on your Ireland road trip, I recommend a quick stop in Doolin too.

Doolin is a cute little town with iconic pink houses, an adorable downtown, a castle turret, and a lovely harbor.

While in Doolin, take a day trip to the nearby Aran Islands. You can catch an affordable ferry from Doolin, and it is a short boat ride to the islands!

These islands are a unique and beautiful place to see when you travel Ireland by car!

Best Hotels in Doolin:

  • Affordable: Mountain Aven Guest House . Check Rates:
  • Luxury: Doolin Village Lodges . Check Rates:

Woman in a flowing floral dress walking down the street in Doolin next to colorful buildings.

Stop 8: Experience Westport And Achill Island

I love getting off the beaten path and there is no better place to do that than Westport and the nearby Achill Island. Westport is an adorable town in Co. Mayo with so much to offer.

Visit Westport House and see their falcon demonstration or take a bike ride through neighboring towns. Westport House is where famed pirate Grace O’Malley lived and you can go into a real dungeon too!

I highly recommend a day trip to the nearby Achill Island or even staying a night here. Achill Island is pristine Irish beauty at its best with white sand beaches, mountain lakes, and cute towns.

You can even go surfing, paddle boarding, or snorkeling on Achill Island if you want more adventure!

Make sure to check out the other great things to do in Co. Mayo !

Best Hotels In Westport:

  • Affordable: Plougastel House B&B . Check Rates:
  • Mid-Range: The Wyatt Hotel . Check Rates:

Best Hotels on Achill Island:

  • Affordable: Murrayville B&B . Check Rates:
  • Affordable: Hy Breasal B&B . Check Rates:

Young woman sitting on a stone fence  next to a pond overlooking the Westport House on a fall overcast day.

Stop 9: Explore The Slieve League Cliffs And Bad Eddie’s Boat In Co. Donegal 

Co. Donegal, Ireland’s northernmost county, is known as its most “wild.” This isn’t a place most people visit on their Ireland road trip, but I have gone and highly recommend it.

You will love exploring the best things to do in Donegal !

This is real and unspoiled Ireland, far away from tourists. This is where you will find sheep wandering in the road with no fences to keep them in.

Best Things To Do In Co. Donegal

Slieve League Cliffs . This is a must for your Ireland road trip itinerary because they are one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe (second only to the cliffs on Achill Island).

The cliffs are located in the southern end of Donegal. You can drive to them and walk the rest of the way.

The views are incredible and you will hardly see another tourist in sight. After the busy Cliffs of Moher, this is a more relaxed portion of your Ireland itinerary.

Bad Eddie’s Shipwreck. Once you leave Slieve League, make your way up to Bunbeg, where you will find a shipwreck on the beach. This is an old wooden shipwreck located on a beach you can drive on!

It is so cool to get up close and personal with an actual shipwreck on a beach!

Glenveagh National Park. This park is the epitome of wild Irish landscapes. If you love mountains, this is the place for you!

Make sure to leave time to drive through the national park or walk up one of the mountains! This is another one of the lesser-known things to do on your Ireland itinerary that you will love!

Malin Head. Malin Head is the northernmost point of Ireland. It offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean with many sea cliffs and beaches to explore.

Malin Head is also a Star Wars filming location so if you love the movies, this will be a must-see stop on your Ireland road trip!

View looking down at the Slieve League Cliffs with blue water and rugged cliffs on a partly cloudy day.

Stop 10: Finish Your Ireland Road Trip By Exploring Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is much less visited than the Republic of Ireland but the country is so beautiful you must take time to visit here. There are amazing things to do in Northern Ireland !

Belfast is located less than 2 hours from Dublin, so if you are flying out of Dublin after your Ireland road trip, you can spend a night or two in Belfast or Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

Explore The Causeway Coast

The Causeway Coast is a stunning coastal drive that offers everything from pristine white sand beaches to castles perched high on the edge of cliffs!

The stops listed below are all close to one another so you can easily see them in one day. There is so much to do on a Northern Ireland road trip, but here are a few top Causeway Coast attractions.

Dunluce Castle. This age-old castle ruin is perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Could it get any more stunning than that? The castle is steeped in history and bloodshed. It makes for fantastic photos!

Giant’s Causeway. This is a spectacular ode to nature with hexagonal, basalt rocks pushing up from the ocean. Make sure to go early in the morning to beat the tour buses.

Dark Hedges. This hedgerow leads to an old manor house and became popular after being featured in Game Of Thrones . Like Giant’s Causeway, make sure to go early or late to beat the tourists.

Mussenden Temple. This temple is perched on a cliff in Northern Ireland overlooking a perfect stretch of white sand beach. It is a fantastic place to catch the sunset.

Game Of Thrones Doors. If you are into Game Of Thrones , you’ll want to search out some of the Game Of Thrones Doors ! There are many located along the Causeway Coast in bars and hotels.

Book Here: From Belfast: Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones Day Tour

Book Here: Dublin: Giants Causeway, Dark Hedges, Dunluce & Belfast Tour

Figure in a yellow raincoat standing on a grass hill overlooking the stone ruins of the Dunluce Castle on the coast during an Ireland road trip.

Best Things to Do in Belfast

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and is located under 2 hours from all the best nature Northern Ireland has to offer.

If you add Belfast to your driving itinerary for Ireland, check out the Titanic Museum Experience and walk around the Titanic Quarter. Interestingly, Belfast is where the Titanic was built and originally set sail.

Belfast is also home to the buzzing Cathedral Quarter. This is the perfect place for a bite to eat or a drink at one of the many pubs. If you have time, take a pub tour or walking tour around Belfast.

Book Here: Belfast: The Titanic Experience with SS Nomadic Visit

Best Hotels in Belfast:

  • Mid-Range: Ramada by Wyndham Belfast . Check Rates:
  • Mid-Range: Bullitt Hotel . Check Rates:
  • Luxury: The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast . Check Rates:

Beautiful Belfast City Hall  with towers and a dome.

End Your Ireland Road Trip By Flying Out Of Dublin Or Belfast

Eventually, your car trip in Ireland must come to an end. Either fly out of Dublin or Belfast.

If you fly out of Dublin, I highly recommend staying outside of the city and then driving in on the day of your flight. This will save you from going back to Dublin and will save you money on a hotel as well.

Ireland Road Trip Map

If you want to see what it all looks like on paper, here is your Ireland road trip map!

Unfortunately, Google Maps only lets us put 10 destinations, so we weren’t able to capture all the small stops like Cobh or Slieve League Cliffs.

This is the general idea of where the route will take you when you visit Ireland by car.

Google Maps image of the Ireland road trip starting in Dublin and ending in Belfast.

This Ireland road trip itinerary showcases the best attractions in the country. You will see popular things as well as hidden gems in Ireland ! There is something for everyone!

I hope you have learned how to plan a trip to Ireland.

If this is your first time in Ireland, read up on the best time to visit Ireland next.

Pin this post:

how to plan your ireland road trip

Reader Interactions

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June 14, 2018 at 7:11 pm

I’ve followed you away for several years now and I think this is the best one yet. Be safe while traveling.

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June 18, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Thank you so much! This means so much to us!

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February 15, 2019 at 5:41 pm

What timeframe was this completed in, My wife and I are coming to Ireland for 10 days.

February 15, 2019 at 8:12 pm

You can do it in 10 days if you spend one day in each. I would recommend skipping Ring Of Kerry and Donegal if you want this itinerary in a more relaxed time frame!

February 15, 2019 at 8:18 pm

We will be there for 10 days and will need to return to Dublin

Any specific landmark/ site that are a “must” is appreciated.

Also want to see a few of the Great Lighthouses

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August 5, 2019 at 5:07 am

Please add Inishowen Peninsula (Malin Head) to your map then take the Greencastle ferry to the causeway coast. We are always forgotten by the tourist and is winning the loto but forgot to claim the prize.

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April 14, 2019 at 7:04 am

Nice itinerary, and the watercolour is beautiful but there are so many inaccuracies and spelling errors

April 14, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Hello! What was inaccurate? We would love to correct it! Thanks!

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June 3, 2019 at 10:02 pm

We have 6-7 days what do you recommend.

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June 19, 2018 at 11:04 pm

Victoria, this is the most comprehensive list I’ve ever seen. Will refer to it if I ever have the opportunity to travel to Ireland. Thank you for this.

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June 21, 2018 at 1:45 am

Great trip , but you should visit Bunratty Castle for a medieval banquet and folk park a great nights entertainment

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June 21, 2018 at 5:07 am

Have always wanted to tour Ireland. Your list is great, I know it will come in handy once i get the chance to visit. Amazing photos too.

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June 22, 2018 at 9:29 pm

Awesome! I wish I knew more about Ireland to know for sure where to go, but I thought this definitely helped for my future road trip! ?

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May 15, 2019 at 11:34 pm

I am landing in Dublin on 26 Dec and leaving on 11jan. My gf wants to stay in a city until 1jan so I was wondering if the itinerary can be completed in 10 days? Especially with daylight hours being so short. And is it advisable to stay in Dublin for 5 days? Thank you!

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June 23, 2018 at 2:45 am

Your photos are incredible! I’ve only been to Dublin but this has me itching to go back! Great post!

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June 23, 2018 at 2:53 am

Great blog. We loved Kerry and Dingle although didn’t know about Cobh. A definite visit next time. Thanks for sharing your itinerary.

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June 23, 2018 at 12:06 pm

I did an Ireland road trip in 2003 with my mom and have been wanting to return ever since! Dingle was my favorite!

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June 23, 2018 at 4:49 pm

This is a great itinerary! And very similar to the road trip I just did in Ireland last week with my mom and sister! Our favorites were the Rock of Cashel and Cobh, I think, along with having tea at Ashford Castle!

June 25, 2018 at 12:56 pm

We LOVED Cobh and Rock Of Cashel too! And Dingle! We really wanted to do Ashford Castle but didn’t get around to it!

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June 23, 2018 at 10:55 pm

What a brilliant resource! I can’t believe I’ve still never been to Ireland, but I’d love to do a road trip like this!

Thank you so much! Ireland is an amazing place to road trip!

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July 15, 2018 at 12:07 pm

I’ve always wanted to do a trip to Ireland. I will surely have this one on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your itinerary! Definitely one to steal 🙂

July 16, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Thank you!! Have fun in Ireland when you go!

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August 4, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Fabulous itinerary!!! This is pretty much what we will follow for our second trip to Ireland. Two things you could include that are not to be missed: Kylemore Abbey which is just stunning and staying at Ballynahinch Castle which was also incredible and surprisingly inexpensive. Thank you for all of the tips!

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November 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Hi! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post about your trip. I will be traveling to Ireland this summer. I was wondering, is it necessary to rent a car to do a trip like this? I’ve heard mixed reviews about car rentals in Ireland and am unsure what to do! There will be 4 of us going. Any advice is appreciated 🙂

November 24, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Hello! Thank you! Sadly yes, to do this trip you must rent a car. That being said, there are some day tours from Dublin that go to many of the areas in this list except Donegal. They are pretty affordable and we recommend some here: Renting a car allows freedom BUT if you do we recommend taking pictures and a walk around video when you get the car so you aren’t taken advantage of by the rental companies. The driving on the “wrong” side of the road really isn’t that difficult and you will get the hang with slow and cautious driving!

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January 1, 2019 at 6:12 pm

Hi! This trip looks amazing,do you have a link you re able to provide to the google maps screen shot you posted? My family and I are looking to do an 8 day road trip in August.

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January 12, 2019 at 12:25 pm

My friends and I will be visiting Ireland in March and would like to do a road trip. Can you provide me with a link to the google maps screen shot you posted? If not, maybe a list of places you stopped?

January 12, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Hello! Yes I have to recreate a better one! Can you email me [email protected]

January 23, 2019 at 2:32 pm

I sent you my email, but have not received the link to the google maps screen shot you posted.

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February 7, 2019 at 11:22 am

This was super interesting and informative- thank you! My partner and I are considering this trip in the Springtime, does anyone have insight as to what we can expect budget-wise?

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March 8, 2019 at 3:41 pm

I’ve been trying to plan a trip of a lifetime my husband & I will be taking in October…right after he retires on the 1st. We have purchased our plane tickets & plan to stay for 3 weeks. How do we plan reservations for lodging, without staying at 21 places & keeping a strict schedule? Is there a way we can plan to do it in segments, staying in one place & making day trips for several days & then moving on to the next section of the trip? Is there someone you can recommend that could help us do This? I don’t want to blow this special trip because of poor planning…I want no regrets! Your blog is the most concise & so enjoyable-any help would be so appreciated!

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July 17, 2019 at 4:39 pm

I can help you out.

I ran into your comment here and think your post is so nice and am really happy your going to spend some time in Ireland. Its really beautiful here. I am a Canadian living in Belfast currently and have been doing a lot of research on travel around Ireland and have covered most of the island already. I can make you an itinerary tailored to things you might like no problem let me know.

Maybe leave your email here that way i can get in touch with you if you would like the help.

Best, Hannah

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October 27, 2019 at 9:33 pm

I could really use some help! Me, my 2 sons and one of their girlfriends will be visiting my daughter in Ireland in a couple weeks? I have never done this and am trying to read blogs like this and create an itinerary. If you have any advice on maps to download or rental car advice I would so appreciate it! I am confusing myself on how many nights to stay at one place!! We have 7nights. Flying in and out of Dublin. My daughter is studying abroad in Gallway. She plans to meet us in Dublin and we will road trip to Gallway for the week. I appreciate any help! Thank you! Maureen

October 27, 2019 at 11:04 pm

I would recommend Dublin, Galway, and one other place such as Dingle/Killarney!!! Car rental you can get something affordable just make sure to take photos of the car to ensure you aren’t being scammed!!

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March 9, 2019 at 7:06 am

Hi, Super post. We are planning a trip this June and would highly appreciate the link to the Google maps itinerary. Many thanks.

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March 17, 2019 at 12:06 am

We are planning to spend about 3 weeks (August 20-September 6) and this itinerary is incredibly helpful. Thanks so much! My husband’s great-great grandfather is from Newry, County Down in Northern Ireland, so we will add that to the trip, and maybe find more information…Americans hunting for their Irish roots.

March 18, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Have so much fun!!

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April 7, 2019 at 1:22 am

thanks for the wonderful information and it will be most helpful in September when I travel with my Mom for a 2 week Ireand/Scotland trip. I am starting to get excited now. flights are booked and have booked a B & B for our first couple of nights in Dublin,

Your map and itinerary is so spot on and has helped immensely with my plans for Ireland. I will most definatley be visiting Norther Ireland after reading your information.

Do you have any suggetions for a similar trip to Scotland? 5-6 days?

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April 8, 2019 at 3:09 pm

Lori… just saw your post… my husband and 2 adult daughters are looking to travel to Scotland/Ireland in September… are you traveling to Scotland first? I’m just in the beginning stages of planning our trip… wondered what you have found? Places to stay?

May 14, 2019 at 11:33 pm

Shelly. I am sorry it took so long to reply! We are traveling to Ireland first. Round trip to Dublin was cheaper from Canada. We will take a quick cheap flight to Edinburgh for the remainder of the trip.

I have been booking B&B through and finding an average of $120 Canadian per stay. What have you planned so far for Scotland?

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April 16, 2019 at 7:47 pm

Could you post a map or directions leaving Dublin working up to Derry and back down to Dublin? I have enjoyed your blog and will be reading for new helpful hints. Thanks for sharing.

April 18, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Hello Donna!

We have never been to Derry in Ireland just yet so we can’t share a post featuring that location. Hopefully we will visit soon!

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April 21, 2019 at 10:32 am

Hi this itinerary is wonderful and very detailed. My husband and I are traveling to Dublin in late November for 7 days. I read that during winter a lot of attractions are closed. Any recommendations for us of places not to missed and how can we do a shorter itinerary since be have to flight back home from Dublin.

April 29, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Hello!! Sounds like an amazing trip! I would recommend doing a loop of the southern Irish coast and western. So essentially when you get to the “cliffs of moher’ section of this itinerary that is when you are done and you head back to Dublin. So for 7 days in winter we recommend to stop on this itinerary at Cliffs Of Moher. That should be plenty to see and do and still have things that are open!

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April 30, 2019 at 8:09 am

What a great itinerary! Our family is having a debate about our December Christmas holiday and it’s between Ireland (my choice) and Estonia (my husband’s). Armed with this wonderful road trip, I have a much better idea of where to go, stay and what sights to see. I even have to prepare a PowerPoint presentation to win the debate, so this helps me soooo much! We have two teenage daughters so we will be looking for family type accommodation. Any recommendations on what type of vehicle to hire that will be suitable for 4 people, luggage and the roads in Ireland?

April 30, 2019 at 1:14 pm

We recommend renting a hybrid SUV. Just toggle that “on” when searching for a car. Tell your girls this is an EPIC place to visit, especially for teens! The sights are totally amazing and you guys should 100% go to Ireland! There is something for everyone

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May 3, 2019 at 11:59 pm

Hey! I am hoping to visit Ireland next year. I will have graduated from college but will only be 18. I understand that I can’t rent a car until I’m older. Are there any bus lines I can take? Hoping to spend 2 weeks there.

May 4, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Sometimes you are able to rent a car under 25 and just pay a higher fee than anyone else. Have you checked into that option? There are a variety of tours and also trains that go around Ireland! So you do have options. It isn’t the most public transport friendly place in the world but there are options

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May 8, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Hello there,

thoroughly enjoyed reading your itinerary. Can you please let us know which all cities/places you have opted to stay in the nights and what was the duration of each stays? if you can provide some tip on recommended hotels that would be great.

we are having a trip coming up in next 10 days, with two toddlers

your help is really appreciated.

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May 13, 2019 at 6:33 pm

Hey ! enticing write up 🙂 I just booked a 5 day trip for July. Wonder if you could help with a crash course here to plan my route. We will self drive, and I have Belfast on my mind followed by the expansive ocean drives. So mostly chasing vistas and landscapes (don’t mind the occasional historic sites en route) Many thanks in advance.

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May 14, 2019 at 10:18 pm

This looks amazing. Unfortunately, we arrive in Dublin on Monday and fly home via Dublin the following Tuesday early morning. Would you recommend an abbreviated itinerary? My husband was thinking we should spend Monday night and Tuesday night in Dublin, heading out for our drive early Wednesday morning, returning to Dublin on Monday night (late is ok).

May 14, 2019 at 11:04 pm

Hello!! YES! A good shorter itinerary is to simply cut off at the Cliffs Of Moher! so do the entire itinerary from the beginning and after COM you just return back to Dublin. So you leave Dublin, head down to Cork and Cobh, then over to Killarney, then Dingle, then Cliffs Of Moher. If you have to shorten this even more I recommend leaving off Killarney and heading straight to Dingle. It is TRUE Ireland and you will love it!

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May 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Hello, thank you for this itinerary. I am thinking of a surprise trip for my husband to Ireland. Question – when is the best time to plan a road trip like this for weather and can this be done in two weeks and not feel too rushed . plan is for year 2020. Thank you again for posting this

May 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm

We personally LOVED fall in Ireland! September and October were wonderful. Spring is also a great time, Late March and April. We recommend avoiding the end of May and early June as there are multiple bank holidays in Ireland and the UK and it makes things crazy busy! Just look up the bank holiday schedule for 2020 and avoid that time. Ireland is amazing all year!

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May 23, 2019 at 8:04 am

Hi. Your itinerary is a great help. We are traveling in July and are flying into Dublin and driving straight to Kilkenny..1 night, Blarney..1 night, Killarney..2 nights, Galway..3 nights and back to Dublin..3 nights. Are those good places to stay for the nights?

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May 28, 2019 at 5:40 am

Ireland is on top of my bucket list. Even though I couldn’t make it yet, I’m pretty sure to visit it in the nearest future. Looks stunning in pictures, so I can only imagine how much more beautiful it is in reality. Thank you for sharing your amazing experience. I’ve just lived through your travels.

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June 9, 2019 at 6:43 am

Thank you SO MUCH for this itinerary! My traveling partner and I were spending hours searching for things to see as we began mapping out a plan when I decided to Google “Ireland mapped trip”. What a find! By the way, do you know you have two Stop 5s?

June 9, 2019 at 2:48 pm

UGH!!! no i didn’t know that! I will go fix straight away! And this is amazing to hear I’m glad we can help! We totally LOVE Ireland so much!

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June 9, 2019 at 10:38 pm

Was parking an issue anywhere or was it easy to find places to park?

June 9, 2019 at 11:19 pm

It was very easy to find pretty much everywhere! It is wonderful!

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June 22, 2019 at 8:14 am

I’m an American driver. How difficult is it to acclimate to driving this suggested itinerary ?

June 22, 2019 at 12:36 pm

It isn’t too difficult at all! You begin on the interstate which is actually easier than on the 2 lane roads so you can get a gist of it. JUST GO SLOWWWWW. If you are traveling with someone else task them to remind you when it comes to turning and such. Otherwise just be careful and think. You just have to get back in the mindset of when you were learning to drive. You had to think about each step. That is how it is here for a day or two! But it is easy you got this!

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June 27, 2019 at 10:53 am

Hi – This itinerary is really helpful, appreciate your efforts. I plan to visit Ireland this August. My cousin lives in Cork and we plan to stay there towards the end of our trip.Do you see any issues taking the reverse route…Dublin, Belfast, Cork back to Dublin. Please let me know. Thank you.

June 27, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Nope!! Belfast is real close to Dublin so its only around 1.5 hour drive!! Really nice!

July 3, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Thank you, One more query – if I have 3 nights to cover from Dublin to Dingle via Belfast/cliffs of Moher etc, which are the best places/towns to stay to be able to cover the best along this route ? Please suggest, thank you again.

July 3, 2019 at 5:15 pm

If you have three nights we recommend possibly skipping Belfast and going straight to Cliffs Of Moher and staying nearby Cliffs of Moher then possibly staying in Limerick which is a really cute area!!

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July 2, 2019 at 7:09 am

This looks amazing we are crossing by ferry from Liverpool on 10th of July and returning 23rd July 2019. Looking forward to doing most of these places.

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July 13, 2019 at 8:02 am

It will be our very first trip to Ireland. I checked out quite a few ideas for Ireland but yours was the best I have come across. But we have only 8 days from Dublin to Dublin. I am a bit confused as to what we should drop and what is a must do. I do want to visit Doolin, Dingle and even Westport but how do i plan it. Can you suggest some tweaks. I am really looking forward to a great time.

July 13, 2019 at 2:45 pm

That is a great itinerary! I would recommend going:

Dublin> Cork


Dingle> cliffs of moher and doolin

Cliffs of Moher to Westport

Westport back to Dublin

That is how I would space it out and you will see A LOT! So on the way down SKIP ring of Kerry and Killarney!

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July 17, 2019 at 10:43 pm

My husband and I will be going to Ireland in August and have given ourselves 3 weeks approximately. Staying in Meath for 4 days for a christening. Twhile there were going to visit Donegal area etc. we have booked Kilkenny for a couple of nights before heading off, where would you suggest next? We leave the 13th Aug so I need to book ASAP

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July 20, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Very interesting subject and posts. I am going next week, for 4 days only, and it will only be the Republic of Ireland. Would you mind to to help me with a route for 4 days?

Much appreciated,

July 20, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Would highly recommend Dublin, Cork/Cobh, and Cliffs of Moher. It will be a lot of driving! Alternatively you can do Dublin with day trips to Howth and Bray and perhaps a tour to Cliffs Of Moher!

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July 23, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Thank you for this itinerary. We’re traveling next year and I’m putting together a 14 day trip. I believe you have chosen well and I’m going to use this for a model. Love your beautiful photos too.

July 23, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Thank you so much!!! Have so much fun in Ireland!

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April 9, 2022 at 11:52 am

just curious … how much you are estimating for the trip… money wise>>>>

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August 10, 2019 at 8:44 pm

You forgot Dingle. Amazing people and awesome nightlife of traditional music. Go to Dick Mack’s, it’s across the street from the church.❤️

August 12, 2019 at 7:16 am

Dingle is totally included on this itinerary!!!! Thanks!

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September 18, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Beautiful pictures. Thank you for a great plan! We have 9 days before a cruise so have to get to Southampton at the end of the road trip. Flying into London and can take a flight to Ireland. Where would you suggest starting? On our cruise we have one day in Dublin and one day in Belfast….surely not enough so want to see more of the country. Have you bookmarked for ideas!

September 19, 2019 at 11:48 am

Thank you!!! So you will be there for 9 days? You can easily do Killarney, Dingle and Cliffs Of Moher with TONS of time to spare!

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September 24, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Great information! We are planning an Ireland trip in 2021 We are thinking of around 14 days Flying into and out of Dublin. Thinking about spending more time in each city but after Westport driving back to Dublin and skipping the northern part of your itinerary.Your thoughts? Also we plan on using your suggested hotels What time of year is best? Least rain Thank you

September 25, 2019 at 8:55 am

Yep!!!! 10000% think that is a GREAT itinerary and will give you great time to enjoy each area. Don’t miss Westport area as it is a lesser known part of the country so you will get the best of both worlds! We REALLY enjoyed being there in late april/early May as well as the fall in October/September. Avoid summer as all of the UK is on bank holiday and then Ireland has bank holiday and it is a crazy mess!!

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September 25, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Hello. I just returned from Ireland yesterday after a 5-day trip. I used Victoria and Terrence’s post to plan my itinerary. This was an awesome road trip. We went to most places recommended by you + more! In our 5-day trip, we drove 1400 kilometers (870 miles!). It was great! Thank you for the post (and for recommending the ice cream).

September 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Thanks Rhonda! We are SO GLAD you had an amazing time! The ice cream in Ireland is just so good right?!

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November 18, 2019 at 7:29 am

I was so inspired by your Blog, that I booked tickets for my husband and I to visit Ireland in the Spring. I wanted to ask if you could provide a link to the google maps screenshot? Also, I know you mentioned that you did not want to give specific days/times to spend for each stop and leave it to our discretion, but I would love to get your opinion on where we should stop and stay overnight versus where to just pit stop on the road trip. Any feedback would be appreciated, I’m currently in the process of looking up places to stay.

November 19, 2019 at 9:03 pm

Hey!!!! YES I can but I couldn’t put all the stops sadly so it would be better to do it yourself! As far as spending the night I recommend Dublin, Cork/Blarney/Cobh area [all within 30-ish min so anywhere there can be fine!] then you can do Dingle AND Killarney or just one. If you can just do one I recommend Dingle. Then stay near Cliffs Of Moher. Then stay near Westport or Achill Island. Then stay somewhere in Donegal. Then stay near the Antrim Coast or in Belfast for day trips! I hope this helps! This is if you want to do the FULL itinerary!

November 19, 2019 at 10:20 pm

I would loveee to do it all! Do you think it is doable in 7 days?

November 20, 2019 at 2:43 pm

I think it is doable but I don’t think you would enjoy yourself! I would choose either the top half of the bottom half. Meaning you either END with Cliffs of Moher [Dingle, Cobh, Cork etc] or your start where this itinerary starts with cliffs of moher and do Westpoert/Donegal/Northern Ireland. Just take half the itinerary for 7 days if you don’t want to rush about!

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December 5, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Hi, many thanks for publishing your fabulous trip. Four of us are arriving in Belfast, staying 2 nights and then hiring a car to tour the west coast and over to Dublin. We will have 7 days before returning to Belfast for one night and then flying home. We will take in your recommendations for places of interest, the only thing I have not yet been able to establish is whether crossing the border is allowed by the car hire company, any ideas? Thanks

December 7, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Yep!!! It is usually always allowed with no issues!! If you are very worried, simply email or call to be sure for peace of mind! But never had any issues! Have fun!

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January 5, 2020 at 11:38 pm

Omg this was so helpful! Now I’m thinking of changing the itinerary we had planned for 7 nights in June. We have hotels booked for : 1. Dublin 2. Cork 3. Killarney 4. Galway 5. Bunratty Castle for my 2 year olds birthday + an Irish night 6. Kilkea Castle for a wedding 7. Dublin Galway wasn’t even on your list! Maybe Dingle instead?? So hard to choose!

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February 21, 2020 at 12:12 am

Hi… we will be in Ireland for 5 days in late Aug… we’re renting a car and starting in Dublin. I know we can’t do it all, but what route would you suggest? Thanks. David

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December 9, 2020 at 1:05 pm

Amazing pics and list! Do you recommend booking all lodging beforehand or could we just do it as we travel around? Was just thinking that would give us freedom to stay where and when we wanted rather than sticking to a hard schedule.

December 9, 2020 at 2:04 pm

You can do it as you travel around and that is what we have done MANY times! Just book 2-3 days in advance you don’t have to do the whole thing! Enjoy!

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October 18, 2021 at 8:49 pm

This post is AMAZING!!! We are planning a 7 day trip April 2023! Did you rent your vehicle directly from the rental car agency at Dublin airport?

October 18, 2021 at 11:32 pm

Yes we did! You have to take a shuttle to the rental car center but yes it is on the airport!! Super easy! Enjoy!

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These 10 road trips will bring you into the heart of Ireland

Killian Andersen

Mar 9, 2024 • 7 min read

tour around ireland by car

On Ireland’s winding country roads, expect to take it slow © Jade Prevost Manuel / Shutterstock

People often think that given  Ireland ’s small size, they can see everything in a matter of days. We can confirm that this is simply impossible.

Here’s a typical story: a visitor makes a stop in a quaint village to sit down for a quick coffee.  All of a sudden, they’re being whisked off to the local watering hole with Tom “from down the road” who wants to introduce you to the locals and share enthralling (and extended) tales of Irish history.

Such social connections are the soul of Ireland – and that’s on top of the island’s staggering raw beauty. What’s the best way to get the best of both? Hit the (rural) road – and plan to take it slow. 

Our list of the best 10 road trips in Ireland should help inspire you.

Tourist bus traveling on a mountain road, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

1. The Wild Atlantic Way 

Best road trip for the ultimate Irish experience Inishowen Peninsula – Kinsale ; 2600km (1600 miles), 2 weeks

This is the pinnacle of Irish road trips. The Wild Atlantic Way will show adventurers both the natural beauty and the pure  craic that Ireland has to offer . This route will have you weaving your way around mountains, boglands and rugged karst landscapes as you experience the Emerald Isle at its most dramatic.

You’ll spot Wild Atlantic Way markers at every point of interest along the way to enhance your trip; follow the symbols attached to almost every road sign along the route to make sure you don’t get lost.

Planning tip:  We recommend taking at least two weeks to savor every moment of this epic journey.

An empty road with foggy mountains in the distance, Mayo, Ireland

2. The Mayo Coast 

Best less-traveled road trip Ballina–Killary; 543km (337.5 miles), 1 week

Many visitors to Ireland miss out on  Mayo , which has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the country. It’s home to the highest mountain in Connacht, secret swimming spots and dramatic cliff walks.

Plan for numerous stops as you make your way down the coast. Plenty of free activities, hostels and campsites make it possible to tackle this trip on a budget.

Planning tip: If you time your road trip to reach the sacred mountain Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday of July, you can join the annual pilgrimage known as Reek Sunday. Some people even attempt this hike barefoot as part of their spiritual journey.

Hikers along a trail in Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

3. The Old Military Road

Best road trip for mountain landscapes Rathfarnham–Aughavannagh; 60km (37 miles), minimum 1 day

As you travel along the spine of the Wicklow Mountains, you’ll follow a winding road shrouded in a dark history. The route  was constructed between August 1800 and October 1809 to allow the British Army access to the mountains following the 1798 rebellion in Ireland.

Today, the road is home to some of Ireland’s most challenging and beautiful trails . If hiking isn’t your thing, an abundance of excellent restaurants, lodges and activity centers lie along the route. The true beauty of this trip? You can take as long as you like to complete it. There are so many things to see and do packed into such a small distance that you’ll never be bored.

Planning tip: If you’re taking a few days to complete this trip, be sure to pack for all weather. The Wicklow Mountains are notorious for suddenly changing conditions.

4. The Copper Coast

Best road trip in the east Tramore–Dungarvan; 40km (25 miles), 1 day

With the Copper Coast’s countless opportunities for walks and dips in the cold sea, you'll never be stuck for something to do on this short but action-packed route. And amateur geologists will love that part of the Copper Coast is  UNESCO Global Geopark , thanks to its unique combination of environments packed into such a small area.

Detour: Take a trip to the nearby Comeragh Mountains and tackle one of Ireland’s most rewarding hikes, the Coumshingaun Loop.

E-Type Jaguar driving on country road between Kenmare and Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland

5. The Ring of Kerry

Best road trip to experience old Ireland Starts and ends in Killarney (travel clockwise); 179km (111 miles), 2–3 days

Towering mountains, glistening lakes and enchanting forests: the Ring of Kerry is one of those unforgettable road trips that stuns from start to finish. There are so many landmarks to see along this route, it can be hard to fit it all into one trip. Yet the beauty of this drive is that even if you rarely leave the car, you’ll still experience some of Ireland’s most beautiful spots.

Detour:  This route takes you not far from Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil . It’s worth taking a day to attempt the hike via the Devil’s Ladder.

 Tourists between the coloured houses of the Doolin village

6. The Burren Loop

Best road trip for beautiful barren landscapes Starts and ends in Ballyvaughan; 150km (93 miles), 1–2 days

This is the only figure-eight route on this list, a configuration that allows you to stay in the same accommodation if you want to complete the route over two days. The Burren itself has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique karst landscape, which covers approximately 250 sq km (96.5 sq miles).  The drive will take you down narrow roads that cut through the barren landscape to sheer cliffside views.

Planning tip: Leave time to incorporate some, if not all, of the Cliffs of Moher cliff walk. If time allows, consider hopping on a boat from Doolin to see them from the sea as well.

A narrow road along the scenic coast of Slea Head, Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

7. Slea Head Drive

Best road trip for experiencing true “Irishness” Starts and ends in Dingle Town (travel clockwise); 46km (28.5 miles), 1–2 days

Pubs doubling as hardware stores. White sandy beaches. Lambs you can hold. What more could you ask for from a 46km (28.5-mile) road trip?

The Slea Head Drive is located on Dingle , one of Ireland’s most fabulous peninsulas, which has everything from coastal hikes to island escapes and some of the best nightlife in the country. All of this is plastered against a picturesque backdrop of green hills, sandy beaches and the wild Atlantic Ocean.

Detour: Since you’ll already be on the road, you should add the Conor Pass, one of Ireland’s highest, to your list. Located just outside of Dingle Town , it’s a great add-on to this itinerary.

An aerial view of the winding Sky Road, County Galway, Ireland

8. Sky Road Loop

Best short road trip Starts and ends in Clifden; 16km (10 miles), 1 day

This road trip is short, and it doesn’t disappoint, offering some of the best, most sweeping views of the Connemara coastline. You can also look forward to encountering castles, quaint villages with delicious food and views of rugged mountains in the distance – a full taste of Ireland in just one day.

Detour: Pack your camera (and your swimming gear) to visit the shore along the Sky Road. With crystal-clear waters and beautiful golden sand, Eyrephort Beach is the perfect place to take a break.

View of Allihies, a village on the Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland

9. The Ring of Beara

Best road trip for unspoiled scenery Starts and ends in Glengarriff (travel clockwise); 148km (92 miles), 2–3 days

Another looped road trip in the south of Ireland makes another worthy addition to our list, just a stone’s throw (or rocky peninsula) away from the Ring of Kerry.  With multiple mountain passes, delightful villages filled with local foods to try and many hikes and walks along the way, you’re bound to find something that’s perfect for you.

Detour:  At the tip of the Ring of Beara , make a stop to take the cable car to Dursey Island, a neat  way to cross the choppy waters below.

10. The “Four Peaks” Challenge road trip

The best challenge of a road road trip Carrauntoohil–Mweelrea–Slieve Donard–Lugnaquilla; 865km (540 miles), 1 day to 1 week

Road trips are usually all about the journey. This one is a little bit different. The Four Peaks Challenge involves tackling the highest mountains in each of Ireland’s four historic provinces by hike. Most take on the challenge at a leisurely pace – but some (very ambitious) people strive to complete it in 24 hours.

You will be treated to some of the most epic views of Ireland from each of these peaks – though the adventure is definitely not for the faint-hearted. We recommend planning for one hike per day, which will let you take in the beautiful Irish countryside while putting your body to the test.

Planning tip:  If you can, get someone to do the driving for you. Your legs will be worn out enough without the 12 hours of driving in between peaks.

This article was first published Apr 1, 2021 and updated Mar 9, 2024.

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Ireland Road Trip: 7, 10 and 14 day Itinerary

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

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. 

tour around ireland by car

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
  • 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 .


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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Going Awesome Places

Detailed itineraries + travel guides

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


  • 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 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


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


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.


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


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.

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


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.

tour around ireland by car


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

park sleep fly airport parking discount code

Airport Parking: You’ll need a spot to leave your car at the airport so why not book a spot at a discount. Use code AWESOME7 to get at least $5 off at Airport Parking Reservations or Park Sleep Fly packages.

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 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.
  • RATESDOTCA – Search engine Canadians looking for the cheapest insurance including multi-trip annual policies.
  • SafetyWing – A perfect fit for long-term nomads.
  • Medjet – Global air medical transportation.
  • 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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tour around ireland by car

  • 12 nights / 13 days
  • 1,460 miles
  • Independent
  • 2 Weeks or less

This fabulous tour of Ireland includes the most scenic and interesting parts of this truly beautiful island. Stay in some of Ireland’s most charming hotels and enjoy delicious meals and the warm and friendly hospitality that is country-wide. Visit the Rock of Cashel, Youghal, Cork, Blarney Castle, the Beara Peninsula, the famed Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, the Cliffs of Moher & the Burren, the captivating west coast region of Connemara, and, of course, the wonderful city of Dublin. Finish the tour via the Wicklow Mountains, Co Kildare and Co Wexford. The trip will be at a leisurely pace giving you plenty of time to explore and relax.

Ireland is a place to explore slowly, roaming through agricultural landscapes scattered with farmhouses, or enjoying a spirited drive across the mountain roads, or along the endlessly indented coastline. Discover traces of culture established long before Christianity, alongside the cosmopolitan energy of the towns and cities.

Tour Highlights

  • Visit some of Ireland’s famous landmarks, such as the Rock of Cashel
  • Drive some of the country’s best scenic drives, such as the Ring of Kerry, Beara & Dingle Peninsulas, & Wicklow Mountains
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle
  • Explore charming cities, such as Cork and Dublin
  • See the magnificent Cliffs of Moher
  • Marvel at the ‘moonscape’ of the Burren
  • Visit the Irish National Stud, where some of the world’s best racehorses are bred

tour around ireland by car

Take the Stena Line ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, departing at 14.30 (check timings). The crossing takes just 3 1/2 hours. A short drive of about 75 minutes to our first hotel and stay overnight in a stunning Georgian manor. This country house hotel is also home to one of Ireland’s best chefs, so dinner is a real treat in the Michelin-starred restaurant.

tour around ireland by car

Drive to Kilkenny, Ireland’s only inland city, and also one of its finest, brimming with medieval treasures. Head to the Rock of Cashel – Ireland’s most fascinating ecclesiastical site, a lofty citadel that soars above the surrounding vale. Then it’s south to Cahir with its eponymous castle and the Swiss Cottage. Drive over The Vee, a fabulous road over the hills to Lismore. From there drive alongside the River Blackwater to Youghal, on the south coast. There is an optional lunch stop at the famed hotel and cookery school at Ballymaloe. Continue to Cork and visit the renowned Blarney Castle. Stay overnight in a beautiful hotel in Cork.

tour around ireland by car

A wonderful drive down to Kinsale and then along the coast to Timoleague and Clonakilty. Visit the Drombeg Stone Circle and continue to Skibbereen, Ireland’s most southerly town, and see the Heritage Centre with its exhibition commemorating the tragic Great Famine. Continue to Ballydehob and Bantry and tour the magnificent Bantry House and Museum. Drive around Bantry Bay to Glengarrif and then drive the spectacular Healy Pass and on to Kenmare. Then it’s over Moll’s Gap and Ladies View to Killarney. Stay in a beautiful five-star hotel for two nights.

tour around ireland by car

Drive the stunning and famed Ring of Kerry. This is an very scenic route around the Iveragh peninsula with wonderful coastal and mountain scenery, as well as a warm Gulf Stream climate. Visit the lovely town of Kenmare, a colourful, friendly place and perfect place to while away some time. There is an optional circle to drive to Glengarriff and then over the Healy Pass and back to Kenmare. Continue down to Cahersiveen, and return over the mountains of Macgilycuddy’s Reeks. Take a tour of the splendid Muckross House. Return to the hotel in Killarney.

tour around ireland by car

Head down to the Dingle Peninsula. Dingle is a lovely town to spend a while. Explore the Dingle Peninsula and the exceptionally scenic route to Slea Head. Head back over the Connor Pass and then travel north to Tralee. Drive over the mountains to Co Limerick and stay in a beautiful old coaching inn/hotel in one of Ireland’s prettiest villages, Adare.

tour around ireland by car

Leave Adare and head onto Limerick, an attractive and lively city, also renowned as a cultural centre. Visit Bunratty Castle, and then drive to the sea at Miltown Malbay and then north, hugging the coastline to see the Cliffs of Moher, rising 213 metres from the sea below and stretching for five miles along the Clare coast. Further north is the Burren National Park, a vast plateau of limestone, which supports the vast majority of Ireland native flora and fauna. Stay in a beautiful manor house hotel for the next three nights, located on the coast near Letterfrack in Connemara.

tour around ireland by car

Enjoy a circular drive of Connemara and Co Galway with its beautiful coastal roads. It’s a land of panoramic views, rivers, lakes, endless stone walls, myths and legends. Sparsely populated, Connemara has been by-passed by mass tourism, yet it is much-loved by poets, artists and writers. There is an optional lunch stop at the lovely Ballnahinch Castle, and a chance to stroll around the lovely small town of Clifden.

tour around ireland by car

Another day to explore the north of Co Galway. The route takes you past Doo Lough, with its memorial to those who perished in the Famine, and on to Louisburgh. Then skirt along the coast to the beautiful town of Westport, with its octagonal central area and lime tree-lined central canal. Visit the wonderful Westport House, just to the west of the town. Then head back to the manor hotel.

tour around ireland by car

Leave Connemara and Galway and head across the centre of Ireland. Visit the Lodge Park House, Garden & Steam Museum at Straffan on the way to Dublin. Spend the next two nights in Dublin’s finest hotel in the centre of the city on the beautiful St Stephen’s Green. Stroll along the banks of the Liffey and indulge in a pint or two of the black stuff (Guinness). Dinner is not included on either evening as there are so many wonderful places to eat in Dublin and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.

tour around ireland by car

Spend the day exploring the delights of Dublin – magnificent architecture, excellent shopping, lively entertainment and cultural events, superb museums and galleries and a strong sense of history. There’s much to see, including the castle, National Gallery, Temple Bar and Trinity College. But no visit to Dublin would be complete with a visit to the Guinness Hop Store, birthplace of Dublin’s (and Ireland’s) most famous product.

tour around ireland by car

Leave Dublin and drive south to Powerscourt House and Gardens, one of the most superb gardens in Europe. Drive through the secluded Wicklow Mountains to the Sally Gap and visit Glendalough, a monastic settlement founded in the 6th century. There is also a visit to the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens near Kildare. Stay overnight at a beautiful country house hotel on the edge of the Wicklow Mountains.

tour around ireland by car

Enjoy a lovely day meandering over the Wicklow Mountains again to Avoca and Arklow. Head south to Wexford and visit the Irish National Heritage Park. Spend the final night at a delightful hotel on the water near Wexford.

It’s an early start to drive the 20 minutes to Rosslare to catch the ferry back to Wales at 09.00. Arrive in Fishguard at 12.30 and depart for home.

Where we'll stay

All the accommodation is in individual, unique hotels that are of a very high standard, and often five-star. Due to the nature and age of these hotels the rooms vary from charmingly comfortable to utter luxury. We have hand-picked the accommodation for their unique atmosphere and style. Suitable parking is available each night. “Thank you for all the hard work that went into planning the trip – and the lovely hotels.” C.C., East Sussex

tour around ireland by car

What's included

  • An extensively researched and carefully designed itinerary to optimise your trip
  • Tour book – includes a brief history of Ireland, emergency details, maps and directions, accommodation information, and a very detailed account of sights and visits for each day. The book eliminates the need for any guide books


Travel to Ireland: Return ferry crossing from Fishguard, Wales to Rosslare, Ireland can be booked with Stena Line .

  • Each person must have a passport (and any necessary visas for non-EU passport holders) valid for Ireland. All passports must be valid for six months after the end of the tour.
  • You will also need your vehicle registration documents, driving licence (a photo-card licence or international permit is best), and an international insurance green card.
  • Please check with your travel and motor insurers that you are covered for travel in Ireland.
  • You are also required to carry a warning triangle, first-aid kit, two fluorescent jackets, set of replacement bulbs and a national identification sticker.
  • The most important requirement is that you take pleasure in motoring through fabulous scenery, and relish individual, character hotels.

Recommended Road Atlas

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tour around ireland by car

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tour around ireland by car

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Since 2003 Classic Travelling has  specialised in driving tours and motoring holidays for classic, vintage, and sports cars of all ages in the UK, Europe, USA and South Africa.

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Ireland Self-Drive Tour – Your 7-Day to 14-Day Itinerary

Enjoy this self-driving road trip of Ireland.  Whether travelling for one week or two weeks, our itinerary provides all the major highlights of the beautiful Emerald Isle. On this scenic drive, see ancient historic sites and monastic ruins set in the beautiful Irish countryside. The stunning sheer cliffs of the coast hide secluded bays and sheltered beaches ready to explore.

Best of all, meet the locals in their friendly towns, small and large, that define the island.

Table of Contents

Ireland Road Trip Map

Use our map to plan your road self-drive tour of Ireland.

Map showing 2 driving routes of Ireland

7-Day Ireland Itinerary

A 1-week Ireland road trip is a good introduction to the Republic of Ireland.  This road trip itinerary concentrates on the highlights of the southern half of the island, beginning and ending in Dublin.

  • Day 1.  Dublin
  • Day 2.  Glendalough and Ireland’s Ancient East
  • Day 3.  Cork
  • Day 4.  Killarney
  • Day 5.  Ring of Kerry Drive
  • Day 6.  Dingle Peninsula Drive
  • Day 7.  Cliffs of Moher and return to Dublin

14-Day Ireland Itinerary

A 2-week Ireland road trip explores the whole island. Drive the 7-day route, then continue north on the Wild Atlantic Way into Northern Ireland before returning to Dublin.

  • Day 8.  Limerick and County Clare
  • Day 9.  Galway
  • Day 10.  Ceide Fields and Sligo
  • Day 11.  Donegal
  • Day 12.  Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route
  • Day 13.  Belfast
  • Day 14.   Brú na Bóinne and return to Dublin

Spend at least a day in Dublin enjoying this city full of history, museums and traditional Irish pubs.

Walk the green squares of the historic Trinity College campus.  The most impressive part is the Long Room inside the Old Library which holds over 200,000 of the library’s oldest books.  At 65 metres long with an amazing barrel-vaulted ceiling, this room is an excellent photo stop.  Get in line to admire the famous 9 th century gospel manuscript Book of Kells .

People in central barrel-shaped room Trinity College Long Room

Walk along the River Liffey admiring the many bridges spanning the river, such as the beautiful Ha’penny Bridge .

Ireland is the home of Guinness so a visit to the Guinness Storehouse is a must.  It’s an impressive multimedia experience. Learn how Guinness has been brewed and enjoyed for centuries.  Attend the Guinness Academy to master the art of the perfect pour then enjoy your pint.  The tour ends at the Gravity Bar , on the top floor. Enjoy another pint and admire the panoramic views of the city of Dublin.

Couple in Gravity Bar Guiness Storehouse Dublin

On a second day in Dublin , check out several of the world-class national museums. 

The National Museum – Archaeology and History houses Ireland’s treasures including prehistoric and Viking artifacts.  Next door at the Natural History Museum , explore the endless displays of preserved specimens. Its creaky floors give it an old-world charm.  Enjoy the art at the National Gallery of Ireland with 4 wings and 54 galleries of works.

Nearby Merrion Square and St. Stephen’s Green are perfect city parks for a peaceful break.

Exterior with flowers Temple Bar Dublin Ireland

End the day in the Temple Bar area.  This trendy area has many interesting shops and restaurants.  After dinner, enjoy a walk through the lovely cobblestone streets, stopping at pubs along the way for some traditional Irish music.


Visit the Glendalough Monastery in the beautiful Glendalough Valley. This 6 th -century monastic settlement has seven church ruins, graveyard and an intact round tower.  After walking the ruins, explore the surrounding trails and lakes of the stunning valley, part of Wicklow Mountains National Park.

We provide more details in our article about Glendalough Monastery and the Best Glendalough Walks .

River green hills building roofs mountain

Ireland’s Ancient East

Explore Kilkenny , dubbed “Ireland’s Medieval Capital”.  Walk the colourful streets where there are over 60 traditional pubs.  Tour the 12 th -century, fortress Kilkenny Castle , perched over the River Nore.  See the many architectural additions that have been made over hundreds of years.  Enjoy a lovely stroll on the paths and grassy lawns of adjacent Kilkenny Castle Park.

Person with Kilkenny Castle fountain behind

The Rock of Cashel is an ancient fortress.  Built high atop an outcrop of limestone, this was the home of the High Kings of Ireland.  Walk through several spectacular medieval buildings.  The immense, thick walls and the roofless shell of the 13 th -century St. Patrick’s Cathedral are incredible.  Admire the wonderful entry archway of Cormac’s Chapel built in 1127.  Walk through the old cemetery and view the oldest building on the Rock, the Round Tower.

Ireland's Rock of Cashel fortress and graveyard

Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way stretches 2,600 kilometres through nine counties on Ireland’s west coast.  It is described as the longest coastal driving route in the world.

Get ready for dazzling coastal viewpoints, stunning jagged cliffs and the friendly towns along the way.

Cork City is a gastronomic delight, defined by its great food markets and restaurants.  The heart of a food tour is the famous English Market in the city centre.  In a Victorian building, with beautiful columns and vaulted ceilings, over 140 vendors create colourful picture-worthy displays of their wares, typically local produce.

Fish vendor's display English Market Cork Ireland

Wander town exploring historic sites, like the medieval city wall in Bishop Lucy Park .  At St Anne’s Church to climb the 120-foot tower and ring the famous Shandon Bells .

Visit Fota House Arboretum and Gardens , outside of the city.  Take a tour of the impressive home and walk the massive arboretum and gardens.

With extra time and no hatred for throngs of tourists, drive to Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone .

A great end to your foodie tour is dinner at Ballymaloe House.   Known for new Irish cuisine, their menu is crafted from local produce including food produced at the onsite farm.

People walking to front door Ballymaloe Hotel

The town of Killarney has been welcoming visitors to the Killarney Lakes for 250 years. It is a busy town with lots of restaurants, bars and accommodation options.

Be sure to spend some time in town. Admire the beautiful, Gothic revival St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral . The interior is equally impressive. The Franciscan Friary’s ornate Flemish-style altar piece and stained glass windows are well worth a look.

Killarney Ireland's Saint Mary's Cathedral

Killarney National Park includes the three Killarney Lakes and the surrounding mountains and woodlands. The lakes cover about a quarter of the park’s 10,200+ hectares. The park is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a special protection area for birds, with many birds staying year-round.  Wildlife is abundant. Ireland’s only remaining herd of Red Deer roam the park. The lakes contain a number of fish species.

The heart of the park, the Bourn-Vincent Memorial Park (originally called the Muckross Estate), is a great starting point for visitors. The ivy-covered Muckross House , built in 1843, is open for tours.

Muckross Gardens are extensive and renowned for their rhododendrons and azaleas. Plant species not usually found this far north flourish due to the area’s milder climate. The ruins of Muckross Abbey , a 15 th century Franciscan friary, are nearby.

Cemetery's underground crypt entrance Muckross Abbey background

The fully-restored, 15th-century Ross Castle sits on the shore of Lough Leane. It is a typical tower house surrounded by a defensive wall, with towers at each corner.

Walking, cycling and boating are great ways to explore the national park. For a relaxing tour, take a jaunting car ride . These traditional horse-drawn carts are driven by locals who are happy to share their stories about the region with visitors.

Several horse drawn carts carrying tourists

About 3 kilometres south of Muckross House, visit Torc Waterfall . A wooded pathway leads to the 18-metre waterfall. Nine kilometres further south, Ladies View is a great stop for a stunning view of Upper Lake.

Killlarney's Upper Lake with mountain in background

Ring of Kerry Drive

This 150-kilometre drive around the Iveragh Peninsula is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations.  It make a perfect day trip and provides a taste of the Wild Atlantic Way. Get ready to see spectacular mountains, rugged coastline, pristine beaches, medieval ruins and friendly, picturesque villages.

Stop at the Kenmare Stone Circle . Built in the Bronze Age between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, the circle is more ovoid measuring 15.5 metres by 17.5 metres.  This is the largest stone circle in southwest Ireland. A large boulder-dolmen tomb is at its centre. If staying in Kenmare , check out Sheen Falls and Holy Cross Church .

At Kenneigh, leave N70 and take the Skellig Ring, a wild, scenic drive itself. Pull over and enjoy the view anywhere along the route. There are countless options. Kerry Cliffs is the closest point on the mainland to the Skellig Islands.

People foreground Ireland's Kerry Cliffs ocean background

Portmagee , a pretty, little town, is famous for the colourful houses along its main street.  Cross the bridge to Valentia Island . The Skellig Experience Visitor Centre highlights the Skellig Michael Monastery and the Skellig Islands .  With more time in County Kerry, consider a day trip to visit the islands. Get tickets ahead of time as the number of visitors allowed on Skellig Michael is quite limited and weather often cancels trips. Trips run daily from March through October weather permitting.

Skellig Michael , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Europe’s most magnificent monastic sites. Sixth-century monks built a compact settlement on the cliffs, 200 metres above the Atlantic Ocean. Climb the 600+ steps, chiselled by the monks into the sandstone, to the ruins of beehive huts, the Church of St. Michael and more. The island is an internationally renowned site for breeding seabirds and was a filming location for Star Wars: Episode VII and Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Harbour with colourful houses in background

From Portmagee, travel north to Cahersiveen . There are two stone forts on the peninsula, 3 kilometres west of town. Cahergall , over 1,000 years old, has massive drystone walls with flights of steps and terraces in the inner face of the wall. The circular wall of Leacanabuaile , built in the 9th or 10th century AD, is over 3 metres thick.

The Ring of Kerry drive ends in the town of Killorglin . The town comes alive for 3 days every August for the Puck Fair, one of Ireland’s oldest fairs.

Person center of circular stone structure Cahergall Stone Fort

Dingle Peninsula Drive

The most westerly peninsula in Europe, Dingle Peninsula has rugged mountains, valley lakes, seaside cliffs and long, sandy beaches. The charming town of Dingle is the peninsula’s hub. Beautiful stone buildings house the town’s many art galleries, shops, diners and pubs. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat. We timed our arrival to catch the Dingle Food Festival , which is held annually on the first weekend of October. It’s a popular event with lots of food stalls and cooking demonstrations along with wine and beer tasting.

Inside busy pub Dingle Ireland

Boat tours of Dingle Bay take visitors out for a different view of the stunning coast. The bay’s star attraction for over 35 years was a bottlenose dolphin named Fungie. He disappeared in 2020 and is missed. He delighted in playing close to the tour boats becoming a favourite with locals and tourists alike.

Dolphin foreground Dingle boat tour

Slea Head Drive heads west from Dingle hugging the ocean coastline.  This drive travels through a dramatic landscape of prehistoric ring forts, early Christian churches and picturesque villages.

Dún Beag Fort , built atop the steep sea cliffs, has guarded the land for over 2500 years. A series of banks and ditches show its defensive structure. While there are several examples of beehive huts along the drive, the huts at Fahan are a popular stop. It is a great example of how the plentiful, flat stones were piled into beehive-shaped, waterproof buildings without using any mortar. Unfortunately, a visit into the fort is no longer allowed, due to cliff erosion. Safe viewpoints have been established. Be sure to see the short audio-visual presentation in the Visitor Centre to learn more.

Walls of flat stones creating rooms Fahan Beehive huts

At Dunquin, the Blasket Centre explains the rich cultural heritage and rugged life of subsistence fishing and farming on the Blasket Islands. Evidence exists of island habitation for 2500 years up to their abandonment in 1953. If time permits, take a day trip to Great Blasket , the largest island.

Continue to the stone-walled Riask Monastic Settlement, thought to be from the 5 th or 6 th century. See outlines of beehive-shaped huts and slabs with carved crosses. The drystone-walled Gallarus Oratory is a Christian church over 1000 years old. Nearby see Gallarus Castle , a 15 th -century fortified house. The 12 th -century Kilmalkedar Church shows classic Romanesque architecture with its round-arched doorway. The church sits on the site of a 6 th or 7 th -century monastery.

Return to Dingle. Drive north through Conor Pass , the highest-driveable mountain pass in Ireland. It’s a perfect stop for one last panoramic view of the peninsula.

Cliffs of Moher

The shear, limestone Cliffs of Moher , on Ireland’s west coast, stand 214 metres at their highest point. The eco-friendly visitor centre, built in 2007, has world-class exhibits. O’Brien’s Tower, at the edge of the cliffs, was built in the early 1800s as a tourist attraction. It still provides visitors a great bird’s eye view to the base of the cliffs.

Ireland's Cliffs of Moher with path on right

The cliffs are a protected area for seabirds, with over 20 species under protection. The cliffs stretch for 8 kilometres. Explore their wild beauty with an easy hike along the well-worn trail. Make sure to bring a camera to capture incredible views of the iconic cliffs and surf beaches.

These impressive cliffs form a protective barrier around the rich, fertile land at the southern end of the Burren region . The region is the northwestern portion of County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher and the Burren were awarded UNESCO Global Geopark status in 2011.

Stop at any of the small towns and villages of the Burren and enjoy the local pubs and restaurants. Find many hidden churches, abbey ruins and medieval forts. Just north of the cliffs is Doolin , internationally known as a centre for live Irish music played at many popular pubs.

Couple Cliffs of Moher and ocean background

This is the end of the 7-Day Road Trip.  We know that those on the 7-day tour want to stay longer. Sorry. Its time to drive back to Dublin which is about 3 hours from the Cliffs of Moher.

Limerick and County Clare

A stroll along the River Shannon is the perfect way to start a visit to the city of Limerick.  On the river bank, see the restored King John’s Castle , Limerick’s most iconic landmark.  Its high-tech 3D projections show what it was like to live in a castle 800 years ago.

Person Limerick's castle and River Shannon background

Just outside the city, in County Clare, enjoy Bunratty Castle & Folk Park . It recreates a 19 th -century, Irish village with actors playing Victorian era residents.

County Clare’s most famous landmark is the Cliffs of Moher . Be sure it’s on the “Must-See” list.

With more time in the area, check out the remains of the ancient 10 th century stone fort, Cathair Chonaill . Visit Poulnabrone Dolmen nearby, a megalithic tomb which archaeologists have shown was in use between 5,200 and 5,800 years ago.

Stone structure with large flat slab on top of vertical slabs

County Clare is the unofficial capital of Irish music. Spending the night in Doolin is a great idea.  Visit a lively, local pub to enjoy this fine music tradition.

This is another vibrant, Irish city worth spending time in.  It’s an easy walk around the town’s compact Latin Quarter . These colourful, pedestrian-only streets are filled with stores and pubs. St. Nicholas Collegiate Church , Ireland’s largest medieval parish church, has operated continuously as a church for over 700 years.

People on street Galway Latin Quarter

At Connemara National Park , the7-kilometre Diamond Hill Loop is a great, short hike.  Its wonderful, blue lakes and peat bogs are a sample of the entire park.

Another popular activity in County Galway is cycling the 12-kilometre Sky Road loop starting from the town of Clifden.

With more time in the county, visit Inishmore in the Aran Islands .  Meet the friendly locals and discover stone structures that were built 3,000 years ago.

Ceide Fields and Sligo

The beaches of Westport , in County Mayo, are some of the best on the west coast.  Enjoy a walk or a swim to get the day started. For the rest of the day explore several prehistoric sites.

Pile of stones mark walls at Ireland's Ceide Fields

Almost 6 centuries ago, Ceide Fields was a Neolithic farming village high on the ocean cliffs.  The visitor centre provides a huge amount of information about these early villages, their agricultural methods, and the ancient walls preserved beneath the blanket bog.  Guided tours of the grounds show visitors sections of the excavated walls and demonstrate how the walls are found under the bog. The site is open daily June through November and by appointment the rest of the year.

Carrowkeel Passage Tombs is a megalithic cemetery on a quiet hilltop. A less developed site than the larger Carrowmore, this National Monument complex has 14 visible, passage tombs.

Ireland’s largest megalithic cemetery is Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, with over 60 tombs.  The oldest tomb, labelled tomb 52A, is thought to be 7400 years old.  It is the earliest known piece of free standing stone architecture in the world.

Large rock pile with passage to center Carrowmore Ireland

Before continuing the drive north, duck into the partial ruins of Sligo Abbey to see its 15 th century high altar. The abbey is open to wander from April through October.

The impressive Donegal coastline is the finale on this drive along of the Wild Atlantic Way.  Find secluded coves and dramatic cliffs. 

View from top Slieve League cliff of water below

The cliffs of Slieve League are some of the most magnificent.  The 600-metre cliffs are much higher than the Cliffs of Moher, but not as well known.  The views from the upper car park are stunning.  Hike further up the footpath for 500 metres to be rewarded with an even more spectacular view of these sheer cliffs.

Glenveagh National Park is 16,000 hectares of wilderness.  Enjoy a guided tour of its fairy-tale 19 th -century, Glenveagh Castle overlooking Lough Veagh.  Walk the castle’s impressive gardens and see many exotic plants.

Person under garden arbor Glenveagh Castle Gardens

With more time in Donegal, drive the Inishowen Peninsula .  Find pretty villages and reach Malin Head , Ireland’s most northern point.

Northern Ireland

Derry City (also called Londonderry) is one of Europe’s finest examples of a walled city.  It is the only city in Ireland whose city walls are still completely intact. These 9-metre thick walls even survived the 1688 ‘Siege of Derry’.  Spend at least an hour walking along the top of the walls soaking in history and viewing the old medieval town within them.

A drive along Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route showcases many great sites.

See the ruins of a bishop’s mansion at Downhill Demesne .  Walk over to the nearby Mussenden Temple perched on the cliff edge to get panoramic views of the coastal beaches below.

Circular Mussenden Temple

Make a brief stop to see the ruins of Dunluce Castle .  The 17 th century castle was abandoned when part of it collapsed into the ocean below.

The highlight of the drive is the over 40,000 interlocking rock columns of Giant’s Causeway.  This beautiful landscape was created 60 million years ago. The columns formed when lava flows cooled, shrinking and cracking like mud puddles do.  Scramble among the long interlocking basalt columns.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a great visitor centre that explains the unique geology of the area.

Couple on basalt rocks of Ireland's Giant's Causeway

Brave enough to walk across the swaying Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge ?  The bridge, 30 metres above the sea, is the same bridge local salmon fishermen have used for centuries to reach Carrick-a-Rede Island (with repairs of course).

People on rope bridge Carrick-a-Rede Ireland

Game of Thrones fans enjoy the many recognizable locations along the coast including: Ballintoy Harbour, Larrybane and Cushendun .  The Dark Hedges are just a short trip inland. With more time, drive the entire Antrim Coast for even more spectacular cliffs on the way toward Belfast.

Titanic Belfast , an amazing multi-media experience, is the city’s most popular attraction.  Its four floors and nine interactive galleries tell the story of the world’s most famous ocean liner, from construction to its sinking in the middle of the Atlantic. Learn everything, from the detailed construction of the ship and its outfitting, to the atmosphere of the thriving city and shipyards of Belfast during the early 20 th century. A multimillion pound refreshment of the museum opens in 2023.

Large windows in Titanic Belfast look north to the Titanic Slipway where the Titanic was actually built. Walk this plaza and see the outline of the ship on the ground. It provides a better appreciation for the ships truly titanic size.

Person Slipway park Titanic Belfast background

The SS Nomadic floating museum is moored just to the south. It was the Titanic’s original tender ship, ferrying passengers from shore to ship for their ill-fated voyage.

The Ulster Museum displays artifacts of Irish history from prehistoric treasures to modern times.

Belfast Castle overlooks the city from the slopes of Cave Hill.  Built first by the Normans in the 12 th century, Belfast Castle has burned down and been rebuilt several times throughout its history. The latest reconstruction was completed in 1870.  Take a tour of the interior of this elegant home.  See the stunning Italian-style serpentine exterior staircase.  In the adjoining yard, have some fun searching for the nine cat references and sculptures in the gardens.

Person looking at murals on gate and wall

“The Troubles” were an unsettling and violent era in Northern Ireland’s history.  On a Black Taxi Tour visit landmarks important in these conflicts between Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods. The local guides provide their perspective on the events and impact of the Troubles.  Additionally, self-tour these neighbourhoods to see the various political murals located at the Peace Wall and the Solidarity Wall .

Brú na Bóinne

Driving back to Dublin, a noteworthy stop is Brú na Bóinne (the Boyne Palace).  In the Boyne Valley, there are a number of ancient cemetery tombs dating back to the Neolithic time period.  Two of the main necropolis sites are Newgrange and Knowth   Newgrange, with its large stone walls topped by a grass dome, is immense at 80 metres in diameter.  Walking into the long tomb, it seems incredible that this structure is well over 5000 years old, older than the Egyptian pyramids.

Large grassed mound stoneworked sides Newgrange Ireland

The 14-day Ireland road trip ends back in Dublin. Visit the attractions missed on Day 1.

Know Before You Go

When is the best time to go to ireland.

The best weather is June through August making it peak tourist season. We went in late September-early October and found touring to be enjoyable. Yes, of course, it rained but the temperatures were still reasonable.

Is it easy to self-drive Ireland?

Although many people join organized bus tours, we feel that you’ll experience greater satisfaction touring Ireland by car. The itinerary in this article provides a great way to plan your Ireland road trip with lots of flexibility.

How do I rent a car in Ireland?

Rental cars can easily be picked up when you arrive at Dublin Airport. North American visitors are reminded that most rental cars have manual transmission. Automatic transmission vehicles are available, but usually at a surcharge.

What currency is used in Ireland?

The island of Ireland consists of two nations, each with their own currency. – The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro (€). – Northern Ireland uses the pound sterling (£).

Couple with Dunluce Castle and ocean background

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Andy is the co-founder of Avrex Travel, where he shares his many travel experiences. Andy enjoys videography and creating great Road Trips for his readers.

Ireland Self Drive Tours


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Quality self drive tours with excellent service & backup

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  • We tailor our self drive tours to suit your individual travel requirements, tastes and preferences.
  • Each of our vacation packages come with a personal travel advisor and backup service
  • We provide a number of specialist driving tours to cater for all your vacation tastes, such as the Gourmet Tour of Ireland, the 3 Centre Tour of Ireland and the Irish Pub & Folk Tour
  • All of our self drive tours are specifically designed to deliver an authentic and rich experience of Ireland.

How to select the right driving tour for your vacation

Begin your tour selection by choosing a duration and interests that suit your requirements.

When you find a tour that interests you, simply send us an enquiry and we will contact you to begin the process of tailoring your dream vacation.

If you do not have time to browse our driving tours you can contact us directly using the details provided at the bottom of this page, and we will help you to select a driving tour that meets your exact requirements.

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87 tours met your criteria

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We know that thinking of perfect gift ideas for loved ones can be a chore so why not take the stress out of gift buying with an Irish Tourism gift voucher. An Irish Tourism Gift Voucher is the ideal way for friends and family to join together to give the gift of an unforgettable vacation in Ireland. Our gift vouchers can be purchased up to any amount, they can be used for 3 years from the date of issue and can be used against any Irish Tourism service including self-drive tours, escorted tours, private group tours and tailor made vacations. Please use the form below to send us a gift voucher request, please make sure to include your own contact details so that our sales representatives can contact you for all the necessary information.


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Stay in some of our finest Irish Castles and Manor Hotels including Ballynahinch Castle, an oasis of calm and luxury in Connemara in Ireland's Wild West!

10 Night Irish Castles and Manors Silver Tour

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Stay in some of our finest Irish Castles and Manor Hotels on this 9 day vacation to Ireland complete with ferry trip to Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands.

8 Night Irish Castles and Manors Silver Tour

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Stay in some of our finest Irish Castles and Manor Hotels , a highlight will be the complimentary guided tour of the 15th Century Castle ruins beside Ballinalacken House by the owner

Irish Castles and Manors Silver 7 Night Tour

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Highlights of the Irish Castles and Manors Gold tour will be attending the Dunguaire Castle Banquet in Kinvara, the Smithwick’s Brewery Experience Tour in Kilkenny, the Megalithic Tombs at Newgrange and much more.

10 Night Irish Castles and Manors Gold

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7 Night Irish Castles and Manors Gold Tour

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Stay in some Ireland's Best Castles and Manor Hotels on this 9 day vacation to Ireland complete with ferry trip to the Aran Islands.

8 Night Irish Castles and Manors Gold Tour

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This tour has everything!! Stay in the most luxurious of our Irish Castles and Manor Hotels on this vacation to Ireland complete with ferry trip to the largest of the Aran Islands.

10 Night Irish Castles and Manors Platinum Tour

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Stay in some of the very best Irish Castles and Manors on this 9 day platinum vacation to Ireland complete with ferry trip to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands and home to the spectacular pre-Christian Dun Aonghus Fort.

7 Night Irish Castles and Manors Platinum Tour

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Our most popular Ireland self drive tour - See Ireland’s best attractions and most scenic locations on this 10 night/11 day best of Ireland tour

Best of Ireland Tour (10 Night)

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This Best of Ireland Tour, our most popular tour, can be accessed using any of the Irish Airports and is a 12 night tour based on Ireland’s most famous sights.

Best of Ireland Tour (12 Night)

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This tour will leave you with a wonderful array of memories of the diverse scenery and cultural differences that they will encounter from one side of the country to the other.

Best of Ireland Tour (14 Night)

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This tour based on Ireland’s most famous sights including Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Powerscourt House and Blarney Castle, Killarney & much more!

Best of Ireland Tour (7 Night)

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See Ireland's best attractions and locations on this comprehensive 8 night best of Ireland self drive tour

Best of Ireland Tour (8 Night)

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By far our most popular Ireland vacation, the Best of Ireland tour allows you to appreciate Ireland’s best attractions and most scenic locations in the shortest amount of time.

Best of Ireland Tour 6 Nights

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Irish pubs are known throughout the world for their warm and friendly hospitality and for being the meeting place for like minded souls who find themselves in search of quality conversation, humour, music and great food!

Irish Pub & Folk Tour (12 Night)

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Irish pubs are known throughout the world for the friendliness and warmth of their hospitality and also for being the meeting place for like minded souls who find themselves in search of quality conversation, humour, music and food.

Irish Pub & Folk Tour (14 Night)

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Irish pubs are known throughout the world for the friendliness and warmth of their hospitality and also for being the meeting place for like-minded souls who find themselves in search of quality conversation, humor, music and food.

Irish Pub & Folk Tour (8 Night)

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This Irish Pub & Folk Tour will help you discover great pub locations that are famous for their great atmospheres, food, drink and of course terrific traditional Irish music.

Irish Pub and Folk Tour (6 Night)

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The Irish Pub & Folk Tour takes you to towns that offer numerous great pubs renowned for their atmosphere, food and superb traditional music.

Irish Pub and Folk Tour (7 Night)

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Discover ireland’s best pub locations on this 10 night Ireland self drive tour. Pubs are well-known for their great atmospheres, food, drink and great music.

Irish Pubs & Folklore 10 Nights

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This tour is a seven night tour based on Ireland’s most famous sights including Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Blarney Castle in Cork, Killarney and the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher and the ‘Burren Landscape’ as well as the Aran Islands.

Best of Ireland Self Drive Tour & the Rock of Cashel (7 Night)

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Your 10 Night Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Self Drive Tour includes the best that Ireland has to offer in terms of service, location and gastronomy. Tasting menus are also available upon request.

Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Tour (10 Night)

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This luxury tour of Ireland includes overnights in Ireland's premier five star hotels and Castles allowing you to spend your dream Ireland vacation relaxing like a true king or queen.

Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Tour (12 Night)

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With our Luxury Ireland Vacations you don’t just get to visit many of Ireland’s history laden Castle’s. You stay in some of Ireland’s most prestigious five star castle’s and luxury hotels.

Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Tour (6 Night)

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This luxury tour of Ireland includes overnights in Ireland's premier five star Hotels and Castles allowing you to spend your dream Ireland vacation relaxing like a true king or queen.

Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Tour (7 night)

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Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Tour (8 Night)

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You will have plenty of time to discover the true romance that Ireland has to offer honeymoon couples! Spend time in city of Galway, Kerry, Cork and Clare.

Irish Romance with luxury Irish Castle Stay 10 Night Tour

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Discover why Ireland is the best honeymoon location on this Romantic 12 Night Tour of Ireland. Spend time in Connemara and vibrant Galway City, Kerry & the luxurious Dromoland Castle.

Irish Romance with luxury Irish Castle Stay 12 Night Tour

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This tour will give you ample time to discover our most romantic spots including gorgeous Galway, Cork City & Beyond, Waterford, Clare and the super luxurious Dromoland Castle.

Irish Romance with luxury Irish Castle Stay 14 Night Tour

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This 6 night honeymoon tour of Ireland includes a romantic getaway in the super luxurious Dromoland Castle and five other magnificent days to tour Ireland.

Irish Romance with luxury Irish Castle Stay 6 Night Tour

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This 7 night romantic getaway will allow you to explore Galway, Kerry and Clare and it includes an overnight stay in luxury Dromoland Castle.

Irish Romance with luxury Irish Castle Stay 7 Night Tour

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Explore Galway, Cork, Kerry and Clare on this wonderful 8 Night Romantic Tour of Ireland. Spend your final day in the lap of luxury at Romantic Dromoland Castle.

Irish Romance with luxury Irish Castle Stay 8 Night Tour

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This 5-Star Ireland honeymoon package includes the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, the Cliff House Hotel in Waterford, The Park Hotel in Kenmare, Dromoland Castle and Ashford Castle

Five Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon 10 Night Tour

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12 Nights in Ireland gives you plenty of time to discover Ireland’s greatest treasures from the Ring of Kerry in the South to Connemara in the West. Stay in the best 5-star hotels as you travel.

Five Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon 12 Night Tour

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On this 5-Star studded tour you will stay in some of the best hotels in Ireland including the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, The Park Hotel in Kenmare, Dromoland Castle, Ashford Castle and more!

Five Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon 14 Night Tour

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Discover Dublin, Waterford, Kerry and Clare on this 5-Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon. On this tour you will stay in some of the best hotels in Ireland.

Five Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon 6 Night Tour

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On this luxury honeymoon tour of Ireland you will stay in some of our finest hotels including the Shelbourne Hotel In Dublin and the Cliff House Hotel in Waterford, the Park Hotel in Kenmare and Dromoland Castle

Five Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon 7 Night Tour

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8 nights gives you plenty of time to explore the areas of Dublin, Waterford, Clare and Connemara. In each location you will be staying in some of the finest 5-Star hotels in Ireland.

Five Star Deluxe Ireland Honeymoon 8 Night Tour

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10 nights in Ireland gives you great scope for exploring Ireland’s best honeymoon locations on this affordable but unforgettable Irish honeymoon!

Irish Romance 10 Night Tour

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This affordable honeymoon tour of Ireland gives you the opportunity to explore Ireland’s most romantic sites from Kylemore Abbey to Blarney Castle in Cork and much more.

Irish Romance 12 Night Tour

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Discover romantic Ireland on this 14 night affordable honeymoon tour. Explore Galway with its outstandingly beautiful Connemara area and Kerry including Ring of Kerry.

Irish Romance 14 Night Tour

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Discover Kerry, Clare and Galway on this Romantic yet affordable Ireland honeymoon package. Includes a romantic cruise on the lakes of Killarney and a horse and carriage journey through Killarney National Park and much more!

Irish Romance 6 Night Tour

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Start 7 Night Irish Romance Tour in Ireland’s largest county, Cork. Famous for Blarney Castle where the stone of eloquence is said to grant the gift of the gab to those that kiss it!

Irish Romance 7 Night Tour

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Discover the romance in Cork, Kerry, Galway and Clare on this affordable honeymoon tour of Ireland. Discover the remote Dingle Peninsula, the romantic Connemara region and the stunning Cliffs of Moher and much more

Irish Romance 8 Night Tour

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Immerse yourself in one of the top driving routes in the world - The Wild Atlantic Way and discover the Wild Magnificent Ireland of your dreams!

Best of the Wild Atlantic Way (10 Night)

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This Best of the Wild Atlantic Way Driving Tour is accessed through Shannon airport and is a 12 night tour based on the highlights of the spectacular coastal route that is the Wild Atlantic Way.

Best of the Wild Atlantic Way (12 Night)

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This Best of the Wild Atlantic Way Tour is accessed through Shannon airport and is a comprehensive 14 night tour based on the highlights of the spectacular coastal route that is the Wild Atlantic Way.

Best of the Wild Atlantic Way (14 Night)

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This Best of the Wild Atlantic Way Tour is is a 7 night self drive tour based on the highlights of the spectacular coastal route that is the Wild Atlantic Way.

Best of the Wild Atlantic Way (7 Night)

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This 10 night tour features one of Ireland's best kept secrets, our northern territories, taking in Belfast, Causeway Coast, Derry/ Londonderry and Donegal & much more.

Northern Territories 10 Nights

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A 7 night tour based on Ireland's best kept secret, our very own Northern Territories. Stay in Sligo, Donegal, the North Antrim Coast and Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Northern Territories Tour (7 Night)

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Discover Northern Ireland's greatest treasures on our Northern Territories 8 night tour.

Northern Territories Tour (8 Night)

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This comprehensive All-Ireland tour can be accessed via any of the Irish Airports and encompasses all regions of the country, including Northern Ireland.

All Ireland Tour (12 Night)

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This tour does entail quite a bit of driving but it will leave the traveller with a wonderful array of memories of the diverse scenery and cultural differences that they will encounter from one end of the country to the other.

All Ireland Tour (14 Night)

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9 days - 8 nights Self Drive Vacation & Tour in Ireland This 3 Centre Tour is perfect for the traveler who prefers to explore the countryside from a number of bases rather than switch accommodations every night or two.

3 Centre Tour of Ireland (8 Night)

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Ireland’s South West region offers its visitors a great diversity of scenery, culture and plenty of leisure activities to enjoy. This rugged and mountainous terrain is steeped in ancient history and folklore!

Scenic South West Ireland Tour (6 Night)

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This popular driving tour of the picturesque counties of Cork and Kerry, including the towns of Kinsale, Killarney and Dingle has the perfect mix of sightseeing and welcoming pubs, restaurants & hotels.

Scenic South West Ireland Tour (7 Night)

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This 5 Centre Tour is perfect for the traveller who prefers to explore the countryside from a number of bases rather than switch accommodations every night or two.

5 Centre Tour of Ireland 14 Nights

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The 4 Centre Tour is ideal for the traveller that wishes to see the best parts of Ireland, but would prefer not to be in different accommodation every night.

4 Centre Tour of Ireland 12 Nights

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The 3 Centre Tour is ideal for the traveller that wishes to see the best parts of Ireland, but would prefer not to be in different accommodation every night.

3 Centre Tour of Ireland (10 Night)

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This tour includes time in some of the most historical and picturesque areas of the southern half of the country.

Southern Tour (12 Night)

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This easy-going and relaxing tour includes time in some of the most historical and picturesque areas of the southern half of Ireland

Southern Tour (14 Night)

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This driving tour package includes time in some of the most historical and picturesque areas of the southern half of the country.

Southern Tour 10 Night

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Explore Ireland with us on this family vacation which includes a combination of our favourite family hotels and an unforgettable overnight family stay in the 5* Dromoland Castle

Ireland with Kids – 5 Star Castle Adventure

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This package includes seven nights’ in Adare’s most family friendly hotel and on booking your package with us you will receive a comprehensive tour pack which will include several day tours that you may choose to take from this historic location. .

Ireland with Kids - Adare

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Ballycotton Bay in East Cork is your base location for this Ireland Family Vacation. With a rich maritime and historical heritage, East Cork has a unique variety of attractions to offer the discerning family.

Ireland with Kids - Ballycotton 7 Nights

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For this Irish Tourism family vacation we have chosen Dingle as your base location. The Dingle Peninsula offers some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery from the towering Brandon Mountains to the spectacular seascapes of Dingle Bay.

Ireland with Kids - Dingle 7 Nights

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Kilkenny is famous for its medieval building and castle. The atmosphere and character of this unique city makes it a great base for touring Ireland with kids.

Ireland with Kids - Kilkenny

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As well as cosmopolitan Dublin City and traditional Irish music loving Galway City, this tour includes the renowned Cork Film Festival which runs from 09-17th of November.

6 Night Ireland’s Cities Vacation Including Cork Film Festival

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Get away from it all to the unspoilt West of Ireland and explore rugged Connemara, Galway City, Cliffs of Moher, Westport & much more!

Way out West Tour (7 Night)

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Get away from it all to the unspoilt West of Ireland. By day enjoy the magnificent scenery including, The Cliffs of Moher, The Aran Islands, Killary Harbour and the stark Burren Landscape of County Clare.

Way out West Tour (8 Night)

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Spend 10 nights exploring Ireland while staying in the comfort of some of our best 4-star hotels. Highlights include the stunning Waterford Castle and Greagan's Castle Hotel.

Irish Delight Luxury Getaway 10 Night Tour

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Spend time in the cosmopolitan city of Dublin, Romantic Waterford, Historic Cork, Beautiful Kerry, Clare, Connemara and the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow. Stay in beautiful 4-star hotels and castles.

Irish Delight Luxury Getaway 12 Night Tour

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Ireland will give you a great opportunity to see all aspects of our culture and history. Spend time in the city of Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway.

Irish Delight Luxury Getaway 14 Night Tour

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Experience some great 4* luxury hotels on this honeymoon tour of Ireland. Package includes Dublin and scenic Kerry as well as an overnight stay at Waterford Castle.

Irish Delight Luxury Getaway 6 Night Tour

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This honeymoon tour of Ireland will help you experience some great 4* luxury hotel. Package includes Dublin and scenic Kerry as well as an overnight stay at Waterford Castle and Gregan's Castle in Clare.

Irish Delight Luxury Getaway 7 Night Tour

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Discover Dublin, Waterford, Kerry and Clare on this honeymoon tour of Ireland. The accommodations we have chosen for this tour are all four star luxury and you will stay at the authentic Waterford Castle.

Irish Delight Luxury Getaway 8 Night Tour

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Our Irish Welcome tour will give you a taste of both traditional community life and the spectacular natural scenery that it nestles in.

10 Night Irish Welcome Tour

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See locations associated with Ireland's contribution to world literature. Many world famous writers, poets and playwrights were born and lived here and were inspired to write about the spectacular beauty, culture and history of their native isle.

Literary Tour of Ireland (8 Night)

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Join us in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, feel the energy, enjoy the sights and sounds and marvel at the spectacular performance of the parade participants. .

St. Patrick’s Day Festival Tour

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Get involved and celebrate being Irish with the Gathering Ireland. Ireland will open its arms to the many millions of friends, family, loved ones and connections overseas, inviting them home to celebrate.

The Gathering Ireland Tour (8 Night)

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Discover Viking Ireland for yourself on this six night tour of Ireland.

6 Night Viking Tour of Ireland

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Discover how the Vikings influenced the development of the modern Ireland that we know today.

7 Night Viking Tour of Ireland

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This 8 night/9 day tour of Ireland will take you through Ireland’s Viking heritage beginning in the city of Dublin where our Viking history can easily be seen.

8 Night Viking Tour of Ireland

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The counties of Cork & Kerry, including the towns of Kinsale, Killarney and Dingle lay claim to some of the most varied and spectacular scenery in the country.

Scenic South West Ireland Tour (8 Night)

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If so, Go-As-You-Please Ireland B&B Vouchers are for you. The ideal alternative for the independent traveller, Go-As-You-Please Ireland B&B Vouchers provide total flexibility.

Bed and Breakfast Vouchers Ireland

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Nothing captures the romance, architecture and history like the castles of Ireland do.

Luxury Irish Castles & Hotels Tour (14 Night)

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Can't find what you're looking for?

Create your own tour

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The Ultimate Irish Road Trip Guide: How To See Ireland In 12 days

Since you’ve been reading all our Ireland posts you’ve fallen in love with this magical land, right? We certainly did. Well now I’m going to make your life even easier with our ultimate Irish road trip guide . See how we explored the beautiful Emerald Isle day by day.

tour around ireland by car

Dublin to Limerick

Accommodation: Travelodge Limerick ( check latest prices... )

Toll: €1.90

While we had already been in Dublin for 6 days this was our first day of the road trip. After a hearty breakfast at the Ballsbridge Hotel  ( check latest prices... ) we picked up our car that we had organized through Rhino Car Hire.

While the process with Rhino Car Hire was easy and quick, the actual car agent in Dublin was not so much. Ireland is notorious for troublesome car hire practices and we experience nothing less than what had already been warned. Loads of extra hidden charges were added from airport drop off fees to Northern Ireland fees to extra drivers fees to admin fees – you name it. Really, there is only one way to see Ireland and it’s by road, but be prepared for all the extra costs. We ended up with more than an extra €300 on top of the original Internet hire price.

We drove the car back to the hotel and collected all our bags before heading off to Limerick . On our way, with the advice from a wonderful friend, we stopped in at the Rock of Dunamaise .


The kids were fast asleep so I stayed in the car and watched Josh hike up, but soon they woke up and we all wanted to explore. I am so glad we did, it was simply breathtaking. The Rock of Dunamaise is a rocky outcrop that stands 151 feet above a flat plain and contains the ruins of Dunamaise Castle on it dating back to 12 th century.

We all loved climbing its green hills and exploring the rock and ruins. The air was cool and the Rock was tourist-free, quiet and mysterious. It had to be an unexpected highlight on our road trip .


Before long the rain started coming down so we ran back to the warmth and shelter of the car. We drove the rest of the way to Limerick and checked in at the Travelodge. Small, wifi-less and terrible customer service - I can suggest accommodation elsewhere . But it was clean so I guess that’s something.

Later that evening we caught up with our friends for dinner that we had first met in Nazareth, Israel and then again in "no man’s land" between Jordan and Israel. You can read all about our experience at Casa Nostra in our food post , it was a wonderful evening.


Cliffs of Moher

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Toll: €3.80

We ate cereal in our room out of mugs this morning. Not quite the breakfast of champions, but we had an early start to the Cliffs of Moher . You can read all about that in our extremely popular post .


After the cliffs we drove to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park . During our visit we decided to come back the next night for the medieval banquet. By chance we found a cute B&B down the road and organized to stay there the following night ( find hotels in the area ).


Bunratty Castle

Accommodation: Gallows View B&B, Bunratty ( check latest prices... )

More cereal-in-a-mug before we hit up a nearby indoor playground. We let the kids play for several hours while we caught up on a backlog of work using the free wifi.


After the playground we checked out the medieval icon, King John’s Castle , and wrote all about that here .


From King John’s we drove a short distance to our first Irish B&B. It was simply gorgeous and we had a relaxing afternoon before heading to our outrageously fun medieval banquet dinner at Bunratty Castle .


Limerick to Killarney

Ring of Kerry

Accommodation: 19 th  Green B&B, Killarney ( check latest prices... )

tour around ireland by car

We had a delicious and filling breakfast at our B&B before heading to Killarney. It took a few stops before we found the wonderful 19 th Green B&B . We dropped all our bags off and got started on the Ring of Kerry .


The Ring of Kerry is a 179-km-long circular tourist route in County Kerry, south-western Ireland. "The Ring" is a popular day trip and numerous bus companies offer trips during the summer months. As the narrow roads make it difficult for tour coaches to pass, all tour buses run in an anti-clockwise direction. This means you have two options; one is to go the opposite way so you don’t get stuck behind them, but then you are forced to try and get around them. Or risk getting stuck behind them for the whole ring. We decided to do the anti-clockwise route.

We stopped fairly quickly for lunch at the Oldie Glenbeigh Hotel, which was delicious and one of the cheaper meals we had in Ireland.

The ferry to Valentia Island wasn’t running that day so we took the bridge instead, but didn’t find much of interest on the island. On our way off we decided to follow the signs to the “hidden Kerry”, Skellig Ring . 

tour around ireland by car

Skellig Ring is a predominantly coastal road that offers panoramic views of its namesake, the Skellig rocks. While it might be the Ring of Kerry’s lesser sister, it certainly was far more impressive .

From the highest point of the road you can climb the hill on the seaward side of the saddle in twenty minutes or so for the most magnificent views out to the Skellig Islands, across to the Dingle Peninsula and the Blaskets, and inland to the Iveragh Mountains. This detour was our favourite part of the Ring and one of the most beautiful natural panoramas we’ve ever seen.


It took much longer than we expected to finish. We stopped a few times for photos and found a local playground for the kids as the sun was setting. They enjoyed stretching their legs and having a break from the car. Finally, exhausted from a full day of driving, we headed home to our Irish B&B.

Killarney to Cobh

Blarney Castle

Accommodation: Bella Vista, Cobh ( check latest prices... )

After another delicious breakfast, where my daughter inadvertently set a napkin on fire trying to get toast out of a toaster, we headed to Blarney Castle .

Blarney Castle was built nearly 600 years ago and the current one is the third castle on the site. Now it’s the most photographed building in Ireland.


The castle is now a partial ruin with some accessible rooms and battlements. It’s a mission to get to the top with the kids, but we finally got there. At the top of the castle lies the world-famous Stone of Eloquence, better known as the Blarney Stone .  You can stand in the cue for your chance to hang upside down over a sheer drop to add your slobber to the same spot everyone else has. This myth supposedly gives the gift of eloquence.

I decided to join the fun. It’s very awkward leaning backward over a seemingly insane drop to kiss an old wet stone.  And there is a lot of pressure to kiss the stone, get up and get out. But I do feel that I am speaking much better these days. Ha!

tour around ireland by car

From the Barney Stone we drove a bit further to Cork . We did not have much luck finding a B&B in Cork, nor did we find anywhere to park in the busy little city so we drove on to Cobh . We found a wonderful 2-bedroom apartment and settled in for the night.


FOTA Wildlife Park

Cobh to Kilkenny

Petrol: AUD$133

Accommodation: New Park, Kilkenny ( check latest prices... )

Today we discovered FOTA Wildlife Park and it was a delight. Read about this beauty here . From giraffes to cheetahs, this place has it all. In fact it’s one of Josh’s favourite zoos anywhere in the world.


After FOTA we drove to Kilkenny . We found a lovely hotel called Newpark , which we decided to book in for two nights. It was a great price and very modern, they even had a mini kids zoo out the back.

After breakfast in our hotel we headed out to explore Kilkenny. The castle in the centre of town has a beautiful garden and a self-guided tour inside won't set you back much.


A lovely little town that we thoroughly enjoyed, especially Shake Out where we stopped for crepes and a milkshake. We got some Chinese takeout for dinner and spent a fairly relaxing time in our hotel.


Kilkenny to Belfast

Toll: €1.90 + airport toll: €4.90

Accommodation: Random roadside B&B ( check prices in area... )

After breakfast we started our drive to Belfast . On the way we stopped in at our scheduled house-sitting house in Kildare to meet the owner and check out our new home for the next few weeks. We left some of our larger bags there and then continued on.

Belfast was a big, busy city and we decided to keep driving, pulling into some random B&B as we drove the northeast coast of Ireland .

Belfast to Londonderry

Rope Bridge & Giant’s Causeway

Accommodation: BubbleBum Creator’s House ( check prices in area... )


This B&B ended up charging us more then what we had negotiated the night before and left a bad taste in our mouth. But we were off to the Giant’s Causeway and not even the cold, wet weather could dampen our spirits.

Our first stop was the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and then the Giant’s Causeway. You can read all about that amazing day in our special post .


During our travels we have been using a Bubblebum car seat and had got to know the creators of this marvellous product via email. On an invitation we were delighted to meet them in Londonderry . We spent a delightful time dining with them and they generously gave us a place to stay the night as well.


I wouldn’t recommend you crash their house, but if you drive around Londonderry there are quite a few B&B and hotels to choose from. But I do recommend you buying a BubbleBum - we love ours! 

Londonderry to Donegal to Galway

Accommodation: Sykes Cottages ( check prices... )

After a leisurely morning with our host we moved onto Donegal where we met a lovely reader at the Blueberry Café, tried some great Irish food and then finished the day driving to Galway . We had booked 3 nights through Sykes Cottages in a gorgeous Irish countryside cottage .


We spent the day relaxing and recuperating from our jam-packed road trip through Ireland. We took the kids to see a movie and I got to show Josh the Galway I fell in love with on my press trip . Lunch at the magnificent Twelve Hotel was definitely a highlight .


Accommodation: Sykes Cottages ( check prices... )

Another relaxing day visiting Galway and chilling out in our amazing cottage. It was so nice to take things easy after such a busy few weeks. We walked around the Quay Street pedestrian mall in Galway and Josh purchased a beautiful traditional Claddagh ring for me from an iconic jewellery shop to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

Galway to Dublin

Toll: €7.00

We left early this morning to be in Dublin to drop the car off first thing in the morning. The queue outside the car rental company was long, however as I got out to ask where to park the car I was told it was not necessary to join the queue, just park the car in the carpark and hand over the keys to the staff. It was surprisingly easy , they even stored our luggage for us as we spent the day in Dublin before taking the train to our house-sitting assignment in Kildare.

It was a short walk into the city centre, where we wandered the streets before heading to the delicious O’Neil’s for some pub food with my friend Corey from Irish Fireside.

After lunch we took our bags to the Trinity City Hotel nearby and met some new friends.


We walked to the nearby St Stephens Green playground and spent the afternoon with them before taking the train to Newbridge where our house-sitting host picked us up.

Road Trip Tally

Total Days:  13

Total Tolls:  € 21.40

Total Distance:  2,099 kms  (1,304 miles)

Total Leprechauns Run Over:  0  (phew!)

That Was Pretty Easy!

There you have it. Our Irish road trip adventure was complete and we fit a lot in a fairly limited amount of time, considering 2 young kids were in tow. There is so much to see and do, and touring the country by car is definitely the best way to go. And to top it all, we managed to reach our 7 Irish goals along the way: 

  • Try Guinness -  done!
  • Find a rainbow -  done!
  • Find a leprechaun -  done!
  • Find a pot of gold -  done!
  • Find a 4-leaf clover -  done!
  • Dance an Irish jig on the Giant’s Causeway -  done!
  • Be blown away by the beautiful countryside -  done!

Inspired? Check out the latest flight prices  to Ireland and see how cheap it could be to start your own Irish road trip adventure.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

  • Southern Europe Road Trip: 18 Days Across Italy, France & Spain
  • Italian Roadtrip: Alberobello To Perugia
  • Cliffside Capers At Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
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  • The Ultimate Welsh Road Trip: How To See Wales In 30 Days (PLUS a bit of England)

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Reader Comments...

Thanks for sharing the story of your road trip around Ireland. I would love to do a similar trip one day so thanks for the inspiration!

Am looking to do road trip in Ireland June 2015. Noticed you had problem with Car Rental

Can't believe your road trip around Ireland did not include a trip to Tyrone or the Sperrins! Especially as panning for gold in the Sperrins is one of the top ten visitor attractions and the Sperrins Scenic Drive is one of only two in Ireland endorsed by the National Geographic's 'Top 101 of the Worlds Most Scenic Drives!'

I can't believe a trip around Ireland and did not include the most beautiful county of Donegal

Epic! You better believe I bookmarked that for the next time we are in Europe!

How long was your trip around the Ring of Kerry? It seems you used the whole day and it was worth it!

@Patti We spent the better part of the day. We started off late morning (since it took a while to find a B&B to leave our bags at), and then arrived back after sunset. So I'd suggest allowing a full day. If you have the luxury of time, doing it slower over 2 days would be even better. There's plenty of small B&B's along the way.

Is it possible to travel all around Ireland starting in early June without making hotel reservations? Ya know....just winging it. We did that in Europe in the early 90s, and it was fine but we're not sure now. Thanks for any information you may provide.

we are doing a simalur road trip next month. We are planning on not making any hotel reservations since we don't know where are going to end up everyday. Did you ever run into and problems getting a room without reservations?

Pity you skipped Waterford, it's the oldest city in Ireland!

Banzai touring. Eegit.

Dear fellow Aussies, what a gutsy decision you made to pack the family up and leave the lucky country. I came across your blog whilst searching for a new Europe experience and loved your 18 day Italy, France, Spain drive itinerary and seriously believe I don't need to look any further for that trip. We are also doing Ireland so here I am, another ready made journey which covers a lot of what we had heard about. Keep living the dream and thank you so much for your generosity of time and sharing your personal journey I couldn't think of a better education for your kids. Safe travels, warm regards Carol Logue, Perth WA

Very nice. You can put on Your trip map Connemara last celtic Bastion with Irish leng. and Ring of Kerry Irish Florida, Hindi Casimir or French Riviera - two places wich evrb. mast see.

I loved reading your story of Ireland, beautiful photos! I visited many of the same stops! You can read more about it here:

Your Ireland trip looked lovely - thank you for sharing! I am thinking about taking an Ireland trip with my boyfriend this upcoming Aug/Sept 2017. Asking your advice --- would you add or delete any stops in this itinerary? This would be our first time (maybe only time) visiting Ireland so we're trying to make the most of it. We found your trip to be fairly inclusive of many of the attractions so I'm just wondering if you would change anything now in hindsight. Thanks in advance for your help! Ashley

As an ex Professional Photographer, some one in this family has some serious experience with cameras. Cheers Jon Watts

Hello! In which month did you travel around Ireland? I cant see it :) Thanks a lot!

Sounds lovely! We are looking to book an Ireland road trip next year! How did you plan the accommodations? We’re they planned or did you stumble upon gem as you came to the next city?

Hello! Thank you for sharing details of your lovely road trip! Could you please post when did you go there? We are considering traveling there early May, and the weather is a bit of concern. Also, how old are your kids so you could use the BubbleBum? I thought about using BubbleBum for our 4 y.o., but looks like Irish laws "recommend" not using a booster until a kid is 5 y.o. I am thus confused whether it is a requirement or just a recommendation. Thanks a lot!

Loved your article. Gonna save this for later reading. Heading to Ireland in October. Thank you for all the info.

This guide is really fantastic for the road trip lovers.

Your blog and photos are wonderful, thank you for all the helpful information! My husband and I are planning a trip to Ireland and are trying to figure out the best route. I noticed on Day 10 that you went from Londonderry to Galway. Google maps has that as a 4 hour (approximately) trip.. did you find it cumbersome to do that long of a drive in one day? We are thinking to go from the Giant's Causeway area to Sligo in one day but don't want to over do it. Thank you!

This was great info, thanks for sharing! May I ask what month you traveled in and did you find the bnbs as you traveled or were they predetermined? Thanks!

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My name is Josh and I'm an Aussie who has been travelling the world non-stop for 11 years , and explored 70+ countries so far. I'll help make your next vacation awesome with first-hand guides and essential travel tips.

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Travel Around Ireland

Getting Around Ireland – A Complete How-to Guide

For those of you starting to plan your trip to the Emerald Isle, you need to understand a few things about getting around Ireland . There are several ways to traverse the island and with that comes differing opinions. In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of getting around Ireland by car. And for those who’d rather not drive and are wondering how to get around Ireland without a car, you’ll discover other modes of transport options.

Modes of Transport

Tips for travelling by car around ireland, getting around ireland by bus, getting around by coach tours.

*This post contains affiliate links, which may include Amazon affiliate links. To read more about affiliate links, please visit my Disclosure Policy page.

Ireland in itself is not a very big country. It covers 84,421 square kilometres (32,595 square miles) and is just larger than the state of West Virginia and just smaller than Indiana. From north to south, the distance is 486 kilometres (302 miles) and east to west the distance is 275 kilometres (171 miles). You can drive from the most northerly point at Malin Head to the most southerly point of Mizen Head in under 8 hours.

So, relatively speaking, you can cover a lot of the country in a short space of time without having to drive humongous distances. But, how you do it is probably the question you are asking yourself. This post aims to show your options so you can decide which mode of transport is better for getting around Ireland for you.

A picture of a road following a route along the edge of a lake in the Connemara National Park in Ireland, with lush green forests and hills around it.

How to get around Ireland

There are a few ways to travel around Ireland and different modes of transport you can use. As well as renting a car, there are options if you don’t want to dive yourself and below you’ll find options for the best way to travel around Ireland without a car. Can you get around Ireland without a car? Yes is the answer, and I’ll show you how.

There are a few modes of transport you can use to get around the Emerald Isle and each will be discussed in the sections below. They are:

  • Car, motorbike or motorhome.
  • Public transport including bus and train.
  • Flying to regional airports.
  • Cycling Ireland.

Getting around Ireland by car

Getting around Ireland by car is by far the easiest way. For anyone arriving by ferry via Rosslare or Dublin in the Republic, or Larne in Northern Ireland, you are all set. You just need to ensure your insurance covers you for driving your car in Ireland. But for those arriving in Ireland by plane, hiring a car will be necessary if you plan on driving yourself around Ireland.

Car rental is easy when it comes to Ireland. There are lots of rental companies, including the usual ones and I always start my search for car rental in Ireland with . I find them to be useful for comparing the size and prices of car hire across multiple companies. Car hire can start from as little as €20 per day for a small car.

Click this link to start your search for car rental in Ireland with .

Be advised that most rental cars in Ireland have a manual transmission. And although automatic transmission is available it can cost significantly more to hire. So do bear this in mind when considering car hire in Ireland.

If you are planning on visiting both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and will be using your hire car for this, make sure to advise your hire car company ahead of time. This is to ensure that your insurance covers you crossing the border.

When hiring a car in Ireland, you must ensure you have adequate insurance. I do not pre-purchase the full-excess via Rentalcars. Instead, I purchase it at the car hire desk as oftentimes, the car hire company will not accept the policy from Rentalcars and you are still required to pay a large deposit and claim back anything via the company with which you took out the full excess. Even though this sometimes costs more, it means I do not need to worry about anything after returning the car.

One thing you do not need to hire a car for is if you are simply staying in a city such as Dublin or Belfast. Within cities, traffic can be horrendous and getting around by public transport is not only preferable thanks to dedicated bus lanes and trams, but it can also work out cheaper taking into account fuel and parking charges.

A picture of Irish road signs in a town in County Clare

Here are a few quick tips to remember if you are driving in Ireland.

  • Cars in Ireland are right-hand-drive meaning you drive on the left.
  • Motorways are marked with an M and signs are blue and white. Primary National roads are marked with an N in the Republic and an A in Northern Ireland. And R denoted roads in Ireland are Regional roads, while these are B roads in Northern Ireland.
  • In the Republic, speed signs and distance are in kilometres while in Northern Ireland they are in miles.
  • Many motorways have tolls, so ensure you have cash in the car in order to pay for these and some booths do not take cards. Make sure you enter the correct payment lane. And note that the M50 around Dublin has electronic tolls. Your hire car company may have an electronic responder in the car to cover these, the cost of which will be added to your final bill when you return the car. If not, you will need to pay these via the website
  • GPS navigation may not always be included in the car so download your routes onto your smartphone before leaving, especially if travelling off-the-beaten-track where phone signal may be patchy at best.
  • Take extra care on smaller National and Regional roads. Many are single two-way traffic roads and you can often come across a tractor moving from farm to farm and over-taking places may be few and far between on these roads. This goes for both cars and motorbikes.
  • You must have a valid driving licence to drive in Ireland. EU licence holders do not require any additional paperwork. However, non-EU licence holders will require an International Driving Licence which you should get from a motoring organisation in your own home country before travelling to Ireland.
  • Seat belts are required by drivers and passengers and child safety car seats are mandatory for children under the age of 12 years of age and under 150cm in height. Find out more about seat belts and the law in Ireland here.
  • Ireland has many roundabouts and you must give way to traffic coming from the right.
  • In the Republic of Ireland, the speed limits are 50km/h in towns and signposted local roads, 80km/h on regional roads, 100km/h on national roads and 120km/h on motorways. In Northern Ireland, the speed limit is 30mph in built-up areas, 60mph on main roads and 70mph on motorways.
  • Many towns and cities operate pay-and-display parking, whether it is in a car park, shopping centre/mall or on the street. Make sure to check and pay for your parking before walking away from your car and ensure you have change in case the ticket machine does not take cards. And if you are parking on the street, single yellow lines indicate restrictions while double yellow lines indicate no parking at any time. Look for street signs nearby that indicate parking times and restrictions. If in doubt, ask a passer-by or find somewhere else to park.

A picture of people crossing a bridge in the Gap of Dunloe in Ireland on a sunny day

The benefits of hiring a car to travel around Ireland include the fact that it gives you flexibility. You have the freedom to travel where and when you want, stop where you want and also stay where you want, including unique places that might be out of the way. Hiring a car is quicker than using public transport and can often work out cheaper than using tour group coaches or packages.

All of these points also apply to travelling around Ireland by motorbike, although parking may be easier for bikes and tolls are also cheaper, in some cases, there is no charge for motorbikes through tolls. Just be aware that helmets are mandatory for both the rider and pillion and you must have the correct licence and insurance in place.

You can also travel around Ireland using a campervan or motorhome but you will need to find legal places to pull up for the night. Plan this ahead of time. This article has some good information about wild camping in Ireland.

Getting around Ireland without a car

But what about getting around Ireland without driving, if driving on the wrong side of the road is not for you? For the best way to get around Ireland without a car, you have three main options. You can use public transport to get from place to place by either bus or train, you could fly to regional airports and use local public transport from there, or you could opt for cycling around Ireland.

If you are trying to visit Ireland on a budget , public transport may work out the most cost-effective way to travel around the Emerald Isle if car hire is out of your price range.

Getting around Ireland on public transport

Ireland has a good public transport system between the major towns and cities, but beyond that and to smaller towns or points of interest outside towns, the service becomes very limited.

Getting around Ireland on public transport between the main towns and cities is easy. The bus network is a mixture of public and private companies and the rail network serves many of the major towns and cities and is often quicker than taking a bus. At times, public transport can work out slightly cheaper than hiring a car and is definitely the way to travel around within cities such as Dublin, Belfast, Galway and Cork.

Let’s take a look at how to get around Ireland without renting a car and using public transport instead.

Getting around Ireland by train

Getting around Ireland by train is easy between the major cities. Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) is the rail network company in the Republic of Ireland while getting around Northern Ireland is easy by train using Translink NI , the operator in Northern Ireland. Train travel in Ireland is quick and easy and booking in advance will give you the most competitive prices on tickets. That said, tickets are relatively cheap most of the time.

Irish Rail train at Heuston Station

Most lines within the Republic stem out from Dublin and there are some connecting points for other routes in certain towns and cities. But as already mentioned, while the larger cities and towns are served by trains, places such as the majority of the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland are not served by rail. Similarly, places such as the Dark Hedges in Antrim are not served by rail.

If you are wondering how to get around Ireland by train and see all the must-see places, then you really need to consider your route and must-visit tourist destinations carefully. It will take careful planning and may be more costly than hiring a car.

While getting around by train in Ireland is relatively easy and not complicated, your itinerary will be severely limited to certain places.

Top Tip for travelling Ireland by train – Book your tickets in advance to get the best prices. Look into rail passes which will give you discounted travel over a certain time period. You can explore the Republic of Ireland with Iarnród Éireann using their Trekkers or Explorer Travel Tickets or you can use Eurail Passes to explore both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

If you are wondering how to get around Ireland by bus, then wonder no more. As mentioned there are both public and private bus companies and the bus is a better option if you are looking to visit smaller, more out-of-the-way towns. It can also work out cheaper than trains.

In the Republic of Ireland, the main operator is Bus Éireann , while Translink is the main operators in Northern Ireland. Other operators in the Republic include JJ Kavanagh , Citylink and Aircoach (connecting some cities to airports).

Bus Éireann tickets can be booked online but you cannot reserve seats. Most bus journeys last no more than five hours but they can take longer than trains or driving due to the number of stops that may be made along the way. While some smaller towns and village are connected to bigger towns by local buses, these services can be very infrequent, making journeys seem longer. To find out more about public transport by bus in Ireland, check Transport for Ireland .

Be warned, bus services are slowly contracting in Ireland, which means getting to smaller villages and out-of-the-way destinations will become increasingly harder via public transport.

However, connections between larger towns and cities remain unchanged. Dublin has an extensive city bus network, reaching all corners of the county and beyond. With dedicated bus lanes in the city, travelling by bus is easy, cheap and often quicker than driving. If you are only visiting and staying within Dublin, public transport is the best way to traverse the city.

A picture of two Dublin buses, the number 16 and the number 54A travelling on a road in Dublin

Getting around Ireland by flying

You could use flights to get around Ireland but with its small size, internal flights aren’t really necessary. There are four main, large airports in Ireland. They are

There are generally no connecting flights between these airports as they are used to receive international travellers. It always used to puzzle me why there was no flight between Dublin and Belfast but with the M1 being a good motorway between the two cities, it is not necessary. And there are good bus links to Belfast from Dublin Airport.

Regional airports are usually served from these airports. The regional airports in the Republic of Ireland are (those denoted with a * have more regular flights than the others).

  • Aran Islands*

These are typically served by Aer Lingus.

Flying in Ireland is usually unnecessary due to the small size of the island, the fairly short distances between places and the fact that the cities served by internal flights can also be reached by the cheaper option of public transport.

Getting around Ireland by cycling

If you prefer the outdoors and are wondering how to get around Ireland without driving, but avoiding public transport, then cycling is an option. Ireland’s compact size, beautiful landscapes and many accommodation options mean cycling is a real option for exploring the country.

However, a word of warning. Roads, particularly in the countryside can be rough and uneven, with little maintenance carried out from one end of the year to the next. Narrow roads can mean cars may overtake very close to you and at speed. And tractors on country roads are a common sight. However, that said, there are many roads that are hospitable to cyclists, particularly the Great Western Greenway in Mayo and parts of the Wild Atlantic Way .

Some buses will carry bikes if there is room, as will trains (but at a cost, and you must book ahead to ensure there is room on the service for your bike), meaning you could travel via public transport to your furthest destination and cycle back to your endpoint. It is advised that cyclists travelling along the west coast of Ireland travel from south to north to be carried with the prevailing winds rather than struggle against them. And that is good advice as the west coast of Ireland can be a particularly windy place.

Bikes also travel free on passenger ferries such as those going to the Aran Islands, making these ideal destinations for a cycling holiday in Ireland. So, if you are fit, and fancy discovering Ireland by bike, it is an option.

There are companies that arrange cycling tours of Ireland such as Irish Cycling Safaris or Green Marble Tours who do self-guided or guided cycling tours. Or you hire some yourself. Contact the local tourist board at your starting/return destination for recommended companies to hire from if not bringing your own to Ireland.

Getting around by taxi

Cost-wise, getting around by taxi in Ireland is not a cost-effective way to travel. While there are taxis available in most towns and cities, they can work out expensive, even for short distances compared to getting public transport.

Taxis in Ireland are regulated and metered and while Uber is in Ireland it is limited to Dublin and Belfast. And within the Republic, if you use Uber you will be calling a taxi or limousine, not a private car as the company is not allowed to operate private cars in the Republic.

A taxi can prove useful if you are in a city late at night and need to return to your accommodation but otherwise, it is more cost-effective to use public transport in the main cities to get around.

A picture of Dublin's O'Connell Street with the GPO and Spire

There are lots of coach tours and operators in Ireland who can take the hassle out of driving or using public transport for you and ferry you around to the best places in Ireland to visit. There are two websites in which you will find both short bus tours and day trips and longer tours of Ireland as well.

Get Your Guide is a great site for finding day trips and tours of Ireland. Everything from whiskey distillery tours, to day trips to Glendalough or 9-day tours of Ireland, this is a great starting point for booking a guided tour in Ireland.

Viator is another great site for seeking out tours and day trips in Ireland. Similar to Get Your Guide, they have a host of tour options in Ireland from short tours to popular attractions, to day tours and longer guided trips around Ireland.

However, for a truly unforgettable tour of Ireland, we highly recommend you check out the tours from Rabbies .

Read my comprehensive guide to how to get around Ireland without a car to know more and help you plan accordingly.

Now you have all the information about how to travel around Ireland without a car, why hiring a car might be your best option and information about getting around Ireland by bus or train. The decision very much comes down to whether you want to drive yourself, explore Ireland by public transport or even if you’d rather leave everything to someone else.

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United Airlines flight with 157 passengers got diverted to Ireland after a laptop became stuck in a business-class seat

  • A United Airlines flight was 500 miles over the Atlantic Ocean when it turned around.
  • A passenger's laptop became stuck in their business-class seat, Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported. 
  • The flight's 157 passengers had to stay overnight in Ireland because the flight crew timed out.

A transatlantic United Airlines flight had to turn around after a business-class passenger's laptop got stuck in their seat, the travel-news site Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported.

Sunday's flight from Zurich to Chicago diverted to Shannon, Ireland. Data from Flightradar24 shows the Boeing 767 was about 500 miles over the Atlantic Ocean when it turned around.

PYOK reported that after the plane landed, engineers were able to free the laptop from the seat — but the flight crew had reached their maximum time on the clock, so they couldn't fly the 157 passengers onward to Chicago.

In a statement shared with Business Insider, a United spokesperson said the flight diverted to "address a potential safety risk caused by a laptop being stuck in an inaccessible location."

They added that United provided hotels for customers and arranged for an onward flight to Chicago on Monday.

The Boeing 767 is scheduled to take off from Shannon more than 24 hours after it landed, per Flightradar24.

Laptops or phones getting wedged in seats isn't that unusual, and airline safety videos often warn passengers about it. They can pose a safety risk because the lithium batteries can catch fire — the same reason travelers are told to pack such devices in their carry-ons, rather than checked luggage.

Continuing the flight over the Atlantic may have been risky because if the laptop did catch fire, there wouldn't be a convenient point to land.

In March, a Breeze Airways flight from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh had to make an emergency landing after a passenger's laptop caught fire , which released smoke into the cabin.

Have you had trouble on a flight recently? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] .

If you enjoyed this story, be sure to follow Business Insider on Microsoft Start.

United Airlines flight with 157 passengers got diverted to Ireland after a laptop became stuck in a business-class seat

Money blog: Darts fans in shock over price of pint; which biscuits have most sugar?

The new energy price cap has been announced, and it means average bills will fall by more than £100 from July. Read about this and the rest of today's consumer and personal finance news - and leave a comment - in the Money blog below.

Friday 24 May 2024 14:36, UK

  • Energy bills to be cheaper from July as price cap falls to £1,568
  • But predictions say cap will rise again
  • What now for mortgages after inflation and election announcements?
  • TSB and Nationwide are paying new customers to join  
  • June cut in interest rates 'ruled out by inflation figures'
  • 'Absolutely disgraceful': Darts fans left in shock over price of pint

Essential reads

  • Which biscuits have the least sugar? Your guide to elevenses
  • Savings Guide: Britons urged to act quickly to grab above-inflation savings rates while they last
  • Top Northern Ireland chef picks his Cheap Eats - in Belfast and at home
  • Money Problem : 'My second-hand Ford is being written off with a known issue - but no one is taking responsibility'
  • Best of the Money blog - an archive

Ask a question or make a comment

Thousands of darts fans packed out the O2 last night as Luke Littler was crowned champion in the Premier League Darts final.

While his victory was met with big celebrations, the price of a pint left many upset.

Tom Park shared a photo of the menu on X which showed a pint of Camden Hells Lager cost £9.50. 

A Budweiser came in at £8.95 - and it was the same for a Stella Artois. 

Other social media uses responded to his post in shock.

Here are some of the replies we saw: 

  • "That's absolutely disgraceful."
  • "Bloody hell! That's a joke." 
  • "We get so ripped off in this country."
  • "£9.50 for a pint of Camden Hells in f****** robbery." 

Two pint offers didn't seem to be any better, with the menu showing the deal just worked out the same as buying two normal pints.

The Money team has contacted the O2 for comment. 

We've spoken a lot about shoplifting, with offences rising to their highest level in 20 years across England and Wales earlier this year. 

But here are two culprits we didn't expect to see... 

A pair of Labradors stealing a loaf of bread from a petrol station in Herefordshire. 

They were captured on CCTV walking down an aisle and picking goods off the shelves before wandering out. 

After the dogs were caught in the act, workers put out an appeal online and reunited them with their owner. 

Don't worry, the petrol station hasn't pursued charges. 

It can be hard to balance the demands of eating well without spending a lot.

In this series, we try to find the healthiest options in the supermarket for the best value - and have enlisted the help of  Sunna Van Kampen , founder of Tonic Health, who went viral on social media for reviewing food in the search of healthier choices.

In this series we don't try to find the outright healthiest option, but help you get better nutritional value for as little money as possible.

Today we're looking at biscuits. 

"When some brands are up to two teaspoons of sugar per biscuit (and we all know you aren't having just one), then we need to look or substitutes or find ways to biscuit smarter for your health," Sunna says. 

The typical biscuit breakdown on average for market leading brands by type:

Freshly baked cookies: 40% sugar or 27g per 66g cookie 

"That's over six teaspoons of sugar - they're also generally the biggest biscuit on the shelf by some distance, so potentially a good choice to avoid," Sunna says. 

Chocolate chip cookies: 34% sugar or 8.6g per 25g cookie 

"That's the equivalent of over two teaspoons of sugar - delicious but there are better options."

Chocolate digestives: 28% sugar or 4.8g per 16.7g biscuit 

"That's a teaspoon per biscuit and I'm definitely not just eating one."

Shortbread: 17% sugar or 2.6g per shortbread 

"Almost half the sugar of a chocolate digestive."

Digestive biscuits: 15% sugar or 2.2g per 15g biscuit 

"These are starting to look a lot healthier as we are only talking half a teaspoon per biscuit."

Rich tea biscuits: 18% sugar or 1.5g per 8.3g biscuit. 

"This one's a bit healthier due to the size, but the best choice is Rich Tea's own 30% less sugar variety.

"That sits at 12% sugar (or just 1.1g per biscuit) - only a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar per biscuit."

The verdict 

The Rich Tea Light biscuit is hard to beat in Sunna's mind. 

"Its low sugar content make it a winner for health-conscious tea drinkers," he says.

"If you eat just four biscuits a week, swapping from chocolate chip cookies to Rich Tea Light could save you over 1.5kg of sugar per year from your diet.

"Small changes make a big impact," Sunna says. 

Digestive biscuits are also a solid choice, especially if you prefer a bit more substance with your tea. 

"For those moments when only chocolate will do, chocolate digestives are the best option, although they have a higher sugar content," he adds. 

Naturally, he urges biscuit-lovers to stay away from fresh-baked cookies and chocolate chip due to the high sugar levels. 

If you're looking to save money, own-brand biscuits from major supermarkets often offer comparable taste at 30-50% discount on average. 

"For example, Tesco's Rich Tea biscuits are just £0.65 per pack or £0.22 per 100g compared with McVities Rich Tea at £0.47 per 100g.

Here's a handy comparison; 

  • Supermarket Baked Cookies - £0.68 per 100g
  • Fox’s Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies - £1.14 per 100g
  • McVities Chocolate Digestives - £0.50 per 100g
  • Patterson’s Shortbread - £0.45 per 100g
  • McVities Digestives - £0.42 per 100g
  • McVities Rich Tea - £0.47 per 100g
  • McVities Rich Tea Light - £0.60 per 100g

The nutritionist's view - by Dr Emily Prpa, nutritionist and science manager at Yakult . 

"It's no secret that Brits love biscuits, with a staggering 27 million UK households buying them every year. 

"A little of what you love is not a bad thing, but really it's all about moderation and making some positive swaps.

"For example, consider opting for biscuits that are made with wholemeal flour or whole grains such as oats. 

"Those which contain dried fruits and nuts can provide more fibre than other biscuits to help you meet the NHS-recommended 30g of fibre per day for adults. 

"The majority of your fibre needs to be obtained through other wholegrain sources of pasta and bread, as well as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.

"Fibre aids digestion, helps to regulate bowel movements and is a food source for one's gut bacteria, contributing to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome."

Read more from this series... 

By Sarah Taaffe-Maguire , business reporter

It was already going to be a big week of economic announcements before Rishi Sunak called a general election: April inflation came down - though less than expected - as did retail sales and, from July, so too will the energy price cap. 

At the same time, we learned government borrowing in April was the fourth-highest on record and consumer confidence was that bit better than a month earlier. 

Sterling has come down from the highs reached after inflation data came out - £1 buys £1.27, pretty much back where we started the week. Against the euro, sterling held gains, with a pound equal to €1.1731, up from a €1.1671 low on the Monday open.

The oil price ticked down throughout the week and is now at $81.04 a barrel - down from $84 on Monday, which was already lower than all of April and most of March. It's good news for motorists and should impact prices at the pumps in about 10 days. 

On the stock market front, the FTSE 100 index of the most valuable companies on the London Stock Exchange is down 1.5747% since the week.

There is almost zero chance of a cut in interest rates next month, a senior economist has said.

Michael Saunders, an adviser at Oxford Economics and a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), said Wednesday's higher than expected inflation figures made it very unlikely.

The rate of price rises dropped to 2.3% in April - but economists had been predicting 2.1% .

The general election, called for 4 July, also makes an interest rate cut unlikely, Mr Saunders said.

"They themselves [the MPC] wouldn't want to be a cause of volatility," he told Bloomberg.

"The MPC would be especially reluctant to do a surprise rate change during an election campaign. 

"But, in practice, a June rate cut is already ruled out by inflation figures."

The first rate cut is likely to come in August, Mr Saunders said.

He added: "I do think over the course of the year, markets may now be slightly under-pricing the extent to which interest rates come down.

"I would still say [there will be] three rate cuts - the first one not until August, and then a couple more later in the year."

Nationwide and TSB have both launched current account switch deals as banks fight to draw in new customers. 

Nationwide announced the deal after recording a £1.77bn profit for the year ending 4 April. 

For existing members who don't have a current account, the building society is offering a £200 switch sweetener. 

To qualify, you need to use the Current Account Switch Service and complete a full transfer. 

There needs to be a minimum of two direct debits from the account and the switch must be complete within 28 days of the request to move in order to qualify for the deal. 

To celebrate its record-breaking profits, Nationwide is also rewarding its customers (who were members as of 31 March) with £100, which will be transferred into their accounts in June.

Meanwhile, TSB is offering £100 to new customers switching to its Spend and Save or Spend and Save Plus current account. 

The accounts can be open in branch, online or via the app.

To grab the deal, the switch needs to be complete through the CASS within 21 days of the request, a minimum of five payments need to be made using your card, and you have to log into the app at least once by 5 July. 

You can also nab £60 cashback if you make 20 debit card payments each calendar month. 

Spend & Save account customers will get £10 per month in cashback for the first six months for new customers, totalling £60.

For those opening the £3 per month Spend & Save Plus account, they will get £10 cashback per month for the first six months before reverting to £5 per month.

Every Friday we get an overview of the mortgage market with the help of industry experts - before honing in on the best deals available right now with the guys at Moneyfacts.

Two major announcements this week are set to have a big impact on mortgages and the housing market in the coming months.

First, inflation came in at 2.3% for April - within touching distance of the Bank of England's 2% target but higher than the Bank and most analysts had anticipated.

The markets instantly scaled back their expectations for a June rate cut - from around 50% to around 15%.

What does this mean for borrowers?

It's probably too early to say - with TSB and Santander announcing cuts on Thursday, but Barclays going the other way.

David Hollingworth, associate director at L&C Mortgages , said: "Mortgage rates have eased back a touch in recent weeks, but [the inflation] figures may well hold back the chance for that to become a stronger trend.  A big fall in inflation was already expected and therefore already priced into fixed rates.

"Holding off in the hope of rates dropping could make for a bumpy ride for homeowners. Those eyeing the end of their current fixed deal may want to secure a rate now. That still leaves the chance to keep rates under close review and switch to a better deal if rates do improve before the end of the current product."

James Hyde, spokesman for , added: "Week on week, the overall average two- and five-year fixed rates remained very steady, currently sitting at 5.93% and 5.50% respectively."

The second big announcement was the general election - which we now know will be on 4 July.

Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla , said buyers who are close to agreeing a sale will "ideally want to push through and agree to sales now".

However, those who are "earlier in the process" may try to "delay decisions until the autumn after the election is over", Mr Donnell said.

This election may not have as much impact as previous ones, though.

That is because there is "not a huge divide in policy between the two main parties", Mr Donnell said.

Best rates on offer right now

This week we've asked the independent experts at Moneyfacts to look at the best rates on the market for homeowners who are on the move....

Moneyfacts advises borrowers to always look beyond the best rates as additional costs and conditions mean you could end up paying more.

"Factors such as a low product fee, free valuation or legal fees, and cashback options can mean that certain deals are more cost-effective than those that may have a more eye-catching headline rate," said Mr Hyde.

Here's a look at the deals judged "best buys" by Moneyfacts this week...

As we've been reporting, the energy price cap has been set at £1,568 a year for a typical dual-fuel consumer and will come into force from July. 

The new cap represents a 7% decrease from the current rate of £1,690. 

It has played a significant role in reducing the UK's inflation rate to a near three-year low of 2.3%. 

But respected market researcher Cornwall Insight has predicted the drop in the price cap will be temporary and that bills will likely rise once more in the run-up to winter. 

Its forecasts show a typical bill could increase to £1,762 - even higher than the current rate - from October and remain around this level from January 2025.

The prediction is due to an uptick in the wholesale market.

"It is clear the cap in its current form is not going to bring down bills to pre-crisis levels," Dr Craig Lowrey, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, said . 

"However, while the general election is likely to put a halt to any immediate reforms to household energy bills, parties may use this opportunity to highlight how they intend to approach this challenge in the future. 

"Whatever the outcome of the election, we hope the government will work with Ofgem to review the current cap and implement changes that not only lower bills but also support struggling customers."

Today's fall in the energy price cap will be "small comfort" for those struggling with the cost of living, the chief executive of Citizens Advice has said.

Dame Clare Moriarty said the organisation's data shows "millions have fallen into the red or are unable to cover their essential costs every month".

She added: "People cannot rely on lower energy prices alone to escape the financial issues they've been experiencing.

"That's why we need better targeted energy bill support for those really struggling to keep the lights on or cook a hot meal."

The cap will fall to £1,568 a year from 1 July - a drop of £122 from the previous quarter. 

The UK's gas prices are now lower on average than in other European countries, the energy secretary has told Sky News.

"If you look at households in this country, 75% of households' heating is gas," Claire Coutinho said.

"And actually that's now significantly lower than the European average."

She also said she was setting out plans for bills to "continue to be lower" - although we are now into a general election campaign, and the Conservatives may soon be out of government.

Ms Coutinho said: "So whether it's standing charges, which we want to be fairer, or more competition and comparison in the market, or better regulation of energy brokers with businesses, today we're setting out further steps to make sure that people can keep their energy bills low."

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tour around ireland by car

The Irish Road Trip

How To Get Around Ireland Without A Car

By Author Keith O'Hara

Posted on Last updated: December 29, 2023

How To Get Around Ireland Without A Car

If you asked us 4 months ago was getting around Ireland without a car easy, we’d have said… “No… No it isn’t” .

Then we spent €10,000+ euro researching and writing Ireland’s largest collection of public transport itineraries .

And after that… We’d have still said “No!”

In fact, the time and money it cost us to plan trips that rely on getting around Ireland without a car made us realise how tricky it really is .

However, we’re now confident that, by using these itineraries , you’ll be able to get around via bus or train with ease.

But this guide isn’t dedicated to us tooting our own horns, it’s to give you the low-down on how to explore Ireland without a car !

Table of Contents

Some quick need-to-knows about getting around Ireland without a car

seeing Ireland without a car

Click to enlarge

If you read the points below, first, they’ll get you up-to-speed quickly on what Ireland without a car is like:

1. If you’re visiting main cities/towns a car isn’t needed

Most of the main towns and cities in Ireland , like Dublin, Limerick and Galway, are, for the most part,  wonderfully walkable . You will, at times, need to use public transport, but a car is by no means necessary.

2. It’s possible to get around without a car, but you  need  to plan

If you’re planning a trip to Ireland and you’re going to be relying on public transport to get around, a finely tuned itinerary pays dividends . Public transportation in Ireland has its limitations, especially when you step off-the-beaten-path. Find hundreds of Irish Road Trip itineraries that only use buses/trains here .

3. Public transport availability varies greatly

You’ll be grand getting around Ireland’s cities and towns on public transport, but services are  heavily reduced   in certain parts of the country. The likes of Donegal, in particular, can be a nightmare to get around without a car.

4. Buying tickets in advance has pros and cons

When you decided on your Ireland itinerary , it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of buying your bus/train tickets in advance . The advantage of buying tickets ahead of time means a guaranteed seat but also often, in the case of trains, a cheaper fair. Buying a ticket on the day gives you flexibility to change your plans, but you’ll also risk higher fares and limited seating.

The advantages of exploring Ireland without a car

Buses in Ireland

There are plenty of pros and cons to travelling in Ireland without a car. We’ll tackle the pros first, as there are several.

1. Car rental is expensive

While you’ll find hire companies all over the country, renting a car in Ireland is expensive and even more so in the high season months of July and August, so book well ahead.

Most cars are manual; automatic cars are also available, but tend to cost more to hire. 

Additional petrol and parking eat into your spending money and make the cost of a trip to Ireland skyrocket.

2. Ireland has a good train network

Ireland’s train network is good and serves all major cities and towns (though you may have to change trains in some spots).

Belfast, Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford are all reached direct from Dublin and it’s a much faster way to travel than by bus or coach. 

Prices are reasonable too, but time and comfort are train travel in Ireland’s best attributes. 

3. You can use a combination of public transport and day tours

There will invariably be some places that public transport won’t reach (or, if it does, will take far too long). A good way to combat this is to book a combination of public transport alongside day tours. 

Use public transport where it’s logical, and then book on a day tour to visit more remote but famous attractions in Ireland such as the Cliffs of Moher, for example.

The disadvantages of exploring Ireland without a car

cost of public transport in ireland

Many guides on how to get around Ireland without a car are packed with negatives, and we can’t blame them.

There’s definitely a lot of limitations to public transport road trips, as you’ll discover below.

1. You’ll find it much harder to go off-the-beaten-path

From spectacular mountains to gorgeous fishing villages, some of Ireland’s greatest treasures lie well off the beaten path and reaching them without a car is almost impossible, unfortunately. 

This isn’t a densely populated country, and if you want some great experiences outside of the major cities and towns then you may have to look into car hire (some of Ireland’s coastal roads and mountain passes are stunning, after all). 

2. Some organised tours only run during the peak season

Organised tours are a great way of seeing sights that are difficult to reach without a car, but if you’re travelling here outside of the peak season then you may run into a spot of bother. 

Some tours won’t be running in off-season months like January and February, so bear that in mind if you’re planning a car-free trip to Ireland. 

3. Certain counties have terrible public transport

Parts of Ireland remain incredibly rural and, while in some ways that’s a good thing, it’s a nightmare if you’re attempting a car-free trip.

There’s no train service in West Cork for example, and entire counties like Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan have no network at all (buses are equally slow and unreliable). 

Again, plan ahead and use day tours when possible if visiting these more rural spots.

FAQs about how to get around Ireland without a car

We’ve had endless emails over the years from people about traveling in Ireland without a car.

Below, we’ve answered the most FAQs, but feel free to ask away in the comments section.

Can I get around Ireland without a car?

Traveling in Ireland without a car is 100& possible, you just need to plan carefully to take into account the limitations of buses and trains. It’s completely doable though.

What is the easiest way to get around Ireland?

We’d argue that a car is the easiest way to explore. Or, if you’ve cash to splash, a private driver. Alternatively, organised tours take the pain out of planning and getting around.

tour around ireland by car

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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Cammie Edgar

Thursday 29th of December 2022

I sooo appreciate your site as we plan for our 2023 bucket list trip to Ireland! I may be missing something, but the links above for the public transport itineraries takes me to the road trip itineraries and I don't see how to figure out which are public transport and which are car tours.

My other question is if you can recommend a way to find accommodations in the Gaeltacht (mostly looking around Galway) where we could stay in an Irish-speaking household. My Gaeilge is not great, but I'd love to have practice opportunities!


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