The great Emerald Isle of Ireland has so much to offer. The best way to experience it all is to do a ten to two-week road trip, visiting each County and drinking a pint at the pub with locals. I traveled to Ireland in late March-early April, the weather was beautiful and the crowds had not arrived. This guide has all the details to help you plan your ultimate Ireland road trip itinerary!
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SPEND TWO DAYS EXPLORING DUBLIN, IRELAND
There are so many accommodation options in Dublin, it can be overwhelming to pick one. I suggest a centralized location so you can easily use public transportation. Check out my pre-filtered Dublin Hotel list.
Purchase tickets with DoDublin Hop on & Hop-off Bus. There are many different touring options, make sure you choose the best one for you. We did the Airport Bus + 48-hour Hop on Hop off since we were there for two days and transported from the Airport.
Mel’sTravel Tip: Public transportation in Dublin is very easy to use. Therefore, plan on picking up your rental car on the day you leave the city. This will save you money on parking fees and unnecessary rental car days, there is no need for a car in Dublin.
After purchasing your DoDublin Hop on Hop off ticket get ready to explore the city! We pretty much hit all the hot spots, but I added my top musts below:
MY TOP MUST-SEES:
- Teeling Whiskey Distillery. We had way too much fun here or maybe too much Whiskey!
- Temple Bar, is the best tourist trap I have ever been to. The live Irish music and mingling with fellow travelers suck you right in.
- St. Stephen’s Green
OTHER FUN STOPS:
- Grafton Street
- General Post Office
- O’Connell Bridge & Street
- Ha’penny Bridge
- Jameson Distillery
- Guinness Factory
- Kilmainham Museum
- National Museum
- Archaeology Museum
- Natural History Museum
- National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland
- Trinity College Dublin & The Book of Keels
- Grafton Street
- Dublin Castle
- Chester Beatty Library
- St Patrick’s Cathedral
- Glasnevin Cemetery
- National Botanic Gardens
- The Brazen Head
- Cafe en Seine
- The Bank on College Green
- Butlers Chocolates
PICK UP YOUR RENTAL CAR
Driving in Ireland Tips:
Before you set off on your road trip, be prepared! Driving in Ireland is quite the event, unless you are used to driving manuals on the left side, this will be a butt-clenching experience! When booking your rental car, opt for the TINIEST vehicle option you can find. Also, make sure it is automatic. The roads are VERY NARROW, not to mention it feels like everyone else around you is blasting on by while you are nearly closing your eyes in fear of flying off the road.
Look into rental car insurance and know the policy before booking. You definitely want insurance, it would be very easy to lose a hub cap or scratch the side of the car. There are a lot of potholes, and did I mention the roads are TINY?
Google Maps GPS worked just fine, sometimes you will wonder how this tiny road in the middle of nowhere is on the map. But we had no issues finding places! While all this may sound like a terrifying experience, it is well worth it! It truly is manageable and easy to maneuver once you are used to it. (Honestly being a passenger is the scariest part!)
SPEND THREE COZY NIGHTS IN GALWAY, IRELAND
Galway is a very walkable city, I would spend the first day touring the small city. Start at the Spanish Arch and enjoy a scone and tea at Cupan Tae. Make your way up along the Corrib River to the Spanish Bridge to see stunning views of the Galway Cathedral. (I listed a good walking order below). On day two, I would drive to Kylemoore Abbey and meet Gloria and Ken (the two adorable pigs) that live on site. Day three, visit the dramatic Aran Islands.
We stayed in the cozy House Hotel. The House Hotel is centrally located and included parking and breakfast. For even more options, check out my Galway Hotel List for the top-rated places to stay in Galway.
- Day One: Walk Galway:
- Spanish Arch
- Cupan Tae
- Walk along River Corrib
- Salmon Weir Bridge
- Galway Cathedral
- Eyre Square
- Latin Quarter
- Quay Street. Full of pubs, music, shops, and restaurants!
- Food Tour of Galway
- Day Two: Road Trip!
- Kylemoore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden
- If you still have time drive to Croagh Patrick, or even stay here one night.
- Day Three: take a boat to the Aran Islands
- Other things to do:
- Cupan Tae for hot tea and scones
SPEND ONE NIGHT ON A FARM IN CLARE COUNTY, IRELAND
Before visiting Ireland, I always pictured farms full of fuzzy animals and lots of sheep. So why not stay on one? We picked Hillview Farmhouse B&B. The B&B had every farm animal and we were served a delicious homemade breakfast, you will feel right at home!
But, before going to the Hillview Farmhouse B&B, drive from Galway to the breathtaking famous Cliffs of Moher.
- Cliffs of Moher
- After walking around the Cliffs, take the Doolin Ferry to see it from the ocean. What a view!
- Other Stops:
- Doolin Cave
- Pounabrone Dolmen
- Aillwee Cave
- Bunratty Castle
SPEND ONE NIGHT IN A PUB IN DINGLE, IRELAND
The Dingle Peninsula has a rugged coastline that cannot be missed. There are plenty of sites, restaurants, old-style pubs, and stunning landscapes to see. Dingle was my favorite stop on the entire trip.
We stayed in the town of Dingle in the cutest Pub, called Murphey’s Pub & Bed and Breakfast! Staying here made it easy to have a few too many pints and stumble up the stairs to bed.
If staying in a Pub BNB is not your style, check out even more accommodation options here!
- Circle the Dingle Peninsula by driving the dramatic Slea Head Drive
- When driving Slea Head Drive, make sure you walk down to the Dunquin Pier, this is one of the most famous sights – for good reason!
- Cashel Murphy
- Slea Head Beach
- Beehive Huts
- Cuddle a baby lamb (at most Beehive Hut stops)
- Dunbeg Fort
- Blasket Islands
- The actual Peninsula itself
- Dunmore Head
- Sleeping Giant + Three Sisters
- Gallarus Oratory
- Coumeenoole Beach
- Cé Dhún Chaoin / Dunquin Pier*
- Minard Castle
- Inch Beach
- Dingle Sea Safari. Meet Fungie! The famous Dolphin that lives in Dingle.
- Murphy’s Ice Cream
- The Fish Box / Flannery’s Seafood Bar
SPEND TWO NIGHTS EXPLORING KILLARNEY, IRELAND
Do not get me wrong, the Ring of Kerry is beautiful and a must, but honestly the Slea Head Drive of Dingle was hard to beat. The Ring of Kerry is much larger and spaced out. You will see stunning sites from dense forests to grass valleys, to the dramatic Atlantic coast.
After a day of driving and sightseeing, The Brehon hotel is the perfect way to end the day! It is a little outside of town, but we spent the late afternoon enjoying the free spa area and had a tasty dinner at the restaurant on-site. The hotel was a wonderful spot to unwind and relax.
If you would like to stay closer to town, check out a list of hotels in Killarney.
- Day One:
- Day Two:
- Visit Skellig Michael
- O Carrolls Cove Beach Bar. Stop here for lunch when driving the Ring of Kerry, it does not look or feel like Ireland, I felt like I was in Greece with the beautiful ocean views.
SPEND TWO NIGHTS DISCOVERING CORK (COBH), IRELAND
On your way to Cork, stop in Kinsale. It is such a cute town. Enjoy lunch at Fishy Fishy and walk around Kinsale. After lunch, drive to Cobh, if I were to do this trip again I would have stayed in Cobh. Cork was cool but too industrial and city-like for me. That being said, The Montenotte Hotel in Cobh has beautiful views of the city. We mainly stuck around the hotel drinking champagne and enjoying the view.
- Day One: Cobh:
- St. Coleman’s Cathedral
- If you want the famous picture of the colorful houses and the Cathedral, walk down Spy Hill and poke your head over the wall.
- Titanic Museum, this interactive museum was so cool!
- Lusitania Memorial
- Annie Moore Statue
- Cobh Heritage
- Spike Island
- St. Coleman’s Cathedral
- Day Two: Cork:
- Blarney Stone Castle
- Walk St. Patrick’s Street
- St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
- Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre
- Shandon Bells, St. Anne’s Church
- Arthur Mayne’s
- English Market
The Drive Between Cork & Kilkenny Stops:
- Cashel Rock
- Cahir Castle
- Prime 74 Restaurant
- We also stopped in Clonmel & Tipperary since my family is from there. They were cute towns!
SPEND ONE NIGHT IN A CASTLE IN KILKENNY, IRELAND
Kilkenny is an ideal last stop before heading back to Dublin. It is close enough to Dublin to be able to catch a late afternoon flight the following day. You will be more than delighted by the city’s charm, history, architecture, and welcoming Irish hospitality!
We stayed in the Butler House, which was within walking distance of the main attractions of Kilkenny. Not to mention the soaker tub was a nice touch after being on your feet all day.
Check out my pre-filtered list of hotels in Kilkenny for even more options.
- SmithWick’s Brewery
- Hole in the Wall Pub
- The Left Bank Bar
- Birdie’s Bar & General Store
- Afternoon Tea at Mount Juliet
SADLY HEAD BACK HOME
Drive back to Dublin and take a late flight home, or stay in Dublin for another night if you have time!
Stops between Kilkenny & Dublin:
- Wicklow Mountains National Park & Hikes
- The Spinc. Beautiful Hike around the Lake
- Maulin and Powerscourt Waterfall
- Eat at the Harts of Kildare
I hope this guide helps you plan your perfect Ireland road trip itinerary! If you need any help planning or have any questions, please reach out or message me on my contact page. I would love to hear about how your trip went as well. Which areas did you go to? Which ones were your favorites?
Want more trip ideas? Check out my Road Trip through Puerto Vallarta.