Ireland Road Trip: Our Itinerary and What to Do, See and Eat


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If you're interested in doing a road trip around Ireland, but don't know where to start with planning your trip or creating an Ireland road trip itinerary, read on. You're in the right place. We share all the itinerary details and recommendations on things to do, where to eat, and places to wander and get pleasantly lost from our 7-day road trip in Ireland.

Ireland Road Trip

Day by day, we give the complete Ireland itinerary that took us all the way around the circumference of the island. We also share recommendations of places to linger, eat, grab a pint, and stay overnight, and we point out places or activities we would have added to our road trip had we more time.

Admittedly, we covered a lot of ground in just one week and in retrospect we moved a bit too quickly for our taste. One of the most important parts of building an Ireland itinerary is properly estimating the amount of time it actually takes between Ireland destinations, and incorporating time to get lost and make random stops. It often is more than you think.

If you use Google Maps to estimate driving times, consider almost doubling their driving time suggestion for Ireland, especially if you'll be spending most of your time on country roads and rural areas.

Our recommendation is to take a similar itinerary as ours and spread it out over ten days to two weeks. Alternatively, if you have a week or less, consider focusing on only one segment or region in the itinerary.

BOOK THE SAME OR SIMILAR 8-10 DAY IRELAND ITINERARY VIA OUR PARTNER CURATED PLANET

We’d like to thank everyone from our blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram communities who provided us with recommendations along our Ireland road trip, many of which we wouldn't have found on our own.

Map of our Road Trip Route Around Ireland

Ireland Road Trip Itinerary Map
View and interact with the live Google Maps here.

Our Ireland Road Trip Itinerary, Day by Day

Day 1: Dublin -> Newgrange /Bru na Boinne -> Mornington Beach -> Dundalk

Dublin Recommendations

Before you begin to ask for Dublin advice, we have to admit that we sadly cannot give much. We were in Dublin to speak at TBEX, a travel blogging conference, and unfortunately didn’t have much time to explore outside of the conference events. However, we can recommend:

  • The Guinness Storehouse: A cool, interactive museum that will answer any question you might possibly have about Guinness. You can even take a class in how to pull the perfect Guinness. Absolutely essential to understanding one of the reasons why Guinness in Ireland is terrific. Buy your Guiness Storehouse ticket in advance to skip the line and get a free pint.
  • Cliff Townhouse: If you’re a fan of oysters, Cliff Townhouse offers a selection of different types of oysters from around Ireland. Our favorites included the native and Galway oysters. Big thanks to Mariellen for sharing her oyster feast with us!

Find a hotel in Dublin

Newgrange / Bru na Boinne

Of the two ancient burial sites found in the area, Newgrange and Knowth, we only visited Newgrange. It was surprisingly impressive! An estimated 200 tons of stones, some carried from 40-50 km away, were used to construct this 5,000 year-old ritual and burial site.

Even more impressive is the corbelled staggered stone roof and sun entrance, perfectly placed on a rise above the main door to allow a stream of light to shine through the tunnel all the way to the ritual chamber — only at sunrise on the Winter Solstice.

During the tour, our guide performed a simulation of this and it was still remarkable.  Must be incredible to see the real deal on December 21.

Ireland Road Trip, Newgrange Ancient Site
Newgrange ancient burial site, rediscovered after 4,000 years.

Newgrange practical details: Tickets are on a first come, first served basis at the Bru na Boinne Visitors Center (€6 for Newgrange transport and tour, plus visitor center exhibit).

Plan for additional time in your itinerary in case the tour times are booked when you first arrive. Brambles Cafe at the Visitor’s Center actually serves quite good chicken mushroom and Guinness beef cottage pies if you arrive around lunchtime.

If you don't have your own vehicle, you can also visit Newgrange (plus nearby Monasterboice and the Hill of Tara) as a day trip from Dublin.

Recommended spots near Newgrange:

  • St Mary’s Abbey in Duleek: About 10 kilometers from Newgrange near the town of Duleek is St. Mary’s Abbey, a rubbled medieval church and cemetery. The original church is estimated to date back to the 13th century, while some of the Celtic cross tombstones may go back even further. Cemetery lovers delight: a pleasant and atmosphere to linger and get a feel for Ireland’s religious history. Worth a quick stop if you have the time.
  • Mornington Beach: As the weather was absolutely spectacular on the day we visited, a Dublin-based friend suggested a picnic out by the coast and we ended up on Mornington Beach near Drogheda town. Wide open beach, waves, stone walls to stroll along, fishermen, and families walking their dogs. If the weather is good, this is a beautiful stretch of beach to breathe in your share of Irish Sea air. Although we didn’t have time to stop in Drogheda, it looked like it might be a fun place overnight, perhaps more personal than Dundalk.
Ireland Road Trip, Beach Walk
Late afternoon walk along Mornington Beach.

Day 2: Dundalk -> Belfast -> Giant’s Causeway -> Donegal

Northern Ireland and Belfast

There’s no border crossing to enter Northern Ireland, but you’ll know you’ve crossed once you begin seeing Union Jack signs and flags flying. That, and all prices have turned to British pounds. We had limited time to stop in Belfast. 

So upon return, we’ll book a Black Taxi Tour (recommended by a friend in Dublin) for a closer and grittier look at Belfast past and present.

Giant’s Causeway

We drove north through inland Northern Ireland until we hit Ballycastle (where there’s a cute little church and cemetery), then west along the Coastal Causeway route, stopping at lookout spots and villages along the way until we hit Giant’s Causeway. 

While we only walked along the upper route to look down on Giant’s Causeway from above, but we would recommend beginning with the lower route and also paying a visit to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  Giant’s Causeway Entrance Tickets: £8.50 (including parking fees).

Ireland Road Trip, Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway, looking down from upper route.

Dunluce Castle (near Bushmills):

This is an almost too perfectly placed rubbled seaside castle from the 15th-16th centuries.  Definitely worth at least a photo stop and to walk through the fields for another gander at the island’s rugged northern coast.

Ireland Road Trip, Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle, perfectly positioned along the Ireland coast.

If we had more time:

– Port Rush: Recommended to get a drink or coffee by the harbor
– Derry: Walk the walled medieval town

Donegal, Harvey’s Point Hotel: Our stopping point for the night along Lough Eske outside of Donegal town. 

Get away from it all and enjoy local big bottle Kinnegar microbrews (try the Scraggy Bay IPA!) in front of the fire. Then tuck into a meal that will wind you down for good. We enjoyed an artfully prepared venison loin and some local monkfish fillet. Finish your evening leather chair-bound in front of the fire with a Connemara or Bushmills Irish whiskey sip.

Find a hotel in Donegal

Day 3: Donegal -> Westport

Ireland Road Trip, Colorful Donegal
Colorful Donegal town on a gray morning.

Donegal Town recommendations:

  • The Blueberry Tea Room: Cute little café with fresh salads and sandwiches. Goat cheese salad is highly recommended. Cash only.
  • Donegal Abbey: Just past the Tourist Information office is the Donegal Abbey, a rubbled abbey and cemetery that is worth a quick explore.

On the drive between Donegal and Westport our suggestion is to turn down a few of the side roads that don’t appear anywhere on your map. Head to the coast and take a walk. This was where we began our journey along the Wild Atlantic Way, a driving route that follows the Atlantic coast from North to South.

Also, the stretch of road through Sligo County is filled with stone farm houses – some still active and many abandoned lush fields and landscape.  If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a rainbow like we did.

Ireland Road Trip Farmhouses
Old Irish farmhouses dotting, gracing the hills with their bits of red roofs, rusted and rustic en route from Donegal to Westport.

Westport Recommendations:

  • J.J. O’Malley’s Pub and Restaurant: Westport has a lot of pubs and a lot of restaurants, but there were not many options for pubs that have their own restaurant. J.J. O’Malley’s fit that need. Recommend getting the local salmon — fresh and nicely cooked — along with a bowl of mussels in white wine cream. All goes perfectly with — you guessed it — a pint of Guinness.
  • The Porter House: Cosy pub with a good selection of microbrews on tap, as well as the requisite Guinness. Staff are friendly and live music plays most nights. We began our night here with a few pints and the first set of music and popped next door to finish off the evening.
  • Matt Malloy’s: Recommended to us by a few of our Facebook fans. We were so glad we listened. The owner is a musician himself and there is live music every night of the week. Grab a pint on your way in, and find a spot in the back room where the music magic happens.  Fun!

Find a hotel in Westport

Day 4: Westport -> Louisburgh -> Clifden -> Connemara -> Galway -> Ballyvaughan

Louisburgh

Following advice from the bartender at The Porter House in Westport, we took a few turns outside Louisburgh aiming to get lost along the coast. Louisburgh itself is worth as stop. It’s a cute little town — a tidy town perhaps — with its share of coffee houses, butchers, surf shops and pubs.

Kylemore Benedictine Abbey

Somewhere between Louisburgh and Clifden, you’ll see this incredible building – like something out of a Harry Potter movie – across a lake. Resist the urge to pull over into the forest to take photos as there will be a proper parking lot a few hundred meters away.

Ireland Road Trip, Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Benedictine Abbey.

We admired the Benedictine Abbey and its gardens from afar, but if you have time, friends tell us it’s worth paying the entrance fee to get up close.

Clifden

Stop by Guy’s Bar for lunch or dinner. Doesn’t have all the decor trappings of a classic Irish pub, but this is a genuine local joint featuring a steady stream of regulars.

Fantastic (and huge) fish and chips. And very good Guinness. Clifden is a cute Irish town and a great stopping off point in Connemara. If you have more time, consider spending the night here.

Connemara

It’s a beautiful drive between Clifden and Galway through Ireland’s Connemara region. This area features moody weather, green hills, wooly sheep dotting those same green hills, lakes, and more. Time permitting, head into Connemara National Park for a hike.

Ireland Road Trip, Connemara
Driving through misty Connemara.

Galway

Our visit to Galway was far too short, just for dinner. In our very brief time in Galway, we enjoyed the feeling of the city, one of a lively university town. If we had to do it again we would have spent a night or two here. We also heard from several Irish folks we met that the music scene in Galway is great and it’s hopping every night of the week.

Aniar Restaurant in Galway: If food is important to you and you have a little room to splurge on a Michelin-starred restaurant, this is the place.  Terrific, thoughtful flavors, outdone only by the presentation and further outdone by careful culinary explanations. 

The menu is all based around what is fresh that day at the market, sometimes changing within the day. We each enjoyed the tasting menu and shared a wine pairing for taste (65€ for 5 course tasting menu, €95 with wine pairing).

Find a hotel in Galway

Day 5: Ballyvaughan -> The Burren Coastal Drive -> Doolin -> Cliffs of Moher -> Ferry from Shannon -> Killarney

We spent the night at Gregan’s Castle Hotel just outside of Ballyvaughan and in the heart of The Burren. A really warm and pleasant property. We have to admit that it was difficult to leave in the morning.

After a late evening arrival, we awoke to a beautiful view over the gardens and fields that reach to the coast. Breakfast is also lovely here, as the menu gives the name of the farmers from whom all the food is locally sourced. Some nearby farmers also offer walking tours so you can learn more about the living and natural history of the area.

If you are looking to splurge on accommodation for a night, this would be a great place to do so.  Be sure to check out their “Things to do nearby” menu. A terrific list if you want to sample The Burren experience.

Book a room at Gregan's Castle Hotel | Find a hotel in Ballyvaughan

The Burren Coast Drive

The drive along the coast from Ballyvaughan to Doolin through The Burren was one of our favorite drives in the country. Harsh, rocky landscapes shaped by brisk winds from the coast.

Ireland Road Trip, the Burren Cliffs
Audrey almost gets blown off the cliffs of The Burren.

Doolin

Stop off in Doolin for lunch. If the weather cooperates, consider taking a boat ride out to the Aran Islands or to see the Cliffs of Moher from below. 

Boat departure times depend on tides, weather and how rough the seas are so call ahead to be sure that there is indeed a boat departing when you want to go. We’d planned to take a boat ride to see the Cliffs of Moher with Moher Cruises, but the winds and seas were quite rough. The owners were very honest about conditions and how they could affect the enjoyment of the trip.

Cliffs of Moher

This is one of the most visited sites in Ireland, so expect to see the big tour buses and groups here. Don’t let the crowds put you off. Enjoy the view of the cliffs and appreciate the remarkably strong gusts of wind.

If you are a photographer (or photography is important to you), consider timing your visit to the Cliffs of Moher in the morning. When we arrived mid-afternoon we were shooting into the sun, which was a bit tough. Entrance fee: €6/person

Ireland Road Trip, Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher in the late afternoon light.

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk: A new walking path has just been built that connects Doolin with the Cliffs of Moher and goes all the way down to Liscannor. If you are a trekker, this would be the best way to enjoy the coastline as you’ll have most of the path to yourself. Check public bus times so you catch the bus back to your car at the end of the hike. Alternatively, hitchhike back to your car.

Shannon Ferry, Killimer to Tarbert

From the Cliffs of Moher to Killarney, you have two options. Take the ferry from Killimer to Tarbert (what we did) or take the highway through Limerick. We didn’t intend for our ferry ride to be a sunset trip, but timing made it so. And it was really pleasant to get out of the car and enjoy the 30-45 minute ride as the sun set over the Atlantic ocean. Shannon Ferry Cost: €18/car

Ireland Road Trip, Shannon Car Ferry
Sunset on the Shannon car ferry.

Killarney Recommendations:

Killarney is clearly and firmly on the traditional Ireland trail, so the center of town is quite touristy. A pretty town with no shortage of shopping and live music at night.

  • Courtney’s Bar (Plunkett Street): Another pub recommendation from our community.  Thank you! Killarney is full of pubs and live music, but some of the options feel a tad less than local.  Although Courtney’s also had its share of tourists (like us), it felt more personal.  Live music was good, too. Courtney’s also features one of the most extensive beer menus we’d seen in all of Ireland. Not a bad whiskey list, either.
  • Lane Cafe Bar at Ross Hotel: Technically, Lane Cafe is bar food, but the quality and creativity of the dishes we tasted here go beyond standard pub fare. Really excellent Dingle Bay Mussels with chorizo and chickpea tomato broth and the fish of the day. Both were great, and the prices are very reasonable given the quality and quantity of the food. Highly recommended.  The Cellar One Restaurant (closed the day we were there) is supposed to be even better. 
  • The Ross Hotel: This is where we stayed, very nice and right in the city center. Awesomely accommodating staff with tons of information about the region.

Book a room at Ross Hotel | Find a hotel in Killarney

Day 6: Killarney -> Dingle Peninsula -> Ring of Kerry (West) -> Cliffs of Kerry -> Portmagee

Dingle Peninsula

On your way from Killarney to Dingle you’ll want to pull over repeatedly to take photos of the almost too perfect sheep farms overlooking the coast. There aren’t as many pull-offs as there ought to be, so it is best to drive slowly and enjoy.  Break up your drive at Inch and take a walk along the beach (Inch Beach is two miles long, by the way!).

If you go in summer and you’re brave, you can take surf lessons. At the end of the peninsula, Dingle town is absurdly cute, loaded with colorfully painted shopfronts and pubs. If you have time, we’d recommend spending the night in Dingle.

Ireland Road Trip, Dingle Penninsula
Colorful little town of Dingle.

Ring of Kerry (West)

Killarney to Portmagee is yet another fabulous Ireland drive. We found ourselves pulling off into villages and taking side roads across this route. There are some exceptionally picturesque farms and old farm houses along the route. Take a stop in Cahersiveen and enjoy the view across the bridge and at the marina.

Ireland Road Trip, Ring of Kerry Discoveries
Ring of Kerry, twists and turns, back roads and a hidden marina. Cahersiveen, County Kerry

Cliffs of Kerry

As you approach Portmagee, you’ll begin seeing small brown signs on the side of the road for “The most spectacular cliffs in Kerry.” We admit that the marketing worked. We followed the signs all the way past Portmagee to a small driveway with a cafe.

Go inside and buy a ticket (€4/person) and walk out to the cliffs. You won’t be disappointed.  And we had the cliffs all to ourselves – we were the only people there. Spectacularly beautiful. We can recommend visiting around sunset.

Ireland Road Trip, Cliffs of Kerry
Cliffs of Kerry at sunset.

Portmagee

Whether you’re staying at The Moorings (recommended, where we stayed) or staying elsewhere in Portmagee, get yourself down to the pub at The Moorings for dinner. 

The pub has a great feel, sweet staff, a nice fire, fine Guinness and a blend of travelers and locals. But the real star here is the seafood chowder with homemade soda bread. The best of both we’d found in Ireland. Also recommended is the fish & chips, but beware that the serving will feed a small extended family. Sharing is wise.

Book a room at The Moorings | Find a hotel in Portmagee

Day 7: Portmagee -> Skellig Rocks (boat trip) -> Ring of Kerry (East) -> Cork

Skellig Rocks

If the weather is good and the seas aren’t too rough, book a boat trip out to the Skellig Rocks. This was one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Ireland Road Trip, Skellig Michael Ruins
Steps leading up to the medieval monastery on Skellig Michael.

Off the southwestern corner of Ireland, pitched west of the coast of County Kerry, sit two little islands, one of which has a 600-step stone staircase that appears to wind straight into the sky. Those stairs, it is told, were built by monks who long, long time ago cast themselves away from civilization in order to meditate, study and pray.

This is the island of Skellig Michael.

In the sixth century, monks retreated to this island eight miles (13km) from what is now the mainland fishing village of Portmagee in order to meditate and devote themselves — unfettered by societal distractions — to their faith. Using the island stone and their own manpower, they built shelters of meticulously stacked rock — in drystone architecture, free of binding agents — into beehive-shaped huts in which they would live and pray, protected from the oft-visiting elements of wind and rain. With larger slabs of rock, they built a steep staircase up and across, from the water's edge to the island's highest point.

What makes Skellig Michael particularly exceptional to consider: how monks made this otherwise inhospitable and usually inclement spot their home of faith for more than six hundred years.

How to get to Skellig Michael: Boats leave from the pier at Portmagee at 10 AM when the weather is good and will get you back around 2:15 PM. You’ll be dropped off at Skellig Michael and have around 2- 2.5 hours explore the island and the medieval monastery. That might sound like a lot of time, but it will go by very quickly, particularly if the weather is nice. Take a picnic or snacks with you to eat on the island. 

We went with Pat Joe Murphy’s Sea Cruise (087 6762983/087 2342168) and had a great time. Call ahead to be sure there’s still a spot for you. We can also highly recommend following the boat ride with another bowl of seafood chowder and a pint of Guinness from The Moorings while sitting by the fire. Cost: €50/person

Ring of Kerry (East)

We wish we had more time for this section of the trip as there are several small towns (Sneem, Templenoe, etc.) along the way between Portmagee and Kenmare that looked like fun places to roam, get lost and have a pint. If you’re going to take the boat ride out to Skellig Rocks in the morning, consider spending the night in one of these towns that evening, instead of going all the way to Cork.

Ireland Road Trip, Ring of Kerry
Ring of Kerry (east), landscapes en route from Portmagee to Cork.

Cork at night

  • Concert at Triskel Christchurch: We arrived in Cork just in time to see an Irish folk music concert by Paddy Casey at Christchurch. Both experiences are highly recommended. Paddy Casey is not only a great singer and songwriter, but he’s also hilarious. And, Christchurch is a very cool concert venue.  It’s a converted church so that you’ll be sitting in pews while soaking up the acoustics.  You can even drink a beer while seated in the pews. Drinking in the pews — there’s something fitting and ironic about that in Ireland.
  • Long Valley Bar (Winthrop Street): If you’re looking for a laid back pub with live music on weekends this is a great choice. We thank Katrina Stovoid who lives in Cork for inviting us out with her friends and sharing this pub with us.

Find a hotel in Cork

Day 8: Cork -> Dublin

Cork English Market

I have to admit that I had my doubts about the English Market. We figured it to be really touristy and full of overpriced gourmet foods as it appears at the top of every “What to do in Cork” list.

Cork English Market
English Market on a Saturday morning, Cork.

But to our surprise, the English Market on a Saturday morning was filled mainly with locals going about their weekend shopping at the butcher, fishmonger, vegetable stands and other local and international food shops.  Some of the butcher shops go back over a hundred years and get passed down through the family. If our experience is any measure, the Irish certainly know their meat and value a good butcher.


It was impossible to cover everything in Ireland in the course of a week, but this itinerary gave us a good overview of the island and an idea of where we’d like to go deeper. We look forward to a return trip.

BOOK THE SAME OR SIMILAR 8-10 DAY IRELAND ITINERARY VIA OUR PARTNER CURATED PLANET

Where do you recommend we go next visit to Ireland?


Disclosure: We thank Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland for supporting our trip to Ireland and this road trip around the country. As always, the thoughts contained herein — the what, the why, and the how — are entirely our own.
About Audrey Scott
Audrey Scott is a writer, storyteller, speaker and tourism development consultant. She aims to help turn people's fears into curiosity and connection. She harbors an obsession for artichokes and can bake a devastating pan of brownies. You can keep up with her adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about her on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

51 thoughts on “Ireland Road Trip: Our Itinerary and What to Do, See and Eat”

  1. Wow, that is quite the itinerary. We just got back from Ireland and we probably saw half of what you did in twice the time! 🙂 I must admit, I am no longer able to have my power trips like I used to. Now, I prefer to take it easy and learn as much as about a region as possible.

    Reply
  2. Wow, that was a lot of travelling!
    I’m actually from Donegal Town myself, and each time I’m back home, The Blueberry Tea Room is my first stop! I couldn’t believe that you also found it, but I’m guessing it’s listed in the guide books!

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  3. @Francis: The Blueberry Tea Room is a great spot. The recommendation for it actually came from one of our readers who commented on our article announcing the trip. We had such a good lunch there.

    @Quyen: Yes, the itinerary was pretty full on as we didn’t have much time before our next trip. That’s why we recommended at the top of the article to take it and double the time or just focus on one area for a week. But, we did have a good time and have an idea of where we’d spend more time next visit.

    Reply
  4. @Shane: Ireland is certainly a fabulous place for a road trip. We didn’t get up to the western portion of County Donegal, but did pick up a guide for that area from Harvey’s Point Hotel and it looked really beautiful. Next visit we’ll stick to one or two counties and spend more nights in one place. I imagine it would take even longer than a month to fully discover Ireland’s nooks and crannies!

    Reply
  5. Ireland is such a beautiful place to drive. I highly recommend the western portion of County Donegal – not as well visited as other counties on the West Coast, but a wonderful part of Ireland. Re time taken to see Ireland, I reckon it would take a month to do justice to all that is on offer. I spent one week alone driving from Donegal to Dingle and even that felt a trifle rushed. I’m sure, like me, you are planning a return visit one day!

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  6. @Rashad: You’re welcome! Sometimes it’s good to have a general plan and recommendations to start with to get you on the path, but then veer off along the way.

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  7. Wonderful Article 🙂 really helpful for my next trip over there.. but only concerns is i cannot able to visit ” Northern Ireland ” due to diff visa 🙂 so what more i can add for same 8-10 days trip ( Road trip ) or this is enough ? and spread my stays to few place more ?

    Reply
  8. @Amar: Sorry to hear about the visa difficulties with Northern Ireland. My suggestion for the additional 8-10 days would be to spread them out so you have additional time from Connemara (Day 4) through to Cork (Day 7). We would have loved more time in Galway and to explore more of the small towns and villages along the Ring of Kerry. Enjoy your trip!!

    Reply
  9. So glad I saved this post! Just re-read since we head to Ireland in August! This will be so helpful, thanks for including so many details.

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    • Simone, so glad that this article is of good timing for your upcoming trip. Hope you have a wonderful time and just remember to plan for extra time to get everywhere 🙂

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  10. Hi Kelsey,
    Our food and drink costs came to around €65/day for the two of us with breakfast provided by the hotel. As mentioned above, we often would share a main dish and soup/appetizer as ordering two main dishes was just too much food.

    Our fuel costs were around €140 for the entire week and trip mentioned above, but this was for a diesel rental car. If you’re renting a petrol rental car then expect fuel costs to be higher as they are usually not as fuel efficient.

    Accommodation was provided to us, but from what we saw you can estimate around €75 for a bed & breakfast going up over €100 for a more formal hotel. There are also hostels and guest houses that would be cheaper than that. It depends on the level of comfort you’re looking to get.

    Please note that these were October 2013 prices so they might have gone up, especially if you’re traveling in the summer (high season).

    Reply
  11. Hello Audrey,
    My wife and I are planning a similar itinerary for next October. My plan is quite similar to yours – how long would you say you spent driving each day? Thanks in advance!

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    • Hi Sean,
      Congrats on your upcoming road trip to Ireland! The amount of time we spent driving each day varied from day to day, with day 2 though Northern Ireland being the longest amount of driving (about 7-8 hours). But on average it was about 5 hours per day. We would stop often for coffee, lunch, photo opportunities, etc. If you have some flexibility, I’d probably cut the route a bit so that you don’t have as much driving per day.

      Reply
    • Hi Stephanie,
      Our road trip was mid-October and we had good weather for most of the time with crisp, clear skies. November might be a little more iffy, but you can always take refuge in the pubs if the weather is bad 🙂

      Reply
  12. Thanks for this! My husband and I are planning a trip in March 2015 and I was wondering if it was possible to go all the way around the perimeter in 9 days. I know it’s pushing it—but I can’t even consider cutting anything out! I wish I had more time, but 9 days is all I can squeeze out right now. I wonder if we will feel like all we did was drive—do you have any regrets that you were go-go-go the whole time? I’m really torn because I do NOT want to cut out Northern Ireland…but I really want to get down to the southwest and explore too! Ahhh, Ireland, why do you have to be so tempting!! Do you think it would be a great loss not to see Waterford/Kilkenny side? Thanks again for a great post, I’m book marking it so I have it for later! 🙂

    Reply
  13. Hi Janelle,
    It would be possible to do the periphery in 9 days, but you will spend quite a bit of time in the car for some of those days. That’s the downside. But, if you get an early start each day then you’ll be able to spread out your driving each over multiple stops so it doesn’t feel too frenzied and you’ll get a full feel for the diversity of landscape and people in Ireland. We didn’t go to the Kilkenny/Waterford side so I can’t comment on that from first-hand experience, but others have said it’s definitely worth visiting. Good luck with your planning!

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  14. Really helpful post! Ireland is our last stop for this trip and we are scrambling to get some plans together as accommodations in our price range are starting to book up. This will be our first self-drive of the trip and we’re having a hard time focusing in on area of the island to drive in 3-4 days. This post helped a lot, thanks!

    Reply
    • Alana, great to hear that this post helped with your upcoming road trip! If you have any more questions as you get closer to the time, just ask! And enjoy – no matter what you choose, you’ll have chosen well 🙂

      Reply
  15. i noticed you didn’t stop in Shrule. It is a small village but well worth the stop. Cong is about a 15 minute drive away from Shrule where you can go for a hike through Kelly’s Cave and see Ashford Castle. You can stop for a spot of tea and a lovely pastry. Ashford Castle has been converted into a hotel and has a beautiful golf course on location and would be highly recommended for the avid golfer. You can take in the beautiful sights of Cong such as the statue of the actors in the movie “the quiet man” which was filmed in Cong so many years ago.

    Reply
    • As this was a relatively quick road trip, we unfortunately had to skip many places. Thanks for the information about Shrule and Cong – will add it to the list for our next visit!

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    • Lisa, we haven’t done a similar road trip in Scotland, but I can offer some recommendations based on a short trip we did a few years ago. On that trip we spent a few days in Edinburgh, then went up to Glen Coe, Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Syke, and Culloden Battlefield. We did this in just a few days, but it would be great to take a week or more to explore the Highlands and these areas. You can read more about our impressions of Scotland here: https://uncorneredmarket.com/scottish-highlands-story/

      Reply
  16. Hi. Planning a two week trip and your blog would be a great help. Thanks. One question, any particular reason you chose to go anti clockwise? Were you driving and thought you would be going against countryside traffic if you choose this route? Thanks

    Reply
    • Assad, good question. To be honest, we didn’t deliberately choose to go one direction over the other for a particular reason. Traffic would be the same driving either direction, I think. One factor we did take into consideration was that we wanted to go to a concert in Cork, so we tried to time things to arrive there in time for the concert. But, I think you’ll find a similar experience whether you go clockwise or counter-clockwise around the island. Enjoy!

      Reply
  17. Hello! I’m so glad I found this. My husband and I are planning 9 nights in Ireland the first of June. We have already made reservations (2 night in Galway, 3 nights in Kenmare, 3 nights in Ardmore, 1 night in Dublin) and are flying in and out of Dublin. My question is what stops to make driving between stops? We are most interested in simply enjoying the fact that we are in Ireland and not rushing from sight to sight. We enjoy scenery, historical spots, and learning about the culture. It’s fine if we don’t see everything! Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Patti,
      So glad you found this post useful! We didn’t spend much time in Galway, but we heard the music scene there is great so consider focusing on that in your evenings there. Also, the Burren is not far and that is beautiful and rugged coastline south if there. Around Kenmare, the Ring of Kerry drive is great with lots of little towns to stop off in along the way. We thought the Cliffs of Kerry were quite impressive and also really enjoyed Skellig Michael as a day/morning trip. I’m afraid we don’t know the area around Ardmore that well, but everyone we talked to in Ireland had lots of suggestions for places to go that I’m sure you’ll find that recommendations come pretty easily. Enjoy your trip!

      Reply
  18. Hi, Audrey! My daughter and I are planning a road trip in Ireland this summer and I came across your blog. Would love to have your input on where to concentrate – we will arrive in Dublin on the 8th and leave the morning of the 14th. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Julie,
      With that amount of time I think it’s a bit ambitious to try and do a circular route around the island like we did. I’d probably focus my time in the following areas: the Burren, County Kerry (including Ring of Kerry and Skellig Michael) and County Cork). Good luck with your planning and enjoy the trip!

      Reply
  19. Hi my daughter and niece are backpacking through Ireland for 3 weeks. They land in Dublin and they want to go up one coast and down the other coast. We have family in Donegal so they will be stopping there as well. I was wondering if you had any advise? suggestions? Do’s or Don’t’s?
    They are relying on hostels and public transportation for all their travels!
    Thanks,
    Sheila

    Reply
    • Hi Sheila,
      Sounds like your daughter and niece have a great trip ahead of them! Most of the recommendations for overnight and other stops above would still apply to them, even though they are taking public transport instead of doing a road trip. I would suggest spending a couple of nights in Galway as that’s one place where we wish we had more time and the music scene is supposed to be great. I also think a night or two in Dingle would be fun.

      If they are on a budget, then I would suggest making the main meal at lunch as often you can find lunch specials. Also, the portions are often huge at pubs, so one main or one main and one appetizer was often more than enough for the two of us.

      As for other do’s and don’ts…just enjoy and open yourself up to people. They are super friendly and great storytellers!

      Reply
  20. I’m headed to Ireland in just a few short weeks! I will be traveling solo for 5 days then joined by friends for another 3 before we head to Scotland for 5 days. My solo plan was to spend the first night in Dublin and take the train to Belfast in the mid morning and spend the day and evening there. Leave Belfast and head to Sligo via public transit mid morning again. Rent a car in Sligo and travel that area for the next 24 hours before heading to Galway for 2 days to embrace the city and tour around that region. From Galway take public transit back to Dublin to meet my friends. Spend their first day/night in Dublin and then head south to Cork via train early morning. Rent a car and visit that area (Blarney castle, Cork, etc) and spend the night. Head West from there and set up shop around Clifs of Moher. Tour that area and drop the car before taking public transit back to Dublin to catch a commuter flight to Edinburgh that evening. Thoughts?? Suggestions??

    Reply
    • Breanne, the itinerary and places you’re planning to visit in Ireland are great! You might find that you’re moving a bit quickly and trying to fit in a bit too much if you want any flexibility. We found that driving distances often ended up close to 1.5 to 2x what we had expected (using Google Maps) because the roads are small and winding, plus we often liked to stop in random villages and take coastal turnoffs that added extra time.

      In Belfast we’ve heard that the Black Cab Tours are really great so try to book that in advance of your visit. Galway is one of the cities that we wish we had spent more time in during our visit. We’ve heard the music scene is great, and the city had a good feel to it. The Burren not too far from Galway has some gorgeous coastal drives. The Cliffs of Moher are beautiful, but they are a 2.5 hour drive from Cork (which is 3.5 hours from Dublin). So, you might be spending more time in transport (car/train/bus) than exploring and perhaps it’s best to choose either Cork or the Cliffs of Moher.

      Good luck! I know how hard it is to make decisions like this with limited time, but do try not to pack in too much as you’ll feel a bit rushed and won’t have time for the unexpected discoveries that happen along the way.

      Reply
  21. If you are thinking of a trip to Ireland don’t miss Graiguenamanagh. Its truly a beautiful place. And the people there are so friendly.

    Reply
    • Kim, our rental car was from Hertz and it was a pretty new car. However, I think most of the international rental car companies would be good, especially if you have a credit card that offers car rental insurance as one of its benefits. If you are not used to driving on the left side of the road, request an automatic car (instead of the standard manual shift). Perhaps start your search on Kayak or Expedia to get a comparison.

      Enjoy your trip!

      Reply
  22. My husband & I will be visiting the Emerald Isle fir the first time in June 2017. We’ve booked our stay in county Adare at the Fitzgerald Woodlands and will spend 6 days exploring the west coast. Is it possible to visit most areas of the coast in this short trip? Bear in mind, we will have to back-track to Adare each evening. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Also, while there, we will be reciting some vows to memorialize our 25th wedding anniversary and wish to do that in an outdoor locale where we won’t be gawked at by a lot of tourists. Any suggestions for a location would also be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Sherri,
      Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary! Sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned. In doing some quick searching on the location of where you’ll be staying in country Adare, it seems like you will be able to visit many spots on the western coast between the Cliffs of Moher (about 1.5 hours away) to Dingle (about 2 hours away). However, I think Portmagee and the Skellig Michael would probably be too far away for a day trip from Adare.

      As for possible spots for reciting your vows. From Doolin you could also take a ferry over to the Aran Islands and there might be a good spot there — ask the folks at Moher Cruises for a suggestion. The coastline south of Doolin to Kilkee might also be a good area as it’s quite rugged and not as touristy as the Cliffs of Moher. For a beach location, Inch Beach is quite long so I’m sure there would be a non-busy spot for your vows. Otherwise, the area north of Doolin to Ballyvaughan — the Burren — would be a good place as it’s got lots of coastline, but not lots of people. However, that might be a bit too far.

      Hope this information helps!

      Reply
      • Thank you so very much for the information! We will definitely be making an overnight stay if possible so we can see Dingle and Skelling while there. I suppose we’ll just have to find a quaint B&B or castle to overnight, what a pity (sarcastically).

        Thanks again!

        Reply
  23. Hi Audrey, Ireland is certainly a fabulous place and we will need to go again, for sure.
    As we’ve been back last week from Ireland (also attending TBEX there) we had a very pleasant walk from Doolin to .Liscannor – The Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail Our advice: don’t stop at visitor center, start the journey in Doollin and walk along the Cliffs. 14 km of green, blue, white (yes, some sheep along the way) and rocks.
    This picture is for you: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10211014730626276&set=a.10211014724226116.1073741903.1295065742&type=3&theater (is a sunny day) 🙂

    Reply
    • Wow, you guys had AMAZING weather along the Cliffs of Moher!!! Just beautiful photos and that’s a great distance for a walk/hike. Sounds like the rest of your Ireland trip went well.

      Reply
  24. I’m planning a 7 day vacation in Ireland next March with my husband and in-laws. I’d really like to see a few things in Northern Ireland, but wasn’t sure where to focus our time after that. Or, do you feel we should skip Northern Ireland and focus on the south and west? We are flying into and out of Dublin. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Camille,
      There’s a couple of ways you could approach this. If you have several things you’d really like to see in Northern Ireland, spend a few days there and then the remainder of your time in the Donegal/Connemarre/Burren area. But, if I had to choose just one area of Ireland to focus a week it would be in the western and southern side – from Galway -> the Burren -> Cliffs of Moher -> Killarney -> Ring of Kerry / Portmagee -> Cork -> Dublin.

      No matter which route you choose, you’ll be surrounded by natural, historical and cultural beauty! Have a wonderful trip!

      Reply
  25. Hello! Wow, you guys covered a lot of ground. We are visiting Ireland is October and are trying to plan our route now. We are flying into Shannon and planning to travel to Fanore for the first night and then stop in Galway. From here we would like to travel through Connemara on the Sky Road to Kylemore Abbey and then onto County Mayo before trekking across the midlands (Athlone/Tullamore area) back to Dublin. How many hours were you guys covering in a day? I am trying to decide how far north into County Mayo we should go. Is 3 hours in one day too much? I don’t want to be exhausted. Thank you for any insight!

    Reply
    • Hi Courtney,
      Yes, we did cover a lot of ground, which is why we admit that if we had to do it again we would have done a shorter itinerary or taken more days to do what we had planned. Three hours of driving in one day shouldn’t be too much, especially if you break it up a bit and have stops in-between. We were often covering 5-6 hours in one day, which resulted in long days with our stops at various sights, lunch and coffee breaks, and a bit of getting lost. As roads in Ireland are winding and narrow, “less is more” often applies when it comes to Irish itineraries.

      Reply

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