Ireland – The green country full of lucky clover and leprechauns … or something like that. Ireland is full of stunning nature, beautiful traditions, and unique architecture. At every corner of the country, you’ll find incredible attractions that you definitely shouldn’t miss on your Ireland itinerary. That’s why we would like to introduce you to the best places to see in Ireland with the help of Ireland Travel Tips from locals and frequent travelers. With these great sights, you can put together an amazing and individual Ireland itinerary 7 days or more. Whether it’s must-sees or an insider’s tip – the following article contains the most beautiful places for your 7 day Ireland Itinerary. So there’s definitely the right place for every kind of traveler included. Even if you have been to Ireland before and just want to discover more of it, whether you want to spend one week in Ireland or need an Ireland itinerary a longer time…
Author’s note: This article is exclusively for visiting the Republic of Ireland so that no border crossing to Northern Ireland is needed during your 7 days in Ireland holiday or your self-drive tour of Ireland.
What to find out in this post
- 1 Ireland Facts
- 2 Ireland Itinerary 7 days – Planning
- 3 7 Days in Ireland Itinerary
- 4 Day 1 – 3 Dublin and Surroundings + the North
- 5 Dublin
- 6 Hill of Tara
- 7 Newgrange
- 8 Monasterboice
- 9 Dalkey
- 10 Wicklow Mountains
- 11 Powerscourt House and Garden – Wicklow
- 12 The North
- 13 Slieve League
- 14 Donegal Castle
- 15 Day 3 – 5 Ireland East & South
- 16 Wexford
- 17 Kilkenny
- 18 County Tipperary for the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle
- 19 The South of Ireland
- 20 Cork
- 21 Blarney Castle & Gardens
- 22 Ring of Kerry
- 23 Beara Peninsula
- 24 Killarney National Park
- 25 Gap of Dunloe
- 26 Dingle Peninsula
- 27 Dunquin
- 28 Day 5 – 7 The Western Part of Ireland
- 29 Limerick
- 30 The Burren
- 31 Cliffs of Moher
- 32 Galway
- 33 Aran Islands
- 34 Connemara
- 35 Day 7 Return to Dublin
- Independent of the English Kingdom since 1921
- Independent of Northern Ireland
- Member of the EU
- The national holiday is the 17th of March, which is also known worldwide as St. Patrick’s Day
- Time zone: UTC + 0
Ireland Itinerary 7 days – Planning
Before you start exploring Ireland in a week or more, you should plan a few things ahead. In the following section, we will help you to determine the most important aspects of your Ireland trip.
Best Time to visit Ireland
The best time to go to Ireland is arguably from May to September. It’s warmest during those months. The driest months are May and June.
Before your holiday in Ireland you should definitely consider how you want to get from A to B. There are several options, which we would like to introduce to you below.
- You don’t have to worry about anything yourself
- You travel with others
- No flexibility
- You depend on others
- You only see fixed destinations & cannot decide for yourself where to go
Car with private driver
- You don’t have to drive yourself
- You are flexible
- A local driver has many travel tips & information about the country
- High price
- It depends on agreements with the driver
- Cheapest option
- Ireland has very good connections between the cities
- Dependent on departure times/ schedules
- Often little space for luggage in public transport
- Places off the beaten-path might not be reachable by public transport
Renting a Car
- Very flexible
- Lots of space
- No changes of vehicles necessary
- You have to drive yourself (can easily get lost)
- Ireland has left-hand traffic
Ireland Travel Cost
Of course, your Ireland travel expenses depend heavily on your type of travel, your chosen accommodation, and mode of transport. If you’re traveling as a backpacker, travel by bus and train across the country and stay in budget accommodation, you can already get by with about € 40 per day. The average traveler spends about € 100 per day, while luxury travelers might plan approx € 200 per day. Of course, there is no limit on what to spend.
No matter what kind of trip you are looking for, it helps to plan ahead and compare prices. The best offers for the accommodation of all price ranges can be found on Booking.com.
The currency in Ireland is the Euro. If you are planning a visit to Northern Ireland, you should have a few pounds in your pocket, which are the official currency in Northern Ireland.
The airfares can vary greatly. Depending on where you are coming from and which airline you choose. For my flight to Dublin (from Bremen, Germany) I only paid an unbelievable price of € 9.95 with the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair.
What to bring to Ireland
Make sure to check what kind of weather is waiting for you when you are visiting Ireland, so you can adjust your packing list accordingly.
7 Days in Ireland Itinerary
Day 1 – 3 Dublin and Surroundings + the North
Of course, the capital, Dublin, shouldn’t be missed when visiting Ireland. Most likely, your Ireland trip starts and ends here. In Dublin itself, you can already spend a few days without being bored. What should definitely be on your to-do list during your time in Dublin is a visit to the world famous Temple Bar. Be sure to have a cool Guinness. Speaking of Guinness, Dublin is also home to the Guinness Storehouse, which makes every beer fanatic’s heart beat faster. Have a visit an learn everything you ever wanted to know about this dark yummy beer.
A historic must-see in the city is the Dublin Castle, arguably the most popular of the castles in Dublin, which is located directly in the old town and therefore very easy to reach on foot. Later, stop by the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral and take a photo on the Ha’penny Bridge, which crosses the River Liffey. Those looking for a bit of relaxation can find it in Phoenix Park which is also located pretty much inside of the city. Dublin is an amazing place to start your trip and your dive into the Irish culture. It’s also a perfect base for some day trips to the stunning green surroundings of the capital.
Hill of Tara
The sacred Hill of Tara is one of Ireland’s most fascinating sights. Located in the Mid-East region of Ireland, in County Meath, it’s an easy day trip from Dublin, which is about 25 miles away. History is rich here. The former seat of the Irish High Kings, the Hill of Tara is an ancient site where Celtic kings were crowned and ritual sacrifices were made.
It’s not only Celtic history that can be found here. Today, visitors can see the Mound of Hostages, a Neolithic passage tomb made around 2,500 B.C., or explore Christian history at St. Patrick’s Holy Well and St. Patrick’s church. Other landmarks include Cormac’s House, the former dwelling place of an important High King; the Fairy Tree, a New-Age pagan favourite; and the King’s Seat, home to the famous Stone of Destiny – although whether or not this is the true Stone of Destiny is just one of the mysteries at this atmospheric spot.
Recommended by Carol of Wandering Carol
Well before the Great Pyramids or Stonehenge had been built, humans were already creating incredible structures… in Ireland! The most important of these is Newgrange, a prehistoric tomb from about 3200 BC.To try to picture what Newgrange looks like, imagine a large grass-covered circular mound almost 100 meters wide. At one point, there is a passageway formed that takes you into the center, where there is a tomb covered in rock art.What makes it even more impressive is that, on exactly the winter solstice, the rising sun shines right down this passage and hits the center of the tomb! The understanding of astronomy and mathematics to make this happen is quite astounding for people who lived more than 5000 years ago. It’s easy to visit Newgrange from Dublin as a half-day trip. Regardless of whether you do it independently or as a tour, you’ll be taken into the site with a local guide who will explain everything and show you the highlights. Standing in the center of that tomb, hearing the theories about why and how it was built, is a very special experience! Recommended by Michael of Timetravel Turtle
Located in County Louth, north of Drogheda, Monasterboice is home to the ruins of a monastic settlement that was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe, who died sometime around the year 521 AD. The name is an anglicization of the Irish name Mainistir Bhuithe, which means “monastery of Buithe.” This historic landmark includes the remains of two churches built in the 14th century as well as a 91-foot-tall round tower that’s still in impressive condition, despite being built in the late 10th century and damaged by a fire a century later. But the main attraction here are three massive high crosses. Dating back to the 10th century and in remarkable condition today, the 18-foot-tall Muiredach’s High Cross features intricate stone carvings of both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and is considered the finest high cross in Ireland. The other two crosses have suffered a bit more damage from the weather over the last 1000+ years, but remain a must-see for anyone fascinated by ancient Christian and/or Celtic art. There’s also a graveyard around the ruins, and burials of residents from the local village continue there today. If you get a chance to spend a week in Ireland and you love history, make it a point to visit this National Monument in Ireland’s Ancient East.
Recommended by Bret of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Dalkey is a small seaside town located only a short ride on the DART or on the bus from Dublin city centre. It once had seven castles in the area that protected its trading route, but only one of them is left. Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre is a great place to travel back in time and learn about this charming little town’s history. Actors bring history to life in the castle, and if you climb to the top of the tower, you will enjoy some great views over the High Street with its historic buildings.
Dalkey’s most famous resident is Bono, but over the year it has had writers such as Maeve Binchy and James Joyce amongst its residents too. There is a walk you can do through the town which is centred around literature and you can also visit the James Joyce Tower and Museum, a Martello tower where James Joyce once spent 6 days and, and also the place where the opening scenes of his novel Ulysses take place.
If you enjoy a bit of adventure in County Dublin, you can go sea kayaking from Bullock Harbour to Dalkey Island, where you can observe the local colony of around 60 seals.
Recommended by Teresa of Brogan Abroad
When people visit Ireland Dublin is normally their first stop (and for some the last!). However, only a short hour’s drive away from Dublin you can visit some beautiful Irish scenery in the Wicklow mountains, located in the middle of County Wicklow.The area where the Wicklow National Park is located is stunning, there are some beautiful loughs surrounded by mountains and some great hiking trails a perfect place for any outdoor enthusiast. You will also find the famous Lough Tay (the ‘Guinness’ black lake) in this area.While in Co. Wicklow you can visit many remarkable historic and cultural places with a history dating back to the 6th century, such as the Glendalough Monastic Site and the Glendalough Valley.Another great attraction is Powerscourt Waterfall; Ireland’s highest waterfall. It is worth visiting and exploring this area which is located in one of Ireland’s beautiful parklands.All in all, this is a place you should add to your must-do list for your Ireland trip. Plenty to see and do there. Recommended by Thassia of Family Off Duty
Powerscourt House and Garden – Wicklow
Powerscourt house has one of the world’s most exquisite gardens and its stunningly beautiful whatever time of year you visit. It’s only 20 minutes south of Dublin and was voted number three in the world’s top ten gardens to visit by the National Geographic. The design of the garden began in 1731, and it took 150 years to complete the 47 acres. Within the 47 acres, there’s something for everyone, and you can easily spend half a day exploring the central gardens. The Italian garden with the view of sugar loaf mountain and many terraces that lead down to the lake is particularly spectacular. The stone statues are magnificent as is the fountain in the centre of the lake. However, my favourite garden is the Japanese one. It’s at its best in spring when all the azaleas are in flower, and their perfume fills the air with a fabulous scent. The garden is designed around 3 circles with delightful pagodas, little bridges over streams and stunning water features. It’s hard to describe its beauty you really have to experience it for yourself. When you’ve finished exploring the gardens make sure you treat yourself to a piece of cake in the terrace cafe. The cakes are delicious and homemade. If the sun is shining, there’s nowhere better than the terrace to enjoy the magnificent view of the gardens. Finally before leaving its worth having a wander through the boutique shops. Collections include pottery, jewellery, woodwork and ceramics, all of which are produced locally in Wicklow. Recommended by Fiona of Passport and Piano
Slieve League is a mountain found on the western coast of Ireland in Donegal County. Here you will find some of the most jaw-dropping cliffs and stunning views. The cliffs climb straight up out of the ocean to 609m above sea level and are three times higher than the better-known Cliffs of Moher.
The best way to experience Slieve League is by hiking along the edge of the cliffs that border livestock pastures full of sheep. This trail starts at the end of the road at Bunglass Point past Teelin. For the non-hikers can go this is the closest point to the cliffs without heading on to the trail. From here pass through a gate that begins the trail. I choose to do a complete loop that included the hike from Bunglass viewpoint, One Mans pass and the Pilgrim loop. The entire loop will take between 4-5 hours for the average hiker with the last section leading back along the road. You can potentially grab a lift with passing vehicles to lessen the hike time.
This is a very special destination which allows you to experience wild Ireland, stunning views, typical Irish countryside add in addition offers a challenging hike. As always with hiking prepare for unpredicted changes in weather, wear layers and waterproof clothing. You will pass a few people on this hike but one of the best parts about it is its quiet remoteness.
Recommended by Erin of Curiously Erin
Donegal castle was the residence of the royal O’Donnell’s, who ruled the Kingdom of Tir Chonaill from 1200 until 1601. Built on the River Eske for defence purposes it was known as the O’Donnell’s Castle officially.
Built by the first Red Hugh and his mother Nuala in the 1400’s, it was burned to the ground in the 1600’s after the Battle of Kinsale. Red Hugh burnt it to prevent the British from using it.
The Castle has a restored Tower House, which rises above the English Manor House that was added in 1623 and believed to have been constructed using some of the stones from the ruined Abbey nearby. On the ground level, the cobblestones are believed to be the original 15th century ones the original barrel-vaulted ceilings collapsed before the restoration in 1989 and have now been restored.
On the left side of the entrance, you will find the Coats of Arms of the O’Donnell’s and the Brookes. You can see the mast of a sailing ship on the Arms and as the O’Donnell’s were known as the “kings of the Fish”, it speaks to their history. The spiral stairwell is known as the “Trip Stairwell” and was built to trip up enemy swordsman. The O’Donnell’s built the stairs this way because being right-handed gave them more room at the turn to strike their foes down.
The Castle was fully restored in the 90’s and a visit to the castle is €4. You will see the Castle as it sits by the River and the turrets can be seen from the main town square known as the Diamond. There is street parking and a few parking areas within the Town that are clearly marked.
Recommended by Faith of XYU and Beyond
Day 3 – 5 Ireland East & South
I think Wexford is definitely one of the best places in Ireland! Most readers will probably never have heard of it because most travellers to the countries go to the country’s west, sometimes north and very often Ireland’s capital city Dublin in the east. County Wexford is known as the sunny southeast because it’s supposedly the sunniest part of Ireland! Although there’s not as many tourists as in the other parts of Ireland it’s just as breathtaking and there’s loads to do. The town itself, Wexford town is a fantastic spot to enjoy yourself. There are loads of cute little bars such as the Skye and the Ground or Maggie Mays which are buzzing with people at the weekend. There’s also so much scenery outside of the town itself. There are beautiful and quiet beaches such as Curracloe Beach and Rosslare Strand. These are just a few spots – the county is on the coast so there’s literally beaches everywhere! The Saltee Islands are a good alternative to islands in the west of the country too – again a lot less touristy and super authentic!
Recommended by Ann of Ecoconscious Traveller
While Ireland abounds with medieval villages, Kilkenny might just take the cake when it comes to cutest one of them all. Located on the Ancient East road of Ireland, this town like many others along the way has much history to share with its visitors. But not all can claim a beautiful castle with rich interiors to visit, or a cathedral tower you can climb up to catch a 360 grand view of the surroundings or a Medieval Mile to shop.
Furthermore, Kilkenny delivers loads of dining options for every taste buds and budget from high tea, culinary delights and romantic venues with castle views in sight. You can also explore the scenic countryside by bike, go for a drive to the Rock of Cashel or visit the House of Waterford Crystal all within fairly close range. You will definitely want to spend more than a few days in the picturesque and quaint town of Kilkenny.
Recommended by Nathalie of Marquestra
County Tipperary for the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle
County Tipperary, in the province of Munster, is one county that can often be overlooked when planning your visit and deciding what things to do in Ireland. But it should never be left off the itinerary as it holds two of the best places to visit in Ireland, the Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle.
Both of these historical sites are found in the county as well as the Swiss Cottage, another tourist attraction. Tipperary is just over 2 hours from Dublin, so can easily be visited as a day trip from the capital. Tipperary is a beautiful county of Ireland with lush rolling fields of green and quaint little towns to stop for a coffee or tea.
The Rock of Cashel and Cahir Castle are located just 20 minutes apart and give you the chance to get lost in Irish history. The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most iconic historical landmarks and is a Medieval Abbey dating from the 12th century. Nearby, Cahir Castle is one of Ireland’s largest and well-preserved medieval castles and worth exploring, even with kids. The Swiss Cottage is less than 10 minutes from Cahir Castle, meaning you can combine a visit to all three in one trip. So, if you are bound for Ireland, I highly recommend you pay a visit to County Tipperary.
Recommended by Cath of Passport and Adventures
The South of Ireland
Cork City is an ideal place in Ireland to visit by train (just 2.5 hours by rail from Dublin). Cork is known in some circles as the “People’s Republic of Cork” because the city has a vibe all its own. Corkonians are a lively crew and Cork City is known for epic craic (how the Irish describe a very good and boisterous time). Many visitors may be tempted to skip Cork City in favor of foodie-focused West Cork or nearby Blarney Castle but if they do, they’re missing out. Cork City provides fantastic entertainment in both quaint and modern pubs filled with classic stouts, craft beer, music, and locals who may be inclined to buy you a pint (Aw, go on so, as they say in Cork City). Cork’s architecture is eminently Instagrammable and features gothic churches, Georgian period houses, and edgy street art. University College Cork (UCC) is one of the most picturesque campuses in Ireland (if not the world). Make sure to take time to photograph the historic quad. The old Victorian-era English Market is great for both people watching and fab things to eat. You’ll find the best vegetarian restaurant on the Emerald Isle in Cork City: Cafe Paradiso. Make sure to call ahead for a booking to avoid disappointment. Looking for great coffee? Don’t miss Cafe Depeche, a quirky Depeche Mode-themed cafe not far from UCC. Cork City has its share of unique museums too including Cork Gaol where wax figures stand guard and interactive media cast upon the wall tell stories of what life was like in the prison. Some Irish revolutionaries who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising spent time in Cork Gaol. If Cork Gaol feels a little too serious, there’s always Cork City’s Butter Museum to churn some time ;-).
Recommended by Jennifer of Sidewalk Safari
Blarney Castle & Gardens
Kissing the Blarney Stone is one of those things to do in Ireland that you just can’t miss. Blarney Castle and Gardens close to Cork is the home of the famous Blarney Stone, where visitors from all over the world come to kiss the Blarney Stone and get the ‘Gift of the Gab’. The queue for the stone can be up to two hours, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. While you’re waiting you can see inside Blarney Castle and the views from the top of the castle where the stone is are quite spectacular. Once it is your turn to kiss the stone, you lie down on the roof of the castle and the staff will help you to manoeuvre upside down and support you as you hang down to kiss the stone. It isn’t as easy as I thought!
However, if kissing the Blarney Stone doesn’t appeal to you, the stone isn’t the only reason to visit Blarney Castle. The castle is set in several acres of beautiful gardens which you can explore. Stroll along the river and watch out for kingfishers and otters, visit the poison garden to see a wonderful collection of poisonous plants like Mandrake and wolfsbane, or get lost in the Fairy Glade.
To get to Blarney Castle you can either travel independently from Cork, Dublin (although it is about 3 hour’s drive) or take a Blarney Castle tour from Dublin or several other locations in Ireland. Buses to Blarney Castle run regularly from Cork city centre and take about 30 minutes.
Recommended by Claire of Tales of a Backpacker
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry Road Trip in the Republic of Ireland is one of Ireland’s most famous coastal road trips. This drive can be done in one day, which is what we did, however, we would recommend taking longer if you can. By choosing the best campsites around this area, you can maximise your time in Ireland and enjoy your trip even more. If you have longer and can drive this route over a couple of days, you will be able to see a lot more and have a lot more time to spend at each spot. During the summer months, it can be extremely busy around this route, we would recommend driving the Ring in an anticlockwise direction, in order to avoid getting stuck behind the tour buses!
We would recommend you pack some warm clothing, comfy shoes and mosquito spray! Some of the stops require a bit of a walk and the mosquitos can be a nightmare!
The Kerry Cliffs were a highlight of this road trip for us, you will need to pay 4 euros for entry to the cliff. This is a very popular stop off for many and you can see why. The views over the ocean are absolutely incredible and well worth the money, crashing waves, and turquoise blue water.
Another highlight stop is the Skelligs Chocolate Factory. You can stop here for a refreshment break and enjoy the free tasters they give out before you choose your drink and cake. This is the perfect stop off point to heat up from the bitter Irish winds along the coast.
Before you head off on this adventure, make sure you plan out your route to save you time. You will need to follow a sat nav as we found there weren’t a lot of signposts. This is one of the most memorable road trips you will ever drive, the scenery is beautiful so make sure this is on your Ireland itinerary.
Recommended by Gemma of Highlands 2 Hammocks
Located in West Cork in the South of Ireland, and situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, lies the beautiful Beara Peninsula, one of the hidden gems of the country. Having been born and raised there, it is an area I always took for granted when young. However, after being away for so many years, every time I return I now see the reason my homeland has such an effect on those who visit it.
From its peaceful little villages to the violence of the Atlantic ocean which has created its rugged coastline, it has a beauty that stirs your deeper emotions. Whether you want to sit outside a pub in Glengarriff, Allihies, Eyeries, or Castletownbere watching the world go by in the summer or prefer to be alone with your own thoughts on top of Hungry Hill, you will find somewhere to do it.
Home to historical sites like wedge graves and ring forts, castles and ruined churches, and even a copper mine, for the history buff it is a joy to explore. Allihies Copper Mines, Puxley’s Mansion, and the O’Sullivan Bere Castle are some of the notable ruins on the peninsula.
For the nature lovers, take a walk in Glengarriff forestry, or witness the power of the Mare’s Tail waterfall in Adrigole. Drive the coastline and see the power of the ocean in how it has created the scenery before you. Visit the gardens in Garnish Island, take the ferry to Bere Island, or take the cable car over the ocean to Dursey Island.
Those who like to take an exciting driving route can take the Caha Pass and pass through the hand-carved tunnels on the way to Kenmare. Coming back you can come down the Healy Pass in Adrigole. Both routes are windy and narrow and are a car lovers dream.
The Beara Peninsula is often overlooked for its more famous neighbour the Ring of Kerry, but you will not be disappointed if you visit.
Recommended by Martin of Breaking Barriers
Killarney National Park
Just outside the town of Killarney, you will find the beautiful Killarney National Park. It’s part of the famous Ring of Kerry drive, but worth stopping for a bit to explore. There are enough things to do in Killarney National Park to keep you busy for a whole day.
The first thing you should see is the Muckross House, a 19th-century Victorian mansion now owned by the state. You can tour it and see where Queen Victoria stayed during her visit to Killarney. The Ladies View is named after Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting because it’s a spot they enjoyed.
Next, take a boat to Ross Castle, a 15th-century castle which is rumored to be haunted. If you like ruins, you should also visit Muckross Abbey. I thought the tree growing inside was pretty and I enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies.
Killarney National Park is also a wonderful area for hiking. We did a short easy hike to see the Torc Waterfall that would also be suitable for children. There are also some trails around the lake that are pretty flat. If you prefer, you can also rent bikes to see more of the park.
Recommended by Anisa of Two Traveling Texans
Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass, very close to Killarney National park in the South of Ireland. This stunning pass is a magical place, full of waterfalls, lakes and a small river. This region invokes your imagination and makes you wonder where are the fairies and elves hiding. Needless to say that the Gap of Dunloe was one of our favorite spots during our road trip through Ireland.
The Gap starts in Kate Kearney’s Cottage and ends in the Black Valley, with a total length of 11 km. The pass has a narrow road, running north-south, and it separates the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range in the west, from the Purple Mountain Group range in the east. While driving this scenic road you will pass by 5 lakes and a wishing bridge, where you can stop and make a wish on it, and it is destined to be fulfilled. The best way to do the pass is by car but it can also be done by bicycle or jaunting car. It is definitely a place you should visit during your trip to Ireland.
Recommended by Claudia of Travel Drafts
The Dingle Peninsula on Ireland’s west coast is an absolute must-visit if you’re planning a road trip! The biggest pull here—like much of Ireland—is breathtaking coastal scenery. But in addition to the crashing waves and impossibly-blue water, it has a ton of history and culture to offer. The area is dotted with all kinds of ruins for you to explore. It’s also known as one of the few areas that holds tight to the old Gaelic language, which you’ll hear spoken and see on signs as you drive.
There are several sights you have to stop at, including Inch Beach, the town of Dingle, the Gallarus Oratory, and then driving over the Conor Pass (the highest in Ireland!). Slea Head Loop is one of the main attractions, where every bend and curve of the road reveals a new mind-blowing view of rich blue and turquoise water juxtaposed with emerald green cliffs. And if time and weather permit, take a ferry from Dingle out to the Blasket Islands, where you can learn tons about a traditional Irish community.
Don’t be fooled by its small size or what the GPS app tells you. Though it’s only a 30- to 40-mile drive and 10 miles across the Conor Pass, expect it to take you most of the day. That’s partly due to narrow roads and slower speeds, and partly because you’ll be pulling over every five minutes to snap some more photos—a real danger on an amazing Irish road trip!
Recommended by Jessica of One Girl, Whole World
Dunquin is a small village at the tip of Dingle peninsula on the western coast of Ireland. If I had to introduce the emerald island to someone by taking them to a single place, that place would be this little Gaelic village.
Dún Chaoin (in Gaelic) had always been the gate to Blasket islands which have raised three of Ireland’s brightest writers and storytellers: Peg Sawyers, Maurice O’Sullivan and Thomas O’Crohan. The small harbor was the lifeline of the Islanders with the rest of the world and when the Great Blasket was evacuated in 1954, it also became a new home for some of these people.
Driving on the scenic Slea Head drive, the first thing you’ll see is Mount Eagle and soon after the small gray tiled roofs scattered on the green slope which runs all the way to the Atlantic. The deserted Great Blasket island on the horizon and the “sleeping giant” (Inishtooskert island) next to it, seem like they have been enduring time and the waves of this endless ocean forever.
A narrow winding road leads down the ancient pier where the locals are launching their Curraghs—the traditional wooden boats found in Ireland and Scotland. Even if you don’t stay in Dún Chaoin, a stop at the pier to admire the amazing landscape is a must. If you have the time for the boat tour around the islands even better.
Other things to do is hike from the pier to the ruins of the old schoolhouse that was used in the movie “Ryan’s Daughter”, hike up to Mount Eagle for more beautiful views and visit the Blasket center to learn more about the history of this amazing place.
If you stay in the village, don’t neglect to have a pint at the famous Kruger bar.
Recommended by Chris of Trip and Trail
Day 5 – 7 The Western Part of Ireland
Often overlooked by travelers on their way to the Cliff of Moher, Limerick is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets. The third largest city in Ireland, Limerick is located in the Province of Munster in the western part of the country. Home to sites such as King John’s Castle, the Hunt Museum and the Treaty Stone of 1691, Limerick offers a range of options for all types of travelers. Located on the Shannon River, Limerick offers adventure travelers a chance to explore the Shannon Estuary via kayak. Sports fans can take in a Munster Rugby match at Limerick’s Thomond Park Stadium. It’s also a great destination for food travelers. Limerick was once known as Pig Town for its role in Ireland’s pork production. It has a vibrant food scene lead by local culinary artisans. On weekends throughout the year, food producers and restaurants showcase Limerick’s locally produced culinary offerings at the city’s open-air Milk Market. Displays of artisan cheese, produce, and of course, Irish bread can be found at the weekend market. In the evening, travelers can find a wide range of traditional Irish pubs serving up pints of Guinness and locally brewed craft beer. The city’s Market Quarter is home to several pubs and nightclubs featuring live music and loads of good old Irish “craic.” Limerick is a three-hour drive from Dublin. Both national rail and bus service can be used to reach Limerick. Ireland’s Shannon Airport is a major gateway for travelers coming from the United States and Canada. Limerick is 30 minutes from Shannon Airport. Limerick is a great destination for travelers looking to experience the “real” Ireland.
Recommended by Amber of Food and Drink Destinations
One of Ireland’s most interesting landscapes is the Burren, located in northwestern County Clare. The land here is grey, covered in large pieces of limestone polished smooth from years of glaciation.
The best way to experience the karst landscape of the Burren is by going for a hike in Burren National Park, the smallest of Ireland’s national parks. There are three waymarked hiking routes and two shorter nature trails in the park, providing visitors a variety of ways to explore the Burren. The trails showcase the region’s limestone pavement, shrubs, wildflowers, and the “twisted” Mullaghmore Hill.
In addition to Burren National Park, other areas of interest in the Burren include the Cliffs of Moher, some caves, Corcomroe Abbey (a 13th-century Cistercian monastery), and numerous megalithic sites like Poulnabrone dolmen, a large portal tomb. The area is also home to the Burren Way, a 123 km walking trail that covers the best of the Burren in five days.
Recommended by Rhonda of Travel Yes Please
Cliffs of Moher
Unique wildlife, green-hued landscapes, and the Atlantic Ocean going as far as the eye can see, the Cliffs of Moher offer a remarkable experience. Rising 509 ft above sea level, the cliffs stretch for about 8.5 miles along the Irish west coast. It’s an ideal place for a day hike with a view, or better put, with a breathtaking view. Literally. It’s incredibly windy at the cliffs, and at times, we even felt the water from the waves sprinkling over our faces.
So here goes our best advice: don’t walk near the edges. Moreover, the cliffs reach its highest point at O’Brien’s Tower, and from there you can spot “Harry Potter’s Cave” at the Half-Blood Prince movie.
Naturally, this is one of the most popular day tours from Dublin, so if you can, come around 4 pm as most tour buses will be leaving already.
Also, be warned: cuteness overload ahead: if you visit the Cliffs of Moher from April through June, be sure to bring binoculars as you can spot cute puffins that go there to breed and raise their little puffins.
Recommended by Bruna of Maps ‘N Bags
Galway, Ireland is a vibrant and lively city located on the west coast of the Emerald Isle that is a must for any Ireland Itinerary. There is no shortage of things to do in Galway to suit any type of traveler. First, Galway will charm you as you walk down Shop Street listening to the talented buskers. Every night of the week you can find traditional music playing in many of the pubs throughout the city. Two of my favorite pubs for traditional music are Tig Coili and The Crane. If you’re looking for a bit more Irish pub rock, then check out Taaffes or O’Connor’s in Salthill.
In between music-sessions take a walk along Galway Bay. Head towards the end of Salthill Prom to Blackrock diving pier. If the tide is high you’ll find people jumping from the pier into the frigid waters below. Even if the tide isn’t high, you’ll still find people swimming at any time of the year. This is also a great spot to watch the sunset!
In addition to the live music and active lifestyle in Galway, it’s also a great foodie destination. The city is home to a wide array of international and local restaurants and cafes. Additionally, each Saturday there is a farmer’s market where you can pick up fresh produce or a cheap lunch from one of the many food trucks. Throughout the year, Galway also hosts various food festivals, including the popular Oyster Festival in October.
Overall, Galway is a city with plenty of things to do for any type of traveler. In my opinion, the best way to spend a day in Galway is sitting in one of the Shop street bars with a Guinness in hand listening to the buskers. But, you should go and discover your perfect Galway day!
Recommended by Katie of Just Chasing Sunsets
A boat trip to the Aran Islands is a step back in time. There are three tiny rocky islands off the coast of Galway, with Inishmore the largest and most visited. Inishmaan and Inisheer are smaller and less visited, but no less interesting. The islands are covered in tiny fields separated by low stone walls, turning the green island grey. On one side of Inishmore are steep cliffs that rival the famous Cliffs of Moher in their rugged beauty. There are blowholes where spray blows up from the ocean high into the air, and the Worm Hole (Poll na bPeist), which is a naturally square hole in the rock that is famous for diving. There is also a seal colony, and of course, there are lots of sheep. Aran wool is famous, and this is the perfect place to pick up a sweater. The highlight, however, are the ancient stone forts. There are the remains of forts that were built hundreds of years ago. The largest is Dun Angus, which is a series of concentric semicircles ending right on the cliff edge. The smallest, Dun Eochla, and the oldest, Dun Duchathair, are also well worth visiting. The best way to get around Inishmore is to cycle – you can rent bicycles near the ferry.
Recommended by James of Travel Collecting
If you’re looking for a great addition to your trip to Ireland, then look no further than the spectacular Connemara peninsula. Though often overshadowed by its more famous neighbours like the Burren or the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara is one of the most biodiverse regions of Ireland and is also one of the most beautiful.
Located in County Galway, just north of Galway City, the biggest and most popular town to visit in Connemara is the charming seaside village of Clifden. This town is home to the famous Sky Road loop, which is twenty-kilometre long scenic drive overlooking some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland. Other attractions include the Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey, and the pristine Dog’s Bay beach.
Also, as one of Ireland’s most mountainous regions, Connemara is the ideal destination in the Emerald Isle if you are interested in going walking or trekking. All in all, no trip to Ireland would be complete without a stop in the inimitable Connemara region.
Recommended by Maggie of The world was here first
Day 7 Return to Dublin
One week in Ireland goes by so fast when being surrounded by such amazing places. It’s hard to choose the best ones for one week with that many gorgeous places to choose from, isn’t it? Could you find your favorites or are you maybe even able to visit Ireland in 10 days instead? Let me know in the comments below.