digitalinfowave


This article may contain paid links where we make a small commission for purchases you make from links that you click from this article. By purchasing through our links, you support us at no additional cost. Thank you for your support ❤️. For more details, read the disclosure page.

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

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

TOP TIPS FOR TRAVELING IRELAND

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

Ireland Road Trip Planning

downtown dingle streets in 7 day southern ireland itinerary road trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Areas to focus

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

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

The North

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

Other highlights include:

The South

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

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

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

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

The full loop

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

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

Best time to go

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

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

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

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

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

Packing essentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to stay

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

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

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

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

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

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

Places we stayed across Ireland in 7 days:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Advice:

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

Flying into Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

The 7 Day Ireland Itinerary

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

Interactive Map

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

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

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 1 – A peek inside the ancient east

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

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

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

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

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

If we had more time:

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

what to see in ireland in 7 days - itinerary road trip map day 1
Driving time: 2 hours, 38 minutes

EAT

Dinner at Petronella Cafe & Restaurant in Kilkenny - planning a trip to ireland

PETRONELLA RESTAURANT & CAFE

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

TripAdvisor

STAY

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

NEWLANDS LODGE

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

TripAdvisor

Booking.com

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Tricks:

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

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 2 – From Castles to a Ring Called Kerry

will kissing the blarney stone in ireland itinerary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we had more time:

  • Cork – It would’ve been nice to explore Cork and their English Market and visit the Cobh Heritage Centre.
  • Blarney Gardens – I would have loved to have spent more time doing the various walks around the Poison Garden, Fern Garden, Arboretum, and the endless other garden walks that explore the mystical and magical landscapes.
  • Killorglin – This is the first town we passed by along the Ring of Kerry.  We zipped right through but I would have loved to have stopped here even for a few minutes to get a feel for a small town like this one.
  • Cahirciveen – This is home to the Ballycarbery Castle and the Old Barracks which is built in the Schloss style.  Legend says they mixed up plans for this and a building designed for somewhere in Punjab, India.
southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 2 - what to see in ireland in 7 days
Driving time: 4 hours and 53 minutes

EAT

Thai Skewers at Sala Thai at Kells House & Gardens

SALA THAI RESTAURANT

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

TripAdvisor

STAY

SKELLIG VIEW WHITE ROOM AIRBNB

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

Check rates

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Tricks:

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

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 3 – Magic on Skellig Michael

Will wielding a Sith lightsaber at Skellig Michael

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we had more time:

  • Waterville, Sneem, Caherdaniel, and Kenmare – It would’ve been nice to take our time through these idyllic coastal towns but I feel the trade off of spending more time on Valentia Island and the Skellig Ring was worth it.
southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 3
Driving time: 3 hours and 2 minutes

EAT

Fish & Chips at The Bridge Bar

THE BRIDGE BAR

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

TripAdvisor

STAY

The Lake Hotel Suite

THE LAKE HOTEL

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

TripAdvisor

Booking.com

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Tricks:

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

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 4 – A Day In Killarney

The view into Killarney National Park from Ladies View
The view into Killarney National Park from Ladies View

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

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

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

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

If we had more time:

  • Killarney National Park – I would’ve loved to have done a few hikes in the park.  I was also sad that we weren’t able to take the boat across from Ross Castle to the Meeting of the Waters and Old Weird Bridge.
  • Gap of Dunloe – This was part of the plans but had to be cut.  There’s an awesome hike there that takes around 2 hours with breathtaking views of the lake, a heritage cottage, and the surrounding mountains.
  • Killarney City – If there’s one city we completely skipped because of time, it was Killarney.  It’s supposed to be a charming city with great food options like Quinlan’s Seafood Bar and Lane Cafe Bar.
southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 4
Driving time: 2 hours and 32 minutes

EAT

Out of the Blue Seafood Restaurant in Dingle Ireland

OUT OF THE BLUE

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

TripAdvisor

STAY

An Portán B&B in Dunquin, Dingle, Ireland

AN PORTÁN

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

TripAdvisor

Booking.com

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 5 – Coastal Adventures on Dingle Peninsula

Will In Front of Wild Atlantic Way Sign in Dingle

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we had more time:

  • Gallarus Oratory – This was on our itinerary for the drive around Dingle but because we didn’t have enough time, I quickly flew the drone and continued along our way.
  • Quaint small towns of Dingle – Our B&B hosts recommended that we stop by Ballydavid but short on time, we had to skip them.
  • Blasket Islands – This is a full day kind of event but if you had a couple of days in the area, we recommend getting a ferry over to the Great Blasket Island to create your own eco adventure.
southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 5
Driving time: 5 hours and 1 minute

EAT

Guiness Meat Pie Dinner at Cruises Pub in Ennis

CRUISES PUB

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

TripAdvisor

STAY

Slieve Elva B&B Room

SLIEVE ELVA B&B

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

TripAdvisor

Booking.com

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Tricks:

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

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 6 – Mighty Cliffs and The Burren

visiting cliffs of moher on day 5

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

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

Our next stop was Burren Smokehouse.  What we learned was that the Smokehouse itself is just a store and next to it on the same street is the Storehouse.  We grabbed a sample platter to eat one of our few lunches on the trip.  It was so good that after lunch we picked up a few for home.  The tricky part was figuring out how to keep it refrigerated the remainder of the trip.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in Burren National Park, followed by a quick walk around the portal tomb, Poulnabrone.  The Burren region is out of this world.  Even though we didn’t get to do a full hike in this geopark, it shows the power of glaciers that carved through and left behind limestone pavement with fissures created by rainwater dissolution.  The end result is something that is so dramatically different from anywhere else in Ireland.

We closed out the day in Galway, my favorite city in Ireland.  We didn’t get to stay there long but it was somewhere that was full of energy with all the street performers.  Pedestrian streets ruled the downtown core, making it easy to walk and so approachable with its many shops and restaurants.

At the end of the night, we drove outside of the city to get to Galway Glamping where we had a chance to meet the owners and get a full tour of the grounds.  This night was hands down the most memorable of stays with an eclectic assembly of furniture in the Mongolian yurt which was surprisingly very cozy and warm thanks to the electrical heater.

We closed out the day in Galway which has got to be my favorite city in Ireland.  It’s not like we even got to stay there that long but it was somewhere that was full of energy with all the street performers.  Pedestrian streets ruled the downtown core which made it easy to walk and so approachable with its many shops and restaurants.

At the end of the night, we drove outside of the city to get to Galway Glamping where we had a chance to meet the owners where they gave us the full tour of the grounds.  This night was hands down the most memorable of stays with eclectic assembly of furniture in the Mongolian yurt which was surprisingly very cosy and warm thanks to the electrical heater.

If we had more time:

  • I put together an article about top things to do in Galway.  Head over there for more ideas.
  • Ballyvaughan Fairy Fort – A hidden spot in The Burren, this ring fort is said to be on the road up to Poulnabrone, just opposite the left hand turn into the Ailwee Caves. Access is restricted but it’s supposedly easy to walk in.
  • Ballyvaughan – Pretty thatched cottages, nice crafts shops, and restaurants.
  • Aran Islands – The easiest way to get there is by catching a ferry from Doolin.  I’d recommend staying overnight at a minimum.  There are 3 islands in the chain but the most interesting is Inis Mór which features the cliff tops prehistoric ring forts.  A ton to see and explore here.
  • Burren National Park – I’m still a bit disappointed in the hike we attempted here.  With a little better planning, I would’ve picked a better marked hike.
  • Aillwee Cave/Pollnagollum – Pollnagollum is a secret spot but if you know where to look, you can find the cave that inspired Lord of the Rings’ character, Gollum.  Entrance to the longest cave in Ireland, the more accessible way is through Aillwee Cave which is open to the public.  The best way to see it is to join up with a local caving tour (Back West Adventures).
southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 6
Driving time: 3 hours and 1 minute

EAT

The Burren Storehouse Sample Platter of smoked fish

THE BURREN STOREHOUSE

Everyone raved about The Burren Smokehouse and their restaurant (Storehouse next door) and it sure didn’t disappoint.  After our morning at the Cliffs of Moher, we made our way over here for a quick bite.  While they have a ton of other great menu items such as their pizza, what we really wanted to try was a sampling of their smoked fish. Luckily they have the Smokehouse Platter which has 6 of their products.  Two of us shared one plate and it was just right for a half lunch.  There’s often live music playing here as well.

TripAdvisor

STAY

Galway Glamping Mongolian Yurt

GALWAY GLAMPING

The most unique accommodations of our Ireland itinerary.  Who would’ve thought we’d be able to stay in a Mongolian yurt in the middle of the Irish countryside.  What used to be an estate in ruins, the grounds have now been converted to this eclectic mix of yurts, axe-throwing, group games, party rooms, and other funky rooms.  What makes it glamping is that all rooms are furnished and powered while also including super clean bathroom, kitchen, and lounging facilities next door.

TripAdvisor

Book Directly

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Tricks:

  • Cliffs of Moher Entrance is 6 EUR (more on that below).
    • What the entry ticket is actually for – The entry ticket is only to get into the mass lot across the street.  Once you’re parked, all you do is cross the street and that’s it.  This kind of makes sense because there’s no way to police the cliffs to the north and the south.  Anyone can walk in.  They just bank on everyone driving.  You do have to get in the same line as everyone regardless if you purchase your ticket online ahead of time.
    • How to get in for free – There’s a farmer that has land right next to the most northerly edge of the cliffs who is apparently super cool with people parking along the road as long as his car can still drive through.  The photo below is the spot that you should be looking for.  If you’re coming from the north, you’ll see this before the mass parking lot.  You can use either side as you can see.
    • Best time to go – If I were to do it again, I’d definitely plan to go after 4PM.  During the middle of the day, there are way too many tourist buses and the sun is right above you which creates incredibly harsh shadows.  I’ve seen the photos and sunsets are epic here.
    • Best spots for photos – To get that postcard perfect shot, you need to leave the official bounds of the tourist site (there are signs that let you know).  We couldn’t do both ends but chose to hike to the northern edge which gives a full view of the pinnacle and a long depth of cliffs front to back.
Directions to get free parking at Cliffs of Moher
  • Burren National Park – This park is unique because there aren’t any specific boundaries and isn’t run like a national park that we’re used to.  That’s why the visitor center is in the nearby town of Corofin.  We didn’t go there and just plotted a route to the park via Google Maps.  In retrospect it wasn’t a good idea because I had no clue where the hike trails were.  At the Gortlecka Crossroads, we saw a bunch of cars parked here so we did as well.  Thing is, there’s only one board here that indicated there was a trail here.  We tried to follow it but eventually got side tracked by a gate opening that we thought was the right way.  Long story short, we gave up and turned back.  Either we are terrible at hiking or the trails are just poorly marked.  Lesson learned:  Get a trail map from the visitor center first.
  • Tunnel toll – When driving up to Galway, we hit an unexpected toll since there’s a tunnel you have to go through.  This is an unattended machine so you have to make sure you have enough coins for this.  The toll is 1.90 EUR.
  • Galway parking – You’re probably not going to find free parking here.  We circled around for a bit to see if we could get free parking to no avail.  In the end, we found a paid lot.

Table of Contents

Itinerary Day 7 – Clash of Gaelic Sport and Dublin Delight

rainy evening in front of temple bar in dublin ireland with umbrella

On our last full day in Ireland we started early.  We had an exciting morning planned with Clash Gaelic Games and we needed to travel East to get there.  While that sounds daunting, it was mostly on the motorway (highway) and took about 2 hours.

Neil and Gareth from Clash Gaelic Games
Neil and Gareth from Clash Gaelic Games

One thing you need to understand about Ireland is that while European football is popular, it pales in comparison to the Gaelic sports.  Gaelic Football and Hurley are the top two sports in the country and what better way to end off the trip than to get to learn how to play these two sports.  I had found out about Clash Gaelic Games through my research and I thought it was such a fun way to learn about culture while burning a few calories and making a fool of ourselves.  

After our mini workout, we had to get into the city, check into our hotel, cab over to Kilmainham Gaol prison, then make it late to Trinity College’s Old Library to see the Book of Kells.  We were able to stroll the streets and get some retail therapy at the hyper cheap Penny’s following.

With one night to make it count, we had dinner at L. Mulligan Grocer and spent the rest of the night drinking Guinness and listening to live Irish music at The Temple Bar.

If we had more time:

  • Dublin – I would have liked to have seen St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Green, done more shopping, tried more restaurants, and drank a little harder.
  • Pubs – The Temple Bar is the most popular one in the city but there are so many other good ones including The Dame Tavern and The Brazen Head.
  • Guinness – While we weren’t big fans at the beginning, this famous stout grew on us throughout the trip.  The Guinness Storehouse is in Dublin and would be a fun place to visit for any lover of this beer. You can get advance tickets here.
  • Newgrange – While technically not in Dublin, north of the city is a large and ancient burial site built of stone and architectured to only let light into the ritual chamber at sunrise on Winter Solstice.
  • Howth – This is a village north of Dublin and near Portmarnock.  Located on a bulbous peninsula and featuring sweeping coastal views, it includes a superb food and crafts market.  It’s a place that gives you a flavor of everything we saw on the west coast without driving too far from Dublin.
  • Malahide Castle & Gardens – While I’m sure this would’ve been impressive, we couldn’t fit this in with how long Clash went.  I wasn’t too sad in this case though since we had seen Blarney Castle & Gardens and I imagine it would be somewhat similar.
southern ireland itinerary road trip map day 7
Driving time: 2 hours 45 minutes

EAT

L. Mulligan Grocer in Dublin

L. MULLIGAN GROCER

It’s a peculiar name for sure and it’s a bit far from the city centre but well worth it for the wide range of craft beers on tap and menu items.  We tried a most interesting watermelon wheat beer which tasted like…you guessed it…watermelon!  Our Moules Frites and Free Range Chicken Kiev were most excellent.

TripAdvisor

STAY

The Croke Park Hotel in Dublin

THE CROKE PARK HOTEL

This Doyle Collection hotel is located right next door to the famed Croke Park stadium where all the biggest Gaelic sport matches are held.  This signature hotel in the Dublin is a contemporary hotel that is big on comforts.  Their mattresses are heavenly with velvety duvets, there’s good table space to work, comfy furniture to relax, and the marbled bathrooms.  If you get the packing that includes breakfast, you’ll be treated to a wide buffet selection including honey straight from the honeycomb and my favourite, the croissants, which were delightful.  The staff was incredibly friendly and lastly, parking is included for free.  It’s the perfect hotel to launch your Dublin adventures from.

TripAdvisor

Booking.com

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tips and Tricks:

  • Clash Gaelic Games – While it was a bit of a specialized session with just the two of us, if you’re traveling with a big group of friends or if you’re a family, this is a great way to stay active and honestly try something you’d never be able to do anywhere else.
  • Driving in Dublin – Everyone said “don’t do it” and they were right.  The core is a mess especially with the construction going on.  You do not want to drive in the city.  Taking a cab or local transit is the way to go so make sure you either return the car rental, wait to rent the car later, or your hotel has free parking.
  • Uber – I experienced the most peculiar thing with Uber in Dublin.  There were numerous times when I’d order a cab and while it was on its way, they could cancel the ride.  I couldn’t understand why this kept happening until I realized that all the Uber drivers were regular cabbies essentially.  Every cab had Uber and another local app running on their phones and so they had to allegiance to any one of them and if they found a more convenient ride along the way, they’d take it.  On top of that, Uber also doesn’t display prices because it’s all standard meters.  At the end of the day, just understand that hailing a cab or ordering an Uber is no different.  In Dublin, I’d say hailing is just easier if you’re in a busy area because you won’t get canceled on.
  • Booking in advance – What we learned from Kilmainham Gaol and the Book of Kells is that we were very thankful to have booked our tickets in advance.  It’s almost impossible to get tickets last minute in high season.  What you need to be careful with though is that for both of these tours, you have to pick a specific time slot.  As we learned with being late to Kilmainham Gaol, they won’t slot you into a later tour because they’re that full.  Pick your times wisely.  For the Book of Kells, we were the last slot so they just ushered us through and we were literally the last ones there.  In both cases, we simply flashed our tickets and we were through so I’d say booking in advance totally saved us.
    • Kilmainham Goal is 8 EUR per person (plus booking fees online) and Book of Kells is 10 to 13 EUR depending on peak or off-peak hours per person.

Table of Contents

Itinerary Flexibility and Changes

Trips never go as planned.  This one was no different.  For the most part though, nothing dramatically changed where we had to restructure things around.  This trip was one where I simply packed too much in and had to make the call to fast forward if time was running low.

sunset in kilkenny ireland with street and castle in background

Here’s a little insight into why I feel that our plans deviated to help in your own planning:

  • Not starting the day early enough – We could’ve fit more in if we hit the road after breakfast by 8AM instead of 9 or 10AM on most days.
  • Taking too long in each spot – Between photos, videos, drone, and eyes, we spent more time than we had planned for.
  • Driving time according to GPS is inaccurate – If you drove by Ireland’s ridiculously high speed limit and didn’t stop, sure, but the reality is that you’ll be making stops to take photos of the views and you’ll be slowing down around all corners and when there’s opposing traffic.
  • Skipping meals – This is more of what happened as a result of a packed schedule.  Since we always had breakfast included by our B&Bs or hotels, lunch was the first thing to go out the window.
  • Unexpected stops – You can’t plan for these but we stopped along the Ring of Kerry to help a couple with their flat tire which put us behind.  Alternatively, I didn’t have much planned for Dingle but we got a long list of suggestions from the B&B, so we ended up spending more time there before driving out of the peninsula.
  • Losing track of time – As much as it was a massive advantage to have incredibly long days (usable light up until 10PM), it was also easy to just keep going.  As a result, there were a few times where we got to our dinner spot too late and had to make alternate plans.

Table of Contents


So there you have it, the itinerary guide for a south Ireland road trip.  It was an ambitious trip for sure, but we only covered a small portion of everything Ireland has to offer.

Hopefully you’ll be able to use this as a starting point for your trip planning and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Make Trip Planning To Ireland A Breeze
Make sure to read this companion travel guide to planning the best road trip in Ireland.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need an international driver’s license to drive in Ireland?

No, as long as you have a valid driver’s license you do not need an international one. A valid driver’s license allows you to rent a car as well. Note that there are different age requirements in Ireland when it comes to renting a car, be sure to look into that if concerned.

How many days do you need to road trip in Ireland?

The amount of days really depends on what parts of Ireland you’d like to see and if you’d like to take your time seeing them all or not. You’ll need to decide if you want to do the north part, the south or the full loop. In our case, 7 days was barely enough to tour southern Ireland, but to do the full loop we would recommend more.

When is the best time to go to Ireland?

The best month to travel Ireland is June. There’s not as much rainfall during this month and the days are longer due to summer solstice, therefore you get more time to do and see more.

What you should read next

Travel Resources For Your Next Trip

If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100%.

Credit cards: Don’t get burned by hidden fees on top of terrible exchange rates. When we travel now, we use the Wise Card. Simply load it with the currency you need before you go and use it as a regular VISA or their digital wallet card. Use their free app to track how much you have and top up when you need to.

Flights: Of all the booking search engines, Skyscanner is the most helpful and easy to use thanks to their Everywhere feature. Kayak is also another that’s we will often check as well.

Car Rental: If you’re looking to save money, these car rental coupon codes will be a true game-changer. Otherwise, DiscoverCars and RentalCars are great places to start.

park sleep fly airport parking discount code

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

Data: We’ve been a huge fan of wifi hotspot devices like PokeFi because their rates are so good and you can use it globally but recently, we’ve really loved using eSIMs. The best one is Airalo. Save money by getting region-specific eSIMs and use referral code WILLIA9500 to get $3 USD credit on your first purchase. Ubigi is another one that we’ve had success with where they uniquely offer 5G coverage. Use code AWESOME10 to save 10% on your first order.

Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs plus they have their Genius tier discounts. The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.

Vacation Rentals: Your first instinct will be to check Airbnb but we always recommend checking VRBO as well if you’re looking for a vacation rental.

Tours: When planning our trips, we always check both Viator and GetYourGuide to at least see what’s out there in the destination that we’re going to. They often have different offerings and prices so check both.

Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.

  • Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
  • RATESDOTCA – Search engine Canadians looking for the cheapest insurance including multi-trip annual policies.
  • SafetyWing – A perfect fit for long-term nomads.
  • Medjet – Global air medical transportation.
  • InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.

If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *