Our 8-Day Road Trip Across Ireland

Our 8-Day Road Trip Across Ireland

Ireland is fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and I hope this blog makes your Ireland road trip planning a little easier!

I did a LOT of planning for this trip, more than I typically do for an international getaway. My boyfriend was invited to an Irish wedding in Mallow, so we decided to make a 8 day road trip out of it. That meant lots of stops in different towns. In order to book hotels, I had to plan out our daily activities far in advance.

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Connemara National Park

Some quick tips:

  • It’s not customary to tip in Ireland, but it generally is appreciated.
  • Irish drive on the left side of the road. So if you aren’t used to that then I would reconsider renting a car. The road are windy and narrow!
  • It’s a good idea to have cash on hand, especially small bills for buses and local stores.
  • Expect to sleep on a double sized bed, at best.
  • If you do rent a car, pay more for a legit company like Enterprise. Don’t fall for the EuropCar trap!
  • Consider buying Heritage Pass- 40 Euro gets you access to many tourist attractions.
  • Make sure to see some traditional Irish music “Trad”.
  • Beware of Black Pudding…

 

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Accommodations:

B&Bs are VERY popular in Ireland. In some cases, that’s your only option. These are great, but can be hit or miss with awkward sized rooms, lots of rules, etc. We decided to book a mixture of B&B’s and reasonably priced hotels.

Our itinerary:

We traveled over the 4th of July holiday week for a total of 8 days. We decided not to venture into Northern Ireland, in an effort to not spread ourselves too thin. That said, Ireland is a fairly small country so we were able to cover a lot of ground during our short trip.

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Great Stalactite
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin

❥ Take shuttle from airport to pickup rental car. (We had a horrible experience with EuropCar. We were forced to pay an extra $560 for insurance when we picked up the car. I would recommend paying upfront for a more legit car service like Enterprise.)

❥ Drive and check in to Annandale House B&B. (This place was okay, room as very tight.)

❥ Enjoy a walking tour of Dublin’s city Center. We took the bus into town, getting off at the main hub “O’Connell Street”. Fare is $2.85 and you need to have exact change for the bus. 

  • O’Connell Street- Millennium Spire & General Post Office
  • Grafton Street for window shopping- warning it’s a bit touristy
  • Trinity College- the main attraction here is the Book of Kells
  • Temple Bar district- main nightlife area know it for its cobblestone streets

 

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Day 2: Explore Dublin 

❥ 10:30am Guinness Storehouse Tour reservation. Worth it! The best brewery tour I’ve ever been on. Plan to spend at least 2 hours here.

❥ The Old Storehouse for lunch (Food was good!)

2:00pm Dublin City Bike Tour- You’ll stop at the Custom House, Docklands, Grand Canal, Merrion Square, Portobello, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Christ Church, Temple Bar, and GPO.

❥ Check out The Celt pub (near O’Connell Street). Great place for Trad music. Order the artichoke pasta!

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Guinness Storehouse
Day 3: Dublin → Galway 

❥ Check out of Annandale B&B and drive 2.25 hrs to Galway. (Easy drive!) Check in to Maldron Hotel Galway- I enjoyed this break from the B&B life.

❥ Walk and explore the alleys of Galway: Eyre Square, Shop Street, Quay Street (Coffewerk!), and Kirwin’s Lane. Galway is very small and you’ll definitely able to explore the whole town in just 1 day.

❥ We rented bikes and biked along “The Prom” boardwalk to witness Irish beach culture.

❥ If you’re looking for some nightlife in Galway check out Quays Bar or Electric Galway. 

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Galway Girl
Day 3: Day trip to Connemara (trip highlight for me)

❥ Drive 50 min to Ashford Castle- this place is STUNNING! Walk the grounds and schedule an afternoon tea if you can.

❥ Drive 60 min to Kylemore Abbey- a bit touristy so if you’re short on time skip this.

❥ Connemara Nat’l Park (2 min drive from Kylemore Abbey)- do the Diamond Mountain hike trail! 

❥ Then indulge at the Lodge Restaurant- it’s a hostel but also has a restaurant inside. This was hands down the BEST food we had in Irelend.

❥ If you’re not too tired check out Molly’s pub with Trad music, then drive back to Galway.

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Ashford Castle
Day 4:  Galway → Doolin 

❥ Check out of Maldron Hotel, and drive 1 hr to Burren Nat’l Park- this was very hard to find. I would recommend skipping it.  Instead drive 30 min to Doolin Cave to witness the Great Stalactite.

❥ Get lunch and check in at Egan’s Wild Atlantic View B&B. This B&B had a wonderful host with gorgeous rooms and views! 

❥ Drive 15 min to Cliffs of Moher (supposedly the Best Cliff View on the planet). They say the light is best in the afternoon, so go as late as you can.

❥ Our B&B Host recommended McDonough’s Pub in Doolin for dinner.

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Cliffs of Moher
Day 5: Doolin → Killarney → Portmagee

❥ Leave early, and drive 1 hour to Limerick and stop for breakfast. I loved Hook & Ladder! It was a nice hipster break from all the pub food.

❥ Drive 2 hours to Killarney Nat’l Park. Stop at Ross House, Muckross, Torc Waterfall, Ladies View.

❥ Drive 1.3 hours to Portmagee Marina for Casey’s Skellig Michael Cruise- a 2.5 hour cruise to see Skellig Michael island. Monks used to live here, and now famous for being featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

❥ Stop at Kerry Cliff’s if you have time- great photo opp!

❥ Check into nearby B&B. Had some delish Indian food in town for dinner.

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Skellig Michael Tour
Day 6: Portmagee → Cork

❥ Check out of B&B. Explore Valentia Island. (We didn’t get a chance to, but I heard it’s great.)

❥ Drive 2.5 hrs to Cork. We went to our Irish wedding this day! And WOW. I wasn’t prepare for how formal it was. Next time I’m definitely wearing a fascinator and a ballgown. 

❥ Since you’re probably not going to an Irish wedding today, go kiss the Blarney Stone! Blarney Castle is a major tourist attraction, but one of the most delightfully weird things you’ll do in Ireland. If you can kiss the Blarney Stone, you can do anything.

❥ Explore Cork by foot. Check out St. Patrick’s Street (shopping area) and The English Market. We ate lunch at The SpitJack and loved it. 

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Right after I kissed the Blarney Stone
Day 7: Day trip to Cobh 

❥ Visit nearby village Cobh- we didn’t make it hear but I hear it is a wonderful little town.

Day 8: Drive back to Dublin and fly home

❥ Drive 3 hours back to Dublin. Stop at Cahir Castle & Rock of Cashel on the drive back!

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Other trip ideas:
  • Make time to visit the Aran Islands
  • Plan a longer stay in Limerick

I truly hope this blog helps you plan your Ireland getaway! You won’t be disappointed.

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