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16 Days In Ireland From Cork (Slow Trip For Those Using Public Transport + Good Fitness)

16 Days In Ireland From Cork (Slow Trip For Those Using Public Transport + Good Fitness)

Planning a 16-day Ireland itinerary can be a pain in the backside… So, we’ve done all of the hard work for you!

We’ve spent 25+ years travelling around Ireland and the itinerary below leans on that experience and the many mistakes we made along the way!

In a nutshell, this 16-day itinerary:

  • Starts and ends in Cork
  • Has been meticulously planned for those only using public transport
  • Has an hour-by-hour itinerary for each day to save you time/hassle
  • Follows logical routes that take you to hidden gems, tourist favourites and great pubs and restaurants

Table of Contents

Who this itinerary will suit

Who this itinerary will suit

Now, before you scroll down, take 10 seconds to look at the graphic above – each of our road trip itineraries have been tailored to specific needs.

This road trip is specifically for those of you:

  • Starting in/near Cork
  • Using public transport and organised tours
  • Looking to explore at a slow pace
  • With a good level of fitness (i.e. it includes long walks and hikes)
  • Remember, we have hundreds of different itineraries here if this one doesn’t suit you

An overview of this 16-day Ireland itinerary

map holder image
 The map above gives you a very high-level overview of where this route will take you.

It uses several bases (e.g. Cork for 4 nights) and provides you with day-long road trips you can head off on, so you avoid having to change accommodation constantly.

Now, I’ll stop rambling on – here’s a day-by-day insight into each of the days below!

Day 1: Cork City

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

Welcome to Ireland! Today, you’ve touched down in Cork City, ready to start your 16-day adventure.

You’ll be spending three nights in Cork City, and we’re going to assume that you arrived in the afternoon, so get ready for an afternoon’s worth of activities on your first day. 

Recommended accommodation in Cork City

Stop 1: Getting from the airport to the city

bus from Cork Airport

Photos via Google Maps

We have outlined your two options for getting from the airport to the city below.

Option 1: Bus

If you want to take public transport, the 225, 226 and 236 will get you from the airport to the city centre. We’d recommend that you book your tickets in advance.

Option 2: Taxi

A taxi from the airport to the city centre costs around €20. There is a taxi rank right outside of the airport where you can hire a taxi, as well as information inside the airport if you need to call one.

Stop 2: Lunch

Myo Cafe

Photos via Myo Cafe on FB

Walk over to the Cornmarket for lunch. But be mindful that you’ll be heading to the English Market soon (another foodie destination), so don’t fill up too much!

We recommend popping into Bodega for delicious pub grub or the Cornstore if you’re after something a little more upmarket.

Stop 3: Shandon Bell Tower

Shandon Bell Tower

Photos courtesy Catherine Crowley via Tourism Ireland

Shandon Bell Tower is an iconic landmark in Cork City and a must-visit attraction about 10 minutes from the city centre. 

The tower is a part of the Church of St. Anne, which was built in 1722. The church was built to replace an old church on the same site that was destroyed during the Seige of Cork in 1690. 

You’ll need to pay a small fee to get to the top of the tower, but from the top, you’ll have wonderful views of the city, and you’ll be able to ring the bells!

Stop 4: The English Market

English Market 

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

The English Market is 11 minutes away from Shandon Bell Tower. It’s a beautiful covered market with impressive mid-19th-century architecture.

Its name, “English Market”, was to help distinguish it from the Cornmarket, formerly known as the “Irish Market”.

The market dates back to 1788, making it one of the oldest covered markets in Europe. Aside from its history and beautiful architecture, the English Market is known for its delicious food, and you can get everything from artisanal olives to homemade jams. 

Stop 5: Elizabeth Fort

Once you’re finished perusing the market, walk the 10 minutes over to Elizabeth Fort. The star-shaped fort dates back to the 17th century and currently sits off Barrack Street in Cork City.

The fort was originally on high ground, but over the years, the city has built up around it, although it still has fantastic views over Cork. 

General admission is free, but if you’d like to learn more about this historical fortification, guided tours are offered at 1pm every day (€5), and audio guides are available in multiple languages (€3).

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

You have endless food and pub options in Cork City, regardless of what it is that you fancy on the night.

Here’s a few recommendations to get you started, but feel free to follow your nose:

Our dinner recommendations

There are heaps of brilliant restaurants in Cork City, but our personal favourites are Market Lane, Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega, and Cornstore. 

Market Lane has a delicious-sounding menu featuring Irish favourites like pan-fried hake with braised leeks, smoked mussels, and baby potatoes, as well as international dishes like Sri Lankan vegetable curry with tempura aubergine and forbidden rice. 

Head to Old Town Whiskey Bar for burgers, salads, and traditional pub grub, and Cornstore for steaks and seafood. 

Live music and trad bars

There’s some might old-school pubs in Cork City, too. For drinks, check out Mutton Lane (a quirky traditional pub), The Oval (a historic pub named after its unique oval ceiling), and Castle Inn (a traditional family-run pub with a great atmosphere).

There are some great spots for hearing some trad music in Cork. Our top choices are Sin E and The Corner House. 

Day 2: Blarney and Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

Today you’re heading to Blarney and Cobh, which are both just outside of Cork City. Get ready to see castles and cathedrals and to visit the Titanic’s last stop before her tragic end. 

Grab a spot of breakfast in Cork before you head out for the day. We like Cafe Gusto and The Farmgate, but you could also wander around the English Market to pick up a fresh pastry or sandwich. 

We’d recommend this 8-hour day trip that takes you to Blarney Castle and then onto the charming town of Cobh.

We’ll take you through the stops below, but note that 1, you may not always physically stop at all of these sights and 2, these tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance. 

Stop 1: Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Blarney Castle is one of the most famous of the many castles in Ireland. The current castle dates back to 1446, but prior to that, there was another stone castle on the site that dated back to 1210. 

Blarney Castle has an interesting history and has changed hands several times.

It was besieged during the Irish Confederate Wars, seized by parliament in 1646, and confiscated in the 1690s during the Williamite War when its owner (the 4th Earl of Clancarty) was captured. 

Stop 2: The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone

Photos via Shutterstock

The Blarney Stone is a block of grey limestone built into Blarney Castle. According to folklore, anyone who kisses the stone will be given the “gift of the gab” or the gift of flattery and eloquence.

The stone has been set into the castle walls since it was built in 1446, and it’s believed that the practice of kissing the stone dates back to the late 18th century. 

Today, it’s a must-do activity in the castle, although it’s not easily achieved! To kiss the stone, you’ll need to be on your back and edge yourself closer to the stone to kiss it upside down.

There’s a large gap between the floor and the stone, but nowadays, thanks to health and safety regulations, there are metal bars to prevent you from falling if you slip through the gap. 

There are several origin stories of how kissing the stone came about, from tales involving goddesses to Queen Elizabeth I, to 15th-century lawsuits.

Stop 3: Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

Cobh is a historic coastal town in Cork City harbour that’s beautiful to stroll around regardless of the time of year.

It was the last stop of the Titanic before it departed for New York and home to St. Colman’s Cathedral.

Stop 4: St Colman’s Cathedral

Cobh Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

Cobh Cathedral, or St. Colman’s Cathedral, is one of Cobh’s iconic landmarks. It’s a gorgeous cathedral with large stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and an impressive 90-metre spire that dominates the town’s skyline. 

It took 51 years from the first cornerstone being laid to the cathedral’s consecration. Building the cathedral was a mammoth project and cost well over the initial budget.

It’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is from the outside, with large stone arches, pillars, and red marble shrines. 

The cathedral is on top of a hill, so you’ll have great views over Cork Harbour. 

Stop 5: Titanic Experience

Titanic Experience

Photo left: Shutterstock. Others: Via Titanic Experience Cobh

The Titanic Experience gives visitors an immersive insight into what life was like aboard the Titanic.

It includes a 30-minute tour where you’ll experience an incredible cinematographic experience of the ship sinking. 

Aside from the tour, the experience has several exhibitions telling the personal stories of the passengers, the role of the RMS Carpathia in rescuing survivors, and much more. 

Stop 6: Back to Cork for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

After the day’s activities are finished, it’s time to head back to Cork. 

You’ve an endless supply of pubs and restaurants to choose from in Cork. Here’s a few of our favourites:

Our Cork food recommendations

There are heaps of brilliant restaurants in Cork City, but our personal favourites are Market Lane, Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega, and Cornstore. 

Market Lane has a delicious-sounding menu featuring Irish favourites like pan-fried hake with braised leeks, smoked mussels, and baby potatoes.

Head to Old Town Whiskey Bar for burgers, salads, and traditional pub grub, and Cornstore for steaks and seafood. 

Great Cork City pubs

There’s some glorious pubs in Cork, too. For drinks, check out Mutton Lane (a quirky traditional pub), The Oval (a historic pub named after its unique oval ceiling), and Castle Inn (a traditional family-run pub with a great atmosphere).

There are some great spots for hearing some trad music in Cork. Our top choices are Sin E and The Corner House. 

Day 3: Mizen Head or Kinsale

Mizen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, we’ve two options for you. The reason for this is that option 1, the West Cork bus tour, is seasonal.

The second option is to take a bus from Cork City down the road to Kinsale. We’ll run through both options below for you.

Option 1: The bus tour

Gougane Barra

Photos via Shutterstock

The first option is this 9-hour bus tour that explores West Cork. Now, from what we can see online, this mainly runs during the summer.

So, you need to check online in advance to see if tickets are available. Here’s a quick insight into where it’ll take you:

  • Stop 1 – Gougane Barra: Gougane Barra is an isolated place filled with beauty and what has to be one of the most picturesque chapels in Ireland! Tucked away in the valley, you’ll find St. Finbarr’s Oratory, a small chapel on an island on a serene lake.
  • Stop 2 – Bantry: Your next stop is Bantry,  a busy harbour town and fishing port at the mouth of Bantry Bay. The surrounding area is rich in history, with ringforts, stone circles, and megalithic tombs nearby.
  • Stop 3 – Mizen Head: Continue on the highlight of the tour, Mizen Head. You’ll find Mizen Head right on the tip of the Mizen Head Peninsula, the most southernly point on the island. The landscape is wild and rugged, characterized by jagged cliffs that plunge down into the roaring Atlantic.
  • Stop 4 – Clonakilty: Finally, you’ll be stopping at Clonakilty, a lively town filled with brilliant pubs and cute shops. The vibrant town has colourful houses and shop fronts and a thriving food and music culture.
  • Stop 5 – Back to Cork: After the long day, it’s time to head back to Cork City for dinner, drinks, and music (we’ll pop some suggestions below).

Option 2: Get the bus to Kinsale

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

The second option is to take the bus from Cork City to Kinsale. There’s a regular service (the 226) that goes every day of the week, and that takes around 45 minutes or so.

It’s a handy option for those of you that either don’t fancy/can’t book onto the West Cork trip. Here’s a mini-Kinsale itinerary for you to tackle if you choose this option:

  • Stop 1: Arrive in Kinsale, grab a coffee (it’s hard to beat the Cosy Cafe) and explore the town’s colourful streets.
  • Stop 2: Head off on the brilliant Scilly Walk and take the tour of Charles Fort
  • Stop 3: On your way back into the town, stop in the Bullman for lunch
  • Stop 4: See Saint Multose Church
  • Stop 5: Get the bus back to Cork City for the night

Then Cork City for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

You have endless food and pub options in Cork City, regardless of what it is that you fancy on the night.

Here’s a few recommendations to get you started, but feel free to follow your nose:

Our dinner recommendations

There are heaps of brilliant restaurants in Cork City, but our personal favourites are Market Lane, Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega, and Cornstore. 

Market Lane has a delicious-sounding menu featuring Irish favourites like pan-fried hake with braised leeks, smoked mussels, and baby potatoes, as well as international dishes like Sri Lankan vegetable curry with tempura aubergine and forbidden rice. 

Head to Old Town Whiskey Bar for burgers, salads, and traditional pub grub, and Cornstore for steaks and seafood. 

Live music and trad bars

There’s some might old-school pubs in Cork City, too. For drinks, check out Mutton Lane (a quirky traditional pub), The Oval (a historic pub named after its unique oval ceiling), and Castle Inn (a traditional family-run pub with a great atmosphere).

There are some great spots for hearing some trad music in Cork. Our top choices are Sin E and The Corner House. 

Day 4: The trip to Killarney

Ross Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 4 of your 16 days in Ireland itinerary, and today, you’ll be leaving Cork and heading to Killarney.

Grab some breakfast from your accommodation before you check out or from Cafe Spresso (a nine-minute walk to the train station). It’s a simple place, but the food is delicious, and they have big portions. 

You’ll be spending three nights in this peaceful town which sits on the outskirts of a beautiful national park. 

Recommended accommodation in Killarney

Here are a handful of places that we’d recommend staying in Killarney: 

Getting to Killarney from Cork City

Cork to Killarney

Photos via Google Maps

You have two options for getting from Cork to Killarney – the bus or train (we’ll give more details below).

Personally, we prefer the train as you’ll have more space to move around. 

Option 1: Bus

Bus Eireann operates a bus service to Killarney from the Bus Station (Parnell Place) in Cork. The trip takes around 1.5 hours and is fairly straightforward. The only issue is that it’s not always a guarantee that there’ll be toilets on the bus!

Option 2: Train

There are regular trains between Cork Kent and Killarney. There are also direct trains between the two. However, you should pay attention when you’re booking your tickets, as some trains require a transfer in Mallow. As always, if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask for help at the station. The train takes around 1.5 hours (depending on if it’s direct or if you need to change).

Stop 1: Arrive in the town and try and check into your accommodation

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

Welcome to Killarney Town! If you can, try and check into your accommodation – this will likely depend on when you arrive, as some places won’t allow you to check-in until the afternoon.

When you’re ready, it’s time to explore the area and we’ve three different ways of exploring for you to choose from.

Personally, I think option 1 combined with option 3 is the way to go!

Option 1: The self-guided cycle

Muckross Abbey 

Photos via Shutterstock

Killarney National Park is big and, while it’s a joy to ramble around, it’s the perfect spot to explore by bike (we’re speaking base on personal experience here).

You can rent a bike online in advance and then pick it up from the collection point on the Muckross Road.

You then cross the road and head straight into the park. There’s very few inclines and it’s a wonderful way to get around to Torc Waterfall, Muckross House and the Lakes of Killarney.

Option 2: The jaunty

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

Another great, and very unique way to explore Killarney, is via one of the traditional jaunting cars (i.e. the horse and cart).

On this 1-hour guided jaunty tour you’ll:

  • See Ireland’s highest Mountain Range – the MacGillycuddys
  • Trot past the 15th-century Ross Castle
  • See the impressive St Mary’s Cathedral
  • Learn about Killarney from a traditional Jarvey guide

Option 3: The Lakes of Killarney boat Cruise

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

Arguably one of the most popular tours in Killarney is this 1-hour (and very reasonable) boat tour that takes you around Killarney’s lakes.

The tour takes place on a glass-covered boat with heating and it gives you a completely different perspective of the national park.

You’ll drift by the 6th-century Innisfallen Monastery, see the highest mountain in Ireland and, at times, see Red Deer and White Tailed Eagles.

Stop 2: Killarney for the night

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

Killarney is a place that’s rarely too quiet, even during the off-season.

Our dinner recommendations

There are some exceptional restaurants in Killarney. Our favourites are the Mad Monk (they serve amazing seafood like sizzling crab claws and deep water prawn tagliatelle), Kitty O’Se (splash out on the Seafood Tower to share), and Murphy Browns (hearty Irish dishes like roasted duck and fish and chips).

Our pub recommendations

There’s some mighty old-school pubs in Killarney, too. For post-dinner drinks, head to JM Reidy’s, the Laurels Pub, or O’Connors.

They all have a traditional pub feel and are a great choice for a pint. JM Reidy’s has a lovely courtyard which is great in the summer, and O’Connors is perfect if you feel like cocktails. 

If you want to hear some live music, JM Reidy’s and O’Connors often have live music sessions. 

Day 5: Ring of Kerry

ring of kerry loop

Photos via Shutterstock

Today you’re heading off for an adventure on the stunning Ring of Kerry! Be prepared for some amazing views and lovely beaches.

Be prepared for some amazing views and lovely beaches (if you’re visiting in the summer, you may want to bring swimming clothes and towels). 

We’re going to recommend that you take this 7-hour Ring of Kerry day trip that’ll take you to all of the route’s highlights.

We’ll take you through the stops below, but note that 1, you may not always physically stop at all of these sights and 2, these tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance. 

Stop 1: Killorglin

Killorglin

Photos via Shutterstock

Killorglin is a lovely little town on the Ring of Kerry. You’ll just be passing by, but keep an eye out of the window as it’s lovely.

The town is known for its annual Puck Fair, the country’s oldest street festival. It’s held every year in August, and following tradition, the fair starts with crowning the “king” goat.

Stop 2: Dingle Bay and Inch Beach

Inch Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

As you pass through Killorglin, you’ll be driving alongside Dingle Bay and passing by Inch Beach, a long spit that juts out across the bay from the other side of the water. 

Inch is one of Kerry’s most popular surf spots, and you should be able to see surfers attempting to tame the waves here from afar.

Stop 3: Skellig views

Skelligs View

Photos via Shutterstock

As you make your way to Waterville, you’ll be passing by Ballinskelligs Bay, where on clear days, you’ll be able to spot the Skellig Islands off in the distance.

There are two islands – Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. The former shot to fame in recent years when scenes from a Star Wars movie were filmed on the island.

Stop 4: Waterville

Waterville

Photos via Shutterstock

Keep an eye out of the window as you pass through Waterville and discover why it was Charlie Chaplin’s favourite village in Ireland.

Chaplin first visited the village in 1959 after a recommendation from his friend Walt Disney!

Stop 5: Sneem

Sneem

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ll be making a stop in Sneem, a colourful little village on the Sneem Estuary. The river flows right through the middle of the village and there’s a lovely stone bridge connecting both sides.

The bridge dates back to 1810, with five arches and a staircase down to the water. 

Stop 6: Kenmare Bay

Kenmare Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

As you drive out of Sneem on the Ring of Kerry road, you’ll be passing alongside Kenmare Bay, a long narrow bay that borders County Kerry and Cork. 

This stretch of road hugs the coast and, while much of it is engulfed by tall trees, offers gorgeous views at times.

Stop 7: Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

Moll’s Gap is also known as Céim an Daimh in Irish or ‘Gap of the Ox’, but it gets its nickname after Moll Kissane, owner of a local shebeen (unlicensed pub).

The pub was established in the 1820s when the road was being built, and Moll’s homemade poitin (a strong liquor sometimes made from potatoes) was a favourite with the construction workers!

Stop 8: Ladies View

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

Ladies View is one of the most popular stops on the Ring of Kerry, with roadside parking directly facing the view.

The viewpoint was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who were in awe when they visited in 1861 during a royal visit.

The view looks out over the Upper Lake, with mountains rising up on either side. From Molls Gap and Ladies View, you’ll have views over the Black Valley, an isolated valley which was the last place in Ireland to get electricity!

From the previous viewpoint, try to spot the wonderful lakes of Killarney. There are three lakes in total: Lough Leane, Middle Lake (also called Muckross Lake), and Upper Lake.

Ladies View has fantastic vistas of the Upper Lake. 

Stop 9: Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

According to local folklore, Torc Waterfall was home to a man who was cursed by the devil to turn into a boar each night.

When his secret was revealed by a farmer, the man burst into flames and retreated to the Devil’s Punchbowl. 

The waterfall is breathtaking, tumbling for around 20 metres down rocks and boulders. 

Stop 10: Back to Killarney for the night

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

After the waterfall, the tour makes its way back to Killarney. 

It’s been a long day, and luckily enough, there are plenty of places to kick back in for a fine feed and a tipple.

Our dinner recommendations

There are some exceptional restaurants in Killarney. Our favourites are the Mad Monk (they serve amazing seafood like sizzling crab claws and deep water prawn tagliatelle), Kitty O’Se (splash out on the Seafood Tower to share), and Murphy Browns (hearty Irish dishes like roasted duck and fish and chips).

Our pub recommendations

There’s some mighty old-school pubs in Killarney, too. For post-dinner drinks, head to JM Reidy’s, the Laurels Pub, or O’Connors.

They all have a traditional pub feel and are a great choice for a pint. JM Reidy’s has a lovely courtyard which is great in the summer, and O’Connors is perfect if you feel like cocktails. 

If you want to hear some live music, JM Reidy’s and O’Connors often have live music sessions. 

Day 6: Dingle Peninsula

slea head loop

Photos via Shutterstock

Get ready for an action-packed day, as you’re going to be touring the marvellous Dingle Peninsula. There are several Dingle tours leaving from Killarney, but we’ve selected what we think is the best one (see the link below).

The peninsula is on the country’s southwest coast, with rugged coastline, lovely beaches, and rolling green hills. 

If you book onto this 6.5-hour guided tour, you’ll be taken to the peninsula’s main attractions, including Slea Head and Dingle Town.

Start with a nice breakfast in Killarney before heading on the tour. We’d recommend getting something to eat where you’re staying or heading to JM Reidy’s or the Shire Bar, which both do a great breakfast.

We’ll take you through the stops below, but note that 1, you may not always physically stop at all of these sights and 2, these tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance. 

Stop 1: Dingle Town

Dingle Town

Photos via Shutterstock

Dingle Town is arguably one of the most popular towns in Ireland. It’s a colourful place on the shores of the Atlantic with a small harbour, lots of rural Irish charm, and great pubs!

Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, Dingle Town became a port, and by the 13th century, it was hugely busy, exporting more goods than Limerick. Today, its main economic activities are tourism, fishing, and agriculture. 

Historically, Dingle Town has had strong ties with Spain, thanks to the Treaty of Dingle (1529), signed by the 11th Earl of Desmond and the ambassador of Emperor Charles V.

The treaty gave Irish citizens rights in Habsburg-controlled territories (Spain, the Netherlands, and Austria). 

Stop 2: Slea Head

slea head loop

Photos via Shutterstock

Slea Head is a picturesque peninsula and one of the most westerly points in Europe. The views here are stunning and you’ll be able to look out to Blasket Island across the Atlantic. 

Take some time to admire the views and look out for the iconic White Cross on the side of the road. 

Stop 3: Blasket Islands views

Blasket Islands view

Photos via Shutterstock

Although you won’t actually be visiting the Blasket Islands, you will have some great views from Slea Head so it’s worth knowing a little about them!

The Blasket Islands were the last islands in the country that had a significant Irish population. Sadly, due to dwindling numbers, they were abandoned in 1954.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, many writers visited the islands to document the islander’s traditional way of life, and there are several books about them. 

All in all, there are six islands, the largest being Great Blasket Island and the smallest, Beginish. 

Stop 4: Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory

Photos via Shutterstock

Gallarus dates back to the 7th and 8th centuries. The stone church is an interesting shape, with the stones laid out at an angle to allow water to run off easily. 

According to legend, if you climb out of the building through the window, your soul will get cleansed. The only drawback is that the window is absolutely tiny – 18cm long and 12cm wide!

Stop 5: Back to Killarney for the night

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

From Gallarus, it’s around a 1-hour-and-20-minute drive back to Killarney. 

Our dinner recommendations

There are some exceptional restaurants in Killarney. Our favourites are the Mad Monk (they serve amazing seafood like sizzling crab claws and deep water prawn tagliatelle), Kitty O’Se (splash out on the Seafood Tower to share), and Murphy Browns (hearty Irish dishes like roasted duck and fish and chips).

Our pub recommendations

There’s some mighty old-school pubs in Killarney, too. For post-dinner drinks, head to JM Reidy’s, the Laurels Pub, or O’Connors.

They all have a traditional pub feel and are a great choice for a pint. JM Reidy’s has a lovely courtyard which is great in the summer, and O’Connors is perfect if you feel like cocktails. 

If you want to hear some live music, JM Reidy’s and O’Connors often have live music sessions. 

Day 7: Limerick City

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today we are heading to Limerick City, where we will spend two nights. Grab some breakfast at your accommodation or nearby, and then head out.

If you’re keen to eat somewhere in Killarney, we usually stop by Mug and Bean or Curious Cat whenever we’re in town. 

Recommended accommodation in Limerick

Getting from Killarney to Limerick 

Killarney to Limerick

Photo left and top right: Google Maps. Bottom right: Dublin Coach

As always, with either of the options below, it’s important to book your tickets online in advance of your departure.

Option 1: Bus

We recommend that you take the Dublin Coach to Limerick from Killarney. I know what you’re thinking, Dublin Coach? But I’m in Killarney going to Limerick! That’s the name of the bus company. They are big green buses that are comfortable, affordable and quick. The trip from Killarney to Limerick takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. The bus stops a couple of times, so make sure you get off at the right stop, but the drivers are friendly and will help you out.

Option 2: Train

You can technically take the train from Killarney to Limerick, but we recommend that you take the bus instead. The train between the two takes at least three hours and has two changes (usually Limerick Junction and Mallow). The bus is a lot quicker and more straightforward.

Stop 1: The 3 Bridges Walk

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Your first stop in Limerick City is the 3 Bridges Walk, a 3.6km loop walk starting and ending in Arthur’s Quay Park.

Along the walk, you’ll have great views of the Thomond, Sarsfield, and Shannon bridges, and you’ll cross the River Shannon twice using the Shannon and Thomond Bridge. 

The walk passes by a few of Limerick’s top attractions, like King John’s Castle and the Treaty Stone. Discover the route here.

Stop 2: Lunch

Hook and Ladder

Photos via Hook and Ladder on FB

It’s probably close to lunchtime by now, and we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you. We usually head to Coqbull, The Buttery, or the Hook and Ladder when we’re in the city. Coqbull is a casual dining restaurant serving up top-notch burgers and wings. The Buttery is our go-to for brunch, and the Hook and Ladder (the one on Sarsfield Street) has delicious sandwiches and a mouth-watering vegan burger.

Stop 3: King John’s Castle

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Head off to King John’s Castle, a 10-minute walk from the centre of the city. The 13th-century castle sits on King’s Island, on the banks of the River Shannon. The castle is in fantastic condition and is one of Europe’s best-preserved Norman castles. 

King John’s Castle was built under the orders of King John, the “Lord of Ireland” and Richard the Lionheart’s brother. It was built between 1200 and 1212, with numerous repairs and extensions over its 800-year history. 

The castle was a military stronghold with solid curtain walls, turrets, and strong fortifications. However, despite this, it sustained heavy damage during the 1642 siege of Limerick (the first of five Limerick sieges during the 17th century). There’s a fantastic exhibition on the siege inside the castle if you’d like to learn more. 

Most people spend around one and half hours visiting the castle and visitor centre. You can have a look at the interactive exhibits, try on historical costumes, and in the summer, play Medieval games in the courtyard!

Stop 4: St Mary’s Cathedral 

St Mary's Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

The next stop is St. Mary’s Cathedral. It’s a 3-minute walk from King John’s Castle, and you probably passed it on your way to the castle. The cathedral was founded in 1168, making it even older than King John’s Castle and the oldest building in Limerick that’s still in use today!

The cathedral contains six chapels, but if you’re pressed for time, the Lady Chapel is a must-visit. The Lady Chapel contains its original pre-reformation altar, which is four metres long and weighs three tons. During the mid-1600s, the altar was removed and dumped by Oliver Cromwell’s troops when they captured the city. But, by some miracle, it was recovered in the 1960s and reinstated to its rightful place. 

Another highlight of St. Mary’s Cathedral is its misericords (small wooden carvings). They are the only complete set in Ireland and the only remaining pre-Elizabethan carvings. 

Stop 5: The Hunt Museum 

Hunt Museum 

Photos via Tourism Ireland’s Content Pool

It’s time to walk another 3 minutes to the Hunt Museum. Again, you probably already passed it on your way to the castle. 

The Hunt Museum was established after John and Gertrude Hunt decided to donate items from their personal collection to the people of Ireland.

The museum has a large collection with over 2,500 artefacts, including pieces from Ancient Egypt and Stone-Age Ireland. Highlights of the collection include works by Picasso and dresses by famous Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly. 

Recently, the museum launched the “Museum in a Garden”, a beautiful garden dotted with 3D printed replicas of historical artefacts (you can grab a ticket online here).

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music

 
Nancy Blakes

Photos via Nancy Blakes on FB

There’s some excellent restaurants in Limerick and there’s some mighty old-school pubs in Limerick, too.

Our Limerick food recommendations

Our absolute favourite spot for dinner is the Curragower. It’s right on the banks of the River Shannon with beautiful views of King John’s Castle across the water.

Grab some delicious pub grub like the roasted lamb rump or the lightly breaded scampi, then stick around for some pints after dinner.

Otherwise, we also like SpitJack (the rotisserie pork belly is a customer favourite) and The Locke (they have a delicious steak and ale pie and great vegetarian options).

Our Limerick pub recommendations

For drinks, again, we love the Curragower but Tom Collins is another lovely pub.

Another great trad pub is Nancy Blakes and depending on the night, they might have some music on. However, if you don’t mind heading a little out of the city centre, then Charlie Malones is a must-visit.

In our opinion, it’s one of Limerick’s best-kept secrets, with a real old-school pub vibe. 

Limerick is a great city for trad music. The Locke often has music and even dancing on some nights if you’re lucky! Dolans is also great, but it’s a short walk from the city centre. 

Day 8: The Clare coast

Doolin Village

Photos courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

Today, you’re going on an 8-hour adventure-filled tour of one of Ireland’s most popular natural attractions, the magnificent Cliffs of Moher!

First thing first, get yourself some breakfast either at your accommodation or nearby.

We are big fans of Hook & Ladder. They have several locations within Limerick, but the one on Sarsfield Street is a stone’s throw from where the tour begins, plus they open at 8am. 

We’re going to give you an outline of the tour below. It’s an 8-hour trip departing from Arthur’s Quay at 9:15am. 

Keep reading below for an overview of the tour, but please note that 1. You may not always physically stop at all of these sights, and 2. These tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance.

Stop 1: Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Photos via Shutterstock

Your first stop of the day is the Cliffs of Moher and from what we can tell, we think you’ll have around one and a half hours here to explore the site.

The cliffs are an iconic attraction, with breathtaking views of the wild Atlantic, Galway Bay, and the Aran Islands.

There’s a visitor centre on-site, as well as 800 metres of paved walkways with viewing areas and the historic O’Brien’s Tower.

Stop 2: Lunch in Doolin 

Doolin Pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

You’ll be stopping for lunch in Doolin, a coastal village just a short drive away from the cliffs. Doolin is filled with great pubs and you’ll have the chance to enjoy a typical pub lunch here. If it’s on the menu, we recommend trying a traditional seafood chowder or a warming Guinness and beef stew! Please note that lunch isn’t included in the ticket price. 

As you make your way toward Bunratty Castle, you’ll pass by Galway Bay, where you may be able to spot distant islands or, at the very least, take in the lovely views.

Stop 3: The Burren

The Burren

Photos via Shutterstock

The Burren is another scenic drive-by on your way to Bunratty Castle. 

It is a gorgeous landscape, characterised by huge limestone plateaus and what is known as a karst landscape, a distinct landform that arises when carbonate rock (such as dolomite, marble, or limestone) is slowly dissolved by water, giving the land its unique shape. In fact, the Burren is still being shaped by the rain to this day!

Karst landscapes have sinkholes, caves, and underground streams, the Burren being no exception, with huge subterranean caverns below its surface. The Burren is one of the best examples of karst landscapes worldwide, and it has a diverse range of flora and fauna thanks to its varied landscape. 

Stop 4: Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Your final stop is at Bunratty Castle, a 15th-century castle and the last of four castles built on the site.

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park sit on 26 acres of lovely countryside. Visiting the Folk Park feels like stepping back in time as the 19th-century buildings and streets have been recreated to resemble what they would have originally looked like.

However, prior to the castles being built, the site was home to a Viking trading camp in 970. 

Stop 5: Back to Limerick for the night

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

From the castle, it’s a short 20-minute drive back to Limerick City, where you’ll be dropped off at the pick-up point, Arthur’s Quay. 

There’s some excellent restaurants in Limerick and there’s some mighty old-school pubs in Limerick, too.

Our Limerick food recommendations

Our absolute favourite spot for dinner is the Curragower. It’s right on the banks of the River Shannon with beautiful views of King John’s Castle across the water.

Grab some delicious pub grub like the roasted lamb rump or the lightly breaded scampi, then stick around for some pints after dinner.

Otherwise, we also like SpitJack (the rotisserie pork belly is a customer favourite) and The Locke (they have a delicious steak and ale pie and great vegetarian options).

Our Limerick pub recommendations

For drinks, again, we love the Curragower but Tom Collins is another lovely pub.

Another great trad pub is Nancy Blakes and depending on the night, they might have some music on. However, if you don’t mind heading a little out of the city centre, then Charlie Malones is a must-visit.

In our opinion, it’s one of Limerick’s best-kept secrets, with a real old-school pub vibe. 

Limerick is a great city for trad music. The Locke often has music and even dancing on some nights if you’re lucky! Dolans is also great, but it’s a short walk from the city centre. 

Day 9: The trip to Dublin

Dublin City

Photos via Shutterstock

Today you’ll be heading to the big smoke (A.K.A Dublin), where you will be spending 4 wonderful nights.

Grab a hearty breakfast before you check out, or wander into Limerick to find somewhere to eat. We recommend hitting up Story Cafe or Cafe Rose. 

Recommended accommodation in Dublin

Getting around Dublin + money savers

  • Time savers: If you want to avoid walking where possible, it’s worth getting a ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus around Dublin. It goes to or near all of the main sites on this itinerary plus plenty more.
  • Money saver: If you’re visiting the ‘main’ Dublin attractions, the Dublin Pass can save you €€€ (here’s how)

Stop 1: Getting to Dublin City from Limerick City 

Dublin to Limerick

Photos via Google Maps

You have two options to get to Dublin – train or bus. We will go over both of them below. The bus is cheaper and more straightforward so we generally recommend it over the train.

Option 1: Train

You can take the train from Limerick Colbert to Dublin Heuston. Now, a warning – while there are some direct trains, others require you to change over, at Limerick Junction. Make sure to check this when you’re booking. Please note that when you arrive at Heuston, you’ll then need to take a second train or a Luas tram to Connolly in the city centre.

Option 2: Bus

Dublin Coach operates a service between Limerick and Dublin that is fast and straightforward. The only thing we would say is that this is a very popular service so make sure to book ahead. If you just show up on the day, you might not be able to get a seat! The bus drops your right in the city centre, just off O’Connell Street.

Stop 2: Lunch

Neary's Pub

Photos © Tourism Ireland

There’s plenty of great restaurants in Dublin that serve up a delicious lunch, but if you fancy a tasty bite in a lovely old-world-style pub, Neary’s just off of Grafton Street is hard to bate!

They serve simple dishes (like soups and sandwiches) that are packed with flavour and great value for money. Alternatively, Sprout and Co. on Dawson St. is also a great choice.

They have a range of hearty salad bowls with good options for vegetarians and vegans.

Stop 3: Trinity College

Trinity College

Photos via Shutterstock

Now you’re all fuelled up, it’s time to head to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, arguably the most famous cultural attraction in Dublin.

If you can, we highly recommend pre-booking your tickets online, as the queues can get really long (bordering on ridiculous!). This fast-track ticket allows you to dodge the queue and gets you into Dublin Castle, too! 

Spend around one hour seeing the Book of Kells, walking around the exhibit, and taking in the beauty of the Old Library. After that, give yourself another 20 minutes or so to walk around the university campus.

Stop 4: The Ha’penny Bridge (via Temple Bar)

Ha’penny Bridge

Photos via Shutterstock

The Ha’penny Bridge (officially named the Liffey Bridge) dates back to 1816 and was the first pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey!

It’s a seven-minute walk from the Trinity Gates, but feel free to take your time as you make your way through the lively streets of Temple Bar

Now, Temple Bar can be a bit of a tourist trap. If you fancy a pint, here are several pubs in Temple Bar worth trying (the Palace is our go-to).

If you feel like an afternoon coffee, there are some great cafes in the Temple Bar area or on the other side of the river. Joe’s Coffee and Vice Coffee are two of our favourites across the water.

They’re both just a short stroll from the north side of the Ha’penny Bridge. 

Stop 5: Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Next on the itinerary is Dublin Castle. Nestled in the city centre, the castle dates back to the 13th century and was the seat of the English for over 700 years.

Today, it’s an important government complex and the site of Presidential Inaugurations and key State events. The castle is around 10 minutes from the Ha’penny Bridge on foot.

There’s no admission fee to explore the grounds, but if you want to have a look inside, you’ll need to purchase tickets for either a self-guided tour or a guided tour.

Guided tours include access to the State Apartments, Exhibitions, Chapel Royal, and the Mediaeval Undercroft. Self-guided tours include access to the State Apartments and Exhibitions only. 

Tickets for guided tours can be purchased on the day of your visit at the ticket booth.

Stop 6: Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

Christ Church Cathedral dates back to the early 11th century when it was founded under Sigtrygg Silkbeard, a Norse King of Dublin. It was rebuilt later in stone, largely thanks to the first Anglo-Norman archbishop, John Cumin, in the late 12th century. 

The cathedral is only a 4-minute walk from Dublin Castle and a really interesting place to visit. Some highlights are the restored crypt houses, Strongbow’s tomb, and the Treasures of Christ Church exhibition. 

You can grab a ticket online here –  these include an audio guide that comes in several languages, with three themes to choose from – ‘Power and Politics’, ‘Music and Spirituality’, and ‘Christ Church and the City’.

Self-guided tours with an audio guide usually last around one hour. 

Stop 7: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

By now you must be getting hungry. Dublin has heaps of options for dinner, but we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you!

Our dinner recommendations

If you’re looking for something close by, Spitalfields is a short walk from the cathedral. It’s a little bit pricey, but the atmosphere is great and the food is top-notch!

However, Spitafields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families. Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral.

Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide. If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday.

The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

For the full experience, O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row has live music every night of the week. It’s about as traditional as Irish pubs get, with a brilliant atmosphere.

The Celt is another fantastic pub with live music every night from 9pm, although it’s not always traditional.

Day 10: More Dublin City sites

St. Audoen’s Church

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 10 of our 16 days in Ireland itinerary, and there’s a full day of Dublin sightseeing ahead of you.

Now, although we’ve focused on the city for day two of this itinerary, you could easily change this day and explore the coast of Dublin.

For example, you could get the train out to Howth Village, tackle the Howth Cliff Walk, grab lunch in the village and then take the train over to Malahide Castle.

Or, you can take it easy and stick to the city, like we do in the itinerary below.

Stop 1: Breakfast

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

You may want to save money and eat breakfast at your hotel (if it’s included), but if not, we’ve got a couple of suggestions!

The Eatery on Church St. is a great choice for breakfast and it’s right across from St. Michan’s (your next stop). They do a great full Irish breakfast, or for something a little lighter, grab a pastry. 

We also love Urbanity (a 4-minute walk away) for their delicious loaded porridge and orange, mango, and banana smoothie bowl. 

Stop 2: St. Michan’s

Michan’s Dublin

Photos with thanks to Jennifer Boyer

St. Michan’s on Church Street is a great way to kick-start the day. If you don’t fancy walking, take the Luas as far as Smithfield, which is a stone’s throw from St. Michan’s.

St. Michan’s is an incredibly interesting church that dates back to 1686, although there used to be a Christian chapel on the same spot, which was established as early as 1095. 

Despite its modest size, St. Michan’s is packed full of history. In our opinion, the best way to learn about it is on their guided tour, which gives you loads of interesting info. 

During the tour, you’ll get the chance to go into the 12th-century crypts and see real-life mummies that have been preserved for over 500 years; head into the vaults which were frequented by famous author Bram Stoker; and the magnificent organ, which is one of the oldest still in use in Ireland. 

Stop 3: The Jameson Distillery

Jameson Distillery

Courtesy Jameson Distillery Bow St, Dublin

The Jameson Distillery on Bow St. is only a 5-minute walk from St. Michan’s and you can book tickets in advance right here.

The distillery was founded by John Jameson in 1780 and was the original site where the world-famous Jameson whiskey was distilled. 

At its height in the late 1800s, many called the distillery a “city within a city” as it was 5 acres, housing engineers, painters, carpenters, coppersmiths, and more.

There were two deep wells under the site to supply the distillery with water, and cellars were dug under streets nearby to store the whiskey. The distillery experienced highs and lows, eventually closing in 1971. 

Today, Jamesons is produced in County Cork, but the Jameson’s Distillery Bow St. offers award-winning tours and experiences.

There are several to choose from lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, but for first-timers, we recommend the 45-minute Bow St. Experience.

Stop 4: Lunch 

Brazen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s some very old pubs in Dublin, but one reigns supreme! When you finish up at the distillery, you’re a short 7-minute walk to the Brazen Head.

The pub is the oldest in Dublin and one of the oldest in Ireland, dating back to 1198. They serve traditional Irish pub grub and their Guinness beef stew is divine. 

You’ve had a busy morning, so kick back here, make your belly happy and set yourself up for the next stop of the day.

Stop 5: The Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Photos © Diageo via Ireland’s Content Pool

Walk off your hearty pub lunch by taking the short 14-minute stroll to the Guinness Storehouse. It’s at St. James’s Gate, the home of Guinness, and there are several tours available. 

We recommend the Guinness Storehouse Experience, a self-guided tour that takes roughly 90 minutes.

You’ll learn about Guinness’ history, its ingredients and get to enjoy a pint of Guinness and one other Guinness beer (for ages 18+) whilst taking in the views of the Gravity Bar. 

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

By now you must be getting hungry. Dublin has heaps of options for dinner, but we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you!

Our dinner recommendations

If you’re looking for something close by, Spitalfields is a short walk from the cathedral. It’s a little bit pricey, but the atmosphere is great, and the food is top-notch!

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families. Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral.

Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide. If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday.

The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

For the full experience, O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row has live music every night of the week. It’s about as traditional as Irish pubs get, with a brilliant atmosphere.

The Celt is another fantastic pub with live music every night from 9pm, although it’s not always traditional.

Day 11: Wicklow’s Wonders

Lough Tay

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’ll be exploring Wicklow, the country just south of Dublin, also known as the Garden of Ireland. 

You’ve got a big day ahead of you, so make sure to grab a hearty breakfast before you head off on your bus tour.

The tour leaves near the Molly Malone Statue on Suffolk Street, so if you’d rather eat out, we recommend heading to Keoghs Cafe (just around the corner from the statue) for breakfast and a coffee. 

Getting to Wicklow option 1: A guided day trip

This 8-hour day trip includes a fully-guided day tour of Wicklow’s best sights and includes a visit to Powerscourt Gardens (you’ll need to pay into the gardens separately)!

You’ll be driven along the Sally Gap, see iconic film locations used in P.S. I Love You, Brave Heart, and Vikings, and explore an ancient 6th-century settlement. 

There are two options for this tour, so make sure to choose the option with the Powerscourt Garden visit as this is the more easy-going choice. 

We’ll take you through the stops below, but note that 1, you may not always physically stop at all of these sights and 2, these tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance. 

Getting to Wicklow option 2: St. Kevin’s Bus

We definitely think a guided tour is the best way to explore Wicklow without a car, but if you can’t book onto the tour above, we suggest using St. Kevin’s Bus to get to Glendalough. 

Take a look here for an in-depth guide. This should really be your Plan B, as the guided tour includes the Sally Gap Drive, which is fantastic!

Stop 1: The Sally Gap Drive

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

OK, this isn’t really a stop. The Sally Gap is a famous crossroad on the Old Military Road through the Wicklow Mountains. The road was built in the early 1800s following the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

It’s a beautiful drive, with spectacular views of the mountains and blanket bog. One of the most notable attractions in this area is Lough Tay (AKA Guinness Lake). 

Another is Glenmacnass Waterfall. However, the mountain views and the narrow roads that you drive along are what’ll really make this corner of Ireland a place that you won’t forget.

Stop 2: Glendalough Monastic City

Glendalough Round Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

The Monastic City was one of the most important monastic sites in this part of the country. The city was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and went on to become one of Europe’s most famous religious sites!

Right next to the settlement, there’s a visitor centre where you can enjoy the exhibits and learn more about the site and what made it so important.

After you’re all clued up, walk the 2 minutes to the monastic site and admire the Glendalough Round Tower, Cathedral, and St. Kevin’s Church. 

Stop 3: The Lakes at Glendalough

upper lake Glendalough

Photos via Shutterstock

Along the way, you’ll be passing by Glendalough Upper Lake and Lower Lake. Carved out by a melting glacier long ago, the upper lake is spectacular, nestled between trees and mountains.

It’s home to St. Kevin’s Bed, a small cave where St. Kevin lived as a hermit for several years before he founded the monastic city. 

The lower lake is the smaller of the two but equal in beauty, with gorgeous views of the mountains and forest. 

Stop 4: Powerscourt Gardens

Powerscourt House

Photos by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

The Powerscourt Gardens are filled with grandeur and were voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s Top Ten Gardens!

The 47-acre Powerscourt Gardens are managed by a team of five gardeners, who tend to the Walled Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden, and more. 

The grounds are filled with ornamental lakes, formal gardens, and statues, making them perfect for a leisurely stroll!

Stop 5: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll be heading back to the city.

Dublin has heaps of options for dinner and drinks, but we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you!

Our dinner recommendations

If you’re looking for something close by, Spitalfields is a stone’s throw from the Teeling’s Distillery. It’s a little bit pricey, but the atmosphere is great, and the food is top-notch!

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families. Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral.

Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide. If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday.

The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

For the full experience, O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row has live music every night of the week. It’s about as traditional as Irish pubs get, with a brilliant atmosphere.

The Celt is another fantastic pub with live music every night from 9pm, although it’s not always traditional.

Day 12: Mighty Meath and Louth

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 12 of the 16 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading out to County Meath to explore the Boyne River Valley, known for its archaeological sites.

It’s another jam-packed day, so make sure to have a hearty breakfast and pack some snacks in case you get peckish on the road.

Today’s 10-hour organised day trip leaves from the same spot, near the Molly Malone statue. There aren’t too many breakfast options open this early, so once again, we recommend Keoghs Cafe as they open at 6am. 

Keep reading below for an overview of the tour, but please note that 1, you may not always physically stop at all of these sights and 2, these tours are subject to change, so always check with the provider in advance. 

Stop 1: Hill of Uisneach

Hill of Uisneach

Photos via Shutterstock

The Hill of Uisneach is an ancient ceremonial site that’s home to numerous monuments and earthen artefacts.

It’s an interesting spot that’s steeped in folklore, and according to Irish mythology, the hill is the centre of Ireland and where everything began!

At the site, you’ll find a conjoined ringfort, arguably the most important monument on the hill, a monument known as St Patrick’s Bed (stood at the highest point on the hill), and the Stone of the Divisions, a group of stones said to mark the exact centre of Ireland. 

Stop 2: Fore Abbey

Fore Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Fore Abbey is the ruin of a Benedictine Abbey founded by St. Feichin in the 7th century. The ruins are in good condition with several features that are still visible to this day, including St. Feichin’s Church which was built in 900 AD. 

The abbey is known for its legendary “Seven Wonders of Fore”. These are the monastery in the bog; the water that flows uphill; the tree that has three branches; the mill without a race; the water that doesn’t boil (in St. Fechin’s holy well); the anchorite in a cell; and the lintel-stone raised by St. Fechin’s prayers. 

Aside from the wonders, Fore Abbey is also well known for the Fore Crosses, 18 crosses that are spread out over 10km. 

Stop 3: Loughcrew Passage Tombs

Loughcrew Cairns

Photos via Shutterstock

The Loughcrew Passage Tombs, or Loughcrew Cairns, are a group of neolithic passage tombs that date back to 3000 BC.

Cairn T is the largest of the tombs and can be seen from many miles away. It contains magnificent examples of Neolithic art and is perfectly aligned to the sunrise during the spring and autumn equinoxes. 

Like Fore Abbey, this site is also entangled in folklore. According to local legend. The huge throne-like boulder (nicknamed the Hag’s Chair) on the Cairn’s north side, was the seat of an old witch!

Please note that the walk up to the cairns is very steep and may prove difficult for those with low levels of fitness.

Stop 4: Trim Castle

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Trim Castle is Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman fortification. It’s very impressive with an imposing presence that’ll catch your eye from afar as you approach the town.

The Castle dates back to the 12th century and took Hugh de Lacy and his successors 30 years to complete. 

The tour of Trim Castle is well worth it, especially for any Braveheart fans, as parts of the movie were filmed there!

If you have time, take a stroll out to the large tower ruins on the hill past the castle (you can’t miss them). You’ll get a great view of the castle from afar from this point.

Stop 5: The Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

Photos via Shutterstock

The Hill of Tara has been in use since the late Stone Age, but it’s known best as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, with all old Irish roads leading to the site!

The site is shrouded in myth, and the story of Conn of the Hundred Battles tells the tale of how the High Kings of Ireland came to be. 

It’s free to visit, with a free 25-minute Audio Visual Show at the visitor centre (in the church), and free guided tours scheduled every day.

Stop 6: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

From the Hill of Tara, it’s a 50-minute drive back to Dublin City Centre (depending on traffic). 

By now, you must be getting hungry. Dublin has heaps of options for dinner, but we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you!

Our dinner recommendations

If you’re looking for something close by, Spitalfields is a short walk from the cathedral. It’s a little bit pricey, but the atmosphere is great, and the food is top-notch!

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families. Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral.

Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide. If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday.

The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

For the full experience, O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row has live music every night of the week. It’s about as traditional as Irish pubs get, with a brilliant atmosphere.

The Celt is another fantastic pub with live music every night from 9pm, although it’s not always traditional.

Day 13: Waterford City

Waterford Treasures: Medieval Museum

Photos courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures via Failte Ireland

It’s time to pack your things and check out of your accommodation in Dublin, as today you’re heading to Waterford City, the oldest city in Ireland. You’ll spend 3 nights here before heading back to Cork City to fly home. 

Before you leave Dublin, get some breakfast either at your accommodation or nearby.

Recommended accommodation in/near Waterford City

Stop 1: Travel to Waterford City

Waterford City

Photos via Shutterstock

You have two options for getting to Waterford from Cork – the bus or train. The bus is the most straightforward and what we would personally take, but, we’ll outline both options below for you.

As always, we strongly recommend booking your tickets a few days in advance:

Option 1: Bus

We’d recommend getting the Expressway bus from the bus station at Parnell Place (pictured above). It takes just over 2 hours in total.

Option 2: Train

You can also get a train between the two. Just note that you may need to change trains multiple times at Mallow or at Limerick Junction, or both. 

Stop 2: King of the Vikings

King of the Vikings

Photos by Peter Grogan_Emagine via Failte Ireland

As we mentioned earlier, Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland, dating back as far as 914 A.D., when it was originally a Viking settlement. King of the Vikings is a really cool virtual reality experience that shows visitors what the city would have been like when it was inhabited by Vikings. 

You’ll find it inside the Viking Triangle, on the south bank of the Suir River, which was named after the 1,000-year-old Viking walls that used to surround the area. The experience takes place inside a reconstructed Viking house that sits in the centre of 13th-century Franciscan Friary ruins. The virtual reality experience lasts for 30 minutes, and since it’s only a small space with enough room for 10 people only, pre-booking is advised. 

Stop 3: Reginald’s Tower

Reginald’s Tower

Photos courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures via Failte Ireland

Your next stop, Reginald’s Tower, is only a 3-minute walk down the road from the King of the Vikings. The tower is the oldest civic building in the country and has been in continuous use for over 800 years! 

Originally, a wooden Viking fort stood on the site, but later on, the Anglo-Normans replaced it with the impressive stone tower. The tower was part of ancient Waterford and is thought to be one of the points of the Viking Triangle, alongside Turgesius Tower and St. Martins Castle. 

Inside, you’ll find a part of the Waterford Museum of Treasures, which focuses primarily on Waterford’s Viking heritage (you’ll be visiting the other parts later!). 

Stop 4: Lunch

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s probably around lunchtime now, so grab a bite to eat somewhere in the city. We suggest checking out The Granary or McLeary’s Restaurant. 

The Granary is a charming quay-side cafe offering homemade light bites such as quiches, salads, and sandwiches. McLeary’s Restaurant (not to be confused with McLeary’s Cafe, although this is another lovely spot a 15-minute walk from the Viking Triangle) is a good choice if you’re looking for a late lunch. They open at 1pm, offering Irish dishes like slow-roast lamb shank and fish and chips. 

Stop 5: Waterford Treasures: Medieval Museum

Waterford Treasures: Medieval Museum

Photos courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures via Failte Ireland

It’s time to visit another branch of the Waterford Treasures Museum, which is just a short walk from your previous stops. The Medieval Museum is the only purpose-built Medieval museum in the country, with a focus on the Medieval heritage of Waterford. 

It’s an interesting museum with a great collection and some really good exhibits. Inside, you’ll find the oldest wine vault in Ireland, the only surviving full set of Medieval vestments in Europe, and the earliest gold ring brooch in Europe. 

Stop 6: Waterford Treasures: The Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace

Photo left: Joseph Carr. Others: Keith Fitzgerald/George Munday

Your final sightseeing stop of the day is the final Waterford Treasures museum, The Bishop’s Palace. This museum is a short 3-minute walk from the Medieval Museum and well worth a visit. 

It’s a cool museum set inside a magnificent 18th-century townhouse, with guided tours led by guides in historical costume! The historic home is decorated with period decor, showcasing 18th-century furniture, glass, art, and silverware. A highlight of the collection is the Penrose Decanter, the oldest piece of Waterford Crystal in the world, dating back to 1789. 

Stop 7: Dinner, drinks, and live music 

An Uisce Beatha

Photo left: Google Maps. Others via An Uisce Beatha on Fb

For your final night in Ireland, we suggest checking out Momo, Bodega, or Sheehan’s. 

You’ve a fine evening of eating and sipping ahead of you in the ancient city of Waterford.

Here’s a couple of recommendations to get you going!

Our dinner recommendations

There’s a heap of great restaurants in Waterford. Head to Momo if you’re in the mood for an eclectic mix of international dishes, with things like Thai yellow curry and Masala cauliflower steak on the menu. 

Bodega is a great choice if you’re after a casual dining experience, with some delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes on offer.

Finally, if you’re after modern European cuisine, then we recommend enjoying dinner at Sheehan’s. You’ll find classics like burgers and steaks, as well as daily specials like chicken and chorizo pie. 

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Waterford. A couple of our favourites are J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer (a fully-preserved Victorian bar) and An Uisce Beatha (an old-school pub with a great selection of craft beers).

For live music, head to Katty Beary, Tullys Bar, and An Uisce Beatha (which we mentioned above).

Day 14: Kilkenny

Kilkenny City

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’ll be heading to Kilkenny, a lovely medieval town, to explore some of its top attractions!

Start the day with a hearty breakfast at your accommodation or find somewhere nearby.

Stop 1: Get the train to Kilkenny

Kilkenny to Waterford

Photos via Google Maps

There are trains from Waterford to Kilkenny leaving throughout the day.

If you catch the 11:00 train, you will be in Kilkenny by 11:35 with plenty of time to explore the city.

Stop 2: Lunch

Aroi Kilkenny

Photos via Aroi on FB

Our go-to lunch spots in Kilkenny are Aroi (a fantastic Asian fusion restaurant that opens from 12pm) or Petronella (a great spot for a light lunch or comfort food like steaks and chicken goujons, again, they open from 12pm).

Stop 3: Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Kilkenny Castle is in the heart of Kilkenny on the banks of the River Nore. The castle dates back to 1195, although the present castle is primarily a Victorian remodel, making it rather unique as far as Irish castles go. When it was built, the Norman castle, which was constructed by Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (also known as ‘Strongbow’) would have been a key defensive building.

The castle has a spectacular and lavish interior which is accessible via guided or self-guided tours. The castle grounds are equally as beautiful, with 21 acres of parklands that are free to visit. It’s well worth taking a little stroll along one of the trails and viewing the castle from the outside.

Stop 4: Smithwicks Brewery Experience

Smithwick’s tour

Photo left: Courtesy Dylan Vaughan (via Failte Ireland). Others via Smithwick’s

The Smithwick’s Brewery Experience is a short eight-minute walk from Kilkenny Castle. Smithwick’s Irish Ales can be traced back to 1710, and today, it’s one of Ireland’s most popular beers.

The guided tour of the brewery lasts roughly one hour, with information about the beer’s history, the brewing process, and a free tasting at the end (a delicious Smithwick’s pint).

Stop 5: Back to Waterford for the night

An Uisce Beatha

Photo left: Google Maps. Others via An Uisce Beatha on Fb

It’s a 13-minute walk to Kilkenny MacDonagh station. If you take the 16:44 train, you will be in Waterford by 17:21. Don’t worry if you miss it. There are plenty of trains after this one.

Our dinner recommendations

There’s a heap of great restaurants in Waterford. Head to Momo if you’re in the mood for an eclectic mix of international dishes, with things like Thai yellow curry and Masala cauliflower steak on the menu. 

Bodega is a great choice if you’re after a casual dining experience, with some delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes on offer.

Finally, if you’re after modern European cuisine, then we recommend enjoying dinner at Sheehan’s. You’ll find classics like burgers and steaks, as well as daily specials like chicken and chorizo pie. 

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Waterford. A couple of our favourites are J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer (a fully-preserved Victorian bar) and An Uisce Beatha (an old-school pub with a great selection of craft beers).

For live music, head to Katty Beary, Tullys Bar, and An Uisce Beatha (which we mentioned above).

Day 15: The Waterford Greenway

Waterford Greenway

Photos courtesy Luke Myers via Failte Ireland

On your second to last day, you are going to explore the wonderful Waterford Greenway. It’s going to be an action-packed day, so make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for your trip!

Grab a big breakfast from your accommodation or from No 9 Cafe or Cafe Lucia (a couple of our go-to breakfast spots in the city).

Stop 1: Rent a bike

Waterford Greenway bike hire

Photo left: Google Maps. Others: Shutterstock

The first step in hitting the Greenway is hiring a bike! We like Greenway Waterford Bike Hire on Hanover Street, which is where you’ll be essentially starting and ending the day’s cycle.

Today, you will be cycling a grand total of 48km. If this seems a little daunting, just bear in mind that the Greenway is a straight track and this will be a there-and-back cycle, so you can always just turn back around whenever you’ve had enough.

Stop 2: Killoteran

Killoteran

Photo left: Google Maps. Others: Shutterstock

The first leg of the journey starts at Grattan Quay in the city and follows along the River Suir. It’s a 7.5km stretch that passes by Woodstown, the remains of an 8th-century Viking settlement (you’ll have seen some artefacts recovered there yesterday at Reginald’s tower!) and the Waterford Institute of Technology campus.

Stop 3: Kilmeaden

ourtesy Mount Congreave Gardens

Photos courtesy Mount Congreave Gardens

This next section is a light and breezy 3km along a flat section of the Greenway. Keep your eyes peeled for the four-bay lime kilns that were used in the 19th century for burning lime, which was used for whitewashing houses and farming.

You’ll also be cycling by Mount Congreve Gardens, a beautiful 18th-century garden that you may want to make a quick stop at. The garden is part of a Georgian estate and is filled with camellias, azaleas, and rhododendrons in late spring.

This section of the Greenway is castles galore, the trail enters a lovely shaded woodland, but just before, you’ll cycle past the ruins of a Norman Castle. Not long after, you will see the ruins of Kilmeaden Castle, which date back to the 17th century! If two castles weren’t enough, you’ll be able to spot La Poer Castle, which has stood in ruin since 1850 when it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell.

Stop 4: Kilmacthomas for lunch

The Greenway Grill

Photo left: Google Maps. Others via The Greenway Grill

This next section is longer than the previous two, stretching on for 13.5km. It’s mostly flat, but you will encounter a few ups and downs.

By this point, the Greenway is starting to become more rural, weaving through some beautiful farmland with the looming Comeragh Mountains in the north.

Look out for a tall chimney tower in the distance, which belongs to Fairbrook Mill, an 18th-century mill that processed paper and wool. If you feel like taking a break, why not visit the Fairbrook House gardens? This section is also home to the historic Kilmacthomas Workhouse.

There are plenty of places to eat in Kilmacthomas, but we normally like to stop over at The Greenway Grill, which is a popular lunch spot for cyclists on the Greenway. They’ve got everything from hearty burgers to delicious salads.

Stop 5: The Viaduct

Kimacthomas Viaduct

Photos via Shutterstock

After lunch, cycle a little farther for a closer look at Kimacthomas Viaduct. The impressive stone viaduct dates back to 1878, with eight huge arches spanning across the river.

It’s just a short cycle from Greenway Grill.

Stop 6: Back to Waterford City

Waterford City

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to turn around and cycle back to Waterford City, where you’ll be enjoying one last dinner before you head home tomorrow. 

Stop 7: Dinner, drinks, and live music

An Uisce Beatha

Photo left: Google Maps. Others via An Uisce Beatha on Fb

Our dinner recommendations

There’s a heap of great restaurants in Waterford. Head to Momo if you’re in the mood for an eclectic mix of international dishes, with things like Thai yellow curry and Masala cauliflower steak on the menu. 

Bodega is a great choice if you’re after a casual dining experience, with some delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes on offer.

Finally, if you’re after modern European cuisine, then we recommend enjoying dinner at Sheehan’s. You’ll find classics like burgers and steaks, as well as daily specials like chicken and chorizo pie. 

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Waterford. A couple of our favourites are J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer (a fully-preserved Victorian bar) and An Uisce Beatha (an old-school pub with a great selection of craft beers).

For live music, head to Katty Beary, Tullys Bar, and An Uisce Beatha (which we mentioned above). 

Day 16: Back to Cork

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

All good things must come to an end, and today, you’re heading back to Cork to catch the flight home. 

As there’s no direct bus or train to Cork Airport from Waterford, you’ll need to follow the two steps below:

Step 1: Get from Waterford to Cork City

The only way to get between Waterford and Cork is by bus (either Expressway or Dublin Coach). We’d recommend booking these tickets in advance and giving yourself plenty of time.

Step 2: Getting from Cork City to the airport

You’ll then either need to take the bus or a taxi. It’s around a 20-minute drive from the city to the airport.

And that’s a wrap on this road trip

slea head loop

Photos via Shutterstock

We hope you found the above road trip guide useful. If you have any questions, ask in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help.

Or, if you’d like to browse our other Irish Road Trip itineraries, visit our Road Trip Hub – cheers!

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