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17 Day Road Trip From Cork (Fast Trip For Those With A Car + Good Fitness)

17 Day Road Trip From Cork (Fast Trip For Those With A Car + Good Fitness)

Planning a 17-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 17-day itinerary:

  • Starts and ends in Cork
  • Has been meticulously planned
  • 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 your own car/a rental
  • Looking to explore at a fast 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 17-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 3 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 17-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: Cork City Gaol 

Cork Gaol

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Cork City Gaol is our first stop of the day. It is about a 20-minute drive from the airport. 

Cork City Gaol is a fascinating attraction in a castle-like building that opened in 1824 and closed in 1923. It was home to male and female prisoners who had committed crimes within the city boundaries (those who committed crimes outside were sent to the Cork County Gaol across the river). 

The goal was operating through Ireland’s turbulent Civil War, housing male and female Republican (anti-treaty) prisoners, including famous Irish Author Frank O’Connor. Other famous people who were imprisoned in the gaol include Countess Markievicz, John Sarsfield Casey, James Mountaine, and Brian Dillon. 

The Cork City Gaol became a museum in 1993 and is now a popular attraction in the city. You’ll learn about the prisoner’s stories, see the cells, and learn about the harsh 19th-century penal system. 

Stop 2: Cork City Centre

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive into Cork City Centre and drop your bags off at your accommodation. Feel free to leave the car parked here as we will be on foot around the city.

Stop 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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: Ballycotton and Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 2 of your 17 days in Ireland, and today you’re going to be exploring the south coast of County Cork. You’ll start by walking the spectacular Ballycotton Cliff Walk before heading to the historic town of Cobh, so make sure to wear appropriate footwear. 

Today, you’re also going to visit Spike Island on the 12 o’clock boat, so make sure to start the day early so you’ll finish the walk with plenty of time.

Before you head out, grab some breakfast at your accommodation, Cafe Gusto, or head to the English Market to pick up some food to go. 

Stop 1: Ballycotton Cliff Walk

Ballycotton Cliff

Photos via Shutterstock

From the centre of Cork City, it’s around a 50-minute drive to the start of the Ballycotton Cliff Walk (one of our favourite things to do in Cork). Simply put ‘Ballycotton Cliff Walk’ into Google Maps, and you’ll be led to the car park where the walk starts. 

The walk is 7km in total (3.5km there and then 3.5km back) and usually takes between two and two and a half hours, depending on how quickly you go. 

It’s a wonderful ramble along the coast, with the wild Atlantic on one side and lush green hills on the other. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for some local Irish wildlife, such as dolphins and whales (particularly in the winter), Peregrine Falcons, and Oystercatchers. 

In some parts, the narrow path can be slippery, especially after it’s rained, so make sure to take care. 

Stop 2: Lunch in Cobh

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

After your walk, you must be getting hungry, so it’s time to hop into the car and drive over to Cobh, a 42-minute drive away.

Get yourself an early lunch at the Seasalt Cafe, which starts serving food from 10am. 

Stop 3: Spike Island

Spike Island

Photos courtesy Spike Island Management via Tourism Ireland

Head to the pier right in the centre of Cobh before 12pm to catch the boat to Spike Island. The fort/prison is an impressive place, and you’ll be spending around 3 hours here.

There’s a short free tour at the beginning of the trip, which is open to all. We highly recommend joining as you’ll learn lots of interesting facts about the island. 

Spike Island has a really colourful history, and over the years, it’s worn many hats. During its 1,300-year history, the island has been home to a monastery, a fortress, and a notorious prison for Republican prisoners captured in the Irish War of Independence. 

Stop 4: St. Colman’s Cathedral

Cobh Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

If you have the time (and energy) to walk up the hill to the cathedral. It’s a lovely building, and the views over Cork Harbour are wonderful. It’s a bit of a slog up the hill, but it’s worth it!

Cobh Cathedral, or St. Coleman’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. 

Stop 5: Back to Cork City for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

It’s time to head back to Cork City for dinner, so jump in the car and drive the 30 minutes back. 

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 3: Kinsale

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Today you are exploring the coastal area just south of Cork City and the village of Kinsale. There’s a bit of walking today between attractions, so make sure to wear suitable footwear and bring plenty of water.

Grab some breakfast at your accommodation or nearby before heading out. Farmgate and Cafe Spresso do a good breakfast. 

Stop 1: Garretstown and Garrylucas Beach

Garretstown Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

You are going to start the day with a walk along some beaches. Garretstown is 50 minutes outside of Cork. You actually drive through Kinsale on your way there, so you will get a sneak peek of what’s in store for the rest of the day!

Park at Garretstown and walk along the beach or the path above the beach, around the head and then over to Garrylucas Beach.

Both of the beaches have great views, public toilets and are popular with surfing and kiteboarding, so there can be a lot going on, making them great for some people watching. 

Stop 2: Lusitania Museum

Lusitania Museum

Photos courtesy Shannon Forde via Failte Ireland

The Lusitania Museum is a 7-minute drive from the beach. It’s inside an old Signal Tower, The Old Head Signal Tower, one of 81 built from Dublin to Donegal. The ground floor of the tower tells the story of Ireland’s Signal Towers and the area’s ancient history. 

On the first floor, you’ll find exhibitions and artefacts relating to the RMS Lusitania, which was tragically torpedoed by a German U Boat during WWI. The boat sank in only 18 minutes, resulting in many casualties. 

Once you’ve learned the story of the RMS Lusitania, head outside to the Lusitania Memorial Garden to look at the powerful 20-metre sculpture, which includes the names of the lives lost on May 7th, 1915. There are also beautiful views over Kinsale Head. 

Stop 3: Kinsale

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Hop in the car and drive 18 minutes to Kinsale. You’ll find parking in the centre of the village here.

You’ll be here until the late afternoon/early evening, so make sure to pay for enough parking before you head out to explore the area on foot. 

Stop 4: St. Multose

St. Multose Church Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Stroll 5 minutes up to St. Multose Church, thought to be one of the oldest churches belonging to the Church of Ireland! It’s a cruciform church with a crypt that dates back to 1190, although the entire church is built on a 6th-century ecclesiastical settlement.

In the 1750s, the church underwent major additions. However, the church’s large bell tower is a part of the original Norman structure. The church’s graveyard contains 16th-19th-century monuments and mausoleums, as well as the graves of unidentified victims of the RMS Lusitania sinking.

Stop 5: Cosy Cafe and the Scilly Walk 

Scilly Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re ready for a mid-morning coffee, head into the Cosy Cafe across the street from St. Multose Church.

Then, it’s time to walk the Scilly Walk. The walk officially starts at The Spaniard and from there it’s around 40 minutes to the Bullman, your lunch stop for the day. After lunch, it’s a little farther on the Scilly Walk to reach Charles Fort. 

The route is well signposted, way-marked by green-ish brown signs with ‘Scilly Walking Tour’ on them. The walk has lovely harbour views, and if you’re lucky you might spot some seals, herons, or even dolphins.

Stop 6: Lunch at The Bulman 

the bullman

Photos via the Bullman on FB

The Bullman is a wonderful restaurant right next to an idyllic little harbour. 

They have a varied menu, with everything from Thai green chicken curry to local BBQ pork ribs with wasabi slaw. Since it’s one of the last days of your trip, consider treating yourself to grilled lobster, a customer favourite!

The restaurant kitchen is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 12:30pm. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Stop 7: Charles Fort 

Charles Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Walk 5 minutes past the Bullman to get to Charles Fort

Charles Fort is the country’s largest military installation. The huge star-shaped building dates back to the late 17th century and over the years, has seen some fearsome battles.

The fort survived a 13-day siege during the Williamite wars in 1690 and a battle during the Civil War in the 1920s. Make sure to head to the ramparts for the stunning view over Kinsale Harbour. 

Stop 8: Back to Kinsale 

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Make your way back to Kinsale along the Scilly Walk to reunite with the car.

It takes around 45 minutes but you’ll be treated to stunning views of the town en route.

Stop 9: Back to Cork City for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

Head back to Cork City for the evening. The drive usually takes around 30 minutes. 

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: Goungane Barra and Bantry

Bantry House and Gardens

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to wave goodbye to Cork City, and today you’re making your way to Bantry in West Cork, where you’ll be spending two wonderful nights.

Before you hit the road, grab a hearty breakfast at your accommodation before check out, or stop at Filter or Alchemy for some top-notch coffee and some pastries for the drive. 

Bantry is a picturesque little market town on the shores of Bantry Bay. See below for our accommodation recommendations in and around Bantry. 

Recommended accommodation in Bantry

Stop 1: Gougane Barra

Gougane Barra

Photos via Shutterstock

Your first stop of the day is Gougane Barra, a beautiful and peaceful spot around one hour and 10 minutes from Cork City.

It’s home to some brilliant walks if you feel like stretching your legs a bit, but we’d mostly recommend just walking around the little church (which is probably the most scenic in Ireland) and the stations of the cross. 

The whole valley is beautiful and if you’re into novel attractions, the Gougane Barra public toilet is known as the most beautiful toilet in Ireland and is featured in a book of the best toilets in the world!

There’s a good mix of walks on offer here, ranging from hard to handy (read all about the trails here).

Stop 2: Bantry

Bantry

Photos via Shutterstock

Make your way to the bustling town Bantry, a handy 27-minute drive away and, if you can, check into your accommodation.

When you’re ready to rock, we’ve some solid recommendations for a lunchtime feed!

Stop 3: Lunch

lunch Bantry

Photos via Organico on FB

We recommend stopping by Organico (there’s no seating as it’s technically a deli, but they have some deliciously healthy salads and sandwiches), Donemark West (beautifully presented plates and the steaks are a hit!), or The Brick Oven (tasty brick-oven pizzas).

Stop 4: Bantry House

Bantry House and Gardens

Photos via Shutterstock

This gorgeous 18th-century mansion stands proudly overlooking Bantry Bay, nestled amongst some beautiful gardens. It’s possible to do a self-guided tour of the home and its elegantly restored rooms (last admission at 4:45pm – subject to change), but it’s worth visiting for the gardens and magnificent views alone. 

Stop 5: Sheep’s Head

Sheep’s Head

Photos via Shutterstock

Next, you’re going to be exploring the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, a beautifully remote corner of Ireland tucked away between Bantry and Mizen Head (you’ll be visiting Mizen Head tomorrow). 

It’s a 50-minute drive out to Sheep’s Head, and once you’re there, you can either relax and take in the views or stretch your legs on a walk. Park opposite Bernie’s Cafe (here on Google Maps).

From Bernie’s Cafe, there’s the moderate 4.2km Lighthouse Loop which is moderate in difficulty and should take around 1.5 hours (way-marked in blue) that passes by the Sheep’s Head Lighthouse and scenic Lough Akeen.

If you don’t want to do the entire loop, just turn back once you reach the lighthouse. The full Lighthouse Loop takes most people one and half hours to complete. 

Stop 6: Back to Bantry via Durrus

Durrus

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to drive back to Bantry for the night.

Take the scenic route via Durrus for some wonderful views. 

Stop 7: Dinner, drinks and live music 

The Snug Bantry

Photos via The Snug on FB

After your lovely kayaking adventure, grab some dinner and drinks in Bantry. We’ll pop our recommendations below:

Our dinner recommendations

Bantry has lots of great places to eat, but our go-to’s are The Snug and O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant. 

The Snug is hard to miss with its amazing historical exterior and central location near the town square. You’ll find traditional Irish dishes like slow-roasted lamb shank and fish and chips that wash down well with a pint of Guinness.

O’Connors Seafood Restaurant is a must-try for anyone who loves seafood. It has been featured in the Michelin Guide plus they source their produce and ingredients locally.

Live music and trad bars

For after-dinner drinks, we suggest popping into Ma Murphy’s (a fourth-generation Irish pub, full of charm with a lovely beer garden), The Quays (another traditional Irish pub which we recommend if you’re looking to catch a sports game), and Anchor Tavern (an old-school Irish pub with traditional decor and a cosy atmosphere).

Head to any of the above for some live music. Ma Murphy’s also sometimes puts on events and singing sessions.

Day 5: West Cork’s wonders

Dunlough Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Be prepared for a day full of adventure as today, you’re making your way to the most southerly point of Ireland, the magnificent Mizen Head!

This rugged corner of Ireland is known for unpredictable weather, so we suggest packing for sunny and rainy spells. 

Start the day with some breakfast where you’re staying, or head out into Bantry to find somewhere. We love the Floury Hands Bakery Cafe (open from 8:30am). 

Stop 1: Mizen Head

Mizen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

After breakfast, jump in the car and drive the 47 minutes to Mizen Head. This is one of the most popular places to visit in West Cork (and for good reason!).

You’ll find Mizen Head right on the tip of the Mizen Head Peninsula. The landscape is wild and rugged, characterized by jagged cliffs that plunge down into the roaring Atlantic. 

Aside from the spectacular views, Mizen Head is home to the Mizen Head Visitor Centre (an award-winning Maritime Museum), the historical Signal Station, and the Mizen Head footbridge, which links the mainland to Cloghane Island. 

There are some wonderful viewpoints in the area, so if you feel up to some exploring, we recommend checking a few of them out.

Stop 2: Three Castle Head

Dunlough Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop of the day is Three Castle Head, which is often overlooked next to Mizen Head. Despite its name, it’s home to a single castle (Dunlough Castle), which is one of our favourite castles in the country (a lofty claim, we know).

The area gets its name from the three towers that make up the impressive Dunlough Castle ruins. 

Dunlough Castle is thought to be one of the oldest Norman castles in this part of the country, with the current ruins dating back to the 15th century, although the site dates back to 1207.

Part of what makes the fortification so impressive is its dramatic location high up on the shores of Dun Lough, with views beyond of the Atlantic. 

According to legend, the castle is haunted by the ghost of the ‘White Lady’ or the ‘Lady of the Lake’, a heartbroken bride who jumped off the clifftop after discovering her father had mistakenly killed her new husband.

It’s a pleasant 2.9km out-and-back walk to the castle that takes most people just under one hour, although you may want to spend a little extra time exploring the ruins and general area.

The walk starts here at the car park, where you’ll find an ‘honesty box’ asking for a small cash fee (the castle is on private land, and the fee goes towards maintaining the site).

Stop 3: Lunch in Crookhaven 

O'Sullivan's Crookhaven

Photos via O’Sullivan’s on FB

It’s time for lunch in the beautiful little fishing village of Crookhaven, a 20-minute drive away and one of our favourite places in West Cork! We always pop into either O’Sullivan’s Bar or the Crookhaven Inn for a bite to eat. 

Both are great choices if you’re after some classic pub grub. O’Sullivan’s Bar has a delicious seafood chowder, and if the weather’s nice, they have some seats outside overlooking the harbour.

The Crookhaven Inn is another harbourside spot, with some outdoor seating and a tasty open-faced crab sandwich. 

Stop 4: Altar Wedge Tomb

Altar Wedge Tomb

Photos via Shutterstock

After lunch, drive the 20 minutes or so to your next stop, the Altar Wedge Tomb. Also called ‘Tuama Dingeach na hAltora’, this monument dates back to around 2,500 BC – 2000 BC (between the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age).

Interestingly, when it was excavated in 1989, archaeologists found fishbones, periwinkles, and limpets alongside human bones. Presumably, these were part of the ancient burial ritual. 

The tomb sits near the edge of a cliff close to Toormore Bay, with breathtaking views of the ocean, nearby islets, and surrounding countryside. You’ll find a small car park nearby here

Stop 5: Ballydehob

Ballydehob

Photo left via Tourism Ireland. Others: Shutterstock

Next up, you’re driving to the 12 Arch Bridge, 16 minutes from the Altar Wedge Tomb in Ballydehob.

Park east of the estuary here, and from there, there is a lovely little nature trail that passes alongside the estuary, crosses the 12 Arch Bridge, and makes its way to Ballydehob Harbour. 

The 12 Arch Bridge used to be a part of the old West Carbery Tramway and Light Railway up until 1947. It’s a scenic spot, especially when the waters are still and you can see the bridge’s reflection.

The best viewpoint is here, across a small footpath/bridge that crosses the estuary near the harbour. 

Stop 6: Skibbereen Town and Hertitage Centre

Skibbereen Town

Top right photo: Tourism Ireland. Others: Shutterstock

Jump in the car and drive 15 minutes to the Skibbereen Heritage Centre. Although the Great Famine affected most of Ireland, Skibbereen was hit particularly hard.

The heritage centre tells Skibbereen’s famine story through an interactive famine exhibit. 

The centre also has an interesting exhibit on nearby Lough Hyne (your next stop), the first marine nature reserve in the country.

Stop 7: Lough Hyne

Lough Hyne

Photos via Shutterstock

Lough Hyne is 12 minutes away from the heritage centre. It’s a really beautiful spot, and there are lots of walks (short and long) in the area. 

Our favourite walk is the one up Knockomagh Woods, it starts in the car park, continues up through the woodland, and onto the top of the hill, where you’ll have unbeatable views of the seawater lake! Give yourself 45 minutes to reach the top. 

If a steep climb isn’t what you’re after, then you could always head off on a short and sweet ramble along the shore. 

Stop 8: Back to Bantry for the night

The Snug Bantry

Photos via The Snug on FB

Hop back in the car and drive the 40 minutes back to Bantry. Freshen up at your accommodation if you need to, or if you’re already quite hungry, head straight out for dinner. 

Our dinner recommendations

Bantry has lots of great places to eat, but our go-to’s are The Snug and O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant. 

The Snug is hard to miss with its amazing historical exterior and central location near the town square. You’ll find traditional Irish dishes like slow-roasted lamb shank and fish and chips that wash down well with a pint of Guinness.

O’Connors Seafood Restaurant is a must-try for anyone who loves seafood. It has been featured in the Michelin Guide plus they source their produce and ingredients locally.

Live music and trad bars

For after-dinner drinks, we suggest popping into Ma Murphy’s (a fourth-generation Irish pub, full of charm with a lovely beer garden), The Quays (another traditional Irish pub which we recommend if you’re looking to catch a sports game), and Anchor Tavern (an old-school Irish pub with traditional decor and a cosy atmosphere).

Head to any of the above for some live music. Ma Murphy’s also sometimes puts on events and singing sessions.

Day 6: The Beara Peninsula

Beara Peninsula

Photos via Shutterstock

Today you’re checking out of your accommodation in Bantry and heading over to the charming town of Kenmare, where you’ll be spending 3 nights.

En route to Kenmare, you’ll be exploring the rugged and wild Beara Peninsula

Fuel up for the day with a big breakfast at your accommodation or, if you’d rather eat breakfast in town, De Barra’s does a cracking full Irish. 

Recommended accommodation in Kenmare

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

Stop 1: Glengarriff

Glengarriff

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive the 20 minutes from Bantry to Glengarriff, a quaint little village tucked between the ocean and the mountains. We suggest parking in the centre of Glengarriff next to Quills (here on Google Maps), then walking the short distance to the magical Blue Pool. 

The Blue Pool is a natural harbour close to the centre of the village. It’s hidden away amongst lush green vegetation, which adds to the enchanting feel of the place.

It’s a popular and tranquil spot with steps leading down to the water. However, the water is very deep and there’s no lifeguard.

Stop 2: Garnish Island

Garnish Island

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Take the ferry out to Garnish Island, a small island off the coast of Glengarriff (it only takes 15 or so minutes).

You need around 1.5 hours out here to really explore as there’s lots to see. It’s an incredible spot with beautiful gardens and a historic home which you can tour (if you’ve got time, this is quite interesting). 

Make sure to walk to the round Napoleonic Tower, where (if you’re lucky) you might spot a nesting eagle!

Stop 3: Back to Glengarriff and on to Dursey Island

Dursey Island

Photos via Shutterstock

The Dursey Island Cable Car is Ireland’s only cable car and one of our favourite things to do on the Beara Peninsula. It’s a 1-hour drive from Glengarriff with lots of space to park, so parking isn’t normally an issue. 

The journey from the mainland to Dursey Island takes around 10 minutes, with some stunning views on all fronts. 

Dursey Island is a wonderful little island roughly 6.5km long and 1.5km wide. With less than 10 permanent residents, and no restaurants, pubs, or shops, it has a beautiful rural and isolated feel to it. 

On the island, there is a 14km loop walk that takes most people around 4 hours to complete. We’ve done a part of this fantastic walk, and would recommend everyone to at least spend a couple of hours exploring the island, either on the loop or just looking around. 

A particularly interesting point of interest is the ruins of a small church overlooking the ocean, just a short out-and-back walk from where the cable car drops you off. You can find the ruins here on Google Maps. 

Stop 4: Back to the mainland and on to Allihies for lunch

Allihies

Photos via Shutterstock

Once you’re done looking around, hop back on the cable car and make your way back to Inchinaleega, where you left the car. 

Allihies is a scenic 20-minute drive away and where you’ll be stopping to grab a bite to eat. It’s a beautiful spot so make sure to take your time to soak everything in! 

We recommend getting lunch at O’Neils Bar and Restaurant, where you’ll find typical bar food on the first floor.

Stop 5: Glenbeg Lough

Glenbeg Lough

Photos via Shutterstock

After lunch, jump back in the car and drive 40 minutes to Glenbeg Lough, a serene lake hidden away amongst towering mountains. 

There’s a small car park and viewing point here, so you can just rock up and take in the amazing views. 

Stop 6: Kenmare

Kenmare

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

From Glenbeg Lough, it’s a 43-minute drive to Kenmare.

Check into your hotel and then get ready to hit the town for a pre-dinner tipple and a bite to eat!

Stop 7: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Crowley's Bar

Photos via Crowley’s Bar on FB

If you’re visiting Kenmare for the first time, you’re in for a treat. There’s a handful of exceptional restaurants in Kenmare and there’s heaps of great pubs in Kenmare, too!

Our Kenmare food recommendations

For dinner, we recommend No. 35, The Lime Tree, and Mulcahy’s. 

No. 35 is a family-run Irish restaurant with a 3-course set menu during dinner. The menu features dishes such as handmade sausage as a starter, free-range pork belly with Carraway cabbage and apple for the main course, and mouth-watering chocolate pudding. 

The Lime Tree, which is run out of a historic building that dates back to 1832, is another place to go if you’re craving Irish food. As is Mulcahy’s, although it has more of a tapas vibe with small and large plates. 

Our Kenmare pub recommendations

For after-dinner drinks, head to PF McCarthys, Crowley’s Bar, or Roughty Bar. 

Stick around Crowley’s Bar for music, or check out The Coachmans Townhouse. 

Day 7: The Ring of Kerry

ring of kerry loop

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Today we are setting off on the Ring of Kerry. You are going to be exploring the ring of Kerry clockwise, stopping at some of our favourite locations that most tour buses just skip by.

Be prepared for breathtaking views, stunning landscapes and the type of scenery that imprints itself upon your mind forever.

We’d strongly recommend reading this Ring of Kerry guide (with a handy Google Map) before you set off as it’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Start the day by grabbing breakfast at your accommodation, or if you feel like eating breakfast out, we normally hit up Poffs or Cafe de Mocha. 

Stop 1: Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach

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Enjoy the incredibly scenic hour drive from Kenmare to Derrynane Beach, a lovely white-sand beach backed by soft sand dunes.

There are wonderful views on all sides, with a nature reserve at the back, Derrynane Abbey to the right, and rocky outcrops to the left. 

Although the water might look inviting, there are dangerous currents and a small section is known locally as “Danger Beach”.

Stop 2: Waterville

Waterville

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive 20 minutes to reach Waterville, a seaside resort town known as Charlie Chaplin’s favourite village in Ireland!

It’s a great place for a wander, just don’t forget to pass by the Charlie Chaplin statue in front of Waterville Beach.

Stop 3: Ballinskelligs

Ballinskelligs

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Ballinskelligs is a 15-minute drive from Waterville, and this section of the route takes you onto what’s known as the Skellig Ring.

The village’s history dates all the way back to the 5th or 6th century, to the monks who lived on the almost uninhabitable Skellig Michael nearby. 

There’s lots to do in the area, from visiting the beautiful sandy beaches and checking out the Ballinskelligs Abbey ruins to exploring the Ballingskelligs Castle ruins a short walk away along the shore.

Stop 4: Coomanaspig Pass

Coomanaspig Pass

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The Coomanaspig Pass is one of the highest points in Ireland that can be accessed by car. From the top, the views are spectacular, and the drive up to the pass is equally as stunning. 

Approach the pass via the R565 and Skellig Ring. The drive takes just under 30 minutes,  with plenty of places to pull over and take in the view. 

Stop 5: The Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs

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Continue onto the Kerry Cliffs less than 5 minutes down the road. The cliffs are absolutely magnificent, rising 300 metres above the Atlantic Ocean. 

The views from the Kerry Cliffs are wonderful, and on clear days you can see The Skelligs to the west as well as Puffin Island! 

Admission to the cliffs cost €4 and there are plenty of places to park. The cliffs are open daily from 9am to 7:30pm. 

Stop 6: Lunch in Portmagee

Portmagee

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time for lunch, and we suggest heading to the Smuggler’s Cafe or The Fisherman’s Bar in nearby Portmagee.

Both restaurants serve delicious seafood, so take your pick! The village is absolutely tiny and it comes alive during the summer months.

Stop 7: Valentia by way of Portmagee 

Valentia Island

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to head to Valentia Island, one of Ireland’s most westerly points. From the Kerry Cliffs, it’s a short drive onto the island via the bridge in Portmagee.

You’ll be using this route to get onto the island, but please note that to get off the island, you’ll be taking the ferry in Knight’s Town (more details below). 

There’s lots to do in Valentia, but some of our favourite things are the Valentia Island Lighthouse, the Slate Quarry, and the stunning Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs. 

The Slate Quarry is the most westerly quarry in Europe and the oldest quarry in production in Ireland. Slate from the quarry can be found in Westminster Abbey, the Paris Opera House, and the Houses of Parliament. 

Geokaun Mountain is the highest point on the island, standing 270 metres tall. The Fogher Cliffs are on the northern face of Geokaun, with incredible views of the Atlantic, distant mountains, and several islands.

There are three car parks/viewing points along the way. The last one here is the closest to the summit. The landowner charges a small entry fee. 

Once you’re finished exploring Valentia, it’s time to take the ferry from Knight’s Town off the island. The ferry runs between 7:45am and 9:25pm Monday – Saturday and 9am to 9:25pm on Sunday. Check the latest timetable on their Facebook Page.

Stop 8: Cahersiveen 

Cahersiveen town

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From the pier in Reenard Point, it’s a 7-minute drive to Cahersiveen. Some cool places to check out in the area are the Old Barracks, which has several exhibitions about the history of the local area, including The Life and Times of Daniel O’Connell, and the Cahersiveen ring forts, which are roughly 3km from town.

Park here to explore the Leacanabuaile Ring Fort and the Cahergall Stone Fort on foot. 

Stop 9: Rossbeigh

Rossbeigh

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From Cahersiveen, Rossbeigh Beach is a 30-minute drive. Rossbeigh Beach is a beautiful 6km long sandy beach with great views over Dingle Bay.

It’s a Blue Flag beach and one of the most popular in the area! We love it for a summer swim or a nice scenic walk in the winter. 

Stop 10: Killarney Town

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

You’re a good 45-minute drive from the next stop of the day, Killarney Town – arguably the busiest spot along the route.

If you feel like stretching your legs a bit, consider grabbing a coffee to go from Bean in Killarney and then going for a little wander through this lovely town.

Stop 11: Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

From Killarney, it’s a 7-minute drive to Ross Castle in the glorious Killarney National Park. The castle was built by O’Donoghue Mór, an Irish Chieftain in the 15th century.

The castle is in great condition and sits on the shores of Lough Lenane. It’s steeped in mystery, and according to local legend, O’Donoghue still sleeps under the lake’s waters, rising every seven years on the first morning of May. 

You can either visit the grounds and admire the castle from the outside or buy a ticket and join a guided tour. During the tour, you’ll be taken through the various rooms and given information about the castle’s past inhabitants. The tour lasts around 45 minutes. 

Stop 12: Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

From Ross Castle, drive 15 minutes to the enchanting Torc Waterfall. According to local folklore, the 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. 

There are two car parks close by, but in our experience, the closest car park, Killarney Hiking Parking Lot (here) is often full. So, you may need to park in the Torc Waterfall Lower Parking on the N71 (here). 

From the Torc Waterfall Lower Parking, it’s roughly 1km to the waterfall along a paved cycle path that passes by some gorgeous scenery.

From Killarney Hiking Parking Lot, there’s a small path that cuts through the forest and joins up with the cycle path roughly 250 metres from the waterfall. 

Stop 13: Ladies View

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

From Torc Waterfall, it’s roughly a 15-minute drive to Ladies View. The viewpoint here is a popular stopping point on the Ring of Kerry road, with roadside parking directly facing the view (see parking here on Google Maps).

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. 

Stop 14: Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive for around 9 minutes along the N71 to another popular spot on the Ring of Kerry road, Moll’s Gap! There’s plenty of parking at Molls Gap, but take care as the parking area is on a sharp bend. 

Molls 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 15: Kenmare for the night

Crowley's Bar

Photos via Crowley’s Bar on FB

Continue on the N71 for 12 minutes to get back to Kenmare.

Our Kenmare food recommendations

For dinner, we recommend No. 35, The Lime Tree, and Mulcahy’s. 

No. 35 is a family-run Irish restaurant with a 3-course set menu during dinner. The menu features dishes such as handmade sausage as a starter, free-range pork belly with Carraway cabbage and apple for the main course, and mouth-watering chocolate pudding. 

The Lime Tree, which is run out of a historic building that dates back to 1832, is another place to go if you’re craving Irish food. As is Mulcahy’s, although it has more of a tapas vibe with small and large plates. 

Our Kenmare pub recommendations

For after-dinner drinks head to PF McCarthys, Crowley’s Bar, or Roughty Bar. 

Stick around Crowley’s Bar for music or check out The Coachmans Townhouse. 

Day 8: Dingle Peninsula

slea head loop

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’ll be exploring the Dingle Peninsula. A beautifully remote corner on the country’s southwest coast, with rugged coastline, lovely beaches, and rolling green hills. You’ll end the day in Limerick City, where you’ll be spending 3 wonderful nights (we’ll pop some of our top places to stay below).

Recommended accommodation in Limerick

There are some beaches on today’s agenda, so bring some swimwear if this is a summer trip or some extra layers if it’s winter. 

Start the day with a big breakfast at your accommodation before you check out, or look back on our breakfast suggestions from previous days!

A note about today

We’re going to give you all of the main attractions located along what’s often referred to as the Dingle Peninsula Loop – you don’t have to visit all of them.

But we want to give you a sense of the stops, some of which get missed, so you can decide which you’d like to see and which you’d like to avoid.

In this guide, you’ll find a map with the looped drive outlined along with all the key stops.

Stop 1: Inch Beach

Inch Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Our first stop of the day is a 1.5-hour spin from Kenmare. 

Inch Beach, as you’ll see from the photo on the left above, is nearly like a little peninsula in itself. It stretches for an impressive 5.5km and it’s a lovely spot for a stroll.

There’s a small car park up front and, before you braze the chill Atlantic breeze, you can grab a coffee from Sammy’s (you can’t miss it).

As you ramble, you’ll see surfers attempting to conquer the waves while the mountains of Kerry off in the distance seem to loom over you from every angle.

Stop 2: Minard Castle and beach

minard castle and beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Now, if you’ve ever watched the 1970’s film ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, you might recognise Minard Castle, which was referred to in the movie as ‘The Tower’. It’s a 15-minute drive from Inch Beach.

The castle here is finely plonked on a little grassy hill that overlooks the water, commanding breathtaking views on a clear day.

Minard Castle dates to the 16th century and it is one of several ‘Fitzgerald castles’ that were built by the Knight of Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula.

Stop 3: Conor Pass

Conor Pass

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Next up is Conor Pass – a 25-minute drive from Minard Castle. At an impressive 410m above sea level, the mighty Conor Pass is one of Ireland’s highest mountain passes, and it can be the stuff of nightmares for nervous drivers.

However, you don’t have to drive it. If you head up to it from the Dingle side, you’ll reach a car park before you hit the narrow road.

From here, you can soak up views of the surrounding valley and watch the cars navigate its narrow bends from afar.

Stop 4: Dingle Town

Dingle Town

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ll have to double back on yourself next and drive the short 10 minutes to the lively Dingle Town.

It’s well worth parking up (you’ll find a car park at the pier), hopping out and heading for a stroll around this colourful little town.

It’s very walkable and, while very touristy, it boasts a fine bit of charm and character. In the town, you have attractions like the Dingle Distillery and the Dingle Aquarium.

There’s also plenty of great restaurants in Dingle (Fish Box is our go-to!) and there are endless old-school pubs in Dingle, too!

From the town, you can join one of the various Dingle Tours, like the Sea Safari or the boat trip to the Blasket Islands.

Stop 5: Eask Tower

Eask Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

So, our next Dingle Peninsula attraction is Eask Tower – a 15-minute drive from the town. Now, if you’ve zero interest in history, don’t worry – there’s outstanding 360 views from here!

The solid stone tower has been perched at the top of Carhoo Hill since 1847 when it was constructed to aid vessels into Dingle Harbour.

There’s an entrance fee (€2 – prices may change) that you need to pay into an honesty box as it’s located on private land.

Note: It’s a steep walk up to the top of the hill and shoes with good grip are essential when wet.

Stop 6: Ventry Beach

Ventry Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

Ventry Beach (10-minute drive from Eask) is a Blue Flag Beach and it has a lifeguard service throughout the summer months. On a warm day, there’s few places like it.

One of the more popular beaches in Kerry, Ventry Beach stretches for around 4.5km, and, for me, it marks the beginning of the Slea Head Drive.

Hop out, flick off your shoes and head for a stroll or a paddle. It’s from this point that the Dingle Peninsula Drive goes from good to great!

Stop 7: Beehive huts, forts and sheepdog demonstrations

dingle sheepdog demonstrations

Photos via Shutterstock

So, these next stops are completely optional. After you leave Ventry, you’ll follow the road to the coast and it’s here that there are several paid and free attractions.

The first you come to is the Celtic Prehistoric Museum. The second is the FairyFort Ringfort, the third are the Dingle Sheepdog Demonstrations, the Famine Cottages and Dunbeg Fort and the fifth is the Beehive Huts.

You’ll then drive around a bend and reach Cashel Murphy, followed by a place where you can hold a baby lamb.

Personally, I’ve never done them, and I likely never will, but I know of many visitors to the Dingle Peninsula that have.

Stop 8: The viewpoints

Photos via Shutterstock

Now, a word of warning – the Dingle Peninsula Drive has numerous viewpoints. Unfortunately, many of them are beyond bends in the road and you often find yourself missing them.

The issue then is that, at certain stages of the route, there’s very few places to turn. The first two you arrive to are Ceann Sleibhe and the White Cross.

Both are next to each other and each is worth stopping at if there’s room to do so.

Stop 9: Radharc na mBlascaoidí viewpoint

Radharc na mBlascaoidí

Photos via Shutterstock

The next viewpoint, listed as Radharc na mBlascaoidí or Blasket’s View on Google Maps is one of my favourites on the Dingle Peninsula Drive.

There’s a nice bit of parking here and you’ll be treated to a good eyeful of Dunmore Head. If you’re here when the weather is wild, you’ll see (and hear!) waves bashing against the craggy cliff face below.

Stop 10: Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is Coumeenoole Beach – another filming location for the movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’. However, this one comes with a WARNING.

No matter how inviting the water looks here, never enter it – the bay here catches the full force of the Atlantic which creates strong and unpredictable currents.

There’s a little parking area next to the beach and you can either admire it from above or walk down the winding track to the sand.

Stop 11: Dun Chaoin Pier

Dun Chaoin Pier

Photos via Shutterstock

Dun Chaoin Pier is arguably the most notable of the many Dingle Peninsula attractions, thanks to its quirky appearance.

This is the departure point for the ferry to the Blasket Islands and it’s particularly impressive at sunrise and sunset.

Now, another warning – every year a tourist attempts to drive down the path here and gets stuck, destroying their car in the process.

There’s a bit of parking near the ticket office – never… ever attempt to drive down it!

Stop 12: The Blasket Centre

The Blasket Centre

Photos courtesy Valerie O’Sullivan via Ireland’s Content Pool

The Blasket Centre is a good option if you’re doing the Dingle Peninsula Drive when it’s raining and you need a bit of respite.

Boasting magnificent views of the coast and the islands, the Blasket Centre offers an insight into the unique community that lived on the remote Blasket Islands prior to they were evacuated in 1953.

As you walk around it, you’ll get an insight into island life, how the island’s inhabitants made ends meet and plenty more.

Stop 13: Ceann Sraithe (Star Wars filming location)

star wars filming location slea head

Photos via Shutterstock

As you may be aware, parts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens were filmed in Ireland, most notably on Kerry’s Skellig Michael.

However, a section of the Dingle Peninsula was also used to recreate the Skellig Michael set for later movies. We have this point plotted on the map above.

Now, a warning – there’s no dedicated parking area here, just hard shoulder, so please use caution and never block the road. 

Stop 14: Clogher Strand

Clogher Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

Our next stop is Clogher Strand – one of many little coves that you’ll find dotted around the Dingle Peninsula.

While swimming isn’t allowed here, Clogher Strand is a gorgeous little beach that’s surrounded by rugged cliffs on all sides.

It can make a nice little stop-off point as it’s generally nice and quiet.

Stop 15: Wine Strand

Wine Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the more impressive beaches on the Dingle Peninsula is the mighty Wine Strand, a short spin from the previous stop.

There’s a little car park here and, as it’s tucked a little out of sight, tends to get missed by those driving Slea Head.

The views from here are outstanding and you’ll often have the place all to yourself in the off-season,

Stop 16: Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory

Photos via Shutterstock

Gallarus Oratory is one of the final stops on the Dingle Peninsula Drive, and it’s a place that gets plenty of mixed reviews.

There’s a visitor centre (which you need to pay into) or, if you can find parking nearby, you can access it for free via a public path.

It’s believed that Gallarus Oratory was built around the 11th or 12th century. It’s a pokey little structure, standing at just 4.8m by 3m in size.

Stop 17: Dinner in Tralee

Tralee

Photos via Shutterstock

Tonight, you’ll be enjoying dinner in Tralee, a town roughly one-hour from Gallarus. Our favourite dinner spots are Cassidy’s (gourmet pub grub) or for something a little different, Lana Asian Street Food.

Stop 18: Limerick City for the night

Nancy Blakes

Photos via Nancy Blakes on FB

From Tralee, it’s a 1.5-hour drive to Limerick City. It’s been a long day, so once you arrive, check into your hotel, then hit the sack. 

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: Limerick City and Bunratty

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’re making a stop at Bunratty Castle, then spending the rest of the day exploring lovely Limerick!

Get some breakfast at your accommodation or in the city. We personally love the Hook and Ladder. They have several locations in the city so you can pick the one closest to your accommodation.

Stop 1: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Bunratty Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park sits on 26 acres of lovely countryside a 20-minute drive from Limerick City.

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 (get your ticket online here).

The park has over 30 buildings, including village shops, rural farmhouses, and Bunratty House, a beautiful Georgian home. 

You can also take a tour of 15th-century Bunratty Castle, the last of four castles built on the site. However, prior to the castles being built, the site was home to a Viking trading camp in 970. You could easily spend hours exploring here. 

Stop 2: Back to Limerick for a ramble

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Head back to the city and park the car. You don’t need it again today, as everything from here is on foot.

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. Check out the route here.

Stop 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 10: Clare Coast

Doolin Village

Photos courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

It’s day 10 of your 17 days, and today, you’ve got an action-packed day exploring County Clare. 

Since it will be a long day, grab a hearty breakfast at your accommodation or in the city. We personally love the Hook and Ladder. They have several locations in the city, so you can pick the one closest to your accommodation.

Stop 1: Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Photos via Shutterstock

Our first stop of the day is the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, one of the area’s (if not Ireland’s) most popular attractions.

The cliffs are an hour and 15-minute drive from Limerick, 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. In our opinion, the visitor centre isn’t really anything that special, but you’ll get access to all three with the Cliffs of Moher Experience.  

Stop 2: Lunch in Doolin 

Doolin Pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

Our next stop is Doolin on the coast of Clare, about a 15-minute drive from the cliffs. Doolin is a stunning little village known for spectacular scenery and trad music. Grab some lunch in the village at Fitz’s pub, Fiddle + Bow, or Gus O’Connor’s Pub. 

Stop 3: Doolin Cave 

Doolin Cave

Courtesy Doolin Cave Co Ltd

Head over to Doolin Cave and check out the magnificent labyrinth of tunnels. The cave is 200 feet (or 125 steps) below ground and home to the largest stalactite in Europe, which is 7.3 metres long!

The tour lasts between 45 to 50 minutes, but make sure to bring extra layers as the temperature remains at a steady 11°C. Tickets range from €17.50 (adult) to €47 (family). 

Stop 4: Clare Abbey 

Clare Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Clare Abbey is a 46-minute drive from Doolin. Although the abbey is now in ruin, it was once the largest and most important Augustinian monastery in the county. It was built in 1189 on what was possibly the site of an earlier church, and in 1278, it was the site of a battle between Toirdhealbhach Mór Ó Briain and Thomas de Clare during a civil war.

Today, all that remains are a church and belfry, plus a few domestic buildings to the south and east of the church, surrounded by a cloister. It’s an interesting historical site to visit, and it’s free. Take care if it has rained as it can get very muddy.

Stop 5: Back to Limerick for the night

Nancy Blakes

Photos via Nancy Blakes on FB

Once you’re ready to head back to Limerick, jump in the car and drive 35 minutes back to the city. 

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 11: The Rock of Cashel and Dublin 

Trinity College

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to say goodbye to Limer City and head to Ireland’s vibrant capital, Dublin. You’ll be stopping at the Rock of Cashel along the way to break up the journey. 

Get yourself some breakfast at your accommodation before you check out and start driving. 

One thing to note for the drive to Dublin is that you’ll be passing through tolls. So make sure you have euro coins or a contactless card. 

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: Rock of Cashel 

Rock of Cashel

Photos via Shutterstock

The Rock of Cashel is around one hours drive from Limerick City. It’s a spectacular historical site that’s perched dramatically on top of a limestone outcrop. On clear days the drive up has some spectacular views.

The site includes a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, an abbey, a Gothic cathedral, and several other buildings and monuments.

The site was originally the seat of the kings of Munster, but in 1101, it was granted to the church. After this, the Rock of Cashel quickly became one of the most important ecclesiastical centres in Ireland. 

The area is shrouded in legend, and it’s said that Saint Patrick himself visited to convert King Aenghus to Christianity. Another legend says that while St. Parick was in nearby Devil’s Bit, he banished Satan from a cave, and caused the rock to land at Cashel. 

Stop 2: Dublin City 

Ha’penny Bridge

Photos via Shutterstock

From the Rock of Cashel, it’s a 2-hour drive to Dublin. Once you arrive into the city (welcome!), head to your accommodation to check in and park the car. The rest of today you’ll be exploring the city on foot, so wear appropriate footwear. 

Stop 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is just a short 7-minute walk from Christ Church Cathedral. The magnificent cathedral is one of the city’s top attractions as well as one of the few remnants of Medieval Dublin!

It dates back to the 12th century and is Ireland’s largest cathedral. As you may expect, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has a long and rich history. The cathedral has fallen into disrepair and has been damaged several times, most notably in the early 19th century.

During this period, it was restored by none other than Benjamin Lee Guinness (the first Lord Mayor of Dublin and owner of Guinness). 

Stop 9: Teeling’s Distillery

Teeling’s Whiskey

Photos courtesy Teeling Whiskey Distillery via Failte Ireland

Once you’ve had your fill of St. Patrick’s, head on over to the Teeling Distillery, an 8-minute walk away. Founded by the Teeling family in 2015, the Teeling’s Distillery was the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years!

However, the family’s expertise span back generations, as they established a small craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane in 1782. Today, the new distillery stands just a few streets away from the family’s ancestral distillery. 

They have several tours available, each of which has great reviews online. You can grab a ticket online before you go that includes a fully-guided tour of the distillery, followed by a tasting. 

Stop 10: 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 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: More Dublin City sites

Christ Church Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 12 of our 17 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 take a spin 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

It’s time for day 2, so grab some breakfast at your accommodation or grab a quick bite from a nearby cafe.

We recommend stopping by Cool Hand Coffee Roasters on Emmet Road. They’re a short 3-minute stroll from our next stop (Kilmainham Gaol), serving speciality coffees and a selection of pastries. 

Stop 2: Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Photos via Shutterstock

Kilmainham Gaol is an extremely popular Dublin attraction so you’ll need to buy tickets in advance as they tend to sell out quickly.

We recommend allowing an extra 30 minutes before/after your tour so you can visit the museum. 

The gaol has a history spanning over 100 years, and during its time, it housed prisoners from the 1798 rebellion, the Anglo-Irish War, and the Irish Civil War.

Visitors will have an interesting insight into what imprisonment was like in the gaol, and the role it played in Irish history. 

We’d recommend making your own way here via the Luas Red line from the city centre. You can get off at Heuston Station and take the 15-to-20-minute walk to Kilmainham Gaol.

Stop 3: Irish Museum of Modern Art

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Photos via Shutterstock

Make your way to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), a 10-minute walk away from Kilmainham Gaol. The museum is housed in the beautiful 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham, tucked away on 48 acres of grounds. 

The IMMA has a wide variety of exhibitions showcasing 3,500 modern and contemporary art pieces by local and international artists.

It’s free to visit (although some exhibitions may charge a small fee), and throughout the week there are free 30-minute tours – please check their website for up-to-date tour times. 

If you’ve got the time (and the weather is in your favour), take a quick turn around the grounds to check out more artworks and the Formal Gardens.

Stop 4: St. Michan’s

Michan’s Dublin

Photos with thanks to Jennifer Boyer

St. Michan’s is a 25-minute walk away from IMMA, but if you’re feeling tired, you can head to Heuston Station and jump on the Luas towards Saggart.

Get off at Smithfield which is a stone’s throw from St. Michan’s and close to the Brazen Head, our recommendation for lunch! All in all, this takes 15 minutes. 

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 5: Lunch

Brazen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s some very old pubs in Dublin, but one reigns supreme! When you finish up at St. Michan’s 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 6: 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 7: St. Audoen’s Church

St. Audoen’s Church

Photos via Shutterstock

St. Audoen’s Church is a 14-minute walk from the Guinness Storehouse. While it’s well worth a visit, you won’t need too much time here. 

The church dates back to 1190, making it the oldest Parish church in the city. However, parts of the church were added/restored at a later date, including the tower, which was damaged in 1596 following a huge gunpowder explosion nearby.

When you stop by, make sure to head to the main porch to have a look at the “Lucky Stone”, a late 9th-century gravestone that traders and merchants used to rub for good luck! 

Stop 8: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

For your second night in Dublin, we’ve got a few recommendations for you to consider.

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: Wicklow’s Wonders

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 13 of your 17 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be exploring Wicklow, also known as the Garden of Ireland. 

Get yourself some breakfast either where you’re staying or at a cafe nearby. Then, double-check there’s a good amount of fuel in the car before heading to beautiful Wicklow via the Sally Gap Drive. 

Stop 1: The Sally Gap Drive (multiple stops)

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

The glorious Sally Gap Drive can’t be missed and you’re best off doing it either before you head to Glendalough, if you’re up early, or after, on your way home.

The reason for this is that you’re best off getting to Glendalough as early as you can, as it tends to get very busy at times.

When you do get to do the drive, aim for Lough Tay first. Also known as Guinness Lake, Lough Tay is the jewel in Sally Gap’s crown!

From here, follow the winding road down, over the PS I Love You bridge and around until you reach a car park (on your right). 

From here, very carefully walk around and get an eyeful of Glenmacnass Waterfall before heading on to Glendalough.

Stop 2: Glendalough Visitor Centre and Monastic City

Glendalough Round Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

Park up at the Glendalough Visitor Centre (the Lower Car Park – €4) and plan to spend between one and 30 – 45 minutes exploring the centre and the ‘Monastic City’ (your next stop). 

The visitor centre is right next to the Monastic City, one of the most important monastic sites in 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!

At the centre, there’s a wonderful exhibition on the history of Glendalough and St. Kevin. There’s also an interesting 15-minute long audio and visual presentation about early Irish Saints and monasteries. 

Now you’ve learned about the site, it’s time to take a 2-minute stroll to the Monastic City next door. Whilst the remains of the city are scattered all across the glen, many of the main ruins and features are within walking distance of the visitor centre. 

These include the Glendalough Round Tower, one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. It stands 33 metres high and dates back almost 1000 years! Other attractions nearby include St. Kevin’s Church and the Glendalough Cathedral ruins. 

Stop 3: The Spinc Walk

Glendalough walks

Photos via Shutterstock

The Spinc Walk is one of the finest trails in Glendalough. The Spinc Loop takes you on a 9.5 km ramble with some steep inclines and tricky paths.

There’s some steep climbing and over 600 steps near the start, but after that, it’s a little more relaxed, though there are some tricky downhill sections later.

It’s a moderate to strenuous walk, with a total ascent of 380 metres. Having said that, if you’re in reasonable shape, you should be okay and most people complete the walk in just over 3 hours.

Stop 4: Lunch at the Wicklow Heather

Wicklow Heather

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Via Wicklow Heather

We absolutely love stopping by the Wicklow Heather for lunch whenever we’re in Glendalough. The restaurant is in the heart of idyllic Laragh, with a historical interior and some lovely outdoor seating areas.

It’s only a 6-minute drive from the Upper Lake Car Park.

The menu has traditional Irish dishes, like comforting seafood chowder or hearty cottage pies, with an option for vegetarians and vegans.

Stop 5: Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

From the Wicklow Heather, Powerscourt Waterfall is around a 30-minute drive away. The waterfall stands 121 metres high, making it the tallest waterfall in Ireland! It’s a beautiful spot, with the water cascading down the rock face, surrounded by trees. 

At the waterfall, you’ll find a dedicated car park, toilets, and in the summer, a refreshment kiosk selling drinks and snacks.

There’s a lovely walking route that takes around 30 minutes to complete, giving walkers nice views of the falls and surrounding parkland.

There are some small inclines, so make sure to put on some appropriate footwear. 

Stop 6: Bray Seaside Stroll

bray seafront

Photos via Shutterstock

Hop in the car and drive 17 minutes towards Bray. The best place to park is at the Bray Council Car Park here. It’s right above the beach, so it’s just a short stroll to the sand. 

Bray Beach is a sandy and shingle beach over 1.6km long. You can walk along the sand or along the promenade towards Bray Head and back. 

Stop 7: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

It is a half-hour drive from Bray back to Dublin.

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 14: Mighty Meath and Louth

Monasterboice

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 14 of the 17 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading out to County Meath, known for its archaeological sites.

Today, we recommend getting breakfast either at your accommodation or a nearby cafe. There won’t be places to grab a bite near your first stop, so it’s best to eat before you leave Dublin. 

Stop 1: Newgrange

Newgrange

Photos via Shutterstock

Newgrange is a fascinating prehistoric monument and the main attraction in the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. The Neolithic passage tomb was built around 3200 BC, making it older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge!

From Dublin City Centre, it’s around a 45-minute drive (depending on traffic). We recommend setting out as early as possible to avoid traffic. 

You can book your Newgrange Tour + Exhibition tickets here. Pre-booking is essential. Please note that you cannot go to the monuments directly. You must start at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. The Newgrange Tour is roughly one hour long. 

Stop 2: St Peter’s Church Drogheda

Church Drogheda

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop is St. Peter’s Church, a 15-minute drive from Newgrange. It’s a stunning French Gothic-style church that dates back to 1884. 

It’s well known for being home to the national shrine to St. Oliver Plunkett, a Catholic archbishop who was executed in Tyburn, England for treason and “promoting the Roman Faith”.

The shrine is elaborate and detailed and contains the preserved head of St. Oliver Plunkett! Other artefacts on show include his bones and the cell door of his Newgate prison. 

Please take care to observe complete silence in the church as it’s a sacred place. 

Stop 3: Monasterboice

Monasterboice

Photos via Shutterstock

Monasterboice is a 12-minute drive from the church. The ruins date back to the late 5th century and were founded by Saint Buithe.

The Christian settlement was an important centre of religion and learning in the area up until 1142 when the Mellifont Abbey was founded. 

Highlights of the settlement are the 28-metre round tower, two church ruins, and the magnificent 10th-century high crosses – the Muiredach’s Cross and the West Cross (the tallest in Ireland).

We recommend spending around 30 minutes here. 

Stop 4: Hill of Slane

Hill of Slane

Photos via Shutterstock

The Hill of Slane is an incredibly important site, and a possible location for where St. Patrick lit the Paschal Candle, which represented Christianity coming to Ireland.

The site is home to 16th-century Franciscan Monastery ruins, built on top of an older monastery founded by St. Erc, one of St. Patrick’s followers. 

It’s a 15-minute drive from Monasterboice, and we’d recommend spending between 30 minutes to an hour here depending on how much you want to explore. 

Stop 5: Lunch in Navan

The Gate Restaurant

Photos via The Gate Restaurant on FB

Drive the 25 minutes to Navan to grab a bite of lunch. We recommend checking out The Gate Restaurant (a family-run restaurant serving Irish food) or the Crystal Cafe (a great spot for light bites like gourmet sandwiches and wraps).

Room8 (delicious salads and sandwiches – vegetarian and vegan friendly) and Checkov’s Cafe (a cosy spot for sandwiches and salads) are good options, too!

Stop 6: Kells Round Tower and High Crosses

Kells Round Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

Kells Round Tower and High Cross is a 17-minute drive from Navan. The tower and high cross are in the town of Kells, which was founded by Saint Columba in 550 AD.

The round tower is in good condition, but interestingly, unlike other round towers in the country, it has five upper windows instead of four. 

Once you’ve had a look at the round tower (it’s 26 metres tall, you can’t miss it!), head over to admire the five high crosses: the South Cross, the West Cross, the East Cross, the Market Cross, and the North Cross (only the base remains). 

The South Cross, also known as the Cross of St. Patrick and St. Columba, is the most impressive and in the best condition. It dates back to the 9th century, with intricate carvings of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, amongst other things. 

Stop 7: Spire of Lloyd

Spire of Lloyd

Photos via Shutterstock

The Spire of Lloyd is just a quick 4-minute drive away and an interesting building sometimes referred to as “Ireland’s only inland lighthouse”!

It’s a long column with a 360-degree glass viewing room that is accessed via 164 stairs but please note that it’s rarely open to the public. 

The 30-metre spire is said to have been used for watching horse races and hunting in the 19th century, although the racecourse in Kells was built after the tower. 

The tower was built in 1791, although it was built on an Iron Age ring fort, with evidence that the site was used as far back as the Bronze Age!

Stop 8: Trim Castle

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Trim Castle is Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman fortification. It’s very impressive with an imposing presence and it’s only 25 minutes away from Kells.

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

It’s free to visit the castle grounds, but a guided tour of the keep costs €5 (adult), €4 (senior), €3 (student/child), and €13 (family).

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

The castle is open daily between 10am and 5pm. We’d recommend at least 30 minutes to one hour here. It’s a 30-minute drive from the Spire of Lloyd. 

Stop 9: Bective Abbey

Bective Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

The next stop is Bective Abbey, a 10-minute drive away. It was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian Order and became a significant monastic settlement.

The ruins you can see today mostly date back to the 13th and 15th centuries, with a chapter house, a church, and a cloister. 

The ruins have been used several times in Hollywood movies. Most recently in The Last Duel, which came out in 2020.

The abbey is free to visit with a designated car park. Give yourself around 30 minutes here. 

Stop 10: Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

Photos via Shutterstock

The last stop of the day is the Hill of Tara. It’s a 12-minute drive from Bective Abbey and we’d say 30-45 minutes is a good amount of time to spend here. 

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. The centre is open between 10am and 5pm year-round, but the site is open 24/7. 

Stop 11: 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). 

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 15: Waterford City

Reginald’s Tower

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 driving to Waterford City, the oldest city in Ireland. You’ll spend your final two nights here before heading back to Cork City to fly home. 

Recommended accommodation in/near Waterford City

Stop 1: Waterford City

Waterford City

Photos via Shutterstock

 Waterford City is a 2-hour drive from Dublin. Once you arrive, go ahead and check into your accommodation if you can. If not, feel free to pack the car as the rest of the day will be on foot. 

Stop 2: King of the Vikings

King of the Vikings

Photos by Peter Grogan_Emagine via Failte Ireland

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. 

If you are a big museum fan, then it’s worth purchasing the Freedom of Waterford Value Pass, which gives access to five attractions within Waterford’s Viking Triangle.

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

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 16: Waterford County

Mahon Falls

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s your penultimate day in Ireland and today, you’re going to be heading out of Waterford City to explore beautiful Waterford County. There’s a fair bit of hiking on the agenda for today (roughly 5 hours in total), so make sure to wear sturdy footwear, pack clothes for all kinds of weather, and to bring plenty of water and snacks. 

Since you’ll also be visiting some beaches if it’s the summer, why not bring some swimwear in case you want to take a quick dip?

You don’t have a lunch stop today, so don’t forget to bring a packed lunch! 

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). Both of these places serve breakfast sandwiches/toasties, so you could get a couple to take away for lunch.

Stop 1: Coumshingaun Lough hike

Coumshingaun

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive the 37 minutes to the Coumshingaun Car Park, where the Coumshingaun Lough Loop Walk starts and finishes. The car park can fill up quite fast (especially in the summer), so we suggest getting there as early as possible. 

The Coumshingaun Loop is one of the most spectacular hikes in Ireland, with breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It’s a strenuous hike, but trust us – it’s worth it. 

The 7.5km loop takes most people between 3 and 4 hours to complete (guide here). 

Warning: This isn’t a hike to take lightly and it requires good hiking experience and fine weather conditions – this is the last place you want to be when the weather is bad and you have no ability to navigate.

Stop 2: Mahon Falls

Mahon Falls

Photos via Shutterstock

After you’ve finished the Coumshingaun Loop, hop in the car and drive the quick 15 minutes to Mahon Falls. There are two walks here, a long 4km hike and a short 50-minute out-and-back walk to see the falls.

The short walk starts from the car park here, and from there, it’s a relatively easy 3km in total. After around 20 minutes, you should reach Mahon Falls, a dramatic 80-metre cascade with stunning vistas over the Comeragh Mountains. 

Stop 3: Bunmahon Beach

Bunmahon Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

From Mahon Falls it’s 35 minutes to Bunmahon Beach, from here, you’ll be travelling along a part of the mighty Copper Coast Drive!

Bunmahon Beach is a lovely sandy beach backed by sand dunes, which are home to a wide range of plants and animals. It’s a popular spot for watersports, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some surfers cruising on the waves! 

Stop 4: Dunabrattin Head

Dunabrattin Head

Photo left: Luke Myers. Others: Shutterstock

From the beach, it’s 8 minutes to Dunabrattin Head, where you can take a little stroll to admire the views. Just be extra careful near the cliff edge.

Stop 5: Tramore Beach

Tramore Beach 

Photos via Shutterstock

Your last stop of the day is Tramore Beach, a gorgeous 5km golden sand spit that juts out into the ocean. Take a scenic stroll along the promenade, or if you’re feeling a bit peckish, stop by Moe’s Cafe for a pre-dinner snack. 

Tramore Beach is 20 minutes from Dunabrattin Head. 

Stop 6: Back to Waterford for the night

An Uisce Beatha

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

By now, you must be pretty tired. So, hop back in the car and drive the 20 minutes back to Waterford City, where you can enjoy a well-deserved dinner!

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).

For music, you can’t go wrong with our recommendations from last night. 

Day 17: Back to Cork

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

All good things must come to an end, and today you’re driving back to Cork Airport to fly home. If you have a little extra time, why not make a stop in Youghal (a seaside resort town) or Dungarvan (a picturesque harbour town) on your way to the airport. Otherwise, just drive straight there and have a safe flight back!

Grab some breakfast at your accommodation before you check out, or find somewhere nearby. We like the Fairview Cafe, it’s a good spot to enjoy a last full Irish breakfast.

It takes roughly 2 hours to drive from Waterford City to Cork Airport. But be mindful of the Cork City traffic around rush hour, as this has the potential to cause delays, so plan accordingly. 

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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