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17 Days In Ireland From Rosslare (‘Slow-Trip’ For Those Using A Car + Good Fitness)

17 Days In Ireland From Rosslare (‘Slow-Trip’ For Those Using 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 Rosslare
  • 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 Rosslare
  • Using your car/a rental
  • Looking to explore at a slow pace
  • With a good level of fitness (i.e. it includes long walks and hikes)
  • Remember, we have hundreds of different itineraries here if this one doesn’t suit you

An overview of this 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: New Ross

Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience

Photo left: Via Failte Ireland. Others ©Tourism Ireland

It’s day one and welcome to Ireland! Today, you’ve arrived into Rosslare via the ferry and will make your way to New Ross, a bustling town on the banks of the River Barrow. We’re going to assume you’ve arrived into the country just a little before lunch, so we’ve planned an afternoon’s worth of activities for you.

You’ll be spending two nights in New Ross – here are our suggestions in case you don’t know where to stay:

Recommended accommodation in New Ross

Stop 1: New Ross

New Ross

Photos via Shutterstock

From Rosslare, it’s a 44-minute drive to New Ross. Once you arrive, check into your hotel if you can, or at the very least, leave the car as you’ll be spending the afternoon exploring the town on foot.

Stop 2: Lunch

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

After the long journey, you must be about ready for lunch. We always stop by The Cracked Teapot or Ann McDonald’s Cafe and Bistro whenever we’re in town.

The Cracked Teapot is a lovely little spot near the Quay, with quirky decor that reminds us of an old-fashioned tea room! Their menu features delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes such as frittatas and sandwiches, as well as a range of homemade cakes.

Ann McDonald’s Cafe and Bistro, on Mary Street, is a great choice for light bites and heartier dishes. While they do have some vegetarian options on the menu, they also have a wide choice of dishes for meat-eaters, such as chicken curry and their traditional toastie, which is made using Wexford ham and Wexford cheddar.

Stop 3: Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience

Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience

Photo left: Via Failte Ireland. Others ©Tourism Ireland

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is a short stroll away from the centre of town, located right on the water. It’s one the biggest attractions in the area, offering visitors a unique insight into what it would have been like onboard an 1840s famine ship bound for America.

The experience is immersive from the moment you step on board, ticket in hand, right until you arrive into the ‘New Word’ of Savannah, Georgia. You’ll be joined by fellow “passengers” in period costumes who will share stories of the hardship of the journey as well as what happened to the emigrants once they arrived.

The tour ends with the American Hall of Fame, an exhibition that pays tribute to famous Irish emigrants such as Henry Ford, the Kennedy family, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The guided tour is roughly one hour long.

Stop 4: Dinner, drinks, and live music

Mannions

Photos via Mannions on FB

It’s time to draw the day to a close with dinner, drinks, and local music. If it’s a little too early for your liking, why not stroll around New Ross for a bit to work up an appetite?

You’ll be out the whole day tomorrow, so you might not get another opportunity!

Our New Ross food recommendations

For dinner, we recommend checking out Il Primo Italian Restaurant, The Holy Grail Restaurant, and (once again) Ann McDonald’s Cafe and Restaurant.

Il Primo is the best place in town for some authentic Italian food. In keeping with the international theme, The Holy Grail is a top choice if you’re looking for tasty Indian and Asian cuisine.

We recommend their signature “Holy Grail” Chicken Curry or the King Prawn Mango Curry. The Holy Grail is a cut above your typical Indian restaurant, with head chef and owner Shijo Bhaksaran beginning his career cooking in five-star hotels in India.

Our New Ross pub recommendations

Mannions, pictured above, is located on the edge of New Ross, but it’s worth getting a taxi out to.

If you’re in the mood for some post-dinner drinks (you are on holiday after all), then stop by Prendergast (a traditional Irish pub on The Quay) Corcoran’s Bar (a sixth-generation pub 20-minutes from the centre of town on foot. They have a scenic beer garden and are one of the oldest family-run pubs in continued proprietorship in the country!), or The Ross Inn (a beautifully decorated pub with a cosy vibe).

For music, Corcoran’s has live Irish music every Thursday and live music on Saturdays. Prendergast and The Green Door have live music every weekend.

Day 2: The Hook Peninsula

Hook Lighthouse

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ve got an action-packed day today exploring the wonders of the Hook Peninsula! Since there are quite a lot of stops on the itinerary (and not a lot of places to grab lunch on the peninsula), we suggest heading into a shop in New Ross to grab yourself a sandwich or a packed lunch.

You will be visiting a few beaches today, so don’t forget to pack some swimming clothes if this is a summer trip and some extra layers if this is a winter trip!

Start the day with a delicious breakfast from your accommodation, or hit the town to find somewhere to eat. The Cracked Teapot (yesterday’s lunch suggestion) does a great breakfast, as does Sid’s Diner.

Stop 1: Dunbrody Abbey

Dunbrody Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Your first stop of today is a 17-minute drive away. Dunbrody Abbey is a stunning former Cistercian monastery that dates back to 1170, although the tower was added later in the 15th century. The abbey sits in a peaceful location next to a river, surrounded by lush farmland.

You can learn about the abbey’s history via guided tours, and there’s a tea room on-site in case you’re still feeling a little hungry after breakfast.

Stop 2: Ballyhack Castle

Ballyhack Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Ballyhack Castle is open seasonally during the summer months. You can double-check if it is open here. The five-story tower house was built in 1450 and is in great condition.

It was one of two military orders built at the time, with a strategic position overlooking the Wexford Estuary and protective features such as a murder hole – an opening where defenders could throw boiling water, hot oil, and rocks onto anyone attacking.

Inside, you’ll discover an assortment of items like replica Crusades and Norman armour. The castle is a seven-minute drive from Dunbrody Abbey.

Stop 3: Duncannon Fort

Duncannon Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up on your whirlwind tour of the Hook Peninsula is Duncannon Fort, a nine-minute drive away. This is a really cool fort in an incredibly scenic location on the side of the Hook Peninsula, overlooking the Wexford Estuary.

The fort has an interesting 450-year history (including being besieged during the Siege of Duncannon in 1645) which you can learn all about during a one-hour guided tour (run seasonally, check here for up-to-date times and dates). The fort is one of three bastioned forts in the county and the only one open to the public!

Stop 4: Duncannon Beach

Duncannon Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s no need to hop back in the car for this next stop as it’s right next to the fort! The sandy Duncannon Beach is 1.6km long, making it perfect for a quick beach stroll. From the shore, you can enjoy views of Hook Head and the Waterford coastline across the water.

Although you may want to jump into the water, last time we checked, there’s been a ‘No Swim Notice’ due to water contamination, so we recommend you check locally just in case you’re desperate for a dip, but don’t forget, you have more beaches coming up later.

Stop 5: Dollar Bay Beach

Dollar Bay Beach

Photo left: @justpatcassidy. Top right: Shutterstock. Bottom right: @ameliaslaughter

We told you there was another beach on the way, and it’s a rather fantastic one, only eight minutes away from Duncannon Beach!

Dollar Bay Beach is a gorgeous white sand beach surrounded by mystery – it supposedly gets its name after the myth that there’s pirate’s treasure hidden somewhere along its shores.

The beach is home to some high sandy cliffs, and rocky outcrops that give it shelter from the winds, plus the views across the Waterford estuary are wonderful. There’s no official information about swimming safety, so if you do decide to have a paddle, as always, take extra care.

Stop 6: Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall

Photos via Shutterstock

Sadly, this next stop is now closed, but you’ll be driving right past it on the way to your next stop, so it’s definitely worth a look out of the window. It takes nine minutes to reach.

Loftus Hall is an impressive manor house that dates back to 1350 (although it underwent extensive renovation during the late 1800s). Built during the time of the Black Death, there are several strange stories surrounding the manor house, with residents and workers claiming to see the ghost of Lady Anne Tottenham (a former resident) wandering the halls at night.

During the time it was open to the public, many visitors claimed to have seen, heard, or felt unexplainable things, giving it the title of the most haunted building in Ireland!

Stop 7: Hook Lighthouse

Hook Lighthouse

Photos via Shutterstock

Hook Lighthouse is 18 minutes from Dollar Bay Beach (or roughly 7 minutes from Loftus Hall). It’s one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the world, and there’s an interesting guided lighthouse tour you can join.

The 800-year-old lighthouse was built by Knight William Marshal to guide ships to his port in New Ross.

During the tour, you’ll learn all about life as a lightkeeper and climb the 115 steps to the balcony, where you can take in the 360-degree views of Wexford and Waterford.

Stop 8: Baginbun Beach

Baginbun Beach

Photo left and top right: @skogswex. Others: Shutterstock

Baginbun Beach is an absolute stunner of a spot a short 14-minute drive from Hook Lighthouse.

Arguably one of the most visually impressive beaches in Wexford, the sand here is gorgeous and golden, and the water is crystal clear.

When you arrive, flick off your shoes and socks and head for a saunter along the sand.

Stop 9: Fethard Castle

Fethard Castle

Photos courtesy Celtic Routes via Failte Ireland

Hop back in the car and drive the 5 minutes to Fethard Castle. As far as we know, there’s no current access to the inside of the castle ruins, but you can walk around the outside and admire its stone tower.

The castle dates back to the 14th century, although it was built in several stages during the 14th and 15th centuries. The oldest part of the castle is the gatehouse (which you’ll find on the eastern side).

It was most likely used as a summer house. However, it was temporarily used as a safe house for sheltering bishops during the Medieval period when native Irish people were being attacked in north Wexford.

Stop 10: Colclough Walled Garden

Colclough Walled Garden

Photos courtesy Luke Myers via Failte Ireland

Once you’ve had enough of the sea air, get back in the car and drive the 14 minutes to Colclough Walled Garden.

This beautiful walled garden has apple trees, a small stream, and heaps of flowers. It’s a peaceful spot next to a little forest. Opening times differ depending on the time of year. You can double-check them here.

Stop 11: Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Tintern Abbey is within walking distance of the walled garden.

The Cistercian monastery was founded by William Earl Marshall in the 1200s and is the ‘daughter’ of an abbey of the same name in Wales.

Like many monasteries in Ireland, it was suppressed by King Henry VIII in 1536, and thereafter, the abbey passed onto Sir Anthony Colclough, who turned it into a private residence.

Today, the tower, chapel, cloister, nave, and chancel still stand.

Stop 12: Back to New Ross for the evening

Mannions

Photos via Mannions on FB

What a day it’s been, but it’s high time for dinner in New Ross. Jump back in the bar and drive the 10 minutes back.

Our New Ross food recommendations

For dinner, we recommend checking out Il Primo Italian Restaurant, The Holy Grail Restaurant, and (once again) Ann McDonald’s Cafe and Restaurant.

Il Primo is the best place in town for some authentic Italian food. In keeping with the international theme, The Holy Grail is a top choice if you’re looking for tasty Indian and Asian cuisine.

We recommend their signature “Holy Grail” Chicken Curry or the King Prawn Mango Curry. The Holy Grail is a cut above your typical Indian restaurant, with head chef and owner Shijo Bhaksaran beginning his career cooking in five-star hotels in India.

Our New Ross pub recommendations

Mannions, pictured above, is located on the edge of New Ross, but it’s worth getting a taxi out to.

If you’re in the mood for some post-dinner drinks (you are on holiday after all), then stop by Prendergast (a traditional Irish pub on The Quay) Corcoran’s Bar (a sixth-generation pub 20-minutes from the centre of town on foot. They have a scenic beer garden and are one of the oldest family-run pubs in continued proprietorship in the country!), or The Ross Inn (a beautifully decorated pub with a cosy vibe).

For music, Corcoran’s has live Irish music every Thursday and live music on Saturdays. Prendergast and The Green Door have live music every weekend.

Day 3: Waterford City

Reginald’s Tower

Photos courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures via Failte Ireland

It’s day three of your 17 days in Ireland itinerary, and today, you’re waving goodbye to New Ross and driving over to Waterford City, where you’ll be spending three nights. Waterford dates back to the 9th century, making it the oldest city in Ireland!

Grab some breakfast at your accommodation before you check out, or hit the streets of New Ross to find somewhere to eat.

Recommended accommodation in/near Waterford City

Stop 1: Waterford City

Waterford City

Photos via Shutterstock

After breakfast, jump in the car and drive over to Waterford City, which is 32 minutes south of New Ross. For the rest of today, you’ll be exploring the city on foot, so go ahead and leave the car at your accommodation.

Stop 2: King of the Vikings

King of the Vikings

Photos by Peter Grogan_Emagine via Failte Ireland

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

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

Stop 3: Reginald’s Tower

Reginald’s Tower

Photos courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures via Failte Ireland

Your next stop, Reginald’s Tower, is only a three-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 three-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 4: The Copper Coast

Dunhill Castle 

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ve got a full day ahead of you as you head out of the city to explore the beautiful Copper Coast!

There are some wonderful beaches on today’s agenda, so if you’re on this trip during the summer, we’d recommend packing some swimming clothes in case you want to take a dip. Or, if this is a winter trip, we suggest bringing some extra layers to protect you from the wind.

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

Stop 1: Tramore Beach

Tramore Beach 

Photos via Shutterstock

Your first stop of the day is Tramore Beach, a gorgeous 5km golden sand spit that juts out into the ocean. If you’re about ready for another coffee, why not stop by Moe’s Cafe to grab a cup to go before strolling along the promenade?

From Waterford City, it’s a 19-minute drive.

Stop 2: Kilfarrasy Beach

Kilfarrasy Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is Kilfarrasy Beach, a 12-minute drive away. Kilfarrasy Beach is stunning, with golden sand and beautiful blue waters, flanked by cliffs on either side.

Stop 3: Dunhill Castle

Dunhill Castle 

Photos via Shutterstock

Hop back in the car and drive the 9 minutes to Dunhill Castle. Parts of the castle ruins date back to the early 1200s. However, there’s evidence that the hilltop was used even earlier for a Celtic fort.

The castle has a rich backstory, having been founded by the la Poer family, who attacked nearby Waterford on several occasions throughout the 1300 to 1400s. Sadly, by the 1700s, it began falling into disrepair, with the east wall collapsing altogether during a storm in 1912.

Stop 4: Dunabrattin Head

Dunabrattin Head

Photo left: Luke Myers. Others: Shutterstock

Once you’re done taking in the ancient castle, drive the short nine 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: Bunmahon Beach

Bunmahon Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop is Bunmahon Beach, a lovely sandy beach four minutes away from the mine. The beach is 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 6: Stradbally

Stradbally

Photo left and top right: Chris Hill. Others via Shutterstock

Stradbally Cove is a 10-minute drive away and another beautiful beach. This is one of our favourite beaches in the area thanks to its small size and sheltered waters. The cove is long and narrow, flanked by lush green cliffs.

Stop 7: Dungarvan for lunch

2 Sisters Restaurant

Photos via 2 Sisters on FB

You must be hungry by now, so drive 16 minutes to Dungarvan, a picturesque harbour town, for lunch. We suggest calling into the 2 Sisters Restaurant for dishes such as Korean chicken salad and brie and bacon burgers or The Moorings for classic seafood chowder and other comfort food.

Stop 8: Mahon Falls

Mahon Falls

Photos via Shutterstock

Now you’re all fueled up, make your way to Mahon Falls, a 36-minute drive away.

There are two walks here, a long 4km hike and a short 50-minute out-and-back walk to see the falls. Since you’ve had a busy day, we recommend doing the shorter hike.

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 9: Back to Waterford City for the night

An Uisce Beatha

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

It’s time to go back to Waterford City for the night. It’s roughly 50 minutes from the falls.

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 5: Waterford County

Mahon Falls

Photos via Shutterstock

You’re going to be heading out of Waterford City again today to explore some more of beautiful Waterford County. There’s a fair bit of hiking on the agenda for today (roughly three to four 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.

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

Grab a hearty breakfast where you’re staying, or if you’d prefer to enjoy breakfast out, we suggest checking out The Granary Cafe. It’s a great spot in the city for a delicious full Irish, as well as a decedent pastry with jam and cream (if you’re so inclined).

Stop 1: Coumshingaun Lough

Coumshingaun

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive the 37 minutes to the Coumshingaun Lough Car Park, where the Coumshingaun Lough Loop 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 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 three and four hours to complete, and although you can walk it in either direction, we recommend following the trail clockwise, as anti-clockwise, there are some dicey descents.

Although this trail is wonderful, it doesn’t come without hazards, particularly when the weather is foggy and misty.

Warning: Please don’t do this hike without taking the warnings in this guide into consideration.

Stop 2: Back to Waterford for the evening

An Uisce Beatha

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

Head back to Waterford to freshen up at your hotel before dinner, drinks, and music!

After your big hike today you deserve a hearty dinner. 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 6: Cork

English Market 

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

We hope you enjoyed your stay in Waterford. Today you head off to Cork City where you will be staying for three nights.

Grab something to eat before you set off, either at your accommodation or at The Olive Cafe John Robert Square. They do a cracking full Irish and vegetarian breakfast, as well as pancakes and eggs benedict.

Recommended accommodation in Cork City

Stop 1: Youghal

Youghal

Photos © Tourism Ireland

On your way to Cork, you’re going to be stopping in Youghal, which is a one-hour and 10-minute drive. Once you arrive, make your way to Youghal Front Strand Beach, a lovely sandy beach with a nice walk called the Youghal Eco Boardwalk.

Put ‘Youghal Eco Boardwalk’ into Google Maps to find your way there. The wood-panelled walk is a 1.9km stroll from Claycastle Beach all the way to Redbarn Beach. Along the way, you’ll find public toilets and more often than not, some coffee vans (if you’re hankering for a mid-morning coffee).

Stop 2: Cork City

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

After your refreshing beach stroll, hop back in the car and drive the 46 minutes to Cork City. Drop your bags off at your accommodation and check in (if it’s possible), then leave the car, as the rest of today, you’ll be exploring marvellous Cork City on foot!

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 historic fortification, guided tours are offered at 1pm every day (around €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

There are heaps of brilliant places to eat in Cork City. Below are some of our favourite bars and pubs in the city. 

Our Cork food recommendations

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

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

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

Great Cork City pubs

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

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

Day 7: Kinsale

St. Multose Church Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Today we 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. We like Cafe Gusto, or you could head back to the English Market to grab something delicious to go!

Stop 1: Kinsale

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Hop in the car and drive 30 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 2: St. Multose Church

St. Multose Church Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Stroll five 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 3: 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 greenish-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 4: 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 5: Charles Fort

Charles Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Walk five 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 6: Back to Kinsale and on to Cork for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

Make your way back to Kinsale along the Scilly Walk to reunite with the car. It takes around 45 minutes.

Cork City is full of heaps of great restaurants, but a couple that we recommend for tonight are the Glass Curtain and Quinlans Seafood Bar.

Our Cork food recommendations

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

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

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

Great Cork City pubs

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

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

Day 8: Ballycotton and Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 8 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.

Before you head out, grab some breakfast at your accommodation, Cafe Gusto, or head to the English Market to find somewhere to eat. 

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 a well-deserved lunch at the Seasalt Cafe or O’Sheas Bar, a couple of our favourites. 

Stop 3: Titanic Experience Cobh

Titanic Experience

Photo left: Shutterstock. Others: Via Titanic Experience Cobh

Cobh, the last stop of the Titanic before it departed for New York, is home to a fantastic Titanic museum. You’ll find it right by the water, close to the Titanic Memorial and Heartbreak Pier, where the passengers were transferred to the ship. 

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

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

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

Stop 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. 

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 9: 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 you check out, or stop at Filter or Alchemy for some top-notch coffee and pastries for the drive. 

Bantry is a picturesque little market town on the shores of Bantry Bay. 

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 of 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

Few places in Ireland are as fairytale-like as the stunning Bantry House and Gardens.

This gorgeous 18th-century mansion stands proudly overlooking Bantry Bay, nestled amongst some beautifully manicured grounds.

It’s possible to do a self-guided tour of the home and its elegantly restored rooms, but it’s worth visiting for the gardens and magnificent views alone. 

Stop 5: Garnish Island

Garnish Island

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Our next stop of the day takes us a 20-minute spin up the road to the gorgeous town of Glengarriff to take the ferry over to Garnish Island.

The ferry takes around 10-15 minutes, and it transports you to an almost tropical-like island that’s like something from another world.

Expect seemingly never-ending gardens, glorious views and gentle trails. Make sure to book your tickets in advance (info here). 

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music in Bantry

The Snug Bantry

Photos via The Snug on FB

Take the ferry back to shore and head back to Bantry where you will be spending the night. Below are some of our favourite spots to eat, drink and be merry in Bantry. 

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 10: 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 a bite. 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: Back to Bantry for the night

The Snug Bantry

Photos via The Snug on FB

Walk back to where you parked the car, then drive the 19 minutes back to Bantry 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 11: The trip to Killarney

Killarney National Park

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 11 of your 17 days in Ireland itinerary, and today, you’ll be hopping in the car and heading to Killarney. You’ll be spending three nights in this peaceful town which sits on the outskirts of a beautiful national park.

It’s a bit of a drive, so grab a hearty breakfast before you get on the road, either at your accommodation before you check out or from somewhere nearby. 

Recommended accommodation in Killarney

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

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

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

Welcome to Killarney Town!

Killarney is a roughly one-hour and 15-minute drive from Bantry. If you can, try and check into your accommodation – this will likely depend on when you arrive, as some places won’t allow you to check in until the afternoon.

Once you arrive, 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.

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

There’s endless things to do in Killarney but a combination of the options below will help you see a good chunk of the area.

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

Option 1: The self-guided cycle

Muckross Abbey 

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Option 2: The jaunty

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Option 3: The Lakes of Killarney boat Cruise

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 2: Dinner, drinks and live music

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

Freshen up at your hotel then head out for a well-deserved dinner!

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 12: The Ring of Kerry Drive

Rossbeigh

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 12 of your 17 days in Ireland, and today you’re heading off for an adventure on the stunning Ring of Kerry Drive!

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 with a hearty breakfast at your accommodation, or if you’d prefer to go out, we have a couple of suggestions! 

Petit Delice is a family-run French patisserie with a stunning covered patio. It’s a great choice if you’re after a morning coffee and a freshly-baked pastry. Otherwise, Manna Cafe does a tasty full Irish as well as breakfast baps and pancakes. 

Stop 1: Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

(If you already checked out Ross Castle yesterday, feel free to skip this stop and head straight to Torc Waterfall.)

From Killarney, it’s a 7-minute drive to Ross Castle in Killarney National Park. You can also take a horse and carriage to it if you like!

Ross 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 Moll’s Gap (see parking here on Google Maps), but take care as the parking area is on a sharp bend. 

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

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

Stop 5: Kenmare

Kenmare

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Continue on the N71 for 12 minutes to Kenmare, a lovely town at the head of Kenmare Bay. It was founded in 1670 and to this day it’s still full of charm, with colourful houses, traditional pubs, and quaint cafes. 

Spend some time exploring the street on foot, popping into the local shops, or heading for a mid-morning coffee at Pucini’s Coffee and Books or Cafe Mocha. 

Stop 6: Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

From Kenmare, it’s a one-hour drive to Derrynane Beach – one of the finest beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way.

This a lovely white-sand beach backed by soft sand dunes that’s perfect for sauntering along. There are dangerous currents and a small section is known locally as “Danger Beach”.

Stop 7: Lunch in Waterville

Dooley's

Photos via Dooley’s on FB

It’s time for lunch, so drive 18 minutes to Waterville, Charlie Chaplin’s favourite village in Ireland! 

We’ve got a few top picks for where to eat, these are: An Corcan (casual dining and homemade food), Dooleys Seafood and Steakhouse (opens from 1pm serving hearty Irish dishes), and The Lobster Bar and Restaurant (a family-run restaurant with traditional Irish favourites).

Stop 8: Coomanaspig Pass

Coomanaspig Pass

Photos via Shutterstock

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

Stop 9: Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs

Photos via Shutterstock

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. If you’re feeling a little peckish, there’s a small cafe for drinks, cakes, and sandwiches. 

Stop 10: 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 11: Cahersiveen

Cahersiveen town

Photos via Shutterstock

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 12: Rossbeigh

Rossbeigh

Photos via Shutterstock

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 13: Back to Killarney for the night

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

Make your way back to the town the same way you came and then head to your accommodation to freshen up.

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 13: Dingle Peninsula

star wars filming location slea head

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.

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

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 45-minute spin from Killarney Town.

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

Photos via Shutterstock

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: Dingle for Dinner

Fish Box Dingle

Photos via The Fish Box on FB

Drive around 13 minutes to get back to Dingle, where you’ll be enjoying dinner for the evening. Dingle is a great town for fresh delicious seafood, and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants. 

A few that we recommend are Fish Box (check out their hake burger and fish tacos), The Chart House (a Michelin Guide restaurant serving Irish cuisine), and James Long Gastro Pub (a traditional pub serving local favourites, pizzas, and light bites).

Stop 18: Killarney for the night

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

Drive the hour or so back to Killarney and get an early night after your adventure-packed day. 

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 14: Limerick

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’re saying goodbye to beautiful Killarney and driving over to Cashel, a lovely town in Tipperary where you’ll be spending three nights. Along the way, you’re going to stop by Limerick and check out some of the city’s best attractions!

Grab something to eat before you check out, or if you didn’t manage to stop by yesterday (or if you just loved it and want to go back), The Shire Bar’s full Irish will keep you fueled up for the action-packed ahead!

Recommended accommodation in Cashel

  • Budget: Rockville House (very central with top-notch reviews) and Kingstown House (short drive from town to excellent reviews)
  • Mid-range: Baileys Hotel (right in the town with great reviews) 
  • Luxury: The Cashel Palace (brand-new 5-star)

Stop 1: Adare

Adare

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop of the day is the gorgeous village of Adare, a 1.5-hour drive from Killarney.

Park up and head for a saunter around the town. As you ramble, you’ll stumble upon a handful of traditional thatch cottages, many of which are used as restaurants, cafes and shops.

Stop 2: Adare Castle

Adare Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop is Adare Castle. There’s no parking at the actual castle, so head into the tourist office (otherwise known as the Heritage Centre), where you’ll be able to board a small bus and go to the castle as part of the castle tour.

We highly recommend the castle tour, it’s fully guided and you’ll get a whole load of interesting information about the castle.

Adare Castle, also known as Desmond Castle, is a great example of a Medieval fortified castle. The ruins lie on the bank of the River Maigue, a key strategic position back when it was founded during the early 13th century.

Stop 3: Limerick City

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

After the tour is over and you’re dropped back at the Heritage Centre, hop back in the car and drive over to Limerick City. The drive takes roughly 25 minutes.

Before lunch, it’s worth dropping by some of the city’s key attractions, like King John’s Castle, St Mary’s Cathedral, the Hunt Museum and St John’s Cathedral.

Stop 4: Lunch

Hook and Ladder

Photos via Hook and Ladder on FB

It’s probably around lunchtime right now, so find somewhere to eat in the city. We usually head to The Little Red Hen or The Buttery when we’re in the city. The Little Red Hen is a contemporary bar with some delicious pizzas and dirty fries on the menu. The Buttery is our go-to for a brunch-type meal.

Stop 5: Clare Glens

Clare Glens

Photos courtesy Tipperary Tourism via Tourism Ireland

Your next stop today is the Clare Glens, a gorgeous waterfall and walk, roughly 25-30 minutes from the city.

There are two walks: a 2km Nature Loop (which takes 30 minutes to one hour), and the Clare Glens Loop Walk (which takes one to 1.5 hours). Both loops start on either side of the Clare Bridge, and you can park at the roadside car park here, which is just a short walk to the beginning of the trailheads.

Since you’ve indicated you like being active, we recommend the 4km Clare Glens Loop Walk. It’s a mostly easy walk, although some parts can be strenuous. The loop passes through the enchanting Clare Glens Forest and past the Clare Glens waterfalls.

Stop 6: Cashel for the night

Feehans Bar

Photos via Feehans Bar on FB

It’s time to head to Cashel to check into your hotel and then head out for a well-deserved dinner! From Clare Glens, it’s around a one-hour drive.

Our Cashel food recommendations

Tonight, we suggest stopping by Mickey Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen, O’Neil’s Bistro, or Chez Hans.

Mike Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen is an Irish gastropub serving dishes such as West Cork Scallops (with black pudding, salsa verde, and bacon), as well as Herb Crusted Lamb Rack (with baba ganoush, ratatouille, and courgette).

O’Neils Bistro is another spot for modern Irish cuisine, with a set two and three-course dinner menu. Expect delicious meals such as seafood arancini, roasted Atlantic cod, and wild Irish venison.

Chez Hans is our top choice if you like dining somewhere a little different – the restaurant is run out of an old church! The fine-dining restaurant has a range of dishes, from roast guinea fowl to herbed gnocchi.

Our Cashel pub recommendations

If you’re after somewhere to grab a drink once dinner is over, we suggest checking out TJ Ryan Traditional Irish Pub or Billy Foleys Bar. Both are traditional pubs that do a cracking pint of Guinness.

During the summer, the local Comhaltas branch hosts live Irish music sessions and performances at the Brian Boru Cultural Centre. They have a good reputation, so we’d definitely recommend checking them out if you’re in Ireland during the summer.

City Bar in Cashel also hosts live music sessions over the weekends, although they may not be trad sessions.

Day 15: Tipperary and Limerick

Rock of Cashel

Photos via Shutterstock

You’re nearing the end of your 17 days, so today, you’ve got an action-packed itinerary, starting with a morning hike, followed by a trip to the marvellous Rock of Cashel in the afternoon!

Make sure to bring plenty of snacks and water, as well as appropriate footwear and clothes for sunny and rainy weather.

Grab a hearty breakfast where you’re staying, or if you prefer to eat breakfast out, we suggest popping into Bowes and Co.

Stop 1: Kings Yard Car Park

Attychraan Loop

Photos via Ballyhoura Fáilte

Your first stop is around 30 minutes from Cashel, on the Tipperary/Limerick border. It’s the starting point for two brilliant hikes, which we will outline below. You’ll probably only have time for 1, so take a look at the outline and decide which one you prefer.

Option 1: The Attychraan Loop

The Attychraan Loop is an easy 5km loop walk that takes most people between one and two hours to complete.

The walk (waymarked in purple) follows woodland trails, forest tracks, and sandy roadways, passing through the Galtee Castle Woods and along the east bank of the River Attychraan. Along the way, the trail opens up, giving lovely views of the Galtee Mountains.

Option 2: The Glounreagh Loop

This second option, The Glenreagh Loop, is a little more difficult. It’s a moderate 6.5km loop walk that takes most people between two and 2.5 hours to finish.

The walk (waymarked in red) follows farm tracks as well as open hillside and forest roads. It starts with a 160-metre climb up into the Galtees before levelling out into a gentle stroll through open hillside. There are great views along the way of the valley and of the Glonreagh River below.

Stop 2: Mitchelstown for lunch

O’Callaghan’s Cafe and Deli

Photos via O’Callaghan’s Cafe and Deli on FB

Once you find your way back to the start of the trailhead, jump in the car and drive the 20 minutes to Mitchelstown.

We recommend grabbing something to eat at Market Place Restaurant (a good spot for a hearty lunch or a roast of the day) or O’Callaghan’s Cafe and Deli (traditional Irish dishes like cod and chips as well as a range of sandwiches and paninis).

Stop 3: Back to Cashel to see the Rock

Rock of Cashel

Photos via Shutterstock

From Mitchelstown, it’s a 24-minute drive back to Cashel.

Now, it’s time for Cashel’s main attraction, the magnificent Rock of Cashel! Make your way up the rock and marvel at this historic site.

The site is perched dramatically on top of a limestone outcrop. It takes around 12 minutes to walk there from the centre of town (depending on your fitness level).

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 4: Cashel for the evening

Feehans Bar

Photos via Feehans Bar on FB

Head back down into town and either freshen up before dinner or head straight out for something to eat.

Our Cashel food recommendations

Tonight, we suggest stopping by Mickey Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen, O’Neil’s Bistro, or Chez Hans.

Mike Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen is an Irish gastropub serving dishes such as West Cork Scallops (with black pudding, salsa verde, and bacon), as well as Herb Crusted Lamb Rack (with baba ganoush, ratatouille, and courgette).

O’Neils Bistro is another spot for modern Irish cuisine, with a set two and three-course dinner menu. Expect delicious meals such as seafood arancini, roasted Atlantic cod, and wild Irish venison.

Chez Hans is our top choice if you like dining somewhere a little different – the restaurant is run out of an old church! The fine-dining restaurant has a range of dishes, from roast guinea fowl to herbed gnocchi.

Our Cashel pub recommendations

If you’re after somewhere to grab a drink once dinner is over, we suggest checking out TJ Ryan Traditional Irish Pub or Billy Foleys Bar. Both are traditional pubs that do a cracking pint of Guinness.

During the summer, the local Comhaltas branch hosts live Irish music sessions and performances at the Brian Boru Cultural Centre. They have a good reputation, so we’d definitely recommend checking them out if you’re in Ireland during the summer.

City Bar in Cashel also hosts live music sessions over the weekends, although they may not be trad sessions.

Day 16: Kilkenny

Kilkenny Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’re going to be exploring Kilkenny, a Medieval town known for its castle. 

Start the day with breakfast at your accommodation or grab something to eat at Grogan’s Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour (don’t worry, they don’t just do ice cream!). You’ll find a full Irish on the menu and, if you’re a sweet tooth, a range of crepes.

Stop 1: Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Before you head over to Kilkenny, your first stop of the day is Jerpoint Abbey, a 12th-century Cistercian abbey roughly an hour from Cashel.

The abbey is thought to be one of the best examples in the country of a Medieval Cistercian abbey, with both Romanesque and Gothic influences that reflect the transition of architectural styles during the period it was built.

Jerpoint Abbey is most famous for its beautifully detailed stone sculptures that you’ll find throughout the monastery. These date back to between the 13th and 16th centuries and include mensa tombs and other effigies.

Stop 2: Dunmore Cave

Dunmore Cave

Photos with thanks to Olivier Bruchez (CC BY-SA 2.0)

So, we’re going to bypass Kilkenny City (don’t worry – we’ll be back!) and take the 30-minute drive out to the often-overlooked Dunmore Cave.

The cave is a handy spin from the city, and there’s a hugely overlooked tour that takes you into the belly of it, and that offers an insight into its very dark past.

Many skip Dunmore Cave, opting for the city’s attractions, but it’s rare you’ll hear anything but rave reviews from those that visit.

Stop 3: Kilkenny City

Kilkenny City

Photos via Shutterstock

You’re a short 15-minute spin from Kilkenny City when you finish up in Dunmore Cave.

Stop 4: Lunch

Aroi Kilkenny

Photos via Aroi on FB

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

Stop 5: Medieval Mile Museum

Medieval Mile Museum

Photos courtesy Brian Morrison via Failte Ireland

You’ll find the Medieval Mile Museum inside Kilkenny’s former St. Mary’s Church. It’s a really cool spot, as you’ll learn all about the town’s 800-year history in a modern museum based out of a 13th-century church.

Inside there are cutting-edge exhibits like the 3 Lives, 3 Deaths, One Life Unlived, which used forensic analysis to reveal the secrets of Kilkenny’s former residents, as well as Medieval artefacts and relics from the old church.

Stop 6: Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 7: Back to Cashel for the night

Rock of Cashel

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive the hour back to Cashel and hit the sack early (if you feel like it) as you’ll be heading back home tomorrow.

Our Cashel food recommendations

Tonight, we suggest stopping by Mickey Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen, O’Neil’s Bistro, or Chez Hans.

Mike Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen is an Irish gastropub serving dishes such as West Cork Scallops (with black pudding, salsa verde, and bacon), as well as Herb Crusted Lamb Rack (with baba ganoush, ratatouille, and courgette).

O’Neils Bistro is another spot for modern Irish cuisine, with a set two and three-course dinner menu. Expect delicious meals such as seafood arancini, roasted Atlantic cod, and wild Irish venison.

Chez Hans is our top choice if you like dining somewhere a little different – the restaurant is run out of an old church! The fine-dining restaurant has a range of dishes, from roast guinea fowl to herbed gnocchi.

Our Cashel pub recommendations

If you’re after somewhere to grab a drink once dinner is over, we suggest checking out TJ Ryan Traditional Irish Pub or Billy Foleys Bar. Both are traditional pubs that do a cracking pint of Guinness.

During the summer, the local Comhaltas branch hosts live Irish music sessions and performances at the Brian Boru Cultural Centre. They have a good reputation, so we’d definitely recommend checking them out if you’re in Ireland during the summer.

City Bar in Cashel also hosts live music sessions over the weekends, although they may not be trad sessions.

Day 17: The trip to Rosslare (your start point)

Rosslare

Photo left: Google Maps. Others: Shutterstock

It’s your 17th and final day, and sadly, it’s time to head back to Rosslare to catch the ferry home.

Get some breakfast before you check out, or we recommend stopping by The Bake House, where you can grab some pastries and cakes for the road or enjoy them in-house (their sausage rolls are fantastic).

From Cashel, it’s roughly two hours to Rosslare. Make sure you leave plenty of time so you don’t miss your ferry!

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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