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18 Days In Ireland From Shannon (‘Fast-Trip’ For Those With A Car + Low Fitness)

18 Days In Ireland From Shannon (‘Fast-Trip’ For Those With A Car + Low Fitness)

Planning an 18-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 18-day itinerary:

  • Starts and ends in Shannon
  • 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 Shannon
  • Using your own car/a rental
  • Looking to explore at a fast pace
  • With a low level of fitness (i.e. it avoids long walks and hikes)
  • Remember, we have hundreds of different itineraries here if this one doesn’t suit you

An overview of this 18-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: Arrive in Shannon and head to Limerick

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Day 1 of this 18-day Ireland itinerary is going to be very dependent on the time that you arrive into Shannon.

For this itinerary, we’re going to make an assumption that you’ve landed in the morning and are ready to explore from mid-afternoon.

After you touch down, pick up your rental car and make your way to Limerick City. You’re going to be spending two nights here before moving on to Killarney.

Recommended accommodation in Limerick

Stop 1: Bunratty Castle Park

Bunratty Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park sit on 26 acres of lovely countryside, only 15 minutes from Shannon Airport.

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.

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 can also take a tour of Bunratty Castle, the last of four castles built on the site (grab your skip-the-line ticket online before you go.

Stop 2: Limerick City 

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Welcome to Limerick City! It takes between 25 and 30 minutes via the N19 and N18 from Shannon Airport.

There’s a toll through the tunnel, so make sure you have some euro coins or a contactless card so you can get through.

Once you arrive, we recommend checking into your accommodation and leaving the car, as you’ll be heading to the rest of today’s stops on foot!

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 in 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 historic 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 2: Limerick, Tipperary and Clare

Lough Gur

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 2 and today, you’ve got an action-packed day exploring Limerick, Tipperary, and 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: Killaloe for coffee, a stroll and lunch

Killaloe

Photos courtesy Discover Lough Derg via Failte Ireland

After lunch, it’s time to explore the gorgeous little town of Killaloe, which is an absolute joy to saunter around.

Grab yourself a coffee to go from Bless Cafe or Derg House Cafe and go for a little wander through its streets and down by the river where you’ll see the boat cruises take off.

Stop 2: Ballina – The River Shannon and Lough Derg Cruise

Killaloe River Cruise

Photos courtesy Discover Lough Derg via Failte Ireland

Head over the bridge into neighbouring Ballina to catch a relaxing river cruise. There’s only one tour a day departing at 1pm (you should probably arrive at least 10 minutes before), so make sure to time your lunch well.

The tour heads up the beautiful River Shannon and into Lough Derg, where you’ll have spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

As you depart, take note that you’ll be able to see County Clare to your left and County Tipperary to your right.

Stop 3: Lough Gur

Lough Gur

Photos via Shutterstock

From Killaloe, it’s a 40-minute drive to Lough Gur. This almost horseshoe-shaped lake is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country, with numerous stone-age monuments (more on that later!). 

Have a wander around the Lough Gur Visitor Centre, where you can learn over 6,000 years of history through the interactive exhibitions. Then, if you feel up to it, take a pleasant stroll around the lough, taking in the peaceful atmosphere. 

A 6-minute drive from the centre, the Lough Gur Wedge Tomb, also called the ‘Giant’s Grave’ is a well-preserved wedge tomb that was excavated in 1938. 

You’ll find the ancient tomb on the slopes of a small hill, roughly a 3-minute walk on the right-hand side of the road from a small lay-by where you can park.

On your way back to Limerick, stop by the Lough Gur Stone Circle (a short 3-minutes from the wedge tomb). Also known as the Grange Stone Circle, it’s the largest stone circle in Ireland, stretching 45 metres across, with stones of up to 2.8 metres high!

Stop 4: Back to Limerick for the Treaty City Brewery tour

Treaty City Brewery

Photos via Treaty City Brewery on FB

The Treaty City Brewery is right across from King John Castle. It is inside what used to be a derelict building that was transformed into a beautifully modern brewery. 

They offer an Ultimate Tour, where guests will be shown around the artisan brewery, learn about the brewing process from Master Brewers, followed by a complimentary beer tasting!

Stop 5: Dinner, drinks and live music

Nancy Blakes

Photos via Nancy Blakes on FB

Once you’re ready to head back to Limerick, jump in the car and drive the 24 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 3: Killarney

Muckross Abbey 

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 3 of your 18 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 long-ish drive to Killarney from Limerick, so grab a hearty breakfast before you get on the road. 

The Story Cafe is a lovely little cafe with a cosy interior and some great food. They have healthy options like poached eggs on toast or granola, as well as their hearty Mega Story Breakfast and sweet and savoury crepes. 

The Hook and Ladder is also a great breakfast stop. They have several locations in the city so you can pick the one closest to your accommodation.

Recommended accommodation in Killarney

Stop 1: Adare

Adare

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop of the day is the gorgeous village of Adare, a 20 minute drive from Limerick.

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

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

Welcome to Killarney Town! Killarney is roughly a two-hour drive from Limerick City. 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. 

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

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

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.

Option 1: 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 2: 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 4: Dinner, drinks and music in Killarney

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

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

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 4: The Ring of Kerry

ring of kerry loop

Photos via Shutterstock

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 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

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. 

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 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

The day’s activities are over, and from Rossbeigh, it’s a 50-minute drive back to Killarney. 

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 5: The Dingle Peninsula 

Dun Chaoin Pier

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: Ventry Beach

Ventry Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

Ventry Beach (13-minute drive from Dingle) 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 10: 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 11: 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 12: 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 13: 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 14: 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 15: 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 16: 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 17: 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 6: Cork City 

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

We hope you enjoyed your stay in Kerry. Today, we head off to Cork City where we will be staying for 3 nights.

Grab something to eat before you set off, either at your accommodation or the restaurants we recommended earlier. 

Recommended accommodation in Cork City

Stop 1: Cork City Gaol 

Cork Gaol

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

On your way from Killarney, make a stop at Cork City Gaol before you head to your hotel and check-in. It’s around 1.5 hours of driving, and we suggest you park on the street. 

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 

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive the 10 minutes in the city, then head to your hotel to drop off your things and freshen up (if you’ve been able to check in early).

We recommend leaving your car behind as our stops for the day are easy to reach on foot and there is little parking available. 

Stop 3: Shandon Bell Tower

Shandon Bell Tower

Photos courtesy Catherine Crowley via Tourism Ireland

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

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

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

Stop 4: The Butter Museum 

Cork Butter Museum

Photos courtesy Catherine Crowley via Tourism Ireland

The Cork Butter Museum is definitely more on the unique side as far as attractions go, but since Cork used to have the largest butter market in Europe, it seems appropriate to visit.

The Cork butter industry is a large part of why Irish butter is so popular to this day. 

The museum is a 1-2-minute walk from the bell tower, with some interesting historical info about the city as well as the butter industry. 

Stop 5: Lunch in the Cornmarket

Rising Suns

Photos via Rising Suns on FB

Walk the short 6-minutes to the Cornmarket for lunch. Be mindful that the next stop is also a foodie destination, so don’t fill up too much!

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

Stop 6: The English Market

English Market 

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

The English Market is only 4 minutes away from the Cornmarket. 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 7: 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 (€5), and audio guides are available in multiple languages (€3).

Stop 8: St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral

Finbarr's Cathedral Cork

Photos via Shutterstock

St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is just a short walk over from Elizabeth Fort. It costs €6 to enter and it’s worth every euro. The Gothic-revival cathedral is magnificent, with three showy spies, impressive stone arches, and gargoyles decorating the outer walls.

Inside it’s even showier, with stone archways lining the sides of the nave, and a total of 74 windows, each with individually designed stained-glass panels. However, our favourite part is the sanctuary ceiling – look up when you’re inside and you’ll see why!

The cathedral took 14 years to build, from the groundbreaking (1865) to the consecration (1879). It sits on top of a 7th-century Christian site, which is said to have been founded by St. Finbarr. 

Stop 9: Dinner, drinks and live music

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

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

Our Cork food recommendations

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

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

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

Great Cork City pubs

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

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

Day 7: 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.

We recommend parking here, exploring the town and then picking up the car to head to Charles Fort.

Stop 4: St. Multose Church

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 explore Kinsale

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.

You’ve got a little time for a wander if you feel like it, so why not take your coffee to go and explore the gorgeous town of Kinsale?

You can pass by Desmond Castle (it’s most likely closed by you can admire it from the outside), pick up a book from Bookstór (a lovely independent bookstore selling new and second-hand books), or do some shopping in one of the town’s boutique shops.

Stop 6: Lunch at The Bulman 

the bullman

Photos via the Bullman on FB

Grab the car and take the short spin to the Bullman – there’s a car park right across from it.

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 roads to The Bullman from Charles Fort are quite narrow, so we recommend leaving the car at the fort and enjoying the five-minute stroll to the fort. 

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 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 from central Kinsale. 

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 8: Blarney and Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 8 of your 18 days in Ireland, and today you’re going to visit Blarney Castle, where you will have the chance to kiss the Blarney Stone! Then, you continue out to Cobh, the last stopping point of the Titanic. 

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 arrive in time for the boat!

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

Stop 1: Blarney Castle and Gardens

Blarney Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

The Blarney Castle and Gardens are a 19-minute drive from Cork City, and we’d recommend spending at least 3 hours here to explore. 

Of course, the main draw is the Medieval castle and the infamous Blarney Stone (make sure you kiss it to get the gift of the gab!). But the gardens are also fantastic.

There’s the eerie Witch’s Kitchen, the Druid Circle, and the Poison Garden to discover, as well as the Board Walk and Water Garden and the Vietnamese Woodland. 

Stop 2: Lunch in Cobh

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

After kissing the Blarney Stone, you must be getting hungry. Our next stop is Cobh, the last stopping point of the Titanic, which is a 40-minute drive away. 

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

Stop 3: Spike Island

Spike Island

Photos cCourtesy 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. Coleman’s Cathedral

Cobh Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

After your trip out to Spike, if you have the time (and energy) to walk up the hill to the cathedral, we highly recommend you do so. 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: The Copper Coast

Dunhill Castle 

Photos via Shutterstock

Today you are checking out of your Cork accommodation and heading to Waterford City where you will spend the next two nights. We have a full day planned and will be heading towards Waterford via the scenic route, 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 nearby. Alchemy on Barrack St does a great cup of coffee and has nice pastries as well. 

Please note that we do not have a lunch stop planned for today so make sure to grab a sandwich or some snacks in Cork before you hit the road. 

Recommended accommodation in/near Waterford City

Stop 1: Youghal

Youghal

Photos © Tourism Ireland

Our first stop of the day is Youghal, which is an hour from the city. 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 between 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).

If you aren’t up for a walk today, consider checking out Youghal Clock Gate tower which is pictured above. 

Stop 2: Stradbally

Stradbally

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

Stradbally Cove is a 30-minute drive away and is an incredibly scenic beach and a good place for a picnic. 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 3: Bunmahon Beach

Bunmahon Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop is Bunmahon Beach, a lovely sandy beach 10 minutes away. 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 4: Tankardstown Copper Mine

Tankardstown

Photos via Shutterstock

Tankardstown Copper Mine is a 4-minute drive from Bunmahon. It’s a really cool ruin of an old copper mine that’s worth checking out from a distance. It’s close to the edge of a cliff, so you’ll also get some stunning views of the ocean. 

Stop 5: Dunabrattin Head

Dunabrattin Head

Photo left: Luke Myers. Others: Shutterstock

It’s just a short 8-minute drive to Dunabrattin Head, where you can take a little stroll to admire the views. Just be extra careful near the cliff edge.

Stop 6: Annestown Beach

Annestown Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

This is another gorgeous beach that’s popular with swimmers and surfers. It’s especially beautiful at low tide when its rocky islands and arches are exposed. 

Stop 7: 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 8: Kilfarrasy Beach

Kilfarrasy Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is Kilfarrasy Beach, a 9-minute drive away. Kilfarrasy Beach is stunning, with golden sand and beautiful blue waters, flanked by cliffs on either side.

Stop 9: The Metal Man

The Metal Man 

Photos via Shutterstock

The Metal Man is about 9 minutes away from Kilfarrasay. You can’t get that close to it as it’s on private land, but the drive out is really beautiful, and it’s just a really cool landscape with flat-topped cliffs. 

Stop 10: Tramore Beach

Tramore Beach 

Photos via Shutterstock

Our last 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?

Stop 11: Waterford City for the night

An Uisce Beatha

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

It’s time to go to Waterford City for the night. It’s roughly 20 minutes away from Tramore. 

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 10: Waterford City

Reginald’s Tower

Photos courtesy Waterford Museum of Treasures via Failte Ireland

It’s day 10 of your 18 days in Ireland itinerary, and today we are going to spend the day exploring the oldest city in Ireland.

Grab some breakfast at your accommodation or nearby. Cafe Lucia does a great breakfast. 

Stop 1: 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 11: The trip to Dublin 

Trinity College

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to say goodbye to Waterford City and head to Ireland’s vibrant capital, Dublin. 

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 two 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: Dublin City 

Ha’penny Bridge

Photos via Shutterstock

From Waterford City, 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 2: Lunch 

Neary's Pub

Photos © Tourism Ireland

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

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

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

Stop 3: Trinity College

Trinity College

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Ha’penny Bridge

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 5: 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 9-minute walk from the bridge 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 6: Guinness Storehouse 

Guinness Storehouse

Photos © Diageo via Ireland’s Content Pool

The next stop is the Guinness Storehouse, a 17-minute walk from the cathedral. 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: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

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

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

Live music and trad bars

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

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

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

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

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

Day 12: Wicklow’s Wonders

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 12 of your 18 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: Glendalough Upper Lake

upper lake Glendalough

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop is Glendalough Upper Lake. You can either walk 20 minutes from the Monastic City via the scenic Green Road, or if you’re too tired, grab the car and make the quick 2-minute drive to the car park nearby.

However, it’s important to note that the car park tends to fill up quickly. Here’s info on the different car parks in the area. From the car park, there are two paths leading to the Upper Lake’s sandy shore.

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.

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

It’s just a 4-minute drive from the Glendalough Visitor Centre/Monastic City and 6 minutes from the Upper Lake Car Park.

Stop 5: Wicklow Gaol

Wicklow Gaol

Photos by Brian Morrison via Ireland’s Content Pool

Make the 30-minute drive into Wicklow to explore the historic Wicklow Gaol. The prison dates back to the 18th century, and over the years, it has held prisoners from the 1798 Rebellion and the Great Famine. 

The gaol closed down by 1900, but it was reopened to hold republican prisoners during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. It was closed for good in 1924 and reopened in 1998 as a museum. 

There are several tours available, but due to timings and availability, we’d recommend the Day Tour.

During this tour, you’ll step back in time and learn what life was like for the prisoners back in the day (book tickets in advance here).

Stop 6: Powerscourt House and Gardens

Powerscourt House

Photos by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

Once you’re nicely fed, hop in the car for the 35-minute drive to Powerscourt House and Gardens. Powerscourt House is a beautiful 68-room mansion nestled inside a 47-acre garden.

We’d recommend you give yourself at least two hours here to admire the house and to walk through the gorgeous gardens. 

The current Powerscourt House was completed in 1741 under the watchful eye of the 1st Viscount Powerscourt. However, it was built around a 13th-century Mediaeval Castle belonging to the Le Power family, where ‘Powerscourt’ is derived. 

Like the house, the gardens at Powerscourt are filled with grandeur and were voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s Top Ten Gardens!

Stop 7: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

After a long (and hopefully enjoyable!) day of walking, it’s time to say goodbye to Wicklow and head 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 13: Mighty Meath and Louth

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 13 of the 18 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading out to County Meath to explore the Boyne River Valley, 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. 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 14: The drive to Galway (via Athlone)

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

Today it’s time to say goodbye to Dublin and head over to beautiful Galway.

The drive usually takes around two and a half hours, but you’ll be stopping in historic Athlone to break up the journey and do some sightseeing. 

Recommended accommodation in Galway

Stop 1: Athlone Castle 

Athlone Castle

Top right photo: Ros Kavanagh via Failte Ireland. Others: Shutterstock

Athlone Castle is in the centre of Athlone on the banks of the River Shannon. There are two public car parks around the castle, as well as plenty of street parking if these get full (see parking here and here on Google Maps).

The stone castle is in great condition and dates back to the 13th century. It was in a key strategic position for defending the Athlone River crossing and played an important part in the infamous Siege of Athlone. The visitor centre is full of information about the castle’s history, with eight exhibitions. 

The castle is open year-round, with seasonal opening times that you can check here. General admission costs €10 (adult), €7 (seniors and students),  €5 (children under 15), €25 (family). Schedule in at least one hour here. 

Stop 2: Sean’s Bar

Sean's Bar

Photos courtesy Sonder Visuals via Ireland’s Content Pool

Sean’s Bar is right next to the castle and just a one-minute walk away. The pub is a must-visit when in Athlone, as it’s officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest pub in Ireland (and possibly the world!). 

It dates back to 900 AD when it was opened by a man named Luain Mac Luighdeach. Inside, it’s a treasure trove of history. Plus, they serve a fantastic pint of Guinness.

Stop 3: Lunch

Athlone Restaurants

Photos via Beans & Leaves on FB

By now, you must be hungry, so it’s time to find somewhere for a bite to eat. Our favourite places for lunch in Athlone are The Left Bank Bistro (modern Mediterranean and Asian), Beans and Leaves (all-day-breakfast and Irish cuisine), and Corner House Bistro (gourmet sandwiches and international cuisine). All of these are within short walking distance of Sean’s Bar. 

Stop 4: Oranmore Castle

Oranmore Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Once you’ve finished lunch, make the 50-minute drive to Oranmore Castle. This enchanting castle sits right on the water and is thought to have been built in the 15th century. 

It has an interesting history and was used as a garrisoned stronghold in 1642 when nearby Oranmore revolted against Confederate forces. The owners, the fifth Earl Clanricarde and Marquess supplied the Fort of Galway until they surrendered the castle to parliament in 1651. 

The castle is open seasonally. You can double-check the opening day and hours on their website. Entry to the castle costs €8 (adult).

Stop 5: Check-in, get lunch and decide between walking/the bus

food in Galway

Photos via Blakes Bar Galway on FB

When you land in Galway, head to your accommodation, get checked in and head for lunch.

By now, you must be hungry. There are heaps of brilliant places for lunch in Galway, but if you don’t want the hassle of finding somewhere to eat, we’ve got a few suggestions! 

We recommend Blakes Bar (traditional pub grub), Zappis (authentic Italian cuisine), or Tigh Neachtain (Irish and international cuisine). 

Now, Galway is a very walkable city, but if it’s raining or if you fancy getting dropped to the ‘main’ attractions the hop-on/hop-off bus tour is well worth buying.

Regardless of which option you choose, here are some of our favourite sites in Galway City (we’ve listed them in a logical way for you to walk between them).

Stop 6: Galway Cathedral

galway cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

Galway Cathedral is wonderfully impressive both inside and out. It’s arguably the jewel in the Galway City skyline and you’ll cop it from many places as you stroll around the city.

Interestingly enough, it’s not as old as it looks, and construction on the building was only completed in 1965, earning it the title of ‘the last great stone cathedral to be constructed in Europe’.

The cathedral is free to enter but visitors are asked for a donation of €2 to help with the building’s upkeep.

Stop 7: Quay Street and the Latin Quarter

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

Galway’s colourful streets are an absolute joy the ramble along regardless of the time of year.

If you’re walking from the cathedral, you’re a short stroll away from the Latin Quarter and Quay Street where you can have a nosey around.

These streets are alive with the buzz from tourists and locals alike.

Stop 8: The Hall of the Red Earl

One of our favourite places to visit in Galway (especially if it’s raining!) is the Hall of the Red Earl.

The Hall of the Red Earl is one of Galway’s most interesting sites. The ruins date back to the 13th century, with ties to the founding of Galway and the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family.

It was the first municipal building in the city, used for collecting taxes, hosting banquets, and sentencing criminals. 

The Hall of the Red Earl was lost as the city grew until 1997 when the ruins were unearthed by archaeologists on behalf of the Office of the Public Works.

Today, you can walk amongst the ruins, view the artefacts, and learn about the hall’s history from the informative displays. 

Stop 9: Galway City Museum

Galway City Museum

Photos via Galway City Museum on FB

The Galway City Museum is just a stone’s throw from the Spanish Arch. It’s one of the best places to learn about Galway’s history, culture, and archaeology, with collections telling the story of prehistoric Galway all the way through to 19th and 20th-century Galway! 

The museum has three floors and seven long-term exhibitions, including The Wild Atlantic – Sea Science, and an exhibition on Pádraic Ó Conaire. 

It’s free to visit, although donations are always appreciated. 

Stop 10: Spanish Arch and the Long Walk

Spanish Arch

Photos via Shutterstock

The Spanish Arch is a must-see Galway attraction, dating back to Medieval times. The large stone arch is located on the outskirts of the city centre, overlooking the Claddagh (shore).

It originally housed soldiers who were keeping watch on the city’s Medieval walls. Its nickname is thought to come from the city’s merchant trade with the Spanish, whose ships would often be docked in the area!

From the Spanish Arch, you can take a short stroll alongside the water to what’s known as The Long Walk. You’ll likely have seen pictures of it (it’s a line of colourful buildings right on the water).

Stop 11: Dinner, drinks and live music

Galway Pubs

Photos courtesy Failte Ireland

You’ve had a busy aul day today, so it’s time to kick back and chill with food and, if you fancy, a drink and some live music.

Galway is a lively city regardless of the time of year. Here’s some spots worth checking out:

Our dinner recommendations

For dinner, we’ve got a few stellar recommendations: Ard Bia, The Quay Street Kitchen, and Dela. Ard Bia is absolutely fantastic, but you need to book in advance for dinner.

The restaurant has a quirky interior and serves beautifully presented modern dishes.

The Quay Street Kitchen has a great selection of vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes, and Dela has modern Irish cuisine on the menu.

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Galway. After dinner, head out for drinks at either Tigh Neachtain or The Crane. Both are traditional pubs with a great atmosphere. 

Trad music is an integral part of the city, with heaps of options to choose from. Our favourite spots are Crane Bar (mentioned above) and Tigh Chóilí.

Day 15: Connemara and Cong

cong village

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 15 of our 18 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading to one of Ireland’s most scenic regions – Connemara, as well as Cong in Mayo – a picturesque village with a star-studded past. 

There’s quite a bit to see and do today, so make sure to wake up with plenty of time so you can fit everything in! 

Grab breakfast at your accommodation, or alternatively, check out Esquires or Jungle Cafe. Jungle Cafe is really unique and if you’re in Galway in the summer, sitting on the tropical patio is a must!

Stop 1: Scenic drive from Galway City to Clifden

clifden town

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s roughly 75 minutes from the city to Clifden along the N59. This scenic drive passes right through the Connemara region, with amazing views the entire journey. 

You’ll pass through the traditional village of Oughterard, then onwards to Maam Cross, passing by mountains, lakes, and moorland. 

Once you’ve arrived in Clifden, make a quick stop to stretch your legs and grab a coffee before continuing onto the Sky Road. We recommend the Upstairs Downstairs Cafe or The Blooming Gorse. 

Stop 2: Sky Road

Sky Road

Photos via Shutterstock

The Sky Road is a breathtaking 16km loop. It begins in Clifden, making its way around the Kingston peninsula along a coastal road with stunning views. Along the way, the loop passes by Clifden Castle, a ruined manor house overlooking the water. 

After the castle, the Sky Road deviates into two routes which join up again later, the lower road which has close-up views of the sea, and the upper road, which has views over the bay. 

Some scenic stops along the way are Clifden Castle, the viewing point on the upper road, and Eyrephort Beach. We’d say two hours is a good length to spend on the Sky Road including stops, but this depends on what time you arrive in Clifden. 

Stop 3: Lunch in Letterfrack

Veldons Letterfrack

Photos via Veldons on FB

Once you get to the end of the Sky Road loop, instead of turning right onto the N59 back towards Clifden, turn left towards Letterfrack. This takes around 13 minutes. In Letterfrack, we recommended Clover Fox, Veldons, or the Hungry Hiker. 

Stop 4: Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s a short 5-minute drive to Kylemore Abbey, arguably one of the most popular places to visit in Galway.

Kylemore Abbey is a stunning Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 1920s. It’s incredibly picturesque, sitting on the shores of Pollacapall Lough.

The lower floors of the abbey have been restored and are open to the public, as well as the beautiful Victorian Walled Garden. The estate includes a Neo-Gothic church and several woodland and lake-side walks. 

Stop 5: Killary Harbour and Leenane

Killary Fjord

Photos via Shutterstock

Before you leave Kylemore Abbey, enter “Killary Harbour, Connemara Loop” into Google Maps to take you to our 6th stop. The viewpoint is a 14-minute drive from the abbey, with stunning views of Killary Harbour (Ireland’s only fjord).

If you look hard enough, you may be able to spot the potato mounds across the fjord, which date back to the famine. 

On your way to Cong, make a stop in Leenane to check out Gaynor’s Bar (The bar from the movie ‘The Field’), or the Sheep and Wool Centre to watch a demonstration.

You could also make a quick stopover at Aasleagh Falls, which is in between the viewpoint and Leenane.  

Stop 6: Loch Na Fooey Lookout

Loch Na Fooey Lookout

Photos via Google Maps

From Leenane, we recommend you take the scenic route to Cong. Follow the R336, then make a left turn onto the L1301 (around 8 minutes into driving).

This route will take you along the shores of Loch Na Fooey and Lough Mask, with some incredible views along the way. 

Make sure to stop at the Loch Na Fooey Lookout (around 6 minutes from the turn) to take in the lake and the surrounding Maumturk and Patry mountains. 

Stop 7: Cong

cong village

Photos via Shutterstock

Without stopping, it takes roughly 40 minutes to drive from Leenane to Cong. It’s one of Ireland’s more popular villages, thanks to its scenic streets and link to the 1952 award-winning movie – The Quiet Man. 

There’s lots to do in the village, from Quiet Man tours, grabbing a drink in Pat Cohan’s Gastro Pub (a must for Quiet Man fans), or checking out the 13th-century abbey ruins. 

Stop 8: Back to Galway for the night

Galway Pubs

Photos courtesy Failte Ireland

It’s been a long fun-filled day, but it’s time to head back to Galway City, a roughly 50-minute drive. 

Our dinner recommendations

For dinner, we’ve got a few stellar recommendations: Ard Bia, The Quay Street Kitchen, and Dela. Ard Bia is absolutely fantastic, but you need to book in advance for dinner.

The restaurant has a quirky interior and serves beautifully presented modern dishes.

The Quay Street Kitchen has a great selection of vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes, and Dela has modern Irish cuisine on the menu.

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Galway. After dinner, head out for drinks at either Tigh Neachtain or The Crane. Both are traditional pubs with a great atmosphere. 

Trad music is an integral part of the city, with heaps of options to choose from. Our favourite spots are Crane Bar (mentioned above) and Tigh Chóilí.

Day 16: North Clare

Doolin Village

Photos courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

You’re saying goodbye to Galway today and heading over to Doolin in North Clare for a couple of nights.

The total drive time is less than 2 hours, depending on whether you take the coast road. But we have lots of places for you to stop on the way!

Doolin is a lovely village on Ireland’s west coast, known for its trad music. It’s got some lovely places to stay and we’ve popped out top picks below:

Doolin accommodation recommendations

Stop 1: Dunguaire Castle 

Dunguaire Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Dunguaire Castle is a 35-minute drive from Galway. The castle was built in 1520 and belonged to the O’Hynes clan. In 1912, the castle was bought by writer Oliver St. John Gogarty.

During his ownership, he restored the castle and hosted several famous writers, including W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. 

The enchanting castle sits on the shores of Galway Bay and has an impressive 75-foot tower. We’d recommend spending at least an hour here, walking the grounds and taking a self-guided tour.

According to legend, if you stand at the front gate and ask a question, you’ll have an answer by the end of the day!

Stop 2: Aillwee Cave

Aillwee Cave

Photos via Aillwee Caves on FB

Your next stop, the Aillwee Cave, is around 27 minutes from Dungaire. The Aillwee Cave is a fascinating underground system full of caverns, rock formations, and even the bones of an ancient bear!

The site is close to the Birds of Prey Centre, a unique and educational experience involving some of the world’s top birds of prey. 

We’d recommend spending at least one hour at this stop, or even longer if you visit both attractions. The Aillwee Cave tour lasts 45 minutes, passing by an underground waterfall and over bridged ravines.

At the Burren Birds of Prey Centre, you’ll be able to see predators like owls, vultures, and hawks and possibly watch a 45-minute flying demonstration.

Stop 3: Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Photos via Shutterstock

Only 10 minutes from Aillwee, Poulnabrone Dolmen is a large portal tomb that dates back to the Neolithic period (between 4200 BC and 2900 BC).

It’s one of the most famous dolmens in the country and one of the most photographed places in the Burren National Park.

When it was excavated in the late 1980s, around 33 remains were discovered buried underneath, alongside various objects. It’s a really interesting piece of ancient Irish history and free to visit. 

Stop 4: Ballyvaughan for lunch

Monks Ballyvaughan

Photos via Monk’s on FB

It’s time to head to the quaint seaside village of Ballyvaughan, only 13 minutes from Poulnabrone Dolmen. Our favourite places to eat in the village are Monks (a brilliant seafood restaurant with handpicked Galway Bay oysters), The Wild Atlantic Lodge (a beautiful restaurant with delicious Irish cuisine), or The Larder (a cosy cafe with sandwiches, soup, and quiches).

Stop 5: Fanore Beach

Fanore Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Fanore Beach is 18 minutes from Ballyvaughan. It’s a gorgeous beach backed by rolling sand dunes. The exposed beach is a popular spot for swimmers and surfers, and in the summer there’s a lifeguard service and a surf school. 

Take a scenic walk along the beach, and if you need to pop to the toilet after lunch, there are public toilets on-site (open seasonally in the summer).

Stop 6: The coastal drive to Doolin

The Burren

Photos via Shutterstock

The drive from Fanore into Doolin is gorgeous regardless of time of year. The road has the sea on one side and the unique Burren landscape on the other.

It’s a stunning route to travel along at any time of the year and, if you visit outside of the summer season, you’ll find it nice and quiet.

Stop 7: Doolin

Doolin Village

Photos courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

The drive from Fanore Beach to Doolin usually takes around 25 minutes, but we would recommend giving yourself a little extra time. 

There are some amazing views of the Burren along the way and you might want to pull over! Once you arrive at Doolin, check into your hotel and rest/freshen up/etc. 

Stop 8: Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop, the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, are one of the area’s (if not Ireland’s) most popular attractions.

The cliffs are a 15-minute drive from Doolin, 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 9: Dinner, drinks and music in Doolin

Doolin Pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

Although it’s fairly small, there’s some great restaurants in Doolin and there’s a handful of mighty pubs in Doolin, too.

Our Doolin food recommendations

We have quite a few recommendations for where to eat in Doolin. These are Riverside Bistro (the seafood pasta and lamb shank are delicious), Anthony’s at Doolin (modern Irish and international cuisine with a great selection of cocktails), and Russell’s Seafood Bar at Fiddle + Bow (amazing local seafood from award-winning chef Viv Kelly).

Our Doolin pub recommendations

Doolin is packed full of traditional Irish pubs which are great for a pint (or a hearty pub meal if the restaurants above aren’t to your liking). Our favourites are McDermot, McGanns, Fitz’s, and Gus O’Connors. 

The pubs above are also a good place to catch some live music, as well as Anthony’s at Doolin. 

Day 17: Inis Mor

Black Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Your second to last day is a big one, as you’ll be heading off to explore Inis Mor, a beautiful island off the west coast of Ireland, and a part of the Aran Islands, a chain of limestone islands rich in history. 

Inis Mor is the largest of the Aran Islands at 31 km², with a population of around 800 people. Inis Mor’s residents are within the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, and you’ll notice there’s a strong sense of Irish culture. The landscapes are incredible, with miles of stone walls and rugged coastline. 

It’s going to be an adventure-filled day packed with walking and cycling, so make sure to wear appropriate clothes and pack for all types of weather! 

Grab a hearty breakfast where you’re staying, or check out the Doolin Cafe or Gus O’Connor’s Pub. 

Stop 1: Doolin Pier

Doolin Pier

Photos via Shutterstock

There are two ferry services running to Inis Mor: the Doolin Ferry Co. and Doolin2Aran Ferries. We’ve used them both and are happy to recommend either!

The journey is generally 35 minutes long (via express boat), although the 1pm Doolin Ferry Co. service makes a stop at Inis Orr first, so it will take longer. 

There are daily sailings departing Doolin but make sure to book your ticket in advance.

Stop 2: Grab a bus or bike and head to see the seals

Inis Mor Seal

Photos via Shutterstock

We recommend either renting a bike (preferably an eBike), or if you don’t feel like being too active today, hopping on a mini bus tour when you arrive on the island.

It’s important to note that you’ll only have four hours on Inis Mor, so if you feel like taking it a bit easy, hopping on a mini-bus is the best option. 

Once you arrive on the island, there are several bike hire companies within walking distance of the pier: Aran Bike Hire, Inis Mor Bike Hire, and eBike Self Guided Tours. 

From the pier, it’s 4.1km to the Seal Colony Viewing Point (around 15 minutes cycling). The island is home to a population of Atlantic Seals who live close to Kilmurvey Beach. 

The viewpoint is easy to find, and during low tide, you can spot as many as a dozen seals sunbathing on the beach and rocks. 

Stop 3: Dún Aonghasa

Dún Aonghasa

Photos via Shutterstock

Dún Aonghasa is a prehistoric hill fort sitting on the edge of an 87-metre cliff.  It’s not clear exactly how old the fort is, but parts of the fort date back to the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

It’s the biggest fort on the Aran Islands with three impressive drystone defence walls. If you’re cycling, you’ll need to park your bike at the ‘bike parking’ area (here on Google Maps), then walk the final 1km on foot.

There’s an incline approaching the fort and the last section is on rocky ground, so good shoes are a must. There’s no barrier at the edge of the cliff, so make sure to take extra care and don’t go near to the edge. 

If you have low levels of mobility, the walk out here might be too much of a challenge. If that’s the case, you’ll find the lovely Teach Nan Phaidi close by where you can grab a coffee and a bite-to-eat, if you like.

Stop 4: The Worm Hole

Worm Hole Inis More

Photos via Shutterstock

Also known as the Serpent’s Lair or ‘Poll na bPeist’, the Worm Hole is a one-of-a-kind natural tidal pool! What makes it so unique? Well, its rectangular shape is 100% natural.

It was featured in the 2017 Red Bull Cliff Diving Series and although it’s a little hard to find, it’s well worth the extra effort. 

From Dún Aonghasa, the best way to visit The Worm Hole is to (carefully) make your way east along the cliffs (stay well away from the edge). It’s roughly 1.6km with painted rocks marking the way.  

Even though it may be tempting to go for a swim, we highly advise against it as there’s no easy way to get out of the pool if you get into trouble.

The tidal pool also contains underwater currents, and depending on the tide and weather, waves can crash over the top.

Stop 5: The Black Fort

Black Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

Dún Dúchathair, or the Black Fort, is an ancient fort 2.7km (roughly 8 minutes cycling) from Kilronan. The fort is near a cliff edge and it’s thought that it gets its nickname thanks to the cliff’s dark limestone which is characteristic of the area. 

The site has terraced stone walls that surround the Clocháns (stone dwellings). Similarly to Dún Aonghasa, it’s not clear just how old the Black Fort is, but it’s believed to be built around the same time. 

The way is clearly signposted and easy to find, but before you reach the fort, the paved road ends and the terrain becomes rockier.

Most people choose to leave their bikes at the side of the road and proceed on foot. There’s no barrier or fence at the cliff edge, so once again, take extra care close to the cliffs. 

Stop 6: Lunch 

Joe Watty's

Photo left: Gareth McCormack via Failte Ireland. Others: Via Joe Watty’s

After the trek back to your bike, you must be hungry. For a small island, there are plenty of places to eat and some of our top picks are Joe Watty’s Bar, Bayview Restaurant, and Madigan’s Bar & Restaurant at the Aran Islands Hotel. 

Both Joe Watty’s Bar and Bayview Restaurant are a good pick for families, with hearty Irish dishes, delicious seafood, and a children’s menu.

Madigan’s Bar & Restaurant has a seasonal menu with light bites and a lovely outdoor seating area overlooking the water. 

Stop 7: The Cliffs of Moher from below

Cliffs of Moher cruise

Photos via Shutterstock

During the Cliffs of Moher Cruise, you’ll get the chance to view the cliffs from a completely different angle!

Whilst sitting on the boat looking up at the magnificent cliffs is awe-inspiring, our favourite part of the cruise is passing by the enchanting sea cave, which was one of several Harry Potter filming locations in Ireland.

You’ll also get the chance to see Ireland’s largest seabird colony at the An Branán Mór sea stack, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a dolphin, seal, or basking shark in the water!

Stop 8: Back to Doolin and on to the cave

Doolin Cave

Courtesy Doolin Cave Co Ltd

Cycle the 2.3km (around 6 minutes) back to the pier and return your bike. Depending on how long you spent exploring the island/sailing times, take a late afternoon or early evening ferry back to Doolin. 

Once you’re back in the car, drive over to Doolin Cave (11-minute drive) 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 9: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Doolin Pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

Although it’s fairly small, there’s some great restaurants in Doolin and there’s a handful of mighty pubs in Doolin, too.

Our Doolin food recommendations

We have quite a few recommendations for where to eat in Doolin. These are Riverside Bistro (the seafood pasta and lamb shank are delicious), Anthony’s at Doolin (modern Irish and international cuisine with a great selection of cocktails), and Russell’s Seafood Bar at Fiddle + Bow (amazing local seafood from award-winning chef Viv Kelly).

Our Doolin pub recommendations

Doolin is packed full of traditional Irish pubs which are great for a pint (or a hearty pub meal if the restaurants above aren’t to your liking). Our favourites are McDermot, McGanns, Fitz’s, and Gus O’Connors. 

The pubs above are also a good place to catch some live music, as well as Anthony’s at Doolin. 

Day 18: Back to Limerick and on to Shannon

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today is your last day! The drive from Doolin to Shannon is around 1 hour. It takes another 15 minutes to get into Limerick City. What you do today is up to you.

If your flight leaves today, then head on over to the airport. If you have some free time, why not head to Bunratty?

If you are flying out today, head to Shannon and bon voyage! If you have one more day, make your way back towards Limerick and check out anything you have not already visited.

If you are going to stay a little longer in Limerick, don’t forget to check out our accommodation suggestions below. 

Recommended accommodation in Limerick

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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