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18 Days In Ireland From Knock (‘Fast-Trip’ For Those Using Public Transport + Low Fitness)

18 Days In Ireland From Knock (‘Fast-Trip’ For Those Using Public Transport + Low Fitness)

Planning an 18-day Ireland itinerary using only public transport 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:

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

Table of Contents

Who this itinerary will suit

Who this itinerary will suit

It’s important that you take a look at the graphic above as each of our road trip itineraries have been tailored to specific needs.

This road trip is specifically for those of you:

  • Starting in/near Knock
  • Using public transport and organised tours
  • 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 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. Dublin for 4 nights) and provides you with day-long road trips you can head off on, so you avoid having to change accommodation constantly.

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

Day 1: Sligo Town

Sligo Town

Photos courtesy Eddie Lee/Ed Lee Photography via Failte Ireland

It’s day one, and welcome to Ireland! Today, you’re heading up to Sligo Town from Knock Airport, where you’ll be doing some exploring of Ireland’s gorgeous northwest coast. You’ll spend one night in Sligo before making your way to Dublin.

If you haven’t already got somewhere in mind to stay, we’ve made a list of our favourite hotels and B&Bs in Sligo town below!

Our Sligo accommodation recommendations

Stop 1: The bus to Sligo

Knock to Sligo

Photo left: Google Maps. Others via Expressway

You only have one option at Knock and that is to take the bus. Expressway operates an hourly service between the airport and Sligo Town as does Bus Eireann and Bus Feda. The journey takes around 1.5 hours.

Stop 2: Sligo Abbey

Sligo Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Once you’ve arrived in Sligo, walk the 13 minutes over to Sligo Abbey. The Dominican friary dates back to the mid-13th century and was founded by Maurice FitzGerald, the founder of Sligo town.

The abbey ruins are in great condition, considering they survived a fire in 1414, an attack during the ‘Nine Year War’ in 1595, and pillaging during the Rebellion of 1641. Legend has it that during the rebellion, the abbey’s silver bell was salvaged and thrown into nearby Lough Gill. Today, only those “pure of heart” can still hear the peal of the bell through the town…

Despite sustaining heavy damage, the abbey, which is a blend of Norman and Gothic architecture, still has beautiful carvings and monuments. For those interested in literature, the abbey was featured in two of W.B. Yeat’s poems – ‘The Curse of the Fires and of the Shadows’ and ‘The Crucifixion of the Outcast’.

Stop 3: Lunch

Flipside Sligo

Photos via Flipside Sligo on FB

Our personal favourite lunch spot in Sligo is Hooked. Their brunch menu has Irish classics like beer-battered fish and chips and international dishes like the 12-Hour Slow Cooked Pork Belly Vietnamese Bahn Mi.

If Hooked doesn’t take your fancy, then we also recommend Lyons Cafe and Bakeshop (delicious home-cooked meals, light bites, and cakes) or Bridgefoot House (incredible open-faced sandwiches made with Irish soda bread).

Stop 4: The Model

The Model

Photos courtesy Eddie Lee/Ed Lee Photography via Failte Ireland

Sligo is officially Yeats country, so it’s a great opportunity to learn about and see works by both brothers. The Model is a wonderful contemporary art gallery and centre in the heart of Sligo Town.

It’s home to the Niland Collection (named after the librarian who founded the collection in the 1950s, Nora Niland), with over 300 works, including a significant collection of Yeats pieces.

‘A Political Meeting (In the West of Ireland)’, ‘A Sunday Morning in Sligo’, and ‘An Island Man’ are just a few of the J.B. Yeats works in the collection. Each year, the gallery curates six exhibitions from the Niland Collection, with a heavy focus on the works of J.B. Yeats.

Stop 5: Yeats Society Sligo

Yeats Building

Photos courtesy Eddie Lee/Ed Lee Photography via Failte Ireland

To continue on with the Yeats theme, walk the five minutes to the Yeats Society Sligo. Inside the 120-year-old building, you’ll find a permanent Yeats exhibition as well as the Hyde Bridge Gallery, which is home to various contemporary exhibitions.

The Yeats exhibition is an ode to W.B. Yeat’s life, works, and family, with loads of interesting information and stories in the exhibition.

The society itself dates back to 1957 when a small group of dedicated Yeats fans decided to hold a Yeats Country Festival. The festival happened in May of the following year and was a great success. Following the festival, the group organised to meet every year in May, and thus the society was born!

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music

Sligo pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

It’s time to wrap up your first day, and what a day it was! Head back to your hotel to freshen up, or go directly from the museum to grab some dinner. We’ve got some suggestions below.

Our Sligo food recommendations

Hopefully, you’re hungry as there’s some excellent restaurants in Sligo.

Head to Hooked for delicious Irish and international food made from local ingredients sourced from Sligo County. Some of our favourite dishes are the Sherlock of Tubbercurry’s prime beef steak sandwich and the buffalo chicken mac’n’cheese, but they also have some delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes.

For seafood and steaks, we love Coachlane. It’s a little on the pricey side, but their certified Irish Angus beef is worth the extra money. If steak isn’t your thing, their seafood platter is incredible, with salmon, scallops, crab claws, cod, monkfish, and shrimp.

Our Sligo pub recommendations

If you’re feeling like after dinner drinks, we suggest hitting up Hargadon Bros (a traditional Irish pub dating back to 1868), Thomas Connolly (a heritage Irish pub and the oldest in Sligo Town), and Shoot the Crows (a cosy and quirky traditional pub with a great pint of Guinness).

For a night of lively trad music, pass by McLynns Bar or Fureys Pub (or both!).

McLynns is in the heart of Sligo town on Old Market Street. The fourth-generation pub has been running since 1889, with live music (Irish folk, acoustic, and bluegrass) every weekend and on mid-week nights. The traditional interior will transport you back in time, with wooden furniture and historical decor.

Fureys Pub on Bridge Street is a cosy old-style pub with a great atmosphere, an open fire (great for those cold winter evenings), and live trad music on weekends and certain weekday nights.

Day 2: The train to Dublin

Dublin City

Photos via Shutterstock

On your second day in Ireland, you’ll be saying goodbye to Sligo and hopping on a train to Ireland’s lively capital, Dublin! You’ll be spending four nights here as you explore the city and nearby attractions.

Start the day with a hearty breakfast at your accommodation. Or, if you want to have breakfast out, we recommend Margarets Cafe (a cosy spot with traditional Irish breakfast, french toast, and pancakes) or Lyons Cafe and Bakeshop (hearty cooked breakfasts and artisanal pastries).

We’ve got some recommendations on where to stay in Dublin below, so check them out if you don’t have anywhere in mind already:

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: The train from Sligo to Dublin

Sligo to Dublin

Photos via Shutterstock

The best way to get from Sligo to Dublin is by train. There are direct trains from Sligo to Dublin Connolly operating all day long and the trip takes around three hours.

Today, we have you heading to Trinity first, but depending on when you get in, you can head to lunch first and then Trinity as the lunch spots we have suggested are very close by.

Stop 2: Trinity

Trinity College

Photos via Shutterstock

Head straight to wherever you’re staying. Check-in and leave the car behind you. The city is very walkable.

When you get to the city, head straight for 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 3: Lunch

Neary's Pub

Photos © Tourism Ireland

There’s plenty of great restaurants in Dublin, but for lunch, we suggest you head to Neary’s. It’s just up the road from Trinity College, along the bustling Grafton Street.

This old-school pub is a classic and it serves up a range of simple lunch options, like sandwiches, soup, toasties, and Carlingford Oysters, all washed down with a tasty pint of Guinness.

Affordable and delicious, we can’t recommend it highly enough. Sprout and Co on Dawson Street is another good shout for a quick, light lunch that tastes great and is close to Trinity College.

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. 

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Stop 5: Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 6: Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 7: St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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Stop 8: Teeling’s Distillery

Teeling’s Whiskey

Photos courtesy Teeling Whiskey Distillery via Failte Ireland

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

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

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

Stop 9: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

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

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

Live music and trad bars

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3: More Dublin City sites

St. Audoen’s Church

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 3 of our 18 days in Ireland itinerary, and there’s a full day of Dublin sightseeing ahead of you.

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

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

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

Stop 1: Breakfast

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time for day 2, so grab some breakfast at your accommodation or grab a quick bite from a nearby cafe. We recommend stopping by Cool Hand Coffee Roasters on Emmet Road.

They’re a short 3-minute stroll from our next stop (Kilmainham Gaol), serving speciality coffees and a selection of pastries. 

Stop 2: Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Ireland itinerary

Stop 3: Irish Museum of Modern Art

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 4: St. Michan’s

Michan’s Dublin

Photos with thanks to Jennifer Boyer

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 5: Lunch at Dublin’s oldest pub

Brazen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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Stop 6: The Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Photos © Diageo via Ireland’s Content Pool

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

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

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

Stop 7: St. Audoen’s Church

St. Audoen’s Church

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 8: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

For your second night in Dublin, we’ve got a few recommendations! For dinner, we love Crow Street Restaurant or Rustic Stone.

But, if you don’t mind going a little further, Richmond in Portobello is a Michelin Bib Gourmand serving modern European Cuisine.

Our Dublin food recommendations

There’s endless excellent restaurants in Dublin. However, if we had to pick one or two… 

The first would be The Bull and Castle – it’s always a good choice and it’s right across the street from the Christ Church Cathedral.

An FX Buckley steakhouse (a Dublin institution), they offer a great range of steaks cooked to perfection, paired with their incredible beef dripping chips.

The Vintage Kitchen is an alternative, but it’s best to book in advance as it’s incredibly popular. A BYOB (bring your own bottle) place, the food is phenomenal, with a small but diverse menu that features classic Irish dishes with a contemporary twist.

Our Dublin pub recommendations

There’s certainly no shortage of great pubs in Dublin. If you’re a fan of old-school pubs, follow our Dublin pub crawl guide – it contains a short route with some of the city’s finest trad bars.

McNeils on Capel Street is an authentic Dublin pub, complete with wood panelling, impromptu folk sessions, and plenty of beers on tap.

The Long Hall is another must-see. Part Victorian time capsule, part vibrant boozer, it enjoys a fantastic atmosphere and is one of the most visually stunning pubs in the city.

You’ll find trad sessions at Pipers Corner every night of the week. O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row is another must-visit, with vintage decor and frequent trad sessions. It’s best-known as the home of the Dubliners, who used to play here regularly.

The Celt on Talbot Street is another great choice for live music, and while it’s not always trad, the bands are normally really good. 

Day 4: Wicklow’s Wonders

upper lake Glendalough

Photos via Shutterstock

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

Depending on what time of the year you’re visiting, you’ll have different options for visiting Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

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

Getting to Wicklow option 1: A guided day trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 1: The Sally Gap Drive

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 2: Glendalough Monastic City

Glendalough Round Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 3: The Lakes at Glendalough

upper lake Glendalough

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 4: Powerscourt Gardens

Powerscourt House

Photos by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

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

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

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

Stop 5: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll be heading back to the city. Nip into your hotel to freshen up before dinner, or if you’re not fussed, head out for something to eat as soon as you get back. 

Our Dublin food recommendations

There’s endless excellent restaurants in Dublin. However, if we had to pick one or two… 

The first would be The Bull and Castle – it’s always a good choice and it’s right across the street from the Christ Church Cathedral.

An FX Buckley steakhouse (a Dublin institution), they offer a great range of steaks cooked to perfection, paired with their incredible beef dripping chips.

The Vintage Kitchen is an alternative, but it’s best to book in advance as it’s incredibly popular. A BYOB (bring your own bottle) place, the food is phenomenal, with a small but diverse menu that features classic Irish dishes with a contemporary twist.

Our Dublin pub recommendations

There’s certainly no shortage of great pubs in Dublin. If you’re a fan of old-school pubs, follow our Dublin pub crawl guide – it contains a short route with some of the city’s finest trad bars.

McNeils on Capel Street is an authentic Dublin pub, complete with wood panelling, impromptu folk sessions, and plenty of beers on tap.

The Long Hall is another must-see. Part Victorian time capsule, part vibrant boozer, it enjoys a fantastic atmosphere and is one of the most visually stunning pubs in the city.

You’ll find trad sessions at Pipers Corner every night of the week. O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row is another must-visit, with vintage decor and frequent trad sessions. It’s best-known as the home of the Dubliners, who used to play here regularly.

The Celt on Talbot Street is another great choice for live music, and while it’s not always trad, the bands are normally really good.

Day 5: Mighty Meath and Louth

Loughcrew Cairns

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 5 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.

We’ve selected a tour that passes through some of our favourite spots in County Meath. Keep reading below for more info!

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

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

Stop 1: Hill of Uisneach

Hill of Uisneach

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 2: Fore Abbey

Fore Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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Stop 3: Loughcrew Passage Tombs

Loughcrew Cairns

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 4: Trim Castle

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 5: The Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 6: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

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

Our Dublin food recommendations

There’s endless excellent restaurants in Dublin. However, if we had to pick one or two… 

The first would be The Bull and Castle – it’s always a good choice and it’s right across the street from the Christ Church Cathedral.

An FX Buckley steakhouse (a Dublin institution), they offer a great range of steaks cooked to perfection, paired with their incredible beef dripping chips.

The Vintage Kitchen is an alternative, but it’s best to book in advance as it’s incredibly popular. A BYOB (bring your own bottle) place, the food is phenomenal, with a small but diverse menu that features classic Irish dishes with a contemporary twist.

Our Dublin pub recommendations

There’s certainly no shortage of great pubs in Dublin. If you’re a fan of old-school pubs, follow our Dublin pub crawl guide – it contains a short route with some of the city’s finest trad bars.

McNeils on Capel Street is an authentic Dublin pub, complete with wood panelling, impromptu folk sessions, and plenty of beers on tap.

The Long Hall is another must-see. Part Victorian time capsule, part vibrant boozer, it enjoys a fantastic atmosphere and is one of the most visually stunning pubs in the city.

You’ll find trad sessions at Pipers Corner every night of the week. O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row is another must-visit, with vintage decor and frequent trad sessions. It’s best-known as the home of the Dubliners, who used to play here regularly.

The Celt on Talbot Street is another great choice for live music, and while it’s not always trad, the bands are normally really good.

Day 6: Cork City

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

Day 6 of your 18 days in Ireland itinerary takes you to Cork – the Rebel County.

You’re going to be spending three nights in Cork City. If you haven’t researched places to stay yet, check out our recommendations below.

Recommended accommodation in Cork City

Getting from Dublin to Cork

Dublin to Cork train

Photos via Google Maps

You have two options to get from Dublin to Cork City, train or bus. Both are good and comfortable options.

We personally prefer the train though the bus can often be cheaper. Both trips take around three hours. Check below for the outline of both options.

Option 1: Bus

Aircoach and GoBus both operate good consistent services between Dublin and Cork City. The bus takes around three hours (make sure to book your ticket well in advance to be safe).

Option 2: Train

The train to Cork leaves from Dublin Heuston, which you can get to by taking the Luas Redline – there is a Luas stop right outside of the train station. The train is comfortable, and you can usually get a direct service between the two cities. Again, it takes around three hours.

Stop 1: Cork City

Cork City

Photos via Shutterstock

Once you’ve arrived in Cork, head off to your hotel to drop off your things and freshen up. Then, get ready to explore the city on foot!

Stop 2: 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! 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!

From the city centre, it’s around a 10-minute walk to the Shandon Bell Tower.

Stop 3: The Butter Museum

Cork Butter Museum

Photos courtesy Catherine Crowley via Tourism Ireland

The 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 two-minute walk from the bell tower, with some interesting historical info about the city as well as the butter industry.

Stop 4: Lunch

Myo Cafe

Photos via Myo Cafe on FB

Walk the short six 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 5: The English Market

English Market 

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

The English Market is only four 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 6: Elizabeth Fort

Once you’re finished perusing the market, walk the 10 minutes over to Elizabeth Fort. The star-shaped fort dates back to the 17th century and currently sits off Barrack Street in Cork City. The fort was originally on high ground, but over the years, the city has built up around it, although it still has fantastic views over Cork.

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

Stop 7: 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 8: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

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

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

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

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

Live music and trad bars

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

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

Day 7: Blarney and Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

You’re almost halfway through your Ireland itinerary and today you’re heading to Blarney and Cobh, which are both just outside of Cork City. Get ready to see castles and cathedrals and to visit the Titanic’s last stop before her tragic end.

Grab a spot of breakfast in Cork before you head out for the day. We like Cafe Gusto and The Farmgate, but you could also wander around the English Market to find somewhere.

Cafe Gusto is a fantastic choice. However, they have two locations with different menus. Lapps Quay has a smaller breakfast menu, with smoothies and home-baked pastries. For a heartier breakfast, head to their cafe on Washington Street.

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

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

Stop 1: Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 2: The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 3: Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 4: St Colman’s Cathedral

Cobh Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 5: Titanic Experience

Titanic Experience

Photo left: Shutterstock. Others: Via Titanic Experience Cobh

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

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

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

Stop 6: Back to Cork for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

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

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: Mizen Head or Kinsale

Mizen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Option 1: The bus tour

Gougane Barra

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Option 2: Get the bus to Kinsale

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

  • Stop 1 – Ramble time: Arrive in Kinsale, grab a coffee (it’s hard to beat the Cosy Cafe) and explore the town’s colourful streets.
  • Stop 2 – St Multose Church: St Multose Church is 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.
  • Stop 3 – The Kinsale Museum: Here you’ll find heaps of local history in a building dating back to the 1590s
  • Stop 4 – Home time: Get the bus back to Cork City for the night

Then Cork City for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

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: Killarney

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 9 of your 18 days in Ireland itinerary and today, you’ll be heading to Killarney Town. You’ll be spending three nights in this peaceful town which sits on the outskirts of a beautiful national park.

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

Recommended accommodation in Killarney

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

Getting from Cork to Killarney

Cork to Killarney

Photos via Google Maps

The best way to get from Cork to Killarney is by train. The only thing to pay attention to is the fact that you will most likely need to change trains in Mallow.

It’s not a guarantee, but often you need to change trains there so pay attention to your ticket and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The trip takes a little over an hour.

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

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

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

Once you arrive, if you feel like stretching your legs a bit, consider grabbing a coffee to go from Bean in Killarney then going for a little wander.

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

Personally, I think option 1 combined with option 2 is the way to go!

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 2: Dinner, drinks and live music in Killarney

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 10: The Ring of Kerry

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 1: Killorglin

Killorglin

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 2: Dingle Bay and Inch Beach

Inch Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 3: Skellig views

Skelligs View

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 4: Waterville

Waterville

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 5: Sneem

Sneem

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 6: Kenmare Bay

Kenmare Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 7: Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 8: Ladies View

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Ladies View has fantastic vistas of the Upper Lake. 

Stop 9: Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 10: Back to Killarney for the night

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

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

Check out our recommendations from yesterday for where to eat, drink, and listen to trad music.

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 11: The Dingle Peninsula

Blasket Islands view

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 1: Dingle Town

Dingle Town

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 2: Slea Head

slea head loop

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 3: Blasket Islands views

Blasket Islands view

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 4: Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 5: Back to Killarney for the night

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

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

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

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

Day 12: The trip to Limerick City

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Today we are heading to Limerick City, where we will spend two nights before heading up to Galway. Check out our accommodation recommendations below:

Grab some breakfast at your accommodation or nearby and then head out.

Recommended accommodation in Limerick

Getting to Limerick from Killarney

Killarney to Limerick

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

You can take either the bus or train to Limerick. We have outlined both options below.

Option 1: Bus

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

Option 2: Train

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

Stop 1: The Hunt Museum

Hunt Museum 

Photos via Tourism Ireland’s Content Pool

Your first stop in Limerick city is the Hunt Museum, right on the outskirts of the city centre.

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 2: Lunch

Hook and Ladder

Photos via Hook and Ladder on FB

It’s probably close to lunchtime by now, and we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you. We usually head to The Little Red Hen, The Buttery, or the Hook and Ladder when we’re in the city. The Little Red Hen is a contemporary bar with some delicious pizzas and dirty fries on the menu. The Buttery is our go-to for brunch, and the Hook and Ladder (the one on Sarsfield Street) has delicious sandwiches and a mouth-watering vegan burger.

Stop 3: King John’s Castle

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 4: 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 13: Bunratty Castle 

Bunratty Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today we are going to take a short bus journey into County Clare, where we will visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. 

Before we hop on the bus, grab some breakfast at your accommodation or nearby. Cafe Rose and Bistro has great breakfast options, from delicious omelettes to freshly baked scones. 

Stop 1: The bus to Bunratty 

Treaty Stone

Photos via Shutterstock

You have two bus options to get from Limerick City to Bunratty, Dublin Coach or Bus Eireann. Both options take around 15 minutes to get to Bunratty. However, they leave at different times from different parts of the city. Dublin Coach leaves from Arthur’s Quay while Bus Eireann leaves from Limerick Bus Station.

Check the schedules, pick your bus and then head out to Bunratty.

Stop 2: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park 

Bunratty Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park sit on 26 acres of lovely countryside only 15 minutes outside of Limerick City.

Visiting the Folk Park feels like stepping back in time as 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 Bunratty Castle, the last of four castles built on the site (grab your skip-the-line ticket online before you go.) However, prior to the castles being built, the site was home to a Viking trading camp in 970.

There is a lot to see and do at Bunratty, so if you need a break to sit down and refuel, head to Mr O’Regan’s Cafe for a cup of tea or a bite to eat. 

Stop 3: Back to Limerick City 

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

After you’ve explored the Folk Park, head back to Limerick City on the bus. Make sure to check bus schedules and pick-up points. The journey back to Limerick City takes around 15 minutes. 

Stop 4: Lunch 

Hook and Ladder

Photos via Hook and Ladder on FB

If you are ready for a bite to eat, here are our lunch suggestions for Limerick City. 

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 5: St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

The next stop is St. Mary’s Cathedral

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 are its misericords (small wooden carvings). They are the only complete set in Ireland and the only remaining pre-Elizabethan carvings. 

Stop 6: Treaty City Brewery 

Treaty City Brewery

Photos via Treaty City Brewery on FB

While we are all fans of a pint of the black stuff, Ireland has some incredible craft breweries, and Treaty City Brewery is one of them. 

The brewery is right across from King John Castle. It is located 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! So after lunch, head on over and join a tour or grab a pint in this really unique brewery. 

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 14: The trip to Galway

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

Today we are heading to Galway, where we will spend four nights before you head back home.

Before you head off on your trip, grab a hearty breakfast from where you’re staying, or venture out into the city for some grub. The Hook and Ladder is a personal breakfast favourite of ours (the breakfast burrito is amazing).

Recommended accommodation in Galway

Getting from Limerick to Galway

Limerick to Galway

Photos via Google Maps

You have two options, again, to get to Galway – bus or train. The bus is pretty straightforward, just long. If you are going to take the train, you need to make sure that you have booked a direct train.

There are direct trains a couple times a day. Unfortunately, you can also inadvertently book trains that take you all the way to Dublin first before taking you to Galway so make sure to check first.

Option 1: Bus

Citylink and Expressway both do buses between Limerick and Galway. The bus is around one and a half hours and is very straightforward.

Option 2: Train

If you book a direct train from Limerick to Galway, you’re laughing! If you don’t, you’ll end up in Dublin… before having to get on a train back across the country to Galway. Be careful when booking.

Stop 1: Check-in, get lunch and decide between walking or 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Galway Pubs

Photos courtesy Failte Ireland

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

Our dinner recommendations

There’s some excellent restaurants in Galway – our favourites are 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

It’s day 15 of your 18 days in Ireland itinerary, and today you’ll be exploring the breathtaking Connemara and Cong!

Grab breakfast at your accommodation or head to Gaslight Brasserie, Esquires Organic Coffee Co, or Jungle, which are all near the departure point outside of the Hyde Hotel.

This 8-hour organised day-trip takes you through Connemara, stopping at popular attractions like Kylemore Abbey.

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

Stop 1: Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

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 2: Killary Fjord and Leenane

Killary Fjord

Photos via Shutterstock

Leenane is a beautiful village in an area of outstanding beauty. The village sits at the top of Killary Fjord, tucked away under the Maamturk mountains.

If you’re about ready for a second coffee and a snack, we recommend picking something up at The Purple Door, a lovely family-run cafe. 

Killary Fjord is Ireland’s only fjord! It stretches 16km across, forming a natural border between County Galway and Mayo.

It’s a truly breathtaking part of Connemara, with mountains rising up dramatically around the water. 

Stop 3: Cong

cong village

Photos via Shutterstock

Cong Abbey, or the Royal Abbey of Cong, is a historical ruin in the heart of Cong. The ruins mostly date back to the 12th century, although it was built on the site of a 6th-century monastery founded by St. Feichin. 

The current abbey was reconstructed in 1307 and dedicated to St. Mary. But, sadly it fell into ruin sometime during the mid 1500s, after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

The ruins are in good condition and are said to be one of the best examples of medieval ecclesiastical architecture in the country. 

When you visit, try to imagine the 3,000 inhabitants that once lived on the abbey. 

Stop 4: An Spideal

Spiddal

Photos via Shutterstock

An Spideal on the shores of Galway Bay is a gorgeous little seaside village full of rural Irish charm.

There are several beaches in the town that are worth a look if you have time, or if you’d rather do some shopping for souvenirs, head to the Spiddal Craft Village & Cafe for unique gifts made by local artists. 

The village is a part of the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area), and a large percentage of the population speaks Irish regularly. 

Stop 5: Back to Galway for the night

Galway Pubs

Photos courtesy Failte Ireland

After a long day, it’s time to make your way back to Galway. Make a stop at your hotel to freshen up for dinner, or if you’re simply too hungry, head straight to the restaurant from the bus stop!

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

Our dinner recommendations

There’s some excellent restaurants in Galway – our favourites are 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: The Clare coast

The Burren

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’ll be taking a tour of North Clare. It’s a wonderful corner of the country, with beautiful landscapes and historical sites. It’s home to the Burren National Park and the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most popular natural tourist attractions in the country!

We’re recommending this 8-hour day trip from Galway City as it takes in a good chunk of Clare’s main attractions (and it has excellent reviews).

If you fancy a hearty breakfast, we’d recommend Pascal Coffee House (the pancakes are amazing) or Gaslight Brasserie (great for a full Irish or a breakfast burrito). 

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

Stop 1: Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

The enchanting Dunguaire Castle sits on the shores of Galway Bay and has an impressive 75-foot tower.

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!

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. 

Stop 2: Corcomroe Abbey

Corcomroe Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Corcomroe Abbey is a late 12th/early 13th-century abbey ruin tucked away amongst the scenic Burren hills.

The ruins are in great condition and as you pass by, admire its Cistercian architecture set against the backdrop of lush green hills. 

Stop 3: The Burren

The Burren

Photos via Shutterstock

During the tour, you’ll be driving right through the Burren, a gorgeous landscape characterised by huge limestone plateaus. 

The Burren is what is known as a karst landscape, a distinct landform that arises when carbonate rock (such as dolomite, marble, or limestone) is slowly dissolved by water, giving the land its unique shape.

In fact, the Burren is still being shaped by the rain to this day! Karst landscapes have sinkholes, caves, and underground streams, the Burren being no exception, with huge subterranean caverns below its surface.

The Burren is one of the best examples of karst landscapes worldwide, and it has a diverse range of flora and fauna thanks to its varied landscape. 

Stop 4: Doolin Pier

Doolin Pier

Photos via Shutterstock

You’ll then make a quick stop at Doolin Pier, the main access point to the nearby Aran Islands

This place tends to be a hive of activity as the two ferry providers shuttle people to and from Inis Mor, Inis Oirr and Inis Meain (you’ll be visiting Inis Mor tomorrow).

Stop 5: Lunch at Hotel Doolin

Hotel Doolin

Photos via Hotel Doolin on FB

For lunch, you’ll be heading to Fitz’s Pub and Eatery, which is a part of Hotel Doolin. It’s a cosy traditional pub serving up delicious Irish food.

The Navarin-style Irish lamb stew is a huge hit, as is the sustainable all-white fish chowder. If you’re a beer drinker, make sure to try their in-house Dooliner Beer, a creamy and smooth Irish red ale. 

Stop 6: The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Photos via Shutterstock

Your next stop, the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.

The cliffs are 15 minutes away 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. 

Stop 7: Lisdoonvarna

Lisdoonvarna

Photo left: UpSwing Mediaa. Top right: Maria Ryan Donnelly. Bottom right: Failte Ireland

Keep your eyes peeled as you pass through Lisdoonvarna, a spa town renowned for its annual matchmaking festival! The festival began in 1857 and today it attracts over 20,000 visitors from all over the globe. 

Lisdoonvarna is relatively new for Irish standards (dating back to the early 19th century), but it’s still full of charm, with colourful shop fronts and traditional houses. 

Stop 8: Back to Galway for the night

food in Galway

Photos via Blakes Bar Galway on FB

From Lisdoonvarna, it’s around one hour and 20 minutes back to Galway, so sit back and relax as you may your way back through the lovely countryside. 

Our dinner recommendations

There’s some excellent restaurants in Galway – our favourites are 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 17: Inis Mor

Worm Hole Inis More

Photos via Shutterstock

Today is going to be an adventure-filled day exploring the largest of the Aran Islands, so make sure to wear appropriate clothes and pack for all types of weather! 

This 8.5-hour day trip takes you over to Inis Mor and it also sails right below the Cliffs of Moher on the return journey, giving you a very unique perspective. 

The boat departs from Galway Pier, which is just a short walk away from Eyre Square. We recommend getting breakfast where you’re staying or near Eyre Square in one of the locations we have mentioned before.

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

Stop 1: Inis Mor

Inis Mor

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’re going to be exploring glorious Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. The island is 31 km² and has 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. 

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 Galway for the night

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

After another long but fun-filled day, you’ll be heading back to Galway. Luckily you’ll be dropped off at the pier, so you won’t have too far to travel back to your hotel. 

Check back on our recommendations from the last few days for places to eat, drink, and listen to music. It’s your last night in Galway, so make the most of it if you’re not too tired!

Our dinner recommendations

There’s some excellent restaurants in Galway – our favourites are 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 18: The Bus to Knock Airport

Knock Airport

Photo left: Google Maps. Top right: Bus Eireann. Other: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and today, you’ll be heading to Knock to catch a plane back home.

Grab some breakfast at your accommodation or nearby and then head on out to the bus station.

You only have one option to get to knock and that’s to take a bus. There are two options.

  • Option 1: Bus Eireann (takes about 1.5 hours)
  • Option 2: Bus Feda (takes about an hour but it only operates twice a day)

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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