Skip to Content

19 Days In Ireland From Dublin (‘Slow-Trip’ For Those With A Car + Good Fitness)

19 Days In Ireland From Dublin (‘Slow-Trip’ For Those With A Car + Good Fitness)

Planning a 19-day Ireland itinerary can be a pain in the backside… So, we’ve done all of the hard work for you!

We’ve spent 25+ years travelling around Ireland and the itinerary below leans on that experience and the many mistakes we made along the way! In a nutshell, this 19-day itinerary:

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

Table of Contents

Who this itinerary will suit

an overview of this trip Now, before you scroll down, take 10 seconds to look at the graphic above – each of our road trip itineraries have been tailored to specific needs. This road trip is specifically for those of you:

  • Starting in/near Dublin
  • Using your own car/a rental (if you’re renting a car, read this Irish car rental guide – it’ll save you time and hassle)
  • Looking to explore at a relaxed pace
  • With reasonably good fitness (i.e. it includes long walks and hikes)
  • Remember, we have hundreds of different itineraries here if this one doesn’t suit you.

An overview of this 19-day Ireland itinerary

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

It uses several bases (e.g. 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: Arrive in Dublin

Dublin City

Photos via Shutterstock

Day 1 of this 19-day Ireland itinerary is going to be very dependent on the time that you arrive into Dublin. If you need to rent a car, I’d recommend collecting one at Dublin Airport. While you won’t need it for the first day in the city, it’ll save you having to go and collect one at a later time.

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

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: Lunch

Neary's Pub

Photos © Tourism Ireland

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

They serve simple dishes (like soups and sandwiches) that are packed with flavour and great value for money.

Alternatively, Sprout and Co. on Dawson St. is also a great choice. They have a range of hearty salad bowls, with good options for vegetarians and vegans.

Stop 2: Trinity College

Trinity College

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 3: The Ha’penny Bridge (via Temple Bar)

Ha’penny Bridge

Photos via Shutterstock

The Ha’penny Bridge (officially named the Liffey Bridge) dates back to 1816 and was the first pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey! It’s a seven-minute walk from the Trinity Gates, but feel free to take your time as you make your way through the lively streets of Temple Bar

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

If you feel like an afternoon coffee, there are some great cafes in the Temple Bar area or on the other side of the river. Joe’s Coffee and Vice Coffee are two of our favourites across the water. They’re both just a short stroll from the north side of the Ha’penny Bridge. 

Stop 4: 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 5: Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

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

The cathedral is only a 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 6: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families.

Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide.

If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday. The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

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

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

Day 2: More Dublin City sites

 Jameson Distillery

Courtesy Jameson Distillery Bow St, Dublin

It’s day 2 of our 19 days in Ireland itinerary, and there’s a full day of Dublin sightseeing ahead of you.

Now, although we’ve focused on the city for day two of this itinerary, you could easily change this day and explore the coast of Dublin. For example, you could take a spin out to Howth Village, tackle the Howth Cliff Walk, grab lunch in the village and then take the train over to Malahide Castle.

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

Stop 1: Breakfast 

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

You may want to save money and eat breakfast at your hotel (if it’s included), but if not, we’ve got a couple of suggestions! The Eatery on Church St. is a great choice for breakfast and it’s right across from St. Michan’s (your next stop). They do a great full Irish breakfast, or for something a little lighter, grab a pastry.  We also love Urbanity (a 4-minute walk away) for their delicious loaded porridge and orange, mango, and banana smoothie bowl. 

Stop 2: St. Michan’s

Michan’s Dublin

Photos with thanks to Jennifer Boyer

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

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

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

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

Stop 3: The Jameson Distillery

Jameson Distillery

Courtesy Jameson Distillery Bow St, Dublin

The Jameson Distillery on Bow St. is only a 5-minute walk from St. Michan’s and you can book tickets in advance right here. The distillery was founded by John Jameson in 1780 and was the original site where the world-famous Jameson whiskey was distilled. 

At its height in the late 1800s, many called the distillery a “city within a city” as it was 5 acres, housing engineers, painters, carpenters, coppersmiths, and more. There were two deep wells under the site to supply the distillery with water, and cellars were dug under streets nearby to store the whiskey. The distillery experienced highs and lows, eventually closing in 1971. 

Today, Jamesons is produced in County Cork, but the Jameson’s Distillery Bow St. offers award-winning tours and experiences. There are several to choose from lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, but for first-timers, we recommend the 45-minute Bow St. Experience.

Stop 4: Lunch 

Brazen Head

Photos via the Brazen Head on Facebook

There are some very old pubs in Dublin, but one reigns supreme! When you finish up at the distillery, you’re a short 7-minute walk to the Brazen Head. The pub is the oldest in Dublin and one of the oldest in Ireland, dating back to 1198. They serve traditional Irish pub grub and their Guinness beef stew is divine. 

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

Stop 5: Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Photos © Diageo via Ireland’s Content Pool

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

We recommend the Guinness Storehouse Experience, a self-guided tour that takes roughly 90 minutes. You’ll learn about Guinness’ history, its ingredients, and get to enjoy a pint of Guinness and one other Guinness beer (for ages 18+) whilst taking in the views of the Gravity Bar. 

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families.

Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers.

The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide.

If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday. The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

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

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

Day 3: Wicklow’s Wonders

Sally Gap Drive

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 3 of your 19 days in Ireland itinerary, it’s time to put that rental car to use and head out of Dublin.

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

There are a few walks on the agenda today, so make sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear, lots of water and snacks, and a raincoat (just in case!). 

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

Stop 1: The Sally Gap Drive (multiple stops)

Lough Tay

Photos via Shutterstock

The glorious Sally Gap Drive can’t be missed and you’re best off doing it either before you head to Glendalough, if you’re up early, or after, on your way home. The reason for this is that you’re best off getting to Glendalough as early as you can, as it tends to get very busy at times.

When you do get to do the drive, aim for Lough Tay first. Also known as Guinness Lake, Lough Tay is the jewel in Sally Gap’s crown! From here, follow the winding road down, over the PS I Love You bridge and around until you reach a car park (on your right). 

From here, very carefully walk around and get an eyeful of Glenmacnass Waterfall before heading on to Glendalough. If you’re feeling up for a walk, we’ve got two for you to choose from. There’s the Djouce Mountain Walk and the Ballinastoe Woods Walk, both of which range from 2 to 2.5 hours in length.

Stop 2: Glendalough Visitor Centre and Monastic City

Glendalough Round Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

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

The visitor centre is right next to the Monastic City, one of the most important monastic sites in the country. The city was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and went on to become one of Europe’s most famous religious sites! At the centre, there’s a wonderful exhibition on the history of Glendalough and St. Kevin. There’s also an interesting 15-minute long audio and visual presentation about early Irish Saints and monasteries. 

Now you’ve learned about the site, it’s time to take a 2-minute stroll to the Monastic City next door. Whilst the remains of the city are scattered all across the glen, many of the main ruins and features are within walking distance of the visitor centre.  These include the Glendalough Round Tower, one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. It stands 33 metres high and dates back almost 1000 years! Other attractions nearby include St. Kevin’s Church and the Glendalough Cathedral ruins. 

Stop 3: The Spinc Walk

Glendalough walks

Photos via Shutterstock

The Spinc Walk is one of the finest trails in Glendalough. The Spinc Loop takes you on a 9.5 km ramble with some steep inclines and tricky paths. There’s some steep climbing and over 600 steps near the start, but after that, it’s a little more relaxed, though there are some tricky downhill sections later. It’s a moderate to strenuous walk, with a total ascent of 380 metres. Having said that, if you’re in reasonable shape, you should be okay and most people complete the walk in just over 3 hours.

Stop 4: Late lunch at the Wicklow Heather

Wicklow Heather

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

We absolutely love stopping by the Wicklow Heather for lunch whenever we’re in Glendalough. The restaurant is in the heart of idyllic Laragh, with a historical interior and some lovely outdoor seating areas. It’s only a 6-minute drive from the Upper Lake Car Park. The menu has traditional Irish dishes, like comforting seafood chowder or hearty cottage pies, with an option for vegetarians and vegans.

Stop 5: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

After a long (and hopefully enjoyable!) day of exploring, it’s time to say goodbye to Wicklow and head back to Dublin. 

If you’re already feeling a little hungry, break up the journey by stopping at Johnnie Foxes for dinner. It’s a lively traditional pub serving up hearty Irish food and great pints. 

They run a daily ‘Hooley Show’ with Irish dancing and music. You can buy tickets (which include a four-course dinner) on their website. Johnnie Foxes is 15 minutes from Powerscourt House and another 40 minutes to Dublin, depending on traffic. 

Or, if you head straight back to Dublin, here are some food and pub recommendations for you.

Our dinner recommendations

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

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families.

Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers.

The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide.

If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday. The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.   

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

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

Day 4: Mighty Meath and Louth

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 4 of the 19 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading out to County Meath, known for its archaeological sites.

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

Stop 1: Newgrange

Newgrange

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 2: Monasterboice

Monasterboice

Photos via Shutterstock

Monasterboice is a 25-minute drive from Newgrange. The ruins date back to the late 5th century and were founded by Saint Buithe. The Christian settlement was an important centre of religion and learning in the area up until 1142 when the Mellifont Abbey was founded. 

Highlights of the settlement are the 28-metre round tower, two church ruins, and the magnificent 10th-century high crosses – the Muiredach’s Cross and the West Cross (the tallest in Ireland). We recommend spending around 30 minutes here. 

Stop 3: Hill of Slane

Hill of Slane

Photos via Shutterstock

The Hill of Slane is an incredibly important site and a possible location for where St. Patrick lit the Paschal Candle, which represented Christianity coming to Ireland. The site is home to 16th-century Franciscan Monastery ruins, built on top of an older monastery founded by St. Erc, one of St. Patrick’s followers. 

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

Stop 4: Lunch in Trim and Trim Castle

Trim Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Trim Castle is Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman fortification. It’s very impressive with an imposing presence and it’s a handy 35-minute drive from the last stop.

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

It’s free to visit the castle grounds, but a guided tour of the keep costs €5 (adult), €4 (senior), €3 (student/child), and €13 (family). The tour is well worth it, especially for any Braveheart fans, as parts of the movie were filmed there! The castle is open daily between 10am and 5pm.

We’d recommend at least 30 minutes to one hour here. It’s a 30-minute drive from the Hill of Slane. 

For lunch, check out StockHouse Restaurant or Rosemary Bistro. 

Stop 5: Bective Abbey

Bective Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

The next stop is Bective Abbey, a 10-minute drive away. It was founded in 1147 for the Cistercian Order and became a significant monastic settlement. The ruins you can see today mostly date back to the 13th and 15th centuries, with a chapter house, a church, and a cloister. 

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

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

Stop 6: Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

Photos via Shutterstock

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

The Hill of Tara has been in use since the late Stone Age, but it’s known best as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, with all old Irish roads leading to the site! The site is shrouded in myth, and the story of Conn of the Hundred Battles tells the tale of how the High Kings of Ireland came to be. 

It’s free to visit, with a free 25-minute Audio Visual Show at the visitor centre (in the church), and free guided tours scheduled every day. The centre is open between 10am and 5pm year-round, but the site is open 24/7. 

Stop 7: Back to Dublin for the night

Pubs in Dublin

Different trad bars in Dublin. © Tourism Ireland

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

However, Spitalfields is 16+ only, so it’s not suitable for young families.

Otherwise, check out The Bull and Castle across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. Their menu has F.X. Buckley Steaks (renowned in Dublin), plus a great selection of local craft beers. The restaurant can get booked out pretty quickly, but you can always eat in the bar upstairs, which also has steak on the menu. 

Live music and trad bars

If you want a taste of what Dublin’s best pubs are, see our detailed Dublin pubs guide.

If you’re solely looking for places that do exceptional Guinness, see our guide to Dublin’s best pints.

If you fancy a bit of live music, there’s plenty on offer. Pipers Corner on Marlborough St. has some great tunes, with live music from 9pm every Tuesday to Saturday, and from 8pm on Sunday. The inside has more of a modern feel, but you’ll be guaranteed authentic Irish music.  

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

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

Day 5: The Drive to Galway (Via Athlone)

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

On day 5 of our 19 days in Ireland itinerary, it’s time to say goodbye to Dublin and head over to beautiful Galway.

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

We’ve got a few recommendations on where to stay in Galway. They’re all in the heart of the city, with different options to suit your budget!

Recommended accommodation in Galway

Stop 1: Athlone Castle 

Athlone Castle

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

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

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

Stop 2: Sean’s Bar

Sean's Bar

Photos courtesy Sonder Visuals via Ireland’s Content Pool

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

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

Stop 3: Lunch

Athlone Restaurants

Photos via Beans & Leaves on FB

By now, you must be hungry, so it’s time to find somewhere for a bite to eat. Our favourite places for lunch in Athlone are The Left Bank Bistro (modern Mediterranean and Asian) and Beans and Leaves (all-day-breakfast and Irish cuisine). However, the Corner House Bistro (gourmet sandwiches and international cuisine) is also well worth considering.

Stop 4: Galway City

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

From Athlone, Galway City is a one hour drive. The city can be very heavy traffic wise if you’re arriving between 16:00 and 18:00, so keep that in mind. Once you’ve arrived (welcome!) it’s time to check into your hotel and head out to explore this charming city on foot. 

Stop 5: See a good chunk of Galway on the hop-on/hop-off tour

galway cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

The Galway hop-on/hop-off bus is a handy and inexpensive (around €15 for a 48-hour ticket) way to see the city and its surrounds. It’s especially handy for those often frequent rainy days when you want to see the city without having to deal with wet socks!

The bus starts in the city at Eyre Square and goes to the Spanish Arch, Galway City Museum, the Black Rock Diving Board in Salthill, Galway Cathedral and much more.

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music

Galway Pubs

Photos courtesy Failte Ireland

You’ve had a busy aul day today, so it’s time to kick-back and chill with food and, if you fancy, a drink and some live music. Galway is a lively city regardless of the time of year. Here’s some spots worth checking out:

Our dinner recommendations

For dinner, we’ve got a few stellar recommendations: Ard Bia, The Quay Street Kitchen, and Dela. Ard Bia is absolutely fantastic, but you need to book in advance for dinner. The restaurant has a quirky interior and serves beautifully presented modern dishes. The Quay Street Kitchen has a great selection of vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes, and Dela has modern Irish cuisine on the menu.

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Galway. After dinner, head out for drinks at either Tigh Neachtain or The Crane. Both are traditional pubs with a great atmosphere.  Trad music is an integral part of the city, with heaps of options to choose from. Our favourite spots are Crane Bar (mentioned above) and Tigh Chóilí.

Day 6: Connemara and Cong

Kylemore Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

On day 6 of our 19 days in Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading to one of Ireland’s most scenic regions – Connemara, as well as Cong in Mayo – a picturesque village with a star-studded past. 

There’s quite a bit to see and do today, so make sure to wake up with plenty of time so you can fit everything in! Bring a good pair of walking shoes and plenty of water as we’ve also got a challenging walk on the agenda. 

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

Stop 1: Scenic drive from Galway City to Clifden

Maam Cross

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 2: Sky Road

Sky Road

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 3: Lunch in Letterfrack

Veldons Letterfrack

Photos via Veldons on FB

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

Stop 4: Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive 3 minutes to the Connemara National Park Visitor Centre and park up. There are two Diamond Hill trails, but we recommend the Upper Diamond Hill trail, the longer of the two. It’s a strenuous 7km walk that takes most people between two and a half and three hours to finish.

Although it’s a challenging route, you’ll be rewarded at the 445-metre summit with stunning panoramic views of Connemara and maybe even a wild goat or two along the way!

Stop 5: Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s a short 9-minute drive to Kylemore Abbey, arguably one of the most popular places to visit in Galway.

Kylemore Abbey is a stunning Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 1920s. It’s incredibly picturesque, sitting on the shores of Pollacapall Lough. The lower floors of the abbey have been restored and are open to the public, as well as the beautiful Victorian Walled Garden. The estate includes a Neo-Gothic church and several woodland and lake-side walks. 

Stop 6: Killary Harbour and Leenane

Killary Fjord

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

On your way to Cong, make a stop in Leenane to check out Gaynor’s Bar (The bar from the movie ‘The Field’) or the Sheep and Wool Centre to watch a demonstration. You could also make a quick stopover at Aasleagh Falls, which is just outside of Leenane.  

Stop 7: Cong

cong village

Photos via Shutterstock

It takes roughly 40 minutes to drive from Leenane to Cong. It’s one of Ireland’s more popular villages, thanks to its scenic streets and link to the 1952 award-winning movie – The Quiet Man. 

There’s lots to do in the village, from Quiet Man tours, grabbing a drink in Pat Cohan’s Gastro Pub (a must for Quiet Man fans), or checking out the 13th-century abbey ruins. If it’s not too dark (and you’re not too tired), park at the edge of Pigeon Hole Wood, and walk to the mythical Pigeon Hole Cave.

Stop 8: Galway for dinner, drinks and live music

Galway City

Photos by Stephen Power via Ireland’s Content Pool

It’s been a long fun-filled day, but it’s time to head back to Galway City, a roughly 50-minute drive.  Here is a reminder of our earlier recommendations for our top places to eat, drink, and be merry in the city!

Our dinner recommendations

For dinner, we’ve got a few stellar recommendations: Ard Bia, The Quay Street Kitchen, and Dela. Ard Bia is absolutely fantastic, but you need to book in advance for dinner. The restaurant has a quirky interior and serves beautifully presented modern dishes. The Quay Street Kitchen has a great selection of vegan and vegetarian-friendly dishes, and Dela has modern Irish cuisine on the menu.

Live music and trad bars

There’s some mighty pubs in Galway. After dinner, head out for drinks at either Tigh Neachtain or The Crane. Both are traditional pubs with a great atmosphere.  Trad music is an integral part of the city, with heaps of options to choose from. Our favourite spots are Crane Bar (mentioned above) and Tigh Chóilí.

Day 7: County Clare

Doolin Village

Photos courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

You’re saying goodbye to Galway today and heading over to Doolin for two nights.

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

Doolin is a lovely village on Ireland’s west coast, known for its trad music. 

Doolin accommodation recommendations

Stop 1: Dunguaire Castle 

Dunguaire Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Dunguaire Castle is a 35-minute drive from Galway. The castle was built in 1520 and belonged to the O’Hynes clan. In 1912, the castle was bought by writer Oliver St. John Gogarty. During his ownership, he restored the castle and hosted several famous writers, including W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. 

The enchanting castle sits on the shores of Galway Bay and has an impressive 75-foot tower. We’d recommend spending at least an hour here, walking the grounds and taking a self-guided tour. According to legend, if you stand at the front gate and ask a question, you’ll have an answer by the end of the day!

Stop 2: Aillwee Cave

Aillwee Cave

Photos via Aillwee Caves on FB

Your next stop, the Aillwee Cave, is around 27 minutes from Dungaire. The Aillwee Cave is a fascinating underground system full of caverns, rock formations, and even the bones of an ancient bear! The site is close to the Birds of Prey Centre, a unique and educational experience involving some of the world’s top birds of prey. 

We’d recommend spending at least one hour at this stop, or even longer if you visit both attractions. The Aillwee Cave tour lasts 45 minutes, passing by an underground waterfall and over bridged ravines. At the Burren Birds of Prey Centre, you’ll be able to see predators like owls, vultures, and hawks, and possibly watch a 45-minute flying demonstration.

Stop 3: Ballyvaughan for lunch

Monks Ballyvaughan

Photos via Monk’s on FB

It’s time to head to the quaint seaside village of Ballyvaughan, only 5 minutes from Aillwee Cave. Our favourite places to eat in the village are Monks (a brilliant seafood restaurant with handpicked Galway Bay oysters), The Wild Atlantic Lodge (a beautiful restaurant with delicious Irish cuisine), or The Larder (a cosy cafe with sandwiches, soup, and quiches). Once you’re done, take the scenic coastal drive to Doolin along the R466. 

Stop 4: Doolin

Doolin Village

Photos courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

The coastal drive from Ballyvaughan to Doolin usually takes around 40 minutes, but we would recommend giving yourself a little extra time.  There are some amazing views of the Burren along the way and you might want to pull over! Once you arrive at Doolin, check into your hotel and rest/freshen up/etc.

Stop 5: Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Photos via Shutterstock

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

The cliffs are a 15-minute drive from Doolin, with breathtaking views of the wild Atlantic, Galway Bay, and the Aran Islands. 

There’s a visitor centre on-site, as well as 800 metres of paved walkways with viewing areas, and the historic O’Brien’s Tower. In our opinion, the visitor centre isn’t really anything that special, but you’ll get access to all three with the Cliffs of Moher Experience. 

Stop 6: Dinner, drinks and live music in Doolin

Doolin Pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

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

Our Doolin food recommendations

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

Our Doolin pub recommendations

Doolin is packed full of traditional Irish pubs which are great for a pint (or a hearty pub meal if the restaurants above aren’t to your liking). Our favourites are McDermot, McGanns, Fitz’s, and Gus O’Connors.  The pubs above are also a good place to catch some live music, as well as Anthony’s at Doolin. 

Day 8: The Aran Islands

Black Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

The landscapes are incredible, with miles of stone walls and rugged coastline.  It’s going to be an adventure-filled day packed with walking and cycling, so make sure to wear appropriate clothes and pack for all types of weather! 

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

Stop 1: Doolin Pier

Doolin Pier

Photos via Shutterstock

There are two ferry services running to Inis Mor: the Doolin Ferry Co. and Doolin2Aran Ferries. We’ve used them both and are happy to recommend either! The journey is generally 35 minutes long (via express boat), although the 1pm Doolin Ferry Co. service makes a stop at Inis Orr first, so it will take longer.  There are daily sailings departing Doolin (more info here).

Stop 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Back to Doolin for the night

Doolin Pubs

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

Below is a reminder of our recommendations for dinner, drinks and music in Doolin. 

Our Doolin food recommendations

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

Our Doolin pub recommendations

Doolin is packed full of traditional Irish pubs which are great for a pint (or a hearty pub meal if the restaurants above aren’t to your liking). Our favourites are McDermot, McGanns, Fitz’s, and Gus O’Connors.  The pubs above are also a good place to catch some live music, as well as Anthony’s at Doolin. 

Day 9: Limerick City

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’ll be heading to Limerick City, where you’ll be spending 2 nights. Check below for our recommendations on where to stay!

Get some breakfast at your accommodation before you hit the road.

Recommended accommodation in Limerick

Stop 1: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Bunratty Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park sit on 26 acres of lovely countryside, a 50-minute drive from Doolin.

Visiting the Folk Park feels like stepping back in time as the 19th-century buildings and streets have been recreated to resemble what they would have originally looked like.

The park has over 30 buildings, including village shops, rural farmhouses, and Bunratty House, a beautiful Georgian home (get your ticket online here). 

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

You could easily spend hours exploring here.  

Stop 2: Limerick City for a ramble

Limerick City walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Welcome to Limerick City! From Bunratty, it’s roughly a 15-minute drive. Make your way to your accommodation to check in and leave your bags, then head out on foot to explore the city. 

Your first stop in Limerick City is the 3 Bridges Walk, a 3.6km loop walk starting and ending in Arthur’s Quay Park. Along the walk, you’ll have great views of the Thomond, Sarsfield, and Shannon bridges, and you’ll cross the River Shannon twice using the Shannon and Thomond Bridge. 

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

Stop 3: Lunch 

Hook and Ladder

Photos via Hook and Ladder on FB

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

Stop 4: King John’s Castle

King John’s Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 5: Dinner, drinks and live music 

Nancy Blakes

Photos via Nancy Blakes on FB

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

Our Limerick food recommendations

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

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

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

Our Limerick pub recommendations

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

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

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

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

Day 10: Limerick and Tipperary 

Clare Glens

Photos courtesy Tipperary Tourism via Tourism Ireland

It’s day 10 of your 19 days, and today, you’ve got an action-packed day exploring Limerick and Tipperary.

You’ve got a walk on the agenda today, so make sure to bring sturdy footwear and some water!

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

Stop 1: The Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Photos via Shutterstock

We are going to start the day with a quick drive out to Cashel to visit the magnificent Rock of Cashel. The drive takes about an hour. 

Once you arrive, make your way up the rock and marvel at this historic site.

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

The site includes a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, an abbey, a Gothic cathedral, and several other buildings and monuments. The site was originally the seat of the kings of Munster, but in 1101, it was granted to the church. After this, the Rock of Cashel quickly became one of the most important ecclesiastical centres in Ireland.

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

Stop 2: Lunch in Cashel 

Feehans Bar

Photos via Feehans Bar on FB

It’s probably getting close to lunchtime, so let’s head into the village to grab a bite to eat. 

Feehan’s Bar and Restaurant offers a wide variety of lunch options, including salads, quiches and pastas along with your typical pub fare like fish and chips. If you are looking for a slightly fancier lunch option, Mickey Ryans Bar and Kitchen is a trendy gastropub offering an elevated take on traditional Irish fare in a beautiful setting. 

Stop 3: Clare Glens

Clare Glens

Photos courtesy Tipperary Tourism via Tourism Ireland

After lunch, we are going to head to Clare Glens, a gorgeous waterfall and walk, roughly 50 minutes from Cashel.

There are two walks: a 2km Nature Loop (which takes 30 minutes to one hour), and the Clare Glens Loop Walk (which takes one to 1.5 hours).

Both loops start on either side of the Clare Bridge. Since you’ve indicated you like being active, we recommend the 4km Clare Glens Loop Walk.

It’s a mostly easy walk, although some parts can be strenuous. The loop passes through the enchanting Clare Glens Forest and past the Clare Glens waterfalls. 

Stop 4: Back to Limerick for the night

Nancy Blakes

Photos via Nancy Blakes on FB

Once you’re ready to head back to Limerick, jump in the car and drive the 20 minutes back to the city. 

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

Our Limerick food recommendations

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

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

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

Our Limerick pub recommendations

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

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

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

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

Day 11: The trip to Killarney

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 11 of your 19 days in Ireland itinerary and it’s time to check out of your Limerick accommodation and head to Killarney in County Kerry! Along the way, you’ll be sightseeing in Adare.  Killarney is a lovely heritage town on the shores of Lough Leane. It’s a great base for exploring southwest Ireland and you’re going to be spending three nights here.

Recommended accommodation in Killarney

Stop 1: Adare Castle 

Adare Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Your first stop of the day is the gorgeous little town of Adare, just outside of Limerick City. It’s a handy 20-minute drive from Limerick, and it makes a great coffee stop.

As you ramble through the town, you’ll stumble upon plenty of thatch cottages, some of which are now home to shops and restaurants. 

When you’re ready, make a bee-line for Adare Castle. There’s no parking at the actual castle, so head towards the tourist office (here on Google Maps) in the centre of Adare, where you’ll be able to board a small bus and go to the castle as part of the castle tour. 

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

Stop 2: Arrive in Killarney, check-in and pick a mode of transport

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to make your way to Killarney. From Adare, it’s just under a 1.5-hour drive, so if you’re dying for some caffeine after the journey, head over to the Bean in Killarney to get a much-needed coffee and a snack! Check into your hotel, then step out to explore the town a little on foot. We’ve three options for you to choose from:

Option 1: The self-guided cycle

Muckross Abbey 

Photos via Shutterstock

Killarney National Park is big and, while it’s a joy to ramble around, it’s the perfect spot to explore by bike (we’re speaking base on personal experience here). You can rent a bike online in advance and then pick it up from the collection point on the Muckross Road. You then cross the road and head straight into the park. There’s very few inclines and it’s a wonderful way to get around to Torc Waterfall, Muckross House and the Lakes of Killarney.

Option 2: The jaunty

Killarney

Photos via Shutterstock

Another great and very unique way to explore Killarney is via one of the traditional jaunting cars (i.e. the horse and cart). On this 1-hour guided jaunty tour you’ll:

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

Option 3: The Lakes of Killarney boat Cruise

Killarney Lakes

Photos via Shutterstock

Arguably one of the most popular tours in Killarney is this 1-hour (and very reasonable) boat tour that takes you around Killarney’s lakes. The tour takes place on a glass-covered boat with heating and it gives you a completely different perspective of the national park. You’ll drift by the 6th-century Innisfallen Monastery, see the highest mountain in Ireland and, at times, see Red Deer and White Tailed Eagles.

Stop 3: Dinner, drinks and live music

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

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

Our dinner recommendations

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

Our pub recommendations

There’s some mighty old-school pubs in Killarney, too. For post-dinner drinks, head to JM Reidy’s, the Laurels Pub, or O’Connors. They all have a traditional pub feel and are a great choice for a pint. JM Reidy’s has a lovely courtyard which is great in the summer, and O’Connors is perfect if you feel like cocktails.  If you want to hear some live music, JM Reidy’s and O’Connors often have live music sessions. 

Day 12: The Ring of Kerry Drive

Rossbeigh

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 12 of your 19 days in Ireland, and today you’re heading off for an adventure on the stunning Ring of Kerry Drive!

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

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

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

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

Stop 1: Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

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

From Killarney, it’s a 7-minute drive to Ross Castle in Killarney National Park. You can also take a horse and carriage to it if you like! Ross Castle was built by O’Donoghue Mór, an Irish Chieftain in the 15th century. The castle is in great condition and sits on the shores of Lough Lenane.

It’s steeped in mystery and according to local legend, O’Donoghue still sleeps under the lake’s waters, rising every seven years on the first morning of May. 

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

Stop 2: Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

From Ross Castle, drive 15 minutes to the enchanting Torc Waterfall. According to local folklore, the waterfall was home to a man who was cursed by the devil to turn into a boar each night. When his secret was revealed by a farmer, the man burst into flames and retreated to the Devil’s Punchbowl. 

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

From the Torc Waterfall Lower Parking, it’s roughly 1km to the waterfall along a paved cycle path that passes by some gorgeous scenery. From Killarney Hiking Parking Lot, there’s a small path that cuts through the forest and joins up with the cycle path roughly 250 metres from the waterfall. 

Stop 3: Ladies View

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

From Torc Waterfall, it’s roughly a 15-minute drive to Ladies View. The viewpoint here is a popular stopping point on the Ring of Kerry Road, with roadside parking directly facing the view (see parking here on Google Maps). The viewpoint was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who were in awe when they visited in 1861 during a royal visit. The view looks out over the Upper Lake with mountains rising up on either side. 

Stop 4: Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

Drive for around 9 minutes along the N71 to another popular spot on the Ring of Kerry road, Moll’s Gap! There’s plenty of parking at Moll’s Gap (see parking here on Google Maps), but take care as the parking area is on a sharp bend.  Moll’s Gap is also known as Céim an Daimh in Irish or ‘Gap of the Ox’, but it gets its nickname after Moll Kissane, owner of a local shebeen (unlicensed pub). The pub was established in the 1820s when the road was being built, and Moll’s homemade poitin (a strong liquor sometimes made from potatoes) was a favourite with the construction workers!

Stop 5: Kenmare

Kenmare

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Continue on the N71 for 12 minutes to Kenmare, a lovely town at the head of Kenmare Bay. It was founded in 1670 and to this day it’s still full of charm, with colourful houses, traditional pubs, and quaint cafes.  Spend some time exploring the street on foot, popping into the local shops, or heading for a mid-morning coffee at Pucini’s Coffee and Books or Cafe Mocha. 

Stop 6: Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

From Kenmare, it’s a one-hour drive to Derrynane Beach – one of the finest beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way. This a lovely white-sand beach backed by soft sand dunes that are perfect for sauntering along.

There are dangerous currents and a small section is known locally as “Danger Beach”.

Stop 7: Lunch in Waterville

Dooley's

Photos via Dooley’s on FB

It’s time for lunch, so drive 18 minutes to Waterville, Charlie Chaplin’s favourite village in Ireland!  We’ve got a few top picks for where to eat, these are: An Corcan (casual dining and homemade food), Dooleys Seafood and Steakhouse (opens from 1pm serving hearty Irish dishes), and The Lobster Bar and Restaurant (a family-run restaurant with traditional Irish favourites).

Stop 8: Coomanaspig Pass

Coomanaspig Pass

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 9: Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Admission to the cliffs cost €4 and there are plenty of places to park. The cliffs are open daily from 9am to 7:30pm. If you’re feeling a little peckish, there’s a small cafe for drinks, cakes, and sandwiches. 

Stop 10: Valentia by way of Portmagee

Valentia Island

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s time to head to Valentia Island, one of Ireland’s most westerly points. From the Kerry Cliffs, it’s a short drive onto the island via the bridge in Portmagee. You’ll be using this route to get onto the island, but please note that to get off the island, you’ll be taking the ferry in Knight’s Town (more details below). 

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

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

Geokaun Mountain is the highest point on the island standing 270 metres tall. The Fogher Cliffs are on the northern face of Geokaun, with incredible views of the Atlantic, distant mountains, and several islands. There are three car parks/viewing points along the way. The last one here is the closest to the summit. The landowner charges a small entry fee. 

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

Stop 11: Cahersiveen

Cahersiveen town

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 12: Rossbeigh

Rossbeigh

Photos via Shutterstock

From Cahersiveen, Rossbeigh Beach is a 30-minute drive. Rossbeigh Beach is a beautiful 6km long sandy beach with great views over Dingle Bay. It’s a Blue Flag beach and one of the most popular in the area! We love it for a summer swim or a nice scenic walk in the winter. 

Stop 13: Back to Killarney for the night

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

Make your way back to the town the same way you came and then head to your accommodation to freshen up. Killarney, like Galway, 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 13: The Dingle Peninsula

Coumeenoole Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, get ready for an action-packed day trip to the marvellous Dingle Peninsula.  The peninsula is on the country’s southwest coast, with rugged coastline, lovely beaches, and rolling green hills.

A note about today

We’re going to give you all of the main attractions located along what’s often referred to as the Dingle Peninsula Loop – you don’t have to visit all of them. But we want to give you a sense of the stops, some of which get missed, so you can decide which you’d like to see and which you’d like to avoid. In this guide you’ll find a map with the looped drive outlined along with all the key stops.

Stop 1: Inch Beach

Inch Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Our first stop of the day is a 45-minute spin from Killarney Town. Inch Beach, as you’ll see from the photo on the left above, is nearly like a little peninsula in itself. It stretches for an impressive 5.5km and it’s a lovely spot for a stroll. There’s a small car park up front and, before you braze the chill Atlantic breeze, you can grab a coffee from Sammy’s (you can’t miss it).

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

Stop 2: Minard Castle and beach

minard castle and beach

Photos via Shutterstock

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

The castle here is finely plonked on a little grassy hill that overlooks the water, commanding breathtaking views on a clear day. Minard Castle dates to the 16th century and it is one of several ‘Fitzgerald castles’ that were built by the Knight of Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula.

Stop 3: Conor Pass

Conor Pass

Photos via Shutterstock

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

However, you don’t have to drive it. If you head up to it from the Dingle side, you’ll reach a car park before you hit the narrow road. From here, you can soak up views of the surrounding valley and watch the cars navigate its narrow bends from afar.

Stop 4: Dingle Town

Dingle Town

Photos via Shutterstock

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

It’s well worth parking up (you’ll find a car park at the pier), hopping out and heading for a stroll around this colourful little town. It’s very walkable and, while very touristy, it boasts a fine bit of charm and character.

In the town, you have attractions like the Dingle Distillery and the Dingle Aquarium.

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

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

Stop 5: Eask Tower

Eask Tower

Photos via Shutterstock

So, our next Dingle Peninsula attraction is Eask Tower – a 15-minute drive from the town. Now, if you’ve zero interest in history, don’t worry – there’s outstanding 360 views from here! The solid stone tower has been perched at the top of Carhoo Hill since 1847 when it was constructed to aid vessels into Dingle Harbour.

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

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

Stop 6: Ventry Beach

Ventry Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

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

One of the more popular beaches in Kerry, Ventry Beach stretches for around 4.5km and, for me, it marks the beginning of the Slea Head Drive. Hop out, flick off your shoes and head for a stroll or a paddle. It’s from this point that the Dingle Peninsula Drive goes from good to great!

Stop 7: Beehive huts, forts and sheepdog demonstrations

dingle sheepdog demonstrations

Photos via Shutterstock

So, these next stops are completely optional. After you leave Ventry, you’ll follow the road to the coast and it’s here that there are several paid and free attractions. The first you come to is the Celtic Prehistoric Museum. The second is the FairyFort Ringfort, the third are the Dingle Sheepdog Demonstrations, the Famine Cottages and Dunbeg Fort and the fifth is the Beehive Huts.

You’ll then drive around a bend and reach Cashel Murphy followed by a place where you can hold a baby lamb. Personally, I’ve never done them and I likely never will, but I know of many visitors to the Dingle Peninsula that have.

Stop 8: The viewpoints

Photos via Shutterstock

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

The issue then is that, at certain stages of the route, there’s very few places to turn. The first two you arrive to are Ceann Sleibhe and the White Cross. Both are next to each other and each is worth stopping at if there’s room to do so.

Stop 9: Radharc na mBlascaoidí viewpoint

Radharc na mBlascaoidí

Photos via Shutterstock

The next viewpoint, listed as Radharc na mBlascaoidí or Blasket’s View on Google Maps is one of my favourites on the Dingle Peninsula Drive. There’s a nice bit of parking here and you’ll be treated to a good eyeful of Dunmore Head. If you’re here when the weather is wild, you’ll see (and hear!) waves bashing against the craggy cliff face below.

Stop 10: Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is Coumeenoole Beach – another filming location for the movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’.

However, this one comes with a WARNING. No matter how inviting the water looks here, never enter it – the bay here catches the full force of the Atlantic which creates strong and unpredictable currents.

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

Stop 11: Dun Chaoin Pier

Dun Chaoin Pier

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Now, another warning – every year a tourist attempts to drive down the path here and gets stuck, destroying their car in the process. There’s a bit of parking near the ticket office – never… ever attempt to drive down it!

Stop 12: The Blasket Centre

The Blasket Centre

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

The Blasket Centre is a good option if you’re doing the Dingle Peninsula Drive when it’s raining and you need a bit of respite. Boasting magnificent views of the coast and the islands, the Blasket Centre offers an insight into the unique community that lived on the remote Blasket Islands prior to they were evacuated in 1953.

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

Stop 13: Ceann Sraithe (Star Wars filming location)

star wars filming location slea head

Photos via Shutterstock

As you may be aware, parts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens were filmed in Ireland, most notably on Kerry’s Skellig Michael. However, a section of the Dingle Peninsula was also used to recreate the Skellig Michael set for later movies. We have this point plotted on the map above. Now, a warning – there’s no dedicated parking area here, just hard shoulder, so please use caution and never block the road. 

Stop 14: Clogher Strand

Clogher Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

Our next stop is Clogher Strand – one of many little coves that you’ll find dotted around the Dingle Peninsula. While swimming isn’t allowed here, Clogher Strand is a gorgeous little beach that’s surrounded by rugged cliffs on all sides. It can make a nice little stop-off point as it’s generally nice and quiet.

Stop 15: Wine Strand

Wine Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the more impressive beaches on the Dingle Peninsula is the mighty Wine Strand, a short spin from the previous stop. There’s a little car park here and, as it’s tucked a little out of sight, tends to get missed by those driving Slea Head. The views from here are outstanding and you’ll often have the place all to yourself in the off-season.

Stop 16: Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory

Photos via Shutterstock

Gallarus Oratory is one of the final stops on the Dingle Peninsula Drive, and it’s a place that gets plenty of mixed reviews. There’s a visitor centre (which you need to pay into) or, if you can find parking nearby, you can access it for free via a public path. It’s believed that Gallarus Oratory was built around the 11th or 12th century. It’s a pokey little structure, standing at just 4.8m by 3m in size.

Stop 17: Dingle for Dinner

Fish Box Dingle

Photos via The Fish Box on FB

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

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

Stop 18: Killarney for the night

The Laurels

Photos via The Laurels on FB

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

Our pub recommendations

There’s some mighty old school pubs in Killarney, too. For post-dinner drinks, head to JM Reidy’s, the Laurels Pub, or O’Connors. They all have a traditional pub feel and are a great choice for a pint. JM Reidy’s has a lovely courtyard which is great in the summer, and O’Connors is perfect if you feel like cocktails.  If you want to hear some live music, JM Reidy’s and O’Connors often have live music sessions. 

Day 14: The Beara Peninsula

Beara Peninsula

Photos via Shutterstock

Today, you’re checking out of your accommodation in Killarney and heading over to the charming town of Bantry, where you’ll be spending 2 nights.

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

Fuel up for the day with a big breakfast at your accommodation or nearby. If you haven’t checked out Petite Delice, today would be a good day to go grab some pastries for the road.

Keep in mind that we do not have a lunch stop planned for today however, you can grab lunch in Allihies or Glengariff, depending on what time you drive through them. If you want to pick up a sandwich, make sure to do so in Killarney before hitting the road.

Recommended accommodation in Bantry

Stop 1: Glenbeg Lough

Glenbeg Lough

Photos via Shutterstock

We are starting our day with a scenic drive out to Glenbeg Lough. On your way there, you will drive through a beautiful section of south Kerry before heading into Cork and driving along Kenmare Bay. 

Glenbeg Lough is about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Killarney. It is a scene lake hidden away amongst towering mountains. 

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

Stop 2: Allihies

Allihies

Photos via Shutterstock

Allihies, an incredibly colourful and scenic little village, is our next stop. The village is about a 35-minute drive away. 

It’s probably a little early for lunch but go ahead and check out O’Neils Bar and Restaurant for a cup of tea and a light bite. 

There is a restaurant on the second floor serving Irish cuisine, but it’s not always open this early.

Stop 3: Dursey Island

Dursey Island

Photos via Shutterstock

The Dursey Island Cable Car is Ireland’s only cable car and one of our favourite things to do on the Beara Peninsula. It’s a 20-minute drive from Allihies with lots of space to park, so parking isn’t normally an issue. 

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

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

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

If you don’t have the time or energy to explore the island, why not just take the cable car over and back? 

Stop 4: Glengarriff

Glengarriff

Photos via Shutterstock

Our next stop is Glengarriff, a quaint little village tucked between the ocean and the mountains. The drive between the Dursey Island cable car and Glengariff takes around 50 minutes but is incredibly scenic. We suggest parking in the centre of Glengarriff next to Quills (here on Google Maps), then walking the short distance to the magical Blue Pool. 

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

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

If you are looking for a bite to eat, the Eccles Hotel has great lunch options. 

Stop 5: Bantry for the night

The Snug Bantry

Photos via The Snug on FB

Walk back to where you parked the car, then drive the 19 minutes back to Bantry to check into your accommodation. 

Our dinner recommendations

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

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

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

Live music and trad bars

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

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

Day 15: West Cork’s wonders

Dunlough Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 1: Mizen Head

Mizen Head

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 2: Three Castle Head

Dunlough Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop 3: Lunch in Crookhaven 

O'Sullivan's Crookhaven

Photos via O’Sullivan’s on FB

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

Both are great choices if you’re after some classic pub grub. O’Sullivan’s Bar has a delicious seafood chowder, and if the weather’s nice, they have some seats outside overlooking the harbour. The Crookhaven Inn is another harbourside spot, with some outdoor seating and a tasty open-faced crab sandwich. 

Stop 4: Altar Wedge Tomb

Altar Wedge Tomb

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

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

Stop 5: Ballydehob

Ballydehob

Photo left via Tourism Ireland. Others: Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Stop 6: Back to Bantry for the night

The Snug Bantry

Photos via The Snug on FB

Walk back to where you parked the car, then drive the 19 minutes back to Bantry for dinner. 

Our dinner recommendations

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

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

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

Live music and trad bars

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

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

Day 16: The trip to Cork City

Gougane Barra

Photos via Shutterstock

Day 16 of your 19 days in Ireland itinerary is going to be your last day in West Cork before we head over to Cork City where we will be spending the remainder of our trip.

Grab something to eat before you set off, either at your accommodation or the restaurants we recommended earlier. Now, you can either stay in Cork City or Kinsale for the final stretch of this road trip. We’d recommend the city, but pick whatever tickles your fancy!

Recommended accommodation in Cork City

Stop 1: Gougane Barra

Gougane Barra

Photos via Shutterstock

Gougane Barra is a 34-minute drive from Bantry. It’s an incredibly scenic spot that is beautiful year-round, steeped in local folklore, and a pilgrimage site.

The 19th-century Gougane Barra Church is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the area. Sitting on a small solitary island on the lake the church looks like something out of a movie.

Just behind the church, you’ll find the remains of St. Finbarr’s monastery which dates back to the 6th century. 

Take a peaceful stroll around the lake, and if nature calls, head to what’s probably the nicest public toilet in Ireland! 

Stop 2: Cork City

Cork Gaol

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Cork City is about an hour drive from Gougane Barra. 

Drop your bags off at your accommodation and check (if it’s possible), then leave the car, as the rest of today, you’ll be exploring marvellous Cork City on foot!

Stop 3: Lunch 

Myo Cafe

Photos via Myo Cafe on FB

Walk over to the Cornmarket for lunch. But be mindful that you’ll be heading to the English Market soon (another foodie destination), so don’t fill up too much! We recommend popping into Bodega for delicious pub grub or the Cornstore if you’re after something a little more upmarket.

Stop 4: Shandon Bell TowerShandon Bell Tower

Photos courtesy Catherine Crowley via Tourism Ireland

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

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

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

Stop 5: The English Market

English Market 

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

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

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

The market dates back to 1788, making it one of the oldest covered markets in Europe.

Aside from its history and beautiful architecture, the English Market is known for its delicious food, and you can get everything from artisanal olives to homemade jams. 

Stop 6: Elizabeth Fort

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

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

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

Stop 7: Cork City for dinner, drinks and live music

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

Below are some of our favourite spots in Cork City. 

Our Cork food recommendations

There are heaps of brilliant restaurants in Cork City, but our personal favourites are Market Lane, Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega, and Cornstore.  Market Lane has a delicious-sounding menu featuring Irish favourites like pan-fried hake with braised leeks, smoked mussels, and baby potatoes. Head to Old Town Whiskey Bar for burgers, salads, and traditional pub grub, and Cornstore for steaks and seafood. 

Great Cork City pubs

There’s some glorious pubs in Cork, too. For drinks, check out Mutton Lane (a quirky traditional pub), The Oval (a historic pub named after its unique oval ceiling), and Castle Inn (a traditional family-run pub with a great atmosphere). There are some great spots for hearing some trad music in Cork. Our top choices are Sin E and The Corner House.  

Day 17: Kinsale

Scilly Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 17 of your 19 days in Ireland itinerary, and you’ve got one last action-packed day before heading back to Dublin.

Today, you’re stopping by Kinsale, a gorgeous town with heaps of history. 

There’s a bit of walking today between attractions, so make sure to wear suitable footwear.

Grab a spot of breakfast in Cork before you head out for the day. We like Cafe Gusto and The Farmgate. The Farmgate is in the English Market and our go-to for a delicious cooked Irish breakfast. 

Stop 1: Kinsale

Kinsale

Photos via Shutterstock

Kinsale is 30 minutes from Cork City. Park in the village centre, within the Main Town Car Park or on the nearby streets where there’s plenty of street-side parking. 

Head off to your next stop Charles Fort on foot via the Scilly Walk. The walk officially starts at The Spaniard and from there it’s around 40 minutes to Charles Fort. The route is well signposted, way-marked by green-ish brown signs with ‘Scilly Walking Tour’ on them. 

The walk has lovely harbour views, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some seals, herons, or even dolphins.

Stop 2: Charles Fort

Charles Fort

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

Stop 3: The Bullman for Lunch

the bullman

Photos via the Bullman on FB

You would have already passed the Bullman on your way to Charles Fort, but walk back the 5 minutes or so until you reach it.  They have a varied menu, with everything from Thai green chicken curry to local BBQ pork ribs with wasabi slaw. Since it’s one of the last days of your trip, consider treating yourself to grilled lobster, a customer favourite!

Stop 4: Head back via the Scilly Walk

Scilly Walk

Photos via Shutterstock

Make your way back to Kinsale along the Scilly Walk and head into the village for a saunter. Kinsale is a lovely colourful town that’s a joy to ramble around. You’ll find plenty of cosy cafes and you tend to stumble upon something interesting around every bend.

Stop 5: Cork City attractions

Cork Gaol

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Now you’ve got the car, drive 35 minutes 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.  Another good option is Cork City Gaol where you can head off on a guided or a self-guided tour.

Stop 6: Drinks, drinks and music

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

From Elizabeth Fort, you are less than a one-minute walk from Tom Barry’s, an institution in the city and a great place for a pint and pizza. Here are some other recommendations for you to get stuck into:

Our Cork food recommendations

There are heaps of brilliant restaurants in Cork City, but our personal favourites are Market Lane, Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega, and Cornstore.  Market Lane has a delicious-sounding menu featuring Irish favourites like pan-fried hake with braised leeks, smoked mussels, and baby potatoes. Head to Old Town Whiskey Bar for burgers, salads, and traditional pub grub, and Cornstore for steaks and seafood. 

Great Cork City pubs

There’s some glorious pubs in Cork, too. For drinks, check out Mutton Lane (a quirky traditional pub), The Oval (a historic pub named after its unique oval ceiling), and Castle Inn (a traditional family-run pub with a great atmosphere). There are some great spots for hearing some trad music in Cork. Our top choices are Sin E and The Corner House. 

Day 18: Ballycotton and Cobh

Cobh

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s day 18 of your 19 days in Ireland, and today you’re going to be exploring the south coast of County Cork.

You’ll start by walking the spectacular Ballycotton Cliff Walk before heading to the historic town of Cobh, so make sure to wear appropriate footwear.

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

Stop 1: Ballycotton Cliff Walk

Ballycotton Cliff

Photos via Shutterstock

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

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

It’s a wonderful ramble along the coast, with the wild Atlantic on one side and lush green hills on the other.

Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for some local Irish wildlife, such as dolphins and whales (particularly in the winter), Peregrine Falcons, and Oystercatchers. 

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

Stop 2: Lunch in Cobh

breakfast

Photos via Shutterstock

After your walk, you must be getting hungry, so it’s time to hop into the car and drive over to Cobh, a 42-minute drive away. Get yourself a well-deserved lunch at the Seasalt Cafe or O’Sheas Bar, a couple of our favourites. 

Stop 3: Titanic Experience Cobh

Titanic Experience

Photo left: Shutterstock. Others: Via Titanic Experience Cobh

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

The Titanic Experience gives visitors an immersive insight into what life was like aboard the Titanic. It includes a 30-minute tour where you’ll experience an incredible cinematographic experience of the ship sinking. Aside from the tour, the experience has several exhibitions telling the personal stories of the passengers, the role of the RMS Carpathia in rescuing survivors, and much more. 

Stop 4: St. Colman’s Cathedral

Cobh Cathedral

Photos via Shutterstock

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

It’s a bit of a slog up the hill, but it’s worth it! Cobh Cathedral, or St. Coleman’s Cathedral, is one of Cobh’s iconic landmarks. It’s a gorgeous cathedral with large stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and an impressive 90-metre spire that dominates the town’s skyline.

It took 51 years from the first cornerstone being laid to the cathedral’s consecration. Building the cathedral was a mammoth project and cost well over the initial budget. It’s just as beautiful on the inside as it is from the outside, with large stone arches, pillars, and red marble shrines. 

Stop 5: Back to Cork City for the night

Sin E

Photos via Sin E on FB

It’s time to head back to Cork City for dinner, so jump in the car and drive the 30 minutes back.  You have endless food and pub options in Cork City, regardless of what it is that you fancy on the night. Here’s a few recommendations to get you started, but feel free to follow your nose:

Our dinner recommendations

There are heaps of brilliant restaurants in Cork City, but our personal favourites are Market Lane, Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega, and Cornstore.  Market Lane has a delicious-sounding menu featuring Irish favourites like pan-fried hake with braised leeks, smoked mussels, and baby potatoes, as well as international dishes like Sri Lankan vegetable curry with tempura aubergine and forbidden rice.  Head to Old Town Whiskey Bar for burgers, salads, and traditional pub grub, and Cornstore for steaks and seafood. 

Live music and trad bars

There’s some might old-school pubs in Cork City, too. For drinks, check out Mutton Lane (a quirky traditional pub), The Oval (a historic pub named after its unique oval ceiling), and Castle Inn (a traditional family-run pub with a great atmosphere). There are some great spots for hearing some trad music in Cork. Our top choices are Sin E and The Corner House. 

Day 19: Back To Dublin

Dublin City

Photos via Shutterstock

It’s the last day and time to head back to Dublin. It’s a long-ish drive, so make sure to set out with enough time and to buy some snacks for the road.

You have to drive through two tolls, so make sure to have a card that taps or cash!

The drive usually takes about 3 hours so make sure to give yourself at least that much time, especially if you are trying to catch a flight. Have plenty of time before your flight? Check out anything in the city that you weren’t able to see on days 1 and 2.

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!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.