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5 Days In Ireland: 5 Road Trips You Can Do If You Only Have 5 Days To Explore

5 Days In Ireland: 5 Road Trips You Can Do If You Only Have 5 Days To Explore

“Hey! We’re spending 5 days in Ireland this summer and we’re worried that it’s not enough time – any recommendations?”

I get this kind of email a fair bit.


Because planning a 5 day Ireland itinerary isn’t easy (if you’re stuggling to plan your trip, visit our ridiclously detailed Ireland itinerary planning guide).

It can be a massive pain in the arse, in fact.

People generally worry that 5 days it isn’t long enough and get stressed about which route to take in order to make the most of their time in Ireland.

Chill: This guide will make planning your 5 day trip to Ireland EASY.

In the guide below you’ll find:

  • 5 different 5 day Ireland itinerary options to choose from
  • Recommendations on routes to take
  • Advice on where to stay during your visit
  • Pub, restaurant, and cafe recommendations

Hit play below to check out some of the places you’ll visiting in this guide.

Here’s one of our Ireland in 5 days routes to give you an idea of what you can expect.

Table of Contents

5 days in Ireland itinerary

  • Day 1: Wicklow (Glendalough, the Sally Gap, Lough Tay)
  • Day 2: Carlow (The Nine Stones, Huntington Castle, and Gardens, more)
  • Day 3: Kilkenny (Kilkenny Castle, Dunmore Cave, Smithwick’s Experience)
  • Day 4: Wexford (Hook Lighthouse, Loftus Hall, and more)
  • Day 5: Waterford (Waterford City, the Copper Coast, and more)

Ready to dive in?

Keep on scrollin’ or just click one of the routes below to be taken straight there.

Visiting for a week? Check out our detailed guide to spending 7 nights in Ireland.

5 Day Ireland Road Trip: Route 1 – Fermanagh, Sligo, Donegal and Derry

5 Days in Ireland Road Trip route 1

Photo by Matthew Woodhouse

Our first 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us to counties Fermanagh, Sligo, Donegal and Derry, on an Ireland road trip that you won’t forget anytime soon.

We’ll cover things to do and where to stay along with where to eat and drink.

Day 1 (Fermanagh and Sligo)

Where you start this road trip is entirely up to you.

You may need to adjust the itinerary slightly to suit your departure point – if you have any questions, pop a comment in the comments section at the bottom of this guide and I’ll help you out.

1 – Climbing Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven 

// Aim to arrive here for 10:00 //

getting from dublin to cuilcagh

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

You’ll often hear the boardwalk on Cuilcagh Mountain referred to ‘Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven‘ or ‘Ireland’s Great Wall‘ (not sure where they’re getting the ‘wall’ from…

The marvelous wooden boardwalk above that you’re currently devouring with your eyes sits on Cuilcagh, a Mountain that straddles the Fermanagh and Cavan border.

getting from cuilcagh to dublin

Photo © The Irish Road Trip: #CuilcaghIsDeadly

The boardwalk covers an impressive 1.6km of Cuilcagh Mountain, making it very walker friendly (especially for those with lower levels of fitness).

Pre-walk good-to-knows

Walk time: the last time I did it (2017) it took 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Difficulty: moderate levels of fitness needed.

Tip: arrive early – parking here at peak times is an absolute disaster. Parking costs £5.

More info: here’s everything you need to know about walking the Cuilcagh Boardwalk.

2 – The Marble Arch Caves (and a light bite to eat)

// Finish up the walk at 13:00 and arrive to the caves for 13:20 //

marble arch cave cavan

If you’re in need of a light post-walk feed, drop into the cafe on-site first.

The Marble Arch Caves are found within throwing distance of where you’ll be finishing up your walk.

They’re a series of natural limestone caves that are around 11.5 kilometers in length.

Interestingly enough, the caves form the longest known cave system in Northern Ireland.

marble arch caves fermanagh

Those that nip along to the Marble Arch Caves will experience a natural underworld of;

  • Rivers
  • Waterfalls
  • Winding passages
  • Lofty chambers

The tour takes visitors on a short stroll down through the Marble Arch National Nature Reserve, before taking a short 10-minute underground boat journey and then a 1.5km walk through the showcave that you can see above.

Read more about the Marble Arch Caves.

3 – The Benbulben Forest Walk

// Marble Arch Caves to the start of the walk – 1-hour drive (arrive for 16:30) //

Benbulben county sligo

Benbulben: Photo by Chris Hill

We’re going to round off day 1 by making our way into Sligo.

We’ll be taking the glorious 1 and a half hour Benbulben Forest walk.

If you’ve never heard of Benbulben, it’s arguably Ireland’s most distinctive mountain thanks to its almost table-top-like appearance.

According to the lads at Sligo Walks (an excellent resource), the trail begins in a secluded forest area before later opening up and offering spectacular close-up views of Benbulben Head.

A Colourful Benbulben in sligo

A Colourful Benbulben

Over the course of the walk, you’ll also be treated to views of Donegal Bay, Slieve League, and Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle.

Pre-walk good-to-knowsr

Walk time: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: easy

Parking: stick ‘Benbulben Walk’ into Google Map. This’ll take you right to the carpark.

4 – A bed for the night

// Your accommodation (Benbulben Farmhouse B&B) is only a 2-minute drive from the carpark  //

benbulben farmhouse bed and breakfast

Photo via Benbulben Farmhouse Bed & Breakdast

If you read our guide to the best places to stay in Ireland if you fancy an out-of-this-world-view (see it here), then you’ll recognise this place.

Benbulben Farmhouse B&B is situated at the foot of Benbulben in the heart of Yeats Country.

This little B&B offers guests views of Benbulben Mountain that are simply out of this world.

Drop your bags off and we’ll head for a feed to polish off the night.


// Your B&B to the Yeats Country Hotel, Spa & Leisure Club – 15-minute drive (arrive around 19:00) //

Take the short spin from your accommodation over to the Yeats Country Hotel, Spa & Leisure Club and grab a bite to eat.

We’ve a busy day tomorrow, so I’m going to recommend that you eat and then head back for an early night.

Day 2 (Sligo and Donegal)

We’ll be finishing up in Sligo on Day 2 and moving on to Donegal.

If you fancy exploring more of the county, check out our guide to 48 hours in Sligo.

Ready for day 2 of our 5 days in Ireland guide? Let’s get cracking!

1 – The Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail

// Start the walk at 08:45 (it’s a 25-minute drive from your B&B) //

Knocknarea Mountain Walk

Photo by Alison Crummy

You need to get up early on day 2, so get fed in your B&B, and start the walk before 9. Day 2 is going to be long. It’s also going to be packed with lots of great stuff! We’ll be polishing off the day with pints later, so you’ve that to look forward to!

As you’ve probably gathered, many of the best things to do in Sligo revolve around the county’s glorious landscape..

So, it’s probably no major surprise that the first activity of the day is a hike.

We’re going to take the Queen Maeve Trail up the clear-cut limestone Knocknarea Mountain, which should take us around 1 and a half hours to complete.

The route

  • When you leave the carpark you’ll need to follow the stone path for around 1.2km
  • From here, continue along the bog bridge to the summit

You’ll be treated to panoramic views of Sligo from the top.

Pre-walk good-to-knows

Walk time: you should be able to finish it in under 2 hours

Difficulty: strenuous

2 – The road to Donegal

// Knocknarea to Ballyshannon – 50-minute drive (arrive for 12:00) //

shannons corner ballyshannon

We’ve a decent drive ahead of us to get to our first handful of Donegal stops.

I’m going to recommend that you stick Ballyshannon into Google Maps and head there for a bit of lunch.

I can’t even begin to recommend Shannon’s Corner in Ballyshannon enough – I had food here recently and it was top-class.

3 – The mesmerising cliffs at Slieve League

// Ballyshannon to Slieve League – 1 hour and 20 minute drive (arrive for 14:30) //

The Slieve League Cliffs

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Our next stop of the day takes us to the Slieve League Cliffs.

Towering above the ocean at 1,972 feet/601 meters, (over twice the height of the Cliffs of Moher), the Slieve League Cliffs are an explorers dream.

There’s ample opportunity for those of you in search of a lengthy walk and plenty of handy strolls for those looking to take it easy.

Recommendation for this trip: start your walk from the first car park you meet. This’ll give you the opportunity to take the 45-minute or so (depending on fitness and pace) walk up to the viewing point.

If you’re with someone with limited mobility, just open the gate near the carpark and drive on up. Just be careful of walkers and cyclists.

4 – Silver Strand Beach

// Slieve League to Malin Beg – 40-minute drive (arrive for 17:00) //

silver strand beach

Photo by Failte Ireland

You’ll find the magnificent Silver Strand Beach in Malin Beg, a little Gaeltacht village just south of Glencolumbkille.

Whether you’re chilling out on the grass above and gazing down at it, or rambling along the sandy shores and listening to the music of the waves crashing, this horseshoe-shaped beach is well worth dropping by.

This is one of the most widely missed stop off points in many Wild Atlantic Way Donegal guides. Make sure you don’t miss it!

5 – Get dizzy at the Glengesh Pass

// Malin Beg to Glengesh – 35-minute drive (arrive for 18:00) //

glengesh pass donegal

Photo by Gareth Wray

Those of you that have read our guide to the craziest roads in Ireland will recognise the bendy road through Glengesh Pass.

It meanders through the seemingly endless mountainous terrain that connects Glencolmcille to Ardara.

Tip: Hop out of your car (or dismount your bike) at the little viewing point that’ll be on your right as you approach the pass and admire the view from above.

7 – Food, drink and a bed for the night

nancys bar ardara donegal

Photo via Donegal Holiday Cottages

I’m going to recommend that you take the hand 12-minute drive to the gorgeous little town of Ardara.

Check into the highly rated Nesbitt Arms Hohotels’d plonk your bags down.

The hotels restaurant is excellent. So, when you’ve taken some time to relax after the long day on the road, head down for a bite to eat.

Any time I’m in Ardara for a night I’ll take a stroll down to Nancy’s Bar for a pint or three. This is a gorgeous old pub that’s especially cosy in the winter thanks for a roaring fire.

Kick back and chill for the evening.

Day 3 (Donegal) – Glenveagh National Park, Horn Head and LOTS more

Day 3 of our 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us further into Donegal.

The best way to explore this corner of Ireland is by foot, so we’ll be spending a good chunk of day 3 out rambling.

1 – A walk in Glenveagh National Park

// Ardara to Glenveagh – 60-minute drive (arrive for 11:00) // 

Glenveagh National Park walks guide

Photo left: Gerry McNally. Photo right: Lyd Photography (Shutterstock)

We’re going to kick things off with a looped walk in Glenveagh National Park.

The park is made up of an impressive 16,000 hectares that includes most of the Derryveagh Mountains, the Poisoned Glen and part of Errigal Mountain.

For those looking to get a lungful of fresh air, there are several walks that you can choose from.

Tip: If you’re looking for a reasonably handy walk that treats you to some of what Glenveagh has to offer, give the Garden Trail (a 1-hour looped trail) a bash.
glenveagh national park donegal

Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

2 – The Horn Head Loop

// Glenveagh to Horn Head – 35-minute drive (arrive for 15:00) //

horn head donegal

Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

This is one of my favourite drives on our first 5 days in Ireland route.

Point the car in the direction of Dunfanaghy – this’ll be the starting point for the Horn Head Loop Drive.

The drive kicks off from the Market Square in Dunfanaghy village. Here’s some directions to follow:

  • From Dunfanaghy village, head for the Horn Head Road.
  • Cross the long bridge and keep on driving until you come to a left turn (there’ll be a signpost with ‘Scenic Route‘).
  • You’ll start to climb a steep hill from here.
  • When you reach the end of this road you can turn right or left – take the right.
  • Keep on driving (you’ll pass a little right turn with a cattle grid) until you come to the little (and I mean little) carpark that’ll be on your left.
  • Park the car and stroll up to the viewing point. From here you’ll be treated to a 360 view of Donegal, with everything from Malin Head to Tory Island visible on a fine clear day.
  • When you’ve had your fill get back into your car and head back the way that you came. You need to take the left turn where we noted the cattle grid earlier.
  • This road will take you back down to Dunfanaghy and will offer you some excellent places to grab a view of Horn Head

3 – Killahoey Beach

// Horn Head to Killahoey Beach – 15-minute drive (arrive for 16:30) //

Dunfanaghy in Donegal

Photo via LR-PHOTO on

You’ll hear Killahoey Beach often referred to as Dunfanaghy beach.

It’s one of Donegal’s many Blue Flag beaches and it’s well known for watersports.

Stop off here, hop out of your shoes and socks and head for a walk along the shore.

4 – Ards Forest Park

// Killahoey Beach to Ards Forest Park – 10-minute drive (arrive for 17:30) //

ards forest park in donegal

Photo left: shawnwil23, Right: AlbertMi/shutterstock

Our next stop takes us to the often overlooked Ards Forest Park, where you can choose from nine different trails to head off on.

Over the course of your walk, you’ll encounter sand dunes, beaches, salt marshes, saltwater lakes, rock face and, of course, coniferous and deciduous woodlands.

You’ll also happen upon the remains of four ring forts together with a holy well and a mass rock.

Car parking fee: €5 fee in coins on entry.

Opening hours: The car park opens at 8 am and closes at 8 pm from April to September and opens from 8 am to 5 pm from October to March

5 – A bed for the night

// Ards Forest Park to Downings – 25-minute drive (arrive around 19:00) //

I’m going to recommend that you spend the third night of our 5 days in Ireland road trip in Downings, at the Downings Bay Hotel.

Head down to the hotel’s Haven restaurant for a bite to eat and then tip into J. C’s bar for a pint or a cup of tea.

Day 4 (Donegal + Derry) – Fanad Lighthouse, Lough Salt and Malin Head

Day 4 is our last day in Donegal before we tip on to Derry.

We’ll be kicking off the day with a drive near where you stayed on day 3 before moving on to Lough Salt and then Fanad.

The day will be rounded off with a walk at Malin Head.

1 – The Tra Na Rossan loop drive

// Downings to Tra Na Rossan View – 15-minute drive (take your time on this drive and arrive for 11:00) //

Tra Na Rossan

Photo by Chris Hill

Get up early and grab a decent bit of breakfast. When you’re ready to hit the road, point your car in the direction of Tra Na Rossan View.

This drive is locally known as the Atlantic Drive.

Keep on going until you see a little pull in point on the right (hopefully you’ll arrive when there are no cars around).

The view from here is sensational.

2 – Lazing at Lough Salt

// Tra Na Rossan View to Lough Salt – 20-minute drive (arrive for 14:00) //

lough salt donegal

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Lough Salt is a small mountain lake located at the base of Lough Salt Mountain in Donegal.

I stumbled upon this place not long ago and liked it so much that I spent an hour or so sat on the little grassy hill that you’ll see in the photo below.

Keep driving from Tra Na Rossan until you come to the little parking area that’ll be on your left as you drive up the hill.

From here, you can have a look at the lake to your left or climb the grassy hill on the other side of the road.

lough salt things to do donegal

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

3 – Fanad Head Lighthouse

// Lough Salt to Fanad head – 40-minute drive (arrive for 15:30) //

fanad lighthouse donegal

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Fanad Head Lighthouse is the of my highlights on our Wild Atlantic Way Donegal itinerary.

There’s no real mystery why – it’s an immensely special place.

I’ve been here when it’s raining and I’ve been here when the sun was blazing, and thoroughly enjoyed Fanad on both occasions.

The drive to and from Fanad Lighthouse is worth the spin alone, as you spin through the beautifully quaint countryside that engulfs it.

wild atlantic way donegal drive

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The lighthouse at Fanad stands proudly between Lough Swilly and the sandy Mulroy Bay.

Plonk yourself down on the stone wall to the left of the lighthouse and switch off for a while.

Soak up the sounds of the ocean and bask in the beauty of one Ireland’s most spectacular corners.

4 – The beautiful Ballymastocker Bay

// Fanad Head to Ballymastocker Bay – 20-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

Ballymastocker Bay donegal

Photo by Chris Hill via Failte Ireland

Ballymastocker Bay (aka Portsalon Beach) is another magnificent Blue Flag beach that you should take some time to ramble along.

Located on the Fanad Peninsula, It was once voted the second most beautiful beach on earth by readers of the Observer Magazine.

This gorgeous pile of sand offers fabulous views out towards the Inishowen Peninsula, the best of which can be seen from a viewpoint on the Knockalla coast drive.

Get out here for a gander.

5 – Grianan of Aileach

// Ballymastocker Bay to Grianan of Aileach – 55-minute drive (arrive for 17:30) //

Grianan of Aileach donegal

Photo by Tom Archer

You may have seen the Grianan of Aileach, a hillfort that sits on top of the 801 ft high Greenan Mountain at Inishowen, take the web by storm over the past year after the photo above from Tom Archer went viral.

When you reach the top you’ll be treated to a magnificent 360 view that takes in Lough Swilly, Lough Foyle and the gorgeous countryside of the Inishowen Peninsula.

6 – Food, drink and a bed

Peadar O’Donnell’s derry

Photo via Peadar O’Donnell’s

We’re going to leave Donegal and head to Derry for the evening.

Don’t worry, we’ll still be visiting Malin Head, but Derry is a handy spin from stop 5 and it’s getting late.

I’m going to recommend that you head to Fitzroy’s Restaurant for dinner.

Get in, order food, and spend some time looking back over the last few days of our 5 day Ireland itinerary.

When you’ve finished eating, take the short stroll to Peadar O’Donnell’s pub for a few pints.

I’m going to recommend that you spend the night in the Bridge B&B. It’s central and the reviews are top notch.

Day 5 (Derry and Donegal) – Exploring Derry and Walking at Malin Head

You need to get up early on the last day of the road trip.

We’re going to spend a chunk of it exploring the best that Derry has to offer before polishing off the trip with a long walk at Malin Head.

Get up. Get breakfast and a good whack of coffee and hit the road.

1 – Derry City Walls

// Arrive for 09:00) //

derry city walls

Photo by Brian Morrison

The first stop of the day takes us around the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland.

The Derry City Walls were erected between 1613-1618 and were used to defend the city against the early 17th-century settlers from England and Scotland.

They form a walkway around Derry’s inner city and offer a unique promenade to check out the layout of the original town.

2– Free Derry Corner

// Derry City Walls to Free Derry Corner – 2-minute drive/6-minute walk (arrive for 10:00) //

free derry corner

Photo via Wikipedia

The Free Derry Corner is an iconic landmark in the Bogside neighborhood of Derry.

It was at this corner (and in many of the surrounding streets) where the Battle of the Bogside in 1969 and Bloody Sunday in 1972 took place.

The Free Derry Corner was first painted in January 1969 and has seen many iterations over the years.

Please do take some time to read about both of the above events before you visit.

3 – Learn the story of the city at the Museum of Free Derry

// Free Derry Corner to the Museum of Free Derry – 3-minute walk or a 1-minute drive (arrive for 11:00) // 

The Museum of Free Derry opened back in 2007.

It exists to tell the story of what happened in Derry from 1968 to 1972. The story is told from the point of view of the people that were most involved in and affected by the events that took place at the time.

A visit to the Museum of Free Derry will help you understand the history of the city and its contribution to the civil rights struggle that took place in Derry in the mid-1960s.

According to those that run the museum, their ‘focus is not just to share our history, but to encourage those who come to the Museum to see the struggle for human and civil rights as an ongoing contemporary undertaking’.

4 – Grab a bite to eat at Pyke ’N’ Pommes

// Museum of Free Derry to Pyke ‘N’ Pommes – 18-minute walk or a 6-minute drive (arrive for 13:00) // 

Pyke ’N’ Pommes derry

Photo via Pyke ’N’ Pommes

Foooooooood time.

Pyke ’N’ Pommes started out its life many years ago as an adapted van that served food in a carpark.

In 2015, they converted a shipping container and took up permanent residence by the river. Not long after the container was joined by a carefully converted double-decker bus.

The food here, which is dished up from scratch, is supposed to be out of this world.

5 – Ramble along the Peace Bridge 

// Pyke ‘N’ Pommes to the Peace Bridge – 16-minute walk or a 3-minute drive (arrive for 15:00) // 

peace bridge derry

Photo by Gardiner Mitchell Photography via Tourism Ireland

After you had your fill of food, take the walk along the river to the Peace Bridge.

The now iconic Peace Bridge opened in 2011 and has won a clatter of awards since.

it connects the old army Barracks in Ebrington to the city center and was intended to end a 400-year-old physical and political gap by bringing the largely unionist east side of Derry closer to the largely nationalist west.

Here’s how the architect describes the design of the bridge:

‘It is designed as two identical halves, each suspended from a single, inclined steel pylon, which overlap at the centre of the river to form a ‘structural handshake’ – a powerful metaphor for reconciliation, drawing on inspiration from the sculpture “Hands Across the Divide” by Maurice Harron which can be found nearby.’

6 – Malin Head

// Peace Bridge to Malin Head – 50-minute drive (arrive for 17:00) //

malin head drone shot

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Our final stop on this 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us to Malin Head – the most northerly point of the island of Ireland.

Now, if you’re visiting during the winter months, this stop won’t be possible, as it’ll be dark by the time you arrive.

If you visit from April to September when the days are longer, you could easily head off on a ramble here.

There are several walks you can do at Malin Head – the road walk to Banbas crown is roughly 12km and will take you around 5 hours depending on fitness levels (only do this if you arrive later in the day. Otherwise, you’ll be there after dark when visibility is low and/or non-existent.

As you explore Malin head, keep an eye out for a large ‘EIRE’ on the ground. It’s written out in white stones and acted as a reminder to aircraft that they were flying over a neutral state during the war.

7 – A bed for the night

// Malin Head to the Strand Hotel – 25-minute drive (arrive for 21:00) //

I’m going to recommend that you round off our first 5-day guide with a stay in the Strand Hotel.

It’s been a busy few days. But you’ve packed a lot into your 5 days in Ireland.

Chill for the night. Grab some food in the hotel. And re-live your Ireland road trip.

5 day Ireland tour: Route 2 – Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford

5 day Ireland tour route 2

Photo by Tourism Ireland

Our second 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us through Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Waterford.

Below, you’ll find a full guide to the route that contains:

  • Things to do
  • Where to stay
  • Where to eat and drink
  • A map of the route

Ready? Let’s get cracking!

Day 1 – Wicklow

Our first day on the road takes us to Wicklow.

We’ll be kicking things off with a hike, so make sure you’re dressed for the occasion.

1 – Pick a hike/long walk

The best way to explore Wicklow is on foot.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to pop in several walk/hike options for you to choose from.

Option 1: The Great Sugar Loaf

sugarloaf mountain wicklow

Via Failte Ireland

If you can add this hike to your 5 days in Ireland, do – it’s brilliant!

You’ll first notice the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain on the skyline as you drive south from Dublin into Wicklow.

You’ll also cop it every once and a while when you’re exploring Dublin (you can see it from Howth on a clear day).

This is a handy 2.5km walk that, on a clear day, provides spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Where to start: The car park on Red Lane (type ‘car park near Red Lane, County Wicklow‘ into Google Maps.

Climb time: 60 minutes

Option 2: The Spinc Loop

the spin loop in glendalough

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

This is one of my favourite walks in Wicklow.

I’ve been doing it with a group of friends for years and it just never gets old.

The views that you’ll be treated to as you gulp down a lungful of mountain air and bask in the brilliance of the Wicklow Mountains are superb.

The hike kicks-off at the Upper Lake carpark and follows the Poulanass Waterfall before entering the Lugduff Valley.

From here, climb the steep wooden steps to the top of the boardwalk that runs along the top of The Spinc.

This path is around 500m and it takes you up to a section of the boardwalk that overlooks the Upper Lake.

Where to start: Glendalough Upper Lake carpark

Climb time: 3 – 4 hours (will depend on fitness levels)

2 – Head to the Wicklow Heather for lunch

// Glendalough to the Wicklow Heather – 5-minute drive (arrive for around 13:00) //

the wicklow heather

Via the Wicklow Heather

I visited the Wicklow Heather for the first time with my Mam and Nan in late 2018.

I’d go back for the coffee and the beautiful interior alone.

Grab a bite to eat here and admire the many different trinkets and artifacts hanging from every inch of the walls that surround you.

3 – Admiring the view at Lough Tay (Guinness Lake)

// Wicklow Heather to Lough Tay – 25-minute drive (arrive for 14:45) //

lough tay in wicklow

Photo by Chris Hill

Now that you’ve had a stroll and you’re well fed, we’re going to explore some more that Wicklow has to offer.

Take the 25-minute drive from the Wicklow Heather up to Lough Tay.

As you approach the viewing point (you’ll see a little makeshift car park on the right), you’ll have incredible views of the mountain and the lake to your left.

When you’ve parked up the car, cross the road and walk down the grassy hill until you’re treated to the incredible view above.

Ehhhhh – why’s it called Guinness Lake?!

There’s a couple of reasons why Lough Tay is often referred to as ‘Guinness Lake’.

Reason 1: Luggala (the private estate where Lough Tay is found) is owned by the trustees of the Guinness family trust and was the former home of Guinness heir and co-founder of Garech Browne.

Reason 2: The shape of the lake combined with the white sand at the top makes it look like a Pint of Guinness… kinda!

4 – The Sally Gap drive

// This is a looped drive rather than a stop. Start it at 15:15 (head in the direction of Glenmacnass Waterfall and then Laragh) //

The vast landscape that engulfs you as you spin along the Sally Gap in Wicklow feels almost other-worldly at times.

This drive will only take around 25 minutes, but allow plenty of time to hop out of your car at will.

Watch the video above to get a taste of what you can expect

5 – A bed for the night

I’m going to recommend that you spend the night in the Riverside B&B.

It’s a short drive from the last stop and the reviews are top notch.

Grab some food in the nearby Lynham’s Hotel and head to Jake’s Bar (part of the hotel) and relax with a pint or two.

Looking for more things to do in Wicklow? Check out our 24-hour Wicklow guide.

Day 2 – Carlow and Kilkenny

The second day of our second 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us to Carlow first before tipping onto Kilkenny.

Feel free to spend more or less time than we recommend for each section.

We pop in times to give you a rough guide.

1 – Huntington Castle and Gardens

// Your B&B to Huntington Castle – 1-hour drive (arrive for 10:00) //

Huntington Castle & Gardens,

Photo via Failte Ireland

Our first stop of day 2 on our second 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us to County Carlow to check out Huntington Castle and its extensive gardens.

You’ll be driving quite a bit today, so this will be a nice way to get you out of the car for an hour or so and into nature.

Hungtington Castle is a 17th-century treasure trove of historical architecture and was originally built as a defensive garrison.

If you fancy checking out the castle itself, you can head off on a guided tour.

2 – A view you’ll never forget at the Nine Stones

// Huntington Castle to the Nine Stones Viewing Point – 25-minute drive (arrive for 11:30) //

nine stones viewing point

Photo by Suzanne Clarke

Our second stop of the day will treat you to one of many must see places in Ireland.

The Nine Stones Viewing Point provides an unrivaled vista of the lush Carlow countryside along with 7 other counties… yes, 7! On a clear day you’ll see:

  1. Carlow
  2. Laois
  3. Kildare
  4. Wicklow
  5. Wexford
  6. Waterford
  7. Kilkenny
  8. Tipperary

On the lower side of the road, you’ll notice 9 small stones in the ground. According to legend, these stones are said to commemorate nine shepherds lost on Mount Leinster.

Well worth the visit.

3 – Kilkenny for lunch

// The Nine Stones to the Left Bank in Kilkenny – 45-minute drive (arrive for 13:00) //

left bank killkenny food

Via the Left Bank

Head to the Left Bank in Kilkenny for a bite to eat.

We have a busy day ahead.

Another solid option for food in Kilkenny is the Fig Tree!

4 – Ramble around the city (and the castle) with a coffee

// Finish up eating at around 14:15 and hit the road for a ramble //

walking in kilkenny town

Photo by Brian Morrison

When you’ve had your fill, get a coffee to go and head for a wander around Kilkenny.

When you’re ready, make your way towards Kilkenny Castle.

kilkenny castle

Photo by Macmillan media

Kilkenny Castle is a 12th-century structure that was originally constructed with wood in 1172.

Overlooking the River Nore, the castle stood in all its wooden glory for a short thirty years before it was rebuilt with stone by the Earl of Pembroke.

For those of you that fancy checking out the interior of the castle, you can do a self-guided tour for €8.

5 – The Medieval Mile Museum

// Kilkenny Castle to the Medieval Mile Museum – 4-minute walk (arrive for 15:00) //

medieval mile museum kilkenny

I spent the night in a castle (it was an Airbnb – see it here) in Kilkenny recently and the host raved about the Medieval Mile Museum.

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Museum is located on the 13th-century site of St Mary’s cruciform church and graveyard and boasts an immense treasure trove of artifacts encompassing the work and lives of Ireland and its people across more than 800 years of history.

Visitors to the museum will be treated to an insight into some of Ireland’s finest examples of medieval sculpture, but also the country’s largest collection of Renaissance tombs.

6 – The Smithwick’s Experience

// Arrive at the Smithwick’s Experience for 16:00 //

Smithwick's Experience kilkenny

Photo by the Smwithick’s Experience

The Smithwick’s brewery was founded in Kilkenny way back in 1710 by John Smithwick, on the site of a Franciscan abbey where monks brewed ale since the 14th century.

Parts of the old brewery now play host to the Smithwick’s Experience.

During the tour, you’ll learn about Ireland’s rich history of brewing and see first-hand where Smithwick’s beer was once produced.

The tour, which lasts between 45 and 60 minutes, costs €13.00 for an adult and has racked up excellent reviews online.

7 – Check into your accommodation for the night

When you finish up at the Smithwick’s, head to your accommodation and get checked in.

Here are some recommendations on where to stay in Kilkenny (these are Affiliate links):

Central hotels (prices between €100 and €200)

Central hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and hostels below €100

8 – Kytlers Inn (once owned by Ireland’s first condemned witch)

Kytler's Inn Kilkenny

Via Kytlers Inn

When you’ve chilled for a bit, head over to Kytlers Inn.

We’ve chosen Kytlers Inn for dinner based on its history and the fact that I’ve eaten here before and have fond memories of the place.

Dating back to 1263, Kytlers was first established by Dame Alice de Kytler – the first recorded person condemned for witchcraft in Ireland.

Grab some food and a drink and chill for the night.

Day 3 (Wexford) – Famine ships, haunted houses and ancient lighthouses

Day 3 of our second road trip takes us back to the coast to County Wexford.

We’ve a busy day ahead, so make sure you’re not out too late the evening before.

1 – The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience

// Kilkenny to The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience in New Ross – 50-minute drive (arrive for 09:00) //

Dunbrody Famine Ship wexford

Photo by Tourism Ireland

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel located in the town of New Ross.

Visitors to the ship will follow in the footsteps of those who left during Ireland’s Great Famine.

The tour provides an insight into a significant period in Irish history that shaped our culture forever.

2 – A coffee and a stroll at Tintern Abbey

// New Ross to Tintern Abbey – 25-minute drive (arrive to Tintern at 10:40) //

Tintern Abbey Wexford

Photo by Brian Morrison

You’ll find Tintern Abbey on the west shore of Bannow Bay in Wexford.

Once one of the most powerful Cistercian foundations in the South East, the Abbey is now a big (and incredibly well maintained) crumbly ruin.

tintern abbey walled gardens wexford

Photo by Brian Morrison

Although the Abbey is the big attraction for visitors, many people that I chat to that have visited mention the walled garden as being the highlight of the visit.

3 – Loftus Hall (one of the most haunted houses in Ireland)

// Tintern Abbey to Loftus Hall – 20-minute drive (arrive for 12:00) //

loftus hall old

Photo via Loftus Hall

You’ll find the intimidating structure known as Loftus Hall on the wild and windy Hook Peninsula, close to Hook Lighthouse.

It’s a massive old mansion house that was built in the mid-1300s during the time of the black death.

inside loftus hall ireland

According to legend, the mansion is haunted by both the devil and by the ghost of a young woman.

If you fancy a bit of a scare, you can take a guided interactive tour of the ground floor of Loftus Hall (lasts around 45 mins).

When you’ve finished up the tour, grab a light (and I mean light) bite to eat in the little cafe on site.

We’re heading out on the water next, so we don’t want an almighty amount of food bobbing around in our stomachs.

4 – Exploring some caves by kayak 

// Loftus Hall to the Irish Experience – 11-minute drive (arrive for 13:35) //

sea caving hook

This won’t be for everyone. If you don’t fancy hopping in a kayak and exploring a chunk of the Hook Peninsula by sea, then head on to Hook Head Lighthouse.

The Irish Experience offers a Sea Cave Kayaking tour that takes explorers off along this magical stretch of coastline.

According to their website, ‘The visually stunning natural area around The Hook Peninsula in County Wexford is steeped in jaw-dropping historical stories with a rich heritage and diverse wildlife, all of which you will enjoy during this unique experience’.

Over the course of the tour you’ll be treated to everything from golden sandy beaches and coves to an impressive variety of Sea Caves and, hopefully, some dolphins and seals.

5 – One of the oldest operational lighthouses on earth

// The Irish Experience to Hook Lighthouse – 15-minute drive (arrive for 17:20) //

hook lighthouse drone

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

While the current lighthouse at Hook has been marking the entrance to Wexford Harbour for at least 800 years, it’s history goes back much further.

During the period 500-1000 AD, Monks maintained a warning beacon to warn approaching sailors of the dangers of the rocky headland.

I’ve been here several times before and can’t recommend it enough. Grab a coffee from the cafe and head for a ramble around the grounds.

Note: if you’re visiting between January and August, you’ll still have time to have a walk around the outside of the lighthouse, but it closes at 17:30 in the winter months.

6 – A bed for the night, food and a pint or 3

// Hook Lighthouse to Kennedy Boutique Hotel – 20-minute drive (arrive for 18:40) //

I’m going to recommend that you stay at the Kennedy Boutique Hotel in New Ross.

It’s a handy drive from our last stop so head there, check-in and chill for a bit.

When you’re ready, head down to the hotels Steak House for a bite to eat and round off your night with a few drinks (or mugs of tea, whichever tickles your fancy).

Day 4 (Waterford City) – A ramble around the oldest city in Ireland

We’ll be spending the next two days of this 5 days in Ireland road trip in Waterford.

The first day will be dedicated to the city while the second will revolve around the wonderful (and often missed) Copper Coast.

1 – Reginald’s Tower

// New Ross to Waterford City – 30-minute drive (arrive for 11:00) //

waterford city walls

Photo via Google Maps

Get a lie in on the morning of day 4 and aim to be in Waterford City for 11:00.

Our first day in Waterford is going to be spent wandering around Ireland’s oldest city.

waterford city attractions

Photo via Tourism Ireland

The city, which was founded by the Vikings way back between 856 and 914, is over 1,000 years old and boasts the largest collection of medieval defensive towers and walls on our island.

Head off in the direction of Reginald’s Tower, first.

Reginald’s Tower is easily the most impressive of the 6 towers that are still standing in the city and can be found at the highest point of the Viking Triangle.

reginalds tower

Photo via Failte Ireland

Inside Reginald’s Tower, you’ll find a brilliant exhibition on Viking Waterford that houses 9th-century swords and weapons from a Viking warrior’s grave along with a magnificent Waterford Kite Brooch.

Take a bit of time and have a float around the tower and soak up some of the city’s rich past.

2 – The Medieval Museum

// Look to start your visit here at 13:00 //

Next, take the short stroll to the Medieval Museum. Here, you can soak up the story of what life was like in the historic City of Waterford many years ago.

Waterford City center was excavated between 1986 and 1992 and the many unique discoveries that were found during this time are housed in this finely designed Museum.

Spend some time wandering around the museum, and head off on the guided tour if you fancy.

3 – Jack Burtchaell’s Walking Tour

// Aim to start the tour at 14:00 //

walking tour waterford city

Photo via Jack’s Walking Tours

I’m going to recommend that you take Jack’s one-hour award-winning walking tour that’ll take you all around Waterford City, where you’ll see:

  • Two cathedrals
  • four national monuments
  • A gallery of many a rogue and rascal.

Although the walking tour is just one-hour long, it packs in 1,000 years of history and is delivered in a witty manner that’ll leave you itching for more.

bishops palace

Photo via Failte Ireland

4 – The Waterford Crystal Tour

// Aim to start the tour at 15:45 //

waterford crystal tour

Photo by Andrew Bradley

Our next stop takes us to the famous House of Waterford Crystal to embark upon their world-renowned factory tour.

Those that take the tour can observe craftsmen meticulously transforming glowing balls of molten crystal into elegant shapes.

waterford crystal

Photo by Andrew Bradley

The skills that have taken two hundred years to perfect are clearly visible in every piece.

This type of thing completely transfixes me – what an absolutely incredible craft to have.

7 – Chill and get ready for the evening ahead

When you finish up in the museum, head to your accommodation for the night.

For this trip, I’m going to recommend that you spend the night at Dooley’s Hotel, as it’s nice and central and the reviews are top-notch.

Check-in, rest the body for a while and then get out for food and a drink.

8 – Food and a pint

// It’s been a busy aul day. We’re going to round it off with food and a few pints //

gingerman bar waterford city

Photo by @luciedomert on Instagram

If you follow our guide to the best things to do in Waterford in 48 hours, you’ll recognise the pub above.

We’re going to recommend that you grab a bite to eat in Bodega!, followed up by a drink in the Gingerman.

Kick back and chill.

Day 5 (Waterford) – The spectacular Copper Coast

The final day of our 5 days in Ireland takes us to a place in Ireland that’s too often missed.

The wonderful Copper Coast.

We’ll be doing a hike today, so make sure you have sturdy hiking boots, weather appropriate clothing, and some water and snacks.

1 – The Copper Coast

// Start your drive at 9:00 //

the copper coast waterford

Photo via Failte Ireland

The lovely chunk of coastline that sits between the towns of Tramore and Dungarvan is known as the Copper Coast.

Although it’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful, unspoiled and scenic drives in Ireland, it’s regularly overlooked by those planning a trip to Ireland.

We have a number of stop-off points along this wonderful stretch of craggy coast.

Stop 1 – Dunhill Castle

// Dooley’s Hotel to Dunhill Castle – 25-minute drive (arrive at Dunhill Castle for 9:00) //

Dunhill Castle from afar

Photo by Luke Myers

Our first stop on the Copper Coast is a short spin from our base on day 4 – Dunhill Castle.

This castle was built in the early 1200s by ‘The la Poer family’, who became infamous in the 14th century after they launched a flurry of attacks on Waterford City.

Drop by and have a little ramble around.

Stop 2 – Kilmurrin Beach

// The Castle to the Beach – 10-minute drive (arrive for 9:40) //

The little beach of Kilmurrin packs a mighty punch, considering its size.

Hop out of the car for a while, stretch the legs, and gulp down some of that glorious fresh sea air.

If weather permits, chill on the sand and enjoy the view of the horseshoe-shaped cove.

Stop 3 – Bunmahon Beach

// Kilmurrin Beach to Bunmahon Beach – 10-minute drive (arrive for 10:20) //

Bunmahon beach waterford

Photo by Copper Coast Geopark via Failte Ireland

Bunmahon is another beautiful beach on the Copper Coast. Larger than the beach at our previous stop, Bunmhon stretches for an impressive 5km.

I know we’ve already visited a beach this morning, but this place is definitely worth dropping by.

Stop 4 – The stop that isn’t really a stop

Like many of the Ireland itineraries that we create on this site, the best advice that I can offer is to let your gut guide you.

Take your time on the Copper Coast.

Jump out of the car. Walk. Climb. Listen to the waves and allow this place to consume you.

We’re going to allow for another 2 hours on this stretch of coast for those of you that fancy spending some time exploring.

2 – The Coumshingaun Lake Walk

// Aim to start this walk at 12:00 //

waterford lake loop walk

Photo by @cen92 on Instagram

Our second stop of day 2 involves a challenging hike that’ll treat you to one of the best views in the land – the Coumshingaun Lough Walk.

This is a tough aul hike that’ll suit those with good fitness levels and the views from the top on a clear day are out of this world. Here’s a full guide to the hike.

3 – Mahon Falls

// Coumshingaun Lough to Mahon Falls – 10-minute drive (arrive for 17:00) //

mahon falls waterford

Photo by Max Malloy (@ihaveadarksoul)

Hop back into the car and head straight for the Mahon Falls walk (there’s a car park on-site).

The walk from the car park up to the waterfall is facilitated by a gravel path that takes visitors up to the main attraction (the walk takes around 20 minutes).

As you move higher up the path, the roar of the water will get louder and louder, willing your weary legs to keep on going.

When you reach a point that you’re happy with, kick-back, soak up the natural beauty in front of you and let the music of the water crashing against rock sing in your ears.

4 – The Comeragh Drive

// Mahon Falls to Dungarvan – 25-minute drive (arrive at around 18:30) //

the comeragh drive

Via Google Maps

At this point you should be fairly knackered – fear not, however, we’re going to polish off the day with a scenic drive.

The Comeragh Drive is another regularly overlooked part of Waterford.

When you leave the car park at Mahon Falls, turn right and continue up the hill until you reach the top.

You can park the car here and enjoy a spectacular view from the Comeragh Heights overlooking the Mahon River Valley to the east and the Tay Valley to the west.

the comeragh drive in waterford

Photo via Google Maps

When you’ve had your fill, hop back into the car and continue on the same road (it’ll start to wind down the hill).

We’re heading for Dungarvan, so pop it into the sat nav/Google Maps and head off on your merry way.

waterford comeragh drive

Photo via Google Maps

5 – Dungarvan for the night

Dungarvan harbour wexford

Photo by Chris Hill

I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Park Hotel, Holiday Homes & Leisure Centre on night 5.

Grab a few hours rest and head on down to The Moorings for a bite to eat and a well-earned pint to polish off your 5 days in Ireland.

5 day tour of Ireland: Route 3 – Clare, Galway, and Mayo

5 day tour of Ireland route 3

Photo by Gareth McCormack

We’re only onto our third 5 day Ireland itinerary and my fingers are already fit to collapse.

If you’re finding this useful, please do let me know in the comments below.

Our third route takes us to Clare, Galway and Mayo over the course of 5 glorious days.

Ready to get started? Let’s go so!

Day 1 (Clare) – Cliffs, Island Life, Caves and More

Our first day on the road sees us tackle a good chunk of Clare.

Now, you could easily spend a week in Clare, but our time is limited.

Get on the road early and start day 1 for 10:30.

1 – The Doolin Cliff Walk

// Start the walk around 10 //

the doolin cliff walk

The Doolin Cliff Walk: Photo by Chris Hill

The guided Doolin cliff walk is a unique way to experience the iconic Cliffs of Moher and is run by local expert Pat Sweeney.

The 3-hour walk kicks off from Fisher Street in Doolin, just outside of O’Connors Pub (we’ll be nipping in here later).

The walk will take you towards Doonagore Castle (we’ll visit this again later for a proper look) and up to the walking trail along the Cliffs of Moher.

The walk costs a ridiculously reasonable €10 and finishes up at the Cliffs of Moher visitor center.

2 – A post-walk feed

// Arrive to Gus O’Connor’s for around 13:30  //

gus o'conners pub doolin

Gus O’Connor’s Pub has been in operation since way back in 1832.
For those in need of a good feed after this mornings walk, the beef and Guinness stew (if it’s being served) will warm the coldest of cockles.
Wash it down with a pint or a coffee and soak up the atmosphere in this cosy little pub.

3 – The iconic Doonagore Castle

// Arrive at Doonagore Castle for around 14:45 //

Doonagore castle doolin

Photo via Tourism Ireland

If you’re spending 5 days in Ireland and looking for an off-the-beaten-path castle to visit, get yourself here!
After you’ve made your belly happy, point the car in the direction of Doonagore Castle.

This tower house castle is finely plonked on a hill that overlooks Doolin Point and the Aran Islands. On a clear day, you’ll even catch a glimpse of the Connemara hills.

Dating back to the 16th century, this castle looks like something plucked straight from a Disney Movie.

4 – Chocolate, coffee and a big aul cave in the land<

// Get back to the little chocolate shop on Fisher street for 15:15 //

doolin chocolate
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Now, the last time I visited the Doolin Chocolate Shop we were made sing before the lady behind the counter would give us our chocolate.

But it was worth it. The chocolate out of this place is RIDICULOUS.

Give the white chocolate Oreo meringue a bash. But don’t eat it yet!

When you have your slab (literally) of chocolate, head on over to the Doolin Cave and book in on a tour.

While you wait, chill in the little cafe with a tea/coffee and devour away.

the doolin cave
Photo via the Doolin Cave

The Doolin Cave is home to the largest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere.

Known as ‘The Great Stalactite’, it hangs from the ceiling like some giant cone-shaped chandelier.

The tour itself packs a punch, taking visitors to the natural entrance of the cave, a stream sink at the base of a cliff face, through the main chamber where a guide turns on a light to illuminate the Great Stalactite.

5 – A bed for the night

// Arrive at your hotel for 17:00  //

The doolin inn

I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Doolin Inn.

Now, we’re in no way affiliated with these lads, but I stayed here a couple of years ago and it was flawless (and cheap).

We stayed in a private twin room and were able to take the 1-minute stroll over to Gus O’Connor’s Pub for food and pints after the sun dropped.

Check-in and chill for a while.

6 – Enjoy some live music and a drink (or 3)

gus o conners doolin village

When you’re done with chilling, walk across the road to Gus O’Connors for a bite to eat.

I wouldn’t normally recommend eating in the same place twice in a day, but the pub is a handy walk from the Inn.

Get fed and soak up some live music.

Days 2 and 3 (Galway) – Hikes, walks, food, pints, tours and loads more

The next 2 days on the road will take you all around Galway.

We created a guide to the best things to do in Galway that contains a full 2-day itinerary that you can steal.

I won’t include the full two days in this post, but you can grab a full give right here.

Day 4 (Mayo) – Croagh Patrick and some well earned chill time

Day 4 on our third 5 day Ireland itinerary takes us to Mayo.

Today, I’m going to recommend that you climb Croagh Patrick and then head on out to Achill before chilling for the evening in Newport.

1 – Croagh Patrick

// Aim to start the hike at 10:30 //

croagh patrick view over clew bay

Photo by Gareth McCormack

Croagh Patrick is widely considered to be Ireland’s holiest mountain.

It’s renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honor of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron Saint and it was at the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD.

This climb is relatively strenuous and will take anywhere between 3 and a half to 6 hours depending on your fitness levels.

the top of croagh patrick

Exhausted but happy!

I did it with my Dad a few years back and it’s one of my favorite memories from exploring Ireland.

Well worth doing to say the very least.

Related read: Here’s a full guide to Croagh Patrick to help you on your way.

2 – A post-hike feed in Westport

// Aim to arrive back to Westport for around 14:00 //

westport ireland

At this stage, you’ll be ravenous.

We’re going to grab a bit of food in Westport next.

I’m going to recommend you head to J.J O’Malleys Bar & Restaurant for a bite to eat. Get fed, chill for a while and then get on the road.

3 – Exploring Achill Island

// Westport to Achill – 50-minute drive (arrive for 16:30) //

keem bay achill

Photo by Kelvin Gillmor

Achill Island is connected to the mainland by The Michael Davitt Bridge, which means you can cycle, drive or walk to it with ease.

The island is scattered with peat bogs, rugged mountains, towering sea cliffs and an abundance of beautiful beaches and bays.

We’re going to skip Keel beach on this trip, but feel free to stop here if you like.

keel beach achill island

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Our destination for this road trip is Keem Bay.

Pop it into Google maps and make your way there.

achill island aerial photo

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you take the road that hugs the coast, you’ll be guided along narrow roads that, at times, meander through the island and are an absolute joy to cruise along.

Keem Bay is special.

If you can, pull in at the side of the road after you come up the hill just before the bay comes into view (there’s limited parking on either side).

achill island beach

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Spend some time on the beach admiring the view before making your way up the hill that sits to the right of Keem.

From here, the view is just out of this world.

3 – Newport for the Night

// Achill to Newport – 55-minute drive (arrive to Newport for 19:00) //

brannens of newport mayo

It’s time for a bit of R&R in a town called Newport. I’m going to recommend that you stay in Brannen’s.

I completely stumbled upon this place last winter and managed to get a nights bed and breakfast for €55 (prices may have changed so check in advance).

Nip over to The Grainne Uaile for a bite to eat and then back to Brannen’s for a pint.

Day 5 (Mayo)

We’re going to be on the road for a good while on the last day of our 5 day Ireland itinerary.

Grab some snacks in Newport to tide you over until dinner later.

1 – Erris Head Loop Walk

// Newport to the start of the Erris Head Loop Walk – 70-minute drive (arrive for 11) //

We’re going to kick off day 5 with the Erris Head Loop Walk.

The landscape at Erris is unspoiled, wild and unique. Expect Ireland’s raw beauty at its very best here.

The walk is around 5km and can be completed in around 2 hours, depending on pace (and how much time you linger at certain spots).

The folks at Discover Ireland have prepared a handy guide to the walk here.

2 – The Céide Fields

// Erris to the Céide Fields – 50-minute drive (arrive for 14:00) //

ceide fields mayo

Photo by draiochtanois (shutterstock)

Beneath the boglands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields – the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, as it happens.

The Céide Fields consist of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs.

The magnificent stone walled fields extend over thousands of acres and are a whopping 6,000 years old.

Enjoy the drive on the way from Newport and then drop into the Céide Fields visitor center for a ramble around.

2 – Downpatrick Head

// Céide Fields to Downpatrick Head – 20-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

dun briste sea stack

Photos by Wirestock Creators (Shutterstock)

You’re in for another early-morning treat.

This is hands-down one of my favourite places to visit in Ireland.

Jutting out of the ocean and rising roughly 40m above the wild Atlantic waves, Downpatrick Head treats visitors to incredible views of the iconic Sea Stack known as Dún Briste.

Dun Briste was formed over 350 million years ago when sea temperatures were higher and the coastline was a greater distance away.

Spend a bit of time enjoying the view.

6 – Kilcummin Back Strand

// Downpatrick Head to Kilcummin Back Strand – 30-minute drive (arrive for 17:30) //

We’re going to round off our 5 days in Ireland with a walk on Kilcummin Back Strand.

This is a proper hidden gem on the North Mayo coastline.

Hop out of the car, suck down that fresh sea air and reminisce on the eventful 5 days that you’ve just had.

If you’re in search of somewhere to stay on your final night, there’s plenty of accommodation nearby.

Burkes of Ballycastle is a handy 20-minute drive from Downpatrick Head

Ireland in 5 days: Route 4 – Meath, Louth, Down and Antrim

Ireland in 5 days route 4

Photo via Tourism ireland

Our next route for those of you looking to spend 5 days in Ireland with a car takes us to counties Meath, Louth, Down and Antrim for 5 more days of adventure.

This is a handy road trip to embark upon for those of you flying into Dublin airport, as the first stop is less than an hour from the two terminals.

Ready? Let’s get stuck in!

Day 1 (Meath) – Newgrange, Trim Castle and lots more

trim castle county meath

Photo by Tony Pleavin

As we’ve already written up a guide to Meath, I’m going to link to it here so you can jump in and use it to see what day 1 is like.

If you follow the guide, you’ll visit;

  • Trim Castle
  • The Hill of Tara
  • Newgrange
  • Knowth
  • Balrath Woods

Day 2 (Louth) – A whole lot of history packed into 24 hours

We’ll be spending day 2 working our way through as much of County Louth as physically possible.

Get up early and hit the road for 9.

1 – Exploring the historic city of Drogheda

// Arrive to Drogheda for 09:30 //

drogheda walk

Photo by Failte Ireland

We’re going to kick-start our time in Louth with a visit to the Drogheda Millmount Museum.

You’ll find the museum and the Martello Tower located at the great fort that towers over the town of Drogheda, on an ancient hill overlooking the river Boyne.

It’s the oldest surviving center of settlement in Drogheda town and it boasts a dramatic history.

Naturally enough, there are plenty of stories to tell, so head off on a guided tour and learn more about the towns historic past.

2 – Mellifont Abbey

// The museum to Mellifont Abbey – 15-minute drive (arrive for 11:30) //

Mellifont Abbey

Photos via Shutterstock

Our second stop of the day takes us to the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland which founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh – Mellifont Abbey.

The Abbey was consecrated in 1157 and it was from here that the Cistercian community spread out throughout Ireland founding other abbeys throughout the country.

Have a ramble around here and then nip into the Visitor Centre and check out the interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages.

You’ll find fine examples of their craft on display.

3 – Monasterboice Monastic Site

// Mellifont Abbey to Monasterboice – 10-minute drive (arrive for 12:30) //

Monasterboice high crosses

Photos via Shutterstock

Our next stop of the day takes us ten minutes down the road to the historic ruins of Monasterboice.

Founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe, this was an important center of religion and learning until the founding of nearby Mellifont Abbey (stop 2) in 1142.

On the site, visitors can discover:

  • An old graveyard
  • Two churches
  • A sundial
  • A well-preserved round tower (28m high)
  • Two spectacular high crosses

4 – Carlingford for a stroll, food and pints

// Monasterboice to Carlingford – 40-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

At this point, you’ll be in need of a feed. Head to Ruby Ellen’s Tea Rooms in Carlingford for an early dinner.

I had breakfast here recently and it was incredible.

where to eat carlingford

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Grab a nice strong coffee to go after you finish eating and walk down and towards the marina.

Ramble along here till your heart’s content.

walking in carlingford

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When you’ve had your fill of walking, head to one of the towns many pubs and chill for the evening (I’m a fan of PJ O Hare’s, personally).

I’d recommend staying at the Oystercatcher Lodge as it’s central and reasonably priced.

guinness mayo

Jam packed with goodness

Day 3 (Down) – Climbing and relaxing in style

I’ve bee looking forward to this day since the start of this guide.

We’re going to mix a strenuous hike with a swanky hotel.

Intrigued? Keep on reading.

1 – Slieve Donard

// Carlingford to Slieve Donard – 1-hour drive (arrive for 10:30) //

mourn mountain

Photo by Rob Hurson (Creative Commons)

Day 3 sees us moving upwards into County Down to climb the highest peak in Northern Ireland.

Slieve Donard stands at an impressive 850m, towering above the areas much loved Mourne Mountains.

From the top, you’ll be treated to a spectacular view of the Mournes, which stretch out all around you.

On a clear day, you’ll also be able to see the Isle of Man, the Wicklow Mountains and the peaks of Donegal.

This hike will take you around 4-5 hours. If you fancy giving it a crack on this trip, see our guide to the Slieve Donard walk.

2 – Treat yourself to a swanky stay at Slieve Donard

// Slieve Donard to Slieve Donard Resort and Spa – 10-minute drive (arrive for 15:30) //

slieve donard resort

You’ve just finished a pretty decent hike, so the chances are you’re in need of some R&R.

I’m going to recommend staying in the gorgeous Slieve Donard Resort.

Check-in, and get food. When you’ve been fed, head on down to the spa and rest your weary legs.

You’ve earned it.

Day 4 and 5 (Antrim) – Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-rede and many more

antrim rope bridge

The Antrim Rope Bridge by Arthur Ward

As was the case with Meath, we’ve already created a 2-day guide to Antrim that you can use when planning your trip.

Hop into our Causeway Coastal Route 2-day guide and finish off your 5 days in Ireland in style.

Ireland itinerary 5 days: Route 5 – Cork and Kerry

Ireland itinerary 5 days route 5

Photo via Failte Ireland

OK, as was the case with some of the previous 5 day itineraries, we’re going to use existing itineraries from the site for part of our Cork and Kerry route.

There’s also an alternative option for day 5 which allows you to choose between Ballybunion and Dingle.

Day 1, 2 and 3 (West Cork) – Gorgeous towns, craggy coast, long walks and lots more

brow head county cork

We’ll be spending the first three days of this road trip spinning around West Cork.

We have a 4-day guide to the best things to do in West Cork already created that you can dip into.

As we’re only spending 3 days in West Cork on this trip, take day 1, 3 and 4 from our ready-made guide.

Here’s how your first 3 days on the road will look.

Day 1

  • Grab coffee in Kinsale and head for a ramble
  • A stroll around the Old Head of Kinsale
  • Another ramble – this time on the sandy shores of Inchydoney Beach
  • A spot of lunch in Clonakilty
  • Drombeg Stone Circle for a gander
  • A spin through Glandore and Union Hall
  • A climb to the top Knockomagh Hill

Day 2

  • Brow Head – one of the wildest places in Ireland
  • A nosey around Mizen Head
  • The Sheep’s Head Way Cahergal Loop
  • Bantry for a post-walk coffee and cake
  • A walk through Glengarriff Nature Reserve
  • Bantry for the night

Day 3

  • The Winding Road at Healy Pass
  • Getting lost near Hungry Hill
  • Ireland’s only cable car
  • The wonderful drive to Allihies
  • The Coastal Drive to Eyeries

Day 4 and 5 (Kerry) – Dingle, Killarney, Sneem and loads (literally) more

We’ve a 48-hour guide to Kerry that we’ll be dipping into for days 4 and 5.

If you want to use the route shown in the map below, you can get the full 2-day itinerary here.

We’ll also be offering a slight alternative to day 5 which swaps out Dingle for Ballybunion.

Here’s where you’ll visit over the 2 days.

Day 4

  • The Gap of Dunloe
  • Killarney Town
  • Torc Waterfall
  • Killarney National Park
  • Ross Castle
  • Ladies View
  • Moll’s Gap
  • Kenmare
  • Sneem
  • Derrynane Beach
  • Kerry Cliffs

Day 5

  • Portmagee
  • Valentia Island
  • Rossbeigh Beach
  • Inch Strand
  • The Slea Head Drive
  • Dingle

Day 5 Option 2 – Swap Dingle for Ballybunion

This is an alternative option for day 5

Follow the route about up until day 4 (ends in Portmagee) and then head straight on over to Ballybunion.

Here’s what to do while you’re there.

1 – Hitting the waves

// Arrive to Ballybunion Surf School for 10:00 //


We’re going to kick-start day 5 with a bang, by heading off surfing in Ballybunion.

Ballybunion Surf School was set up back in 2004

Finely based on Ballybunion’s Men’s beach (recognised as one of North Kerry’s best surf spots), its picturesque location and top-notch surf ensure that you’ll be challenged and kept occupied from beginning to end.

Surf lessons are run from their beach café. Coffee then surf – a solid combo.

Get in. Take a lesson. And have every cobweb banished by the icy waters of the Atlantic.

2 – Head off on the along the cliffs on the Ballybunion Ecotrek

// Start the tour for 13:00 //

ecotrek ballybunion

Photo by Carsten Krieger

You’ve experienced the sea, now it’s time to check out the cliffs.

On this tour, you’ll join local historian and piper Danny Houlihan on a walking tour where myths, legends and wildlife collide.

Danny is a historian, a guide and an All Ireland Piping Champion who entertains visitors with the pipes and Low whistle while on a tour.

This is a ridiculously unique tour that you won’t experience anywhere else in Ireland.

Well worth doing.

3 – Grab a bite to eat at McMunns Bar

We’re going to fuel up for the evening ahead at McMunns Bar on the main street.

Get in, get fed and get back on the road.

4 – Check out Nun’s Beach from above

Nun’s beach is arguably the most spectacular beach that North Kerry has to offer.

Don’t believe me? Hit play on the video above.

This secluded beach lies a stone’s throw from Ballybunion Castle beneath an old convent, hence the name.

Wrapping up our 5 day trip to Ireland guide

wrapping up the 5 days in ireland

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you’re after a 5 day Ireland itinerary that packs a whole lot in, I can’t recommend this enough.

If you aren’t scared of a bit of driving, and you want to squeeze in some of Cork, Kerry, Galway and Mayo, then this route will suit you to the ground.

It’s packed with amazing things to see from the get-go and takes in a good chunk of Ireland.

Obviously, there are many things I would have done differently, but for the most part, I was pretty happy with how it went.

If you’ve yet to embark upon an Irish road trip of your own, now’s the time to do it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coomanaspig pass kerry

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Is 5 days enough in Ireland?

No, not really. The more time you have to explore, the better. That being said, you can still see plenty of things with 5 days. You just need to plan efficiently.

We’re wondering what to see in Ireland in 5 days (we haven’t got driving licenses so we’ll need to use public transport)

This is a tricky one. I’m a firm believer that you need a car to really explore Ireland. That being said, you can still see plenty by using public transport. If it was me, I’d make my way to Galway. There are plenty of day tours you can do from there to keep you occupied (Aran Islands, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Mayo, etc.)

What route would you take if you had 5 days in Ireland with a car?

If it was me, I’d do the Cork and Kerry route. I’d go with this one as Cork and Kerry are two of my favourite counties in Ireland to visit.

Can you recommend a 5 day Ireland tour provider?

I’ll be completely honest about this one – no. I haven’t dealt with any tour providers in the past. The one company that I’ve heard of on several occasions is the Vegabond Tours of Ireland. While I’ve never dealt with them personally, the reviews online look top-notch.

Have a question you want answered? Give me a shout below!

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Julie Kelly

Thursday 29th of December 2022

Hi Keith, We are visiting Ireland early September 2023 and have decided to follow your Wicklow route, leaving from Dublin. Is there a particular reason this itinerary doesn't follow a circular route, such as Wicklow to Wexford to Waterford to Kilkenny, then for us back to Dublin? Wasn't sure if there may be an issue with the roads or was it just personal preference. Thank you for any insight.

Julie Kelly


Sunday 14th of August 2022

How can I print off your 5 day itinerary for different routes?


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Hi Keith. We will be renting a car. So sorry I meant the cliffs of moher and Killarney. We don't drink a lot of ale - but love the atmosphere of the pubs. Hope you have some great suggestions. Live pars of all your other 5 day itineraries.


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Hi Keith. My daughter and I are coming to Ireland Oct 10th to the 15th. Get in the evening of the 10th into dublin and also fly out late afternoon on the 15th. We like to do some hiking and a little shopping. Love to stayat quaint places for the night. The places we want to see for sure are the cliffs of modern, Waterford, the blarney stone, and have a cousin that we want to see in Killarney. Can you suggest a good circle tour for us

Renee Coppolo

Tuesday 31st of May 2022

Hi Keith, My husband and I are going to Ireland September 5 to 11. We will start and end in Dublin. We are not interested in doing Northern Ireland. Also want to go to less touristy stuff. Thank you. Renee Coppolo

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