Skip to Content

The 2022 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2022 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 14 ((Clare, Westmeath and a bit of Galway)) – An unforgettable drive, the oldest pub in Ireland and plenty more

It’s crazy to think that we’re only hitting the 2-week mark today.

My fingers are KNACKERED at this stage. If you’re still with me, let me know in the comments below!

Today, we’ll be finishing up in Clare and heading out to Athlone in Westmeath.

Ready to rock? Let’s get cracking!

1 – The Drive from Doolin to Kinvarra

// Doolin to Kinvarra – 1-hour drive (we’re going to allow for 2 – Leave Doolin at 09:00, arrive in Kinvarra for 11:00) //

The drive from Doolin to Kinvarra is magnificent.

Doolin to Kinvarra drive

Via Google Maps

The landscape changes by the minute, there’s a multitude of stop-off points, and it’s another fantastic example of why Ireland is such a wonderful place to road trip around.

This is another drive to play by eye, and to just let your nose lead the way (it’s a straight forward drive, so you’ll stumble upon the best bits.

Some places you can pop into your sat nav

  • Fanore Beach
  • The Burren
  • Ballinalacken Castle
  • Poulnabrone Dolmen
  • Aillwee Cave

2 – Athlone Castle

// Kinvarra to Athlone Castle – 1-hour drive (arrive for 12:00) //

athlone castle

Photo via Athlone Castle

Athlone Castle was built in the 12th for King John by Bishop John de Gray of Norwich, and was designed to defend the crossing point of the river at Athlone.

You’ll find it on the west side of Athlone Town, finely placed on the banks of the River Shannon.

The castle reopened in 2012 after extensive renovations. It now boasts a complete multi-sensory experience with family-friendly multimedia displays and interactive games.

In particular, the great Siege of Athlone which you can re-live via a 360º cinematic experience sounds cracking.

3 – The oldest bar in Ireland

// Athlone Castle to Sean’s Bar – 1-minute walk (arrive for 13:30) //

Sean’s Bar in Athlone is officially the oldest pub in Ireland.

It’s crazy to think that for over 1,000 years a pub smack bang in the middle of Ireland has been catering to the needs of weary travellers and locals alike.

oldest pub in ireland

Photo via Sean’s Bar

The pub dates back to 900AD, a fact that was verified during an excavation in 1970 that exposed walls consisting of ancient wattle and daub, dating back to the 9th century.

While one of the original walls that was discovered during the excavation remains on show in Sean’s, the rest, along with coins that were also discovered at the time, now sit inside Dublin’s National History Museum.

Here – have an aul look inside

4 – Onwards to Galway for lunch

// Sean’s Bar to Galway City – 1 hour drive (arrive for 15:00) //

best breakfast galway

Head to Dela in Galway City for a bit of lunch.

On the plate above is their black pudding, sausage meat and smoked bacon burger which was UNREAL on the two days that I had it.

Get fed and chill for a bit.

galway city buskers

Photo via Extreme Ireland

We’re going to be leaving Galway City shortly.

When you finish up in Dela, head for a ramble and soak up the sights and sounds.

5 – Kylemore Abbey

// Galway City to Kylemore Abbey – 1 hour and 15-minute drive (arrive for 17:15)

mountains in connemara

Photo via Failte Ireland

The mountainous, ever-changing landscape that you’ll pass during your drive to Kylemore Abbey is out of this world, and one of my favourite stretches on this Ireland road trip.

Drop the windows, dial up the radio and just cruise and take it all in.

best places to visit in galway

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Look to arrive to Kylemore Abbey at least an hour before closing (we’re not entering the building on this trip, but you can if you like).

Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara.

The whole place looks like something plucked straight from a fairytale.

6 – The Sky Road in Clifden

// Kylemore Abbey to the Sky Road – 25-minute drive (arrive for 18:30) //

If you’re visiting Ireland in the winter months, it’ll be too dark to visit the Sky Road at this hour, so just add it to your itinerary for the following morning.

sky road clifden galway

Photo by Chris Hill

The Sky Road is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Connemara region. It’s a circular route around 11km long that takes you out west from Clifden.

The scenery you’ll be treated to as you spin along the Sky Road has a knack of etching itself upon your mind.

There are few places in Ireland that can go toe-to-toe with the raw beauty and vast range of scenery that those who drive along the Sky Road experience.

the best things to do in galway with family this weekend

Photo by Christian McLeod

Kick back and enjoy the view.

7 – Clifden for the evening

clifden town connemara

Photo by Chris Hill

Your base for the night is the bustling little town of Clifden.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Where to stay in Clifden

OK, first things first – a bed for the night.

For this trip, I’m going to recommend Foyles Hotel as it’s extremely central, the reviews are fantastic and a bed for the night and a full Irish in the morning will set you back around €99.

Where to eat

For a bite to eat, nip into Guys Bar & Snug for fish and chips (or whatever you fancy, obviously).

It’s a short stroll from your hotel and the reviews speak for themselves.

Where to drink

If you fancy a pint and a bit of live music, we’re going to polish the day off in Lowry’s Bar.

Kick-back, listen to the music and soak up some chill time.

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


Monday 13th of March 2023

Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you


Thursday 9th of March 2023

the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.


Monday 6th of March 2023

Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?

Suzanne Sullivan

Saturday 18th of February 2023

Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!

David Ward

Wednesday 18th of January 2023

This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.

Keep up the good work.

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