The 2020 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The most detailed itinerary we've created

Day 1 (Dublin): Arrive to Dublin, Castles, Cliffs and Historical Pubs

dublins hapenny bridge
Photo via Tourism Ireland

The first 2 days of our Ireland road trip are going to revolve around Dublin.

We’ll be visiting the city and the wider county, so you’ll get to experience the best of both worlds.

This guide makes one assumption, and that’s that you’re flying into Dublin.

If you’re flying into one of Ireland’s other airports, just adjust the itinerary to suit.

What you do on day one will depend on when you arrive. If you get in late, just head to where you’re spending the night and chill.

If you arrive in the morning, then our day 1 guide will suit you to the ground!

Related read: Check out our guide to 90+ deadly things to do in Dublin (walks, hikes in the Dublin Mountains, pubs and more.

1 – A Coffee and a stroll around Malahide Castle

// Arrive to Malahide Castle (about 15-minutes from Dublin Airport) for 11 //

castles in dublin ireland
Photo by neuartelena (Shutterstock)

Our first stop on our Ireland road trip takes us to our first of many castles.

We’re going to kick things off with a coffee and a little stroll around the grounds of Malahide Castle, parts of which date back to the 12th century.

You’ll need to battle crowds to grab a coffee from the Avoca Cafe, but when you have, tip out around the grounds.

There are 260 acres of lush parkland to explore.

You can pay to take a look inside if you like, but I’m going to recommend that you just admire it from the outside.

2 – Gulp down Atlantic air and cliff views in Howth

// Leave Malahide Castle at 12:00. Arrive at the summit of Howth for 12:30 // 

Our second stop of the day sees us take a handy 25-minute spin out to the little fishing village of Howth.

howth lighthouse
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you’re hungry, park in the harbour and head for a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants close by.

Tip: You can’t bate a fish and chips from Beshoff’s chipper!

After you’d had your fill of food and sights, make your way up the hill towards Howth Summit.

howth cliff walks
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When you’ve parked your car, take the path to the right of the car park entrance that leads down towards the lighthouse.

This isn’t a hugely challenging walk and the views that you’ll be treated to on a clear day (like the one we had above and below) are brilliant.

howth in dublin
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

I always tend to recommend adding Howth into your Ireland road trip itinerary if you’re visiting Dublin.

Too many people visit the capital and never leave the city.

Related read: Check out our guide to 12 of the best things to do in Howth at any time of the year.

3 – Kilmainham Gaol

// Howth to Kilmainham Gaol – 45-minute drive (arrive for 14:45) //

Kilmainham gaol tour
© National Monuments Service. Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Tip: stop 3 needs to be booked well in advance. Make sure that you book a ticket a few days prior to your arrival.

This, in my opinion, is one of the best things to do in Dublin.

Welcome to Kilmainham Gaol.

kilmainham gaol dublin
Photo by matthi (Shutterstock)

Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796 as the County Gaol (prison) for Dublin.

It’s within these walls that leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 were detained and, in some cases, executed.

If you’re visiting Dublin, make a point of doing this tour. It offers a fantastic insight into Dublin’s history from start to finish.

4 – The Teeling’s Whiskey Tour

// Arrive at Teeling’s for 17:30 (book in for the 17:40 tour in advance) //

This is another tour that you’ll want to book in advance.

The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is Dublin’s newest destination for whiskey fans.

Finely located in the Liberties in Dublin City (only a 15-minute drive from Kilmainham), the Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery in Dublin for over 125 years, which is some feat!

You can head off on a number of tours here so pick whichever one tickles your fancy.

The need-to-knows
Tip: You can park (it’s paid parking) in Newmarket Square, which is a short walk to Teelings.

5 – Check into your accommodation and chill

When you finish up at Teeling’s, head to wherever you’re staying and get checked in.

If you’re looking for somewhere central, here are several places to stay in Dublin on night 1 and 2 of your Ireland road trip.

Note: the below links are affiliate links – you won’t get charged extra, but I’ll get a very (and I mean very) small commission if you book a hotel using this link, which helps pay for the running of this site.

High-end hotels

Mid-range

Hostels

6 – A grand aul feed

There are hundreds of places to eat around Dublin.

Here are a few recommendations for you:

  • Klaw, 5A Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 (for the fish lovers)
  • Bunsen, 36 Wexford St, Dublin 2, D02 DY20 (for the burger lovers)
  • Wing It, 63 South Great George’s Street, Dublin, D02 A036 (for the chicken wing lovers)
  • Cornucopia, 9-20 Wicklow St, Dublin, D02 FK27 (for the vegetarians)
  • Chapter One, 18-19 Parnell Square N, Rotunda, Dublin 1 (for fine dining)

7 – Pints in historic pubs

We’re going to polish off the first day of our Ireland road trip with a few pints in some of the best pubs in Dublin that boast bucket-loads of history.

Don’t worry, these pubs are all reasonably close to each other, so you’ll have no hassle strolling from one to the other.

Pub 1: The Long Hall 

The Long Hall dublin
Photo by Gareth Byrne via Failte Ireland

Licensed since 1766, the Long Hall is one of Dublin’s oldest (and most beautiful) pubs.

If you’re a fan of Irish rock, you might recognise the Long Haul from Phil Lynott’s video for his hit-song ‘Old Town’.

Pub 2: McDaid’s

mcdaids pub dublin
Photo via McDaid’s on Facebook

Our next stop takes us to a pub that was once the Dublin City Morgue. Yes, a morgue…

It was later converted into a chapel for the Moravian Brethren, hence the Gothic style windows.

Back in the day poets Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh were both known to frequent McDaid’s.

Pub 3: Neary’s

nearys pub in dublin
Photo via Neary’s on Facebook

Our next stop takes us to Neary’s, a UNESCO City of Literature Bar.

This lovely little pub has a long connection to acting and the literary community, which date’s back to 1871 when the Gaiety Theatre opened (the stage door to the Gaiety is directly opposite the rear entrance to Neary’s).

Pub 4: The Confession Box 

confession box dublin

Dating back to the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), the Confession Box has a quirky story behind where it earned its name.

During the conflict that took place during Ireland’s war for independence from the British, the last known excommunications from the Catholic Church in Ireland took place.

The excommunications were directed against those involved in the rebellion.

Back then the pub was known as the Maid of Erin and some of the rebels were known to drop by to receive Communion and Confession from sympathetic priests from the nearby Pro-Cathedral, earning the pub the nickname The Confession Box.

When you’ve had your fill, head back to your accommodation. We’ve a busy day ahead.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Keith absolutly amazing as usual, you need a medal or a freedom of ireland one for all this, but think you already have that lol

  2. Simply amazing! My fingers hurt for you. ?

    I’ve been researching and plotting our trip to Ireland for months. It’s a lot of work! I can’t thank you enough for sharing all of the suggestions and information that you have. You’ve helped me and yet have also added to my to-do list because now I have to rearrange my plans to include a lot of your suggestions. ?

    We’re planning on staying for 4-6 weeks and I’ve been looking for a road trip that was longer. I was so excited to find yours. We probably won’t do as many of the hikes that you have listed because I don’t think we would survive all of them, but definitely will fit in a few.

    Thank you again!

      • Yes, first trip over. We’re planning September 2020. And when I just saw your newest itinerary for 4 weeks… WHOA! Thank you, thank you! It’s perfect! I can’t tell you how much researching you’ve saved me. We’d like to do a bit of meandering around and getting lost, but it’s nice to have an outline to follow for those days that we want to accomplish something specific. I do appreciate your awesome efforts and if I do book anything that you’ve listed links for, I’ll be sure to use them!

        • Ah, cheers Terri – appreciated you taking the time to comment!

          A lot goes into creating these guides, so it’s brilliant to get feedback like this.

          Thanks a million and feel free to give me a shout if you need any help with the planning!

          Cheers,

          Keith

  3. Filled with so much needed information, thank you!!!!
    My 2 cousins and I are planning a 6-7 day road trip in October and will definitely be pulling many of your suggestions to build our itinerary. We can’t wait.
    I will check back afterwards and let you know how it all worked out. I’m sure it will be amazing.
    I have enjoyed all your articles. They are simple, clear and informative.
    Again thank you!

    • Thanks for the kind words Darlene.

      I’m glad it was useful.

      Enjoy the trip and definitely let me know how you got on!

      Cheers,

      Keith

  4. This is fantastic!!!!! Thank you for all your work! I can see we will be making use of your suggestions when we go over to The Emerald Isle soon.
    Kathy

  5. Amazing !!! As I could see, you need to rent a car to do this 25 days road trip around Ireland, otherwise you will need to get transport tips as well.

    Regards Keith. I will visit Ireland soon.

    • Hi Arturo – yep, a car is needed for this one.

      We’ve a getting around Ireland without a car guide in the works!

    • Hi Bridget,

      I’ll be completely honest with you – I’ve no idea.

      It’ll completely depend on what you do, where you stay, and where you eat.

      Personally (I live in Ireland) I find that my biggest costs on trips here are food and accommodation.

      I know this doesn’t in any way answer your question!

  6. Fantastic, having just done the Scottish NC500 we really want to visit Ireland and this is just what I’ve been looking for. It will prob be 2021 before we are able to do an Ireland trip but we wanted to take 3-4 weeks over it and this will be a huge help, many thanks for all your hard work & research.

  7. This is unbelievable. I’ve loved your website for ages. Living in Mayo and loving all your tips – and the way you deliver them – for planning a few days away to places I never heard of before not so far from me! I shared your giant road trip link just now in two groups I’m in – Ireland -Tips for Travellers and Ireland Travel tips … hope that’s okay with you. Your website is an incomparable resource I think they will all visit and love. Best of luck to you Keith. What you’re doing is brilliant.

    • Hi Siobhan!

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the guide.

      Writing and researching this one nearly killed me!

      Thanks a million for sharing. Much appreciated.

      I hope you’re getting the sun in Mayo.

      Keith

  8. Thank you for your hard work in researching and writing this guide. I’ve made one trip to Ireland already (on a tour) but plan to return next year with my family (no tour). Your guide will help immensely on what to do and see.

  9. Hi Keith!
    I’ve been following your newsletters since the beginning of this year. Simply indescribably good! Simply best!
    Your descriptions are at least as good as scones, Irish breakfast and Guiness, no – even better, the good taste lasts much longer! We love Ireland!
    We spent 12 days on roadtrip in Co Cork and Kerry in April and will be back in October for 7-10 days, but we still don’t agree on where to go. The ideas are many, either Dingle and Killarney or Connemara / Achill Island or Northern Ireland/Donegal or Wicklow incl. Wexford / Waterford. Do you have a tip regarding the usual weather conditions during this period?

    Kind regards from Berlin!
    Andreas

    • Hey!

      Sorry – I’ve been away on holidays for the past week and I’m only catching messages here now.

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad they’re proving to be useful!

      October is my favourite time of the year to travel around Ireland.

      There’s orange leaves scattered across the trees, the air is cool and crisp, and there’s far less crowds of tourists milling about the place. Accommodation is also generally cheaper than the months leading up to it.

      The one thing you can never really predict is the weather. The days are shorter in October and you could have clear, crisp days or wild and wet ones. It’s the luck of the draw on that side of things.

      Where to go is a tough one.

      If it was me, I’d start in Galway and work down along the coast and around to Cork.

      You can easily veer off and drop into the likes of Limerick as you work your way South.

      What route did you do during your visit in April?

      Cheers,

      Keith

  10. Hi Keith, what an incredible job you have done! I have only just come across your website and it is fantastic! It will certainly make planning our upcoming road trip much easier.
    Having only just started browsing, I can see that you have included approximate travel times from/to each place, which is great. Looking at the 4 Week Guide, is there an approximate average driving time each day, (eg 3-4 hours) or does the driving time vary considerably each day? Many thanks in advance. Diane

    • Hi Diane,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the kind words!

      So, in the 4 week guide there isn’t an approx driving time.

      It’s something that would definitely be useful adding, so I’ll pop it onto the to-do list.

      The driving time definitely varies quite a bit over the 4 weeks.

      If you’re the type of traveller that prefers to base themselves from one spot for several days and explore what’s around them, you could chop and change it a bit to suit.

      If there’s anything in particular you need help with, shout!

      Cheers,

      Keith

    • Deadly! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tony.

      I did a spin out to West Cork with the aul lad last summer.

      Lough Hyne, Brow Head and Mizen were the highlights. Serious spot altogether!

      Enjoy the trip!

      Keith

  11. Hi Keith,

    Thank you so much! Amazing tips for road tripping in Ireland!!! I will definitely be copying majority of your trip, it looks incredible!

    Quick question, how much roughly did you spend on petrol in the 4 weeks? For those of us that want to make sure we’re budgeting more than enough for an awesome trip.

    I’m from Australia, and have never been to Ireland… I’m looking at doing a 4-5 week road trip through Ireland & Northern Ireland in August/September next year, so your notes are just an incredible help!

    Thanks again.
    Katies

    • Hi Katie,

      Apologies – I’m only seeing this message now!

      So, I didn’t actually do this journey in its entiriety – it’s more of a guide for people that are here for 4 weeks and that need a hand with the route, where to stay, etc.

      I couldn’t even give you an estimate on how much fuel for the 4 weeks would cost, sorry! I know that’s not much help!

      Very jealous of your trip. That’s a lovely chunk of time to play with. You’ll be able to see loads.

  12. I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you! Its very apparent how much work went into sharing your travels with us and I must say this is by far the most through blog and itineraries I’ve found! Reading all of your suggestions and specifics on details has made it so much easier and less stressful planning my trip. Thank you again! <3

    • Ah, cheers Mallory! Appreciate you taking the time to stop by and pop in a comment.

      My hand is still cramped from writing this one 😉

  13. Hi Keith
    Firstly, what an amazing site and SO much information! Thank you for the incredible amount of work you done to produce it ☺
    We are planning our trip in May June 2020 and are hiring a motorhome. We are in our 60’s and retired farmers in Australia. We had our first trip to Ireland 3 years ago and did ‘the full circle’ on organised coach tours. It was a fantastic trip and we loved it so much we want to come back and do ‘our own thing’.
    We will have 3 weeks in the motorhome and we are mainly interested in scenery and old pubs, also hoping to do a few days on a gypsy caravan tour. My biggest concerns are taking the motorhome on the many narrow roads and also finding places for overnight stops – we call it free camping. Can you give us some advice please

    • Hi Gaye,

      Thanks for the kind words – I’m glad you’ve found it useful!

      I’m afraid I’m a complete novice when it comes to all things motorhomes/motor camping, but I’ll try my best.

      There are roads in Ireland where you simply won’t be able to fit a motorhome down them (the Torr Head Scenic Route in Antrim, for example). I wouldn’t worry too much about this, as signage tends to be good (but that’s arguably a sweeping statement).

      As far as finding places to park overnight goes, I’ve seen plenty of campers parked up near beaches (Keem Bay in Mayo was the most recent) and in parking areas in villages and towns.

      Once you use sound judgement, I’m sure you’ll be fine!

      Have a fantastic trip.

      Keith

  14. Hi Keith,

    Love what you’ve done.
    I like you’re 28 day itinerary but am wondering if this is do-able without changing accommodation quite so much and perhaps staying 3 or 4 days in a region and doing road trips from those bases.
    If so, any ideas as to how to go about this?

  15. Hello,
    I am looking to go to Ireland for about 4 weeks but do not want to do any driving. What would you suggest if this is the case?

    Linda

    • Hi Linda – we haven’t actually published any guides to getting around Ireland without a car as of yet. They’re in the works, though. I’d recommend you use rome2rio to understand how to get from point A to point B.

      It’s a great site for linking numerous modes of transport together. You’ll need to use public transport and avail of organised tours, at times, which shouldn’t be an issue.

      It’s worth noting that a good few of the places in this guide won’t be reachable by public transport and many tour providers won’t include them on their itinerary.

      Have a great trip.

      Keith

  16. To Keith,
    We really want to do your 4 week trip and even though you are very thorough and detailed, I am STILL confused about how best to divide the trip so we can perhaps do this and not stay in 20 different accommodations.
    Is it at all possible to break it down into perhaps 3 and 4 day stays at a time. I’m sorry but I’ve been stuck on this for days.
    Erika

  17. Hi,
    Thank you so much for all this useful info. I am planning a trip on 5/7-5/16, leaving from Dublin, I think we are going to focus on Kerry and Clare. We will most likely leave Dublin Airport around 1PM (if all goes as planned) and want to stop in Kilkenny and Rock of Cashel, staying overnight in Cork. Will we be able to get there before nightfall?
    Thanks, Natalie

    • Hi Natalie,

      It depends on a couple of things: where in Cork are you staying and will you be driving or using public transport?

      Cheers,

      Keith

  18. Keith,
    I will be driving, and not sure where in Cork, we just wanted to get down towards Co. Kerry. Thanks for responding.
    Natalie

  19. Thank you for such a great guide. My husband and I have a week in Ireland in August and your site has really been helpful. There is so much to see and do. Your site is helping me figure out what we have to see and what we will plan to see on a future visit.

  20. Keith,my husband and I are planning a 4 to 6 week trip to Ireland in May/June of 2020. I viewed your itinerary and was very excited. Will you be able to send me a copy.
    Thank you,
    Mary

  21. Thanks very much for this, planning a month in Ireland this summer and this seems to have done all the hard work of planning for us.

  22. Hi Keith! We are hoping to visit for a month this coming November. Hoping vaccines will be done and travel is allowed. If we wanted to spend more time in each place say 3 to 4 days what would be the absolute places to visit scaling back from your list? Your recommendation will be appreciated. Thanks!!

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