Day 1 (Dublin): Arrive to Dublin, Castles, Cliffs and Historical Pubs
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!
1 – A Coffee and a stroll around Malahide Castle
// Arrive to Malahide Castle (about 15-minutes from Dublin Airport) for 11 //
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.
If you’re hungry, park in the harbour and head for a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants close by.
After you’d had your fill of food and sights, make your way up the hill towards Howth Summit.
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.
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.
3 – Kilmainham Gaol
// Howth to Kilmainham Gaol – 45-minute drive (arrive for 14:45) //
This, in my opinion, is one of the best things to do in Dublin.
Welcome to Kilmainham Gaol.
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.
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.
- Academy Plaza Hotel
- City Studios & Apartments by theKeyCollections
- Kingfisher Townhouse
- Travelodge Stephens Green
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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!
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.