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The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

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!

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) //

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



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

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 

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.

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Leeann Nolan

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

Hi Keith Thank you so much for all the work you have done on The Irish Road Trip. I have used much of it to plan my 7 week trip to Ireland in 2024. It has been invaluable :)

Mick Bourke

Sunday 24th of September 2023

G’day Keith-thanks for your trip. My wife and I will be over there in late April and most of May (about a month in total before heading to Scotland for a couple of weeks). I think I’ll be using your trip (which is great (as also is the additional info at the bottom)) as the basis for ours, however, I would like to do abit more of the inland (like a figure eight of the island). Do you have any suggestions?

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Hey Mick,

Is there anywhere in particular you have in mind with the inland section?



MIchael Katekar

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

A big thank you for all of the time and hard work you have put into this blog. Great information. I don't think we can keep up with your pace but will certainly take up many of your suggestions.

Isabella Dennison

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Good day Keith,

Wow, what an amazing work you've done! I'm forever grateful!!! Please can you email this to me. We are planning to explore Ireland for the first time this year 2023, all the way from South Africa.

Thank you

Keith O'Hara

Monday 27th of March 2023

Thanks Isabell!

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I've tried to get this converted to PDF on a number of occasions, but the result is very messy due to the volume of photos in it.

If there's any specific questions that I can help with, please fire them on and I'll do my best to answer them.


Jodie Wilson

Sunday 26th of March 2023

First retirement trip. Ireland for a month! Go big or go home. So excited to start this new chapter in our lives - and to hit the roads of Ireland. This guide is perfect - but I’d love a more readable copy if you could email it to me.

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