Skip to Content

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 24 (Down and Louth) – A hike up Northern Ireland’s highest peak, one of my favourite drives, and a night in Carlingford

We’re approaching the tail end of our Ireland road trip.

Day 24 will involve a longish hike up the highest peak in Northern Ireland, before taking a spin to Carlingford in Louth for the evening.

Get up early and hit the road. We’ll be rewarding an active day with a flurry of pints and food later in the day.

1 – Slieve Donard

// Belfast to Slieve Donard – 1-hour drive (arrive for 09:00) //

Slieve Donard walk

Photos via Shutterstock

Our first stop of the day takes us on a hike up the highest peak in Northern Ireland.

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

From the top, you’ll be treated to an unbeatable view of the Mourne Mountains, which stretch out all around you.

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

2 – A post-hike feed

// Slieve Donard to Villa Vinci in Newcastle – 10-minute drive (arrive for 14:00) //

You’ll be pretty hungry after that lengthy climb up Slieve Donard.

Head to Villa Vinci in Newcastle (the reviews are unreal) for a big aul feed and chill for a while.

We won’t be doing anything overly active for the rest of the day.

3 – Slieve Gullion Forest Park (Armagh)

// Villa Vinci to Slieve Gullion – 50-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

slieve guillion forest park

Photo by The Irish Road Trip

One of my favourite drives in Ireland is in Slieve Gullion Forest Park.

The views that you’ll be treated to as you make your way through the forest and up to higher ground are just out of this world.

On a clear day, you’ll see patchwork-like green fields for as far as the eye can see.

There several different spots where you can hop out of the car and go rambling here.

4 – Carlingford for a ramble by the Marina, chips and a well-earned drink

// Slieve Guillion to Carlingford – 25-minute drive (arrive for 18:30) //

walking in carlingford

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When you arrive to Carlingford, drop off the car at where you’re staying (advice on accommodation below) and head down to the marina.

Have a little stroll here and then head into the town for a bite to eat.

The Anchor Bar (AKA P.Js) does a cracking bit of food.

When you’ve finished up, and if you’re feeling up to it, have a float around some of the town’s pubs.

Carlingford is a gorgeous little town.

At the weekends, it can be a little mental with hen and stag parties, but midweek (and even on a Friday, if my last visit is anything to go by) it’s far more relaxed.

5 – A bed for the night

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

There’s plenty of accommodation in the area.

Just note that if you’re visiting on a Saturday night and staying outside of the town, you’ll find it near impossible to get a taxi.

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

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.

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