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

The most detailed itinerary we've created

Day 3 (Wicklow) – Taking our Ireland road trip to the mountains

Day 3 is brilliant.

It’s got something for everyone and there are several options that you can choose from based on fitness levels and the weather.

You should be nice and fresh on the morning of day 3, so get up early, check out, and be on the road for 08:00.

1 – Gallivanting around Glendalough

// Dublin to the Glendalough Visitor Centre – 1-hour drive (leave at 08:00, arrive for 09:00) //

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Standing out at Lough Ouler on a not-so-sunny May morning

There’s an endless number of walks and hikes to do in Wicklow on your Ireland road trip.

In this guide, we’re going to recommend the Spinc Loop, but there’s another lovely climb nearby that’ll take you up for a view out over Lough Ouler.

Traveller tip: Try and park at the Glendalough Visitor Centre as parking is free. If you can’t get parking here, you can park at the Upper Lake Car Park and fork out €4 for the pleasure.

The Glendalough Spinc Loop

This is the first of many hikes over the next three weeks.

The Spinc Loop is challenging enough to give you a good workout, but not too strenuous in that you can still chat away and have a laugh with friends as you climb.

The hike begins at the Upper Lake carpark and follows the Poulanass Waterfall before entering the Lugduff Valley.

the spin loop in glendalough
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

From here, climb the steep wooden steps (this’ll get the blood flowing!) to the top of the boardwalk that runs along the top of The Spinc.

This path is around 500m and it takes you up to a section of the boardwalk that overlooks the Upper Lake. This is a lovely spot to take a breather and admire a view that’s stopped many a walker in their tracks.

Here’s a look at some of what you can expect.

I’ve done this in 3 and a half hours a couple of times, but take it at your own pace and enjoy the views.

2 – A big aul feed in Roundwood

// Glendalough Visitor Centre to Roundwood – 10-minute drive (spend up to 4 hours in Glendalough and arrive at Roundwood for 13:00) //

At this stage, you’ll be in need of a post-hike feed – so we’re off for FOOOOOOD.

We’re going to take the short spin to the little village of Roundwood and head straight for the Coach House (there’s a car park).

the coach house wicklow
Photo via the Coach House

Fuel up, chill and rest the legs for an hour.

If you’re here in the winter, you’ll be able to grab some heat by an enormous open fire.

Related read: Check out 37 of the best things to do in Wicklow.

3 – Lough Tay and the Sally Gap drive

// Roundwood to Lough Tay – 10-minute drive (arrive for 14:20) //

lough tay in wicklow
Photo by Chris Hill

Lough Tay

Lough Tay is easily one of my favourite places in Ireland.

Mainly because it’s a short drive from where I live in Dublin and you generally have the whole place to yourself (basing this on the past 4 times that I’ve been).

lough tay wicklow
Photo © the Irish Road Trip

As you drive towards Lough Tay from Roundwood, you’ll eventually come to a little makeshift car park on the right where you can park the car.

Cross the road and walk down the grassy hill until you’re treated to the incredible view above (be careful with small children).

The Sally Gap

So, this is a looped drive rather than a stop. Leave Lough Tay and head in the direction of Glenmacnass Waterfall and then Laragh.

I’ve done this drive twice over the past 12 months, and many times over the years, and it never fails to disappoint.

Here’s how this looks on a map.

The enormous, isolated and often deserted (depending on when you visit) landscape that engulfs you as you spin along the Sally Gap Drive has the knack of making you feel like you’re the only person left on earth.

Watch the video below from pixel.flights and you’ll see what I mean.

Take your time with this drive and just soak it all up.

4 – A tour of the Wicklow Brewery, a pint and a feed

// Laragh to the Wicklow Brewery – 30-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

Our final stop of day 3 of our Ireland road trip takes us to Mickey Finn’s Pub in Redcross – home to the Wicklow Brewery.

the wicklow brewery tour
Photo © the Irish Road Trip

The Wicklow Brewery opened its doors on September 5th, 2014.

Those that opt to take the tour will be brought through the story of the Wicklow Brewery and given an insight into how they brew their beers, from the milling of the grain in the malt mill to the kegging at the end.

mickey finns pub wicklow
Photo © the Irish Road Trip

Hopefully it goes without saying that if you visit the brewery, you shouldn’t drink and drive!

We’re going to round the day off with a bite to eat in the pub. If you can, grab a seat in the cosy little snug area.

5 – A nest for night 3 of our Ireland road trip

So, where you stay in Wicklow is totally up to you.

I’m going to recommend Lochside B&B as it’s nice and close to Redcross, which is where the Wicklow Brewery is.

Check into the B&B and chill for the evening.

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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