An Unforgettable 18-Day Road Trip That’s Packed With The Best Places to Visit in Ireland

Coumshinaun Horseshoe
Photo by Muddy Boots

Hello and welcome to a road trip guide that my fingers will never forgive me for writing.

This is a detailed guide that takes in the best places to visit in Ireland over the course of 18 adventure, craic, food and pub packed days.

In a nutshell, if you gave me 18 days to drive around Ireland, this is the exact route that I’d take.

What you’ll get from reading this:
  • A full, start-to-finish, morning-to-night itinerary
  • A (literally) hour-by-hour timing guide to help you fit everything in
  • The best things to do in Ireland along the entire coast
  • Recommended places to eat (and get coffee ?)
  • Recommended pubs to grab a pint
  • Recommended places to sleep

Here’s a rough guide of the route we’ll be taking

irish road trip guide

Here's what each day involves

If one of the days tickles your fancy, just click it to be taken to that section of the road trip ??

Day 1 – Wicklow (a hike in Glendalough, Fooooooooood, Lough Tay, the Sally Gap drive, food and pints)

Day 2 – Wexford (Curracloe strand, Tintern Abbey, the oldest operational lighthouse on earth, the Copper Coast drive)

Day 3 – Waterford (the Coumshingaun Lake Walk, the Magic Road, Mahon Falls, a drive through the mountains, food and pints)

Day 4 – Cork (Cobh, the deck of cards, St. Coleman’s Cathedral, Spike Island, the Old Head of Kinsale, Inchydoney Beach)

Day 5 – West Cork (Brow Head, the Sheep’s Head Drive, Bantry, Healy Pass, Allihies)

Day 6 – Kerry (the Dursey Island Cable Car, Kenmare, Sneem, Caherdaniel, Waterville, Driving the Skellig Ring)

Day 7 – Kerry Part 2 (Valentia Island, Rossbeigh Loop Walk, Dingle)

Day 8 – Kerry and Clare (Slea Head Drive, ice cream in Dingle, Conor Pass)

Day 9 – Clare (Doolin cliff walk, the Doolin Cave, Inis Oirr island, Sailing below the Cliffs of Moher, Pints in Doolin)

Day 10 – Clare and Galway (the Doolin to Kinvarra drive, food in Galway City, Clifden, the Sky Road)

Day 11 – Galway and Mayo (Connemara, Diamond Hill, Kylemore Abbey, Leenaun, Aasleagh Falls, Westport, Achill)

Day 12 – Mayo and Sligo (The Céide Fields, Downpatrick Head, a hike in Sligo, Glencar Waterfall, Gleniff Horseshoe)

Day 13 – Donegal (Slieve League, Malin Beg, Glencolmcille Folk Village, Glengesh Pass, Glenveagh National Park)

Day 14 – Donegal Part 2 (Horn Head, Ards Forest Park, Killahoey Beach, Doe Castle, the Atlantic Drive, Lough Salt, Fanad Head, Glamping by the sea)

Day 15 – Donegal and Derry (Grianan of Aileach , Mamore Gap, Glenevin Waterfall, Malin Head, Kinnagoe Bay, Derry City Walls, Free Derry Corney)

Day 16 – Antrim (Portstewart Strand, Dunluce Castle, The Giant’s Causeway, Dunseverick Castle, Ballintoy Harbour, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Kinbane Castle, The Torr Head Scenic Route

Day 17 – Antrim and Belfast (The Cushendun Caves, The Gobbins Cliff Path walk, Lunch in Belfast, The Crumlin Road Gaol, A Black Cab tour)

Day 18 – Louth (Carlingford, a hike up Slieve Foye, a post hike feed, Coffee, a ramble, pints and chips)

Yep, This is a long ass guide ??, but we’ve taken time (roughly 70 hours) to create a route for you that:

  • Ensures you experience the very best of what Ireland’s coastline has to offer
  • Takes the pain out of planning
  • Ensures you don’t miss out on visiting ammmmmazing places that you may never have heard of

Here’s Where day 1 will take us

Move onto page 2 below to check it out!

10 COMMENTS

  1. I have been using your guide for the past few months to plan my Ireland trip set for April 2019. I figured it was about time I dropped a comment!! 🙂 Your guide has helped me tremendously as it seems to encompass everything we are looking to find in Ireland…. raw natural beauty, unique experiences, good coffee, and good beer! Can’t thank you enough. I hope to comment again once we return!

  2. This is seriously the best travel guide ever. I was getting stressed because I’ll be solo traveling all of March and haven’t planned much (by design) and this gives the perfect outline of exactly the things I want to do and see. So thank you for the enormous amount of time this must have taken. So much appreciated.

    • Haha! Cheers dude.

      Glad you found it useful. This took roughly 3 weeks of research and writing… and rewriting.

      I hope the trip goes well.

      Keith

  3. We’re traveling to Ireland in November, 2019 and thank you very much for your outline and information. Question: On maps, it shows Northern Ireland almost like another country. Do you need anything to pass from Ireland to Northern Ireland and back, or is it all in the same? Seems trivial, but it could make a big difference if we plan to do things in Northern Ireland and then we could possibly not have the proper travel documents. Also, do you know if your passport is all you need or if you need a travel visa? Thanks for your time. Have a great day!. WandanTexas

    • Hi Wanda,

      You’re welcome.

      Northern Ireland is technically part of the UK, so it is regarded as a different country.

      Currently, there is no form of ‘hard’ border, but there’s been a lot of talk about the potential of one with Brexit looming.

      If you’re driving a rental car, this is where things can get tricky. I had one from Europa car recently and was told I’d be automatically charged (they have GPS devices within the rental) whenever my car passed into Northern Ireland – the max total charge was 90 euro, I believe.

      If you’re renting a car, be sure to check this in advance.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith

  4. Hi,
    This is a great guide, but if you had a few extra days…
    Three Castle Head is also stunning. You are close enough to it when you are heading for brow head. Well worth it!
    Lough Hyne in Skibbereen is also beautiful, lovely forest walk and salt water lake to swim in. Night time kayaking with the bioluminescent water a must!
    Enjoy,
    Joanne

    • Thanks for the recommendations Joanne.

      Love Lough Hyne in particular. Did the forest climb with my dad last summer on a hot day in July – great spot!

  5. Question for Keith and others. We have a wonderful opportunity to spend a month in Ireland and in previous trips we’ve enjoyed many of the same activities you do…hiking, enjoying the featured sights and geography in general, informal dining, great pubs, etc. We have never been north of Westport, county Mayo. Would it be worth it to spend a week in the Sligo / Donegal region? If yes, we would rent a house for the week. Is there a town that would be central to this region that you could recommend as a home base? We would be there in late August/early Sept 2020.
    Thanks in advance for your response (or anyone else who could add their thoughts)

    • Hi Bill.

      Abbbbbbbbbbbsolutely spend a week in Sligo and Donegal.

      There’s a tonne of things to do in both, regardless of whether you decide to do something active or just chill.

      Personally, I’d spend half in Sligo and half in Donegal.

      Here’s a guide to 48 hours in Sligo that should help, along with a 3-day guide to the best things to do in Donegal.

      In terms of where to stay – I love Strandhill and Rosses Point. For Donegal, it’s hard to beat Ardara.

      I hope this helps!

      Keith

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