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Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Day 8. Dingle to Lahinch

Today we’re going to explore one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland. Fuel up with breakfast in Pax and get ready for another eventful day.

1. The Slea Head Drive

Slea head road

Photo by Lukasz Pajor/shutterstock.com

This Drive takes roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes – we’re going to allow 4 hours. Start the drive at 9:00).

I’m excited for any of you that are doing this drive for the first time.

The Slea Head Drive is a circular route that begins and ends in Dingle. It takes in an abundance of attractions and fabulous views on the western end of the peninsula.

My only piece of advice for this drive is to stop and wander wherever and whenever the feeling takes you.

The best parts of this drive aren’t the stops, they’re the ever-changing landscape that engulfs it.

2. The magnificent Coumeenoole Beach

Annual leave Ireland 2020

Photo via Tourism Ireland (by Kim Leuenberger)

Our first stop is at Coumeenoole Beach, a place I’ve been to many times before. This is a fantastic little beach that’s surrounded by jagged cliffs and spectacular coastal scenery.

For any fans of the movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, you may recognise Coumeenoole Beach as it was one of the locations used in the film. This place really is wild.

Park the car and explore the area. The beach is to the left, down the little winding hill, and then to the right, you have a path that, if you take it, will offer spectacular views of the surrounding area.

3. Admiring the view of Dunmore Head

Ireland in June

Photo by Chris Hill

You’ll find the lookout point for Dunmore Head a short distance from Coumeenoole Beach, so make sure you keep an eye out for it.

This is another one of those places that tends to rock you a little bit (the best places to visit in Ireland generally do).

When you step out of your car and gaze out, the sound of wind and wave combined with the view that you’ll be treated to is immensely special.

Spend time here. Who cares how long. Soak up the sights and sounds. Put down the phone and the camera and focusing on capturing this little chunk of bliss in your mind forever.

4. Dun Chaoin Pier

Dun chaoin pier kerry

@ Tourism Ireland photographed by Tom Archer

Dun Chaoin Pier is the departure point for the Blasket Island Ferry, and you’ll find it at the northern end of a small secluded bay enveloped by rocky cliffs.

You can take a stroll down the pier itself or admire the view from above (be careful – the cliff is unguarded).

When gawked at from above, the narrow, winding road that leads up to the pier can only be described as a charming little slice of architectural madness.

The quirky road combined with the gorgeous rocky peaks that jut out from the water in front of the pier make for a wonderfully unique scene on County Kerry’s dramatic coastline.

5. The stop that isn’t a stop

gallarus oratory in kerry

By Chris Hill

I tried to emphasise this earlier, but I really believe that you need to go with your gut on this drive.

Take your time and just enjoy the scenery that envelopes you from start to finish. Here are some other things you can do along the drive, if you’d like a bit more guidance:

6. Dingle for lunch and ice cream or coffee

Bean in Dingle

Photo via the lads at Bean Dingle

The Slea Head Loop will get you back to Dingle for around 13:00 if you take 4 hours to drive it. We’re going to fuel up in Dingle for a long afternoon and evening on the road.

Head to Ashe’s Bar for a bite to eat and then tip on over to Murphy’s Ice Cream for a bit of a #TreatYoSelf buzz.

The Caramelised Brown Bread and the Dingle Sea Salt are both ammmmmmmmmmazing!

7. The absolutely mental road at Conor Pass

conor pass dingle

Photo via Shutterstock

Dingle to Conor Pass – 8-minute drive (leave Dingle at 14:00, arrive for 14:08). It’s rare that a road bothers me in any way.

Conor Pass runs from Dingle out towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory, and is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, standing a whopping 410 m above the sea level.

The tight, narrow road snakes alongside the mountain and weaves its way along sharp cliff faces on one side and an enormous drop to the other. Driving the Conor Pass was one of my highlights from my last trip to Kerry.

Yes, had a semi oh-shit moment when I met a van coming towards me with no intention of stopping and I had to reverse back around the mountain on a road barely wider than the car, but it was amazing.

You can pull in at the side of the road before the pass and admire the views around you. On a busy day, this’ll be a nervous drivers nightmare, but just take your time and drive carefully.

8. The ferry to Clare

kilbaha cliffs loop head

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Now, the drive from Conor Pass to Kilbaha would take 3 long hours… THANKFULLY, there’s a 20-minute ferry that you can take that’ll make this journey a lot easier.

Drive from Conor Pass to Tarbert (1 hour and 15-minute drive). You can get a ferry from here to Killimer in Clare.

The ferry leaves from Tarbert every hour on the half-hour during the high season when there are two ferries in operation (more info here).

Our first stop is to Kilbaha (40 minutes from Killimer) to check out the cliffs at Loop Head Lighthouse. I’ve visited here a handful of times in the past and am always blown away by the sheer lack of people that you meet.

Park the car at the lighthouse and walk along the grass to the right of the wall that surrounds it. You’ll find a gorgeous sea stack and a wonderful view of the surrounding cliffs.

Warning: the cliffs are unguarded, so please be careful.

This is another place where you’ll feel the full force of Mother nature. The wind crashes against you from every angle and the thunder of the waves smashing against jagged cliff is like music to the ears.

9. Lahinch for the night

Lahinch village

Photo by shutterupeire/shutterstock.com

Kilbaha to Lahinch – 1 hour and 5-minute drive (leave at 18:10, arrive to Lahinch for 19:05). That was a pretty long day, so we’re going to head to our base for the night and then out for food.

I’m going to recommend you stay at the Atlantic Hotel. Check-in and then take a stroll to Danny Mac’s for dinner.

Get an early night, tonight, as we’ve another busy day tomorrow (we’ll factor in a lie-in, of sorts, for the morning of day 10… promise)

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Jan Garvey

Thursday 25th of April 2024

We did your tour last year, we thought you being Irish and living in Ireland you would have more knowledge of Ireland than us. We followed your Itinerary to the letter only choosing different accommodation from time to time. This tour was the best ! I would recommend it every day of the week. The views, the walks, the people, I will remember this adventure forever, I'm so glad I found your page. Thank you for your hard work it is very much appreciated, and for anyone out there, do It ! trust the Itinerary you won't be disappointed its amazing.

John Duke

Monday 4th of April 2022

Morning Keith O Hara I have been looking at your 18 days tour of Ireland I am arriving on the 14th April at Rosslare can I start my tour on day 2 I am driving a small camper van can you tell me about camp sites on my around please and do I have to book or just turn up my name is John Duke

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hey John! You'll find campsites in most counties along that trip. The best way to do it is to just give it a Google and then suss out a spot with good reviews (I've never stayed in a campsite in Ireland, so I wouldn't like to lead you astray). In terms of booking. I'd recommend doing so if you're visiting during the busier months of the year, like summer. I hope this helps!

Julie

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

This was a great trip to read through. I understand how tired you are after writing so much - my husband and I are coming to Ireland from the U.S. in May 2022 for 3 weeks, and I've been planning everything myself for many months. Lots of great suggestions for places to visit, things we shouldn't miss, etc. Also, many of the things you suggested are already part of our plans, so it made me feel like I had done a good job! Thanks for all of the great help - we can't wait for the trip to begin!

Jan

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Really digging this blog!! I have the travel blog so bad and Ireland is next on the list - your recommendations are speaking to me! Thanks for taking the time to create all the wonderful road trips / ideas.

Akshay Bansal

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Hi Keith,

I am considering travelling to Ireland this summer via road-trip and AirBnBs. While researching, I found your blog and found it very helpful and resourceful.

I am travelling from New Delhi (India) with my extended family (infants, toddlers, siblings, wife, parents etc.). Assuming this might be our only trip to Ireland together as a family, I am interested in covering Ireland comprehensively within a limitation of 11-13 days.

Is it possible to shorten the suggested 18-day itinerary to the above duration by bypassing some of the locations or sites. I understand this would mean we missing a few locations, but need your help.

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