We kicked off season 3 of our round-the-world trip with a week in Ireland. A country with rich history, vibrant culture, warm-hearted people, and breathtaking landscapes. It turns out, Ireland is the perfect country for a road trip!
It takes less than 3 hours to get from one side of Ireland to the other, but you will be surprised to discover that for such a small country, Ireland has an overwhelming amount of sights and experiences. So to help you have the most unforgettable stay, we crafted this 7 day Ireland itinerary packed with must-see places around the country.
Day 1: Getting the Lay of the Land
To start your Dublin itinerary, get acquainted with the city by taking a walking tour. Joining one on the first days of arriving at our destination is our favorite way to set us up for an efficient adventure as we usually get to visit the most important landmarks, learn about history and culture, and consult our guide on places to eat!
We recommend this free walking tour that takes you around Dublin’s top attractions. History lovers will enjoy this 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour led by Lorcan Collins, an author, historian, and podcaster, recommended by the Dublin City Council. The tour dives deep into a significant period of Irish history that shapes the nation. Alternatively, you can take yourself on a self-guided tour by visiting the following sites.
Visit the Kilmainham Gaol Museum
Kilmainham Gaol is actually a former prison that opened in 1796, closed in 1924, and became a museum in 1971. Taking a guided tour through its walls and cells is an educational and emotional experience as it gives insight into the leaders and citizens kept and executed there during Ireland’s struggle for independence.
Marvel at the Book of Kells
With such a prominent literary heritage, it’s no wonder that Ireland is home to one of the most famous artifacts in the world – an illuminated manuscript that dates back to the 9th century. This ancient book is kept at Trinity College Library, ranked among the top 10 most beautiful libraries in the world, and located at the oldest college in Ireland. The rich wooden shelves stacked with books from floor to ceiling and spectacular building exteriors are attractions on their own. And as it usually goes with the most popular attractions in town, the line can get intense. So to avoid wasting your time standing in the queue, book your entry tickets in advance.
Take a Stroll Down Dublin’s Docklands
This side of Dublin, once derelict, is a palate refresher to the medieval look, featuring modern waterfront architecture. It’s where old meets new. The Docklands are home to cute cafes and restaurants, water activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and museums. We recommend taking a stroll at sunset and hunting for important landmarks like the haunting Famine Memorial, street art, and art installations that light up come nighttime.
Day 2: Indulge in Dublin’s Fare
Foodies will thrive in Ireland, the home of spirits and fresh local produce. During your stay, order meat, seafood, and dairy because Irish produce tastes sublime. And, of course, you can’t forgo trying a pint or two of Guinness, tasting Irish Whiskey, Irish Coffee, and Bailey’s – the local beverages of choice.
Visit the Guinness Storehouse
Guinness is the epitome of Ireland and for the ultimate experience of the decadent drink, we recommend visiting the Guinness Storehouse Factory. Beer fans will love learning about the brewing process and tasting the goods on the interactive tour and those into history will enjoy learning about the marketing secrets and the building, which also happens to offer the best views in town. When the tour is over, you get to climb up to Dublin’s tallest 360-rooftop Gravity bar and enjoy a glass of Guinness.
Have a Whisky Tasting
Whisky connoisseurs will be delighted to find that the world’s leading Irish Whiskey producer, Jameson, has a distillery located in a historic building that has become a popular tourist attraction in Dublin, offering guided tours and tastings. But should you crave a more off-the-beaten-path experience, we recommend heading to the Teeling Distillery, which also happens to serve some of the best Irish Coffee in Dublin.
Explore Dublin’s Pub Culture
Joining a pub crawl is an iconic experience to have in Ireland. You’ll find plenty of pre-organized ones that are a bunch of fun and a great way to meet people. But if you prefer taking the lead, here are some recommendations.
Temple Bar is continuously highly ranked. And while it is the most popular bar in Dublin, it is also among the most crowded and overpriced. But it’s located in a beautiful neighborhood, it’s stunningly decorated, and features great live music, so it’s up to you if it’s worth it. The Brazen Head is another hit for being the oldest pub in Ireland, founded in 1198! But our favorite was The Stag’s Head. Bev had already been there with her mom, and their Evening of Irish Folklore and Storytelling experience was a big highlight. So much so that we had to do it again during this visit.
For more traditional eats, Spitalfields came in highly recommended. A typical Irish pub set in a historic area of Dublin which has earned itself a Michelin Bib Gourmand. And to excite our palates, we love trying modern takes on traditional cuisine, which in Dublin, you can do at Orwell Road restaurant, offering modern Irish cuisine.
Day Trips from Dublin
When planning a trip to Ireland, make sure you venture outside of Dublin to experience all of the beauty the countryside has to offer. We did so by taking day trips from Dublin. You can do the same or embark on an epic road trip around Ireland.
Getting around Ireland is fairly simple thanks to the comforts and convenience of their train system. The Irish Rail is the fastest way to get around the country. Alternatively, you can use the public bus network or rent a car, which is the option that allows the most flexibility and lets you access remote tourist attractions in Ireland easily.
Day 3: Galway and Cliffs of Moher
Start your day of adventure with a journey westward to Galway, a lively city renowned for its vibrant atmosphere. Explore the medieval Galway Cathedral, stroll through colorful streets filled with shops, pubs, and street performers, and savor delicious seafood at the bustling Galway Market.
In the afternoon, tick off one of the best things to do in Ireland by venturing out to the iconic Cliffs of Moher. They are one of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, so if there is one day trip from Dublin that you must prioritize – it’s this one! Gaze at the sheer cliffs and the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, the stateliness of which is challenging to capture on camera. To get a fascinating perspective of the cliffs, we recommend taking a boat to Aran Islands, a group of three islands offering dramatic landscapes, ruins, and clear waters too.
Day 4: Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry
Charge your camera because this day has a lot of epic scenery in store! The Ring of Kerry is a famous 111-mile-long circular route that features some of Ireland’s most spectacular landscapes. It takes you through rugged mountains, quaint villages, and along the stunning coastline. If you rent a car, you have the flexibility to stop at picturesque spots like Moll’s Gap and Torc Waterfalls. The experience reminded us of our road trip through New Zealand. But NZ is really another kind of special!
Killarney National Park sits at the entry to the Ring of Kerry. If you are pressed for time, skip the Ring drive and stroll around the park instead, take in the mountain views, and visit the Ross castle. It’s truly a beautiful place that has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Day 5: Adventure to the Edge of the World
Dursey Island has only a handful of permanent inhabitants. There are no pubs, shops, or restaurants, and getting there is an adventure in itself – you have to take a cable car built in 1969. So why is it worth traveling all the way to Dursey Island? The scenery, of course. Those who visit often say that being on Dursey Island feels like standing on the edge of the world. The vastness, the historic ruins, and the lack of human life almost feel eerie. That’s if you come early and avoid the growing crowds since Dursey Island is a popular place to visit in Ireland. The island is also a great place for birdwatching, dolphin, and whale spotting.
Day 6: Castles and Stone Circles
On day six, it’s time to head south to County Tipperary and visit the awe-inspiring Rock of Cashel, a medieval fortress perched on a limestone outcrop. Explore the intricate Celtic architecture of this iconic site and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. But Ireland is just getting warmed up because further south, you will arrive at Blarney Castle, home to the famous Blarney Stone, kissing which is said to give the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness. The stone has been kissed by many notable figures, including Winston Churchill; hence, we didn’t hesitate to do the same.
A short drive even further south will take you to Cork, Ireland’s second-largest city. Stroll along the charming streets, visit the famous English Market, the mecca of good Irish food, and take in the vibrant atmosphere of this cultural hub before heading towards the coast in search of stone circles. You will find many located west of Cork, the most famous one of all being the Drombeg Stone Circle, protected under the National Monuments Act.
Day 7: Wicklow Mountains National Park
On the last day of your 7 day Ireland itinerary, as you are winding down your journey and preparing for departure, we suggest taking a short escape on a day trip to the picturesque Wicklow Mountains. Grab a picnic and take a hike through the enchanting woodland trails that hold rich mining history. Don’t miss your last opportunity to capture Ireland’s stunning scenery.
Then, before you go, return to your favorite pub for one last round. It’s a common practice among loyal customers in Ireland to buy a bottle of whiskey at their favorite joint, store it there, and sip at it each time they come. If you loved your stay in Dublin and wish to send a signal to the Universe for a prompt return, we invite you to buy a bottle too. You know, like the coin toss at the Trevi Fountain in Rome?