- Taste your way around the culinary hotspots of Cork, Dingle, and Galway
- Discover Irish history through its produce on the Old Butter Roads Food Trails
- Forage for seaweed and learn about this "superfood" from an expert
- Enjoy an Irish tipple at a host of merry pubs, and tour renowned distilleries
|Arrive in Dublin
|Drive to Tipperary, Visit Kilkenny Castle & Rock of Cashel
|Day in Tipperary: Clydesdale Farm & McCarthy's Pub
|Cork Food Tour & Blarney Castle
|Old Butter Roads Food Trail
|Hike the Old Head of Kinsale Loop, Visit Titanic Experience Cobh
|Old Head Boat Trip, Local Markets & Drombeg Stone Circle
|Explore the West Coast, Visit a Gin Distillery
|Kenmare Food Tour, Ring of Kerry & Seaweed Foraging
|Dingle Tasting Tour & Experience
|Dingle Peninsula: Archaeology & Distillery Tour
|Burren Food Trail & Live Music in Doolin
|Ferry to the Aran Islands, Hike on Inishmore
|Explore Galway City, the European Gourmet Capital
|Depart from Shannon or Dublin
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin
Welcome to Ireland! You'll touch down in Dublin, at the mouth of the River Liffey, home to more than a third of the Republic of Ireland's population. For a small capital city, it packs a lot of personality. You'll find architectural splendor and a proud literary culture combined with youthful energy and zest for a good old time.
The afternoon is yours to explore the city at your own pace. Make your way through the Temple Bar district, where a bohemian music and arts community guarantees a jubilant atmosphere any time of year. You could visit the famous Guinness Storehouse or Jameson Whiskey Distillery. Or, get a feel for the city's history and strong creative heritage in its Trinity College university grounds, the National Museum, and National Art Gallery.
Day 2: Drive to Tipperary, Visit Kilkenny Castle & Rock of Cashel
Today, load up your rental car and drive south to Kilkenny, the old medieval capital of Ireland. Once there, take some time to explore Kilkenny Castle—it's been named one of the most beautiful castles in the world thanks to its romantic atmosphere, beautifully maintained gardens and fantastic views. A cluster of knockout restaurants has sprung up around the River Nore in the Kilkenny center. Lunch at the modern Irish restaurant Zuni would be a classy way to kick off your first day on the road.
Day 3: Day in Tipperary: Clydesdale Farm & McCarthy's Pub
With a full day in County Tipperary, take the chance to go on a private tour to Slievenamon Clydesdales, also known as Clydesdale Farm. These draught horses are native to Scotland and were used in the past for heavy farm and industrial work, thanks to their sturdy frames. However, they can also be ridden, and the family who runs the farm has won many awards in handler competitions. Meet the owners and learn about how they breed and show the Clydesdales throughout Ireland and Scotland.
On your way back to your accommodation, you could drop by the Equine Museum in the small town of Fethard to learn about the role of horses in Irish culture over the last 2,000 years. Finish the day at nearby McCarthy's Pub, which has been running since the 1840s and still has bags of old-fashioned character. Comfort food is their specialty—but the real star of the menu is the hearty apple crumble.
Day 4: Cork Food Tour & Blarney Castle
Drive through the rolling farmlands of the Golden Vale to Ireland's second city of Cork. Cork is arguably the country's culinary capital, so make the most of its cafés and bakeries (especially in the trendy Huguenot Quarter) and restaurants (head to the Victorian Quarter, around MacCurtain Street). Get an insider's view of the food scene on a Slice of Cork guided tour, which includes a trip to the English Market, one of the oldest roofed markets in Europe.
Later, there's the option of visiting Blarney Castle, a 15-minute drive from Cork. The evocative ruins date from the 15th century, on the site where a 10th-century wooden castle once stood. Nature has gloriously taken over, with creeping plants across the inner stone walls and pockets of woodland around the grounds. In the evening, you could dine at one of Cork's award-winning restaurants.
Day 5: Old Butter Roads Food Trail
Board a tour bus today to get off the beaten track in the County Cork countryside. On a full-day excursion, you'll trace the Old Butter Roads Food Trail. This is the name given to a collective of family-owned food and hospitality businesses, across neighborhoods north of Cork City, such as Avondhue, Blackwater, Duhallow, and Muskerry. It comes from the time when Cork dominated the global butter trade—an industry that peaked in the 19th century.
First, your guide will take you to the Butter Museum, then to Blarney for scones and tea, before taking you to visit various producers and food artisans around the Old Butter Road. You'll also have a chance to stock up on souvenirs, such as apple brandy, craft beer, and preserves. The bus will deliver you back to Cork City; then you'll drive to the south coast (a half-hour journey) to spend the night in Kinsale.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Hike the Old Head of Kinsale Loop, Visit Titanic Experience Cobh
Spend the morning exploring the historic town of Kinsale. The town's best-known historical attraction is Charles Fort, one of the finest surviving examples of a 17th-century star-shaped fort. If you fancy a gentle walk, hike the Old Head of Kinsale Loop, an easy 3.5-mile (6 km) walk along a country road with spectacular views at every turn. The walk takes about an hour and a half, after which you can treat yourself to traditional fish and chips for lunch at Dino's café.
Drive 45 minutes to reach the pretty port of Cobh, dominated by its elegant cathedral—one of the tallest buildings in Ireland at 300 feet (91 m). Cobh is famous for being the Titanic's last port of call in 1912. It's a story recounted in the Titanic Experience Cobh visitor center, where audio-visuals and set designs recreate what it would have been like on board for those 123 passengers picked up at Cobh.
Then, head back to Kinsale for the evening. Some say it's the "gourmet capital of Ireland," thanks to its reputation for quality restaurants, so treat yourself to a memorable meal. Bastian is known for modern fine dining, while Saint Francis Provisions is an affordable, trendy option.
Day 7: Old Head Boat Trip, Local Markets & Drombeg Stone Circle
Drive along Ireland's south coast, destined for Skibbereen or Baltimore. There are plenty of sensational stops to make along the way. Take your time to explore the Old Head of Kinsale, where a viewing tower provides a vantage point to see the protected bird colonies on the western cliffs, such as puffins, guillemots, and peregrines. A memorial garden recalls the sinking of the RMS Lusitania ship off these shores in 1915 when a German torpedo hit it.
Regular boat trips set off from Kinsale to show off these waters' abundant marine life. The sea around Ireland was made a whale and dolphin sanctuary in the 1990s, and this region is their richest feeding ground. Spot minke whales from September to March, and baleen, humpback, and fin whales from summer to autumn. Dolphins, porpoises, and seals frolic year-round.
Enjoy lunch in the pretty market town of Clonakilty, famous for its seafood and Country Market, which takes place on Fridays (a local guide can be arranged). Then, continue along the country roads to see the 3,000-year-old Drombeg Stone Circle before checking into your accommodation.
Day 8: Explore the West Coast, Visit a Gin Distillery
Spectacular coastal scenery is the order of the day: Drive to Ireland's most southerly point at Mizen Head with its famous lighthouse, and stop for fresh food at a village pub overlooking the water. Make time to pop into a local gin distillery that comes with views of the unspoiled Beara headland. The Beara Distillery is a family-run enterprise where the gins are infused with seawater and sugar kelp, and the whiskey is made using spring water from the nearby Caha Mountains. So, you can literally take a little bit of Ireland home with you.
After, drive north for 45 minutes to spend the night in the waterfront town of Bantry. It stands at the entrance to the Sheep's Head Peninsula, a slither of land that's considered one of Ireland's most scenic drives. If you've got time, you could drive the 43-mile (70 km) loop of the entire peninsula. It doesn't take long, but you'll want to stop several times for photo ops and a stroll around Sheep's Head Lighthouse, which overlooks the southern tip of Bantry Bay.
Day 9: Kenmare Food Tour, Ring of Kerry & Seaweed Foraging
Continue north to the heritage town of Kenmare, which marks the gateway to the Ring of Kerry. This peaceful town sits against the backdrop of some of Ireland's most stunning views, offering outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, excellent restaurants, art galleries, and shopping. There's an option to arrange a guided food tour of the town, with TV cook and Irish food blogger Karen Coakley, for an insider's look at local sellers and artisans.In the afternoon, you'll take a seaweed foraging trip with a local guide on Derrynane Beach, along the County Kerry coast. Learn how to find and sustainably harvest this "superfood," so-called for its high level of vitamins and fiber. You'll get to taste a range of sea vegetable dishes and beverages while learning about the history of humans' use of seaweed. Then, spend the night in Dingle, where you can relax, overlooking the sea, and eat in excellent local restaurants.
Day 10: Dingle Tasting Tour & Experience
Set on a peninsula, the small and colorful town of Dingle punches above its weight, considering the remote location. Creatives are drawn here thanks to its inspiring setting—you can see works by local artists and artisans featured in its craft shops, and the winding lanes filling with the sound of traditional music come sundown. The huge natural harbor is still a busy fishing port, which contributes to the town's reputation for its excellent seafood.
Best of all, it's gained an international reputation for its food scene. After a free morning to explore, you'll experience the best of what it's got to offer on a half-day Dingle Tasting Tour. An experienced guide will take you through the town to sample the best local produce as you learn about Dingle's storied past. Try seafood straight off the boat, beef farmed on nearby pastures, and small-batch gin and beer. Continue the merriment by tagging on a Dingle Drinks experience at 7 pm.
Day 11: Dingle Peninsula: Archaeology & Distillery Tour
Step into the past today with an archaeology tour around the ancient Dingle Peninsula with a local guide. This region has one of the biggest concentrations of archaeological sites in western Europe, stretching back 7,000 years. Almost 2,500 archaeological sites are packed onto one rugged finger of land, so your history lesson will come with the dramatic backdrop of headlands, cliffs, and the wild Atlantic.After, warm the cockles with a visit to the Dingle Distillery. Three distinctive, hand-crafted copper pot stills create what the makers believe is the ultimate Irish whiskey. There's also a small swan neck pot still for crafting small batches of artisan gin and vodka. See where the magic happens and stock up on produce in the shop.
Day 12: Burren Food Trail & Live Music in Doolin
This morning, take a trip to the unique limestone landscape of the Burren, one of very few such geological regions in Europe. With slabs and plateaus of limestone rock across gentle hills and glistening pools in between, it has an otherworldly quality to it. In fact, it's said to have been an inspiration for some of the settings in JRR Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
As you continue north, stop to view the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. Rising from the raging Atlantic to 700 feet (214 m) at their highest point, standing here is like teetering at the world's edge. Nearby, you can also dine in Ireland's only Michelin Star-rated pub, the Wild Honey Inn (it's best to book in advance, so let your local expert know).
You'll spend tonight in the pretty village of Doolin. For many, it's their favorite village in the west of Ireland, with an inspiring coastal setting, brightly painted houses, and bands frequently playing in its pubs. It's hailed as the home of traditional Irish music, after all! Bring an appetite, as Doolin is also renowned for its gastronomic delights, especially traditional Irish dishes like stews, veggie soup with soda bread, and potato cakes.
Day 13: Ferry to the Aran Islands, Hike on Inishmore
Set off from Doolin by boat this morning to reach the Aran Islands. This trio of landmasses has deep Celtic and Christian roots, meaning the land is dotted with ancient ruins and sacred sites. And with traditions holding strong, the 1,300 people who call the islands home consider the Irish language their native tongue.
Disembark on the largest island, Inishmore (Inis Mór), and head off on a hike of 8 miles (12 km) around its perimeter. You'll pass the huge Iron Age fort of Dun Aonghasa on the edge of a sheer 328-foot (100 m) cliff with the raging Atlantic below. You'll be given a packed lunch today to eat outside while you enjoy the scenery. Later, there are plenty of pubs to lure you in for dinner—as you can imagine, fresh seafood such as oysters or crab is a specialty. You can then spend the night on Inishmore or return to Doolin.
Day 14: Explore Galway City, the European Gourmet Capital
Continue the drive along the Wild Atlantic Way to Galway, one of Ireland's most attractive cities. This medieval maritime hub is now the bohemian capital of Ireland, prized for its art scene, street performances, live music, and buildings painted in primary colors. A local guide will show you its lively center and point out the best bars and cafés.
Galway was the official Gourmet Capital of Europe for 2020, an honor born from its surprisingly diverse and innovative culinary scene. You could join Galway Food Tours for a 2.5-hour taster of eight or so stops. You'll nibble on the best the city offers, with seafood at the heart of it, including WA Café's sushi, Michael Brown's oysters, and crab wraps at Kai. Vegetarian tours are available, too.