Spend 12 days discovering Ireland's gastronomic highlights on this clockwise self-drive tour of the southwest and west coast. With a combination of independent discovery and guided tours, you'll browse markets, sample homegrown produce, and explore culinary hotspots such as Galway (which regularly tops lists of foodie destinations) and Ireland's "gourmet capital" of Kinsale. There'll also be the chance to sip whiskey and gin at distilleries and dive into Ireland's high-spirited pub culture.


  • Take a guided food tour through Cork and dine on locally-sourced produce
  • Get a taste of Irish history on the Old Butter Roads Food Trail bus tour
  • Go seaweed foraging in the dreamy landscape of the County Kerry coast
  • Get into Irish pub culture, watching live bands as you dine and drink

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, Whiskey Tasting Dublin
Day 2 Drive to Kilkenny, Visit the Rock of Cashel & McCarthy's Bar Tipperary
Day 3 Drive to Cork, Jameson Whiskey Tour  Cork
Day 4 Tour of the Old Butter Roads Food Trail Kinsale
Day 5 Explore the West Coast, Visit a Gin Distillery Bantry
Day 6 Kenmare Food Tour, Ring of Kerry & Seaweed Foraging Dingle Town
Day 7 Dingle Tasting Tour & Experience Dingle Town
Day 8 Dingle Peninsula: Archaeology & Distillery Tour County Clare
Day 9 Burren Food Trail & Live Music in Doolin Doolin
Day 10 Boat Trip to the Aran Islands, Hike on Inishmore Doolin
Day 11 Explore Galway City, the European Gourmet Capital Galway
Day 12 Depart from Shannon or Dublin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Whiskey Tasting

Dublin and the River Liffey at sunset.
Dublin and the River Liffey at sunset

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. 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. Then, 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 also make the most of this non-driving day with a trip to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery. On a one-hour tour, you can sample premium whiskeys exclusive to the distillery and peek into the office of John Jameson himself, who developed this unusual method of making whiskey in the 1700s. The distillery also offers classes in cocktail-making and blending your own whiskey. 

Day 2: Drive to Kilkenny, Visit the Rock of Cashel & McCarthy's Bar

Learn stories of ancient royalty and patron saints at the Rock of Cashel 

Today, load up your rental car and drive two hours south to Kilkenny, the old medieval capital of Ireland. Once there, take a guided tour of Kilkenny Castle, which has been named one of the most beautiful castles in the world thanks to its romantic atmosphere, beautifully maintained gardens, and fantastic views. Perhaps have lunch at the famous Kilkenny Design Centre and browse the local artisan crafts.

Around one hour's drive from here, you'll find the town of Cashel in County Tipperary. Road-trippers make a point of stopping here to visit the atmospheric Rock of Cashel—a medieval site that features Gothic and Romanesque-style buildings, as well as a 12th-century round tower.

You'll spend the night in County Tipperary, so if you've got time, 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 with a pint in McCarthy's Pub, which has been running since the 1840s and still has bags of old-fashioned character.

Day 3: Drive to Cork, Jameson Whiskey Tour 

A giant pot still marks your arrival at Jameson Distillery Midleton

About an hour's drive south through the rolling farmlands of the Golden Vale takes you to Ireland's second city of Cork today. Cork is arguably Ireland'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.

An option for the afternoon is to visit the Jameson Distillery Midleton, around half an hour's drive from the city. In the company of a guide, see where one of Ireland's most famous exports was produced until the 1970s. A highlight is the world's biggest pot still (constructed in 1825, it had a capacity of 143,740 liters)—and the samples to taste, of course. In the evening, you could dine at one of Cork's award-winning restaurants.

Day 4: Tour of the Old Butter Roads Food Trail

Tuck into a homemade scone as you explore the Old Butter Roads Food Trails

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 Avonhue, 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 like 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.

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Day 5: Explore the West Coast, Visit a Gin Distillery

Beara Peninsula
Blue skies over the Beara Peninsula

Spectacular coastal scenery is the order of the day: drive two hours west 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 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 6: Kenmare Food Tour, Ring of Kerry & Seaweed Foraging

Kenmare Food Tour, Ring of Kerry & Seaweed Foraging
Kenmare sits at the mainland end of the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula

Continue north for just under an hour to the heritage town of Kenmare, which marks the gateway to the Ring of Kerry route around the Iveragh Peninsula. This peaceful town offers outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, plus art galleries, shopping, and fine dining. 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, get back on the road and drive two hours up the coast to spend the night in Dingle, where you can relax, overlooking the sea, and eat in excellent local restaurants.

Day 7: Dingle Tasting Tour & Experience

Tasting Tour & Guide
Taste the best local products and meet artisan producers in Dingle

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 8: Dingle Peninsula: Archaeology & Distillery Tour

The atmospheric Minard Castle on the Dingle Peninsula

Step into the past today with an archaeology tour around the ancient Dingle Peninsula with a local guide. This region has one of the largest 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 9: Burren Food Trail & Live Music in Doolin

Cliffs of Moher
Ireland's most iconic natural wonder: the Cliffs of Moher

This morning, set off on a 3.5-hour drive north, venturing into 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 nearby 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 10: Boat Trip to the Aran Islands, Hike on Inishmore

Inish Mor Cliffs (Aran Islands)
Windswept sea cliffs on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands

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 11: Explore Galway City, the European Gourmet Capital

Head to Ireland's "foodie capital," Galway City

Continue the drive along the Wild Atlantic Way today, traveling 1.5 hours north 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.

Day 12: Depart from Shannon or Dublin

Sunset over the River Liffey in Dublin

With your bellies full and a host of culinary adventures to remember, your time in the Emerald Isle has come to an end. Drive to the airport at Shannon, on the west coast, or Dublin, on the east, to return your rental car and fly home. Safe travels!

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Map of Culinary Trip Through Ireland - 12 Days
Map of Culinary Trip Through Ireland - 12 Days