Experience Ireland's legendary "craic" (good times) in and around three of the country's best-loved cities. This round-trip self-drive from Dublin takes you to arts-loving Galway and the breathtaking hills of Connemara, then on to cosmopolitan Cork and the myth-shrouded Blarney Castle. There's plenty of time to stroll character-packed streets, admire historic landmarks, and check out traditional bars; perfect for independent travelers looking for a mix of sightseeing and downtime with the locals.


  • Explore Dublin's city streets on a walking tour 
  • Take a hike in Connemara National Park
  • Visit Cobh, the Titanic's last port of call
  • Check out Cork's authentic local bars 
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, City Tour Dublin
Day 2 Connemara National Park Galway
Day 3 Explore Galway, "The Quiet Man" Movie Walking Tour Galway
Day 4 Kinsale, Cobh, Cork City Cork
Day 5 Visit Blarney Castle, Spike Island Tour Cork
Day 6 Explore the Rock of Cashel, Visit Kilkenny Castle Dublin
Day 7 Tour Dublin's Medieval Quarter, Guinness Storehouse Dublin
Day 8 Depart Dublin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, City Tour

A view towards an old bridge in Dublin city
Dublin is a great city to explore day and night 

Welcome to Ireland! After arriving at Dublin Airport, transfer to your accommodation in the city and get checked in. In this fun, feel-good city, why not get the ball rolling with a visit to the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street to enjoy a 40-minute tasting tour of various blended whiskeys? Here, you'll also learn all about the complex distillation process that the distillery has been using for over two centuries to produce this iconic Irish product.

Then, see Ireland's capital through the lens of a Dubliner, weaving through the streets on a two-hour walking tour with a local historian. Highlights include the statue of James Joyce, O'Connell Bridge, the Olympia Theatre, Dublin Castle, and Christ Church Cathedral. You'll also be sure to scope out Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin's most famous landmark. For a traditional night of hearty Dublin food, craft beer (Rye's Irish Red Ale is a must-try), and brilliant Irish music, make for Darkey Kelly's Bar on the city's oldest roadway of Fishamble Street

Day 2: Connemara National Park

The hiking trail at the top of Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park
The hiking trail at the top of Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park

Collect your rental car this morning and set off across the country, traveling from the east coast to the west coast to reach Connemara National Park, which covers almost 7,413 acres (3,000 ha) of mountains, lakes, and woodlands, all ripe for exploring. No matter the time of year, Connemara's extraordinary landscape reacts to the changing light and weather from the wild Atlantic Ocean. The must-do activity here is to hike up Diamond Hill for astounding views over County Galway's countryside, and don't miss a visit to the magnificent Kylemore Abbey, which sits grandly on the shores of a calm lake. 

Your final stop for today is the arts-loving city of Galway. Get checked in to your base for the night, then head out to soak up the atmosphere of Galway's vibrant streets, browse quirky bookshops, and check out lively local bars such as An Pucan, Garavan's Bar, and Buddha Bar

Day 3: Explore Galway, "The Quiet Man" Movie Walking Tour

The bustling streets of lively Galway
The colorful streets of lively Galway
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There's time today to explore Galway at your own pace. Take a stroll through the Latin Quarter, which brims with boutique stores, restaurants, and some of Galway's most beloved pubs and live music venues. Walk under the Spanish Arch, once visited by Christopher Columbus, and check out the traditional Claddagh Village, renowned for its romantic Claddagh ring design.

If you've watched the classic movie "The Quiet Man," you'll be thrilled to know that this 1952 American romantic comedy-drama was filmed in and around Galway. Take an award-winning hour-long walking tour around Cong village and see the original movie locations, including Innisfree, Pat Cohan's Bar, the Dying Man's house, and Reverend Playfair's house. 

Day 4: Kinsale, Cobh, Cork City

Port Cobh
Wander the charming port of Cobh

Today's route takes you to picturesque County Cork in the south of Ireland. Head to the pretty port of Cobh, which was the Titanic's last port of call in 1912, before traveling on to the coastal 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 at Dino's restaurant. 

Then it's time to hit the bright lights of cosmopolitan Cork, a handsome, compact city where life is centered around the sea. After check-in and freshening up, explore the Huguenot Quarter—a buzzy matrix of streets and lanes breaking off French Church Street. Make a late evening visit to Cashmans Bar or Cork's local favorite, the tiny Hi-B, where mobile phones are banned to encourage great conversation.

Day 5: Visit Blarney Castle, Spike Island Tour

View looking up at Blarney Castle
Kiss the famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle

Set off today for a tour of the 15th-century Blarney Castle and discover what everyone has been talking about—quite literally. This famed castle contains one of Ireland's greatest treasures: the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that anyone who kisses the stone receives the "gift of the gab" (the gift of eloquence), so climb to the top of the castle's tower, lean back and kiss the stone, and see if you catch some of its magic. Also, leave time to explore the folklore at the castle's Rock Close, where you'll find fairy rings, wishing steps, a witch's kitchen, and druid caves.

If you're still raring to go, drive back to Cobh and board the ferry to Spike Island. In the last 1,300 years, this Cork Harbour island has been host to a seventh-century monastery, a 24-acre (10 ha) fortress, and the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times. Today, it is dominated by the 200-year-old star-shaped fortress of Fort Mitchel. Catch the return ferry and make the short drive back to Cork for a second night. 

Day 6: Explore The Rock of Cashel, Visit Kilkenny Castle

The Rock of Cashel surrounded by green fields
The Rock of Cashel is a particularly scenic stop on the drive back to Dublin
On the drive from Cork to Dublin, consider making a stop at the Rock of Cashel. This iconic ecclesiastical site offers a jaunt through the past with its collection of medieval buildings and gives wonderful views over the surrounding lush green fields. Drive on for a guided tour of Kilkenny Castle, a jewel in the crown of Kilkenny, built by one of the greatest couples in medieval Europe: Sir William Marshall, known as "the best knight that ever lived," and his wife Isabel de Clare. When you arrive in Dublin, you're free to return your rental car, as tomorrow, you'll be able to explore the city in more depth on foot. 

Day 7: Tour Dublin's Medieval Quarter, Guinness Storehouse

Horse-drawn carts and a sign for the Guinness Storehouse
Try Ireland's most famous tipple at the Guinness Storehouse

Back in Dublin, explore the city's Medieval Quarter with a guide. The first stop is a visit to St. Audoen's Church, the oldest parish church in Ireland, which offers amazing views of the city from its bell tower. Then head inside the magnificent Christ Church Cathedral—make sure to go down into the stunning crypts, which hold effigies of knights and lords and relics of other saints and historical figures.

If you're a fan of Ireland's most popular tipple—or have yet to try it—a visit to the Guinness Storehouse will introduce you to the history, heart, and soul of Guinness. Explore the story of this iconic stout across the seven floors before taking in the 360-degree views of Dublin from the Gravity Bar.

Day 8: Depart Dublin

A bright red bar in Dublin's Temple Bar
Time to bid farewell to Dublin's city streets

Take in one last view of Dublin's characterful streets and tuck into a hearty Irish breakfast to set you on your way before heading back to the airport. Slán go fóill (bye for now)!

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Map of Ireland's Beautiful Cities: Dublin, Galway & Cork - 8 Days
Map of Ireland's Beautiful Cities: Dublin, Galway & Cork - 8 Days