This road trip is the perfect introduction to some of Ireland's best-known sights and hikes, with a few off-the-beaten-path gems featured along the way. Over nine days, you'll explore the Emerald Isle's wild landscapes on breathtaking drives and fresh-air walks. Big names include the Cliffs of Moher, the Wicklow Way, and the Ring of Kerry, but there's equal joy to be found in strolling quaint towns or settling down in a traditional pub for an evening of folk music.


  • Walk part of the Wicklow Way to Glendalough 
  • Drive the Ring of Kerry and The Skellig Ring
  • Hike the incredible Cliffs of Moher 
  • Explore Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, Historical Walking Tour Dublin
Day 2 Wicklow Way Hike Laragh
Day 3 Glendalough, Rock of Cashel, Cork City Cork
Day 4 Killarney Town & National Park Killarney
Day 5 The Ring of Kerry & The Skellig Ring Killarney
Day 6 Dingle Town, Conor Pass & Slea Head Drive Dingle Town
Day 7 Doolin, Hike the Cliffs of Moher Doolin
Day 8 Galway City, The Aran Islands Galway
Day 9 Back to Dublin & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Historical Walking Tour

Dublin's Mellows Bridge reflected in the river
Dublin is a great city to explore on foot

Céad míle fáilte and welcome to Ireland! Your visit begins in the capital city of Dublin. After arriving at Dublin Airport, head to your hotel and settle in before taking a Dublin walking tour led by a local guide. This centuries-old city has a fascinating history, dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century and perhaps even earlier.

This tour will go into the heart of Dublin's Medieval Quarter, where the 1,000-year-old Christ Church Cathedral can be found. Discover the 18th-century architecture of Georgian Dublin, which peppers the city and can be seen in its most impressive form at Dublin Castle.

Day 2: Wicklow Way Hike

Ruins of Glendalough monastic site and lake
Hike a section of the Wicklow Way from Oldbridge to Glendalough

Collect your rental car this morning and drive for around an hour to reach Oldbridge, where you can hike a section of the Wicklow Way—Ireland's first, possibly most scenic, long-distance trail that runs for 83 miles (132 km) and crosses the Wicklow Mountains. This relatively short section of the Wicklow Way is one of the easier parts to tackle. It takes you from Oldbridge to beautiful Glendalough along a mix of quiet country roads, trails, and forest trails.

Walk as much or as little of the route as you like before returning to Oldbridge to jump in the car for the short 10-minute drive to the small picturesque village of Laragh, where you will overnight. 

Day 3: Glendalough, Rock of Cashel, Cork City

An elevated ecclesastical site
Make a stop at The Rock of Cashel en route to Cork

Take a while this morning to explore Glendalough, a remarkable glacial valley known for its tranquil twin lakes and early medieval monastic settlement. Go on a short hike to peer into St Kevin's Bed, a small cave in the rock, and see a cascading waterfall while enjoying this particularly peaceful place. Next, hop in the car and drive for around two hours to the Rock of Cashel. This iconic ecclesiastical site offers a jaunt through the past with its collection of medieval buildings and gives sweeping views over the surrounding lush green fields. 

Then it's time to make your way southwest to Cork, a compact city where life is very much centered around the sea. After checking in to your hotel, explore the Huguenot Quarter—a buzzy matrix of streets and lanes breaking off French Church Street. Visit the brilliantly quirky Cork Butter Museum, which tells the story of Ireland's butter trade. A short stroll away, see the City Centre Elizabeth Fort—an imposing Tudor defensive fortification where you can walk along the high walls to enjoy panoramic views of Cork City. In the evening, make for Cashman's Bar or Cork's local favorite, the tiny Hi-B.

Day 4: Killarney Town & National Park

A tony stone bridge backed by lakes and mountains
Explore the Gap of Dunloe

Today, drive west to the beautifully preserved town of Killarney, and take some time to explore its amazing sights. Drive up the mountains to see the famed Gap of Dunloe, or connect with nature in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Killarney National Park, where you can see the cascading Torc Waterfall and fill your lungs with fresh air along the hiking trails into the Black Valley.

For a castle adventure, look no farther than the medieval Ross Castle, which is straight out of a fairy tale thanks to its lakeside location. Visit the 19th-century Muckross House, which includes sprawling gardens, a calming tea house, and an ancient yew tree in the cloisters, which is believed to be 700 years old. This evening, settle in at a local pub for dinner and overnight in Killarney. 

Day 5: The Ring of Kerry & The Skellig Ring  

Group of people faraway on a wild beach
The Skellig Coast is often overlooked 
Plan your trip to Ireland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Experience one of Ireland's most stunning and iconic drives today—the 100-mile-long (179 km) Ring of Kerry—but with an added exciting twist: The Skellig Ring, a wilder, little-known extension of the route. This is one of Ireland's great drives. It has everything from mountain passes and steep clifftop-hugging roads to quaint villages offering delicious food, relaxing drinks, and a friendly smile. This is about driving in total freedom at your own pace. There is no timetable for the Ring of Kerry; it's not a race but a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Day 6: Dingle Town, Conor Pass & Slea Head Drive

A coastal road by crashing waves
Roadside sightseeing comes easy on the Slea Head Drive

Today, take the northern coastal route to reach Dingle via the Conor Pass. A spin along the Conor Pass is a breathtaking experience in many ways—at 1,300 feet (410 m) above sea level, it's one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland. If you're driving in Ireland for the first time, don't worry—although this road may seem daunting, if you take your time, you'll be fine. There's a spectacular view from here over the valley below, as well as a great stop on top of the pass and a staggering view. Keep an eye out for the pull-in area (it's on the Dingle Town side), and you'll be able to park and admire the scenery.

Continue to the harbor village of Ventry and clockwise along the Slea Head Drive—a 30-mile (46 km) scenic loop. With views out to the Blasket Islands and popular stops, including sandy Coumenoole Beach, you're in for a treat. On the way back, stop at the Gallarus Oratory—a remarkably preserved historic beehive chapel. Popular Dingle Town retains the charm of a fishing village, and it's a lovely place to spend a night, with fabulous restaurants and lively traditional music in the many bars like Dick Mack's and Dingle Whiskey Bar

Day 7: Doolin Village, Hike the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher at sunset
A mesmerizing sunset over the Cliffs of Moher

Your destination today is the traditional music town of Doolin, the gateway to the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, and the Aran Islands. You'll check in at your hotel, then head for one of Ireland's most iconic sights on a coastal hike up to the Cliffs of Moher. These awe-inspiring cliffs run for 5 miles (8 km) along the dramatic coastline, and it feels as though they are on the edge of the world.

Take the dizzying coastal path from Doolin Harbour to the village of Liscannor, which runs across the cliffs. Spot the Aran Islands and Galway Bay in the distance, take in the panoramic views from O'Brien's Tower, and marvel at the Maumturk mountain range. A guide is available, so whether you strike out on your own or let a local guide you, you'll experience Ireland's most famed landscape. After working up an appetite, head back into Doolin for dinner—those looking to try traditional Irish dishes like stews, vegetable soup and soda bread, and potato cakes will find endless pickings here. 

Day 8: Galway City, The Aran Islands  

Aerial view of green fields on Inishmore
Catch a boat to the traditional island of Inishmore

Make an early start and drive north around the bay to Galway City, the bohemian capital of Ireland known for its arts, street theater, live music, and eye-catching streets. Continue on to Rossaveal on Connemara's rugged coast, where you can catch the boat to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, where traditional Irish culture is strong.

Head out for a trek along small paths and walking roads. Visit ancient Christian churches and settlements, but ultimately the day's destination is the prehistoric fort of Dun Aonghasa, right on the edge of the highest cliffs on the island. After the return sailing to Rossaveal, head back to Galway and check in to your hotel. Then venture out for dinner and catch a traditional music session in a pub—Taaffes Bar is popular for great Guinness and nightly music, or try traditional An Pucan in the heart of the city. 

Day 9: Back to Dublin & Depart

A red pub in Temple Bar
Depart from Dublin and hope to return soon

Enjoy one final day of scenic driving as you make your way from the west coast across the center of the country and back to Dublin to drop off your rental car. Then it's farewell for now, as you transfer to the airport to take your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Ireland's Scenic Hikes & Drives - 9 Days
Map of Ireland's Scenic Hikes & Drives - 9 Days