Adventure, history, and nature await on this 11-day itinerary covering Ireland's eastern coast into Northern Ireland. Start your journey with a road trip from Dublin to Londonderry / Derry, stopping at places like Cooley Peninsula and Belfast. The second part of the trip is all about hiking, so lace up your walking shoes and immerse yourself in the verdant and breathtaking natural beauty of the Wicklow Mountains.


  • Explore the ancient sites and monuments in the Cooley Peninsula 
  • Stroll around the history-rich city of Northern Ireland's Belfast 
  • Visit the other-worldly Giant's Causeway 
  • Hike through the scenic Wicklow Mountains

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, Drive to Cooley Peninsula & Carlingford Carlingford
Day 2 Drive to Northern Ireland's Belfast, Explore Belfast
Day 3 Drive to Giant's Causeway & the Antrim Coast Portstewart
Day 4 Drive into Ireland's Donegal County Around Inishowen Peninsula Letterkenny
Day 5 Explore Glenveagh National Park Letterkenny
Day 6 Drive to Londonderry / Derry Londonderry (Derry)
Day 7 Return to Dublin, Bus to Laragh Laragh
Day 8 Transfer to Roundwood & Hike Laragh
Day 9 Glendalough Trail  Laragh
Day 10 Glenmalure Hike Laragh
Day 11 Transfer to Dublin, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Drive to Cooley Peninsula & Carlingford

Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford
Set off for the Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford

Upon arrival in Dublin, collect your car rental and leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind you as you travel to the small, remote, and scenic Cooley Peninsula. Steeped in Irish mythology and stories of the famous Cú Chulainn and the Cattle Raid of Cooley, the Cooley Peninsula is a hub of ancient sites and monuments. Among them is the Proleek Dolmen, with its massive capstone, Slieve Foye mountain, views of the Mourne Mountains, picnic spots, and Blue Flag beaches. In the evening, you'll stay in the coastal town of Carlingford.

Day 2: Drive to Northern Ireland's Belfast, Explore

The modern museum Titanic Belfast is one of the city's top attractions
The modern museum, Titanic Belfast

Today, explore Belfast's dynamic and energetic city at your own pace. Whether you're a history buff, foodie, hiker, and/or pub enthusiast, everyone will find something to love about the city. Start with a relaxing morning stroll through the City Hall's gardens. Or, for something more challenging, hike to Cave Hill Country Park for panoramic views of the city and coastline. If you're after culture, visit the sleek multimedia museum, Titanic Belfast, and its surrounding quarter, or check out the Ulster Museum and learn about Northern Ireland's art, history, and natural science.

Take a break and dine on local food for lunch at St George's Market, which has been there since 1604 and is located in a charming Victorian building. Finish the afternoon by meandering the streets around Queen's University Belfast, discovering hip shops and cafés. In the evening, relax in a cozy pub in the Cathedral Quarter and enjoy a taste of the city's thriving nightlife.

Day 3: Drive to Giant's Causeway & the Antrim Coast

Walk along the UNESCO-listed Giant's Causeway
The UNESCO-listed Giant's Causeway

The next leg of your road trip is the stunning Antrim Coastline, where you'll have the opportunity to explore fascinating sights like Dunluce Castle, Fair Head, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Portrush, and Mussenden Temple at your own pace. Fans of the "Game of Thrones" series will want to keep a lookout for the numerous dramatic and other-worldly filming locations along this scenic route.

Another highlight of today's adventure is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Giant's Causeway. The iconic rock formation consists of roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, resulting from an ancient volcanic eruption nearly 60 million years ago. After marveling at this coastal wonder, continue driving west to the beautiful harbor town of Portstewart for the night. Take an invigorating beach walk along the Portstewart Strand, and then choose a seaside restaurant for dinner.

Day 4: Drive into Ireland's Donegal County Around Inishowen Peninsula

Glengesh Pass Donegal
Glengesh Pass, Donegal

After breakfast, you'll leave Northern Ireland behind as you cross into the Irish county of Donegal. Follow a signposted driving route around the stunning Inishowen Peninsula, a particularly spectacular section of the scenic Wild Atlantic Way. The coastal road passes through many tourist attractions and hidden gems on the peninsula, such as Malin Head—Ireland's most northerly point—and the beautiful Inishowen Head Lighthouse.

Continue along the coast to reach your overnight base: the pretty harborside cathedral town of Letterkenny.

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Day 5: Explore Glenveagh National Park

Hike through the wilds of Glenveagh National Park.
See the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle
Today, you'll head to Glenveagh National Park—just under 40,000 acres (16,187 ha) of pristine, protected nature in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains. After breakfast, set out to explore its deep glens, picturesque lakes, and dense forests, home to herds of red deer. End your wanderings at the eastern edge of Lough Beagh, where the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle sits on the grounds of exotic and rare plants. 

Day 6: Drive to Londonderry / Derry

Irish Music Festival Derry City
Irish Music Festival, Londonderry / Derry

After breakfast, you'll depart Letterkenny and arrive in the historic city of Londonderry / Derry, the only city in Northern Ireland with its medieval walls still intact. This vibrant city is rich in both culture and history. Walking the walls is a great way to explore both old and recent history, as well as offering great views of the city, and it takes around one hour. Derry has many lively bars and restaurants, making it the perfect location for an overnight stay. 

Day 7: Return to Dublin, Bus to Laragh

Take a scenic bus journey to Laragh today to start your hiking adventure
After a hearty breakfast in Londonderry, make your way back to the capital and return your car rental. You'll take a public bus to Laragh, a village in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, which will be your home for the next four nights. 

Day 8: Transfer to Roundwood & Hike

Hike to Roundwood
Set off on your first day of hiking from Roundwood
For your first hike in the Wicklow area, you'll be transferred to the village of Roundwood. From here, walk over Paddock Hill and make your way back to Laragh at the entrance to the valley of Glendalough. Today's walk takes you around the perimeter of the Barton Estate before taking a detour from the Wicklow Way to the top of Scarr Mountain. From here, descend by an old mass path—a track frequently used by rural communities, traditionally leading to a church celebrating Sunday mass—to your overnight accommodation in Laragh.

Day 9: Glendalough Trail

An ancient Irish forest along the Wicklow Way

Today is all about exploring this beautiful region. From the village, you can follow a lovely trail through forestry to reach Glendalough. Here, you can explore the old monastic town that was once a hive of activity over 1,500 years ago. This beautifully tranquil place offers a wonderful opportunity to explore more of the surrounding landscape while also taking the time to soak in the historical remains that abound in this region.

There are a number of marked hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties to choose from within the valley. Enjoy a challenging hike to the viewing point overlooking the beautiful lakes in the valley or a gentle stroll along the lakeshore to soak up the flora and fauna. 

Day 10: Glenmalure Hike

Hike the Wicklow Way near Upper Lake

From Laragh, walk into the valley of Glendalough before climbing to cross over into the valley of Glenmalure. On this walk, follow an old green road near the Upper Lake before passing Pól An Eas Waterfall and up the steep steps to the Spink. From here, you'll be greeted with a bird's-eye view of Glendalough and the Upper Lake. From the Spink, continue over the shoulder of Lugduff mountain to the pass of Borenacrow

Descending into Glenmalure—with its brilliant views of the valley and Lugnaquilla, the highest mountain in County Wicklow—you'll finish your walk at the pub in Glenmalure. From here, you'll be transferred back to Laragh for your final overnight stay.

Day 11: Transfer to Dublin, Depart 

Bid Dublin farewell
Today is your last day! When the time comes, you'll be transferred by taxi to Dublin airport, where you'll bid the Emerald Isle farewell. Safe travels!

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Map of Northern & East Ireland Road Trip & Hike - 11 Days
Map of Northern & East Ireland Road Trip & Hike - 11 Days