Discover the scenic highlights of Northern Ireland on this well-rounded road trip. Starting in the ancient streets of Dublin, you'll set off by car to tour wild coastlines and charming towns at your own pace. Explore historic Belfast, cross famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, and wander through the medieval city of Londonderry before driving back to the capital city, where the trip ends.

Highlights

  • Experience Dublin's charming cobblestone streets
  • Marvel at natural wonders on Giant's Causeway
  • Wander through the medieval walled city of Londonderry
  • Drive along the scenic Wild Atlantic Way
  • Visit the windswept Inishowen Head Lighthouse near Malin Head

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin - Explore Dublin
Day 2 Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford Carlingford
Day 3 Explore the historic city of Belfast Belfast
Day 4 Giant's Causeway & the Antrim Coast Portstewart
Day 5 Inishowen Peninsula Londonderry (Derry)
Day 6 Derry/Londonderry to Dublin Londonderry (Derry)
Day 7 Departure Dublin

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin - Explore

The colorful streets of Dublin's Temple Bar.
The colorful streets of Dublin's Temple Bar

Welcome to Ireland!  After arriving at the airport, you'll make your way to Dublin's bustling city center and find your hotel. After checking in, head out and start exploring.  The city is steeped in history and offers an abundance of activities, including museums and memorials, as well as restaurants, cafes, cathedrals, and churches. Each site shares a slice of insight into what makes Dublin such a special city. Suggested activities include:

  • Temple Bar is at the heart of the city, filled with a buzz only felt in Ireland. Wander the cobblestone streets and follow the sound of traditional music wafting from the pubs and restaurants. Stop for a Guinness or some fish and chips along the way.

  • No visit to Dublin is complete without a stop at the Guinness Storehouse. This site continues to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, and you'll see why as soon as you step foot into the factory. Learn how the popular beer has been brewed for centuries and enjoy a pint at the top with panoramic views of the city.

  • If the weather is nice, take a stroll around tranquil St. Stephen's Green. End your walk along Grafton Street for a little retail therapy or to grab dinner at one of the many cafes lining the side streets.

  • Walk the historic campus of Trinity College Dublin and stop to see the famous Book of Kells, which dates back to 800 CE.

Day 2: Cooley Peninsula and Carlingford

Sweeping views over the Cooley Peninsula

Today you will pick up your rental car and travel to the remote and scenic Cooley Peninsula. Steeped in Irish mythology, the peninsula contains ancient sites and monuments including the Proleek Dolmen—a portal tomb—as well as natural wonders like the mountain of Slieve Foye and the beaches of Blue Flag. Your overnight stay for the evening will be in the coastal town of Carlingford.

Day 3: Explore the historic city of Belfast

The Titanic Exhibition in Belfast

Today you'll sightsee in Belfast. Whether you're a history buff or a foodie, a hiker or pub enthusiast, you'll find something to love about this city.

Suggested activities include:

  • Take a walk through the gardens at City Hall.
  • Go back in time at the Titanic Exhibition, one of the city's most popular attractions.
  • Learn about the country's recent history with a black cab tour and visit the Peace Wall.
  • Stretch your legs by hiking up to Cave Hill Country Park for panoramic views of the city and the coastline.
  • Enjoy local foods at St. George's Market.
  • Visit the Ulster Museum and learn all about the region of Northern Ireland.
  • Meander the streets around Queen's University Belfast, discovering hipster shops and cafes.

After a day of exploring, relax in a pub with a pint and enjoy Belfast's nightlife. Favorite pubs include The Dirty Onion and the Duke of York.

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Day 4: Giant's Causeway & the Antrim Coast

The basalt columns of Giant's Causeway.
The basalt columns of Giant's Causeway

The Antrim Coastline is the next leg of your journey, and you'll have the opportunity to visit fascinating sights like Dunluce Castle, Fair Head, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Portrush, Mussenden Temple, and Portstewart Strand as you follow the scenic route. "Game of Thrones" fans will recognize many sights along this route as filming locations from the series.

Today's highlight is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Giant's Causeway. The iconic rock formation consists of roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption nearly 60 million years ago. After marveling at this coastal wonder, continue west to the beautiful harbor town of Portstewart, your base for the night.

Day 5: Inishowen Peninsula

Views across Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula.
Views across Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula

After breakfast, you'll leave Portstewart 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 pointand the beautiful Inishowen Head Lighthouse.

Day 6: Derry/Londonderry to Dublin

A quiet street in medieval Londonderry

After an overnight in Londonderry (also known as Derry), get out to explore the only city in Ireland with its full medieval walls still intact. This vibrant city is rich in culture and history. Walking the perimeter, around the walls, takes around an hour. Stop for a beer in a local pub before traveling back to Dublin for one last night in the capital.

Day 7: Departure

Today, after breakfast, you will take a taxi or bus to Dublin Airport and bid the Emerald Isle farewell. Safe travels!