- See the Gothic and Romanesque-style architecture of the medieval Rock of Cashel
- Traverse the open ocean via cable car to the shores of Dursey Island
- Take in the dramatic coastlines atop the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher
- Indulge in a traditional Irish whiskey tasting at the historic Jameson Distillery
|Day 1||Arrive in Dublin, Explore Dublin||Dublin|
|Day 2||Drive to Cork, Rock of Cashel||Cork|
|Day 3||Drive to Kenmare, Sheep's Head Loop||Kenmare|
|Day 4||Gleninchaquin Park, Beara Way, Dursey Island||Kenmare|
|Day 5||Drive to Dingle, Ring of Kerry||Dingle Town|
|Day 6||Free Day in Dingle||Dingle Town|
|Day 7||Drive to Doolin, Cliffs of Moher||Doolin|
|Day 8||Drive to Galway, Explore Galway||Galway|
|Day 9||Connemara National Park, Drive to Clifden||Clifden|
|Day 10||Sky Road Biking & Hiking, Drive to Westport||Westport|
|Day 11||Achill Island||Westport|
|Day 12||Drive to Donegal, Mayo & Ceide Fields, Moyne Abbey||Donegal|
|Day 13||Slieve League, Drive to Dublin||Dublin|
|Day 14||Explore More of Dublin, Jameson Distillery Tour||Dublin|
|Day 15||Depart Dublin|
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Explore Dublin
Welcome to Ireland! After arriving at Dublin airport, transfer to your accommodation and get checked in, then head out to explore some of the amazing things Dublin has to offer. This centuries-old city has a fascinating history, dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century and perhaps even earlier. Modern Dublin is a vibrant, bustling hub with plenty to see and do.
Of course, it wouldn't be a visit to Dublin without checking out the pubs! This evening, visit some of Dublin's most historic pubs and enjoy more libations and traditional Irish food. Stop in at Darkey Kelly's, named after the infamous 18th-century bordello madam, where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks. Then head to the Temple Bar neighborhood, an energetic district that is home to one of Ireland's most well-known pubs, The Temple Bar Pub. In business since the 1800s and featuring food, drinks, and 24/7 live music, food, this is a great place to grab a pint and relax to the sounds of local musicians.
Day 2: Drive to Cork, Rock of Cashel
Pick up your rental car this morning and travel to Cork, Ireland's southern hub and second-largest city, located 161 miles (259 km) from Dublin. Along the way, make a few scenic stops for photo ops and sightseeing. Visit the Rock of Dunamase, located about an hour outside of the city, where you'll find the ruins of Dunamase Castle, an old Norman stronghold. And about halfway into your journey, you'll reach the town of Cashel, where you can see the Rock of Cashel, a medieval site that includes Gothic and Romanesque-style buildings, as well as a 12th-century round tower.
From here, continue to Cork, otherwise known as the "Rebel City"—a nickname that stems from its prominence in the country's struggle for independence in the 1900s. Once you've gotten settled, take a self-guided walking tour, starting with a stroll across the River Lee, and a walk along the Georgian avenues and 17th-century alleys. Visit the Church of St Anne, built in the 1700s and a noted landmark, and ring the Bells of Shandon while taking in views of the city. You can also head to the English Market, a large covered market space with vendors offering fresh produce, meat, fish, and takeaway food.
Day 3: Drive to Kenmare, Sheep's Head Loop
Today you'll set off on your first official drive of the Wild Atlantic Way, traveling along this coastal scenic route and stopping off at towns such as Kinsale and Clonakilty, where you can stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat, eventually arriving in the town of Bantry. From here, you'll take the scenic loop around the Sheep's Head Peninsula, a narrow finger of land that protrudes out into the Atlantic and is considered to be one of Ireland's most scenic drives.
This 43-mile (70 km) loop takes in the entire peninsula, with fantastic ocean views on both sides. The drive doesn't take long, but you'll definitely want to stop several times for photo ops, as well as take a stroll around Sheep’s Head Lighthouse, which overlooks the southern tip of Bantry Bay. Afterward, continue to the heritage town of Kenmare, which marks the gateway to the Ring of Kerry. This peaceful town sits against the backdrop of some of Ireland's most stunning views, offering not only outdoor activities such as hiking and biking but also excellent restaurants, art galleries, and shopping.
You can stroll the town and take in some of the local flavors, or rent bikes to tour the gorgeous countryside. And for insight into the region's history, visit Bonane Heritage Park, an archaeological site that includes an ancient ring fort and stone circle. Nearby, you'll also find the ruins of Cappanacuss Castle, originally built in the 1400s, now partially consumed by the forest that surrounds it.
Day 4: Gleninchaquin Park, Beara Way, Dursey Island
Drive to Gleninchaquin Park, located about 30 minutes from Kenmare. The route takes you along the Beara Peninsula, which offers more breathtaking scenery and ocean views. The park, which is privately owned and part of a working farm, is an oasis of natural and historic beauty, with walking trails, waterfalls, and lakes. There are several trails to choose from, with options to hike to the waterfall, walk the farm loop, or head into the high ridges of the Caha Mountains. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase refreshments from the park's owners.
Not far from the park, you'll find Uragh Stone Circle, a 2,500-year-old Bronze Age site with boulder burials and a large stone circle. From here, you'll continue along the peninsula to the Ring of Beara, where you can drive around the area and see its fantastic scenery or stop for a hike at Beara Way, a trail that takes you along the peninsula and spans 128 miles (206 km).
If you're feeling adventurous, continue to the town of Ballaghboy and hop on a cable car that takes you across the ocean and to Dursey Island. Strong tides here make boat crossings unsafe, so those wishing to go to the island travel across open seawater, a quick and thrilling ride of about 10 minutes. While Dursey has only a few human residents, you'll find a plethora of feathered inhabitants, making the island quite a bird-watching paradise. Not too excited about a cable car across the sea? The nearby town of Castletownbere offers a ferry service to the island of Bere, which also has walking trails and birdlife.
Day 5: Drive to Dingle, Ring of Kerry
Today's adventure takes you off the beaten track to unlock the wonders of the world-famous Ring of Kerry. Considered one of the most beautiful destinations to explore in Ireland, this route will offer you dramatic landscapes of wild rugged coastline, golden beaches, glistening lakes, picturesque villages, and spectacular mountain ranges.
Start with the Derrynane Loop Walk, a moderate 5.5-mile (9 km) route around Derrynane National Park near Caherdaniel. This walking route follows some of the old pilgrimage routes and passes through the hillside woodland above the Derrynane Blue Flag Beach and Derrynane House, the ancestral home of the famed Irish statesman Daniel O'Connell. From here, continue on, making a stop in Castlemaine for lunch and to see the remains of the castle the village is named for, or visit nearby Dhu Varren Garden, considered to be one of the largest plant collections of any private garden in Ireland.
Your final destination today is the port village of Dingle, which sits on the picturesque Dingle Peninsula. Known for its music, Dingle is a lively village with plenty of great restaurants and pubs. Instrumentalists and singers from across the country often congregate here, so once you've gotten settled at your hotel, step out and enjoy an evening of traditional Irish music at one of the many locations around town.
Day 6: Free Day in Dingle
Discover more of Dingle, starting with a walk around town, where you can visit the numerous art galleries and shops. Stop by the Gallarus Oratory, a church that dates back more than 1,000 years, with an immaculately preserved interior and exterior. And if you're a "Star Wars" fan, be sure to visit the cliffs of Sybil Head, where some of the franchise was filmed, and take a walk along the nearby coastal hills, known as the Three Sisters and offering beautiful views.
Later, you can take a guided boat tour to the Blasket Islands or take a ferry for the 20-minute crossing and explore on your own. You can also find kayak rentals for cruising around Dingle Harbour, as well as horseback riding tours through the endless greenery of the countryside. If you'd prefer to stay closer to shore, take a tour of Dingle Distillery, where you'll learn the history and creation of their local whiskies and other spirits.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Drive to Doolin, Cliffs of MoherYour journey continues to the far western edge of Europe and the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. Forming a protective barrier from the Wild Atlantic Way to the rich and fertile land at the southern end of the Burren region, these iconic cliffs run for 5 miles (8 km) along the dramatic coastline. Their towering dominance is best appreciated on foot, so take the morning to explore their wild beauty with a gentle hike—and make sure to bring your camera!
After lunch, make your way to the nearby village of Doolin, where you can visit Doolin Caves, a labyrinth that takes you down 125 steps and back in time more than 350 million years. The caves descend into a large cathedral, where you'll see the largest stalactite in all of Europe. You can also head just a few minutes out of town for a horseback riding tour that takes you along peaceful roadways and into the Burren, a rocky and somewhat otherworldly landscape. Tonight, take in some of the live music Doolin is known for alongside a traditional Irish meal.
Day 8: Drive to Galway, Explore Galway
It's back to the bustling city as you head north to Galway. This maritime medieval town was once controlled by 14 merchant families known as The Tribes. Today, it's considered the bohemian capital of Ireland, prized for its art, street performances, live music, and buildings painted in primary colors. Get situated at your hotel, then take a self-guided walking tour of this phenomenal city. Stroll up the High Street and stop at one of the many stores selling local crafts or cafés offering endless pots of tea, and if you happen to be here on a weekend, you'll find busy farmers' markets nearby.
Then, walk the Salt Hill Promenade, which takes you to Galway Bay and offers views of the Burren in the distance. Visit the Claddagh Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Claddagh, a traditional Irish wedding ring that originated in Galway. And you definitely won't want to miss out on the live music Galway is known for, so later today, stop in at local hotspots such as Taaffes Bar, Crane Bar, or Tigh Coili.
Day 9: Connemara National Park, Drive to Clifden
Drive to the beautiful Connemara region, located west of Galway on the most westerly seaboard of Europe. Here, you'll experience breathtaking scenery, a rugged, pristine coastline, and the wonders of Connemara National Park, where you'll find mountains, rivers, and quaint villages. Start on the road to Maam Cross, stopping at Aughnanure Castle, once the seat of the fierce warlike clan, The O'Flaherty's. Then visit Kylemore Abbey and see its stunning Victorian walled garden.
Once you reach the park, you'll hike Diamond Hill. The hike only takes about an hour, and you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the park and surrounding areas. Afterward, make your way to Clifden, the largest town in the region, for your overnight. Often referred to as "the Capital of Connemara," Clifden is a popular tourist destination and is considered one of the best places to stay when exploring Connemara.
Stroll the city streets and visit the many galleries, cafés, restaurants, and bars, or visit Errislannan Manor, a working Connemara pony breeding farm that offers guided riding tours along the beach and up into the hills. You should also make a point to see Clifden Castle, with its magnificent turrets built in the Roman Gothic style.
Day 10: Sky Road Biking & Hiking, Drive to Westport
Tour the Sky Road via bike, a 10-mile (16 km) loop that takes you along the Kingston Peninsula and part of the Wild Atlantic Way driving route (you do also have the option to drive if you'd prefer). Take the quiet country road out of Clifden, which overlooks Clifden Bay to the south and Streamstown Bay to the north, with spectacular views of the Atlantic, the islands of Inishturk, Turbot, Clifden Town, and the ruins of Clifden Castle. The tour follows the coastline of Streamstown Bay, a relatively flat terrain that eventually takes you back to Clifden.
Day 11: Achill Island
Escape to Achill Island today, where you can spend the day discovering the delights of this remarkable place—exploring its pristine Blue Flag beaches, searching for hidden coves, and enjoying the sight of grazing sheep along the hills. Spend some time at Keem Bay, which is surrounded by rugged cliffs and clear blue waters full of marine life, and take a stroll through the deserted village of Slievemore, which consists of more than 80 old stone cottages sitting on the southern slopes of Slievemore Mountain. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, or surfboards for water fun.
Day 12: Drive to Donegal, Mayo & Ceide Fields, Moyne Abbey
Depart from Westport and head to the north coast of Mayo and Ceide Fields—a 5,500-year-old Neolithic site. Nearby, you can go for a windswept coastal walk that will lead you to Downpatrick Head, where Saint Patrick is believed to have founded a church. For even more history, you can continue on to the ruins of Moyne Abbey, a 560-year-old friary that includes a church, tower, and cloisters.
Day 13: Slieve League, Drive to Dublin
Continue along the wilds of Donegal until you reach the magnificent cliffs of Slieve League. To fully enjoy the spectacle of this breathtaking scenery, it is best to leave your car at the parking area and walk to the cliffs so as to fully appreciate the views. You'll be surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Sligo Mountains, and Donegal Bay as you walk toward the terrifyingly high top of Sliabh Liag, where the cliff face of Bunglas rises nearly 2,000 feet (600 m) above the raging ocean. Experienced walkers only should venture beyond the viewing point onto One Man's Pass, which loops around onto the Pilgrim's Path.
Day 14: Explore More of Dublin, Jameson Distillery Tour
Today you have the chance to see any of the Dublin sights you might have missed earlier in the trip. Visit EPIC, The Irish Immigration Museum, which showcases the history of the Irish people and how they've contributed to the world through art, music, sports, and science. You can also see the National Gallery of Ireland, a museum with a collection of works from Irish painter Jack B Yeats, or the National Museum of Ireland for more insight into the country's history.
Whiskey aficionados will love the one-hour tasting tour at the Jameson Distillery, one of Ireland's most beloved exports. Ireland is justifiably famous for its high-quality whiskeys, and few are more popular around the world than Jameson, which was first introduced in Dublin way back in the year 1780. The tour includes the chance to sample the premium whiskeys exclusive to the distillery and learn all about the complex distillation process that founder John Jameson developed.
Day 15: Depart Dublin
Sadly, it's time to bid the Emerald Isle farewell today. After you check out of your hotel, you'll take a taxi or bus to the airport, where you'll board your flight home. Safe travels!