Explore the south of Ireland at your own pace on this unforgettable 13-day road trip. You'll experience its history, culture, and great outdoors on a variety of excursions that include nature hikes, visiting working sheep farms, touring coastal villages, exploring national parks, and sailing across glassy lakes. As if that's not enough, you'll drive the legendary Ring of Kerry and cap the trip the Irish way—with a whiskey tasting.


  • Walk through the treetops of Avondale Forest
  • Visit a working sheep farm and cycle the countryside
  • Take an epic road trip along the Ring of Kerry
  • See the valleys, castles, and lakes of southern Ireland
  • Go on a whiskey tasting in Dublin

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin, Drive to Laragh & Glendalough Hike Laragh
Day 2 Treetop Walk in Avondale Forest Laragh
Day 3 Visit a Wicklow Sheep Farm Wexford
Day 4 Drive to Wexford, Visit Hook Head Lighthouse Wexford
Day 5 Drive to Kinsale, Optional Activities Kinsale
Day 6 Kinsale Walking Tour Kinsale
Day 7 Drive to Killarney, Optional Activities Killarney
Day 8 Bicycle Tour of County Kerry Killarney
Day 9 Drive the Ring of Kerry & Skellig Ring Killarney
Day 10 Killarney Lake Boat Trip & Black Valley Killarney
Day 11 Drive to Limerick, Optional Activities Limerick
Day 12 Drive to Dublin, Whiskey Tour Dublin
Day 13 Depart Dublin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Drive to Laragh & Glendalough Hike

Hike amid the lakes and mountains of the Glendalough Valley

Welcome to Ireland! This republic is a hotbed of culture, history, and natural beauty. You'll see it around every corner, be it on the cobbled streets of downtown Dublin or in the countryside's green glens, mountains, and loughs (lakes). Some of the most stunning scenery in the country is in Ireland's south, which you'll get to explore over 13 days.

Upon arrival in the capital of Dublin, you'll pick up your rental car and drive a little over an hour south of the city to Laragh. Just 30 miles (50 km) from the capital, this small village in County Wicklow is on the doorstep of the soaring Wicklow Mountains and adjacent to Glendalough, a valley home to the ruins of an ancient monastic city dating to the sixth century. Once here, you'll check into your hotel.

Then you can stretch your legs on a 6-mile (9.5 km) trail that will take you through all the stunning scenery and historic sites in Glendalough. It's a gentle hike suitable for people of all fitness levels, and throughout the loop are various amenities like restrooms and shops. During the three to four-hour excursion, you'll pass the Poulanass Waterfall on your way up to Spinc Ridge, which overlooks the spectacular Glendalough Valley. Enjoy views of Upper Lake, then continue down into a bog and a deserted miners' village before returning to Laragh.

Day 2: Treetop Walk in Avondale Forest

Beyond the Trees Avodale - Tree Top Walk
Walk over the treetops at Avondale Forest Park

In the morning, you'll head just south of Laragh for a day trip to Avondale Forest. The grounds of this 18th-century estate (now a museum) lie on the River Avonmore and conserve vast swaths of Irish woodland. To this end, it also features a 528-acre (214 ha) nature park comprised of sequoia, eucalyptus, cedar, and other trees. Running over the top of the forest is the most unique feature of all, a high timber walkway. Spanning just under a mile (1.3 km), this is the longest treetop walk in Ireland.

During a two-hour visit, you'll hike along the walkway, which rises 124 feet (38 m) over the forest floor. During the walk, you'll enjoy views of the forest canopy, the estate, its old courtyards, and walled gardens as you head to a panoramic observation tower. You can learn more about the estate at the visitor center, followed by lunch at the café. Afterward, you'll return to Laragh and have the rest of the day free.

Day 3: Visit a Wicklow Sheep Farm

Witness the fine art of sheep herding at a working farm

Venture into the nearby Wicklow Mountains for a special day trip to a real-life sheep farm. Here, you'll meet the farm owner/shepherd for a chat about the history of the location as well as the daily work that goes into managing a working farm operation.

More than that, you'll participate in an authentic sheepdog trial. This is a demonstration of herding prowess in which the shepherd directs his dogs (in this case, collies) to wrangle sheep and perform herding tasks through various obstacles. Afterward, you'll meet the shepherd's family plus spend time with the famous sheepdogs as well as other resident animals like lambs.

Day 4: Drive to Wexford, Visit Hook Head Lighthouse

Visit Hook's Head, the oldest working lighthouse in the world

Get back in the car this morning and drive about 1.5 hours south to Wexford. Located about 62 miles (100 km) from Laragh on the mouth of the River Slaney, this historic town is famous for its medieval tower gates and cobbled lanes. After checking your hotel, you'll continue driving less than an hour down the coast to one of the most famous landmarks in the region: Hook's Head Lighthouse.

On a two-hour visit, you'll learn all about this icon, which watches over the entrance to Waterford Harbour on the Three Sisters River. It boasts a long history, as it was built way back in 1172 CE and is still in operation today. That makes Hook's Head the oldest working lighthouse in the world. After the tour, you'll return to Wexford and can spend the rest of the afternoon strolling its historic streets and browsing its boutiques.

Day 5: Drive to Kinsale, Optional Activities

Stroll the colorful streets of Kinsale (and definitely try the food)
Plan your trip to Ireland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

After breakfast, you'll leave Wexford and make your way 125 miles (200 km) along the southern coast of Ireland to Kinsale. Located in County Cork, this small harbor village is famous for its narrow streets and brightly colored buildings. The drive there takes close to three hours, but you can stop along the way in colorful coastal villages to snap pictures and enjoy the sights. One must-visit locale is the seaside town of Cobh—famous as the Titanic's last port of call in 1912.

Once in Kinsale, you'll check into your hotel and will have the rest of the day free. There's much to see and do here. For example, this town may be small but nevertheless is regarded as the gourmet capital of Ireland. As such, it's positively bursting with quality restaurants serving up cuisine that ranges from traditional Irish to international fusion. There are even a few Michelin-starred options. So hopefully, you brought your appetite because it's time to dig in.

Day 6: Kinsale Walking Tour

Charles Fort
Take a tour of Charles Fort, which dates to the 17th century

You're in for a treat as today you'll hit the highlights in and around Kinsale. The best part is you don't even need the car, as the most famous landmarks are well within walking distance. You can set off from the town center and head down to Lower Road for a stroll along the waterfront. The route leads around the harbor to Charles Fort, one of the largest military installations in the country. It was built in 1670 to defend the harbor from hostile forces. If you like, spend a couple of hours here on a tour.

Return to town by following High Road, which also features stunning views. Out on the water, you'll likely spot resident animals like seals, herons, cormorants, and (if you're lucky) the occasional dolphin. Back in Kinsale, you can enjoy a gourmet lunch at a restaurant overlooking the harbor, followed by a refreshing pint. Afterward, you'll have the rest of the day free to relax. 

Day 7: Drive to Killarney, Optional Activities

The Black Valley
The bucolic landscapes around Killarney, in County Kerry

After breakfast, you'll leave Kinsale on a 1.5-hour drive that takes you 56 miles (90 km) northwest into County Kerry and Killarney. This town sits on the shores of idyllic Lough Leane and is a fixture on the legendary Ring of Kerry scenic route. Once here you'll check into your hotel and can spend the day exploring the countryside.

There's much to see in this region, whose wild beauty comprises mountains, lakes, and forests. Witness the highlights on a drive through the Gap of Dunloe, a dramatic narrow mountain pass between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain ranges. Or, venture into Killarney National Park, a 26,000-acre (10,521 ha) protected area and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Fun fact: it was the first national park in Ireland when it launched in 1932.

If you'd like to take a trip back to the Middle Ages, look no further than Ross Castle. This 15th-century fortress overlooks Lough Leane and is the seat of the O'Donoghue Clan. For more history, visit Muckross Park, a Victorian estate (now a hotel). If you like, have lunch in its lovely café, which looks out to the famous Walled Garden. Later, take a walk around the ruins and cloisters of the adjacent Muckross Abbey. Afterward, you can head back to Killarney and enjoy dinner in town.

Day 8: Bicycle Tour of County Kerry

Ride over the gap of Dunloe, in County Kerry
See all the highlights of County Kerry today from a different vantage point on a bicycle tour. This full-day ride will take you all around the region. You'll cycle along backcountry trails and stop at the best viewpoints in Killarney National Park. Not only will you visit historic highlights like Ross Castle, but you'll go off the beaten path to parts of the countryside few tourists get to see. Aside from that, you'll travel to Muckross Park and its historic abbey, cycle along the shores of Lough Leane, and traverse the Gap of Dunloe. 

Day 9: Drive the Ring of Kerry & Skellig Ring

Witness incredible coastal scenery on the Ring of Kerry/Skellig Ring

Today you'll experience one of Ireland's most stunning drives: the Ring of Kerry. This 111-mile (179 km) circuit route winds its way around the Iveragh Peninsula, passing unspoiled coastline, medieval ruins, and mist-shrouded mountains and loughs. During the drive, you'll also be treated to great views of the islands dotting the Atlantic. As if that's not enough, you'll combine the circuit with another famous route: the Skellig Ring. This section of the peninsula is known for its mountain passes and clifftop roads leading to quaint villages. 

Starting from Killarney, you'll head south to the historic town of Kenmare. On the way, you'll pass highlights like Torc Waterfall and the spectacular Moll's Gap mountain pass. Then venture further out on the peninsula along scenic coastal mountain roads to colorful villages like Sneem. Feel free to stop for a stroll before continuing on the route, passing other idyllic coastal towns like Whitestrand and Caherdaniel. Definitely stop at the latter to get your feet wet at its stunning beach.

Continue along the rugged Skellig Ring section to the seaside town of Ballinskelligs. Here, you can embark on the famous Skelligs Monks Trail, a 2-mile (3 km) loop that offers stunning coastal views and passes castle ruins. From Balinskelligs, things get even more spectacular as the rugged coast winds over craggy cliffs down into St Finian's Bay. From the beach here, travel up the horseshoe road to the top of the Kerry Cliffs and the village of Portmagee, where you can enjoy a nice lunch at a quayside restaurant. Later, you'll reach the town of Killorglin and from there, continue back to Killarney.

Day 10: Killarney Lake Boat Trip & Black Valley

Tour Killarney's lakes by boat and see the 15th-century Ross Castle

Start the morning with a relaxing boat trip across one of Killarney's lakes. At the harbor, you'll board a covered boat and relax in comfort as you enjoy the wide panoramas of the surrounding mountains. You'll have a chance to disembark in the remote Black Valley, which earned its name in the 1970s for being the last place on the Irish mainland to be connected to the electric grid. A walk through the area will take you to waterfalls and the charming six-arch bridge across the Gearhameen River.

After the boat tour, you'll have the remainder of the day free. If you like, spend time relaxing back at your hotel. Or, if you simply can't get enough of County Kerry, hit the road once again on a drive to the Gap of Dunloe or back to the Iveragh Peninsula and the Skellig Ring.

Day 11: Drive to Limerick, Optional Activities

Ruins of a medieval home in Limerick

Today you'll drive northeast to Limerick, the capital of the county of the same name. Located 73 miles (117 km) northeast of Killarney on the banks of the River Shannon, this port city has a dramatic history. It begins with the arrival of the Vikings in the ninth century and includes brutal sieges during the Williamite War in the 17th century, the prosperous Georgian era of the 18th century, and the tragic Great Irish Famine of the 19th century. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and can do some sightseeing.

Famous attractions you can visit here include the 13th-century King John's Castle and the adjacent St Munchin's Church, a Gothic cathedral. There's also the Limerick City Museum, which recounts the story of the city through exhibits from the Stone Age through the 1916 Easter Rebellion. If you arrive on the weekend, visit the Limerick Milk Market, a farmers' market where vendors sell a wide range of products, including meats, cheeses, fresh produce, bread, juices, and more. For some culture, head to the Limerick City Gallery of Art, one of the leading contemporary galleries in Ireland.

Day 12: Drive to Dublin, Whiskey Tour

Enjoy a tasting tour of Ireland's most famous distillery

Enjoy your last day on the road with a scenic 2.5-hour drive through Ireland's heartland on the 124-mile (200 km) journey back to Dublin. Upon arrival, drop off your rental car and get ready to treat yourself to an afternoon savoring one of Ireland's most famous exports—its high-quality whiskeys. At the moment, there are 56 distilleries throughout the nation producing a wide variety of blends, pot stills, and single malts. However, none are more renowned throughout the world than Jameson, which was first introduced back in 1780. Today, you'll get to visit the nerve center of this historic whiskey on a tour of the Jameson Distillery in Dublin.

During a 40-minute tasting, you'll get to sample a few of Jameson's fine blended whiskeys. Not only that, but you'll also learn about the complex distillation process Jameson has used for over two centuries to produce this iconic Irish product. When the tour ends, you can continue your whiskey education at Dublin's fine watering holes. Options include Dingle Whiskey Bar, Palace Bar, The Norseman, Siguersons, and the tasting room at the famous Temple Bar.

Day 13: Depart Dublin

See the sunrise over the River Liffey before heading home

Your grand exploration of southwest Ireland ends right back where it started: in historic Dublin. At the appropriate time, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Come back soon!

More Great Ireland Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Ireland? Check out these other Ireland itineraries, explore more ways to spend 13 days in Ireland, or discover the best time to visit Ireland.


Map of Southern Ireland & Dublin Grand Tour - 13 Days
Map of Southern Ireland & Dublin Grand Tour - 13 Days