Get ready to immerse yourself in Irish culture, history, and landscape with this two-week, self-drive adventure. Starting in Dublin, you'll head south to explore highlights like the Rock of Cashel, the Ring of Kerry, and Killarney National Park. Continue up the wild west coast to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, and make a quick detour to the windswept Aran Islands. Revel in the culture and traditional music of Doolin, Westport, and Galway before crossing into Northern Ireland, where you'll discover the otherworldly geology of the Giant's Causeway and end your journey in the bustling streets of Belfast.

Highlights

  • Discover the ancient streets & modern culture of Dublin
  • Explore Killarney & Ireland's oldest national park
  • Hike along the magnificent Cliffs of Moher
  • Take a sea voyage to the Aran Islands
  • Visit Northern Ireland's famed Giant's Causeway

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin Dublin
Day 2 Explore Dublin Dublin
Day 3 Tour the Rock of Cashel - Cork Cork
Day 4 Cobh & Kinsale Cork
Day 5 Killarney National Park Killarney National Park
Day 6 Ring of Kerry Killarney National Park
Day 7 Cliffs of Moher Doolin
Day 8 Inis Mór & the Aran Islands Doolin
Day 9 Galway Galway
Day 10 Connemara National Park Westport
Day 11 Westport to Letterkenny Letterkenny
Day 12 Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Coast Belfast
Day 13 Belfast Belfast
Day 14 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin

Dublin and the River Liffey at sunset.
Dublin and the River Liffey at sunset.

Welcome to Ireland! After arriving at Dublin Airport (DUB), transfer to your accommodation and get checked in.

If you're feeling rested, head out to explore in the afternoon. Visit one of the many remarkable museums, memorials, and cathedrals of this historic city, then tour its thriving restaurant scene and settle into one of its lively, cozy pubs for the evening.

Day 2: Explore Dublin

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

Today is devoted to discovering Dublin at your own pace. Some suggestions to get you started 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 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.

  • Learn about this history of Irish whiskey (and sample the country's best blends) on the Jameson Distillery Tour.

Day 3: Tour the Rock of Cashel - Cork

The Rock of Cashel was the historic seat of Ireland's High Kings.
The Rock of Cashel was the historic seat of Ireland's High Kings.

After breakfast, pick up your rental car in Dublin and travel south to Cork, Ireland's second-largest city.

Along the way, you can make a stop at the Rock of Cashel. Once home to the High Kings of Ireland, this spectacular group of medieval buildings is perched atop a rugged outcrop of limestone. Consider having lunch at one of the many restaurants along the main road leading to the site before continuing your drive.

You'll reach Cork late in the afternoon. After settling into your accommodation, take the rest of the day to explore the city.  A great place to start is the central English Market, with its ornate vaulted ceilings, columns, and polished marble fountain. Scores of vendors set up colorful and photogenic displays of the region's very best local produce here, including meat, fish, fruit, cheeses, and takeaway food.

Day 4: Cobh & Kinsale

The colorful harbor town of Cobh.
The colorful harbor town of Cobh.

Start the morning with a trip to the seaside town of Cobh—famous as the Titanic's last port of call in 1912.

Continue to the coastal town of Kinsale, where you can start with a stroll around the historic port and treat yourself to some fish and chips at the famous Dino's restaurant. Don't miss a visit to the town's most famous attraction: the 17th-century star-shaped Charles Fort. With two enormous bastions overlooking the estuary, and three facing inland, the remarkably well-preserved military fortress provides an atmospheric tour and panoramic views.

If you feel like a walk, hike to the Old Head of Kinsale Loop, an easy 1.5-hour walking route along a country road which offers spectacular views at every turn. When you've had enough sea air and scenic walks, return to Cork for the evening.

Day 5: Killarney National Park

The forests and lakes of Killarney National Park.
The forests and lakes of Killarney National Park.

Today you'll drive across the mountainous terrain that separates County Cork from the kingdom of Kerry, to reach the historic town of Killarney. After checking into your accommodation, lace up your walking boots and head off to Muckross House—a beautiful mansion built in the 19th century and now forming the central point of the spectacular Killarney National Park. Home to the largest expanse of native forest in Ireland, the country's first national park also holds the designation of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

From here, you can follow a circular route around Killarney's three lakes—Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake—for a magnificent walk through ancient woodlands with scenic views.

Plan your trip to Ireland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Ring of Kerry

Exquisite scenery and coastline along the Ring of Kerry.
Exquisite scenery and coastline along the Ring of Kerry.

Venture off the beaten track today to discover the magic of the famous Ring of Kerry. Considered one of the most beautiful destinations in Ireland, this route offers dramatic landscapes of rugged coastline, golden beaches, glistening lakes, picturesque villages, and spectacular mountain ranges.

A perfect walking excursion in the area is the Derrynane Loop, a moderate 5.5 mile (9 km) path around Derrynane National Park near Caherdaniel. This moderate hiking trail follows some of the Kerry Way and the Mass Path pilgrimage route,  passing through hillside woodlands above the Derrynane Blue Flag Beach and Derrynane House.

Day 7: Cliffs of Moher

Go for a cliffside walk along the spectacular Cliffs of Moher.
Go for a cliffside walk along the spectacular Cliffs of Moher.

Journey to the far western edge of Europe today to reach 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 a camera!

After lunch, make your way to nearby Doolin, a small coastal town of colorful cottages known as the traditional music capital of Ireland.

Day 8: Inis Mór & the Aran Islands

The windswept landscape of Inis Mór.
The windswept landscape of Inis Mór.

Today you'll hop on a ferry from mainland Ireland to Inis Mór, largest of the Aran Islands. These three rocky islands guard the mouth of the Bay of Galway, and their remote setting serves as a haven to wildlife, seabirds, and native flora, as well as an outpost of the ancient Irish language. Explore the island by foot, bicycle, or in a traditional horsedrawn jaunting cart, as you pass a magnificent landscape of rocky fields, wild ocean views, and incredible monuments of Christian, pre- Christian, and Celtic mythological heritage

In the afternoon, return to the mainland town of Doolin, your base for the night.

Day 9: Galway

The cobbled streets & colorful cafes of downtown Galway.
The cobbled streets & colorful cafes of downtown Galway.

Depart Doolin this morning and travel north to reach Galway, Ireland's bohemian capital. Along the way, you'll pass the remarkable moon-like terrain of the wild Burren and marvel at the powerful Atlantic waves that roll through Galway Bay. After settling into your accommodation, head out to explore Galway's vibrant streets, sample its wide variety of culinary offerings, or take a tour exploring its rich history. In the evening, you'll find countless cultural offerings in this mecca of live music, poetry, and theater.

Day 10: Connemara National Park

Sweeping views from Diamond Hill, Connemara.
Sweeping views from Diamond Hill, Connemara.

Get ready to be inspired by Ireland's natural beauty as you drive northwest to Connemara National Park today. If you're feeling adventurous, hike to the top of the 1,450 foot (442 m) Diamond Hill, before heading to Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian walled garden for a quiet wander and some lunch. In the afternoon, you'll continue to the colorful town of Westport, which is filled with bars and restaurants where you can hear some of the country's best traditional Irish music.

Day 11: Westport to Letterkenny

The River Moy at Ballina.
The River Moy at Ballina.

From Westport, you'll head for 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 leads to Downpatrick Head, where Saint Patrick is believed to have founded a church. For even more history, continue on to the ruins of Moyne Abbey near Killala. Afterward, head towards Ballina, which is also an excellent spot for lunch. In the afternoon, you'll continue driving north towards the cathedral town of Letterkenny, via Bundoran, where you can dip your feet into the Atlantic Ocean

Day 12: Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Coast

Sunset over the Giant's Causeway.
Sunset over the Giant's Causeway.

Today you'll cross into Northern Ireland, driving along the Antrim Coast. Take the opportunity to stop and explore many sites along the way, including Dunluce Castle, the scenic cliffs of Fairhead, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the small town of Portrush, Mussenden Temple, Portstewart Strand, and the UNESCO World Heritage site Giant's Causeway—a rock formation of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that create a geometric pattern. Your final destination for the day is Belfast, where you'll have the evening free to explore this underrated gem of a city.

Day 13: Belfast

The Titanic Exhibition, one of Belfast's most popular attractions.
The Titanic Exhibition, one of Belfast's most popular attractions.

Devote your final day to discovering the thriving city of Belfast—either with a guided Black Cab Tour of its highlights, or a relaxed self-guided wander. Start with a walk through the gardens at City Hall, go back in time at the Titanic Exhibition, or learn about the country's recent history with a visit to the Peace Wall. If you're in the mood for fresh air, hike to Cave Hill Country Park for stunning views of the city and coast.

After a busy day of sightseeing, head to one of Belfast's many pubs to enjoy the city's buzzing nightlife and toast your last night on the Emerald Isle.

Day 14: Departure

Bid Ireland farewell.
Bid Ireland farewell.

After breakfast, you'll bid this special island farewell as you head for the airport to catch your flight home or continue on your travels. 

Map

Map of Ultimate Ireland Road Trip: Dublin, Galway & Belfast - 14 Days
Map of Ultimate Ireland Road Trip: Dublin, Galway & Belfast - 14 Days