Experience the best of Ireland's coastal scenery, historic sites, and vibrant cities on this week-long self-drive adventure. Starting in Dublin, this circular route takes you south to the Rock of Cashel and Ireland's second city of Cork, before heading into the wilds of Killarney National Park and along the spectacularly scenic Ring of Kerry. After a day spent exploring the Slea Peninsula and the seaside village of Dingle, you'll head up the west coast to hike along the Cliffs of Moher and spend a final night in Galway, enjoying the music, arts, and "craic" of the European cultural capital.

Highlights

  • Experience the ancient streets of Dublin
  • Visit Ireland's oldest national park at Killarney
  • Seek history along the Ring of Kerry
  • See the edge of Europe at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher
  • Soak up the atmosphere & culture of Galway

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin Dublin
Day 2 Tour the Rock of Cashel - Cork Cork
Day 3 Killarney National Park Killarney National Park
Day 4 Ring of Kerry Killarney National Park
Day 5 Dingle Peninsula & Slea Head Dingle Town
Day 6 Cliffs of Moher & Galway Galway
Day 7 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin

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

Welcome to Ireland! After arriving at Dublin Airport (DUB), transfer to your hotel in the city. After you check-in and drop your luggage, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore the city.

Whether you want to travel back in history at Dublin Castle or look into the future with a visit to the modern Spire of Dublin, you're sure to find plenty to do in this global city. Stop in at the library at Trinity College to see the centuries-old Book of Kells, cross over the River Liffey on the Ha'penny Bridge, or stroll through St. Stephen's Green and neighboring Grafton Street for shopping, people watching, and street performers.

Top it all off with a pint in the Guinness Storehouse, or take a whiskey tasting tour.

Day 2: 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 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 3: Killarney National Park

Ross Castle at the edge of Killarney National Park's Lough Leane.
Ross Castle at the edge of Killarney National Park's Lough Leane.

Today takes you across the mountainous terrain separating County Cork and the kingdom of Kerry to reach the historic town of Killarney and the site of the country's oldest national park.

Spend the afternoon in Killarney National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that's home to the largest expanse of ancient forest in Ireland. Take the opportunity to cycle or hike around the park's three scenic lakes, or embark on a boat cruise or kayaking tour on Lough Leane.

Killarney has a vast history with many ancient buildings and monuments. Don't miss Muckross Park—home to beautiful gardens and a 15th-century Franciscan Friary—and Ross Castle—a medieval fortress on the edge of the national park's lower lakeside.

Day 4: 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 5: Dingle Peninsula & Slea Head

Drive along Slea Head's scenic westernmost peninsula.
Drive along Slea Head's scenic westernmost peninsula.

Dingle is your destination today, as you explore this stunningly scenic peninsula littered with archaeological and historical wonders. Your first stop is Inch Beach, famous for being the place where an inch is 3 miles long. Take a stroll along its golden sands, then head west to the remarkable promontory of Slea Head. Take in the breath-taking scenery of its rugged cliffs and windswept beaches, before ending your day in the colorful seaside village of Dingle Town.

Day 6: Cliffs of Moher & Galway

Hike along the western edge of Europe at the Cliffs of Moher.
Hike along the western edge of Europe at the 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 spectacular 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 Galway, known as the bohemian capital of Ireland for its thriving music and arts scenes. Get checked in to your base for the night, then head out to soak up the atmosphere of Galway's vibrant streets, sample its wide variety of food offerings, or take a tour exploring its unique historical places of interest.

Day 7: Departure

Bid the Emerald Isle farewell.
Bid the Emerald Isle farewell.

After breakfast, drive back east to Dublin Airport to return your car rental and bid farewell to the Emerald Isle.

Map

Map of Ultimate Ireland Road Trip: Dublin, Killarney, Dingle & Galway - 7 Days
Map of Ultimate Ireland Road Trip: Dublin, Killarney, Dingle & Galway - 7 Days