The ultimate self-driving tour of Ireland is filled with adventures through historic towns and scenic coastlines. Start in Dublin before exploring the villages of Laragh, the medieval Rock of Cashel in Cork, and the hiking trails in Kinsale. Then, tour Killarney, the Ring of Kerry, and Inch Beach off the Dingle Peninsula. The final leg of the road trip takes you to the must-see Cliffs of Moher, bohemian Galway, and two historic national parks before a final night in Derry.

Highlights

  • Go sightseeing in Dublin and visit the popular Guinness Storehouse
  • Visit the gardens, abbey, and castle at Muckross Park in Killarney
  • Take in the dramatic, coastal landscapes at the Ring of Kerry
  • Tour the towering Cliffs of Moher rock formations along the ocean
  • Explore the rocky fields and wild ocean views of Inis Mor island

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Dublin Dublin
Day 2 Explore Glendalough Trail Laragh
Day 3 Travel to Cork via the Rock of Cashel Cork
Day 4 Travel to Killarney via Kinsale Killarney
Day 5 Tour Killarney Killarney
Day 6 Visit the Ring of Kerry Killarney
Day 7 Explore Dingle Peninsula Killarney
Day 8 Stroll the Cliffs of Moher Doolin
Day 9 Travel to Galway Galway
Day 10 Discover Inis Mor Island Doolin
Day 11 Hike Connemara National Park Westport
Day 12 Travel to Westport & Derry via Glenveagh National Park Londonderry
Day 13 Drive the Atrium Coastline & Giants Causeway Belfast
Day 14 Departure From Dublin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin

Welcome to Dublin!
Welcome to Dublin!

Welcome to Ireland! Arrive at Dublin Airport and make your way to your accommodation in Dublin City Centre for the evening. The ride takes approximately 50 minutes.

After checking in, do some exploration. The city is steeped in history, and there is an abundance of museums, memorials, cathedrals and churches, restaurants, cafés, and centers—each offering a slice of insight into what makes Dublin special.

Join a guided walking tour, so you can get a real feel of the city from the eyes of a local (your travel specialist can pre-book this for you). Alternatively, if you’re a beer aficionado, visit the Guinness Storehouse, located in the heart of the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery in the city. Guinness is synonymous with Ireland, and no visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to this must-see attraction. 

Day 2: Explore Glendalough Trail

Glendalough
Glendalough

Today, pick up your rental car and drive to the village of Laragh. Then, follow a trail through forestry to reach Glendalough. Here, you can enjoy time exploring the old monastic village that was once a hive of activity more than 1,500 years ago. This tranquil setting offers a great opportunity to explore more of the surrounding landscape. Make sure to also take the time to explore the historical remains that abound in this region.

There are several marked hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties to choose from within the valley. Enjoy a challenging hike to the viewpoint overlooking the beautiful lakes in the valley, or take a light stroll along the lakeshore to soak up sightings of the native flora and fauna.

Day 3: Travel to Cork via the Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel

Today, travel south, toward Ireland's second city of Cork. Along the way, make a stop at the Rock of Cashel, a spectacular group of medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone, and home of the high kings of Ireland.

Arrive into Cork late in the afternoon, and enjoy the rest of the day exploring the city.

Day 4: Travel to Killarney via Kinsale

Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale

Start the morning by heading to the port of Cobh, which was the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912. Then, travel to the coastal town of Kinsale. Take a stroll around the town, and treat yourself to some fish and chips (fries) at the famous Dinos restaurant. A 15-minute drive away is the Old Head of Kinsale, and here, you can hike the Old Head of Kinsale Loop, which is an easy, 1.5-hour walking route (on a country road) with spectacular views at every turn.

After that, make your way over the mountainous terrain that separates the counties of Cork and Kerry, and arrive in the town of Killarney, home to Ireland's first national park, with glistening lakes, beautiful nature, great food, and a vibrant cultural atmosphere.

Day 5: Tour Killarney

Ross Castle
Ross Castle

Today, relax and explore the town of Killarney. Check out one of many attractions within the national park, such as Muckross Park, which is home to beautiful gardens and a 15th-century Franciscan Friary called Muckross Abbey, or Ross Castle, a structure on the edge of the lower lake within the national park, with a history dating back to the Middle Ages.

Alternatively, you can go kayaking, hike along one of the many trails, rent a bike, or take a lake cruise.

Day 6: Visit the Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Ring of Kerry

Today’s adventure takes you off the beaten track to unlock the real beauty of the world-famous Ring of Kerry. Considered one of the most beautiful destinations to explore in Ireland, this route will offer you views of the dramatic landscapes composed of wild, rugged coastline, golden beaches, pristine lakes, picturesque villages, and scenic mountain ranges.

A nice walk along the Ring of Kerry is the Derrynane Loop Walk, which is a moderate, 5.5-mile route around Derrynane National Park, near Caherdaniel. This walking route follows some of the Mass Path old pilgrimage route and Kerry Way and passes through the hillside woodlands above the Derrynane Blue Flag Beach and Derrynane House.

Day 7: Explore Dingle Peninsula

Slea Head

Dingle is your destination today. Explore this dramatic and beautiful peninsula that is laced with archaeological and historical sites. Your first stop is Inch Beach, famous for being the place where an inch is 3 miles long. Take a short walk along the golden sands. Then, head west to the edge of Europe, also known as Slea Head. Take in views of the rugged coast, golden beaches, and stunning Blasket Island.

Day 8: Stroll the Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Next, travel along the edge of Europe to the colorful coastal town of Doolin. When visiting Doolin, one of the most popular activities is to visit the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. These impressive cliffs form a protective barrier from the Wild Atlantic Way to the rich and fertile land at the southern end of the Burren Region. Towering above the ocean, their dominance is a spectacle that is best appreciated on foot. Walking from your accommodation in Doolin, go south to reach the foothills of the Cliff of Moher. Climbing gradually, spot the lower levels and layering of rock formations that continue to cling to their near-1,000-foot wall of beauty.

You can also take a boat to cruise close to the cliffs if you’d like.

Day 9: Travel to Galway

Downtown Galway
Downtown Galway

Depart from Doolin, traveling north toward Galway, the Bohemian Capital of Ireland. Along the way, explore the remarkable moon-like terrain of the wild Burren and the Atlantic waves that roll into the jaws of Galway Bay.

Take the opportunity to relish Galway’s vibrant streets. Sample the wide variety of food offerings or embark on a tour of the unique historical places of interest.

Day 10: Discover Inis Mor Island

Inis Mor
Inis Mor

Today, travel from the mainland of Ireland to one of its most renowned islands, Inis Mor, meaning “Big Island.” It is the largest of three islands that make up the Aran Islands. Once there, explore the island by foot, bicycle, or a jaunting cart, to experience the island’s beautiful landscape of rocky fields, wild ocean views, and incredible monuments of Christian, pre- Christian, and Celtic mythological heritage.

Day 11: Hike Connemara National Park

Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park

Today, travel to Connemara National Park. Hike to the top of Diamond Hill, before heading to Kylemore Abbey, and get a bite to eat, followed by some exploration of its incredible history and unique gardens.

Then, make your way to the colorful town of Westport, filled with many bars and restaurants playing traditional Irish music.

Day 12: Travel to Westport and Derry via Glenveagh National Park

Donegal
Donegal

Drive north today, exploring the rugged coastline of Mayo and the wilds of Donegal, with views of dramatic cliffs, which, although less famous than the Cliffs of Moher, can reach almost three times higher (1,972 feet) at Slieve League.

Continue the journey around the dramatic northern tip of Donegal, toward Glenveagh National Park and Castle. Set in 40,770 acres of County Donegal Mountains, discover picturesque lakes, wild glens and woods, a large herd of red deer, and the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle. Spend the night in the city of Derry—your first evening in Northern Ireland.

Day 13: Drive the Atrium Coastline and Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway
Giants Causeway

Wake up and travel the stunning Antrim Coastline. On the drive, visit Dunluce Castle, Fair Head, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Portrush, Mussenden Temple, Portstewart Strand, and the Giants Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its setting is famous for its unique rock formation of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption nearly 60 million years ago.

Tonight, enjoy the final evening of the trip at your leisure in Belfast.

Day 14: Departure from Dublin

Farewell, Dublin
Farewell, Dublin!

After breakfast, make the short journey back to Dublin. Return your rental car and prepare for your flight home, as you bid the Emerald Isle farewell!

Map

Map of Ultimate Ireland Road Trip: Dublin, Killarney, Doolin, Westport, & More - 14 Days
Map of Ultimate Ireland Road Trip: Dublin, Killarney, Doolin, Westport, & More - 14 Days