A road trip around Ireland is the best way to experience how diverse and wonderful the country truly is. With rolling green hills, stunning coastal roads, and cozy pubs in every town along the way, it’s easy to enjoy. Although my 8-day road trip around Ireland was interrupted by the flu, I still had an amazing time and want to share the highlights. Read on.
Day 1 – Dublin
This almost perfect road trip around Ireland kicks off in the vibrant capital of Dublin. With endless pubs to explore and plenty of history to see, you could easily spend eight days in Dublin alone. For this road trip around Ireland, we will focus on the highlights. Take a walking tour with Pat Liddy’s to cover the historical highlights of Trinity College and Dublin Castle then reward yourself with a whiskey sampling at the Irish whiskey Museum. Keep the buzz going with a visit to the world-famous Guinness Brewery or Jamison Distillery before a night of drinks in the Temple Bar area.
Note: Temple bar is pretty much for the tourists. If you’re looking for a more authentic pub experience head to nearby Hogans.
Day 2 – Dublin to Belfast
Hit the road early for the start of this road trip around Ireland. Hopefully, your head isn’t pounding from a late night out. If it is, don’t worry, our first stop is a short 40-minute drive from Dublin. Newgrange, a historical site older than the pyramids, is a must-stop on any Ireland road trip.
Note: Tour cost Euro 5.00 and includes guide, access to visitor centre and tomb. Don’t Miss the artwork and a walk around Newgrange itself!
Continue on to Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city.
Day 3 – Explore Belfast
Once the shipbuilding capital of the world, today Belfast has re-establish itself as a modern and fun city. Make no mistake, the hard-working past is a proud one and is no better displayed than at the Titanic Belfast Museum. After exploring the museum dedicated to the worlds most tragically famous ship continues with a walking tour of the city. Enjoy a pint in one of the city’s oldest pubs or head to the Crown Bar for a unique Belfast experience.
Day 4 – Belfast to Derry
This is where this road trip around Ireland gets pretty. Head north to Larne Town and hop on the Coast Road for some spectacular scenery. Make a pit stop at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge for a daring stroll before continuing onto the Giants Causeway.
Note: Admission to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is £5.90 (adult) and takes about 1 hr to enjoy. Hours vary and the bridge is weather permitting!
Touring the Giants Causeway was one of my favourite stops on this road trip around Ireland, and with good reason. This odd collection of rock formations will have you scratching your head and believing local folk legends on how they came to be.
Note: Admission is free although the visitors centre is £9 and includes parking. Don’t miss the walk from the visitor centre to the Giant’s Causeway. ~20 min but gives you time to listen to the myths on the audio guide!
Moving on from the Giants Causeway this road trip around Ireland will take you past the tiny town of Bushmills, home of the famous whiskey of the same name. Tours and tastings are available between 9:15 AM – 4:45 PM Monday to Friday and 12:00 PM – 4:45 PM Sundays.
Day 5 – Derry to Galway
Day 5 of this road trip around Ireland is a long one so plan your time accordingly. In Derry don’t miss the street art commemorating Bloody Sunday and the Museum of Free Derry.
A walk along the Derry walls is not to be missed as well. The 1.5 km fortified old town can be circled in an hour and is free of charge. A guided tour is recommended as there is much to cover on this 400-year-old wall. My time crunch left me filling in the facts on my own.
Once you have covered Derry continue south to Galway. Just try and resist the urge to stop at every castle along the way. There are a few.
If you get into Galway late, Don’t stress. This lively university town goes the distance. Take in some live music along Quay Street and sample some of the local oysters.
Day 6 – Galway to Killarney
Another scenic highlight of this road trip around Ireland is taking a walk along the Cliffs of Moher. Arguably Ireland’s most notable destination, the Cliffs of Moher is not to be missed. Depending on the weather, you could spend three hours walking the trails and even take a boat ride and see the cliffs from below.
Note: Admission is €6.00 and includes access to Coastal Trail and visitors center.
Day 7 – Kerry to Cork
If you’re pressed for time on your road trip around Ireland you’ll have some hard decisions to make. Although you can drive the full ring of Kerry in a day, it is not recommended. For my road trip around Ireland, I chose to explore the Killarney National Park before making my way a quarter of the way around the Ring of Kerry. Highlights included Ross Castle, Molls Gap, and the Staigue Stone Fort – an ancient pile of rocks. I promise you, it’s more interesting than it sounds.
Day 8 – Cork to Dublin
Cork is where my perfect road trip around Ireland fell off a bit. Somewhere between Derry and Kerry, we both picked up the flu. Although we were feeling a bit ill we did see some of the areas highlights including the star-shaped Charles Fort, one of Irelands largest. No kissing the Blarney Stone here but it is easy to hit on your way out of town if you choose. Spreading our germs with the rest of the country was in no one’s best interest.
This road trip around Ireland concludes with a return to where it all began. Although a packed itinerary, seeing Ireland by car provided some amazing opportunities and access to so much more than if I had taken a coach tour. Auto Europe Car Rental provided a stress-free experience from booking to drop off and truly made this road trip around Ireland a memorable one.
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