Seven Day Western Ireland Itinerary
Earlier this year, I spent just about a week driving 1,250 miles around by car all throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. A coworker and I have spent a good bit of time chatting about what he and his girlfriend should do in order to make the most of their trip to Ireland. So, I threw together this seven day western Ireland Itinerary.
After a lot of chatting, I figured it would be useful to recommend what I saw and what I wish I saw in order to make the most of a 7-day western Ireland road trip starting from Dublin.
Day One | No Driving | No Miles |
Arrive in Dublin from wherever you’re traveling in from. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to assume that it’s in the morning. So, now that you’ve landed and grabbed a cup of coffee and made your way to downtown Dublin, I’d recommend staying in either an AirBnB (get $35 off your first booking) or check out a hostel.
My little sister and I stayed in the hostel linked above and it was a great experience. It’s easily the largest hostel I’ve ever stayed in but, was easily one of the best. The staff were courteous, the other guests were respectful of quiet hours, and it was a favorable rate.
Here is a list of things we did in Dublin or that I was recommended –
- Trinity College & Museum
- Famous Irish Authors Pub Crawl (this was awesome!)
- Guinness Storehouse Tour
- Old Bookshops
- John Kavanagh’s (Gravediggers Pub)
- Ha’penny Bridge
- The Winding Staircase Restaurant
- The Church Bar/Club
Day Two | ~4 hours driving | ~225 miles |
Alright, so you’ve seen Dublin and spent the night out on the town. Now it’s time to Manifest Destiny – move westward in this beautifully green country.
Since we had rented a car for our trek around the country, I’m not all that familiar with the bus lines, but from what my sister said, Bus Éireann is good. Take the bus from Dublin to Cork.
In Cork, there are a handful of ruins, cool looking churches, and other sites. I only spent an overnight here before getting our rental car, so, I just can’t really speak to it. Not to knock Cork, but from what I saw, I wouldn’t spend more than a day. I arrived on Easter weekend so a lot of establishments were closed (except Penny’s!).
I would just stay overnight in a smaller town outside of the city towards Killarney National Forest/Park. You could also head north-west towards the Blarney Stone if you want to wait in a long line.
By staying outside of the city of Cork, it gets you that much closer to spend a full day to drive the Ring of Kerry & get to your next overnight.
Here is a list of things we did in Cork/Killarney or that I was recommended –
- Wagamama Noodle Bar in Cork
- Penny’s for clothing in Cork (essentially H&M, but for Ireland)
- Ross Castle
- Blarney Stone
Day Three | ~4.5 hours of driving | ~200 miles |
If there is one thing that you have to do while in Ireland, this would be it. This will be the most driving intensive day of the trip and probably of your life.
Narrow roads, driving on the left-hand side, speed limit signs in Kilometres per hour, sheep randomly crossing the road, random weather, and so on…
If you rented a car, please, please, please go counter-clockwise. The tour buses go clockwise. Not only is it safer, but, you won’t get stuck behind a tour slow tour bus going up, down, & around crazy roads.
We drove the entire ring in about 5-6 hours. However, we stopped off at random overlooks, checked out old stone forts, and weren’t necessarily driving the entire time. Throughout the drive, it hailed twice, there were rainbows, and beautiful open skies. This day showed me how crazy Ireland’s weather truly is.
If you’re driving yourself, be sure to time it to make sure you have enough sunlight to see Killarney National Park. There were snow capped mountains off in the distance, water running down the cliff sides, and animals on/off the road as we drove thru. We didn’t enter Killarney National Park until dark – so, our views were brief and only lit by the moon.
If you aren’t staying near Killarney National Park, head about 30 minutes north by car to Tralee. I can’t speak to what there is to do in Tralee – but apparently, there is a famous competition called The Rose of Tralee.
The scenery is something else with pubs scattered throughout the drive – so, be sure to stop off and grab a pint of Guinness.
Here is a list of things we did in Killarney/Ring of Kerry or that I was recommended –
- Random Lunch Stops
- Random Coffee Stops
- Explore the backroads off the Ring of Kerry
- Killarney National Park
Day Four | ~3 hours of driving | ~125 miles |
Dingle. If you love small, historic, picture-book Irish towns, Dingle is definitely one of those places. We wound up making our way to Dingle after staying on a rural sheep farm (pictured below) an hour or two away. Having arrived during Easter, there were plenty of Easter Rising parades being thrown throughout the country. We just so happened to be lucky enough to catch Dingle’s Easter Rising Parade. If you pop back south-west to Dingle, it will add 2 hours of driving and an addition 60-ish miles onto the total for today.
I’m not too certain if I would recommend an overnight in Dingle, but rather, just a 1/2 day to see this little town nestled away.
Whether you explore Dingle or not, you need to stop by the Cliffs of Moher. It’s one of those things that you just have to do while in Ireland. Probably one of the most photographed spots in Ireland as well. The sheer cliff faces are unparalleled with anything that I’ve ever seen before. The fact that you can walk along the edge without any rails is unbelievable. You can sit at the edge, dangle your feet over, and watch the sea birds fly below.
Once you’re done at the Cliffs of Moher, head about 90 minutes North to Galway.
We didn’t spend any time in Galway aside from trying to find a hotel for the night (unsuccessfully). Everyone we chatted with recommended Galway as a stop for at least one if not two nights.
Here is a list of things we did in Dingle/Galway or that I was recommended –
- Look for the Dingle Dolphin
- Try Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle
- Grab a Local Coffee and Walk Around Dingle
- Cliffs of Moher
Day Five | ~45 minutes of driving | ~40-minute boat ride | ~20 miles |
Today is the day to go explore the Aran Islands. This is probably the 2nd most recommended thing that people suggested we do on this road trip.
The ferry leaves at various times throughout the day, but for the sake of this post, we’ll assume you are catching the 10:30 ferry to Inis Mor.
This ferry costs only 25.00 Euro and takes ~30-40 minutes to get from A to B. Inis Mor is part of the Aran Islands, which are notorious for the high-quality wool sweaters and other woollen goods that they create. Save your pennies for this because the sweaters are well over 100.00 Euros.
Also, if you’re looking to get cash to pay for food at the restaurant/pub later be sure to get it out when you arrive. The supermarket on the island with the ATM closes early in the day.
While at Inis Mor, I highly recommend renting a bike if the weather permits. Bikes are rather cheap to rent for a day and allow you to see the entire island. It probably will take 4-7 hours to bike around and see various alcoves, beaches, DON ANGHEUS, Seven Churches, and other attractions. Keep in mind – you’re not going to be on the bike pedalling this entire time.
Obviously, you’ve worked up an appetite from biking. So pull up a seat at one of the three bars and grab a pint of the black stuff.
Here is a list of things we did in Inis Mor or that I was recommended –
- Rent Bikes
- Dun Aonghasa Prehistoric Fort
- Seven Churches
- Take in the scenery
- Find some Craic
Day Six | ~3 hours of driving | ~140 miles |
Catch the early morning ferry from Inismor back to Galway at 8:30am.
Once you get back to your car, you can decide if you want to go out of your way to Sligo. Even tho Sligo, Ireland was my favorite city, for the sake of not being in the car all day, I would recommend beginning to head back East towards Dublin. There’s a good number of small towns that you can stop off at and grab a bite to eat and explore for 30-45 minutes. The drive straight-thru from Galway to Dublin is only 130 miles – roughly two and a half hours by car.
However, I recommend that you take a 45-minute detour to the town called Trim. There really isn’t too much to the town aside from the massive Trim Castle – which I asked for the family discount to tour. Trim Castle opened in 1174 and is the largest Norman Castle in all of Ireland. It went thru a good bit of restoration and was used for filming in the movie Braveheart with Mel Gibson.
Once you’ve made it back to Dublin, I recommend grabbing a bite to eat at The Winding Stair and then going on the Irish Author/Poet Pub Crawl. Two actors accompany the
Day Seven | No Driving | No Miles |
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Drop your rental car back off and catch a taxi back to the airport.
The Dublin Airport seemed to be rather easy to navigate thru. I had just enough Euro left to grab two final pints of Guinness before boarding my flight back to New York City.
Weep over one last pint (or two or three) of Guinness in the airport. It really does taste different in Ireland.
Grand Total | ~15.25 hours of driving | ~710 miles of driving |
One of the main things that I didn’t realize about Ireland when I road tripped there in March/April of 2016 was just how small the country is. People thought I was insane for traveling ~1,250 miles in a short 7-day stay in their country.Some people we chatted with said that we saw more of Ireland than they’ve seen in their entire lives living there.
Some people we chatted with said that we saw more of Ireland than they’ve seen in their entire lives living there. This probably holds true for a lot of foreigners that visit the USA. I’ve yet to get any further west than Austin, Texas. These conversations about seeing one’s own home land re-lit the fire under my ass about The Great Forty-Eight. Shortly after returning from Ireland, Emily and I won an auction on a 1981 Toyota Sunrader Diesel that we’re going to be continually fixing in time for the early-Summer of 2017 to visit all 48 continental states.