Last August, we spent 10 days road tripping through Ireland with Mark’s parents. It was a dream trip for us to do with his family, since Mark’s father has Irish heritage! Here is some information on our 10-day itinerary, as well as where we stayed and how we rented a car.
Day 1: Travel Day
We flew round trip into the Dublin airport from Boston with Aer Lingus. The first three days of our trip were spent in Dublin, so we chose to wait to schedule our rental car for when we were leaving the city. Since public transportation and taxis are readily accessible, and parking is not, it worked out well to begin our trip sans vehicle for the first three days in Dublin.
Day 2: Dublin: Walking tour – Emigration Museum
From the airport, you can catch the Airlink Bus for 7 euros one way. It takes about 20 minutes to get you to downtown, and has a few bus routes from the airport. We also used this bus to get back to the airport, after our time in Dublin was finished to pick up our rental car. To learn more about our 3 days in Dublin, check out our Dublin City Guide post!
Day 3: Dublin: The Little Museum of Dublin – St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Jameson Distillery
Day 4: Dublin: Kilmainham Gaol Museum – Guinness Factory – Trinity Library
Day 5: Cork: Depart Dublin – Rock of Cashel – Cork
After 3 nights in Dublin, we were ready to head out early to get to the airport and pick up our rental car. From the airport, we set off for the Rock of Cashel, about 2 hours South of Dublin. From Cashel, it was another hour drive to Cork city, where we planned to stay the next two nights. To learn more about this stop between Dublin & Cashel, check out our previous post about visiting the Rock of Cashel.
Day 6: Cork: Cobh – Kinsale – Cork
Our first full day in County Cork was spent exploring the small coastal towns of Cobh and Kinsale. We spent most of the time in Cobh, exploring the Heritage Center and Titanic Museum, and then made our way to Kinsale for a Mead tasting and dinner. It’s a 30 minute drive from Cork to Cobh, then 1 hour from Cobh to Kinsale, and 30 minutes back to Cork. We used the car all day to get around and it was easy enough to find free parking in both towns. To learn more about the perfect day in Cobh, check out our previous post here.
Day 7: Killarney: Cork – Blarney Castle – Killarney
After our two nights in Cork, we set off again to visit Blarney Castle. Luckily, Cork is the perfect location to get to Blarney early in the morning to beat the crowds, since it’s about 15 minutes by car. Read more about our time at Blarney Castle here. After spending most of the morning in Blarney, we continued on the road to our next destination – Killarney. To break up the 1.5 drive between the two, we stopped in a town called Macroom for lunch. To learn more about Killarney, check out our previous post here.
Day 8: Killarney: Ring of Kerry – Killarney
After having a relaxing night in Killarney, we decided to dedicate an entire day to driving the Ring of Kerry. We saw a castle on the beach, tasted some yummy chocolate and traced Mark’s family heritage! There are so many stunning stops you can make along this journey, we dedicated an entire post to it. Learn more about the stops we made and route we took here: Driving the Ring of Kerry.
Day 9: Killarney: Dingle Peninsula – Killarney
Our last full day in Killarney we headed out on the road again – this time to visit the Dingle Peninsula! Similar to the day spent driving the Ring of Kerry, you can make stops along the way at a few scenic beaches and historic sites. We visited a prehistoric museum, held a baby lamb and climbed to Devil’s Horns for some incredible views. Learn more about our day exploring this region here: The Dingle Peninsula.
Day 10: Galway: Killarney – Cliffs of Moher – Burren – Galway
Departing Killarney, we drove 2.5 hours North to the Cliffs of Moher & the Burren. We arrived to the Cliffs early enough to beat the crowds, with plenty of time to explore without feeling rushed. Our drive to Galway took us through the rocky landscape of the Burren before settling in Galway for the evening. To learn more about this day, check out our previous post: The Cliffs of Moher & the Burren.
Day 11: Galway: Kylemore Abbey – Connemara National Park – Galway
Our last full day in Ireland, we drove an hour from Galway through Connemara National Park to visit Kylemore Abbey. This historic building was once a castle and later turned school! Check out more about our day trip there in our previous post: Kylemore Abbey.
Day 12: Travel Day: Galway – Dublin Airport – Travel Home
The following morning it was time to pack our bags and drive 2 hours (literally cross country) to catch our return flight home from Dublin. It was hard saying goodbye to this amazing trip but we were proud with what we were able to do and see! To learn more about Galway, check out our previous post here: Galway.
Finally, if you’re wondering where we stayed for this road trip I’ve put the Airbnb apartment links below! I highly recommend going that route over hotels since there was more space and we were able to cook breakfast some mornings. All of these were within walking distance to pubs, restaurants and some major sites! They’re perfect for families, friends or couples.
We rented a Nissan Qashqai from Sixt. After doing a lot of research, we found the car that would give us maximum space for luggage and 4 passengers. We opted for an automatic car, even though it was a bit more expensive, to ensure we were comfortable with driving. It’s important to note that cars are much smaller in Europe than in the US. We were able to fit two large checked bags, two wheeled carry-ons, a duffle bag and two back packs (in a real life game of Tetris).
There you have it: our entire Ireland trip in one whole post. Hope this is helpful to you, whether you’re planning your own adventure to the Emerald Isle or just dreaming of one!
P.S. Check out the map below to see all the stops we made along this journey!