St. Patrick’s Day is behind us and we are thinking about our last road trip in the countryside. Get behind the wheel in Ireland and brave driving on the wrong side of the road. You will love the scenery and all of the stops along the way! We recommend taking at least one week to drive around the gorgeous Emerald Isle.
Ireland First Stop: Dublin
One thing we can quickly share is the ideal route for circling the country. Dublin is definitely the heartbeat of Ireland and should be your first stop. The city is small and bustling; dotted with colorful pubs and cobblestone streets. We recommend stopping in Ghallagher’s Boxty House for some traditional boxty pancakes and a pint. They take the humble potato and transform it into the most delicious pub food you ever did try.
Going to Galway
For your next stop, we recommend heading west. The best travel books recommend circling Ireland in this direction and Galway is about 2-3 hours drive from Dublin. If you like to keep your trip somewhat spontaneous, we recommend reserving hotels at major stops ahead of time. Keep a few nights along the trip open and book your next hotel first thing in the morning. You can add a day trip here and there to explore the countryside and then head back to a home base for the night.
Ring of Kerry
Plan at least 2 days for the Ring of Kerry. You can easily drive Ireland’s famous coastal road in a day but we recommend taking it easy. Drive the ring in a counter-clockwise direction and plan for multiple stops along the way. You will find many picturesque stopping points with breathtaking views of the Irish coast.
At the north-east corner of the Ring of Kerry lies the Killarney National Park. Plan one night in Kenmare during your Ireland trip so you have a day to hike around. Visit Torc Waterfall and you will begin to imagine fairies and elves hiding amid the lush greenery. Next to the waterfall are stone steps that circle up and around into the heavens.
Put a Cork in it
Make a stop in Cork (even if you don’t stay the night) on your way back to Dublin. Cork is a perfect example of the quaint villages that will dot your trip in Ireland. The drive back to Dublin is about 6-7 hours from here so plan accordingly. We wanted to add Belfast to our trip so we stopped in Cork for breakfast and then made the long haul back up.
Belfast + Beyond
You can fly out of Belfast or use it as a leg in your journey to other countries. Belfast houses one of our favorite pubs in Ireland. The Crown Liquor Saloon hails back to the 1820s and it reminiscent of the type of pubs seen in Peaky Blinders. Its private booths are dark and ages and the interior is ornate with stained glass windows.
Take Your Time
The best advice we can give for traveling Ireland is to take it slow. There are so many spontaneous stops you can make when driving around Ireland that will totally make your trip. Everyone has their own journey stories, with this little stop here and that little viewpoint there. Use this guide to plan your major stops and let fate do the rest!