Ireland is a pretty amazing country to visit. The country has a rich and ancient history, the kindest people I’ve ever met, a nice convivial spirit, and beautiful sights of every kind. Once under the dominion of the United Kingdom, Ireland is a strong country proud of its independence, and with reason, it’s one of the most laid back and beautiful countries I’ve every visited. I’ve been to a plethora of countries and Ireland is just one of those countries I can’t praise enough. It’s funny that I say this because before I visited, I didn’t have very high expectations. But this country, famous for whiskey, Guinness, folk dancing, music, and verdant landscapes, won my heart over.
Now, it’s easy enough to fly into Dublin and spend most your time exploring the city and surrounding areas. There’s nothing wrong with going this path but, if you are up for it, another adventure awaits. I suggest renting a car and taking a road trip around Ireland so you can get an even more thorough feeling for the real Ireland. Once you leave those sections of Dublin catering to tourists, Ireland does this incredible thing…it gets even better! You can rent a car on the cheap if you need to and then put the pedal to the medal as you head out to explore what the country has to offer. I, personally, believe experiencing a country by driving is a pretty great way to gain a more authentic experience as you drive through beautiful country side, small villages, and maybe even get a bit lost.
It’s a different experience for sure!
If you decide this is the way you want to experience Ireland, I have the perfect road trip route. As with any road trip, you want to make sure you plan enough time to both enjoy it and contingencies in case anything were to go wrong or if you are delayed. It’s always good to be prepared for these scenarios. Overall, road trips are a great way to gain a different king of travel experience then normal.
For this road trip itinerary, I suggest picking your rental vehicle up at the airport as soon as you arrive and departing from Dublin. Don’t worry, you can spend time in Dublin at the end of your road trip. Make sure you get a GPS with your car because they don’t come automatically included. As you drive to Cork, you’ll roll past beautiful green landscapes and quite a few distant ruins. Just enjoy the drive. Then spend a couple days exploring Cork. Be sure to use one of the days you spend some of your time in the city to explore popular sites such as the English Market, Cork Public Museum, and Shandon Tower. I included Blarney here as well because you can take a quick drive to visit Blarney Castle, its famous stone, and surrounding gardens including a poison garden (14 minute drive). There is also an inexpensive bus route from Cork to Blarney.
Cork to Bunratty Castle/Cliffs of Moher
After exploring Cork, start your day early and head towards Limerick but avoid the city because this day is going to be a bit longer drive than normal. Instead navigate to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park where you can explore a large 15th-century tower house which has been restored. You can spend up to three hours exploring the castle, the farm houses and cottages, watching people work as rural Irish people did many hundreds of years ago. Next head from Bunratty Castle to the Cliffs of Moher. This is definitely the highlight of the day as you will explore one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. The cliffs range in height between 390 to 702 feet (120 to 214 meters) and are absolutely breathtaking with ocean to one side and beautiful stone-walled pastures to the other. It’s a truly remarkable experience. Once you’ve finished exploring here, you can either head towards the Burren National Park or find a bed and breakfast for the night…depending on time.
Cliffs of Moher to Burren National Park/Galway
Now you are heading to a pretty fascinating landscape unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The Cliffs of Moher make up part of this region and serves as a home to thousands of seabirds including puffins. However, the rest of the park is filled with interesting geologic formations, cliffs, caves, fossils, and archaeological sites. You can spend as little or as much time as you want in this region because there is lots to explore. Utlimately, you should end up in Galway which is a contemporary city steeped in history and known for its artsy, bohemian atmosphere and Irishness. In fact, it’s considered one of the most Irish cities of Ireland and you are likely to hear people speaking Irish in the street. Explore the arts scene, the history, the food and pub scene, and it’s many pleasures!
Galway to Clonmacnoise/Maynooth/Dublin
Spend as much time as you’d like in Galway then it’s time to head East towards Dublin. On the way, make a stop in Clonmachnoise to check out the ruins of a cathedral dating back to the 6th-century. On top of that, you can check out seven churches dating to the 10th-13th-centuries, two round towers, three high crosses, and the largest collection of early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe. Next, make a quick stop in Maynooth to see the university and the ruined 12th century castle which stands at the entrance to the South Campus. Finally you will make your last stop in Dublin where you can explore all the city has to offer.
As I’ve said, a road trip will allow you to explore so much more of Ireland than simply visiting one city. Of course, you will need the time to actually carry out a road trip so make sure you take that into consideration. I didn’t give specific time ranges in each location because that’s something you will need to decide. You can always find a bed and breakfast nearby no matter where you go. So rent a car and explore Ireland by road and at your own pace!
Pin Me Please!