The post y’all have been waiting for! Today, I’m sharing our Ireland itinerary! It was one of the most scenic places I’ve ever been – every direction we looked, there was a picture perfect moment. I’ve been sharing snapshots from our trip but if you’re planning a vacation to The Emerald Isle, this should be helpful to have it all in one place!
PS. Check out my mini Ireland travel guides for more details!
Day 1: We landed at the Dublin airport and picked up our rental car! We opted to drive because we wanted the freedom to go where we wanted when we wanted. I was a little nervous about driving on the opposite side of the road but it wasn’t too bad!
Beware that Ireland requires you to opt into insurance so the price you see when booking through any online site is substantially lower. If you are planning to drive to Northern Ireland, they will charge you an additional fee. The border controls are non-existent though so there isn’t anyone checking should you be up for leaving that out of your story!
We headed to the hotel to take a quick nap before wandering down Grafton Street to grab a bite to eat. Of course, we stopped at Laduree for some macaroons and I picked up some fresh hydrangeas from a street vendor. They were the biggest and most colorful hydrangeas I’d ever seen. I think we ended up getting Thai food which is weird, I know, but we were both craving it! A beer for Matt and a glass of wine for me (and a lot of jet lag) put us right to sleep!
Day 2: We walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral after grabbing breakfast at Brother Hubbard (so delicious)! The Guinness Storehouse was next up on the itinerary. We just bought tickets when we got there but you can buy them in advance online. It was a really fun stop especially for Matt (or any guy). They taught us how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness and we savored our drinks at the Gravity Bar which offers 360 degree views of Dublin.
We refueled at Bunsen with a few burgers (like an Irish version of Shake Shack) and explored St. Stephen’s Green. Before dinner, we walked around Trinity College because they happened to be having a bunch of back to school events. We ate dinner and enjoyed some traditional Irish music at a pub near Temple Bar to cap off the night!
Day 3: We woke up on the earlier side to head out of Dublin. We’d heard from a few of our friends that there weren’t as many sites in the Dublin and that was pretty spot on. We had castles and dreamy landscapes on our mind so 2 days was plenty! Kilkenny Castle was first on the agenda and it was gorgeous! We had lunch in Kilkenny at Matt The Millers Pub and headed to the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey which was about an hour away (more details here). We checked into Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork and it was just the cutest place! Right down to the chocolates on our pillows!
Day 4: First thing in the morning, we went to Blarney Castle to get in before the tourist buses arrived. We headed back into the town of Cork after a morning spent exploring the gardens (so pretty!). Matt found this amazing restaurant for lunch called Liberty Grill. Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral was up next!
In the afternoon, we headed over to Cobh to admire the ships and colorful buildings. It was a 30 minute drive from Cork. There is also a stunning cathedral overlooking the ocean!
Day 5: I’d heard so much about leaving a full day for the Ring of Kerry so, we did! The weather wasn’t the best but it was still a gorgeous drive. You can catch more photos and get details on our Ring of Kerry experience here.
Day 6: As you already know, the Gap of Dunloe was our absolute favorite part of Ireland! We spent the morning wandering the mountains (with the sheep haha) and enjoying the serene surroundings. For lunch, we drove to the tiny town of Dingle. It was so adorable! After checking the weather, we decided to head to the Cliffs of Moher instead of going the next day. No one wants to see cliffs in the rain, right?
Day 7: Today, we were all about castles! We started at Bunratty, stopped in at Dromoland, and then checked into the Ashford Castle in the early afternoon (see here for photos of the stunning grounds). I left our agenda open on purpose so we could relax for the next day. I always like to do that on our vacations – throwing in a break day to recharge a little.
Day 8: This was our longest day on the road! We had a lot of ground to cover but after the most incredible breakfast at Ashford Castle, we were prepared! Pretty sure I left with a scone baby (you know, from eating so many scones). We hit Downpatrick Head where we met the loveliest couple from San Francisco.
Then, back on the road to Slieve League where we hiked up the cliffs (photos above). Ask anyone in Ireland if they prefer the Cliffs of Moher or Slieve League and all will have an opinion. I don’t think I could choose but I’m so glad we got to see Slieve League because it’s a little off the beaten path (less touristy). Tip: wear tons of bug spray for this! TONS.
Day 9: Giant’s Causeway was another landmark I was really looking forward to seeing. I’m the planner in the relationship so I had tons of fun listening to Matt guess what Giant’s Causeway would be (he hadn’t done any research because he likes being surprised). The basalt columns left by an ancient volcano were so peculiarly mesmerizing! It was raining a little while we were there but it was mild compared to some of the other weather we got to enjoy earlier in the week!
Next, we headed over to the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. You can buy tickets at the entrance and the views are incredible! Walking across the bridge is the main event and they only let a certain number of people on it at once! If you’re scared of heights, beware!
On our way to Belfast, we stopped at The Dark Hedges. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, I’d recommend making the stop! It didn’t look nearly as ominous as some of the photos I’d seen because the sun was out but it was still pretty and only about 10 minutes from the rope bridge. Belfast was pretty quiet but we had fun walking around before dinner!
Day 10: Time to head home!
Hope this helps y’all plan your trip! Let me know if you have any questions about specifics! Ireland was definitely such a scenic country and I’m so glad we went! I’m starting to plan our next trip so if you have any suggestions, comment! Favorite places, hotels, whatever – I want to hear them!