Last summer we took a road trip around Ireland with the aim to see as much of the country as possible with the limited time we had. Ireland is the perfect place to do a road trip, even if some of the roads are narrow and, you have to wait a good 10 minutes to let a farmer and his cattle cross to the other side. Here is our itinerary for our time in Ireland.
Day 1, Wicklow Mountains & Glendalough
After an incredibly delayed flight we landed in Dublin Airport and collected our Budget rental car. After doing our research these guys seemed to be the best value for us. After navigating the motorways we left Dublin with haste and began our drive through the Wicklow Mountains. We stopped a lot to take pictures and soak up the views of this rugged hilly land.
Eventually we arrived at Glendalough which literally means Valley of the two lakes. The site is probably best know for its monastic heritage. It’s a great place to walk around especially by the lough and it is one of those places that gives you a sense of inferiority that can only be felt by standing next to something so beautiful.
We spent the evening in Avoca, a very small town in County Wicklow.
Day 2, Kilkenny
We decided the spend the second day in Kilkenny and spent the morning driving to the town. It was a great opportunity to explore the city and participate in a well earned pub crawl. One of the most prominent sights in Kilkenny is the Castle, which also has an incredible rose garden you can walk around in. If you are looking for a drink, we stumbled upon Kyteler’s Inn (and stumbled back out of after a few drinks) which was recommended to us by the locals.
Day 3, Rock of Cashel & Cork
Another early start as we drove towards the Rock of Cashel, a historic site located in County Tipperary. We clambered up to the entrance alongside the dozens of passengers who were emptying out of the tourbuses. It was a beautiful site and we were lucky enough to be standing in the ruins of the cathedral when a choir broke out into full song.
Moving on we headed to Cork, a very colourful and contemporary city located in the Southwest of Ireland. It’s also a vibrant city full of quirky bars and restaurants. Our highlights included a visit to the English Market where they sell locally produced foods. We also visited St Anne’s Church where you can ring the bells, and make your way to the top of the church for a 360 degree view of the city. Just a word of warning this is not ideal if you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights (or both).
Day 4, Blarney Castle, Bantry, & Killarney
No trip to Ireland is complete without a trip to Blarney Castle. The weather wasn’t great when we arrived but this did not deter us. The must do thing at Blarney Castle is of course kissing the Blarney Stone. To get to the stone you must first walk up to the top of the castle via a very narrow and winding staircase. Once at the peak you join a line of fellow kissers and wait. You lay on your back and reach out to kiss the stone which is suspended over a severe drop. Unfortunately my fear of heights got the better of me, although Dave did manage to do it. His reward was ‘the gift of the gab’ or so it is foretold (which he hasn’t shut up about).
Armed with this new gift we drove to the seaside town of Bantry. We parked up and got to spend a little bit of time walking around breathing in the sea air and feasting on some very fresh fish and chips. We were then mobbed by seagulls and had to eat the rest of the food in the car.
Traumatised but still going strong we drove to Killarney, a very touristy and quaint town. The town was filled with pubs and restaurants and you could even travel by horse drawn carriage around the town if you really wanted to.
Day 5, Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry & Tralee
Halfway through the trip we left the town of Killarney to explore its neighbouring national park. Driving through you are surrounded by giant trees and moss covered rocks. There are so many walks you can do around the park and our highlight was walking around Torc Waterfall which is at the base of Torc Mountain.
The national park also forms part of the Ring of Kerry route. The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Penninsula in County Kerry. You pass through incredible mountainous terrain, as well as crystal clear ocean water. This was one part of the drive where we stopped a lot and had to switch up the driving frequently. We spent the evening in Tralee which gave us a good start for the following days journey.
Day 6, Cliffs of Moher & Galway
Another must see in Ireland are of course the Cliffs of Moher. At a maximum height the cliffs are 214 meters high. The day we visited was quite overcast and they do allow you to use your ticket on another day if this is the case. As we were pushed for time we couldn’t take advantage of this, but luckily the rain cleared up for a short time while we visited.
Leaving the cliffs and the rain behind we then headed to Galway. A stunning harbour city, Galway is an excellent place to experience some Irish culture. From its fine dining and seafood restaurants to it’s quirky Irish bars, Galway is a popular tourist destination.
Day 7, Aran Islands & Galway
Galway is also the perfect gateway to the Aran Islands. We left our car at the hotel and took a bus out to Rossaveal where ferries depart frequently to the Aran Islands. The Islands are an absolute must and if you check out my previous blog post you will find out why.
Day 8, Sligo
Our final destination was Sligo, a town along the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route that exudes natural beauty. Sligo is also Yeats Country and this is where the poet was inspired to create some of his best work. Sligo is one of my favourite places in Ireland and for more information click here and you will see why as mentioned in one of my previous posts.
Sligo is also about a 40 minute drive to Knock Airport which has regular flights to the UK as well as other European destinations so if you are travelling from the UK its an easy base to fly home from.