Whether you are planning a short break in Ireland, or you want some inspiration for your weekend away in Ireland this is the guide for you. We detail everything you need to know from accommodation to food and drink to help you plan your own little getaway. Here our suggestions for the best Ireland weekend breaks, to inspire you to pack your bags and go.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, so if you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission, at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Before we get into the best Ireland weekend breaks, here is a little bit of background and some facts about the country.
For starters, in this post we are referring to the island of Ireland as a whole. This includes the two separate countries of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland makes up the vast majority of the island of Ireland. The capital is Dublin, and they use Euros in terms of currency. The Republic of Ireland is also part of the EU.
Northern Ireland however is part of the United Kingdom. Its capital is Belfast, and here they use Pound Sterling as currency.
Ireland is famous for it’s green luscious landscapes, drinking culture, and much more. It’s a fun and friendly place to visit, and there are so many great places to visit for a weekend away in Ireland.
Getting around during your short break in Ireland
Before we get to some inspiring Ireland weekend breaks, it is probably worth going through how to get around in Ireland.
Realistically, you will need a car to do these short breaks in Ireland. Unfortunately public transport networks across the country aren’t always great. The trains especially can be really frustrating and you only really get routes from Dublin to other big cities or towns.
Tips for renting a car in Ireland
If you don’t live in the country you will need to rent a car to do most of these Ireland weekend breaks. Here are some of our top tips for renting a car and driving in Ireland.
- Drive on the left side of the road in Ireland.
- The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland use different speed metrics – use kilometres in the Republic and miles in Northern Ireland.
- Don’t panic on country roads – there may be times you get stuck behind a tractor and sometimes you have to wait it out.
- It’s not worth renting a really big car when driving in Ireland because the roads can be quite narrow.
Best time of year to plan your Ireland weekend break
When planning your weekend away in Ireland, you definitely need to consider the time of year you are planning to visit.
Ireland is at its peak in the summer months. The days are brighter for longer, and the weather is mild, with less chance of rain.
The temperatures average between 15 – 25 degrees Celsius, but I should stress that rain is still pretty common – I mean it’s Ireland!
The downside of planning your short break in Ireland over the summer months is that it is incredibly popular with tourists. You will need to plan your trip properly and book accommodation well in advance.
On the flip side if you are planning to do your weekend away in Ireland over the winter months you are best off sticking to a city break. It tends to rain a lot in winter, and with adverse weather conditions it can make driving on some of the smaller country roads quite dangerous.
Temperatures average at about 5-10 degrees Celsius in the day, with it getting a lot colder in the evenings. Ice and snow are not uncommon either.
Another thing to note in Ireland during winter is that it gets dark early. Depending on which part of the country you are in and the time of the year it can often be dark by 5pm.
The best time to plan your short break in Ireland, is spring or autumn. May and September are great months, as the weather is mild, and it isn’t as busy as the summer months.
Are you planning on visiting Ireland in March? Here is a helpful guide.
Ideas for a weekend away in Ireland
Here are our top ideas and best destinations for a short break in Ireland.
Sligo is both the name of a county, and the town which is the administrative capital of Sligo County. County Sligo is filled with incredible beauty, and was said to be the poet W.B Yeats favourite place in Ireland. In fact the county was hugely influential to Yeats who immortalised some of the lakes, woodlands, and much more through his poetry.
GETTING TO SLIGO
Located in the north west of Ireland, Sligo is relatively easy to get to. There is a train that runs from Sligo to Dublin and this journey takes about 3 hours.
Alternatively the best way to get to Sligo is to drive. The drive from Dublin takes just under 3 hours although this is of course traffic dependant.
If you are flying the closest airport to Sligo is Knock Airport. From here there are regular flights to the UK, and some European destinations. Knock Airport is around 40 minutes drive to Sligo.
WHERE TO STAY IN SLIGO
There are a number of places to base yourself when visiting Sligo. Sligo Town is the obvious choice as it is central with hotels such as the Glasshouse, being popular tourist choices.
You also have a number of hotels and B&Bs around some of the beaches in Sligo, such as Rosses Point and Strandhill. Strandhill is a good choice for your weekend away in Ireland as you are close to the beach, restaurants, the relaxing seaweed baths and surf school.
THINGS TO DO IN SLIGO
Sligo is good for an Ireland weekend break that involves spending time in nature. There is so much natural beauty in this stunning county you will not be bored that is for sure. Some of the best things to do include:
- Admire Benbulben – which is the stunning mountain landscape that towers over the county.
- Visit the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery – the oldest and the densest concentration of Neolithic tombs in Ireland
- Climb Knocknarea – climb the mountain that dominates the skyline, on the easy to follow path.
- Explore Lough Gill – discover the lough that inspired some of Yeats best poems.
- Visit Sligo Abbey– to explore the ruins of this former Dominican convent which was founded in 1253.
- Walk around Rosses Point – or go for a swim at one of the best swimming beaches in Sligo.
- Enjoy the surf at Strandhill – or walk around the sand dunes, or even book a seaweed bath.
- Visit W B Yeats grave– located at Drumcliffe Parish Church.
- Admire the Gleniff Horseshoe – one of the best hidden gems in Sligo.
EATING AND DRINKING IN SLIGO
Sligo is a really good choice for a weekend away in Ireland if you love food. In the Town you have some fantastic places like Hargadon’s who serve your classic pub food. Another favourite is Eala Bhan where you will be treated to fine dining and locally sourced foods.
Our absolute favourite spot to eat in Sligo though has to be Shell’s in Strandhill. They do a great brunch and lunch menu, and their cakes are out of this world.
WHY SLIGO IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Sligo is the perfect spot for a weekend away in Ireland especially if you want to enjoy nature. It’s a real hidden gem in Ireland, and is one of the spots that is beautiful but not overwhelmed with tourists.
Galway is another great spot on the west coast of Ireland. It’s a harbour city that is popular for traditional Irish pubs and live traditional music.
GETTING TO GALWAY
Galway is another destination with great transport links. There is a regular train that goes between Dublin and Galway and takes around 2.5 hours. It will also take the same length of time to drive from Dublin to Galway.
If you are starting your Ireland weekend break from further afield, the closest airports to Galway are Knock in the north, and Shannon, which is south. They both take about an hour to drive to Galway from.
WHERE TO STAY IN GALWAY
For a short break in Galway you are best off staying close to the centre. We recommend looking for accommodation in the Latin Quarter or near the Docks. This will ensure that you are close to lots of pubs and restaurants, and within walking distance to a number of attractions too.
THINGS TO DO IN GALWAY
Galway is a very traditional kind of city steeped in history. Here are some of the top things to do in Galway.
- Visit Quay Street – and soak in the brilliant atmosphere and listen to the buskers.
- Explore Galway Cathedral – one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the city.
- Galway City Museum – to gain an understanding of the cultural heritage related to the city of Galway.
- Do a Hop On Hop Off bus tour – and get around the city with ease.
- Do a walking tour – to learn all about the history of the city.
- Visit Salthill – to explore one of the beautiful beaches surrounding the city.
EATING AND DRINKING IN GALWAY
Galway has a great pub scene, especially for those wanting to catch a trad music session. The Latin Quarter is one of the best places in the city to enjoy a night out, and honestly there are so many cool bars here.
The Quays is one of the best especially for live music. The atmosphere is incredible, and it will give you a real taste of Irish culture. Or for something a little cosier try Tig Cóilí who do daily trad sessions.
If you are looking for food there is no shortage in Galway. You can try the Quay Street Kitchen for some hearty meals at decent prices. Or if you are after seafood McDonagh’s is a good shout. It’s very casual and reasonably priced too.
WHY GALWAY IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Galway is a fantastic option for your weekend away in Ireland if you are looking for something a little traditional. It’s perfect for those wanting to enjoy the nightlife in the city and listen to some trad music.
The Aran Islands, are perfect for a more subdued Ireland weekend break. There are 3 islands that make up what is known collectively as the Aran Islands. They are Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer. Inishmore is the biggest but they each have their own character.
GETTING TO THE ARAN ISLANDS
You can get to the islands from either Galway or Doolin, and the easiest way is via boat.
If you are travelling from Galway to the Aran Islands, then you will need to make your way to Rosaveel which is just under an hour away from the centre of Galway. From Rosaveel you then need to hop on a ferry that will take you to any of the islands. Although it is worth noting Inishmore is the more popular with more routes.
If you are travelling between March and October, then you can get a ferry from Doolin to the Aran Islands. Inisheer is the closest island from Doolin, but again you can visit all 3 islands from here.
Flying is also an option. You need to travel with Aer Arann Islands, and flights leave from Connemara Airport. The airport is around a 40 minute drive from Galway.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE ARAN ISLANDS
It is important to note that accommodation is quite limited on the islands. Inishmore has the most options which include Glamping options a number of B & Bs, and even hotels. The main hotel on the island is the Aran Islands hotel.
THINGS TO DO IN THE ARAN ISLANDS
One of the best things about visiting the Aran Islands is that it’s easy to feel like you have gone back in time. It sort of has this Ireland of yesteryear feeling that you won’t get anywhere else. Here are some of the top things to do on Inishmore which as mentioned is the largest of the islands.
- See Na Seacht Teampaill (The Seven Churches) – to the site of a graveyard and ruined church.
- Explore the coastline – especially in the summer months with Kilmurvey Beach being on the best places to go.
- Visit the seal colony– just 10 mins from Kilmurvey beach.
- Explore Dún Aonghasa– an ancient stone fortress located on a particularly rugged cliff.
EATING AND DRINKING IN THE ARAN ISLANDS
One of the best things to do on Inishmore is to get yourself to a traditional and cosy pub. The aptly named – The Bar – is a great place to go for a few pints. Our favourite though is Joe Watty’s Bar. They have trad music and they serve fresh seafood, and have a fireplace, so you can get cosy with a pint after a long days walk.
If you are looking for lunch, whilst exploring the island, one of our favourite places to eat in Inishmore is the Dun Aengus Cafe. It’s located in a really quaint thatched cottage, and is popular with tourists because of its proximity to the stone fort and cliffs. The soup and bread is honestly incredible and is a nice warm treat especially on a cold windy day on the island.
WHY THE ARAN ISLANDS ARE A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
The Aran Islands are such a unique experience. They are the perfect weekend away in Ireland for anyone that wants peace and quiet.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and a fantastic city to visit for a weekend away in Ireland. It’s easy to get to with an international airport, and excellent transport links from across Northern Ireland and the Republic.
GETTING TO BELFAST
If you are flying into Belfast chances are you will be landing at Belfast international Airport. The easiest way to get into the city from here is to hop on the 300 or 300A bus. A return ticket is £12.50 and you can purchase this at the bus stop from the ticket machine.
WHERE TO STAY IN BELFAST
There are lots of hotel choices in Belfast, but do keep in mind that costs do tend to be higher in the summer months and on weekends. We highly recommend you book this in advance to get the best deals on your weekend away in Ireland.
The best areas to stay in Belfast for a weekend are the Cathedral Quarter or the Titanic Quarter. You will be close to the attractions and within walking distance to a number of bars and restaurants.
THINGS TO DO IN BELFAST
Belfast is one of the best places to go for a short break in Ireland if you are wanting a fun night out, and to experience some of the city’s rich history. In terms of things to do you have:
- The Ulster Museum – for exploring a mixture of art, and natural science exhibits.
- Belfast City Hall – where you can do a tour inside the historic building.
- Botanic Gardens – which are perfect for nature lovers to explore a large selection of plants and trees.
- Crumlin Road Gaol – where you can explore a prison that once held Unionist and Republican terrorists.
- St. George’s Market – where you can explore one of the oldest markets in Belfast.
- Titanic Belfast – which is by far one of the best attractions in Belfast, where you can learn all about the history of the ill fated Titanic.
EATING AND DRINKING IN BELFAST
Belfast has some excellent choices when it comes to food and drink. There are a number of great restaurants to enjoy such as Coppi or Orto Pizzabar. Both restaurants are located in the exciting Cathedral Quarter and serve great food, which you will need especially if you plan to enjoy some of the nightlife in the city.
Another favourite in Belfast is The Pocket which does a pretty decent brunch menu. They do things like mushrooms on sourdough, and French toast. The coffee is also really good.
For drinks, some of the highlights in Belfast include your classic pubs like Bittles Bar, The Crown Liquor Saloon, and our favourite the Duke of York. They are all quirky bars with their own personality. We highly recommend Bittles though if you are after a pint of Guinness.
Otherwise just explore the vibrant Cathedral Quarter. It really comes to life at night with people spilling on to the streets and enjoying pints outdoors. During the day it is much quieter but great to snap a few photos of the colourful area.
WHY BELFAST IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Belfast is perfect for a short break in Ireland especially if you are after a chilled out city break. It’s also great if you want to let loose and party on the weekend.
Dublin is of course an obvious choice for an Ireland weekend break. It is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It was also recognised as a UNESCO city of literature in 2010, so is very much a cultural hub.
GETTING TO DUBLIN
If you are visiting Dublin chances are your trip will start at Dublin Airport. The airport is a busy travel hub, with connecting flights to Europe, the US, The Middle East, and Asia. Once at the airport you can hop on the 747 or the 757 Airlink buses. For about €6 one way theses buses will take you into the centre of Dublin. They are part of the public transport network so you can purchase a Leap Card, and will be able to use these to cover the tickets.
Alternatively, if you are arriving into Dublin from elsewhere in Ireland then chances are you will be arriving into Connolly Station. From here you will need to get the Luas Red Line that will take you into the centre.
WHERE TO STAY IN DUBLIN
If you are doing a short break in Ireland, and have decided to stay in Dublin you will want to make sure your accommodation is central. Temple Bar and St Stephen’s Green are both great areas with a central location.
Be warned though, accommodation in Dublin can be ridiculously expensive. For a 4 star hotel on the weekend you are looking at paying over €230 per night. It get’s even more expensive if you are booking around school holidays, or events like New Years or St Patrick’s Day.
THINGS TO DO IN DUBLIN
There is so much to see and do to add to your Dublin itinerary. From museums, to breweries Dublin has something for everyone. Here are some of the best things to do in Dublin.
- See the Ha’penny Bridge – one of the symbols of Dublin, and one of the first pedestrian bridges over the River Liffey.
- Visit the Little Museum of Dublin – to learn all about Irish history.
- See Dublin Castle – because you can’t do a weekend break in Ireland without seeing at least one castle.
- Visit the Irish Whiskey Museum – and learn all about how Irish Whiskey is made.
- Travel to Phoenix Park – and picnic with the deer.
- Tour Kilmainham Gaol – and learn about Irish history and revolutionaries.
- Check out Temple Bar – where you can stroll around the picturesque area and sip pints.
- See the The Book of Kells – which is a manuscript containing the four Gospels and dates back to the 9th Century.
- Visit The Guinness Storehouse – which is one of the top attractions in Dublin.
EATING AND DRINKING IN DUBLIN
Dublin has a great nightlife scene and food scene so you will not find a shortage of places to eat and drink.
When it comes to food some of our favourite meals are your classic pub dinners. The Brazen Head do some excellent all day meals which includes classics like Guinness and steak pie, and fish and chips.
For a modern take on something traditional we recommend Gallaghers Boxty House in Temple Bar. They serve Boxty which is a potato pancake fried in oil for a crisp outside.
There is also a lot of choice when it comes to drinking in Dublin. The Temple Bar is a tourist favourite (although it is quite expensive).
You also have a lot of uber cool cocktail bars like Bar 1661. This place specialises in Poitín cocktails which was once referred to as Irish moonshine.
WHY DUBLIN IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Dublin is an excellent choice for a weekend away in Ireland. It’s especially great for those that want to experience Irish culture, and have a fun and memorable city break.
If you are looking for tranquility as part of your short break in Ireland, Glendalough is our top suggestion. It is just south of Dublin and combined with a drive through the Wicklow Mountains it is the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
GETTING TO GLENDALOUGH
Glendalough is about a 1.5 hour drive from Dublin. Part of this trip will take you through the Wicklow Mountains which gives you a chance to see some of the stunning natural beauty Ireland has to offer.
If you don’t want to drive there are several day trip you can do from Dublin to Glendalough.
WHERE TO STAY IN GLENDALOUGH
There are a lot of great places to stay in County Wicklow. For a proper hotel experience you can stay at the The Glenview Hotel & Leisure Club, although this is still a 30 minute drive the Glendalough. There is also the Glendalough Hotel which is a 3 star hotel right near the monastic site.
There are several B&B style places around Glendalough, as well as surrounding areas like Avoca.
THINGS TO DO IN GLENDALOUGH
Here are some of the best things to do in Glendalough, and the wicklow Mountains in general.
- Glendalough Monastic Site – explore the site founded by St Kevin.
- St Kevin’s Kitchen – an early example of a classic Irish Church dating back to the 11th Century.
- Round Tower – a 33 metre tall tower at Glendalough.
- Go Hiking – Glendalough is full of so much natural beauty that is perfect for hiking.
- See the Glenmacnass Waterfall – one of the most beautiful but often isolated parts of the Wicklow Mountains.
- Visit the Powerscourt Waterfall – another idyllic spot located of the Powerscourt Estate in the Wicklow Mountains.
- Great Sugarloaf – a distinctive mountain with a conical peak you can hike up in an hour.
EATING AND DRINKING IN GLENDALOUGH
Glendalough is a pretty small village area, but there are still some great places to go for some traditional Irish grub. Johnnie Fox’s Pub is supposed to be the ‘highest’ pub in Ireland so is always worth a visit for food and drink. It’s around a half hour drive from Glendalough, and very much worth the trip.
For something a bit fancier you have The Wicklow Heather. The food is great quality, and it is a very popular place to go for dinner near Glendalough.
WHY GLENDALOUGH IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Glendalough is a perfect Ireland weekend break location if you want to be close to Dublin, but completely escape the hustle and bustle. There are several beautiful nature walks and a lot of scenery to enjoy.
WILD ATLANTIC WAY
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the best road trips that you can do in Ireland. Admittedly it might not be the best for a short break in Ireland, but you can definitely do part of it. We recommend a minimum of 5 days to see the Wild Atlantic Way, but you can choose certain sections and stick to these.
GETTING TO THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
The Wild Atlantic Way is broken up into 6 sections. These are the Northern Headlands, Surf Coast, Bay Coast, Cliff Coast, Southern Peninsulas, and Haven Coast. For your Ireland weekend break you are best off picking one section and sticking to this.
The Wild Atlantic Way is accessible from Cork Airport, which is close to Kinsale. You also have Knock airport which is closest to the Northern Headlands and Surf Coast portion of the route.
Shannon Airport is perfect for the southern parts of the route. And Dublin whilst being the most popular airport in Ireland will probably take you 3 – 4 hours to drive to parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
There are a number of places to stay along the Wild Atlantic Way route. The most popular being places like Killarney and Galway. These locations will have the best accommodation options. Sligo is also a great place to base yourself for the northern parts of the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s not overwhelmingly touristy, and there are lots of accommodation options right on the beach too.
THINGS TO DO ON THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
The Wild Atlantic Way is an attraction on it’s own, but here is a breakdown of the best things to see in each section.
Section 1 – The Haven Coast
Section 2 – Southern Peninsulas
- Ring of Kerry
- Killarney National Park
Section 3 -The Cliff Coast
- Cliffs of Moher
- Burren National Park
Section 4 – The Bay Coast
- Achill Island
- Aran Islands
Section 5 – The Surf Coast
Section 6 – The Northern Headlands
- Malin Head
- Slieve League Cliffs
EATING AND DRINKING ON THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
Eating and drinking on the Wild Atlantic Way Route will be very much dependant on which section you choose to do. Sligo is one of our favourite parts of the Wild Atlantic Way, and the food and drink scene is incredible. Similarly Galway is a great night out with an abundance of seafood restaurants to dine in.
No matter which part of the Wild Atlantic Way you visit you will be guaranteed good food, and good drink with a friendly atmosphere.
WHY THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
The Wild Atlantic Way is the perfect location for a short break in Ireland if you basically just want to get in the car, explore, and see where you end up.
Killarney is a town located in County Kerry in Ireland. It is hugely popular with tourists keen to see Killarney National Park. On top of that it is also a popular overnight destination for those planning to drive the Ring of Kerry.
GETTING TO KILLARNEY
Killarney is located not far from the west coast in Ireland. It is in the more southern part of the island and is close to a number of airports.
Dublin airport is the biggest airport in Ireland and if you are driving it will probably take you around 4 hours to get to Killarney. Shannon airport is another airport with great flight connections particularly if you are travelling from the US. It takes just under 2 hours to drive from here to Killarney.
If you are flying in from Europe, Cork airport is about 1.5 hours away by car. But if you are after something closer then there is Kerry Airport, however there are only a few destinations you can fly in from such as London, Dublin, or Frankfurt so that won’t suit everybody’s travel schedule.
WHERE TO STAY IN KILLARNEY
There are so many hotel options in Killarney to suit all budgets. We ended up staying at the Killarney Riverside Hotel which we loved. It is a 4 star hotel located along Muckross Road. The hotel isn’t smack bang in the middle of the town, but in about 15-20 minutes by foot, you are amongst the hustle and bustle. The hotel also has parking which was important for us as we were of course planning on driving around Killarney.
Another top recommendation is the Killarney Towers Hotel and Leisure Centre. There is public parking across from the hotel, but you do need to pay for it so if you are renting a car it is still possible to park nearby.
For a great evening atmosphere stay close to Killarney town. There are lots of restaurants and pubs around here.
THINGS TO DO IN KILLARNEY
There is a lot to do in Killarney, and you will definitely need a car to make the most of your time here. Here are some of the best things to do in Killarney.
- St Mary’s Cathederal – a stunning cathedral in the town that you can visit.
- Do a ghost tour – you can find further information and book your tour with the Original Killarney Ghost Tour here.
- Explore Killarney National Park – one of the most beautiful parks in the country.
- Lakes of Killarney – where you can take a cruise to enjoy the mountain surroundings and scenery. You can book a lake tour online in advance here.
- Ross Castle – if you want to visit a historic Irish Castle.
- Muckross House – a 19th Century Victorian Mansion.
- Torc Waterfall – a stunning waterfall in the National Park.
- Ladies View – a scenic viewpoint in Killarney National Park.
EATING AND DRINKING IN KILLARNEY
Killarney is a vibrant town full of traditional pubs, music, and some fantastic food. It certainly plays up to its Irish roots with a number of pubs playing trad music, and restaurants serving the more traditional Irish dishes.
If you do get a chance to enjoy the nightlife make sure you visit some of the more traditional pubs in the town. John M. Reidy’s is probably one of the best bars to visit, as it is an institution in these parts. It was built in the 1870’s and has literally been everything from a sweet shop and apparently an agricultural supply store. Now though it is a nice little boozer with a fun atmosphere. Another great place, especially if you like Whiskey is Murphy’s Bar which has a really good selection.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food as well in Killarney. One of our favourites has to be Bricín Restaurant and Boxty House. They do some really good traditional Irish food, one of the highlights being boxty. What we love about the restaurant apart from the food is the interior. It’s decorated with antique lamps, and pictures of ye old times handing from the walls.
WHY KILLARNEY IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Killarney is perfect for a weekend away in Ireland, because it is very traditional. It’s popular with tourists, and has a friendly laid back atmosphere. You can enjoy the nightlife, but also drive out and explore some of the best nature in Ireland.
RING OF KERRY
The Ring of Kerry is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Ireland, which also makes it a popular attraction too. It’s famous for many things but a cool fact is that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filmed at the Skellig Ring just off the main route.
We should add that technically it is not a ring but a horseshoe shape but a lot of people start their Ring of Kerry route in Killarney hence making it a full circle.
GETTING TO THE RING OF KERRY
The best way to get to the Ring of Kerry is to drive. If you are leaving from Dublin it will take around 4 hours to drive here. We wouldn’t recommend public transport as this will involve a few changes and your Ireland weekend break will be over before you know it.
If you are flying in Kerry airport is going to be your closest airport. But it is only a small airport with flights from the UK and Germany being the most common. So Cork Airport is your next closest spot.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE RING OF KERRY
Killarney is your best option when it comes to sleeping as part of your Ring of Kerry trip. There is a lot of accommodation here, along with restaurants, and pubs. The city centre is the best if you are wanting to enjoy the nightlife in particular. The Killarney Park Hotel is where we stayed during our time exploring the Ring of Kerry, and we do recommend it. There is an onsite restaurant and bar, and the handy bit is that there is parking, so if you have rented a car this is perfect. It’s a very short walk into the town and you and you sort of get the best of both worlds, in terms of quiet surroundings, but also being close to the action.
Another top recommendation is the Killarney Towers Hotel and Leisure Centre. There is public parking across from the hotel, but you do need to pay for it so if you are renting a car it is still possible to park nearby.
If you are wanting to stay along the Ring of Kerry route Kenmare might be your best bet. The Park Hotel Kenmare is a hotel and spa that is popular among travellers. It is a very elegant hotel, dating back to 1897. There is ample parking and an indoor pool too.
Another recommendation for places to stay along the Ring of Kerry is Tralee. This is where we ended up spending a night after we had completed our Ring of Kerry route. Here we stayed at the Rose Hotel. It’s a 4 star accommodation that is close to Tralee town and has an onsite spa.
Other accommodation options in Tralee include the super quirky Ashe Hotel, or the very regal Ballyseede hotel. Tralee is another place that has lots of accommodation options as well as food and drink.
THINGS TO DO ON THE RING OF KERRY
The Ring of Kerry will take around 3 hours to drive. Here are some suggestions of things to see and do along the way.
- Killarney National Park – whilst not part of the Ring of Kerry if you are staying in Killarney you should definitely try and visit.
For a more detailed itinerary checkout our Ring of Kerry route planner.
EATING AND DRINKING ON THE RING OF KERRY
There are lots of amazing towns and villages to stop off at along the Ring of Kerry. The beauty is driving and seeing what you discover.
One of our favourites though was O’Carrols Cove beach bar near Caherdaniel. They serve some amazing home cooked meals as well as some amazing soup and soda bread and fresh seafood.
WHY THE RING OF KERRY IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
The Ring of Kerry is a fantastic option for a weekend break in Ireland if you are looking to do a bit of a road trip and see the beautiful scenery. It’s one of those that you should really do in the summer months when the weather is better and days are longer.
County Cork is the largest and southernmost county in Ireland. It is made up of mountain ranges, cosmopolitan cities, and rugged coastlines, there are so many amazing sights in County Cork with something for everyone. You can either spending your Ireland weekend break explore the city, or you can go out a bit further and see what the county has to offer. Or do both!
GETTING TO CORK
Cork is around a 3 hour drive from Dublin. It’s also got an airport that has a lot of European flights.
WHERE TO STAY IN CORK
When choosing your accommodation in Cork, you need to think about what you want to do. If you are wanting to explore the city, then there are a number of excellent hotel options in the centre.
If you prefer a seaside break you can stay somewhere near Bantry or instance. Or if you want something more atmospheric with a local feel go for Blarney.
THINGS TO DO IN CORK
There are so many amazing things to do in both Cork and Cork City so we have broken them up into two sections.
Here are some of the best things to do in Cork city.
- Stroll through the English Market
- Visit the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery
- Visit Cork City Gaol
- Do a food tasting tour
- Explore St Fin Barre’s Cathedral
- Enjoy a harbour cruise
- Ring the Bells at St Anne’s Church
- Do a Cork Harbour cruise
- Do a historical guided tour
And some of the best things to do in County Cork are:
- Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle
- Enjoy some time at the seaside in Bantry
EATING AND DRINKING IN CORK
Cork has a lot of gastronomic treats. One of our favourite spots for a lunch is to stroll through the English Market. They do lots of treats like tea and cake.
Cork City as a whole is a fantastic place for a night out. It’s a university city so there are lots of cool bars from traditional pubs to quirky cocktail spots.
WHY CORK IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Cork is a fantastic location for a short break in Ireland. It’s an exciting city and county, and you get the best of both worlds in terms of a city break, and exploring some of the natural beauty in Ireland.
CLIFFS OF MOHER
The Cliffs of Moher are a must for any Irish bucket list. They are rugged and steep cliffs that face into the Atlantic Ocean. They are located in County Clare and are about 14 kilometres in length. At the highest point the cliffs are about 214 metres tall.
GETTING TO THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
Realistically you do need a car to get to the Cliffs of Moher. If you are driving from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher you are looking at a 3 hour 15 minute drive. Alternatively from Galway it is about 1.5 hours drive time.
The closest international airport is Shannon. From here it is around a 50 minute drive to get to the Cliffs of Moher.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
Whilst the Cliffs of Moher bring in huge numbers of tourists to Ireland every year, they are quite secluded. The nearest towns to stay in are Liscannor and Doolin. Doolin is the most lively of the two with a bit more going on in terms of nightlife and general craic.
Otherwise the closest big city is Galway. It is a bit of a drive as mentioned above, but Galway is a great base particularly if you want to experience some excellent nightlife during your short break in Ireland.
THINGS TO DO AT THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
When you arrive at the Cliffs of Moher there are a few points of interest that are worth seeing these include:
- Go on a hike around the Cliffs – to get away from the tourist hustle and bustle. Just be careful and don’t deviate from the paths as you could be injured or fall.
- Visit O’Brien’s Tower – a tower that was built in 1835 to serve as an observation point for tourists visiting the cliffs.
- Make use of the visitors centre – and explore the exhibits, grab a bite to eat, or use the amenities.
And if you are looking for things to do near the Cliffs of Moher you may want to consider the following:
- Explore Doolin – where you can do a cruise that takes you to the base of the Cliffs.
- Visit the Burren National Park- with it’s unique rocky landscape.
EATING AND DRINKING NEAR THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
If you are looking for places to eat and drink around the Cliffs of Moher, your best bet is to eat to one of the surrounding towns. Doolin and Liscannor are two great options, with Doolin being a bit more lively. Russell’s Seafood Bar is one of our favourites, with locally sourced food. For something a little less formal there is Glas Restaurant, where every ingredient on the menu is sourced in County Clare.
WHY THE CLIFFS OF MOHER IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
The Cliffs of Moher are a fantastic idea for a weekend away in Ireland. They are one of the most popular attractions in the country, and you will get a taste of some of the lush greenery that Ireland is famous for.
The Causeway Coast is one of the most beautiful spots in Northern Ireland. It’s perfect for a weekend away in Ireland particularly if you are wanting to do a bit of a road trip.
GETTING TO THE CAUSEWAY COAST
Because the Causeway Coast is part of a Northern Ireland road trip, you are probably best starting in Belfast. From here you can make your way to some of the top attractions along the Causeway Coast in around an hour or so.
WHERE TO STAY ON THE CAUSEWAY COAST
There are several hotel options for when you are travelling around the Causeway Coast. Most hotels and B&Bs tend to be around the beaches such as Portrush or Portstewart. Bushmills is another area with some decent accommodation options to suit all budgets.
We booked our accommodation pretty late, and in the middle of school holidays and therefore we based ourselves at The Hedges Hotel, a three star hotel right near the Dark Hedges. It was a bit of a drive to get to the main attractions but honestly it wasn’t the worst.
THINGS TO DO ON THE CAUSEWAY COAST
The Causeway Coast is all about admiring some of the natural beauty that Northern Ireland has to offer. Here are some of the best things to see and do.
- See the Dark Hedges – whilst not specifically on the coast, Game of Thrones fans will love visiting this attraction.
- The Gobbins – one of the best coastal walks in Northern Ireland.
- Dunluce Castle – which are castle ruins located on a dramatic cliff on the coastline.
- Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge – a 20 metre long and 30 metre high rope bridge with stunning coastal scenery.
- Ballintoy Harbour – a quaint harbour with beaches and caves to explore that is also a Game of Thrones filming location.
- Portstewart – a seaside town with beautiful beaches to explore.
- Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne – a National Trust site, with incredible seaside views.
- The Giant’s Causeway – which is one of the top sights in Northern Ireland.
EATING AND DRINKING ON THE CAUSEWAY COAST
There are so many fantastic places to eat along the Causeway Coast. Two of our highlights though were, O’Connors Bar in Ballycastle. Located in a quaint town, the pub do some excellent Irish food, and decent seafood dishes.
Another favourite is Harry’s Shack at Portstewart. You can sit outside with sea views and nibble on seafood and other treats.
WHY THE CAUSEWAY COAST IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
The Causeway Coast is a great option for a short break in Ireland, particularly if you are a Game of Thrones fan, or just want to get out into nature. It’s good for people wanting to do a bit of a road trip.
Kilkenny is a city located in County Kilkenny in the south east part of the country. It is a popular tourist destination on the banks of the River Nore. It’s famous for its castle and medieval buildings. Also a cool fact is that people from Kilkenny are referred to as ‘Cats’.
GETTING TO KILKENNY
Located in the southeast of Ireland, Kilkenny is less than a 2 hour drive from Dublin. If you don’t want to drive, there is also the option of getting public transport. You can get a train from Dublin and it will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY IN KILKENNY
If you only have a short break in Ireland, and are choosing to visit Kilkenny you definitely want to stay somewhere central. There are several hotel and guesthouse options in central Kilkenny that are close to many of the attractions, as well as restaurants and bars.
If you want a more relaxed break you can stay a little further out in County Kilkenny, and stay at one of the incredible luxury hotels. Mount Juliet is one of our favourites, with stunning accommodation and Michelin starred cuisine.
THINGS TO DO IN KILKENNY
Here are some of the best things to do in Kilkenny city and beyond.
- Smithwick’s Experience – which is a brewery where you can learn all about Ireland’s oldest ale.
- See St Mary’s Cathedral – one of the prominent landmarks of the town.
- Climb St Candice’s Cathedral round tower – for some fantastic views of the town.
- Do a boat tour and admire the views
- Do a historical walking tour to learn more about this medieval city
- Visit the National Design and Craft Gallery
- Medieval Mile Museum
- Explore the Rothe House and Gardens – a historical museum
- Visit Kilkenny Castle Park and Gardens – where you can tour the inside of the castle.
EATING AND DRINKING IN KILKENNY
One of our favourite bars in Kilkenny was the Kyteler’s Inn. The bar is spread out over two floors and they do also play trad music. It is one of the oldest Inns in Ireland so it is definitely worth a visit.
WHY KILKENNY IS A GREAT IRELAND WEEKEND BREAK
Kilkenny is great if you want a perfect mix of city break, and chilled out holiday. It’s only small and there is enough to keep you entertained for your Ireland weekend break without having to rush around and see everything.
Cost considerations for a weekend away in Ireland
When planning an Ireland weekend break, you might be wondering how much money you need for your trip. As mentioned above the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have different currencies, so we will go through each country separately.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Here are some general cost considerations for visiting the Republic of Ireland
Car Rentals: €100 + per day on average (depending on car type, what insurance you want to purchase, and any extras). Car rentals can be expensive here, and there are often hidden costs such as surcharges for returning the car at a different location from where you rented it. Always check your fine print on any rental contract.
Petrol: €100 to fill the tank (this will vary depending on the type of car) – also keep in mind that petrol prices right now are pretty high! It is wise to rent a smaller more economical car for your Irish road trip.
Accommodation: A minimum of €100 per night for something mid-range (depending on location, time of year, and amenities). You probably want to double that in Dublin!
Attractions: €20 per person per day although this is probably on the high side.
Food & Drink: €60 per person per day for standard pub style meals and a few drinks.
Overall we would recommend budgeting about €100-€150 per person per day. Costs can be brought down especially if you opt for cheaper accommodation and meals. What we would say is book your accommodation in advance to guarantee the best rates.
Overall we found Northern Ireland a little bit cheaper than the Republic. Car Rentals are still pretty expensive, especially if you are planning to drop your car off at a different location than you collected it.
Car Rentals: £100 per day on average (depending on car type, what insurance you want to purchase, and any extras)
Petrol: £80 to fill the tank (this will vary depending on the type of car)
Accommodation: A minimum of £100 – £150 per night for something mid-range (depending on location, time of year, and amenities)
Attractions: £20 per person per day although this is probably on the high side
Food & Drink: £60 – £80 per person per day for standard pub style meals and a few drinks
Final tips for planning your weekend away in Ireland
Here are some final tips for planning your Ireland weekend break.
☘ Book your accommodation in advance – particularly in bigger cities like Dublin as it can be expensive.
☘ Try and leave Dublin if you can, whilst it is beautiful there is so much more to see
☘ Visit both Northern Ireland and the Republic if you can but be aware they have different currencies and different speed limits (i.e Miles and Kilometres)
☘ Be prepared for rain it’s green for a reason
Hopefully this guide to planning a short break in Ireland has been useful. Ireland is such a beautiful place to visit, and there is so much to see and do.
If you found this useful you can pin this guide for later!