Ireland is a country that packs a lot of natural beauty into a small geographical area, and the good thing about that is it makes it a perfect destination for navigating by car. If you’re prepared to brave driving on the left side of the road, or if you already do that in your home country, then there should be nothing to stop you from exploring all that the ‘Emerald Isle’ has to offer. Aside from the brilliant green landscape, that will take your breath away before you even touch down at the airport, you can expect to encounter some of the world’s friendliest people who also know how to have a good time. Here is our suggested itinerary for your first Irish road trip.
Make These Stops On Your Ireland Road Trip
As Ireland’s most populous city with the country’s largest international airport, Dublin is the obvious starting point for an intra-country road trip. Although, it is a big city for Ireland, visitors need not be intimidated by Dublin; the city is very walkable and easy to navigate. The capital city definitely has some tourist attractions worth checking out, like the Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity College that will make you feel transported back in time to the 1800s (when it was renovated), or the Old Jameson Distillery where you can tour the old-fashioned way of distilling one of the world’s finest whiskies, and, of course, do some sampling. However, you won’t be overwhelmed with a list of must-see attractions, which frees you up to just immerse yourself in the city and truly experience it.
Suggested Number of Nights: 3
Photo: Sean Rowe/Flickr
For a different experience of an Irish city, Cork feels a bit more local and is definitely less overrun with foreign tourists. We definitely recommend a trip to the English Market, an indoor marketplace filled with local food vendors and something for everyone. Seriously, they even have vegan ice cream here, despite being a country known for its meat dishes and dairy industry. Also, the famous Blarney Castle is just a fifteen-minute drive from Cork, so you can fulfill the common bucket list item of kissing the Blarney Stone. You’ll get a slightly different story from every person you ask as to why kissing the stone grants you the “gift of gab”, but perfectly, legends are a part of Irish culture. While visiting the castle, be sure to allot yourself time to take in the scenic grounds and walk through the Poison Garden.
Suggested Number of Nights: 1-2
Kilometers from Dublin: About 260
3. Cliffs of Moher
The most intoxicating thing about Ireland is perhaps not its whiskey or Guinness, but its picturesque scenery. It may not be the country with the best museums or ancient architecture, but the natural landscape of the Cliffs of Moher is guaranteed to take your breath away. Try to check the weather before your visit because the signature Irish fog has been known to completely mask any chance of a view. But on a clear day, allot yourself ample time for traversing the cliffs from end-to-end and marveling in their beauty and wonder. The best place to stay for your visit to the cliffs is in the nearby village of Doolin, where you’ll have plenty of local pubs and music to enjoy.
Suggested Number of Nights: 1-2
Kilometers from Blarney: About 170
4. Burren National Park
A visit to the Burren will give you a chance to explore more of Ireland’s unique landscape. Glacial movement over a period of about two million years formed the limestone geology here, and the area that makes up the National Park was also affected by shifting tectonic plates, creating hills instead of just flatlands. There are several walking trails to choose from, and during the summer season, visitors will be treated to the region’s flourishing, distinctive ecosystem. Of course, being a National Park, it is difficult to find a vacation rental particularly close so we recommend spending the night in either Doolin or Galway.
Suggested Number of Nights: 0
Kilometers from Cliffs of Moher: About 40
Photo: Photo Squirrel/Flickr
5. Galway City
Galway City has, arguably, the most bohemian vibe and artistic culture in Ireland. If you visit in July, the city is flooded with visitors from all over who flock to the Galway Arts Festival, so be sure to book your accommodations well in advance. But even if you visit at another time of the year, you will be treated to late nightclubs along adorable cobblestoned streets, seaside views, and beautiful architecture like the Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch. You’re also guaranteed to leave Ireland feeling like you’ve seen it all.
Suggested Number of Nights: 2-3
Kilometers from Burren National Park: 45
This article was written by Paula Ashlee Berg.