Please enjoy this 7-day Ireland itinerary written and photographed by my sister Laurin based on her recent experiences there. ☺️
An Ireland road trip is the best way to explore this much-loved country in little time. A 7-day driving tour through the quaint cities and green countryside of Ireland is simply a must when visiting this beautiful country. 🍀
Not only does driving give you the flexibility to visit some (or all) the must-see destinations on your Ireland bucket list, but it also gives you the luxury of stopping wherever the next photo opportunity presents itself — from stone-fenced farmlands to medieval castles to mountainous coastal towns and famous sea cliffs (and more!).
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This 7-day itinerary allows you to travel from the west coast all the way to the east coast of Ireland to the capital of Dublin — seeing many must-see destinations along the way including Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and Ring of Kerry, to name a few.
You will be flying into Shannon Airport and departing from Dublin Airport — minimizing time spent driving and more time exploring this beautiful country known as the Emerald Isle.
Plan on driving at least a few hours each day, but driving through Ireland is fun as it’s filled with lush green country roads and rolling-hill views!
So if you are planning on visiting the Republic of Ireland and needing to know what to do, read this 7-day ultimate itinerary covering all the best places to visit and see including tips & tricks along the way.
The Best 7-Day Road Trip Itinerary through Ireland
- ✈️ Purchase your flight to Shannon Airport and departure out of Dublin Airport
- 🚗 Don’t forget to reserve your one-way rental car at Shannon Airport
- 🏡 Book Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts:Make reservations today to snag the best rates!
- 🎟 Tours & Admission Tickets: Book online to save time and money!
- Cliffs of Moher
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
- Blarney Castle & Gardens
- Jameson Distillery Tour or Tasting
- ✅ Restaurant Reservations: Reservations are encouraged for these top-rated places to eat!
- 🛄 Protect your Ireland road trip: Get travel medical insurance for $40/4 weeks with SafetyWing
Day 1: Arrive in Shannon, Cliffs of Moher, Ennis
Depending on what time your flight arrives in Shannon will determine how the first day of your Ireland itinerary will go.
We suggest booking a flight that arrives earlier in the day (best before 1 PM) so you have time to check into your hotel and travel to the famous Cliffs of Moher.
Drive to Ennis, Ireland (a 25-minute drive from Shannon Airport) and check into your hotel at Hotel Woodstock. If you arrive before check-in, they may allow you to check in early giving you time to drop off your bags and get ready to travel to the cliffs.
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher is known as one of Ireland’s most famous sights — and believe it when we say you do NOT want to miss it!
When arriving at the cliffs, we suggest heading right up the hill to see O’Brien’s Tower and then continuing along the pathway past the sheep grazing in the pasture to find another spectacular view of the cliffs.
Find a good spot to sit and take in the scenic views and sounds around you. The cliffs are home to many species of birds including the Puffins, often found between the months of April to late July during the breeding season.
Fun Fact: If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you may enjoy the cliffs (even more) knowing that a famous scene was filmed here — the scene where Harry Potter and Dumbledore journey to the cave to find a Horcrux. ⚡️🧙♂️
If you love traveling for Harry Potter magic, you would love the Livraria Lello (library) in Porto, Portugal!
Plan on spending at least 2 hours at Cliffs of Moher and wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking quite a bit. We also suggest taking a jacket and something to protect your ears (the winds on the cliffs can get chilly!).
The best time to visit is early in the morning with the 08:00 – 11:00 AM session or the after 4:00 PM session. You may read other suggestions on visiting between 11:00 – 4:00 PM to avoid the crowds, however, we learned that the tour buses visit during that time.
Dinner in Ennis
When you’ve seen enough of the cliffs, head back to Ennis for dinner. We suggest making reservations for dinner at Woodstock Hotel. We had the duck leg and chicken dinners — both fantastic meals!
Day 2: Bunratty Castle, Limerick, & Killarney
Wake up early and eat some delicious breakfast at Hotel Woodstock before continuing your road trip through Ireland. You will be driving from Ennis down to Killarney (approximately a 2-hour drive), stopping at sites and scenic destinations along the way.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
The first stop on the trip down to Killarney will bring you to the ancient Bunratty Castle & Folk Park – “the most complete and authentic castle in Ireland.”
This medieval castle was built by the powerful MacNamara family in 1425 and then later became the stronghold of the O’Briens. Explore the castle rooms and allow your imagination to take you back in time.
The Folk Park and surrounding gardens feature over 30 buildings including rural farmhouses, village shops, and streets — all recreated to appear as they would back in the 19th century.
When you are done exploring Bunratty Castle (try to leave by noon), drive 15-minutes East to Limerick.
Limerick is one of the oldest cities in Ireland and is home to many historic landmarks including King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and the Treaty Stone of Limerick.
When arriving, you’ll probably be ready for lunch. There are restaurants lined up and down the street adjacent to King John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral, choose one and regain some energy.
We suggest having a quick tour of King John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral. If you have time, explore more that Limerick has to offer with a walking tour.
Remember that check-in times for B&B’s in Ireland are from 3 PM-6 PM and Killarney is a 2-hour drive from Limerick. Once you arrive in Killarney, it should be time to check into your next B&B or hotel.
Once you arrive in Killarney, check into your next B&B or Hotel.
We stayed at the Muckross Riding Stables Bed & Breakfast. As you drive through the entrance gate, you’ll immediately see the farm animals roaming the property before arriving at the house.
Once you’ve checked in, we suggest heading to downtown Killarney to grab dinner at…… The Shire Bar & Cafe!
Attention Lord of the Rings fans, this will be your next favorite restaurant. Immediately upon arriving I was squealing with excitement! We ate (delicious) Irish Pub food and drank Guinness, all while watching a Lord of the Rings movie play on the TV above our table. Also, the actor who played Gimli (John Rhys-Davies), has even been here (see if you can spot photos of him hanging on the wall).
After dinner, we suggest heading down the street for some fun & drinks!
Some of the pubs we visited were the Dunloe Lodge, O’Conners, and Murphy’s Bar.
Day 3: Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry, & Kilbrittain
Wake up bright and early, eat breakfast, and be prepared for a long & fun-filled day ahead!
You’ll first start off the day at Killarney National Park before driving around the Ring of Kerry (approximately a 3.5-hour drive without stopping), before finally finishing up in Kilbrittain and checking into your next bed & breakfast.
Killarney National Park & Muckross House
Killarney National Park covers approximately 26,000 acres with mountains, lakes, woodland, and waterfalls. A major focal point of the park for most visitors is the Muckross House & Gardens — a 19th-century mansion with picturesque garden landscapes and stunning floral displays. We were able to walk the gardens & grounds of the house but did not have time to explore the interior of this beautiful house.
Another popular thing to see in Killarney National Park is the Torc Waterfall. This waterfall is approximately a 5-minute walk from the car parking lot.
If you are able to get there early enough (opens at 8:00 AM), we suggest exploring Killarney National Park even further with a guided tour! However, we do propose leaving the park around 10:00 or 10:30 if you want to have more time exploring the Ring of Kerry.
Ring of Kerry
Depending on how long you stay at Killarney National Park, you may or may not have time to drive the full Ring of Kerry. This drive takes you around the coast of County Kerry & Inveragh Peninsula, and along beautiful landscapes & coastlines.
The Ring of Kerry is a long drive, approximately 3.5 hours without stopping. We suggest designating approximately 5-6 hours to complete it or booking a guided day tour to skip to the best spots.
Start from Killarney National Park and drive toward Killorglin.
Of course, you are going to want to stop in almost every town along the way to take beautiful scenic photos as you will see rolling green hills meeting ocean coastlines, pristine white beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, castles, cute Irish towns, and more!
We stopped at some overlooks and most towns along the way, including Cahersiveen, Waterville, Sneem, Catherdaniel, and Kenmare.
If you’re looking to grab lunch somewhere along the way, we recommend stopping in either Waterville or Catherdaniel, as there are a few great restaurants to choose from in each town.
You’ll finish up the Ring of Kerry in the colorful town of Kenmare. Stop for a drink or explore the colorful shops lining the street!
You’ll now drive down to your next destination and Bed & Breakfast in Killbrittain. This drive is approximately a 1.5-hour drive.
Check into Bridgeview Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast in Killbrittain from 3-6 PM. You’ll receive a warm greeting and a nice hot cup of tea from the host, Marian.
For dinner, we drove approximately 15-minutes to Garrettstown and ate at the Speckled Door Restaurant overlooking the sea. On your way, you’ll notice a great beach spot — we suggest stopping after dinner for a walk down the beach, watching the sunset!
After dinner, head back to the bed & breakfast, rest up, and get ready for the next day on this 7-day itinerary through Ireland!
Day 4: Blarney Castle, Cork, Jameson Distillery, & Graignamanagh
Day 4 of your road trip through Ireland will bring you to the well-known Blarney Castle, Jameson Distillery, Cork, and finally Graignmanagh near Kilkenny for your next stay.
After eating a scrumptious breakfast at Bridgeview B&B, drive approximately 50-minutes from Killbrittain to Blarney Castle.
Blarney Castle is one of the top attractions in Ireland welcoming over 400,000 visitors per year. This famous castle was built in the 15th-16th century and is known for the castle itself, the surrounding gardens, and of course… kissing the Blarney Stone!
The Blarney Stone has been kissed by millions (no worries, they sanitize in between each person) — known for bringing those who kiss it the gift of eloquence.
However, be warned, as maneuvering your way up the castle is not for everyone. You will have to climb over 128 steps that are very narrow and steep!
Depending on the crowd size, you may be stuck on these steps with no way past people up or back down, waiting for the crowd to move one step at a time until you reach the top. If you are extremely claustrophobic we do NOT recommend climbing these steps, especially if there is a long line.
If you are unsure, arrive when they first open (9:00 AM) and try to be one of the first people to reach the castle. Assess the situation and decide whether you want to proceed.
You will love the view and being able to kiss the Blarney Stone once reaching the top!
The castle grounds contain over 60 acres of beautiful gardens, woodlands, and even a poison garden (don’t touch!). ☠️
Plan to spend at least 2 hours at Blarney Castle & Gardens. You can purchase your Blarney Castle tickets here.
Cork — English Market
If you have time to spare before your reservation at Jameson Distillery, then we recommend visiting the English Market in Cork!
The English Market is known as being one of the oldest and best markets in Europe! Walk around the food and vendor stands, grab a bite to eat, and shop!
Keep in mind that Jameson Distillery Midleton is a 25-minute drive from Cork. Give yourself plenty of time to make it in time for your reservation.
Jameson Distillery Midleton
If you like Whiskey, particularly Irish Whiskey, then you’ll love touring Jameson Distillery in Midleton.
Jameson Distillery has 2 locations, one in Midleton and their original location in Dublin. We opted for the Midleton experience because this is now where they produce 100% of all their products. The Midleton location also contains the world’s largest pot still!
The Dublin location was the original Jameson Distillery, producing whiskey from 1780 all the way up to 1975 before they moved to their new location in Midleton.
The Midleton location provides a variety of tours, as well as tasting and bottling experiences. We tried the tasting experience and were not disappointed. Sláinte! 🥃
Book your tasting or distillery tour here.
When finished, head to your next Bed & Breakfast, the Brandon View House in Graignamanagh.
The Brandon View House Bed & Breakfast is located in beautiful Grainamanagh near Kilkenny. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive there from Jameson Distillery — check-in is from 4-7:30 PM!
Upon arriving, you will be greeted by the host, Helen, and her two dogs. 🐶 The rooms are beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here. She also makes one of the best Irish breakfasts around!
For dinner, we recommend trying the Clashganny House Restaurant. This is an upscale-style restaurant and can get a bit pricey, but you will experience phenomenal food!
This restaurant has also won many awards, including the Michelin Star Rating ⭐️— a rating given to only those restaurants with high-quality standards! If you are wanting to eat here, know that reservations are required!
Day 5: Kilkenny & Dublin
Your drive to Kilkenny from Graignamangah is approximately a 30-minute drive.
There are many things to do and see in Kilkenny with just a medieval walking tour from viewing the very large Kilkenny Castle, touring Smithwick’s experience, visiting Black Abby, and more.
After visiting Kilkenny, you’ll head to the capital of Ireland — Dublin!
The first thing to do or see in Kilkenny is visiting Kilkenny Castle! This castle was built in the 12th century, making it one of the oldest castles in Ireland!
This castle was occupied by The Butler Family for over five centuries — you’ll get to view many tapestries dating from the 17th century, decor, paintings, and more that are original to the castle.
You’ll have the option of a self-guided visit or a guided tour, learning more about the history of the castle and the family who occupied it.
Next, walk the streets of Kilkenny. We ate lunch at The Fig Tree Restaurant — known for their great coffee and sandwiches.
After lunch, tour Smithwick’s and experience one of the most popular Ales in Ireland! Smithwick’s has been brewing ale in Ireland since 1710. Touring Smithwick’s is one of the most popular things to do in Kilkenny.
We were unable to visit as they were under construction at the time, but if we ever find ourselves in Kilkenny again we will definitely put visiting Smithwick’s at the top of our list! Purchase your tickets here.
The drive from Kilkenny to Dublin is a little over 2 hours… so we recommend leaving Kilkenny before 3 PM.
You’ve finally made it to the capital of Ireland!
Check into your hotel and head out for a night on the town.
When we visited Dublin, we stayed outside the city limits in a Bed & Breakfast and instantly regretted it as it was a hassle driving in and out of the city. This is why we recommend booking a Hotel right in the center of Dublin, making it easy to explore Dublin on foot.
One of the hotels we recommend is The Grafton Hotel. This hotel is conveniently located in the center of Dublin, close to many bars, restaurants, shops, and more.
One of our favorite restaurants while visiting Ireland was in Dublin at the Fish Shop. This restaurant is unique and offers the best fish & chips in Ireland! We also tried the mussels and they were delicious!
It is one of the smallest restaurants, allowing it to book very fast! Therefore, we HIGHLY recommend making reservations, or you could be waiting hours for a seat!
After dinner, head to Temple Bar square. Here you will find the world-famous Temple Bar among many other pubs, coffee shops, restaurants, and more.
The Temple Bar is very touristy and can easily become overcrowded. There are many other great bars in the area that we recommend exploring including the Palace Bar, The Hairy Lemon, and Frank Ryan’s Bar.
The list of pubs in Dublin is (almost) endless — ask a local where their favorite is!
Day 6: Dublin, Guinness Storehouse, Howth Head
You’ve reached your last full day on this 7-day itinerary through Ireland. Day 6 was one of my favorite days in Ireland, mostly because I was blown away by the Guinness Storehouse! Today you will visit this extravagant building for an all-inclusive beer experience.
Then, head to Howth Head for a quick day-trip idea before returning to Dublin for your last night in Ireland.
We think one of the best things to do in Dublin, Ireland is to visit the Guinness Storehouse. On this self-guided tour, you will learn the history and process of making this creamy Irish stout beer while you navigate 7 different floors.
You’ll go from learning about Guinness to smelling Guinness to tasting Guinness, to even learning how to pour your own Guinness!
The Guinness Storehouse opens at 09:30 AM on the weekends and 10:00 AM throughout the week. Optimize the time you have left by visiting early.
Expect to spend around 4 hours here.
Howth Head is a must-visit charming coastal town situated on a peninsula just 25-minutes from Dublin (depending on traffic conditions).
Visiting Howth is perfect to visit as a quick day trip activity where you’ll find an abundance of seafood restaurants lining the shore, fantastic sea cliffs with amazing views, and even seals if you get lucky!
Head to the Ardán Garden, where you will find a vibrant environment full of flowers, plants, and sculptures. It has also been recognized as a garden of the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere.
We also recommend going on a walk on the various trails that weave along the sea cliffside and bay. Follow signs to the Howth Summit, here you can walk among scenic trails for as long as you like. There is even a path that makes its way down to the Baily Lighthouse.
We, unfortunately, didn’t see any seals while visiting Howth, but we heard they are most abundant on the north end of Bull Island (directly south of Howth).
Day 7: Dublin, Depart Dublin Airport
Depending on your flight departure time, you may have time to see more of Dublin today!
What didn’t you get to yesterday?
Dublin Airport is approximately a 30-minute drive from the city, depending on the time of day. Arrive earlier than normal as you will have to drop off your rental car.
Tip: Most of the rental car returns are inside the airport. Do NOT follow the highway signs to rental cars. Keep the directions from the rental car company as they should direct you to where you will return your car.
We hope you have an amazing time on your 7-day Itinerary through Ireland!
Let us know in the comments what places you visited — do you have any recommendations for future travelers to Ireland?
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