Mallory and I did a 7-day trip to Ireland in March of 2018 the week prior to St. Patrick’s Day. We rented a car and pretty much toured the entire country. I will let you know below where we really wish we had gone… But that’s OK, just another reason to travel back to my favorite country.
Arrived at Dublin Airport, picked up our rental car, started making our way to Galway, stopped in Athlone for lunch, and made it to Galway early afternoon. We checked into our Airbnb and then had a blast walking around Galway. We turned in early to catch up on jet lag.
We woke up, spent the morning walking around the Latin Quarter in Galway, visited the Galway Cathedral, and had an early lunch at Ard Bia by the Spanish Arch. After lunch, we drove around Connemara National Park which included many picturesque stops, a visit at the Kylemore Abbey, and a twilight stop at the Coral Strand beach before heading back to Galway for dinner and pub crawling to hear some traditional Irish music.
We woke up pretty early, checked out of our Airbnb, grabbed some breakfast, and made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. We made it to the cliffs a little before noon and spent a little over two hours there. I honestly wish we had planned to spend about four hours. It was stunning and a place we definitely did not want to leave.
After our visit to the Cliffs of Moher, we drove down to Bunratty Castle (did not visit, I believe it was closed) and grabbed a late lunch at Durty Nelly’s. We met a pleasant local elderly gentleman who encouraged us to visit his home town on our way to Cork. So, we made an unexpected stop in his home town of Buttevant for an hour or so and did some pub-crawling to see some authentic small-town Irish pubs and met a very pleasant elderly lady who has run the family pub for years and years. She gave me a free pint of Guinness while we chatted!
After our brief stop in Buttevant, we headed to Cork, checked into our Airbnb, and then headed out for dinner in the city.
We woke up to a very rainy day in Cork and walked to The English Market where we had an incredible breakfast. After breakfast, we visited a local coffee shop to get out of the rain and then grabbed lunch near our Airbnb before heading to Blarney Castle after the rain cleared.
We spent a couple of hours of the afternoon at Blarney Castle (yes, we kissed the Blarney Stone!) and then headed back to Cork for the evening. We walked/drove all over Cork, visited Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, grabbed an amazing dinner at Elbow Lane Brew & Smoke House, and then pub-crawled for the evening to hear traditional Irish music.
We woke up and spent a much more enjoyable, drier morning in Cork. We grabbed breakfast and then made our way towards Dublin.
On our way, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel, made an unplanned visit in Kilkenny (where we wish we had planned to stay for an evening). While in Kilkenny we went to the Smithwick’s Brewery. We did not do the tour due to time, but a nice staffer let us into the taproom where we could get a flight. We spent an hour or so walking around Kilkenny, visited the Kilkenny Castle, and then it started to rain so we got back in our car and drove the final leg to Dublin.
We checked into our Airbnb in Ranelagh (a Dublin neighborhood) and spent the evening in the neighborhood, grabbed a great dinner at Bunsen Burger (best burger I’ve ever had), and visited a fancy pub before tucking in for the evening.
We woke up, grabbed breakfast in Ranelagh and took a train to Dublin City Centre. We hopped on a bus and visited the Kilmainham Goal, grabbed the best fish and chips I’ve ever had at the Fish Shop, and then did the Guinness Storehouse tour. Afterward, we hustled across the city on foot and barely made it in time to see the Trinity College Library.
We spent the evening in Dublin and then made our way back to our Airbnb for the evening to get ready for St. Patty’s Day in Dublin!
After the parade, we grabbed lunch at the Brazen Head then went to a local pub to watch the Six Nations Ireland vs England match. The Irish were pretty excited because they had locked up the championship, were playing England in England to finish the tournament off, and it was St. Patty’s Day.
Once the game was over, we spent the rest of the afternoon near Dublin City Centre and made our way by foot back to our Airbnb in Ranelagh during the evening and enjoy the rest of St. Patty’s Day festivities at a nearby pub.
We woke up bright and early and headed to the airport to drop off our rental and hop on our flight home!
Changes I would make to our itinerary:
We had an incredible trip to Ireland but there are a couple of changes I would have made. After the Cliffs of Moher, I wish we would have planned to drive around and stay a night in the Dingle Peninsula. I really regret not seeing this part of Ireland!
After a night in the Dingle Peninsula then we would have driven to Blarney Castle in the morning and stayed the evening in Cork. To be honest, I was not overly impressed with Cork. It was a fun city but we would have been ok spending less time there.
Another change I would have made is I wish we had visited Cobh, just south of Cork for an hour or so. From pictures, it seems like a beautiful little Irish fishing town and it is not far from Cork, but we decided to make our way on to Dublin so that we didn’t backtrack.
The last change I would have made is to stay on the evening of the 15th in Kilkenny. It really was a beautiful town and we found ourselves wanting to spend more time there than just an hour!
Rent a car!
I can’t help but stress enough about the importance of renting a car in Ireland. I like to say that “there’s not a long drive in Ireland.” Most drives will take you 1 – 2.5 hours, but it’s a quick hour to two and a half hours! Every drive is beautiful and you will find yourself wanting to make stops everywhere you go. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of driving you may do. Every stretch will be worth it and some of your best memories will come from being on the road.
We only stayed at AirBnbs and LOVED it.
On every one of our European vacations, we have mostly stayed in Airbnbs. In Ireland, we only stayed in Airbnbs and had a GREAT experience at every single one. Here is our guide to finding the right Airbnb for you or you can go ahead and search for an Airbnb for your trip today!
Comment below for more itinerary questions!
If you have any questions about your trip to Ireland and want advice and what may be possible, feel free to comment below. We would love to help you make your trip as great as ours!