Ireland’s nickname, the ‘Emerald Isle’ should be enough to sway you into visiting its endless rolling hills and greenery. It’s a country memorable for the character, the friendly locals, great nightlife and landscapes that’ll take your breath away.
Whether you’re looking to see the best hotspots of the country on a budget or would like to find some hidden gems along the way for a romantic trip, we’ve put together a week’s itinerary of where to go and what to see.
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Dublin, Ireland’s capital, home to 1000-year history, a pub on every road and the funniest people you’ll ever meet, is the perfect stop to kick off your Irish trip. As often as not you’ll fly into the capital, it makes sense to start the route here and work your way around the country via car.
Whether you’re looking to get a taste of Celtic life, or spend your time in an authentic Irish pub with a pint of Guinness - there’s plenty to get up to in Dublin.
As Dublin’s number one attraction, this should be first on your list. It’s not just a brewery - it’s a brewery with a twist. At the storehouse, you’re able to learn all about the history of Guinness, learn to pull a pint and have a fun few hours in beer heaven. Sláinte! (That’s a drinking toast that means ‘Health!’ in Irish, by the way)
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Dublin where those who were against British domination were locked up. When the Irish Potato Famine hit in 1845, a lot of people stole food to survive - and people would rather stay in prison and be fed than starve to death on the streets.
The prison offers guided tours for every ticket and they usually last around 1 hour - and have their own designated time slots.
The Irish Whiskey Museum
You can’t visit Ireland without making a stop at the Irish Whiskey Museum. The museum takes visitors on a guided tour throughout the history of Irish Whiskey and once you’ve learnt everything, you’re able to sample a selection of the best whiskeys.
The Temple Bar
Dublin is renowned for its incredible nightlife scene and the famous Temple Bar pub. By day the colourful streets surrounding the bar are quaint to walk around and make for the perfect ‘gram photo - and by night it lights up with live music and lively bars.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells Exhibition
Bookworms assemble! At Trinity College, you’ll bear witness to one of the best ever libraries, which dates back to the 18th century - imagine the real-life library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast but with rows and rows of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. The Book of Kells Exhibition is found in the library and displays the 9th century manuscript which documents the four gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. The exhibition is open 7 days a week and tickets can either be bought online or at the exhibition.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
If, like us, you enjoy the posts on the #ihavethisthingwithfloors thread, you don’t want to miss this beauty on your trip. Over 1500 years old, the medieval cathedral has gorgeous decorative floors and is quick, easy and a pleasure to stroll around. Entrance fee is 6.50 euro.
One for the history buffs! Located in the oldest part of Dublin, the castle was used to house the monarchy in Ireland during the 19th century. Although a lot of it was destroyed in the 1600s, today, there is a remnant of the original building and it houses some museums, grandeur remains and the ancient remains of a Viking fort.
In case you didn’t travel to the home of Guinness for a history lesson, Dublin is a hub for a huge selection of eateries from quaint cafes to pubs with hearty dishes. Foodies alike will enjoy everything from your classic fish and chips to every single cuisine you can think of - that you’ll never get bored of choosing a dinner spot. Nightlife is some of the best in Europe with plenty of bars serving up a classic pint and live music - and you’ll be able to dance the night away to catchy Irish songs.
Dublin can be easily reached via flight and once you’re in the city, top tourist attractions can be found on foot. However, if you’re not the biggest walker, public transport is a breeze. The local buses are easy to navigate around and if you want to go out of town, there’s the option of DART, the coastal train.
Next stop on the list should be Kilkenny. This is the perfect time to hire your car and drive an hour and a half to the quaintest town. Renowned as the fifth largest town in Ireland, there’s more to Kilkenny than first meets the eye; its famous for the 800-year-old castle and the medieval centre is something of wonders.
You can lose yourself for hours wandering around the charming cobbled streets, visiting local craft shops and admiring the medieval buildings. It’s a town with a big heart and that ‘off-the-beaten-path vibe’.
The town’s most famous landmark is a must - and that’s Kilkenny Castle. Built in 1195, the castle has a lot of rich history to explore. Admission to the castle costs 7 euros and includes entry to the castle and its gardens. It’s a beautiful way to spend a few hours strolling hand in hand around the grounds.
St Canice Cathedral
As the largest cathedral in Ireland, you can’t miss it whilst you make a day trip to the town. The cathedral and the round tour can be entered for 7 euro. Once you take the long walk to the top of the tower, you won’t only feel like Rapunzel but will also have the best ever view of the country town.
Brandon Hill is the highest point in the country and the best spot to watch the sunset with your other half, take the perfect photo or just feel at peace. The panoramic countryside view will make the 3-5 hour walk completely worth it - and that way you’ll definitely get in your steps for the day.
Fans of the History Channel’s Vikings will love this spot. If you’ve got time in your day, then head over to one of the darker and more unique excursions - the Dunmore Caves. As you walk through or take a tour, you’ll learn the dark tale of the Vikings and the cave but also witness some incredible nature spots. It’s certainly something out of the ordinary!
Ireland is filled with some of the quaintest streets you’ll ever find and Butterslip Lane is one of them. It’s a nook and cranny you’ll fall in love with and looks like a page from a Harry Potter novel.
Take a stroll
Whilst the city offers quite a few hotspots and things to do, sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most entertaining. Taking a walk through the town is incredibly charming; you’llcome across cobbles roads, colourful pubs and local art shops to buy a gift or two.
Kilkenny is an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ location and a car is the best way to get all the sights in within a day. However, there are reliable bus services that link the larger villages in the area.
After a day getting to grips with Kilkenny’s medieval history, the next stop we’d recommend is driving over to both Cork and Blarney. Cork is under a 2 hour drive from Kilkenny and Blarney is only 20 minutes from Cork.
Cork has the true heart of Ireland. As the second’s biggest city, it’s a liberal town which has done a revamp in recent years. Think of beautiful stretches of water, quirky side-streets, plenty of artisan coffee shops and pubs filled with live music.
Set up in 1788, The English Market has become a favourite for visitors and locals alike in Cork. It’s a gem which showcases the heart of Ireland, offering stalls packed with the best local produce.
St Anne’s Church
Also known as the ‘Four Faced Liar’ St Anne's Church dates back to 1722. It’s famous for the tower’s four clocks which used to tell a slightly different time. On the first floor, tourists are able to ring the bell and then continue 132 steps right to the top and appreciate the 360-degree view of the city. It’s £4.50 to climb the tower and ring the bells.
St Fin Barre Cathedral
Visiting the main cathedral is something you need to do on your stop in Cork. Constructed in the 1870s, and dedicated to the city’s 6th century patron saint Finbarr of Cork, you’ll be blown away by the impressive architecture.
Take the afternoon at a slower pace with a park walk at Fitzgerald Park. The eight hectares of former marshland make for the perfect romantic walk location - and for a picnic too.
St. Patrick's Street
Get your debit card at the ready for a stroll down St.Patrick’s Street aka the number one shopping spot in Cork. You’ll find some unique bargains!
Castles seem to be a theme in Ireland but for great reason. Blarney Castle is home to the famous Blarney Stone - where visitors will lay down and kiss it for good luck. The castle also has some very beautiful gardens which you’re able to stroll around after you take the 100 step walk to the stone.
Blarney House and Gardens
Pretty and awe-inspiring architecture and gardens make for something interesting to look at - and that’s where Blarney House fits into your agenda. Open to the public in the summer months, the house is located 200m south of the castle and overlooks the lake. It’s the perfect spot to get your candid snaps and make your friends jealous back home.
Getting around Cork is best on foot or public transport instead of trying to find a parking spot. Park your rental car at the hotel or hostel and be on your way through the city. Buses are quite easy to navigate and run to all parts of the city frequently. To head over to Blarney, you can take the car for a 20 minute drive or rely on one of the bus services.
For a taste of inspiring scenery, rich history and charm, Killarney should be your next stop to add to the list. It’s around an hour and a 20 minute drive from Cork.
Killarney is a town in Country Kerry and known as a great base for driving the Ring of Kerry. It’s one of those places made up of scenic outdoor spots and somewhere you can get lost in the fields of beauty.
Killarney National Park
Hikers assemble! Killarney is a hub of all things outdoors and that includes its National Park.The park stands at over 25,000 acres and that leaves you with room for loads of activities. Whether you’d like to kayak on the lake, admire the waterfall or take a scenic drive, it’s a versatile location for a few hours in nature.
Sitting on the edge of Lough Leane in the Killarney National Park, the 15th century castle is a must-see as you venture around the town. It’s surrounded by incredible scenery and feels like you’re in a real-life fairytale. The castle is opened seasonally for tours but you can visit the grounds for free.
Lakes of Killarney
Killarney is made up of 3 lakes including Lough Lane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake. Alongside the lake, there are plenty of walking and hiking trails to get your dose of nature.
Standing at 18m high and located 7km from town, there is really no excuse to miss this waterfall. It’s a vision of beauty and will immerse you into the Irish countryside - and a great refreshing spot in the summer months.
The Ring of Kerry
One of the most famous routes in Ireland which includes some of the activities mentioned above is a must if you’d love to experience the whole county in a day. It includes Killarney, Molls Gap, Staigue Stone Fort, Waterville and a few more places.
Venturing around Killarney can be done easily on foot, however, for the attractions, a car would be ideal - or booking in an excursion to take you there.
Galway is the largest city on Ireland’s West Coast and one of the most thrilling cities in all of the country. Imagine remnants of a medieval town full of unique shops, pubs blaring tunes and a long promenade leading to the seaside - it’s a city like no other.
It’s just under a 3-hour drive from Killarney to Galway but the stretch is worth it, and if you leave early in the morning, you’ll still have the whole day to explore.
Explore the Latin Quarter
To get to grips with the heart of Galway, then head on over to the Latin Quarter. As the liveliest part of the city, you’ll see it come alive day and night with colourful shops, local street art and uniquely decorated pub windows.
Experience the wonders of books at Charlie Byrne’s bookshop
Bookworms! This is the place for you in Galway - have your pick of over 100,000 new, used and bargain books for sale.
Walk along the promenade
Take a detour outside the city centre for a breath of fresh air along the promenade at Salt Hill. The whole of the promenade stretches into Galway city and takes around half an hour to walk. On a nice day, it’s a lovely spot to grab some fish and chips for lunch or enjoy the sunset (all those romantic vibes).
Head out on the town
Galway is renowned for a party hotspot and the backpacker dream. Unlike a lot of the rest of Ireland, you’ll see a lot of drink deals popping up all over the place and it makes for the perfect place to have a couple of Guinness pints.
Quaint little towns pop up all over Ireland and Roundstone is no different. Roundstone is the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll and stop off at one of their charming coffee shops.
Galway is smaller than you think and you can easily get around to all the major attractions on foot. However, there are frequent buses available from the centre to get out and about.
After a week dabbling into Irish pubs, exploring the countryside and learning about the history of the country, the best way to end it is in the capital, soaking up the last bit of culture. From Galway, it’s around a 2 and a half hour drive - but as long as you get to Dublin at night, then you can experience your last night in Ireland hitting the pubs! And, Dublin is a key place to fly home from wherever you are in the world.
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