Ireland Self-Drive Itinerary

With an Irish name like Kelly Murphy, I figured it was about time I traveled to Ireland to visit my motherland and learn a bit more about my heritage! We flew into Dublin and booked an Airbnb right outside the city center. We rented a car and drove around southern Ireland for 9 beautiful days.

Day 1: Dublin

Day 1, we arrived in Dublin, checked into our Airbnb, stopped at a local pub for some bangers and mash and hit the sack!

Day 2: Galway

The next morning we woke up early and went to the Book of Kells at Trinity College. The long room is a beautiful library filled with ancient books from floor to ceiling. After Kells, we walked over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and toured the beautiful old church. After grabbing some lunch, we hopped in our car and drove towards Galway.

Galway was a bustling little town with street performers on every corner. We listened to some great local music and even saw some dancing. We spent a few hours here walking around and enjoying a meal before checking into an Airbnb for the evening.

Day 3: Burren National Park, Cliffs of Moher

Day three started with a drive through Burren National Park. Coming from the US, we expected this to be a crowded park with an entrance fee and line to enter. Burren was quite the opposite. We drove down a narrow tree-lined lane and eventually came upon an iron gate and a small sign indicating that we were at the park entrance. There was not another soul in sight so we stopped to read a bit of the history and take a look around.

After a bit of exploring, we hopped back in the car and headed to the Cliffs of Moher. A small entry fee led us to breathtaking scenery and miles of coastline to wander. We spent most of the day here walking the pathway at the edge of the cliff, taking photos and enjoying some lunch. You can most definitely spend an entire day here- I would recommend packing a lunch and some sunscreen and having a picnic! The Cliffs of Moher were without a doubt the highlight of our entire trip.

We spent the night in the town of Doolin where we had the pleasure of listening to a local trad band in a small pub. We had heard that Doolin was known for local music and we were not disappointed!

Day 4: Dingle Peninsula

From Doolin, we headed to the town of Dingle where we spent the day driving the scenic Slea Head Drive. The western end of the route boasts stunning coastal views and can’t be missed. The drive starts and ends in Dingle which is a great little town to stop for a bite to eat before or after you begin your journey.

The drive took several hours and we were exhausted afterwards so we headed to our Airbnb in nearby Killarney for the night.

Day 5: Killarney, Ross Castle, Muckrock House

Killarney ended up being one of the busiest towns on our route, filled with tourists and traffic so we decided to forgo driving the Ring of Kerry and instead just made stops at Ross Castle and Muckrock House.

Rock Castle is an old tower castle full of history in a beautiful lakeside setting. In addition to a tour of the castle, you can also book a boat tour out on the lake.

Muckrock House is a cant miss! A beautiful historic mansion surrounded by beauty- gardens, lakes and mountains. You could spend hours here (and I would recommend doing so) just walking around the estate and enjoying the scenery.

Day 6: Cork, Blarney Castle

Waking up in Cork, we walked the town and enjoyed a bite to eat before heading to Blarney Castle. We spent most of the day exploring the ground and gardens of the castle and of course….kissing the Blarney Stone!

The castle itself has some steep and narrow stairs so it may not be suitable for everyone. However, the estate is lush, green and gorgeous and worth the price of admission in itself. There is also a small cafe on site for snacks or a quick cup of tea.

Day 7: Cahir Castle,Swiss Cottage

The next day we spent enjoying the countryside views on the way to Cahir. We stopped for a tour of Cahir Castle (another tower castle) and then made our way to the Swiss Cottage up the road. I wouldn’t say these are “must dos” on the itinerary, but it was a nice place to stop on the long drive to Kilkenny.

Day 8: Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny

We spent the night in Cashel and woke up early to visit the Rock of Cashel- an old historic abbey up on the hill. There is an entrance fee and if you’re looking to save some money, I would say to skip this one. You can see most everything from the outside and the real view is from afar.

After lunch in the town of Cashel, we headed to Kilkenny where we would spend the rest of the day exploring the small town and having a few pints at the local pub.

Day 9: Powerscourt House and Gardens, Dublin

We started our drive towards Dublin and had planned on stopping at the Powerscourt House and Gardens along the way, but were disappointed when we arrived a bit too late and they were no longer allowing entry for the evening. That being said, I cant speak to the beauty of this one, but I’ve heard that it’s a great spot and is on the path back to Dublin and would be a good spot to stop for a few hours.

We arrived back in Dublin in time for our tour of the Jameson Distillery. With each admission, you receive an overview of the history, how the whiskey is made, a tasting and a free drink.

We spent the rest of the evening waking Temple Bar, enjoying one last Irish meal and taking in some local Irish Dancing at a pub. I wouldn’t leave Ireland without seeing some local dancers and musicians!

Trip Highlights:

  • We traveled to Ireland in mid-April and it was still quite chilly. I would recommend bringing a heavier jacket and a scarf.
  • Driving is on the LEFT side of the road!! Be aware and be careful.
  • The people in Ireland are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met! Be sure to meet some locals and ask them for tips on local restaurants and pubs.