Ireland is a popular destination on many travelers’ wish lists, for a good reason. This country is a joy to explore, with stunning landscapes, friendly and welcoming people, and ancient historical sites. Don’t let it’s small size fool you…there is a lot to see and do here. On this 10 day Ireland itinerary, tour the highlights of this country.
This itinerary is designed as a road trip. You will need to rent a car in order to tour the island. Ten days is just enough time to visit the highlights of Ireland, including Dublin, the Rock of Cashel, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle Peninsula, and Northern Ireland. It’s an amazing trip, but expect to have busy, action packed days.
10 Day Ireland Itinerary
This Ireland Itinerary is good for:
- Scenic Drives
- Game of Thrones fans
- Historical Sites
- Stunning Scenery
Arrive in Dublin
Your tour of Ireland begins in Dublin, Ireland’s largest city. Depending on where you are arriving from, you may have limited time (and energy) today.
Check into your hotel and take a quick nap if you need it. Spend the afternoon and early evening getting acquainted with Dublin. We recommend heading over to the Temple Bar area, for dinner and drinks in one of the many pubs.
Sláinte! You are in Ireland!
Spend today touring the city of Dublin. Must see sights include a visit to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, the Kilmainham Gaol, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and the National Museum of Ireland. Many people love the tours at the Guinness Storehouse, which ends with a pint of Guinness in the penthouse bar with 360° views over Dublin. End the day with live Irish music in one of the pubs.
If you prefer, you can skip some of these sights in Dublin, opting to take a four-hour day trip out of the city to Newgrange, also known as Brú na Bóinne. Newgrange is a 5,000 year old passage tomb, one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites.
Read more: How We Spent 24 Hours in Dublin
Drive to Killarney
It’s time to say goodbye to Dublin and hello to the Irish countryside.
Today you will drive out to Killarney. If you drive directly there, it takes about four hours. However, there are sights to see along the way.
Kilkenny is an awesome little city in Ireland. We only spent about two hours here, having dinner and then a pint (or two!) in one of the many pubs. We loved this place, more so than Killarney or Kinsale. Explore the town in the morning, have lunch, and then continue your road trip, heading to the Rock of Cashel next.
The Rock of Cashel
This is not to be missed. Overlooking the Plains of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most historic sights. This was the seat of the ancient kings of Ireland. St. Patrick baptized King Aengus here in 450 AD. Now visitors arrive every day to tour this historic complex of buildings.
You can tour the Rock of Cashel in about an hour, but make sure you also walk downhill to the much less visited and just as awesome Hore Abbey.
Hore Abbey with the Rock of Cashel on the hill behind it.
Read more: Why Hore Abbey is Worth a Visit
Before driving to Killarney, there is still enough time in the day to visit either the Blarney Stone or the colorful town of Kinsale.
The Blarney Stone
Located in Cork, the Blarney Stone is a major tourist site, where groups of people line up to kiss the famous Blarney Stone to get the “gift of gab.” We skipped this, since Rick Steves ripped this experience. We chose to put our time into Kinsale and Kilkenny instead.
Kinsale is one of Ireland’s most picturesque towns. With colorful, winding lanes, fabulous restaurants, and a nearby golf course, Kinsale attracts a lot of visitors during the summer months. It’s also the starting point (or ending point, depending on which way you are traveling) of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Ideally, Kinsale deserves a full day of your time. However, with just an hour, you have enough time to explore the colorful town center and have a drink, snack, or even dinner, depending on what time it is when you get here.
Old Midleton Distillery
If you want to tour a whiskey distillery in Ireland, this one is the best of the best. You can take a one hour tour of the distillery, ending with a Irish vs. Scotch whiskey taste test. The Old Midleton Distillery is located just east of Cork.
Today’s road trip ends in Killarney. You will spend three nights in Killarney, using this town as a home base for the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula.
Where We Stayed in Killlarney: We stayed at the Gleann Fia Country House and we highly recommend this B&B. We had a huge family room, Tyler and Kara loved playing Monopoly in the conservatory each night, and being located just outside of town, it was very easy to get to by car.
Restaurants to try in Killarney
Bricin Restaurant. This is a fabulous restaurant serving traditional Irish cuisine. We loved the food and we loved the atmosphere.
Treyvaud’s. Another great restaurant serving gourmet food.
Skellig Michael and the Ring of Kerry
Skellig Michael is a rocky island located off of the coast of the Ring of Kerry. Visit an ancient monastery, see the nesting spot of Puffins, and see where “Star Wars: A Force Awakens” was filmed.
To get here, it is a one-hour trip by boat over the somewhat rough Atlantic Ocean. Only a handful of boats are permitted to make the trip everyday, so your tickets must be booked well in advance. Also, landing tours to Skellig Michael only run between the beginning of May and early October.
If you are in Ireland during the off-season, you will not be able to visit Skellig Michael, but you can still drive the Ring of Kerry.
The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most popular drives. In one day, you can drive through miles of green, rolling hills, explore colorful, Irish towns, and see a fantastic stretch of Ireland’s rugged coastline.
Tours to Skellig Michael return to Portmagee by 2 pm. You have enough time the see the highlights of the Ring of Kerry as you make your way back to Killarney.
Read more: Driving the Ring of Kerry
The Dingle Peninsula is gorgeous and this is one of Ireland’s best road tripping spots. Yes, the Ring of Kerry is beautiful, but the Dingle Peninsula is stunning. Tour charming little Dingle, enjoy the views out to the Blasket Islands, walk on the huge beach named Inch Beach, and be prepared for some amazing sights.
Read more: Driving the Dingle Peninsula
Drive from Killarney to the Cliffs of Moher
Today we drive north to the Cliffs of Moher. From Killarney to Doolin it is two and a half hours of driving, but we recommend some stops along the way.
Adare is a cute town with a small strip of colorful, thatched houses. Unfortunately, a fire several years damaged several of these houses, so it’s not quite the scenic detour that it once was.
Limerick is a small city with a very cool castle that can be explored.
The Burren is a rocky, limestone plateau with Iron Age stone structures.
Your day ends in Doolin, a very small town that is a great base for exploring the Cliffs of Moher.
Where We Stayed in Doolin: We stayed at the Doolin Hostel. This place is fantastic. It is one of the best hostels we stayed in, ever. The Doolin Hostel is clean, quiet, and located within walking distance of the Cliff Trail. They can offer lots of assistance in planning your Cliffs of Moher visit.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher stretch 14 km from north to south, starting at Doolin in the north and ending at Hags Head in the south. There is a well-marked hiking trail along the entire stretch of coastline. The Visitor Center, located at the midpoint, is also at the highest point of the Cliffs.
Over one million people every year visit the Cliffs of Moher, making this one of Ireland’s most popular attractions.
Today, walk the Cliffs of Moher, a journey that takes most people five hours.
Tonight, you have the option to spend a second night in Doolin or drive an hour and a half north to Galway.
Drive to Northern Ireland
This is the longest driving day on the itinerary. Today you will be heading north to the town of Portrush in Northern Ireland. From Doolin, it is a six hour drive (five hours from Galway).
Spend some time in Galway, a favorite city of many visitors to Ireland. Between Sligo and Donegal, enjoy the views of the wild and rugged coastline.
Mullaghmore Head on the Wild Atlantic Way.
If you are making great time, you can take a three hour detour out to the Slieve League. This is another dramatic stretch of coastline, similar to the Cliffs of Moher. Because of the remoteness of these cliffs, not many tourists make it out this way. We didn’t either, unfortunately.
Have dinner and check into your hotel in lovely little Portrush.
Where We Stayed in Portrush: We stayed at the Albany Lodge. This is a basic, nothing fancy small hotel located in Portrush.
One day gives you just enough time to tour the highlights of Northern Ireland. Most sites are clustered around the northern coastline and around Belfast.
Northern Ireland draws many Game of Thrones fans, as this is a major filming location for the HBO TV series. We toured the sites but were disappointed. Many of them were overcrowded and barely resemble what you see on TV. If you are traveling to Northern Ireland to see the Game of Thrones filming sites, read this before you go: Game of Thrones Filming Sites in Northern Ireland…What You Should Really Expect!
Places you should visit in Northern Ireland
Dunluce Castle. See the ruins of an ancient castle perched on the cliffs of the Northern Ireland coastline.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. This rope bridge spans the gap between two rocky, coastal cliffs. Get here early or late to miss the crowds.
Giant’s Causeway. This is spectacular. It is worth traveling to Northern Ireland just to see this. The Giant’s Causeway is a stretch of coastline with perfectly formed hexagonal columns, all massed together at the water’s edge…it’s an amazing sight to see.
Get here at sunrise or sunset for the best experience. If you arrive in Portrush early enough on day 8, consider coming here to watch the sunset. This just may be one of the highlights of this entire trip.
Read more: The Jaw-Dropping Giant’s Causeway
The Dark Hedges. This is the most popular Game of Thrones filming location in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges is a short road lined with twisted, mature beech trees. This is the Kingsroad.
Your day ends in Belfast. If you make it before closing time (between 5 pm and 7 pm depending on the season), you can tour the Titanic Museum. The Titanic was constructed in the Belfast Harbour in 1911.
Begin your travels home. Or, for those with more time, continue on to your next destination.
With More Time
The Aran Islands sit off the coast of Ireland and are accessible from Doolin and Galway between March and October. To see the Aran Islands you can either add a day or visit the islands on day 7 of this itinerary. To do this, on day 6, drive directly from Killarney to Doolin and spend the afternoon on the Cliffs of Moher, in order to spend day 7 on the Aran Islands.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park is a great place for hiking and exploring the Irish outdoors. You can visit Connemara on a day trip from Galway.
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine Monastery located just around the bend from Connemara National Park. This is a very picturesque spot, a gorgeous building that is featured in many publications about Ireland.
Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that has been turned into a five star luxury hotel. It’s an impressive building to see, and John Wayne, President Ronald Reagan, King George V, John Lennon, Brad Pitt, and many more celebrities have been guests here. Ashford Castle is located one hour north of Galway.
Spend more time in your favorite spot
Places where adding more time would be beneficial are Northern Ireland, Kilkenny, Galway, and Dublin.
Best Time to go to Ireland
Spring, summer, and fall are the best seasons to visit Ireland. Summer is peak season, so expect large crowds of people but longer days and warmer temperatures.
If you want to avoid most of the tourists, late spring and early fall are your best bets.
Post updated April 2018.
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