Road Trip Ireland Itinerary

10 Day Ireland Itinerary: The Ultimate Irish Road Trip

Julie Ireland, Itinerary 39 Comments

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.

Ireland Itinerary 10 Days

10 Day Ireland Itinerary

This Ireland Itinerary is good for:

  • Families
  • Scenic Drives
  • Game of Thrones fans
  • Historical Sites
  • Stunning Scenery

Day 1

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!

Dublin Temple Bar

Day 2

Dublin

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.

Dublin things to do

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


Day 3

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

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.

Kilkenny

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.

Rock of Cashel Drone


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

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.

Kinsale

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.

Jameson

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.

Dinner at Treyvauds

Day 4

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.

Skellig Michael

Star Wars Ireland


Read more: Skellig Michael: One of Ireland’s Most Unique Destinations


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.

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


Day 5

Dingle Peninsula

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.

Dingle Peninsula Ireland

Dingle


Read more: Driving the Dingle Peninsula


Day 6

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.

Adare Cottage

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.

Day 7

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.

Cliffs of Moher


Read more: Walking the Cliffs of Moher: Doolin to Hags Head


Tonight, you have the option to spend a second night in Doolin or drive an hour and a half north to Galway.

Day 8

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.

Galway

Galway

Mullaghmore Head on the Wild Atlantic Way.

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.

Day 9

Northern Ireland

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.

Dunluce Castle

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.

Visiting Giants Causeway


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.

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.

Day 10

Fly Home

Begin your travels home. Or, for those with more time, continue on to your next destination.


With More Time

Aran Islands

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

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

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.


Going to Ireland? Buy the Guide:


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Ireland Itinerary Road Trip 10 Days

Ireland Itinerary: 10 day road trip in Ireland, visiting Dublin, Ring of Kerry, Skellig Michael, Dingle, Cliffs of Moher, Giants Causeway. #ireland #irelanditinerary #cliffsofmoher #roadtrip

Comments 39

  1. Hi Julie– We are visiting Ireland for the first time in August on a 10 day trip. Planned this trip exactly a year ahead and its almost here — can’t wait to go :-). We are landing at Dublin at 7 am and renting a car (Dan Dooley Car Rental) and driving down to Killarney on the same day, with stops at Kilkenny Castle and Rock of Cashel enroute. I planned the itinerary, somewhat similar to yours, except we are spending the last day in Dublin. Which map would you recommend for Ireland ?

    Thanks much !
    Indira

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      Author

      We use Google maps. It helps to cache your map each day while you have Wi-Fi at your hotel or if you have a SIM card. There will be spots in the more rural areas that you will not have cell service but if your maps are cached they should still work. We do this all of the time when we travel (and it’s free!!). Have fun in Ireland! Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie,
    Love your website! What would you suggest if we were trying to do Scotland and Ireland in 10-14 days? Trying to figure out the best way to combine and shorten the trip…We do want go to Isle of Skye for sure.

    Thanks!
    Alicia

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      Author

      First of all, I would try to visit for 14 days. We did Ireland and Scotland with 18 days. I would start in Scotland and follow that itinerary. Shorten our Scotland itinerary by taking out Day 7 and 9. Drive to Glasgow and fly to Ireland. Fly into Belfast and make a counter-clockwise loop around Ireland, ending in Dublin. It would look something like this:

      Day 1: Arrive Edinburgh
      Day 2: Edinburgh
      Day 3: Edinburgh
      Day 4: Drive to Isle of Skye
      Day 5: Skye
      Day 6: Skye
      Day 7: Drive to Glasgow, see Glencoe and have dinner in Glasgow
      Day 8: Morning flight to Belfast, see Northern Ireland
      Day 9: Drive to Doolin, if you have time see Slieve League
      Day 10: Cliffs of Moher, drive to Killarney
      Day 11: Pick from Dingle, Ring of Kerry or Skellig Michael
      Day 12: Drive to Dublin and see Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny on the way
      Day 13: Dublin
      Day 14: Fly home

      Let us know if you have more questions! Cheers, Julie

  3. Thank you for sharing, this is one of the best Ireland itineraries I found while researching our travel there. I used your trip as a starting point for planning a family road trip through Ireland last one, and it was one of our best trips yet. Cheers!

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      Author
  4. Hello. Our roadtrip to Ireland this coming summer is already booked and your blog was very helpful when I was making our itinerary. I thought I booked quite early but some operators of the Skellig Michael landtour were already fully booked. I went back to your blog and luckily Dan and Donal McCrohan could still accommodate the three us. I don’t want to miss this particular tour so I hope that the weather will cooperate. This time around, I am checking on what to wear in Ireland : )

    I will be reading your other blogs for future destinations.

    Thank you.

    1. Post
      Author

      I’m glad you were able to get tickets for Skellig Michael. It’s amazing how early they are selling out!! Cheers, Julie

  5. Hello,

    Your blog has been the most helpful while my husband and I plan our Ireland road trip in June! Did you only stay a night for each town? We only have 7 or 8 days outside of Dublin and unfortunately the Skelling tours are all booked. I guess I’m also trying to see what might be a good resting point to do day trips when driving out west.

    1. Post
      Author

      We spent two nights in Dublin (at an apartment that was terrible), 3 nights in Killarney, 1 night in Doolin, 1 night in Limerick (we did the road trip a little different from the way I wrote it) and 1 night in Portrush. Killarney makes a good home base for exploring the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. Galway is another great city to stay for a night or two. Cheers, Julie

  6. Hi Julie! How did you work out the logistics of taking a rental car across the border from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland (out of the EU and into the UK)? I am looking into taking a rental from Scotland to Northern Ireland (via the ferry), and then to the Republic of Ireland, and it seem like a logistical nightmare! I was hoping to pick up the car in Edinburgh, and eventually drop it off in Dublin. Any advice?

    1. Post
      Author

      We rented a car in Belfast, Northern Ireland and dropped it in Dublin. There was no issue with doing this (there is not a border control between Ireland and Northern Ireland and of course then rental car company knew what we were doing it since we picked up and dropped off the car in two different locations). In fact, I think it’s a typical thing to do. However, we have no experience with renting the car in Edinburgh and later returning it to Dublin, like you are doing. Maybe that’s a much different situation. If one rental car company is telling you one thing, check with other companies to see if they have similar guidelines. Good luck! Cheers, Julie

  7. This post is great! We are planning a 6 day trip to Ireland so this itinerary works out pretty nicely. We’ll have to shorten some of the visits on the list but that’s okay. We started planning and is going to drive the opposite direction and not make it to the southeast side of the island but that’s okay haha

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      Author
  8. Hi there I’m so glad I stumble upon your website! It’s so interesting to read about your trip. I’m especially happy to hear you say driving the Dingle Peninsula (which is what we are doing) is better than driving the Ring of Kerry but I wish we have time to do both.

    You mentioned Carrentalireland where you hired your car? I have not heard of them before. Were they alright and the cars are newish ones?

    Thank you again. Suan

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      Author

      Hello Suan. We did not rent our car through Car rental Ireland (we rented through Budget because they had the cheapest rates at the time). You can look at the rates of Car Rental Ireland and compare them to companies like Avis, Budget, and Hertz and see who has the best deals during your visit. This is what we do…and rates are always changing so who we hire changes with their prices. Cheers, Julie

  9. Thank you for this great itinerary! Where did you stay in each spot? Any places to avoid? I’d love to narrow down our options.

    Thanks!

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      Author

      In Dublin we stayed in an apartment that was TERRIBLE, in Killarney we stayed at the Gleann Fia Guest House (wonderful), in Limerick we stayed in the Savoy Hotel (good), in Doolin we stayed in the Doolin Hostel (a great hostel and a good place to stay if you are a budget traveler), and in Portrush we stayed at the Albany Lodge (average, nothing special). Cheers, Julie

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      Author

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