Road Trip Ireland Itinerary

10 Day Ireland Itinerary: The Ultimate Irish Road Trip

Julie Ireland, Itinerary 71 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

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the points of interest. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.

If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.


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Ireland Itinerary Road Trip 10 Days

Comments 71

  1. Husband and I visited Ireland 15 years ago and are heading back for our 20th anniversary next year with a (soon-to-be) 8 year old in tow. The highlight of our trip was staying in Dingle. What’s your thought of modifying the Killarney stay to be a dingle stay but still doing the Ring of Kerry / Skellig Island, etc, stops. Would love to check out Northern Ireland this time as well.

    We also have to stop at the Rock of Cashel again and want to add in a hawk walk and a visit to Ross Castle.

    Comments? Thought? Appreciate any input you may have.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Jenna. Our 20th wedding anniversary is in just a few weeks! 🙂 Staying in Dingle is fine, it will just add driving time to your Ring of Kerry, Skellig Michael day(s). It looks like staying in Dingle will take you 30 minutes longer to drive one way to Portmagee. So, Killarney is more conveniently located but I totally get why you would prefer to stay in lovely town of Dingle. But staying in Killarney would also put you a lot closer to Ross Castle. Adding a hawk walk sounds really neat. I don’t know much about doing this in Ireland, but I found a place in Killarney where you can do this (I have no idea how reputable this company is, just found them on a quick search). With all that being said, in my opinion, with as many things as you want to do being located in/near Killarney, I personally would stay in Killarney. We loved where we stayed (the link is in this post) and it was outside of town, so it didn’t feel touristy. Those are just my thoughts, but Dingle is wonderful, so you have a tough decision to make. Have a nice time in Ireland! Cheers, Julie

  2. Helllo Julie,

    Thank you for the earlier reply, wanted to clarify one another worry. Which car you hired for a family of 4 (two Adults and two Kids)? I read in lots of forums that we must opt for a smaller car as the roads in Ireland is fairly narrow. Considering this point, i have a problem with small car’s boot space. i believe it will be difficult to accommodate our luggage, toddler seats, stroller etc in a small car.

    Any suggestions for any car?

    1. Post
      Author

      We were in full-size car because it gave us enough trunk for our luggage. We also would have been fine in a small SUV. Most of the roads are fine…wide with plenty of room for two cars. But there are roads that are narrow with just enough room for two cars to pass each other. Rent the smallest car that you can fit your things into, whether it is a mid to full-size car or a small SUV. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hello Julie,

    First of all I wanted to thank you for all your efforts for sharing such a good itineraries which is a good help for us.

    Myself, my wife and two kids (3 yrs and 8yrs) planning to follow your itinerary as is in next 2 weeks. Every detail is excellent, can you please share us the details of which hotels you have opted to stay in different cities and what considerations you have extended for travel timings in the whole itineraries?

    Mathew

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Mathew. I’m glad you like our itineraries. In this itinerary I listed the hotels that we stayed in that we recommend. The apartment that we stayed in Dublin was terrible, so it didn’t get listed, and unfortunately I don’t have another recommendation. When we book our hotels, we use Booking.com and ideally try to only book accommodations that get a 9.0 or better. We followed this itinerary but in opposite order (we flew into Belfast, then did Northern Ireland and Ireland). If you can add time anywhere, the places to do this, in my opinion, would be in Northern Ireland and near Donegal to see the Slieve League. Cheers, Julie

  4. Just back from a ten days drive around Ireland. Enjoyed my trip immensely and even found the farmhouse where my father was born and grew up. However after leaving Northern Ireland was disappointed to discover that the Pound Sterling notes dispensed by a Bank ATM in Belfast are technically not legal tender and I was unable to convert my leftover money into other currencies after leaving Ireland. Though the amount is relatively small, at around USD150 worth of these phoney bank notes, there was no warning at the ATM that the notes dispensed could not be exchanged overseas. Sadly I feel I have been cheated and would like the warn other visitors of the situation said they avoid this trap.

    1. Post
      Author

      Wow, thanks for sharing that information. I would feel cheated too. I guess those notes make a unique Northern Ireland souvenir. Cheers, Julie

  5. Thanks for all of the great input. If we want to base out of a central location and take day trips in Southern Ireland for a 8 day trip, what towns would you suggest we stay. We don’t want to move around a lot. Thanks for the help.

    1. Post
      Author

      Killarney is a nice home base for the Ring of Kerry and a road trip to the Dingle Peninsula. Cork is another option: you could visit the Blarney Stone, Kinsale, Midleton, Cobh, and the Rock of Cashel. Limerick and Galway are also decent sized but interesting cities and you could visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren from here. Cheers, Julie

  6. Our trip is in June. We arrive on a Friday morning in Shannon. Hope to do the Cliffs of Moher (family came from there) the Burren then up to Galway and Donegal eventually to Leitrim (family) hit the North and end up on Dublin and home on a Sunday afternoon. We have 9 whole days in Ireland. This is not our first trip, have been there many many times but bringing some grandchildren who have never been there. Oh yes, renting a car in Shannon and dropping it off in Dublin airport. Suggestions

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Jeanne. It sounds like a very nice trip. Give yourself one full day for the Cliffs of Moher. This will give you plenty of time to explore it and will give you a little bit of contingency time if you get some bad weather. But hopefully you will have sunny skies. Near Donegal we made a detour to the Mullaghmore Head which is quick stop and beautiful. And if you haven’t been there yet, visit the Slieve League. Looks amazing! Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your website! On your 10 day driving trip through Ireland, how did the rental car work out? Did you rent a car in Dublin and one way it to Belfast? We’re trying to figure that part out.

    1. Post
      Author

      When we did this, we actually did it in reverse order. We started in Belfast (renting a car in Belfast) and ended in Dublin (dropping it here). I don’t recall the company we used, however, we didn’t have a problem dropping it in a different location. Most likely there was a drop fee for doing this but it was cheaper than taking another day to go back to Belfast. Cheers, Julie

  8. Hi Julie,
    We really enjoyed your blog and used it as a guide, however, after posting it on TripAdvisor for suggestions we were told it was too much and silly. We have 12 days total. Can you give us some feedback on our itinerary?

    Day 1: Land in Dublin, stay the night
    Day 2: Drive to Killarney (stop at Rock of Cashel)

    Day 3: Ring of Kerry / Skellig Island (unsure about Skellig)
    Day 4: Dingle Peninsula (night 2,3 & 4 we will stay in Killarney)
    Day 5: Drive to Doolin (stay the night & visit cliffs of Moher)
    Day 6: Drive to Westport & stay the night
    Day 7: Drive to Donegel
    Day 8: Donegel – Silver League
    Day 9: Drive to Port Rush
    Day 10: Port Rush
    Day 11: Drive to Dublin
    Day 12: Fly out in the afternoon.

    The Westport idea was just to break-up the drive. Can you give us your thoughts and feedback?

    We really liked your itinerary and thought it sounded doable. It will just be my husband and myself.

    Thank you

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Justine. I don’t know why people would think this itinerary is silly…it’s exactly what we did and it was amazing (it is a bit fast in Northern Ireland). I think it is great you are adding in the Slieve League…we missed this but it looks amazing! I think your itinerary looks great. I don’t know much about Westport, but you will get to see more of Ireland. Also, Ballycroy National Park is near Westport…you could check that out while in the area. Have fun in Ireland! Cheers, Julie

      1. Hello Julie,

        Thank you so much for your detailed itinerary. You are doing a wonderful job!
        I am planning my trip in mid-July to Ireland. We would like to make a 10/12 day trip starting from and ending in Dublin by car. Is it doable with a toddler? We are a family of 2 adults and kids ( 16 yrs, 12 yrs, & 2 yrs). As per your suggestion & other enquires, it seems a compact or midsize SUV is good for travelling. Do we need an international driving license, and is it left or right handed driving?

        1. Post
          Author

          I did a quick search online and you do not need an IDL for Ireland. They drive on the left so if you haven’t done that yet, it can be a little difficult/freaky at first. But in our experience, it doesn’t take long for it to feel normal. You just have to remind yourself to stay on the left, especially when turning onto a road. This itinerary is doable with a toddler. With and extra day or two, you’ll have enough time to get back to Dublin, maybe spend more time in Dublin or Northern Ireland, depending on your interests. Have a nice trip! Cheers, Julie

  9. Wow! This is a wonderful site you have created! Thank you so much for all of the great detail. It is definitely helping me plan for our trip this July.

    1. Post
      Author
  10. A teacher friend and I are planning a trip to Ireland. Except we are reluctant to drive… Do you think we can do it by rail/bus/tours? We have 2 weeks end of June beginning of July. Thanks any advice is helpful.

    1. Post
      Author

      If you don’t want to drive, yes, you can get around by rail, bus, tours, or even by hiring a private driver. A driver will be the most convenient but also the most expensive. You can get around by bus and train, but since we did not do this, I don’t really know much about it, not enough to give you any advice. If you want to travel on your own (without being in a tour group), you will have to do some research about how the trains and buses work. There are also a lot of companies offering tours. That would be easy to book and you can pick one in your budget, you’ll just be traveling in a tour group. Sorry I can’t give you any more concrete info. Cheers, Julie

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