Road tripping across the Irish countryside is the best way to experience Ireland and its people. For our road trip, we flew into the Dublin airport and then left to head back home from the Dublin airport. I recommend flying into Dublin and then leaving from an airport on the west coast. This will allow you more time to explore Ireland and you won’t have to rush back across the country to get to the airport.
Prepping for the Trip
When you first head out on your trip, the most important items are a physical map and a GPS. Having both with ensure you don’t get lost. Ireland often has roads out in the country that aren’t on a GPS and can cause major confusion. If all else fails, you can stop off at a gas station and ask someone for directions. The people of Ireland are extremely nice and helpful. Some additional items to bring along are snacks and drinks so that you don’t have to make frequent stops and can get to your destinations faster. Ireland also doesn’t have any tolls other than the recently added toll near Dublin. You won’t have to worry about stopping and paying tolls along your journey like many other places. This helps save you some money which is especially nice considering the price of gas. All this being said, Ireland is a beautiful country to drive through and allowed us to see as much of Ireland as we could.
The most wonderful, and slightly unusual thing about Ireland is that there are a million places to stay. Friends of mine had told me this prior to going, but it was hard to believe that you could find lodging ANYWHERE in Ireland. Pre Booking your hotels or Airbnbs is always an option, but it’s extremely easy to find a place to stay for a decent price. Bed and Breakfasts are common in Ireland and will often post on Airbnb. We didn’t book most of our Airbnbs until we were about to arrive at the place we were heading to. It may even be a great option to stay with someone through Airbnb. When we were in County Clare near the Cliffs of Moher, we stayed with a local and it made our experience that much better!
When we created our route, we decided it based on sights we wanted to see and chose places to stop while we were driving. We also chose this route based on the fact that we had to be back in Dublin by the 7th day. Originally, Dublin was the place we most wanted to see. We had heard so much about Dublin and how amazing it is. In all honesty, Dublin is a cool place, but we felt that spending one night here versus two would have been best. Dublin has a bar on every corner and if that’s your thing, then go for it. But, we wanted to see the sights of Ireland and get more than a vicious hangover. For our next trip, we definitely plan on flying into one airport and out of another on the other side of the country.
On our first day in Ireland, we explored the city of Dublin and ended up stopping off at the Real Bodies exhibit. Although it seems completely random, it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen! The exhibit features real human bodies that are preserved and fixed into different positions. Uncovering hidden gems is probably one of the best things about wandering about a city. You never know what you’ll find, but once you find something, it usually ends up being extremely memorable. Next, went to the Guinness Factory which I highly recommend. The tour takes you through the brewing process and tells you the history of Guinness. At the end of the tour, you get to go up to the rooftop bar and have a free Guinness. This room gives you a 360-degree view of the city and it’s a great way to end the tour. After leaving the factory, we took a carriage ride through Dublin and stopped off at the famous Temple Bar to end our trip.
Kilkenny and Cahir
Once we left Dublin, we stopped off in Kilkenny and Cahir to explore some castles! Kilkenny is a beautiful town with cute shops and gorgeous medieval architecture. The Kilkenny Castle itself is well-kept and beautifully staged with original pieces from the time period. The grounds around the castle offer a picturesque courtyard with a giant fountain, and the lush meadow behind the castle is great for a picnic or a casual soccer game. The locals seem to enjoy hanging around the castle. Before heading to Cork for the night, we stopped off at Cahir to have a snack and see the Cahir Castle. While the Cahir Castle is not as elaborate or as grand as the Kilkenny Castle, the views from the castle are stunning.
The town of Cork was one of your favorite places on our trip. Cork has a great nightlife with tons of bars and restaurants. The locals we met were some of the nicest people ever. They gave us great advice on how to spend the rest of our Cork visit. After our night out on the town, we spent the morning shopping on Saint Patrick Street and the afternoon at the Blarney Castle and I even kissed the Blarney Stone! The Blarney Castle was our favorite castle out of all the castles we saw during our trip. We spent hours here walking the grounds and exploring.
While in Killarney, we did some hiking and took a boat tour out on the Lough Leane. Since we were there in the offseason (April), it wasn’t as busy as it normally is. According to our host at the Airbnb, Killarney goes from about 14,000 people to about 70,000 people in the summer months! This spike in population made us glad that we were visiting in April. It gave us a chance to enjoy the Torc Waterfall even more.
Liscannor and Cliffs of Moher
Our last stop before heading back to Dublin was to the west side of Ireland. This stop was our absolute favorite. Liscannor is a gorgeous beach town with quaint little houses and stretches of open farmland. On the way to Liscannor, we ended up taking a boat across the inlet to shave about two hours off of our trip. This was a really awesome experience and relatively inexpensive. You line up your car at the port, they guide you onto the ship with your car, and you head across to the other side. In Liscannor, we renting a room through Airbnb and stayed with a local. She was so warm and welcoming. She even showed us how to access the Cliffs of Moher through a side street down her road. If you are visiting the Cliffs of Moher, staying with someone who lives in the area will give you the best experience you can ask for! Our last few days spent in this town was a great way to end the trip before heading back home.