Ireland is one of my favorite countries [including Northern Ireland] and it doesn’t have to do with the fact that I am at least 25% Irish. The people are friendly, the food is great and the landscape is breathtaking. That makes it the perfect place for a [Ireland] road trip.
I’ve been quite a few times so I’ve compiled all of the places that I’ve road tripped to into one ultimate Ireland road trip list. You can customize depending on your time and travel style. Be sure to explore the map to get a more in depth look at locations I’ve been.
If you’re from the USA then you’ll have to pay a little bit more attention because you’ll be driving on the other side of the car and the road. It’s not very difficult to get the hang of what you’re doing, but you should just pay a little more attention. There are also quite a few roundabouts, with some of them having multiple lanes so again just pay attention and take your time if you need to. Some of the roads are very narrow in smaller towns so if there is a larger car coming, give them the right of way and let them pass first.
The weather here can change very quickly so it’s best to be prepared. I’ve been in the summer where one second it’s warm enough for shorts and all of a sudden it’s rainy and cold. I usually have a raincoat and shoes I don’t mind getting dirty with me. It’s also a good idea to have a jumper/sweater with you in case the wind picks up, which will definitely be the case if you’re along the coast.
Here are some of the most popular stops for an Ireland Road Trip:
Venture up to Northern Ireland for some serious history and different culture. Belfast is a great city to explore on foot. There’s a ton of history here and if you’re a film or tv buff then you’ll enjoy visiting film locations. Titanic was also built in Belfast and the exhibit is incredibly moving as well as being one of the most interesting buildings I’ve ever seen. One of my favorite markets in Belfast is St. George’s, which has food as well as art and smaller things available for purchase.
See – Titanic, Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery, Belfast City Hall
Stay – The Merchant Hotel
Eat – St. George’s Market, Mourne Seafood Bar
Dublin is an incredibly vibrant city with so much to offer and is the perfect place to start and end an Ireland road trip. There’s live music, plenty of pubs, museums and more. I’m a fan of wandering around a city with a loose plan and Dublin is the perfect city to do this in. The Guinness and Jameson storehouses are a great way to try some local alcohol and learn about the process of how it’s made and another great option is the Whiskey Museum right across from Trinity College. While you’re in the area, you can walk around this seriously beautiful campus and maybe find its famous [Harry Potter] library.
See – Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, Grafton Street, St. Stepehen’s Green, The Whiskey Experience, Jameson Distillery, River Liffey
Stay – The Shelbourne, Barnaceles Hostel, Generator Hostel, The Clarence
Eat – Gotham Cafe, Kehoe’s
Galway is colorful and lively and one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland. It’s the perfect stop of point for a road trip because it’s surrounded by close places to check out and has a great nightlife. In my opinion, one of the best things to do in Galway is to wander around and discover unique pubs, restaurants and more. If you’re interested in adventure then Epic Ireland is the company to hangout with. I went caving, canyoning and did some cliff jumping with them and had some seriously epic adventures. The Cliffs of Moher are another popular tourist destination and a must-see stop. The main parking lot does charge per person, but is across from the main access point that has toilets, shops and a cafe. You can, of course, park at other places and hike a little bit to get to the edge.
See – Cliff of Moher, Connemara National Park
Stay – Nox Hotel, Barnacles Hostel
Eat – McDonagh’s, The Front Door
A surprising gem of a town that I enjoyed more than I was expecting. I visited Killarney because of TBEX [travel conference] was being hosted there and I wish I would’ve stayed longer. I recommend hiring a bike and cruising around the National Park. It’s over 20,000 acres of lush landscape filled with wildlife, greenery and probably some rain so don’t forget a raincoat. If you’re into Lord of the Rings, you can’t miss The Shire. It’s a bar in town that makes you feel like you’re in the books or movies and is seriously fun.
See – Killarney National Park, Torc Waterfall, Ross Castle
Stay – The Gleneagle Hotel
Eat – Murphy’s Bar, Killarney Brewing Company, The Shire
Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland, which makes it a must stop for me. There are plenty of museums and exhibits to explore, including The Viking Experience. This virtual reality experience shows you history in a unique way, which is great for all ages, but especially if you have young kids who don’t care for museums. Dooley’s Hotel is the perfect place to stay because it’s right in town, but close enough to major roads if you’re going to explore the surrounding area by day. Make sure you grab a bike and cruise down the newly built Greenway. We only did 21km of the 46km ride, but took our time so it took a few hours. There are several routes you can take so make sure to do a little research to see what is the best for you. We started at Kilmacthomas and made our way back to Dungarvan before grabbing a ride back to our car. Waterford Greenway Bike Hire made it easy because they have locations in our start and end point (something to keep in mind).
See – Viking Exhibit, Waterford, The Greenway
Stay – Dooley’s Hotel
Eat – Burzza, Peppers, J. & K. Walsh Victorian Spirit Grocer
If you have any questions or other favorite spots for an Ireland Road Trip, be sure to leave a comment!
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