We’ve heard the saying ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side’ but I argue that the people who say this clearly have not been to Ireland. Here’s how you can see all the green Ireland has to offer in a week and go where most visitors haven’t ventured. I was fortunate to have the company of an Irish friend to show me the best way around the country during my week long holiday. So take the following insights I gathered from my route and make it your own on your (what should be next) trip to Ireland!
Where to start??
While most all flights from the States connect to Dublin or Shannon. I recommend your first stop to Ireland be in Cork. International flights from the States do not fly directly into Cork so if you haven’t seen London or like the city enough to go back, connect first to London. Take a day to see the sights or enjoy them again before heading off on a short flight to Cork.
Take a few days to un-Cork
Spend a few days enjoying Cork. Make a half-day trip to the Blarney Castle where you can kiss the Blarney Stone for, well…legend has it, the gift of eloquence! Climb the 127 steps up to the top of the castle where you then lay down and bend backwards over a 37 foot drop to kiss the stone upside down- just don’t think about the hundreds of tourist that have done this before you because it is too much fun to miss. The castle is a short 15 min drive from Cork. TIP* If you can swing it, I highly recommend renting a car for this trip. You always have the option of a tour bus to the castle, as well as one to the Cliffs of Moher, but it is worth it to be able to take your time seeing the sights and all the green Ireland has to offer! You may even be able to check out Kinsale, a small beautiful fishing town outside of Cork, if you have time (~30 in drive). After a couple days in Cork, set out early in the morning to tour the Ring of Kerry
A day around the Ring of Kerry
Most visitors are not able to wander around this part of the island but they should. Most head to Dublin and straight to the Cliffs of Moher without even realizing how much of the countryside they are missing. Yes, the cliffs are unreal and we will get to the cliffs, but don’t miss out on the route taking you there! There are amazing stops along the drive (N70) where you can pull off and see the sights – gorgeous rolling mountains in Killarney National Park, forested trails, untouched beaches along the coastline, and more spectacular cliffs. The greenery here you can’t miss – moss growing on rocks and trees, vines covering ruins of unmarked castles, and grass fields that feel like a pillow you want to lay on for days. TIP* Be sure to stock this road trip with as much Irish chocolate as you can get your hands on. Personally, the best chocolate I’ve ever had.
Dingle for the night
Yes, Dingle is a town and one of many local favorites. If you are like me and like to stand in awe over the breathtaking sights then the Ring of Kerry will take the whole day to drive around. So make your way into Dingle for the night where you can enjoy a fun pub crawl. Enjoy a relaxing morning and then head off on a scenic drive that will take you to what you’ve been waiting for, the Cliffs. The best time saving route to the Cliffs of Moher is by the Shannon Car Ferry. Head to Tarbert, Co. Kerry where you can take the 20 min. car ferry over to Killimer, Co. Clare. TIP* Stop in at Crotty’s Bar in Kilrush for a Guinness or Irish Coffee with authentic Irish music and food. From there you can make your way to the Cliffs along the coastal N67 road. Total route time is a smidge under 3 hours.
The Cliffs of Moher
Not much to say here. Just stay at the cliff’s all day and take them in. When you get there most people go to the left side to walk on the cliff’s but I’d reckon going right if you want to get the best picture. Once you’ve soaked up as must of the pristine scenery and have taken all the cliff photos as possible, head out towards the evening for the drive back to Cork (~2.5 hr). This way you can drop off your rental and have another night here. Rest up for your final destination.
Last Stop Dublin
Take the train from Cork to Dublin and stay a few days to see the exciting city. Personally, when I travel I try to go about it the locals way but for this part of the trip it was best to accept the role of a tourist and purchase tickets for two days of the Dublin On-Off Bus. It was the easiest way to see Dublin. Stay on and hear about the history of the city, even see where the author of Dracula grew up, or stop off to get a drink at any nearby pub as you enjoy the sights. Definitely stop to see Trinity College and pay the little extra to see the Book of Kells – it’s worth it. Of course, graduate from the Guinness Academy while on the Guinness Brewery Tour. TIP* Have a Guiness at the Skybar on the top floor to see great views of the city. From Dublin you can head back to the States or to wherever life is leading you next!
There is so much of Ireland I did not mention and a lot more to see there. If you have more than a week to spend, spend it! Please leave a comment if you have recommendations, thoughts, or ideas for how to best see Ireland or if you have questions for me about planning your trip! Thanks for reading and happy travels!