Visit many Irish villages on this 7 Day Ireland Itinerary
Welcome to the Republic of Ireland or the Emerald Isle, home of Saint Patrick’s Day, castles, Irish pubs and good craic! Ireland is an island resting in the Atlantic Ocean, separated from Britain by the Irish Sea. Its size is roughly 500 x 300 km with its north still ruled by the United Kingdom and the south, a member of the European Union. This size makes it easy to get around. In fact, you could drive from one side of the country to the other within a few hours. If you want to visit the home of Saint Patrick’s Day, castles, Irish pubs and enjoy good craic, then follow this 7 day Ireland driving itinerary. Over the 7 days of this Irish trip you will visit and experience a lot of what Ireland has to offer. Let the craic begin!
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7 Days in Ireland Itinerary at a Glance
1: Arrival in Dublin and off to Galway
2: Cliffs of Moher & Limerick
3: The Ring of Kerry
4: Cork and Blarney Castle
5: Rock of Cashel & Waterford Crystal
6: Back to Dublin through Glendalough
7: Dublin and Goodbye
Follow the letters on this 7 Day Ireland Itinerary
How to Get to Ireland
As Ireland is an island there are two options on how you can travel there. The first option is to get a flight. Check out Skyscanner here for price and availability. The second option is to get a ferry which are linked to a good bus network to take you to different Irish cities.
How to Get Around Ireland
The best way to get around Ireland and truly enjoy everything the Emerald Isle has to offer is by renting a car. Having a car gives you the flexibility to go where you want, when you want and you will not be reliant on timetables. Even though there is a bus and train network (www.irishrail.ie), this itinerary is based on travelling by car. To rent a car, get pricing and availability here. And don’t forget travel insurance for your trip.
DRIVING IN IRELAND TIPS
- Driving in Ireland is pretty easy, just remember to drive on the left side of the road in Ireland.
- Speed signs in Ireland are in Kilometres Per Hour, but if you go to Northern Ireland it changes to Miles Per Hour.
- Take an International Drivers’ Licence with you.
- You may be driving on thin roads with no lines marked. Keep to the left and slow down if a car comes the other way so you can pass each other safely.
Best Time to Visit Ireland
In my opinion, anytime is a good time to visit Ireland however, the seasons, events and costs can play a big part of choosing when to visit. If you want to experience St. Patricks Day, held each March, well, that is when you will need to go. Or if you are invited to a wedding, well, you don’t really have any choice. If you have no commitments and prefer warmer weather then head there during the summer months. Be wary that costs of accommodation can increase during these busy months and there will be lots of other tourists around. But as I said, any time is a good time to go to Ireland.
Where to Stay while in Ireland
Ireland offers loads of different accommodation from budget to I going to splurge places. On this road trip through Ireland we spend one night in 6 different towns. Basically you will only need somewhere that is comfortable for the one night. Therefore, the accommodation recommended in this 7 day Ireland itinerary is for a bed in a hostel or a room in a B&B. I personally would stay in a B&B only because breakfast is included. I found this wonderful while I was driving around Ireland because once up, I didn’t have to go looking for somewhere to have breakfast, I just had to walk downstairs. But it is totally up to you what type of accommodation you stay in while in Ireland. To book a hostel bed check out HostelWorld and for a B&B or hotel room check out Booking.com.
Let’s get this Irish 7 Day Itinerary Started
My itinerary for driving 7 days in Ireland starts and finishes in Dublin. In between, it takes you to some of the most well-known places to visit in the Republic of Ireland. So let’s get this itinerary started. Please note that opening hours mentioned may vary and I also recommend you book tickets in advance for attractions, especially due to Covid-19 in case there are limits of the number of visitors.
Day 1 – Arrival in Dublin [A] and off to Galway [B]
Leave Dublin and head into the Irish countryside
Welcome to the Emerald Isle! After renting a car (preferably at the airport or in advance to pick up at the airport) start your drive along M4 and M6 towards Galway. This drive will take approximately 2 hours 20 mins. When you arrive in Galway enjoy walking around its streets visiting some great sites. Start with Saint Nicholas’ Collegiate Church which is a large, 14th-century Anglican Episcopal church visited by Oliver Cromwell and Christopher Columbus. It is free to enter and is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 1pm, then 2pm to 5pm. It is closed on a Saturday and Sunday.
Next up, visit The Spanish Arch. It was built in 1584 but it is an extension of the 12th century Norman-built town wall. This is stretched from Martin’s Tower to the riverbank. It housed soldiers who kept watch and manned cannons on the roof. It is free to visit and is open 24/7. Next on the list is Eyre Square which is a popular square in the heart of the city featuring grassy areas, trees, sculptures & a playground. Then onto Galway Cathedral, a modern and airy, green-domed, renaissance-style Catholic cathedral, with a mosaic of JF Kennedy. This cathedral is open daily and a donation of 2€ is required to enter.
End your first day in Ireland in the Galway’s Pedestrian Area. It starts on the east in William’s Road, continues as Shop’s Road, High Road, and ends with Quay Road. There are many great restaurants for sea food as well as pubs with beers and Irish music here. What a great way to end your first day in Ireland with a good meal, Guinness and Irish music to get you into the Irish way of life.
Where to Stay in Galway
You have one night in Galway and there is a variety of accommodation to choose that is close to the city centre and offers breakfast.
Hostels: Only .2km from the city centre is Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel here.
B&B: Close to the city centre, providing breakfast and parking for the car check out St. Judes B&B.
For other options check out HostelWorld and Booking.com.
Good morning Ireland! What does a full Irish breakfast include?
Traditionally, A full Irish breakfast is made up of fried eggs, rashers, sausage, black and white pudding, a fried tomato, and toast. Sometimes it is also served with brown bread, baked beans, and potatoes of some kind.
Day 2 – Cliffs of Moher [C] and Limerick [D]
After a hearty traditional Irish breakfast, jump in your car and start your drive along the Atlantic road (N67) towards the Cliffs of Moher. This will take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Just before the cliffs you may want to stop at Doolin village. This village is known as a gateway to the ancient sites on the Aran Islands, which are just offshore. Doolin Cave has a huge, free-hanging stalactite.
Then on to the Cliffs of Moher. The west coast of Ireland has hundreds of metres of straight cliff, in front of the Atlantic Ocean. It is characterised by strong winds and shards of water, so do not forget a raincoat and warm clothes. Be careful not to be blown away on some days when the wind is strong. The cliffs are mostly open daily from 8am to 9pm but this depends on the season. It costs from 7€ for an adult ticket.
The Cliffs of Moher are Wild!
After visiting the cliffs drive towards Limerick, the third largest city in Ireland, on N85 and N18. It will take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Enjoy the city of Limerick for the rest of the day. First place to visit could be Saint Mary’s Cathedral which is an iconic 12th-century cathedral. It has beautiful large stained-glass windows and a small burial ground. It is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm and on Sunday 10.30am to 12.30pm and is free to enter. Next, visit King John’s Castle Visitor Experience which is a fabulous place to discover the stories of ruthless King John, the noble knights, and rebellious natives. King John’s Castle brings to life over 800 years of dramatic local history.
It is open daily from 10am to 5pm and costs 13€ for an adult ticket (better to book in advance). Also visit the The Treaty Stone, the rock that the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. It marks the surrender of the city to William of Orange and is very interesting for all history buffs. It is free to visit and is open 24/7. Continue walking around Limerick to Sarsfield Bridge which is the second of Limerick’s River Shannon crossings. It commemorates Patrick Sarsfield, the Earl of Lucan, who is renowned in Limerick for his role in the Williamite War and the 1691 siege and Treaty of Limerick in particular. Lastly, head to The Milk Market which is an airy, covered market selling fruits, veggies, meats, dairy items, crafts and baked goods since 1852. You may want to purchase dinner here or head to one of the many pubs or restaurants.
Where to Stay in Limerick
Limerick has plenty of accommodation to rest your weary head. These suggestions are close to the city centre and offer breakfast.
Hostel: The Old Quarter Townhouse is in the centre of Limerick and includes free breakfast.
B&B: Parkhouse B&B.
For other options check out HostelWorld and Booking.com.
Day 3 – The Ring of Kerry [E]
Driving around the Ring of Kerry
Day 3 already on this Ireland 7 day itinerary! Today, drive from Limerick to Killarney National Park, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes away a wonderful national park with many animals. Then, continue to enjoy the circular drive around N70 (the Ring of Kelly). The Ring of Kelly is an iconic 179 km loop that takes you through green fields, coastal cliffs, quaint villages with tons of ancient history and panoramic lookouts.
Popular stops along the Ring of Kerry include:
- Skellig Rocks – this is a UNESCO protected monastery.
- Portmagee – a seaside village with gorgeous bright coloured buildings.
- Torc Waterfall – one of the many popular waterfalls along the route.
- Kenmare – another picturesque town with bright coloured buildings.
- Staigue Fort – an old stone fort.
Where to Stay near Ring of Kerry – Killarney
The best place to stay after driving the Ring of Kerry is Killarney. Killarney has a number of options with accommodation close to the city and offering breakfast.
Hostel: Killarney Railway Hostel
B&B: Gleann Fia Country House B&B
For more hostel options check out HostelWorld and for other hotels and B&Bs check out Booking.com.
Day 4 – Cork [F] and Blarney Castle
It’s up there you will kiss the Blarney Stone!
Start your day with a 1 hour and 20 minute drive towards Cork and Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle is a ruined castle housing the famed Blarney Stone, a kiss of which is said to grant the gift of the gab. It is open daily from 9am – 4:30pm and has an entrance fee of 8€.
After kissing the Blarney Stone head to Cork and visit the Cork City Gaol. This museum is located inside a castle immersed in a green garden. The prison, which has not been functioning for decades, shows the lifestyle of the inmates in the prison. Dozens of wax dolls are scattered throughout the beautiful fortress – governor, wardens, prisoners, women and men – all life-size and non-threatening. Inside the cells you can see original graffiti and engravings of the prisoners on the walls. It is open daily and costs from 6€ for self guided tour.
Next stop, head to the The English Market. Here there are traders selling organic and locally produced food in an 18th-century covered market. There are many stalls here including a stall by chef Rick Stein. It sells everything from local grass-fed beef and Lee River Salmon to Pork spare ribs – yum – however, you will only buy if you plan on cooking your dinner yourself! It is closed on a Sunday but open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm.
If you have time, head to the Jameson Distillery – and who hasn’t! Dating from the 18th century, take a tour around the distillery to discover how whiskey is made followed by some whiskey tasting. Open every day, it costs from 25€ to enter. Book in advance if you can.
Where to Stay in Cork
Tonight’s accommodation is spent in Cork. Close to the city and providing breakfast are:
Hostel: Sheila’s Tourist Hostel
B&B: Gabriel House Guesthouse
Find other options at HostelWorld for a hostel bed and Booking.com for a hotel.
Day 5 – Rock of Cashel [G] and Waterford Crystal [H]
Rock of Cashel – the oldest Medievil buildings in Ireland
As you continue your 7 days in Ireland itinerary, today say goodbye to Cork and drive north on M8 to Mitchelstown Cave (approximately 45 mins). The cave is one of the largest and most complex cave systems in Ireland. You can observe dripstone formations, stalactites, stalagmites and huge calcite pillars. It’s open daily from 10:30am – 3:30pm and costs 10€ for an adult ticket on a guided tour.
After your tour of the cave continue towards Cahir Castle, a mere 15 minutes away. Cahir Castle is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles in Ireland. It’s open daily 9:30am to 5pm and costs 5€ for an adult ticket. After Cahir Castle, and only a 20 minute drive is the Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel is a cluster of medieval buildings set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone. Open daily from 9am to 4:45pm it costs 8€ for an adult ticket .
After a wonderful day sightseeing, drive one hour and 15 minutes on the N24 to Waterford. Waterford was founded in 914AD, and is Ireland’s oldest city. Medieval structures stand alongside charming buildings from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries along with modern developments. You can see the city’s treasures displayed in museums. Make time to visit Waterford’s jewel in the crown – the House of Waterford Crystal. Here take a guided factory tour to see the high-end crystal being made. The factory is open daily 9:30am to 4:15pm and costs14.84€ for an adult ticket when booking online.
End day 5 of this tour of Ireland in a pub or restaurant for a meal before retiring to your accommodation.
Where to Stay in Waterford
Waterford has a number of accommodation options to spend the night in. Here are a couple close to the city offering breakfast.
B&B: The Vee B&B
For other hostel and hotel options check out HostelWorld and Booking.com.
Day 6 – Back to Dublin through Glendalough Lakes [I]
End your time in Ireland in Dublin
Before heading back to Dublin take the M9 for the 2 hour drive to Glendalough Lakes. The area is full of scenic mountains, lakes (the upper and the lower) and a waterfall. It is possible to start at the visitor’s centre, where you can get recommendations for walking tracks accompanied by maps. On the way you can visit the ancient cathedral, an ancient Celtic cross and other Christian historical ruins.
On to Dublin, an hour or so away to spend the afternoon and evening in the Republic of Ireland’s capital city. Enjoy walking along its O’Connel Street, Dublin’s Main Street. Look out for The Spire, the tallest statue in the world at 120 metres high. It is near the main post office building. Also walk through the Grafton Pedestrian area, a bustling shopping area. While walking, why not walk along the River Liffey, and visit the Half Penny Bridge. It is located between O’Connel Street and the Temple Bar entertainment district. After visiting the bridge grab a meal or drink in the famous Temple Bar neighbourhood. Temple Bar has many bars with folk music and DJ sets and can be a very lively place and a great way to end your day.
Note: you could return the car to the airport now which would reduce the number of days you need to pay for it, or if you are flying out tomorrow night, drop it off at the airport then.
Where to Stay in Dublin
Dublin has plenty of accommodation to stay in for your last night in Ireland. Accommodation ranging from hostels to five star hotels.
Hostel: AbbeyCourt Hostel offers free breakfast and is only .4km from the city centre. Another option is Generator Dublin 1.2km from the cit centre.
Hotel: Kinlay House Dublin
Splurge: The Lansdown Hotel
For more Dublin accommodation options check out HostelWorld for a hostel bed and for a room in a hotel Booking.com.
Day 7 – Dublin and Home
It is your last day in Ireland and you have a full day to explore Dublin until it is time to depart. Depending on how long you have today before you leave, here are some of the best things to do and see in Dublin.
Trinity College was built by Queen Elizabeth in 1592, with the aim of connecting the Irish back with culture. The place is still used today as a centre for higher education. The Book of Celts is a book of the New Testament, painted by Celtic monks in about 800 and is housed in the library at the college. It is open daily with entry to the Book of Kells and Old Library from 16€ (30 mins) Book of Kells and Campus Tour from 27€ (75 mins).
The National Museum of Ireland covers 3 museums: Decorative Arts and History, Natural History and Archeology. They are all in walking distance from one another so if you love museums, get ready to visit them. They are open daily with free admission.
You can’t visit Dublin and not visit Dublin Castle. This castle was the centre of power in Ireland between the 13th – 20th centuries. The castle was attacked during the “Easter Uprising” of 1916.
Another must visit while in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse. See how the most famous Irish beer is produced and maybe have a taste or two! It is open daily and costs from 22€ when booking online.
St Patrick’s Cathedral was the centre of the “Church of Ireland”. The present structure was erected in 1191. Beneath the church floor the pastor and author Jonathan Swift are buried. Open daily and costs 7.5€ for an adult ticket when booking online.
If you are in need of some open space to enjoy in the centre of Dublin visa Phoenix Park. Often referred to as the green lung of the city, it is the largest urban park in Europe.
Opening Hours: The park is open 24/7 and is free to visit. The visitors’ centre is open daily 9:30am – 6pm.
If you don’t have enough time to visit all the above on foot, consider taking the Hop-on Hop-off bus around the city. I often take these when pushed for time.
Final Thoughts on Your 7 Day Ireland Itinerary
Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end, and so ends this 7 day Ireland itinerary. I wish you a pleasant journey home, but I know you will want to come back to Ireland again.