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Trip List by Sarnia G

Ireland Itinerary : 12+ nights Northern Route Dub-Dub or Snn

Jun 24, 2012  I Heart Ireland
0.0 of 5 stars based on 0 votes

A 12-14 night fly-drive itinerary departing from Dublin and returning to Dublin or Shannon, visiting Northern Ireland, Donegal, Mayo and Galway.

If you're lucky enough to have 14 nights in Ireland, you could extend your stay in northern Ireland, or Donegal, Mayo and Galway by a night, as there are plenty of activities (hiking, boat trips, horse-riding etc), plus historic sites and beautiful scenery to enjoy.

Please note: all drive times are taken from the aa routeplanner, and adjusted by 20% increase to allow for driving on unfamiliar roads and possible delays.
Please factor in time for comfort breaks, lunch etc.

I have not suggested/recommended accommodation options as requirements vary from person to person. Recommend you read reviews here on Tripadvisor to find something that suits your requirements.

  • 1. Dublin

    Day 1

    Arrive Dublin (probably early morning if arriving from US/Canada) and transfer to city centre. Aircoach offers a frequent and economical means of transport.

    Spend rest of day exploring the city, either on foot, or using the HoHo bus service.

    Overnight Dublin

    Day 2

    Explore more sites and sights in Dublin, or take day-trip from city to Powerscourt Gardens and Glendalough monastic site in the Wicklow Mountains.

    Overnight Dublin.

  • 2. Belfast
    Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Day 3

    Return to Dublin airport and collect rental car. Head for the motorway and travel north to Belfast (Dublin airport - Belfast : approx. 2-2.5hrs).

    Take Black Cab tour of Belfast; or visit the Titanic Exhibition (titanicbelfast.com).

    Overnight Belfast.

  • 3. Causeway Coast
    Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre, Bushmills, County Antrim

    Day 4

    Leave Belfast and drive to the Causeway Coast (approx. 1.5-2hrs). Popular sites include Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant's Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and Dunluce Castle.

    Overnight Portrush or Portstewart

    (if you just want to see Giant's Causeway, you might want to drive on to Derry for the night: about 1.5hrs drive)

  • 4. Derry
    Derry, County Londonderry

    Day 5

    Visit Derry (City of Culture 2013), walk the city walls.
    More details at derryvisitor.com.

  • 5. Grianan of Aileach
    Grianan Aileach Ring Fort, County Donegal, Ireland

    Day 5 Continued . . .

    Leave Derry on the N13, direction Letterkenny. A short distance from Derry, just before Burt you will see signs for Grianan of Aileach, a splendid hill fort with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
    Worth a 20-minute stop.

  • 6. Dunfanaghy
    Dunfanaghy, County Donegal

    Day 5 Continued . . .

    Continue to Dunfanaghy, a pretty village on the north coast of Donegal (1hr 20min drive from Derry).

  • 7. Glenveagh National Park
    Glenveagh National Park, County Donegal, Ireland

    Day 6
    Drive to Glenveagh National Park where you can enjoy hikes/walks in the Park, visit Glenveagh Castle (guided tours) and gardens. Nearby lies Glebe House and Gallery well worth visiting for those interested in modern art (20th century).

    Tip: Great opportunity to go horse-riding on the beach at Dunfanaghy. See Dunfanaghy Stables for details.

    Overnight Dunfanaghy.

  • 8. Tory Island
    Tory Island, County Donegal, Ireland

    Day 6 : option 2

    Take the ferry from Meenlaragh (30min from Dunfanaghy) to Tory Island and spend the day exploring this little island off the north coast of Ireland, call into the art gallery and learn more about Tory Island artists. Highly recommended!

    Overnight Dunfanaghy

  • 9. Slieve League
    Slieve League, Carrick, County Donegal

    Day 7

    Time to leave pretty Dunfanaghy and the north coast of Donegal and head for Slieve League Cliffs on the west coast: the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
    Your drive will take you through Falcarragh, Dunglow, and Ardara, and onwards through the beautiful Glengesh Pass to Teelin, which is where you start the short drive to the carpark at the viewing point for the Cliffs. (Coffee shop and souvenir shop at Teelin).

    If you have time, you might want to visit Glencolumbkille for an hour or two before visiting Slieve League (gleanncholmcille.ie).

  • 10. Donegal Town
    Donegal Town, County Donegal

    Day 7 Continued . . .

    Onwards to Donegal town for the night (approx. 70-80 minutes)

  • 11. Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
    Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Sligo

    Day 8

    Time to leave co. Donegal and head for Westport. Your drive will take you past magnificent Benbulben and the grave of W B Yeats (at Drumcliffe).

    Once past the town of Sligo, you may wish to stop at Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery: one of the largest in Europe.

  • 12. National Museum of Ireland - Country Life
    National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, Castlebar

    Day 8 Continued . . .

    Well worth visiting for those interested in social history, this fascinating museum lies on your route, just before you reach the town of Castlebar.

  • 13. Westport

    Day 8 Continued . . .

    Continue to Westport (approx. 3hrs drive from Donegal).

  • 14. Achill Island
    Achill Island

    Day 9 : option 1

    Take a day to drive out to Achill Island; beautiful beaches, cliffs, art galleries. Take some time to stop at the deserted village.

    Overnight Westport.

  • 15. Clare Island
    Clare Island

    Day 9 : option 2

    If the weather is nice, drive out from Westport, past Croagh Patrick to Roonagh Quay, where you can take the ferry across to Clare Island and enjoy a peaceful day exploring this unspoilt isle on foot. Be sure to visit the Abbey to see the fascinating and unique wall murals.

    This is very much a place to relax, get away from it all: off the main tourist trail.

    Overnight Westport.

  • 16. Clew Bay Archaeological Trail
    Clew Bay Archaeological Trail, Westport

    Day 9 : option 3

    For those of you interested in archaeology, history etc, spend a day following the Clew Bay Archaeological trail in Westport and beyond into the surrounding countryside. Some unique and fascinating sites waiting to be discovered!

    Overnight Westport.

  • 17. Connemara
    County Galway

    Day 10

    If you get an early start from Westport, drive west to Louisburg and take the R335 through the haunting Doo Lough Valley (location of tragic Famine episode) to Killary harbour (the only fjord in Ireland!). Harbour cruises are available from Leenaun.
    (More direct route from Westport to Leenaun on N59).

    Onwards via Kylemore Abbey to Clifden for your overnight stop.

    Overnight Option: If you're looking for a "castle" hotel, consider Ballynahinch Castle or Abbeyglen Castle, both nearby.

  • 18. Connemara National Park
    Connemara National Park, Galway

    Day 11 : option 1

    Spend a day hiking in Connemara National Park, or go horse-riding.
    Or meander along the coast.
    Also of interest: Glengowla Mine, near Oughterard, and Corrib Cruises, for lake cruise.

    Continue to Galway city for overnight.

  • 19. Aran Islands
    Aran Islands

    Day 11 : option 2

    Drive from your accommodation to Rossaveal, where you can take the passenger ferry to one of the Aran Islands for the day; highly recommended!

    (fyi: Clifden - Rossaveel: approx. 70 minutes)

    Continue to Galway city for overnight.

  • 20. Galway

    Day 12 - Dublin Airport Departure

    Explore Galway city in the morning; it's very compact and easy to wander around on foot. An opportunity for last-minute shopping:

    Charlie Byrne's for excellent choice of books including many of Irish interest;
    Brown Thomas: Ireland's premier department store has a small branch in Galway;
    O'Maillle's for Aran Sweaters, Donegal Yarn, clothing etc
    Kilkenny Shop for ceramics, glass, clothing

  • 21. Clonmacnoise
    Clonmacnoise, County Offaly

    Day 12 - Dublin Airport Departure Continued . . .

    option: if you have time, (approx. 2hrs), you might like to stop en-route from Galway to Dublin at this peaceful monastic settlement (ruins), located on the banks of the River Shannon. It is clearly signposted from the Motorway.

  • 22. Malahide

    Day 12 - Dublin Airport Departure Continued . . .

    The drive to the east coast should take around 2.5-3hrs; remember to have some euros in change ready for the 2 motorway tolls.

    Final night in Ireland at Malahide: a pretty town on the coast, approximately 20 minutes drive from Dublin airport.

    Alternative: Dublin airport has many hotels within short drive, most of which offer shuttle service from/to the airport if you wish to drop off rental car the night before your departure.

  • 23. Coole Park
    Coole Park, Gort

    Day 12 - Shannon Airport Departure

    You may prefer to depart from Shannon airport, which is approximately 90 minutes drive from Galway city.

    Heading south from Galway city, just before the town of Gort, lies beautiful Coole Park, immortalised in Yeats' poem: "The Wild Swans at Coole"

    A lovely place to stretch your legs and walk through the woods to the lough. Don't forget to visit the Walled Garden where you can see the immense Autograph Tree, where visiting artists such as Yeats, Synge and Shaw carved their initials.

    Galway - Gort : approx. 45 minutes

  • 24. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
    Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Bunratty

    Day 12 - Shannon Airport Departure Continued . . .

    Continue south, and if you have time, call into Bunratty Castle and Folk Park; allow 2-3hrs for your visit, and bear in mind that last admission is 4.15pm.

    You may choose to spend your final night in a hotel or guest house in Bunratty village, where there are several nice restaurants and a couple of pubs.

    Coole Park - Bunratty : approx. 40 minutes

    Bunratty - Shannon Airport : approx. 10 minutes

  • 25. Shannon

    Day 12 - Shannon Airport Departure Continued . . .

    Alternative to Bunratty village, you could stay in Shannon at the Oakwood Arms Hotel, which is only 5 minutes drive from the airport. Conveniently, there is a petrol station adjacent for that important refuelling prior to returning your hire car.

Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Shannon