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An 8-night fly-drive itinerary, arriving and departing Dublin, and visiting Dublin, Kilkenny, Rock of Cashel, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher and Galway city.
This is a fairly busy itinerary, but for those who have limited time available, it includes many highlights for a first-time visit to Ireland.
Note: This could easily be extended into a 9 to11-night itinerary by adding a further night to Kenmare, Dingle and Galway.
See Below for options.
Please note: all drive times are approximate and are taken from the aa routeplanner website. Please factor in a little extra time to cover any traffic delays, and please allow adequate time to stop and see sights along the way, have lunch, restroom break etc.
Remember: Ireland is best seen and enjoyed at a leisurely pace!
Arrive Dublin airport and transfer by taxi or aircoach to city centre. Check into hotel, then spend the day seeing some of the highlights of the capital.
Please look at the Top Questions tab on the Dublin Forum for a wealth of information about where to stay, popular things to see, and places to dine.
You may choose to spend a further day exploring the city, however I highly recommend you take a day excursion to either of the following:
Newgrange and Hill of Tara
Newgrange is a prehistoric site which predates the pyramids in Egypt. It is one of the most significant sites in Europe, and is an unforgettable experience. You can only visit the site by guided tour.
A trip to see the Hill of Tara is usually included in a visit to Newgrange. The Hill has had a significant role in Irish History throughout the ages.
Glendalough Monastic Site, Wicklow
This is a beautiful monastic settlement hidden away in the Wicklow mountains in a breathtakingly scenic area. The main buildings are clustered around the Round Tower, but please do take time to walk between the Upper and Lower Lakes, which are also very beautiful.
Collect your rental car, either from the city centre, or Dublin airport, and drive to the medieval city of Kilkenny.
The city still has some beautiful medieval buildings, including St Canice's Cathedral, the Tholsel, Shee Alms Houses, and Rothe House. Also worth visiting: Kilkenny Castle, and Kilkenny Design Centre, where you will find many locally made craft items.
Having visited the Rock of Cashel, and maybe spent a little time exploring the town, it's time to get back in the car and drive to Kenmare, a pretty market town which lies on the Ring of Kerry, south of Killarney, its more famous neighbour.
You should have enough time left to check into your accommodation, then spend an hour or so exploring this little town before heading out to a nice restaurant or pub for supper. You'll be spoilt for choice: Kenmare has some very fine restaurants.
Rock of Cashel - Kenmare : 177km, approx. 2hrs, 50 minutes.
Many people have heard of the Ring of Kerry, but not so many the wildly rugged Beara Peninsula which lies south of its more famous neighbour.
If it's a nice sunny day, pop into "Jam" on Henry Street in Kenmare and pick up some home-baked goodies for a picnic.
Then drive out of Kenmare over the bridge (direction Bantry) and take the first right you come to. Be careful: it's on a bend and easy to miss.
Spend the day exploring this beautiful area: from prehistoric standing stones and stone circles, to gardens and waterfalls, plus a ride across a chasm in a tiny cable car, there's more than enough to see in just one day: take your choice!
Time to leave pretty Kenmare and head for another beautiful Peninsula: Dingle.
Your drive will take you along part of the Ring of Kerry: over Moll's Gap, where you will find an Avoca Shop and Cafe and lovely views towards Macgillycuddys Reeks, then down past Ladies View and the Lakes of Killarney. On past the entrance to Muckross House, through Killarney town, then via Milltown to Inch Strand, where you might like to stop and admire the beautiful sandy expanse.
Continue along the southern of the Peninsula, through Dingle town, and take the Slea Head Drive around the far western end of the Peninsula where you'll enjoy some of the most beautiful views in Ireland.
The Drive will take you in a clockwise loop around the Peninsula, returning you to Dingle town, and should take approximately 3hrs (plus allow time for stops).
Dingle town has a superb choice of guest houses and b&bs; my personal favourite is Pax Guest House, which is a short walk from the town centre, perched on a hillside overlooking the Harbour. Fabulous views and the best of hosts make a stay at Pax a highlight of a visit to Ireland.
Kenmare - Dingle town : 99.5km, approx. 2hrs.
(If you're lucky enough to have 8+ nights in Ireland, I highly recommend spending a further night on the Peninsula and enjoying a day surfing, hiking or horse-riding, a boat trip to Great Blasket, or a visit to the Aquarium and the Seal Sanctuary. There are many activities to enjoy in/around Dingle!)
8. Dingle to Galway via the Cliffs of Moher and Burren : A Day's Journey
Sadly time to leave Dingle - but you'll probably want to return for a longer visit.
Click on the link above to read full details of a day's journey from Dingle to Galway, stopping at the Cliffs of Moher, and seeing some of the highlights of the Burren region, in co. Clare.
The drive should take approx. 5.5hrs, plus allow time for stops at the Cliffs of Moher and Burren.
Galway is a vibrant and friendly small city where you will find a range of high-end hotels, plus guest houses and b&bs. Famed also for its traditional music sessions, some of the most popular bars in the city: Ti Coli, Monroe's, Taffees and the Crane Bar.
(Option: if you have 8+ nights in Ireland, spend a further night in Galway, and use the extra day to drive out to Connemara to the National Park, Kylemore Abbey, Clifden and Roundstone. An ideal opportunity for hiking and/or horse-riding)
Spend a couple of hours walking around Galway, purchasing those last-minute presents, before getting in the car and heading east towards Dublin airport.
If you have time, you might like to stop at Clonmacnoise: a peaceful monastic settlement on the banks of the River Shannon. It lies a few miles south of Athlone, and is not far off the direct route to Dublin.
If you have a very early departure from Dublin, you may like to spend your last night at an airport hotel. Several have shuttle services, so you can drop your car back at the airport, which will save time in the morning.
However, if your flight doesn't leave until mid-late morning, you might like to stay in the pretty harbour town of Malahide, which is approx. 20 minutes drive from the airport.