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October 26, 2023
Every time someone asks me what my favorite country is, Ireland is always at the top of the list. It’s such a magical, special place. There’s a feeling of acceptance and simplicity combined with excitement and jovial cheer. I love love love Dublin, and I could totally see myself living there. But I also love the quiet countryside. Roadtripping through Ireland is absolutely essential to truly grasp the spirit of the country. The first time I drove through the country, I only had a week and it definitely wasn’t enough. So this time, I made sure I added a few days and zeroed in on the most important things I wanted to do for our 10 day Ireland itinerary. Although this was my third visit, it was Ryan’s first, so I put together an itinerary that showcases all the musts, but also a few things we discovered along the way.
10 Day Ireland Itinerary
Day 1: Travel & Arrive in Dublin
I always like to use the first day in Europe as a free day, but I have one major rule: no napping! This helps you get on the right schedule and avoid sleeping all day and staying up all night. I recommend checking into a hotel in Temple Bar or right across the river over the Ha’penny Bridge. We stayed at Zanzibar Locke and it was in a great location.
Explore the famous Temple Bar area for the day. It’s a great intro to Dublin. My favorite restaurant in the area is Quay’s. I dream about the vegetable soup and the toasted garlic bread & cheese. So yummy!
Day 2: Dublin City Tour and Beer Tasting
Start the day with a private guided tour (or use Rick Steve’s free walking tour audio) of Dublin’s historic sites, such as Trinity College and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you’re a fan of Guinness, visit the famous Guinness Storehouse to learn about the history of the drink and enjoy a tasting.
Protip: if you’re just a fan of beer and not necessarily Guinness in particular (you can get Guinness literally everywhere in Dublin anyway), visit the Guinness Open Gate Brewery instead. It has brewery vibes, food, and experimental beers only available there.
In the afternoon, visit the Jameson Distillery for a whiskey-tasting experience and tour. We personally liked the experience at Jameson better than Guinness, but best of all was for sure the Jameson Midleton Distillery. More on that later!
Day 3: Grafton St. Shopping & Comedy Show
After all that drinking the day before, take a slow morning and grab breakfast at Chicobo Cafe. It’s not the most Instagrammable place in the world, but the breakfast burrito sure is delicious! Ryan also really enjoyed the full Irish breakfast – Guinness included! What better way to calm any lingering hangover.
Make your way over to Grafton St. for all the shopping. From local boutiques to designer shopping, and even discount stores, Grafton St. Really has it all. My personal favorite store is Siopaella. I go every time I’m in town – they have the cutest stuff!
After a fun day of shopping, head back to Temple Bar for dinner & drinks, followed by a comedy act at The Ha’Penny Bridge Inn. I’ve been to comedy shows multiple times in Dublin. I don’t know how it always works out that way as I don’t go anywhere else really, but it’s always a blast!
Day 4: Roadtrip to Galway
Start the day with breakfast and pick up your rental car for a road trip to Galway, stopping en route to visit the Cliffs of Moher & Doolin, a cute little coastal town. We ate at McGann’s Pub and it felt like the most authentic and local restaurant we visited in Ireland!
We chose to treat ourselves in Galway while saving everywhere else and it was definitely the right decision. I always like to have at least one hotel to really enjoy and indulge in on a trip and The G Hotel was just that! After a long day of driving, it feels so nice to settle into a nice hotel. After a rest, grab pre-dinner cocktails at the bar and have an equisite dinner at GEO. The food is phenomenal and the service is impeccable. An absolute dream of a dinner and I very highly recommend it!
Day 5: Connemara & Kylemore Abbey
Drive to Connemara National Park, one of Ireland’s most scenic areas. Visit Kylemore Abbey and the stunning Kylemore Lake. This is one of the most famous castles in Ireland, and for good reason. It is absolutely beautiful. You can explore the interior, as well as the expansive grounds. There’s also a peaceful garden area a short shuttle ride away, where white horses roam and you can grab a cup of hot chocolate or a light bite at the cafe.
After a day of sightseeing, head back to Galway for dinner and a stroll around the city. Route to Eyre Square and use it as your base, roaming from there. We ended up at Quay’s (a different one!) for dinner and it was really good. Afterwards, we enjoyed live music in a concert-like atmosphere. We were ok with having a long day and a late night since we knew the next day would be extra relaxing…
day 6: spa day & tea at the g hotel
Just like I like to schedule in a nice hotel, a spa day is always essential for a 10 day itinerary. When I skip having a down day, I feel like I can’t fully enjoy my days without feeling exhausted. The spa at The G is amazing. We spent time in the thermal suite instead of getting services. This saves a good amount of money since access to the thermal suite is not expensive. The thermal suite at The G includes heated lounge chairs, a soothing waterfall, a warm jacuzzi with water jet massage chairs, a sauna, a steam room, showers, and more.
After spending the late morning and early afternoon in the spa, indulge in tea time. During my visit, there was a themed option for Barbie tea time. It was adorable! The tea menu is extensive and really good. I’ve never been a big tea person, but this experience changed my mind!
Day 7: Roadtrip to Cork
Drive to Cork, the vibrant city known for its food and culture. Explore the English Market, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and the charming streets of Cork. Grab pizza and beer at Franciscan Well Brewery & Brewpub. They have games you can play, live pub music, and an awesome, chill atmosphere. It is a little out of the way (by a little out of the way I mean a 5-minute drive instead of walking distance), but totally worth it.
Day 8: Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park
Take this day to drive the scenic Ring of Kerry around the Iveragh Peninsula. We didn’t do the whole drive, but the highlights of our stops were Ross Castle, Muckross Castle & Gardens, Killarney National Park, and Killarney town.
Ross Castle (seen in the photos below) was built in the 1400s. It’s really amazing to see something so old still standing strong. We just walked around the grounds, which is free, and didn’t do a tour. We did the same thing at Muckross Castle. I didn’t think the tour was worthwhile, so if you’re short on time, I recommend going the free route and just stopping by and checking them out from the outside.
Day 9: Jameson Midleton Distillery
As the name suggests, this is the Midleton location of the Jameson Distillery, and as a whiskey drinker myself, definitely a favorite of the two. We tried the best whiskey I’ve ever had in my life here: Redbreast 27. We did the premium tasting but I definitely don’t recommend it. Just pick what you want to taste in the tasting room/bar area!
If you’re flying in and out of Dublin, head back to Dublin in the evening after visiting the Midleton Distillery as it is about halfway between Cork and Dublin.
Day 10: Travel & Return Home
We actually flew out of Cork, but if you have a later flight out of Dublin and decide to spend your last night in Cork, use this day to travel back to Dublin to catch your flight. Heads up, if you’re a US citizen going back to the US from Ireland, customs and passport control happens in Ireland instead of in the US upon arrival, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time!
Since it was Ryan’s first visit to Ireland, I thought I’d share his impression for another perspective:
“Oh, Ireland me motherland! Just thinking about you now makes me wanna stop exactly what I’m doing and pour myself a pint of Guinness. However, it wouldn’t taste the same because I wouldn’t be in your amazing country surrounded by Irish folks in a pub watching Gaelic football not knowing what the hell is even going on, but still just enjoying the hell out of life. Getting to see the old buildings, the culture, food, and exploring the beauty and history of the island was such a delight and I can’t wait to go back–and not just for the Guinness.”
Have you ever been to Ireland? What would you add to this itinerary?
Photos by Ryan Carpenter. Special thanks to The G Hotel for hosting us and showing us an incredible time!