How we planned our ultimate Irish road trip:
When planning our ultimate Irish road trip, we basically decided to just do a big loop around the country. There were many cities that we wanted to visit and many sights that we wanted to see. The number one destination on both of our lists…. The Cliffs of Moher. Before our road trip, we planned out the most important cities and sights that we both wanted to see.
We waited to book a lot of our accommodations, because we wanted a lot of flexibility in our travels. We did this in case we really liked a city, then we could spend an extra night. Likewise, if we really disliked a city (which is rare in Ireland I think…), then we could move on to the next destination. This worked in our favor when the weather near the Cliffs was rainy and cloudy with low visibility. Since seeing the Cliffs were both of our #1 sight to see, we stayed an extra night in the Doolin area.
Here is a map of our ultimate Irish road trip:
Before going on the road trip, we both decided that we could maybe save a few bucks and sleep in the car one or two nights throughout the week. We got our rental car and almost immediately changed our minds. The car was tiny…. we could barely fit our suitcases in the car, let alone enough room to sleep. Since we got into Dublin around midnight, we couldn’t justify buying a hotel for eight hours. So, we spent one long, miserable night in the car. Spending another night in the car did not cross our minds again…
For a majority of our trip, we used Booking to find places to stay throughout our trip. We loved using this website because we were always able to find a place to stay in the city we wanted and in our price range. For each city that we stayed in there will be a Booking link to that region. We stayed in a lot of bed and breakfasts (more common than hotels in Ireland it seems), a couple of hotels, and one hostel. All of which were very nice! However, we were especially pleased with the bed and breakfasts.
Where to go in Ireland:
Belfast was the first stop on our road trip. Immediately upon landing in Dublin and getting our rental car, we headed north into North Ireland. Our main purpose for visiting Belfast was to see The Titanic Museum. However, I would have loved to explore North Ireland more, as it is a beautiful country. We also paid a visit to The Belfast Castle… Not the first castle we would see on this road trip (they are all over Ireland). Our stop in Belfast and North Ireland was short and sweet, but I hope to explore them both more someday.
We only stopped in the town of Sligo for dinner, but got to enjoy our first Irish dinner. I ordered the fish and chips, a dish very common in North Ireland and County Donegal of Ireland. The town of Sligo was just a tiny bit south of County Donegal… So I still count this meal as a traditional Irish meal. The town was beautiful and the people were friendly, however, we really wanted to have more time in Galway and Doolin, so our visit to the town of Sligo was short and sweet.
Also known as the cultural heart of Ireland, Galway, was one of my favorite cities that we visited. Galway was a beautiful, friendly, and lively city and I felt fully immersed in the Irish culture when visiting. I finally got to try a Full Irish Breakfast (bacon, sausage, and eggs w/ a variety of side dishes–we had potatoes, bread w/ different spreads, coffee, and orange juice). The next day we spent the morning exploring the city of Galway. We went shopping in the market and bought Claddagh Ring’s and learned about the tradition with the rings. Later on we headed to the beach and explored a little bit more before heading onto our next destination.
I’m not super hard to please, but I can honestly say that Galway was one of my favorite cities that I visited on my six week European adventure. It was such a beautiful town, full of Irish culture and friendly people… What more could you ask for?
Our visit to Doolin was extended a night when we were told it was a better idea to find a stool in a pub and a pint of beer, rather than get poured on at The Cliffs of Moher. Since visiting the Cliffs was one of the most important things on the trip, we gladly extended our stay in Doolin. The first night we stayed in a hostel and the second night we stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast. Our favorite place was the bed and breakfast. As the house was beautiful, the breakfast was delicious, and the hosts were so friendly and hospitable (which we were finding was a common theme among the Irish).
Finally, the rain had gone away and even though it was cloudy, we were visiting the Cliffs. It must be the luck of the Irish or that God answered my prayers, but by the time we reached the main trails of the Cliffs, the clouds were gone and the sun was shining.
There were many times on my trip to Europe that I was so excited about an amazing view or place we were able to visit. But there were three times on my trip to Europe that I was in complete and utter awe at the view in front of me. Those happen to be…
1. The magic of the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night,
2. the beautiful views of Switzerland, and finally,
3. the Cliffs of Moher…
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher was a dream come true
In my six weeks of travel, it was visiting the Cliffs that I was most excited for. So imagine my excitement when it turned out to be a perfect day with the most incredible views. I’m not over exaggerating when I say that the Cliffs of Moher is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. I promise you that a trip to Ireland, is not a trip to Ireland without a visit to the Cliffs.
Being a stop on the Ring of Kerry, we decided to add Killarney to our road trip. Since we didn’t have enough time to drive the Ring of Kerry (guess we will have to visit again), we decided to make a stop along the route. There was so much to do and explore in this city, but with limited time, we decided to visit a beautiful lake and waterfall. A stop in Killarney is a good addition to your road trip, as it is a city full of culture and outdoor beauty.
Our visit to Dublin was short… and sort of sweet. I must say, driving in Dublin is now one of my worst nightmares.
One of the things that we had to do on our stay in Ireland was to have a pint of Guinness. We decided to visit The Guinness Storehouse… Why not try our first pint right from the source. With both of us enjoying beer (maybe a little too much sometimes), we were both extremely satisfied with our first taste of Guinness. I feel as if you can’t say you fully experienced Ireland, without trying a Guinness. The Guinness Storehouse was a fun and interactive place to learn about the brewery’s history and how Guinness is brewed, taste a Guinness, and have incredible views of the city of Dublin.
If we didn’t have to drive in Dublin, I am certain that our visit would have been a lot more sweet. But since we had to visit the Guinness Storehouse, we were forced to drive in rush hour traffic. In a foreign city. With a gas tank on empty. Priorities, huh?
I must say, a road trip is the best way to see a country. I hope this ultimate Irish road trip guide helps you see the best of this amazing country!