Ireland, while a small country, has so much to offer that it can be hard to prioritize an itinerary! Following a couple days in Dublin, my friend and I rented a car and set out on an aggressive trip to see quite a bit in just six days. We headed West from Dublin to Galway, stopped at the Cliffs of Moher en route to Killarney, then spent a few nights there with a day trip to Dingle and an afternoon doing the Ring of Kerry. We then spent the night in Kenmare and finally Kilkenny before making our way back to Dingle.
Despite all that we saw, there are so many other cute coastal towns I would have loved to experience! I also would love to see The Ashford Castle one day but there’s always next tim. Several of you have trips coming up so I decided to share my best recommendations for places to stay, where to eat and what to ensure you get to do during your time on the Emerald Isle.
What Not To Miss:
- Galway is a small but charming town with a bustling main street with plenty of pubs and cute shops. Have a traditional lunch of fish and chips at McDonagh’s and enjoy a pint at the cozy King’s Head.
- Enjoy a quaint breakfast at Ard Bia which also allows you to walk under the historic Spanish Arch and along the famed “Long Walk.” We fell in love with the Ard Bia atmosphere and avocado toast and granola.
- Listen to live music at The Quays or Crane Bar.
- Following your trip to Galway (one night here is sufficient), make your way to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. I had visited as a little girl but still had my breathe taken away by this outstanding feat of Mother Nature. Leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the walk along the cliffs but skip the 2 euro castle visit which was covered in bugs up top!
Killarney & Dingle:
Where to Stay & What Not to Miss:
I fell in love with Killarney! This town is full of life and its surrounding territory has so much to offer.
- Not far from the town of Killarney is the Gap of Dunloe. Well worth a visit, know while they offer carriage rides up to the Gap and its various points of interest, you can also drive a portion of it. We ended up walking but would have preferred to drive had we researched more and known that was an option :).
- Enjoy the Ring of Kerry drive but know it really takes almost all day. We were told to go counter-clockwise and we enjoyed following the route while also getting a bit lost which is some of the fun of a road trip I think!
- In the town of Killarney, enjoy a wonderful meal at Bricin where Johnny runs the front of the house, his brother runs the kitchen and they serve delicious traditional “boxtys”. We loved it so much we went two nights in a row! Be sure to make a reservation. And have breakfast at Noelle’s Retro Cafe.
- Stay at The Ross Hotel in Killarney. This delightful boutique hotel was in the perfect location in Killarney and had gorgeous rooms with comfy beds and a spacious bathroom. They also have the most fun “Pink Lounge” that’s perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail.
- Spend a day and drive from Killarney out to Dingle. This was one of my favorite days! Dingle is so, so cute (and very colorful!) and has a famous resident: Fungi the dolphin. You can hop a boat tour to see Fungi or opt to explore the shops. We had a cozy lunch at the Chowder Cafe (cash only!) and then had to have the famous Murphy’s Ice Cream. The Sea Salt ice cream was so amazing. Following seeing Dingle, head for Slea Head Drive which offers some of the best views along the coastline that we had our entire trip! Keep your eyes peeled for unmarked pull-offs to take in the Wild Atlantic Way. This whole day was so magical and be sure not to miss Inch Beach. It was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Kenmare & Kilkenny:
Where to Stay & What Not to Miss:
- I wish we had more time in Kenmare but we did have such a lovely stay at The Park Hotel. The property is sprawling and feels like you’ve gone into a set of an old-time movie. Before our dinner we had classic cocktails and took them to the lounge where a piano player was strumming the keys. It was a little piece of heaven.
- Kilkenny has a great castle to see
- We stayed at the Mount Juliet – just outside of Kilkenny – for an evening near the end of our trip and I didn’t want to leave! This estate was a family home until 1989 and now remains one of Ireland’s finest country houses that allows you a fine hotel stay but also the opportunity to do horseback riding, falconry, fishing, archery and so much more. Do not miss their afternoon tea which featured some of the most delicious bites of our entire trip. The staff were so helpful and lovely and the rooms – stunning.
- Before you leave this area, go visit Joe O’Connell (seen above) at Jerpoint Park whose home sits on an old Medieval town. We had a private tour with Joe (it’ll cost you 10 euros) who is very knowledgable about the history of the land, the town that used to exist and the rumor that Saint Nicholas is buried on his property!
Have you guys been to Ireland? If so, what was your favorite thing?
What I Packed:
p.s. my best travel and packing tips and a day trip to the Hamptons.
[All photography by Meghan Donovan]