Ireland! The Ultimate 12 day Travel Itinerary & Guide. Google Map Included.
Updated: Jul 13
You've made up your mind and you are traveling to Ireland, now what! The whole country is absolutely beautiful and you want to see as much of it as possible without rushing through this dream vacation. You want to fully immerse yourself in the experience and not simply cross things off from a list. If this sounds like you, then you need to continue reading this.
We had the best Summer vacation experiencing some of the most beautiful and popular sights in Ireland. We spent 12 days in what many call the Emerald Isle and had the most wonderful road trip exploring some beautiful towns and destinations. I'm so excited to relive our vacations by sharing our full itinerary with you. From the towns we visited, to where we stayed, where we ate, and tons of tips and pictures to help you plan the best Ireland trip ever. Follow our itinerary or pick and choose what you would like to do. I've linked all the websites to every location we visited and have also attached Google Map that has all of our stops pinned for your convenience. Let's go!
Day 1 Arrival Day
Arrived at Dublin, the capital of Ireland.
Hotel- Dublin Skylon Hotel (2 night stay)
It was clean, spacious, has a restaurant on site, lots of other restaurants around the area, great service, public transportation stop across the street (more on that down below) and great prices. Area surrounding the hotel was clean and felt safe even after dark. I'd stay here again in a heart beat. Take a look here
Day 2 In Dublin
Places To Visit
Perfect location for any Guinness enthusiast. They take you through the whole process which is very interesting and educational. We purchased the self-guided tour + Gravity + Guinness Academy. In addition to the guided tour, it allows you to learn how to properly pour a pint yourself (this was the coolest part), and we went up to the Gravity room to overlook the city and enjoy an additional drink. It was such a fun experience. Under the age of 21 are allowed including children. Suggest you purchase tickets ahead of time here
St Patrick's Cathedral
Beautiful Cathedral in the heart of Dublin. It is situated right next to St. Patrick's Park which allows you to sit in its beautiful grassy area or benches while you admire the architecture from the outside. The inside is just as beautiful and has tons of history. It is the largest cathedral in Ireland. Tickets are incredibly affordable and come with self audio guide and can be purchased day of visit. You can read more here
This early 13th century Castle made for a fun walk around its grounds to admire some of its exterior architecture. We didn't tour the inside of this castle as there was lots of repairs happening at the time. We visited many castles during our visit and this was probably one of the least impressive ones. It is very close to St. Patrick's Cathedral so if you are stopping by its worth a quick walk around its property at no cost. Tours are available to purchase online if you choose to do a tour https://www.dublincastle.ie/
The Temple Bar
Family run pub for over 40 years in Dublin. Found in a busy riverside neighborhood spread over cobbled pedestrian lanes. It's a Dublin staple and makes for a fantastic picture. We didn't stay but the whole area around the pub is lively and has traditional Irish music playing at every pub in town. Definitely worth a quick stop to see this tavern and all of its surrounding businesses and shops.
Places To Eat In Dublin
Casa del Toro
Fantastic tapas just across the street from our hotel. The restaurant was clean, great food and service. We loved it so much we had dinner here both nights in the area. Reservations highly encouraged as it's a popular restaurant in the area https://casadeltoro.ie/
Skylon Bar & Grill
This restaurant was inside our hotel. They had a fabulous buffet breakfast with traditional Irish dishes available and at a very affordable price. Served daily from 7-10:30 am. Another great reason to stay at Dublin Skylon Hotel.
1837 Bar & Brasserie at Guinness Storehouse-lunch
Great restaurant at the Guinness Storehouse. Food was tasty and it was conveniently located inside the building. Reservations are highly encouraged as reservations do fill up for the day. Make reservations ahead of time here
We used public transportation to get around the city of Dublin. Their public buses were clean and all throughout the city. You will see all the locals get around in the public buses. We bought a family pass for the day for only $18.30, what a steal. We used Google Maps to go see what buses to take depending where we were going. No need for a car rental until it's time to leave Dublin and start road trip to next destination.
Time to start our road trip part of the adventure. We headed to pick up our car rental at Budget. Car rentals are recommended FAR in advance as those seem to sell out quickly. Highly recommend you get full coverage insurance on rental specially if you are new to driving on the opposite side of the road and car. This was our case and happy to report my husband did great. Just took a bit of extra caution and getting use to. If he could do it, you can too! You can check prices and cars available here . This was the closest location to your next destination and hotel.
First Stop Town of Cahir
Cahir is not only just about beautiful sceneries but the town is also enriched with history. It's a lovely little South East town in Ireland. There's so much to see and do! From beautiful mountainous views to stunning castles and parks, this little town has it all. The moment we drove into town I immediately fell in love. This is a must stop when visiting Ireland.
Hotel- Cahir House Hotel (2 nights stay)
Cahir House Hotel is a Historical Town House and the leading hotel in Cahir, County Tipperary and it's easy to see why on arrival. The hotel has beautiful clean and very spacious rooms. From the room we had a view of the mountains, the town and even Cahir Castle...more on that below. Inside the hotel is an amazing and delicious restaurant and fun pub with music. Beautiful library that doubles as a lounge and a beautiful patio area. Huge bonus, your stay comes with complimentary breakfast that included continental and full menu breakfast. Another great stay I'd highly recommend! To book your stay click here
Places To Visit
Absolutely stunning! This was our first stop on arrival to Cahir and it was the perfect way to start our castle tours. Cahir Castle is just as stunning from the outside as it is from the inside. It's one of Ireland's largest and best preserved castles built in the thirteen century. We were able to see the dungeon, climb up a narrow stairway and see the city. Friendly staff were walking around happy to share some of its history. Very affordable and such an experience. It's so beautiful and well preserved, that it has been known to come out on several movies throughout the years. Considered a national monument since 1917 and one you must see. Tickets can be purchased on site.
Right outside of Cahir Castle is Cahir Park. It is absolutely beautiful and green and with so many beautiful trails and hidden gems. It's the perfect way to follow an already beautiful and magical experience at the Castle. We even found a fairy magical trail we could not get enough of. We walked the trail admiring all the fairy homes, fun stories and all the greenery. It was such and experience and really added to our magical day. The park also has some fun over the top sculptures that we enjoyed seeing and taking pictures with.
We got up early and took a one hour drive to
Places To Visit
This visit far exceeded my expectations. We got to see tons of donkeys and mules all under the sanctuary's care, which are well over 1800. The view of the hills all in different shades and tones of green went for miles. There was a grass led trail that allowed us to explore the whole sanctuary. There were benches throughout the trail perfect for resting and taking it all in. It was beautiful! My daughter loves animals, so being able to see the animals up close and learn their names was such a treat. There were plenty of washing stations and a restroom on site, as well as a gift shop. Allot at least 2 1/2 hours for your visit.
After lunch, returned to Cahir and decided to continue exploring
Rock Of Cashel In Cashel (16 minutes from Cahir)
Excited to visit castles while in Ireland? I certainly was and this is another absolute must. Coming up to the castle, the views are over the top. It's one of those take your breath away sights like straight out of a Medieval show or movie. Set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone, the Rock of Cashel possesses the most impressive cluster of medieval buildings in Ireland. All that is left is the outer structure of the castle but that alone is absolutely remarkable. Tickets can be booked on-site or online here
Found in Cahir just behind Cahir park. We walked the trail which was beautiful and about a 30 minute walk. Said to be built in the 1800's to serve as an idealized countryside cottage used for picnics, small soirees and fishing and hunting parties and was also a peaceful retreat for those who lived in the nearby big house. You can explore the cottage in a self guided tour that takes approximately 1 hour. The trail to the cottage itself is what I enjoyed the most. It was beautiful and definitely worth a visit when in Cahir. Admission was free for 2022. You can get more details here https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/swiss-cottage/
Places To Eat In Cahir
The Lazy Bean at the Heritage
Affordable and right across the street from our hotel in Cahir. Great sandwiches to eat outdoors or on the go.
Cahir House Restaurant (inside the hotel)
Our go to restaurant while at Cahir and conveniently located inside our hotel. Food was delicious and restaurant was beautiful. Another great reason to stay at Cahir House.
Left Cahir and drove 1 hour to visit other destinations along the way before arriving to our next 2 day stay.
Places To Visit
Blarney Castle & Gardens
Blarney Castle was built in 1446 and was the tower house or fortress residence. There is so much to see and do. Our main mission was to kiss the Blarney Stone. For over 200 years many have climbed the narrow steps to the Blarney stone which is 85 feet in the air and is said to grant you the gift of eloquence. Of course we were not going to visit without kissing the stone. To kiss the stone we had to lean backwards 85 feet in the air holding on to an iron railing and with the help of staff, definitely a bit scary but so much fun.
Besides kissing the stone we got to visit the Poison Garden which was very interesting. We got to see and read about toxic plants from around the world. You can read all about them and admire them but just make sure not to touch them! They have a Fern Garden, Forest trail, Wishing steps, waterfalls, and many other mystical and magical places to explore. There is so much to see. TIPS: Arrive as soon as they open (9:00am) and head straight to kiss the Blarney Stone if you are planning to do so. Lines start forming later in the day and wait times may be long. We had zero wait time arriving at 9am. Allot about 4-5 hours as there's so much to see. You can even find a cafe on property with sandwiches, desserts and coffee. I recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time here
The bridge crosses the stream running between the first two lakes encountered on the way to the Gap of Dunloe. The bridge is called the wishing bridge because legend has it that wishes made upon the bridge are destined to come true. Keep in mind that to get to the wishing bridge the road is extremely narrow so drive with extreme caution. The sight is beautiful and worth a visit. Make sure you make that wish.
Arrived to the town of Dingle for our 2 night stay.
This is the only town in the Dingle Peninsula and is absolutely gorgeous. It is no wonder it is voted 'The most beautiful place on Earth' by National Geographic & 'Voted among the top 100 destinations in the world'- by Trip Advisor. The town itself has beautiful colorful buildings overlooking the peninsula, great pubs and lots of beautiful shops. Lots more on what we did down below.
Seaview Heights Bed and Breakfast (2 night stay)
This was our first time booking a Bed and Breakfast and it was a great experience. It was clean, the rooms were spacious, really cute and the location was perfect. It was walking distance to plenty of shops and restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised to know we were able to add breakfast to our stay which we were able to select on arrival. It was delicious and very affordable. It was a great way to meet other travelers and the hosts were absolutely charming and friendly. I highly recommend this Bed and Breakfast during your stay in Dingle https://www.seaviewheightsdingle.com/
We drove out to the Slea Head Drive. This drive is a spectacular route that weaves and twists around the coast of Dingle. The views alone are absolutely breathtaking but there are so many interesting and fun stops along the way. Here is what we did.
Places To Visit
Fahan Beehive Hut
You absolutely can't miss these unique lusters of curious cone-shaped huts. You will see them announced on the side of the road. These ancient beehive huts which are believed to have been inhabited from ancient times to 1200 AD, can be found all along the peninsula of Dingle. Whats amazing to me is how these Clochan (beehive huts) have withstood the test of time. Equally impressive is how the shape, weight and placement of the stone is what has stopped them from collapsing and no mortar (glue used to hold stone together) was used. This ancient method is knows as drystone cobbling and is definitely impressive. No need for reservations or to purchase tickets ahead of time.
This is a narrow and winding pier situated in a quiet and secluded bay that is surrounded by rugged cliffs. Walking down the pier is such a treat and the views of the Atlantic Ocean are stunning. It really is a great experience that is completely free. You'll find parking near the ticket booth where you can buy tickets for the Blasket Islands. The end of the Pier will allow you to board the ferry (weather permitting). We personally didn't take the ferry and simply sat and enjoyed the views for a while.
Hold A Baby Lamb
If you are an animal lover this is a spectacular stop. For an extremely affordable price you can go inside and hold a baby lamb and possibly even help feed them. They are the cutest and our hearts melted seeing these beautiful little animals http://beehivehuts.com/lamb.html
Places to eat in Dingle
The Fish Box
It's no surprise why wait lines can be over an hour!
Tip: Arrive as soon as they open to avoid a long wait time.
Murphys Ice Cream
A must stop for some delicious ice cream. They have interesting and fun new flavors all the time. Their most popular is the Sea Salt flavor. The salt is straight from Dingle sea water. There are two locations in Dingle and both are just as cute https://murphysicecream.ie/
The Dingle Pub
This was our first pub experience and it was amazing. It was walking distance from our bed and breakfast and was recommended by our bed and breakfast host. The atmosphere was fun, appropriate for our 10 year old, delicious food and great live traditional Irish music and dancer. I can't recommend this place enough! It was so much fun that we visited twice during our 2 night stay. It was that good!
Drove an hour and a half to arrive to Tralee
Hotel- Ballyseede Castle Hotel (2 night stay)
Built in 1721 we took a step back into time staying at this 4 star luxury castle hotel. It is rich in history and offers luxurious surroundings within 30 acres of private gardens and woodland. We had so much fun walking from one room to the next exploring every inch of the property. Aside from its elegant accommodations, fine dining, and picturesque setting, our stay was even more unforgettable thanks to the warm and friendly staff. We had a chance to speak to the owner Marnie, who did not hesitate to take a break from her busy day to chat with us about the history of the castle. Roaming the castle you'll find Molly and Hope, the royal pets. The room we stayed in was absolutely beautiful and had a sofa bed to accommodate our daughter. Complimentary hot breakfast was included with our stay.
TIP: There are several things that need to be booked before arrival if interested in having the experience. Dinner must be booked ahead of time as well as afternoon tea service. You can see those services and book here
Places To Visit
Drove 10 min to
Ireland's largest working windmill was an after dinner spur of the moment visit. It stands as the dominant landmark in Tralee Bay where the town of Tralee meets the Dingle Peninsula. Perfect to visit for an evening stroll to bird watch or catch the sunset. If you visit early in the day you can get a guided tour and even climb to the top of the windmill for a very affordable price. For Prices and visiting hours read here
Afternoon Tea time at Ballyseede Castle
Afternoon tea time, was a tasty and beautiful experience in their already stunning room.
Ballyseede Castle Loop Walk/Wood Trail
This trail is right on property and is beautiful but not very well marked. It's very green and you can even run across some ruins that date back to the original castle. Definitely proceed with caution as it is easy to get lost in the middle of so much green and trees.
Dinner at Castle Restaurant
The food was delicious set in a beautiful room. Made for a great Anniversary dinner.
Drinks at Castle Pub
Pub located right inside the castle. Full bar and lots of great decor. Great to stop by and grab a drink or 2 before dinner.
Drove to Liscannor (Clare County)
Liscannor is a magnificent coastal village on the west coast of County Clare, situated at the end of Liscannor Bay. The village has plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops. Our main reason for staying in the area is that it's the closest town to The Cliffs of Moher. More on that down below.
Airbnb Clairs Cottage (2 day stay)
Clairs Cottage is a beautifully renovated cottage that was built over 200 years ago. Yes, 200 years! Being surrounded by farmland, animals and views of the Atlantic ocean made it an amazing experience. It's situated on the Hags Head Trail that leads you to the Cliffs oh Moher. The Cottage has its original floors, stone fireplace and even has a furnace. The rooms were clean and the kitchen was small but functional. It really made it a unique and once in a lifetime experience.
Tip: closest restaurant is about 20 minutes away. I suggest you stop at a market before arriving to take advantage of the kitchen or at least pick up some snacks.
Places to Visit
Drove to Doolin (18 mins away)
Great town to explore different restaurants and shops. More on places to eat down below.
Moher Tower at Hag's Head
Walked 17 mins from our cottage to watch the sunset. The views of the sun setting on the Atlantic ocean and the cliffs, made for a great preview of what was to come the next day.
Cliffs of Moher
This is Ireland's natural masterpiece. This is one of Ireland's most famous sights and now I understand why! We literally walked on the edge of Ireland. We decided to start our hike from Hags head to the Cliffs Of Moher. A total of 6.5 miles that were the most beautiful 6.5 miles we've ever done. Highly recommend starting the hike at Hags Head as opposed to the visitors center and making a full day of it. The raw natural beauty is unbelievable. The Cliffs are entirely vertical and the cliff edge is abrupt so always proceed with caution. The views of the Cliffs and Atlantic Ocean are tremendous. Before arriving to the visitor center we were fortunate to come across The Hungry Veggie food truck which had delicious food options and Gra Coffee that had a great caffe mocha and hot chocolate. Both are open weather permitting and 12 minutes from visitor center. We stopped at the visitor center for a restroom break and some souvenirs before heading out further into the Cliffs.
Places to Eat at Doolin
Gus O'Connor's Pub
Pub with good food and live music. Very busy but I would expect nothing less during summer time
Beautiful restaurant with amazing food. We could not get enough of it. Highly recommended for a great sit down tasty meal.
Drove 1 hour to Bunratty
Hotel: Bunratty Manor Hotel
Good clean hotel, walking distance to lots of shops and Bunratty Castle and folk park. Also conveniently close to Shannon airport https://www.bunrattymanor.ie/
Places To Visit
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Just walking distance from our hotel and full of things to explore. Besides touring the inside of the castle there is a fairy garden trail, playground, farm animals, a pub and shops. It's fun to walk around their 19th century village streets to see what life was like in Ireland during that era. One thing we missed out on was their Medieval Banquet night. It was sold out and we were unable to get a reservation. Apparently they sell out months in advance so make sure and book this experience as soon as you can. Tickets to enter castle and folk park can be purchased the day of but do not include Medieval Banquet. Read more details and book visit here
Places To Eat
Great popular pub in the area. Good food, good ambience and kiddo friendly.
Cafe Inside Bunratty Castle
Great sandwiches, snacks and coffee to enjoy while inside the park.
Day 12 Departure Date
Out of Shannon Airport where we scheduled to return the car and just 15 minutes from our last hotel.
Google Maps Link
Here is a link of google maps with all the destinations we visited
General Tips When Planning Your Trip
One phone with international internet service is a must. This was extremely helpful. We used Google maps to get around the country and get from one destination to the other. Call your service carrier in advance for pricing
Have euros available or a credit card with no international fees. Most places did not accept dollars. We use Chase Sapphire preferred which gives great points for travel you can then turn into cash or chase travel money. We have been able to fly and stay at hotels for free thanks to our accumulated points. Also has no international fees. Check it out here
Comfortable shoes are an absolute must. Lots of walking is involved specially if exploring trails, The Cliffs Of Moher or even touring castles. I encourage hiking books for the Cliffs. Rain all year long is very common and floors can be slippery or muddy.
Be ready for rain anytime of the day! Layer layer layer. It is common for light rain one minute and full sun the next. Also if headed to the Cliffs, windy evenings are common.
In conclusion, this was possibly one of the best vacations we have ever had. Planning was not easy but Im happy to say we would not change a thing. We saw everything we wanted to see, didn't feel rushed and all the time planning was well worth the pay off. I'm excited to share with everyone who will listen how beautiful Ireland is and really think everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Do we plan to visit again? Absolutely! We didn't say goodbye to Ireland but see you later.
If you have any questions feel free to leave me a comment! If you found this post helpful leave me a like, share it with a friend or pin it. Happy Planning!
Talk to you later!