Ireland is one of the countries people can’t seem to get enough of. Yet, for so many, it is somewhere they have always wanted to visit but have never really got around to planning. This 9 day Ireland Itinerary has all of the best bits of Ireland, and some of the quirkier bits, all rolled into one carefully planned schedule that is sure to wow you.
Table of Contents
- Why Ireland?
- 9 Day Ireland Itinerary – What Will You Do And See?
- Day 1 – Dublin
- Day 2 – Travel to the West Coast
- Day 3 – The Aran Islands
- Day 4 – The Cliffs of Moher
- Day 5 – Around the Ring of Kerry
- Day 6 – The South Coast
- Day 7 – More Castles
- Day 8 – Wicklow and the Irish countryside
- Day 9 – Dublin and Departure
- Enjoyed Our Ireland 9-Day Itinerary?
Without question, Ireland is one of the most underrated European countries. From its rugged landscapes to its wild nature, its fresh local produce and incredible seafood to its rich history, Ireland is certain to gain your heart. The people are incredibly friendly, and the views are spectacular. Plus, the local specialties are well worth tasting.
9 Day Ireland Itinerary – What Will You Do And See?
Our 9-day Ireland itinerary is based on the idea that one of the best ways to really explore Ireland is by car. As such, there are two options open to travelers. The first is to take your own car and use the ferry to travel to Ireland (If traveling from the UK, or Northern Europe). The second is to fly to Ireland and then hire a car. Either way, you are likely to arrive in Dublin, so our itinerary takes that into account.
Day 1 – Dublin
Whether you arrive by ferry or plane, your first port of call will probably be your hotel to drop off your luggage. You will probably want to leave your car here and explore Dublin on foot or by public transport. This will help you to avoid expensive parking charges
A great way to acclimatize yourself to any new place is to have a walk around, and the cobbled streets of the Temple Bar district are a great way to explore and get a feel for the buzz of the city. If you want to start your tour of Ireland off with something truly cultural, then head over to the historic Trinity College. Here, you can glance at the ancient Book of Kells – 9th Century illuminated manuscript in Latin. Nearby O’Connell Street is also full of character and a great place to explore.
See Another Side Of Dublin
For something a little more unusual, make sure that EPIC Museum is on your list. Voted the winner of the Leading Tourist Attraction in Europe in 2019, 2020 and 2021, this is a completely different look at the influence the Irish have had through history and culture.
One final site to add to your list is the stunning St Patrick’s Cathedral. As the National Cathedral of Ireland, the building was founded in 1191.
Finish your tour of Dublin with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Here, you can enjoy a taste of their incredible, world-famous beer.
Top Tips for Dublin
What to eat: Dublin is famous for its traditional and hearty fare. Head out to one of its many quirky pubs to enjoy a fantastic evening meal. Dishes to look out for include Beef and Guinness pie, Boxty, Colcannon, Irish Stew, and Dublin Coddle.
Where to stay: You will find plenty of the larger named hotels in Dublin, from Jurys Inn to the cheaper Travelodge. However, for a more authentic experience, then opt for one of the many B&Bs you will find here. Don’t forget to try an Irish Breakfast!
Day 2 – Travel to the West Coast
It may seem like an odd idea to drive all the way across Ireland to the west coast for the next part of your travels. However, the distance isn’t as far as you might think, and the road network is very good. There are also some great places to stop along the way to break your journey up.
Trim Castle, for example, the largest castle in Ireland of Anglo-Norman origin, is a great stopping point. Plus, Trim itself is home to the largest collection of medieval buildings in Ireland. If you prefer something a little different, then why not stop at the Kilbeggan Distillery? Here, you can take a look at how local whiskey is produced.
Galway Culture Is Just A Short Hop Away
Your journey to the west coast ends in Galway. This is a city that is well known for being a cultural hub in Europe. For something a little different and a great activity to help stretch your legs after your drive, why not consider The Irish Dance Experience? You’ll enjoy Irish dance classes run by a former lead dancer of the Riverdance troop.
Top Tips for Galway
What to eat: Ireland is famed for its seafood, and Galway is a great place to try just some of the seafood on offer. Specialties include cockles and mussels. Cockles are usually served fresh and simply steamed with crunchy chips on the side. For the braver gastronome, Galway is also famous for its oysters.
Where to stay: Like Dublin, you will find plenty of big-name hotels in Galway. However, there are also a few smaller ones that will offer you something a little different.
Day 3 – The Aran Islands
To really discover the Gaelic culture and make the most of those incredible coastal views, take a trip to the Aran Islands on day 3 of your tour of Ireland. This group of three small rocky isles is found in Galway Bay. They are well known for their ancient sites, from Dun Aonghasa, the prehistoric fort on Inishmore, to the medieval ruins of the seven churches and the stone structure with a beehive roof of Clochán na Carraige.
With so much to see and do, and with so many truly spectacular views to take in, this is likely to take you the full day. You will spend another night in Galway.
Top Tips for the Aran Islands
Where to eat: There are two Michelin-star restaurants in Galway. Plus, there are several with Michelin Bib Gourmand accreditation. If you are looking for something special, where fresh local produce is the star of the show, these offer some fantastic options.
Day 4 – The Cliffs of Moher
A drive down the coast on day 4 will offer you views of some of the most famous landscapes in Ireland.
Start the day with a trip to Dunguaire Castle. This is considered to be one of the top castles in Ireland to visit. Plus, its location makes it very photographable. The gentle drive down the coast will offer you plenty more stunning photo opportunities and an opportunity to really take in the Irish countryside.
Visit Ireland’s Top Tourist Attraction
In the afternoon, take in the majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s top tourist attraction. You may recognize them from TV, the movies, and even adverts. Most recently, they have been used as a film location for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
What to eat: Killarney is known for its classic dishes, with seafood and meals like steak and chips featuring on many menus. There are plenty of bistros and pubs to choose from. These offer everything from traditional dishes to more inventive ones.
Where to stay: The best place to stay in the area would be Killarney. Here, you will find a range of accommodations to suit every budget.
Day 5 – Around the Ring of Kerry
Another day that will see you driving through yet more spectacular scenery. You will need the full day to explore the Ring of Kerry. There are a number of different ways in which you can do this. Counterclockwise is a great option, with the Kells Bay House and gardens being the first stop on your list. Then stop at the Caherdaniel ancient stone fort and Staigue, followed by a stroll along Derrynane Bay
If you are a fan of Star Wars Movies, then an absolute must is to take a boat tour from the coast to see the Skellig Islands. They featured in more recent movies. It is worth spending another night in the Killarney area. Perhaps for a change of scenery, find an Irish pub to eat in, one that has live Irish music.
Day 6 – The South Coast
A gentle drive south from Killarney will take you over the winding Caha Pass. With an elevation of 320m above sea level, the pass is found on the boundary between the counties of Cork and Kerry. It leads to Glengarriff on the Beara Peninsula.
For nature lovers, a boat trip to Garnish Island offers the chance to spot a local colony of seals. This would add some time to your journey. However, it is well worth doing. Another detour you might like to consider along the way is a trip to Mizen Head. This is the most southerly point in Ireland. The small town of Kinsale would make a great place to stop for some lunch. With its 18th-century houses, rolling hills, and pretty harbor, this is a very picturesque stop.
Visit Ireland’s Second City
Once you reach your final destination of Cork, the “second city” of Ireland you will find plenty to occupy you. For something a little more unusual, why not visit the Cork Butter Museum with its thousand-year-old keg of butter? Here, you’ll have a chance to explore the history of one of the best Irish exports. Wander through the 17th-century alleys and explore the River Lee waterways to get a real feel for the city. You will find a friendly, buzzing, vibe everywhere you go.
Top Tips for visiting Cork
What to eat: Cork is considered the gourmet capital of Ireland. Therefore, you are in for a real foodie treat here. There are plenty of local restaurants offering some incredible food. Things to look out for on menus are dishes using local Gubbeen smokehouse chorizo or cheese, Clonakilty black pudding, and Toonsbridge Mozzarella. This is a Cork-produced version of an Italian classic. If you haven’t already tried it, don’t forget to look out for that other Irish classic -Cabbage and Bacon.
Where to stay: As you would expect, Cork has a wealth of incredible hotels and plenty of very popular bed and breakfasts. However, if you are looking for something a little different, then the Fota Island Hotel and Spa might be just what you need. Don’t worry about how to get there. It isn’t actually on an island, just an outcrop of land just outside Cork. It is just a 5-minute walk away from the largest wildlife park in Ireland for those who want to explore.
Day 7 – More Castles
It is estimated that there are around 30,000 castles in Ireland – functioning, restored, and ruined ones. It seems only right to dedicate a bit more of our itinerary to these wonderful and varied structures. Your day will start by heading east towards Kilkenny, but there are plenty of top attractions along the way to break up your journey.
The legendary Blarney Castle is an absolute must. The castle has a rich history and is shrouded in tales and myths. Be sure to stop and kiss the Blarney Stone. This is said to give visitors the gift of eloquence.
Cashel, Kilkenny, and Castle Life
From here, you should travel to the Rock of Cashel (sometimes referred to as Cashel of the Kings or St. Patrick’s Rock). This is another site with a rich history and a collection of medieval buildings spanning 1000 years. It is an iconic location with some incredible vistas offering plenty of photo opportunities.
From here, it is off to the town of Kilkenny and another castle. Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 as a control for the fording point of the River Nore and a number of other waterways. If you want to do something other than visiting another castle, then why not head out of Kilkenny to check out the Dunmore Caves? The site of a 10th-century Viking massacre, the caves are said to not only be dark but also haunted.
Top Tips when visiting Kilkenny
What to eat: if you want something a little special, then there are two restaurants in Kilkenny with Michelin stars. Lady Helen and Campagne both offer fantastic menus that really showcase local ingredients. Things to look out for in local restaurants include Mooncoin Beetroot, Goatsbridge Trout, and artisan bread. The latter is made with flour from the Little Mill Company on the River Nore.
Where to stay: Kilkenny has a wide range of hotels from 5-3 stars but for something a little unique, why not try a 1-night glamping stop at Treegrove in one of their luxury glamping pods?
Day 8 – Wicklow and the Irish countryside
Today you will begin your journey back to Dublin. Whilst this is a journey that shouldn’t take too long, there are some great stops along the way. Passing through the Wicklow Mountains will afford you some truly spectacular views.
This is a stunning national park. Expect to see glassy lakes, glacial valleys, and soaring mountains. Take some time to stop and listen and you may even spot some local wildlife as well. Glendalough, the valley of the two lakes is another great place to stop on your journey. It has stone churches, a round tower, and centuries-old ancient crosses.
As you will be arriving in Dublin today, you may want to return to the first hotel you stayed in. Or you can look for something a little different. Why not round off your stay with a traditional pub meal surrounded by live Irish music?
Day 9 – Dublin and Departure
Whether you are flying home or taking the ferry, there is a good chance you will have some time to kill in Dublin.
Why not end your trip on a cultural note with a trip to the Joycean Pharmacy, Sweny’s? It has been open since 1847. Here, you can enjoy listening to a reading from Ulysses by James Joyce to round off your Ireland experience.
Enjoyed Our Ireland 9-Day Itinerary?
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