The green, green grass of Ireland really is an incredible green! It is the one, everlasting memory I will have of this beautiful country. Other memories will include the wonderfully friendly Irish people, the stunning scenery and surprisingly, the fabulous food! No, it’s not all potatoes in Ireland!
We spent twelve busy days in the country! Depending on how you look at it, it was either too many or not enough. Our trip was rushed. We missed sights we wanted to see and there is so much to see! The time it takes to travel the seemingly short distances is longer than you think.
To help you plan your trip, this is our itinerary for twelve days in Ireland with suggestions as to how to improve it!
Our Ireland Itinerary
Day 1 and 2: Dublin
Dublin is a great place for walking and walk we did. We love taking the hop on hop off bus when we’re in a new city. It’s great for learning the layout of the city and for a quick introduction to the city. Dublin Sightseeing’s Green hop on hop off bus gave us this and more. We didn’t hop off the bus, mainly due to the drivers fabulous Irish humour! There’s more to come on his antics plus where you should hop off and visit in a blog post to come. In two days we even had time to take a visit to the fishing village of Howth.
Stay: The Fitzwilliam Hotel
Eat: Chapter One
Days 3, 4 and 5: Belfast
What a fabulous surprise Belfast was! 2016 is the year of food and wine in Northern Ireland and it was here we had our first introduction to the food of Northern Ireland by the folks at Taste and Tour…a fabulous walk through the streets of the city stopping at great food and drink places. Another tour we loved was the the Legendary Black Taxi Tour. Billy Scott from Touring around Belfast explained the highs and lows of Irish politics as he showed us the murals of the Shankill area. A must!
Incase you didn’t know the Titanic was built in Belfast and they have a fabulous museum where you can learn how all about it, it is so well done! It has just won an award as the
Stay: Ten Square
Day 6: Causeway Coastal Route
From Belfast to Portrush and further the Causeway Coastal Route is not to be missed. The scenery is wonderful and the driving easy! Our full day’s drive was supposed to include a visit to Cushendall but a bomb scare meant to village was off limits! We stopped in Cushenden, took the spectacular Torr Head drive, stopped to walk the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede and saw the incredible Unesco listed Giant’s Causeway. If you still have time, visit Dunluce Castle.
Stay: Shoba Coach House
Eat: Harry’s Shack
Day 7: To Clifden
After a quick visit to the Dark Hedges of Games of Thrones fame, we started our drive south hoping to make it to Clifden. The countryside is beautiful especially in country Tyrone where the hedged roads take you through some beautiful scenery. Because they are are narrow and winding, it does takes longer than you think.
Originally we were going to stop in Westport but people we met along the way encouraged us to drive the extra miles to Clifden. I’d also consider spending the night at Ashford Castle.
So many options…so little time!
CHANGE: If possible I would take three days to do days 7 and 8.
Stay: The Quay House
Eat: Mitchells Restaurant
Day 8: To Dingle
From Cifden we headed around the coast to beautiful village of Roundstone, a village I would love to come back to.
There are two ways to reach the Cliffs of Moher….Follow the N67 to Doolin from Ballyvaughan or take the coast road, the R477. This was a lovely drive but it did add an extra hour to the journey.
The Cliffs of Moher are wonderful especially on a sunny day like the one that we fluked.
Up until now the weather had been grey and dreary so we were excited for this day of blue skies!
Head to the visitor centre and take the walks either side.
CHANGE: It would be great to stay a night in Lahinch and have the time for a longer walk along the cliff.
From here we headed to our next night’s accommodation in Dingle.
Stay: Pax House
Eat: Global Village Restaurant
Day 9: The Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula was wonderful. Another day of sun allowed it to be shown to perfection.
The drive around Slea Head was spectacular and I’m so glad we took the advise of people we had met that we should see the Dingle Peninsula instead of following the tourist buses around the Ring of Kerry. We then headed to Kenmare via the Kilkenny National Park.
I suggest you stay in Kenmare or Bantry. We we’re not able to get rooms in either of these towns, so headed on Glengariff.
CHANGE: Our B&B in Dingle was one of the best we have stayed in, so much so that I would stay an extra night so I could have another of John’s wonderful breakfasts!
Day 10: To Kinsale
The weather was not looking good as we headed off to explore the Ring of Beara. A low fog stopped us heading to the high Healy Pass so instead we decided to explore a few of the towns on the way to Kinsale. Skibbereen was celebrating the gold medal win by two of its local rowers. With congratulation signs and flags in the windows it had a festive feel. Clonakilty was another fun town that is pushing Kinsale as a food centre of West Devon. It was great to see some of the shops I had read about before heading off to Kinsale for a well earned two night stay.
Stay: Blindsgate House
Eat: The Black Pig
Day 11: Kinsale
Kinsale is a fun town. It’s bright colours impart a happy feel. Having two nights here meant we could take it easy and enjoy the town, exploring every corner. We followed the Scilly walk around the bay to a well known pub, The Bullman for some excellent Irish food and Guinness. The walk back seemed so much quicker!
Day 12: to Dublin via Wicklow
This is another leg that probably should take two days especially as I would have loved a night at Ballymaloe House. We managed a quick visit here and to the cooking school a few kilometres down the road to see it’s wonderful garden.
From here it was up the coast to Wicklow. Time was running out so we missed one of Ireland’s famous sites, Glendalough in the Wicklow forest. This gave us longer to wander through the magnificent Powerscourt Gardens before heading to Dublin for our last night!
As you can see, it was a very quick visit! Time is a luxury that we did not have but if you do, I’d make the changes I have mentioned. Three weeks would be an ideal time to spend exploring this wonderful country.
Have you been to Ireland? What was the highlight for you?
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