Use my 7 day Ireland itinerary to help you plan your trip to this beautiful country! Ireland is amazing. Picture yourself cruising down a scenic road full of greenery everywhere you turn, with rolling hills, and incredible cliffside ocean views – that’s Ireland! And to top it all off, they also have some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The best way to experience the country is to do an Ireland road trip. Having a car to drive yourself around and visit different towns is key.
Ireland is too big to see the whole country in seven days, so for this 7-day Ireland itinerary I am focusing on the southern area of the country, which is what I did on my Ireland trip. Keep reading to start planning your trip!
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SEE ALSO: The Ultimate 7-Day Croatia Itinerary
Ireland Trip Overview
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 5-7
- Airport: DUB or GWY
- Cost: $$
- Currency: Euro
- Language: English
7 Day Ireland Itinerary Overview
- 1st Day: Travel day – Dublin to Galway
- 2nd Day: Galway
- 3rd Day: Cliffs of Moher + Dingle
- 4th Day: Dingle
- 5th Day: Killarney
- Day 6-7: Dublin
Best Time of Year to Visit Ireland
The weather in Ireland is pretty temperate year-round (although it can be rainy). However, if you want to avoid the crowds, I recommend going in the shoulder seasons of March-May or September-November. This way, you escape the summer crowds but it’s a bit warmer than it is in the winter time. I visited in late September and it was a bit chilly, but overall we had great weather!
How to Get Around Ireland
The best way to get around Ireland from town-to-town is to rent a car (more on that below). There is no Uber in Ireland, but most of the cities/towns are very walkable. If you are not comfortable renting a car, it is possible to take a tour bus or a private tour, especially from the bigger cities of Dublin or Galway. See below for two tour options that look great:
Tips for Renting a Car in Ireland
I highly recommend renting a car during your 7 days in Ireland so that you have the freedom to be on your own schedule and to see all of the sights. When booking your rental car, make sure that it’s automatic (unless you are able to drive a manual/stick shift). There are fewer automatic rental cars in Ireland, so it will be a bit more expensive than the manual ones.
Also note that they drive on the left side of the road in Ireland, and the roads can get narrow and windy at times. But as long as you are alert and focused, you should be totally fine. It also helps to have a friend with you in the passenger seat to navigate.
One last tip – if you have one of the awesome travel credit cards (shoutout Chase Reserve) you are likely used to declining rental car insurance since you are already covered through the card. However, in Ireland, you have to obtain a signed letter (printed out) from the credit card company confirming that you are covered for a rental car in Ireland. The credit card company should be used to this request and know what you are asking for, but just make sure you get that ahead of time.
Don’t Leave Home Without These Items!
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Besides the essentials, don’t forget to bring:
- Hiking shoes (I brought these ones and they were great
- Adapter for the plugs in Ireland
- Rain jacket
- Packable travel daypack
- USB iPhone charger – so you can plug your phone in the car on the road trip
7 Day Ireland Itinerary
Without further ado, let’s dive into my 7-day Ireland itinerary around the southeastern part of the country. There’s so much to see and do!
Ireland Itinerary Day 1: Dublin to Galway
Assuming that you are flying into Dublin for this trip, since it’s the major airport in the area, the first step will be to land and get to Galway (don’t worry, we’ll revisit Dublin at the end of the trip!). It is possible to fly into Galway from some airports. If this option works for you, then great! You’ve shaved off some travel time for this first day.
It’s best to not have too many plans for this first day of your 7 days in Ireland, as you’ll be dealing with a long flight + a big time difference (Ireland is 5 hours ahead from Eastern Time, or 8 hours ahead from Pacific Time). Get your rental car, get some coffee, and hit the road for your 2-hour drive to the city of Galway!
Best Things to Do in Galway on Your First Day in Ireland
1. Brunch at Dela
Dela is one of the most popular brunch spots in the area, located in the cool “west end” of Galway. It closes at 3pm, so just make sure you will be able to arrive before then!
An alternative to Dela, in case you don’t quite make it in time (we got there at 2:45 and the kitchen wasn’t taking any more orders), head over to nearby Urban Grind instead. This cute coffee shop has a little outdoor patio and some delicious & healthy lunch/brunch options.
2. Check out the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter and Quay Street is the most popular area of the city, with cobblestone streets, cute colorful buildings, and live Irish music performances happening in the middle of the streets. It’s lively, and great for pub-hopping, shopping, and people-watching.
3. Relax in the Park at Eyre Square
Eyre Square, also called John F Kennedy Memorial Park, is located in the center of town in Galway. There’s a huge lawn great for taking a break from the hustle and bustle to relax for a bit. There’s plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the park as well.
4. Check out the Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch was built in 1584 as part of Galway’s medieval defense systems. It’s still standing today, and is a great landmark to check out while you’re in the area. It’s conveniently to the center of town, and is right on the water. You’ll see people hanging out in the lawn on the water surrounding the arch. It’s a tranquil spot!
5. Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire Castle is located on Galway Bay, about 30 minutes south of the main part of Galway city. Built in the 16th century, the Dunguaire Castle is known for its lavish banquets and is one of the most photographed castles in Ireland! You could also make this a stop on your way down to Cliffs of Moher on Day 3 if that fits in better with your timing.
5. Go Out to the Pubs
Galway is a bustling college town, and there are plenty of fun pubs and bars to choose from. A great option is Front Door Bar, which has 5 different bars spanning across two floors. It’s great for late-night, and there’s always live music! If you want a more traditional Irish pub, try Monroes for great vibes and traditional live music.
Where to Stay in Galway
There are plenty of great hotel or bed & breakfast options in Galway. Bed & Breakfasts are super common all over Ireland, so I do recommend staying in one at least once during your 7 days in Ireland!
Lodging Options In Galway
- The Hardiman Hotel
- This is probably the most epic hotel you could choose in Galway. This 165-year old Victorian building is located right in Eyre Square, right in the middle of all the action! The decor inside is like traditional Irish luxury. It seems like quite the experience.
- Adare Guesthouse
- This is a great option if you are looking for a bed & breakfast in the heart of the city. It’s conveniently walking distance to the main parts of the city, have super welcoming hosts, and a delicious breakfast in the morning.
Lodging Options Outside of Galway City Centre
If you are looking to save a little money OR if you would prefer to stay in a more quiet, serene environment in the countryside vs directly in the city center, there are a few cute towns right on the outskirts of Galway. We stayed in the town of Kinvara (about a 30 minute drive outside of Galway) which was great! This might not be the best option if you are planning to go out late at night obviously, but if you are looking for a more low-key night I highly recommend it.
- Rosleague Manor Hotel
- Located in the town of Letterfrack (about an hour north of Galway city center) this luxurious bed & breakfast is one of the best in the area. This B&B is located right outside Connemara National Park, so it’s a great option if you want to pre-position yourself for the activities on Day 2 of your Ireland itinerary.
- Kinvara Guesthouse
- This B&B is located in the quaint seaside town of Kinvara just 30 minutes south of Galway city center. It’s walking distance to Dunguaire Castle, has great breakfast, clean rooms, and friendly vibes. (I stayed in Kinvara during my Ireland trip and loved it)
Ireland Itinerary Day 2: Galway + Connemara
On your second day of your 7 day Ireland itinerary, I highly recommend getting a big breakfast in Galway and then heading north about an hour to see quite a few epic sights over there. This is something I wanted to do so badly on my Ireland trip, but only had 6 days in Ireland so I ran out of time!
- Kylemore Abbey
- This abbey overlooking a lake looks SO picturesque, it’s definitely worth stopping at. I’ve heard mixed reviews about paying to go inside it (I would only do that if you are super interested in history + architecture) but just seeing the outside of the abbey is reason enough to stop here. It looks beautiful!
- Diamond Hill Hike
- No itinerary of mine is complete without a hike included! Just 10 minutes from the Kylemore Abbey, the Diamond Hill hike takes you up along a ridgeline with incredible views of the bay and the surrounding countryside. It should take about 1.5-3 hours to complete, depending on if you choose the Lower or Upper trail. Check out this guide for details!
- Drive the Sky Road
- While you’re in the area, you can’t miss out on the opportunity to take the scenic Sky Road. It’s about a 12-mile loop road with epic views of the cliffs, mountains, and ocean.
- Connemara National Park
- Connemara National Park is one of the 6 national parks in Ireland. Definitely check it out while you’re in the area! Entry is free, there are a few trails to choose from, and there’s also a Tea Room on site where you can have tea with a view.
Ireland Itinerary Day 3: Cliffs of Moher + Dingle
Cliffs of Moher
On the third day of your 7-day Ireland itinerary, drive to the cute seaside town of Dingle. But first, make a stop at the famous Cliffs of Moher! Although the Cliffs of Moher may be touristy (and definitely the most well-known landmark on this 7-day Ireland itinerary) I still definitely think it’s worth a visit. The Cliffs of Moher is an iconic natural attraction in Ireland that you’ve likely seen before on postcards (and Instagram) – it’s beautiful!
It’s located about an hour and a half drive south of Galway. Plan to get there before 9:30am to arrive before the tour busses come with crowds of people. It costs 10 Euros per adult to enter and park your car. Make sure you bring layers – it’s notorious for being pretty windy and chilly up there!
Take your time walking along the cliffside pathway, soaking in the different dramatic views over the ocean. You can also climb up O’Brien’s Tower, located at the first viewpoint, for an even higher-up view of the cliffs.
Fun fact – a scene from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was filmed here!
I would budget yourself about 1-3 hours here, depending on how fast you walk, how far you go down the pathways, and how many pictures you take.
After Cliffs of Moher, hop back in your car and drive about 3.5 hours to the idyllic seaside town of Dingle. The town of Dingle was my favorite town we visited in Ireland. You’ll love it!
You’ll probably arrive around 3 or 4pm, so check in to your hotel, wander around the town, check out the shops, and get dinner and drinks!
Some great dinner options (I recommend making a reservation):
And for drinks later, I definitely recommend going to Dick Macks. It seemed to be a popular local spot – it’s super lively and fun!
Where to Stay in Dingle
Here are a few great lodging options in Dingle! I definitely recommend staying walking-distance to town:
- Hillgrove Guesthouse
- A great budget option: this charming bed & breakfast is located right in the heart of town and has great reviews.
- Milltown House
- This B&B is set on a gorgeous property overlooking the bay, and is still walking distance to the heart of town
Ireland Itinerary Day 4: Slea Head Drive (Dingle)
The fourth day of the 7-day Ireland itinerary is definitely a highlight. Slea Head Drive is a popular scenic drive that starts and ends from the town of Dingle, meandering along the coast line. It reminds me of Big Sur in California! It’s absolutely breathtaking. The drive starts and ends from Dingle. It would take 1 hour to drive it straight through without stopping, but of course you will want to take lots of scenic stops along the route! I would budget about 3 hours for this.
Slea Head Drive vs Ring of Kerry
I did a lot of research before my trip to decide between Slea Head Drive and Ring of Kerry (another, longer, scenic drive in the southern region of Ireland). Ring of Kerry is the more well-known option. Ultimately, I went with Slea Head Drive based on reviews that it is much less crowded than Ring of Kerry, and the scenery is just as good, if not better. I am extremely happy with my decision, as our time in Dingle and Slea Head Drive was probably my favorite part!
Things to See Along Slea Head Drive
There are quite a few stops you can make along this drive. I used this guide to help with the details. Below are the ones that we did that I recommend, in order:
Stop here for a quick stroll along this serene beach at the beginning of the scenic loop drive
Epic Lookout Point
I’m not sure if there’s a name for this lookout point we pulled into, but it’s just 1 minute/300 meters before Caife Na Tra. There’s a pullout area to park, and then there’s a few stone stairs that lead you out into the grass overlooking the ocean. It’s a great photo op! The coordinates are 52.10499N, 10.45558W.
Caife Na Tra
Of all the spots listed on my 7 day Ireland itinerary, this cafe overlooking the cliffs and ocean view is my absolute favorite. Sitting here outside, sipping on some tea and eating a scone, listening to the waves and hearing the sheep in the distance was one of my favorite memories of my entire 7 days in Ireland!
This little secluded cove beach is incredible! Take the time to walk down the path to the actual sand. It’s worth it.
Dun Chaoin Pier (Dunquin Pier)
This is one of the most dramatic and unique views along the drive! A photographer’s dream.
This small stone structure is one of the earliest churches built in Ireland from back in the 12th century.
Phew, that’s a lot of sightseeing for one day! After you finish Slea Head Drive, head back to Dingle. Walk around the shops, get some great seafood for dinner, and enjoy the nightlife in this picturesque little town!
Ireland Itinerary Day 5: Killarney
It’s hard to leave the idyllic town of Dingle behind, but today you are off to new adventures on day 5 of this 7 day Ireland itinerary! Start by driving an hour back up the peninsula to the town of Killarney. Killarney is the perfect balance of an Ireland destination that has both nature and nightlife. Not only is this picturesque town surrounded by the rolling hills and lakes within Killarney National Park, but the town itself has lots of great bars and restaurants on the main streets.
Where to Stay in Killarney
We stayed at the Killarney Lodge, and absolutely loved it! I definitely recommend staying here. This bed & breakfast is super nice (decorated in a sort of Victorian style) and has comfortable beds. It’s also conveniently-located just a short walk from town. There’s a cute little lounge room downstairs with free coffee and tea and cookies that you can hang out in. Breakfast in the morning is delicious!
Coffee and Brunch
First stop in Killarney – get some caffeine! Wander around town and pick a coffee shop that suits your fancy, or go with my recommendation – which is Good Boy Specialty Coffee Roasters. They had the best matcha!
I also recommend getting brunch at Curious Cat Cafe next door. It was delicious and hidden slightly off the main street, so it seemed to have a bit more of a locals feel.
Torc Mountain Hike
- Distance: 4.4 miles
- Trailhead: Upper Torc Mountain Car Park (Killarney Hiking Parking Lot)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Time: 2-3 hours
This hike was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Killarney! Located within Killarney National Park, this 5-mile hike starts out in a wooded trail, but then opens up to an uncovered, expansive area where you gain some vert. The path zig-zags up the mountain, but there’s wooden stairs and boardwalks put in to help you along the way. Once you get to the top, you can soak in 360 degree views of the surrounding lakes, rolling hills, and Muckross Castle (which is the next stop!)
Muckross House & Gardens
Next up, still within Killarney National Park, check out the beautiful and ornate 19th Century Muckross House. It costs about 7 Euros to go inside the house, but walking around outside the garden area is free and beautiful on its own. The house is situated on one of the lakes inside the national park. Many people rent bikes and bike around the surrounding area, checking out Muckross Abbey as well (ruins of a 15th century Irish monastery) but I opted to just walk around on foot. The whole area is serene and idyllic.
Last sightseeing of the day – stop by and see the famous Ross Castle. Built in the 15th century, this castle used to be owned by an Irish Chieftain.
Dinner and Drinks in Town
After your busy day of hiking and sightseeing – you’ve earned your beer at the local pub! There are plenty of great bars and restaurants to choose from in town. I opted for dinner and drinks at The Laurels for some traditional Irish food. It was great!
Ireland Itinerary Day 6-7: Dublin
To get from Killarney to Dublin, you can either:
- Drive 4 hours
- Take a 55 minute cheap flight from Kerry airport (15 minutes from Killarney)
We opted for the flight in order to maximize our time. Returning the rental car was easy and the airport is pretty small and quick to get through.
Best Place to Stay in Dublin
Like any major city, Dublin has a few different neighborhoods to choose from. As a first timer with only 2 days in Dublin, I recommend staying in the Temple Bar neighborhood. Temple Bar is a small neighborhood packed with fun bars, restaurants, cool shops (and vintage stores!) along its cobblestone streets. It’s also pretty central to most of the sites you will be wanting to see. Alternatively, you could look for lodging in the St. Stephen’s Green area which is also a beautiful public park surrounded by bars and restaurants.
- The Morgan Hotel
- Located right in the heart of Temple Bar. Luxury rooms and amazing reviews!
- Temple Bar Inn
- a more affordable option in the heart of Temple Bar that has great reviews
Best Things to Do in Dublin
Spend your last 2 days in Ireland galavanting around the city of Dublin. Some of the highlights:
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Founded in 1911, St. Patricks Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in Dublin. It’s the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It costs about 8 Euros for a ticket to go inside, which I think is totally worth it. You can buy your ticket ahead of time here.
Going to the Guinness Storehouse is one of the most popular things to do in Dublin if you like beer. The tour is self-guided, which is great because you can go at your own speed. It’s a pretty huge museum with multiple floors. I found the floor showing all their old advertising campaigns from over the years to be the most interesting! Once you get to the top, you get a free pint of Guinness to enjoy on the rooftop overlooking the city.
St. Stephen’s Green
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit and take a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green, which is basically the Central Park of Dublin. This park is beautiful and serene!
Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland, and the campus is beautiful! It’s in the heart of the city and it’s definitely worth stopping by for a quick walk to check out the impressive architecture. This is also where the famous Book of Kells is, (entry ticket required) which is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament known for the impressive illustrations.
The most famous bridge in Dublin, aptly named for the fact that they used to charge “half a penny” to cross the bridge back in the day. It’s a great photo-op!
A few of my favorite spots for drinks in the Dublin:
- Temple Bar (obviously!)
- Yes, this bar is touristy but it is SO much fun and I still highly recommend it. There’s always live music and its such a fun spot!
- Vintage Cocktail Club
- This is a cool speakeasy in the Temple Bar neighborhood. Make a reservation!
- Sheehan’s Pub
- Traditional Irish pub with great food
- O’Donohughes Pub
- An old, traditional Irish bar with great live music
- Brazen Head
- The oldest pub in Dublin
- Peruke & Periwig
- Cool little bar with great cocktails