Suggested Ireland Self-Drive Itineraries
With so much to see and do on your self-drive Ireland vacation, trying to figure out where to go can get pretty overwhelming! On the next few pages you’ll be able to see some of our most popular itineraries for 5-night, 7-night, 10-night and 14-night tours. From destination cities to suggested sites to see along the way, Tenon Tours has fantastic itinerary suggestions for any type of traveler!
The amount of time you have to travel will determine how much ground you can cover and the number of things you’ll be able to see. Remember that it’s best to take your time to explore an area. Note that travel times for comparable distances in North America are often longer in Ireland due to weather and road conditions.
- 5 Nights
During a 5-night stay you’ll be able to visit two to four towns at a pace that won’t leave you exhausted.
- 7 – 10 Nights
The duration we suggest for most travelers, from five to eight towns in different regions can be seen during this time.
- 14+ Nights
If you have two weeks or longer for your self-drive trip, you’ll be able to see 10 to 12 towns comfortably in both the North and South of the country.
Once you know the regions and sites you’d like to visit, your personal Ireland travel specialist will help you determine which airports to fly in and out of, the routes you should take and where you’ll stay. Read below for an overview of the regions of Ireland. Although Ireland looks small to the North American eye it actually takes a lot of time to get around, especially because there’s so much to see and do there!
Dublin is the main entry point and Ireland’s Capital City. It’s very cosmopolitan with everything you would expect to find in a major European city from museums to art galleries, theaters, restaurants and more pubs than you can imagine. Make sure to head to Temple Bar and visit Oliver St John Gogartys pub, known for being the best place to get your first taste of a traditional Irish session with live music from 2pm to 2am! Also popular in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse Tour and the famous Trinity College. A one to two night stay is ideal and it’s best to pick up the car after your city stay as driving in Dublin is best avoided. Though you could spend days here there is SO much more to see around the country that you won’t want to miss!
The East Coast is popular with among Irish vacationers with lots of little seaside towns. However unless you are game for the beach in temperatures rarely going above 70 and stiff breezes the beach is probably best avoided except for walks wearing a warm jacket. Wicklow is a popular location for the film industry with many famous films set there (check out our “Reel” Ireland movie sights self-drive tour). Waterford is the home of Waterford Crystal and a popular stop on route to the South West.
Cork and Kerry are probably the 2 most popular counties for tourists in Ireland with such famous attractions as the Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula all located in the South West. A minimum of 2 days is normally recommended in this area, especially if you want to see the Ring of Kerry as it’s best to allow a full day for this tour. The Dingle Peninsula is also a full day trip out from Killarney although Dingle is also a lovely spot for an overnight stay. Further up the coast is Co. Clare, home of the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle. Shannon Airport is a good exit point for a week long trip.
For a longer trip continue onto Galway, The City of the Tribes. If the weather’s fine be sure to take a trip out to the Aran Islands, taking the ferry from Rossaveal. Connemara brings you on up to Mayo, Sligo and Donegal.
Most visitors to Ireland leave the Northern counties to their second trip. Northern Ireland is well worth making that trip with the Giants Causeway being one of the most famous attractions. The two main cities are Belfast and Derry, both steeped in history with great shopping too. Don’t forget once you are in Northern Ireland you will be in the United Kingdom so will need to get some Pounds Sterling although Euros are accepted in some shops close to the border.
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