Once we decided that we would take two weeks to explore Ireland we had to decide when the best time to go was. We were semi-flexible on the dates. But we wanted to take a late summer or early fall trip.
Cash: $262.34 (food, tour guide tips, metered parking, hair cut, etc.)
Car Rental: $255.22
*note: All amounts in USD
Our vacation to Ireland began on a Sunday evening as we departed New York City and headed to Dublin Ireland to begin our 14-day road trip.
Day 1 – Arrived in Ireland in the early morning hourse. Quick drive to Clontarf Castle outside of the city. Checked into our Air BnB for a quick nap before walking down to The Spire where we began our Free Walking Tour. We stopped by Trinity College, Temple Bar area, Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park, and our guide gave us the lowdown on some interesting museums and exhibits to visit. After our 3 – hour walking tour we were ready to eat. At the recommendation of our guide, we went to O’Neill’s Pub and Kitchen for our first Irish meal. It was inexpensive and the food was good.
Day 2 – Initially we planned on spending the entire day in Dublin but we were fortunate that is was an unusually warm day. With the sun out and the blue skies in full glory, we made last-minute reservations to drive down to Wexford where we went Sea Cave Kayaking. This was one of the top five experiences of the trip. Kayaking from the Celtic Sea and into the Atlantic Ocean is not to be missed! The water was so clear you see the seafloor!
Day 3 – We checked out of our Dublin Air BnB our Ireland road trip truly began. Kilkenny Castle and Hook Lighthouse were among the stops before ending the night in Waterford. Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to visit the House of Waterford Crystal Factory. We checked in to our Air BnB in Waterford and grabbed a bite to eat at Geoff’s Cafe and Bar. Unfortunately, we didn’t do much exploring in Waterford. I’d recommend spending at least a few hours exploring Ireland’s Oldest city.
Day 4 – For most of the road trip, we had early starts. Day 4 was no exception. Once we left Waterford and we made our way west to the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. We opted to skip Blarney Castle. A stop in Cork lead us to a barbershop were Mr. Miller go a haircut for €9! Half the costs of his haircuts in New York City.
Day 5 – After a full Irish breakfast prepared by our Air BnB host, we drove to Kenmare for our next activity which was Trekking with Alpacas. This was my first time surrounded by Alpacas and I loved it! After our morning hike with the alpacas, we began our drive up to Killarney via the Ring of Kerry. We made stops in at the Kerry Cliffs, Ballinskelligs, Valentia Island, had dinner in Portmagee. And ended our day in Killarney. In Killarney, there was live music in just about every pub and the streets were crowded even at 11 pm!
Day 6 – We visited Killarney National Park, Torc Waterfall, Muckross House, and the visited the traditional farms at Muckross Farms before driving up to Dingle. Once in the small town of Dingle, we grabbed a quick bite at The Fish Box and walked around a bit. The day with a stop at Murphy’s Ice Cream where they had some incredibly unique flavors like elderflower and Irish brown bread.
Day 7 – For our 2nd day in Dingle we booked a boat tour to the Great Blasket Island. This was a last-minute decision but very well worth it. We paid $132.83 for a 50-minute passenger ride from the Dingle Marina to the Island. Where we were greeted by these sunbathing sea lions! We opted for the Eco Tour which only included a 1 hour stop on the Great Blasket Island. I recommend skipping the extended boat tour and spending several hours at the Great Blasket Island. Pack a lunch, bring a swimsuit and bring your hiking boots. It’s beautiful!
Day 8 – We opted for a slight detour and took the Slea Head Drive and Connor’s Pass up to our next Air BnB in Sligo. Most days we drove a maximum of 2 1/2 to 3 hours, this was our longest driving day. We should have planned a stay in Galway. Nonetheless, day 8 included the Cliffs of Moher!
When possible we always drove the route closest to the coastline and that usually meant adding additional time. We arrived at the Cliffs of Moher around noon and it was just as the fog was lifting. We parked the car in Hags Head and walked the 6km to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center. Wow. Just wow! This was an easy walk and because it was off-season the crowds so many complain about were just not there. We took a shuttle from the visitor’s center back to our car. We continued our journey north and had an early dinner at Ballyvaughan.
Day 9 – Our Air BnB in Sligo was just steps away from the Slishwood forest. We stayed in a quaint cottage. Early the next morning, Mya the dog, our tour guide was waiting for us for our morning hike. Yes, we had a dog guide! She was great she knew all the scenic spots! Once we checked out of our Sligo Air BnB, we drove to Glencar Falls, Drumcliff Church which is the final resting place of W.B. Yeats. We also had the most luxurious stay at Lough Eske Castle in Donegal. We used 16,000 Chase Reward Points and paid $80.46 for a one night’s stay.
Day 10 – For the 2nd boat tour of the trip we decided to view the Sliabh Liag Cliffs (Slieve League Cliffs) from the water. These cliffs are the highest in Europes reaching close to 2000 feet! The Cliffs of Moher look like beautifully chiseled rock sculptures, the Slieve League Cliffs are these massively colorful jagged rock formations that are impressively beautiful. We stayed at The River House in Dungloe, our first and only traditional bed and breakfast of the trip. The location was just a short walk away from several pubs.
Day 11 – We began our day with yet another full Irish breakfast prepared for us by The River House. This included eggs, toast, beans, cereal, fresh fruit, sausage, and yogurt. After leaving the bed and breakfast our first stop was Glenvaugh National Park.We then drove to the most northerly part of Ireland, Malin Head. It was now time to head south and drive towards Belfast. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw after crossing into the United Kingdom, Link 47 Bar & Restuarant. We then drove into Belfast and checked into our final Air BnB.
Day 12 – Breakfast consisted of milk, cereal and some fruit we purchased. We walked about half a mile to the Belfast City Hall where we met our guide for the Belfast Free Walking Tour. Our guide gave us a brief history of Belfast and stops to famous locations like the Cathedral Quarter, Albert Clock, the Big Fish, Crown Liquor Saloon and the Europa Hotel. Later that afternoon we drove over to the Titanic Belfast museum. To get the most of this experience plan to be here for at least 3 hours. We arrived later in the day and had to rush through some of the exhibits and there was a lot to see. We grabbed a late lunch at Wetherspoons where I had the biggest cheeseburger of my life! I only ate half and was full for the rest of the day!
Day 13 – Our last day in Belfast was spent exploring on foot. We took a trip to Poundland. They had so many more items and variety than my local Dollar Tree. We also drove around the city and explored the street art. Our last and final stay for our trip was the Cabra Castle Hotel in Kingscourt County, Ireland. We arrived at the hotel just in time to witness a bride walk up the castle steps and to her wedding. We arrived around 4 pm and planned on grabbing a bite to eat but both Mr. Miller and I fell asleep around 6 pm! I was wide awake by 3 am but it was nice to catch up on emails and prepare for our morning flight.
Day 14 – After complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we drove south for about an hour and a half to Dublin International Airport. Our 10:50 am flight was on time and a smooth ride back to New York.
Although not a comprehensive guide to planning the perfect 14-day Ireland road trip, I hope it’s given you some ideas of places to visit and ways to cut costs. Hotel rooms, Air BnBs, and car rentals were booked less than a week before we departed! The only thing planned a couple of months in advance was our flights. Some of the Air BnBs were booked just two days before we arrived. Honestly, this gave us flexibility. If we wanted to drive more we could if we wanted to take a detour there was no pressure.
All in all our first international road trip was a success. I completely fell in love with this type of vacation style and Ireland has so much to offer. From Michelin rated restaurants to outdoor adventure there’s something for everyone. We were extremely fortunate to have more than 7 rainless days during our trip. And even the days that it did rain it was overnight or it rained while we were driving to our next destination in the mornings.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.