Planning to go to Ireland?
There are so many beautiful cities and towns across the country, which do you go see?
Stress no further, as I’ve planned it for you! Below is an awesome 7-day itinerary that will allow you to explore the Western & Northern parts or Ireland.
A couple of things to keep in mind before reading. If you have a chance to visit Ireland in the summer, especially around July, then that’s the best time to go! You’ll have the best weather and the best pictures, as the green is really vibrant at that time of year. Second, keep in mind that you will need to rent a car in order to make this itinerary work. Ireland is beautiful, though public transportation options aren’t super extensive, so be prepared to rent a car.
This itinerary features 7 days in Ireland starting by flying into Shannon Airport. Assuming that you are catching a red-eye flight and arriving on Day 1, with your final flight out on the 8th day. This proposed itinerary begins in Southern Ireland, heads up the West Coast into Northern Ireland and back down to Shannon to fly back out. I will feature another itinerary that will include the East Coast and Dublin in a later post.
- Day 1: Shannon & Limerick
- Day 2: Killarney
- Day 3: Ring of Kerry
- Day 4: Dingle Peninsula
- Day 5: Galway
- Day 6: Bushmills & Northern Ireland
- Day 7: Cliffs of Moher
- Day 8: Shannon
Day 1: Shannon & Limerick
Since this itinerary is focused on Western Ireland mainly I chose to fly in Shannon Airport. It can be a little pricier than flying directly into Dublin, but the time it saves really makes it worth it. For the first day, I recommend visiting Shannon then driving over to Limmerick. Some sights you may want to check out in Shannon are Bunratty Castle, Craggaunowen (medieval castle) and Dromore Castle. In Limerick, you may want to visit St. John’s Castle, The Hunt Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral & The University of Limerick.
Day 2: Killarney
Day 2 – I recommend heading over to Killarney. The city itself has some great shopping and dining, but I also recommend seeing the Killarney National Park, Ross Castle, and Muckross Mansion! Torc Waterfall was super easy to reach in the National Park and is a great, quick option if you don’t have all day to spend hiking.
Day 3: Ring of Kerry
Plan to give yourself a full day for the Ring of Kerry. Seeing it in person doesn’t take all that long, probably about an hour to an hour and a half, but the drive there is slow, due to the winding roads along the coast. Keep in mind that it is easier to drive the ring backward, as all the tour buses follow the same pattern. The Kerry Cliffs in Portmagee had the best viewpoints in my opinion and were pretty quiet in the late afternoon. If you’re doing the full drive around the ring then I suggest stopping by the towns of Waterville and Emlaghmore in Kerry. In Emlaghmore you can view the Ballinskelligs Bay and Reenroe Beach and Waterville has some great dining right along the coast you may want to check out!
Day 4: Dingle Peninsula
Similiar drive along the coast as the day before, the Dingle Peninsula requires a full-day all in itself as well. The best part of Dingle, besides the views, is that the roads are too narrow for buses, so you will have fewer tourist crowds out there. This does mean that at times you will be waiting for the car in the other direction to pass before you can go, but I thought the views from the Dingle Peninsula were even more stunning than the Ring of Kerry personally!
Day 5: Galway
Galway is a beautiful city along the coast. Make sure to visit Quay street for some great shopping and dining, as well at the Spanish Arch. We lucked out and were there for the Galway Races, which was such an awesome atmosphere for the town.
Day 6: Northern Ireland/UK (Bushmills)
I know it’s a bit of a drive from Galway to Bushmills, but Northern Ireland really has some cool places you have to check-out. Take the Causeway Coastal Route up to Bushmills and leave time to see the Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway. The Giants Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the few places in the world where you can see Basalt Columns up close. To read more about visiting the Giant’s Causeway check out my article here! If you still have time after visiting both those places then head over to Straranocum to see the Dark Hedges. For those Game of Thrones fans, these famous trees were featured on Arya’s walk on the Kingsroad.
Day 7: Cliffs of Moher
On the final day in Ireland, you have to visit the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are truly stunning in person and pictures really don’t do it any justice. Don’t be too panicked about the large crowds you see when you first arrive, as there are so many spots out there to get pictures without anyone around. Mind the edge though, they have an average of 3 people every year who fall off the cliff!
Adding in Northern Ireland really cuts into your time, as it takes several hours to drive up there, but the sights we saw up there were worth it, so I left it in there. If pressed for time or if you want a more relaxed pace, then consider cutting it from your trip.