Wondering how to structure your 8-day itinerary in Ireland? Look no further!
Starting in the capital city of Dublin, this itinerary will take you along Ireland’s Ancient East, with a stop to enjoy the scenery in the Wicklow Mountains. From there, you’ll continue south toward Cork, Ireland’s second city and food capital. After a stop to kiss the Blarney Stone, your adventure turns towards the West to include many of Ireland’s greatest hits.
While in the west of Ireland, marvel at the views along the Ring of Kerry, stare out at the Atlantic Ocean from the Cliffs of Moher, and end your trip in the Irish city of Galway. For the last day of your trip, you’ll make your way back to Dublin to catch your flight. This will give you a chance to squeeze in one or two last activities in Dublin before you head to the airport.
The best way to see Ireland is to rent a car, as most of the country is quite rural. Here are some other things to know before traveling to Ireland.
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8-Day Ireland Itinerary
In just over a week, you can see most of the must-visit places in Ireland. From Irish cities full of live music and craic (good times) to quieter mountain ranges and natural areas, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this itinerary.
This itinerary moves very quickly, so it is best suited for adventurous travelers who want to see as much as possible during their week in Ireland. If you wanted to shorten the number of destinations, you could consider replacing the days in Dublin and Wicklow with additional time in the west of Ireland.
Day 1: Dublin
Start your day with a hearty Irish breakfast in Dublin, then set off to explore the city. You’ll want to immediately make your way to the city center, known as Temple Bar. Visit Trinity College and consider booking a tour to see the Book of Kells, an Irish cultural treasure that dates back to the 9th century. Afterward, make your way to Wicklow Street and the surrounding area, where you can visit the bustling shops and restaurants.
In the evening, make your way to an Irish pub to enjoy an Irish coffee or a pint of Guinness. For traditional music, visit O’Donoghues Bar on Merrion Row. If you prefer a more modern, upscale atmosphere, you can’t do better than Bar 1661 for some of the best cocktails in Ireland.
Day 2: Wicklow
Spend your second day in Ireland exploring beautiful County Wicklow, an area known as the Garden of Ireland. Wicklow is home to the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, a coastal walk between Bray and Greystones, and the gardens of Powerscourt Estate. The most popular activity in Wicklow is to visit Glendalough, a glacial lake with picnic benches, a 6-mile loop hiking trail, and an adjacent set of monastic ruins.
For a more relaxing day, you can visit the shore of Lake Glendalough, stroll through the monastic ruins nearby, then peruse the woolen sweaters at Avoca Handweavers in Kilmacanogue.
For dinner, head to the seafront in Bray for dinner. One of the best restaurants in the area is Daata, a hip Pakistani restaurant with plenty of vegetarian options.
Day 3: Cork
Cork is Ireland’s second city, known for its rebellious spirit and vibrant city center. When you first arrive, take a walking tour in Cork to get a feel for the city. Then, spend some time exploring some of the most popular attractions, like Fitzgerald Park, Oliver Plunkett Street, and the English Market. If you enjoy Irish whiskey, be sure to plan a stop at the Shelbourne Bar on MacCurtain Street, where you’ll find the biggest selection and most knowledgeable staff.
Choose a hotel near the city center so that you’re near all of the action, preferably a spot within about a 20-minute walk of the English Market.
Day 4: Blarney Castle, drive to Kerry
Start your morning by kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle. Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone, otherwise known as the Stone of Eloquence, will give you the “gift of the gab.” After you explore the castle, be sure to leave time to stroll through the expansive gardens and maybe even grab lunch in the cafe.
After visiting Blarney Castle, make your way to County Kerry. You can stay in Kenmare or Killarney, both are charming Irish towns. If you have time, you can walk out to see the Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park in the evening.
Day 5: Ring of Kerry
Drink an extra shot of espresso in the morning before tackling the Ring of Kerry, because it’s a full-day affair. The Ring of Kerry is a driving route that takes you through County Kerry, usually beginning and ending in Killarney. You’ll see charming small Irish towns, stunning beaches, beautiful parks, castles, and the incredible MacGillycudddy’s Reeks mountain range.
You can plan your route to include the stops that are most interesting to you. Be sure to leave yourself time to actually get out of the car and look around, otherwise, the drive can get a bit monotonous. Take your time when driving, especially in the Gap of Dunloe, as there are sometimes sheep who will wander out onto the road unexpectedly.
Day 6: Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are a UNESCO Global Geopark, a designation the cliffs received for their unique geology, along with their cultural and historical significance. You can easily visit the Cliffs of Moher in a few hours by heading straight to the Visitor’s Center. Alternatively, you can park in one of the areas north or south of the Visitor’s Center and walk along the cliffs as an out-and-back hike.
If you have extra time while you’re in County Clare, make a trip to the Burren. This area is also part of the Geopark, but instead of cliffs, you’ll find the ground covered in moonlike plates of rock. For a unique stop, visit the Burren Perfumery, the perfect place to pick up a gift for a loved one.
Stay the night in Galway or near the Cliffs of Moher in Doolin, a charming little Irish town.
Day 7: Galway
Galway is known for being a hub of traditional Irish music, largely contained within a few streets in the Latin Quarter. Most of the activity is concentrated along the High Street, the heart of the Latin Quarter. Here, you can eat at one of the many wonderful restaurants in the city, grab a pint at a pub, or shop for souvenirs and gifts.
Be sure to swing by Taaffes Pub for live traditional or “trad” music sessions or the Kings Head Pub, one of the oldest pubs in Ireland. Choose a hotel in or near the Latin Quarter so that you can enjoy live music and merriment into the night without a long trip back to your room.
Day 8: Return to Dublin
For your final day in Ireland, make your way back to Dublin from Galway. You could stop for brunch at Urban Grind on your way back to Dublin, or just grab a coffee from one of the cafes along High Street.
A unique stop along the drive back to Dublin is Clonmacnoise Monastery. Located in County Offaly, this monastery is a bit off of the beaten path but offers incredible views of the River Shannon and dates back to the 6th century. For a time around the 9th century, the site of the Clonmacnoise monastery was one of the major centers of learning in Europe.
Conclusion: 8-Day Ireland Itinerary
Over the course of this eight-day itinerary, you’re sure to feel like you’ve gotten a taste of the history, culture, and modern life of the people of Ireland. You’ll have a chance to see many of the country’s natural wonders, like the Cliffs of Moher and the Wicklow Mountains. With stops in three of the most important cities in Ireland, you’ll also have a great introduction to Irish urban life.
Wherever you choose to experience it, spend at least a few hours enjoying some traditional music in a pub. You can even try to strike up a conversation with a local over pints or breakfast, as most people are friendly and happy to share their recommendations. Finally, dress in layers to make the most of your trip, including a solid rain jacket and waterproof shoes.
Enjoy your time in Ireland!
About the author
Amber runs Amber Everywhere, a site dedicated to encouraging others to travel. The mission of Amber Everywhere is to help people feel the sort of belonging, purpose, empathy, and expansiveness that travel can offer, especially if approached with the right mindset. Amber is originally from Colorado, but now she now lives in Europe and writes about her experiences traveling and living abroad.
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