How to take the perfect driving holiday around Ireland
It’s holiday season and we are here to help you plan a fantastic two-week driving trip around the most beautiful country on planet earth – Ireland!
I bet you’ve always said you want to see more of your home land, but still haven’t got around to seeing counties you’ve been promising yourself you’ll get to see, right? Well we’re going to take you around this great country of ours in just eight simple steps, taking in both the best rural and urban delights.
Here is the ideal way to spend the most amazing fortnight without having to go to the airport. This is the ultimate two-week driving holiday around Ireland.
If you are from Dublin, you may not need the advice in this section. But we’ll start our trip in that nation’s capital, to see some of the most iconic urban sites in the country.
Although Temple Bar is quite pricey (I know, I know) but do please spend one night sampling the holiday-like atmosphere in the heart of Dublin to get your tip off to a perfect start. While in Dublin, there is a host of cultural activities you can avail of, but I highly recommend the Little Museum of Dublin (just off Stephen’s Green) and the drive from Dollymount to Howth is a highly recommended beginning to your driving holiday.
Stop 1 (1 night)
Carlingford, Co Louth
Just an hour outside Dublin (heading north) will take you to Carlingford in Co Louth. This truly is a pretty little drive that should be your first stop for dinner and a stay in a reasonably-priced B&B. Carlingford is a gorgeous costal town that is filled with atmosphere due to its generous eatery options set in idyllic views. It is the perfect picturesque stop, before heading to Belfast in the morning.
Stop 2 (2 nights)
The capital of the north is the most underrated area of Ireland. Conjuring images in people’s minds of the troubles, Belfast is surprisingly beautiful, a tiny city in a valley of picturesque hills. There are plenty of things to do in Belfast; but I would highly recommend staying in the city centre for two nights, giving you plenty of time to take in the history and beauty of this place. The Titanic adventure is a great way to spend a couple of hours, and is not the let-down tourist trap some people may feel it is. I would highly recommend a black cab ride around Belfast’s old troubled areas for a gripping history lesson on what went on during the troubles. It will stun you.
Stop 3 (3 nights)
From Belfast, head west to encapsulate yourself in (this is not exaggeration or hyperbole) some of the most beautiful lands on the whole of planet earth. Donegal is simply breath-taking. So stunning, in fact, that we recommend booking a hotel, or perhaps even a cottage rental, for three nights. While in Donegal, make sure you take a scenic drive around Glengesh Pass and stop off at one of the many jaw-dropping views for a picnic. This will probably be the most surreal couple of hours of your fortnight, such is the beauty. If you’re up for it, a climb up and around Slieve League should also be penciled in during your stay here as should a trip to Malin Head. Glenveigh National Park is also a gorgeous place to visit, but I could list a thousand things for you to do in this corner of the island, such are the options. Give yourself three nights here to soak in the beauty. Then head south to, personally, my favorite town in Ireland.
Stop 4 (2 nights)
Galway city centre
Ah yes, good old Galway. Quite how the small city centre of Galway generates such a warm atmosphere is beyond me, but this place truly does put you in good humour. You have a few options on where to stay in Galway; I am in love with Salthill and Connemara is as stunning as people tell you it is. But seeing as this holiday is filled with remote rural stops, I’d recommend staying in the heart of the city, soaking up that feel-good atmosphere. Spend a couple of nights in the city and make sure you take in Connemara and Salthill in short spurts during your stay. Just make sure you make it back to the city each evening for a pint and a sing-song.
Stop 5 (1 night)
There are multiple cottage rentals for reasonable prices in Clare and I would recommend a remote stay for a night here during this trip. Of course, while you’re here, you’ll want to take in the Cliffs of Moher. This is where you should have your second picnic of the trip. On a clear-weather day, the Cliffs look out of this world. You can take boat trips on the Atlantic that give you the most scenic views of the cliffs. Another must-see while in Care is The Burren. The landscape here is so ruggedly handsome.
Stop 6 (3 nights)
Kenmare, Co Kerry
Kenmare is the ideal spot in Kerry to set up base. It gives great access to the Ring of which, of course, you will want to take a drive around. Make sure you pick the clearest weather day to take this drive as the views really do improve the further your eye can take in. Kenmare also offers excellent evening atmosphere as you traipse around the small town looking for the best restaurant for your evening meal. While you’re in the Kingdom for a three-night stay, pencil in a trip to the Dingle peninsula while Kilarney National Park is where you should have picnic number three of the holiday.
Stop 7 (1 night)
The west of Cork puts up a good fight with Donegal to be the most beautiful place on our island. Kinsale is a lovely area to stay in, but if you don’t choose here to spend your one night in Cork, make sure you take a drive through it. The super-cute Clonakilty is another town you could opt to stay in. My one recommendation for lunch in west Cork is a small restaurant on the bay at Glendore. Super relaxing. After that, it’s time to head to the centre of the island for our last stop.
Stop 8 (1 night)
Birr, Co Offaly
On your way back to the capital to end your trip, go slightly out of your way to take in the cutest midland town on the island – Birr in Co Offaly. Brim-filled with some of the nicest and friendliest people you may meet on your entire trip, Birr is the perfect place to round-of a perfect trip. Birr offers a sample of almost everything you have seen over the past two weeks; gripping culture, breath-taking walks, atmosphere-filled pubs and a wide range of restaurants that are difficult to chose between. If you ever wondered why Irish people are known for their hospitality, a couple of hours in Birr will confirm it for you. When your done, take the M6 back to the capital and psyche yourself up for those vacation blues.