Looking for Ireland road trip ideas and places to visit? These itinerary suggestions are perfect for Irish road trips of 5 days, a week or 10 days with a car, camper or motorhome. Start planning your Ireland travel today!
Considering a trip to Ireland? Feeling a little daunted by all the beautiful locations and not sure where you should visit or how to start planning an Irish road trip?
Don't worry, my friend. I know exactly how you feel.
It can be almost impossible to choose where to go, but I'm going to let you into a secret– WHEREVER you go will be AMAZING. You'll be totally enchanted by the beauty and friendliness of Ireland; it's a fantastic place to visit, whether you're going for a long weekend, 5 days or a week.
We've put together 7 incredible road trip itinerary ideas to whet your appetite and help you plan your adventure. Think of me when you're sipping your Guinness in a pub and listening to the locals play the heck out of their fiddles (yes, this REALLY happens. A lot.)
The most Famous Ireland Road Trip- Wild Atlantic Way
Recommended by Grace | Extreme Nomads
The Wild Atlantic Way is a tourist route that runs the entire length of the west coast of the Republic of Ireland, stretching from Mizen Head, County Cork, in the south to Malin Head, County Donegal, in the north. Famous for anyone wanting to go motorhoming or campervanning in Ireland, it's characterised by a raw and rugged coastline, winding country roads, and myriad suggested stop-offs at some of Western Ireland’s favourite landmarks, the Wild Atlantic Way is one Irish road trip you definitely won’t want to miss.
How long does it take to drive the Wild Atlantic Way?
The beauty of this route is that you can choose to commit to as little or as much of it as suits your itinerary. Say, for example, you were going to fly into Cork airport and wanted to focus your trip on the south in particular. You could choose to cruise down Cork and Kerry’s coastline, stopping off in places like Bantry Bay, Baltimore, Glengarriff, and Dingle. This way, you could explore a modest chunk of the route in just a couple of days.
If you have a more lenient timeframe and want to tackle the entire route, it would be wise to give yourself a minimum of a week — and even better if you can commit two or three.
Highlights of a Wild Atlantic Way road trip
Some of the highlights of a Wild Atlantic Way road trip include:
- Mizen Head (one of the locations where the latest Star Wars movie was shot)
- the windswept isle of Skellig Michael,
- Achill Island (Ireland’s largest island and an epic kitesurfing destination)
- Galway City
- Cliffs of Moher
- Bantry Bay
- Malin Head
When is the best time for an Irish road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way?
As Ireland’s weather is notoriously volatile, summertime is typically the best time to visit Ireland & tackle the Wild Atlantic Way. June/July are usually the best months in terms of low rainfall and likelihood of sun — but you never really can know for sure (prepare for the worst, hope for the best as they say!).
Ring of Kerry- another famous Irish road trip idea
Recommended by Elaine | Your Ireland Vacation
The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular and beautiful road trips in Ireland. The route is a 200 km circular drive which begins from the lively town of Killarney, Co. Kerry and takes in some of the most stunning views and landscape in Ireland.
Best places to visit in a Ring of Kerry road trip
There are many incredible stops on the Ring of Kerry but the one that tops most visitors wish lists is the Skellig Islands. The Skellig Islands are a rocky outcrop of islands located just off the coast of Co. Kerry. The islands, which were once home to a monastery of monks, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most well-known of the islands is Skellig Michael and a limited number of tourists are allowed to set foot on the island each day. During summer months there are day trips from the port of Portmagee to the islands. Skellig Michael was the setting for some famous scenes in the new Star Wars movies.
The scenic lookout known as Ladies View is located close to Killarney town and is one of the most spectacular vistas in Ireland. The viewpoint overlooks the sprawling lakes of Killarney National Park.
Valentia Island is another beautiful stop. This relatively small island has spectacular views of the coast and the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Ireland highest mountain range. It is home to the village of Knight’s Town which has a traditional Irish feel.
How long should a Ring of Kerry road trip take?
While you can drive the entire route in one day, we recommend taking at least 2 days, or ideally 3, to explore the Ring of Kerry. The summer months are the best time to drive this route, despite the large number of tourists.
Ring of Beara road trip itinerary
Recommended by Kate | Our Escape Clause
Uncrowded, untamed and featuring unbelievable beauty, the Ring of Beara road trip in Ireland is one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
While visitors flock to the Ring of Kerry (practically next door to Beara) and many also visit the stunning Slea Head Drive on Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Beara feels much more undiscovered.
Why should you consider Beara for your Ireland road trip?
Featuring all the hallmarks of an excellent Irish road trip- rolling green views, castles, colourful villages, rugged coastal terrain (and plenty of sheep!)- driving the Ring of Beara is a wonderful way to get off the beaten path in Ireland, especially if you like to avoid crowds.
Ring of Beara road trip itinerary
Start your drive in Kenmare (which is also very convenient to the Ring of Kerry, if you’d like to use the village as a base and drive both peninsulas back-to-back), and as you set off to the explore the Ring of Beara, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to stop along the way.
Castletownbere, a charming fishing village, makes an excellent stop for lunch, but also be sure to stop in Eyeries (known as one of the most colourful villages in Ireland–a huge feat!), Adrigole (home of a beautiful waterfall) and Dzogchen Beara (a Buddhist meditation centre that welcomes visitors and has incredible views).
How long does it take to drive the Ring of Beara?
You can comfortably road trip the Ring of Beara in a day, starting and ending in Kenmare, but be sure to get an early start! If you have the opportunity to spend a night on the peninsula and savour the experience a bit more, it’s all the better.
When is the best time of year for this Irish road trip?
Like most road trips in Ireland, this one is best undertaken in the summer, when you’ll have the best chance of clear weather!
Slea Head Drive/ Dingle Peninsula Loop road trip
Recommended by Stephanie | History Fangirl
No matter how long you have to drive around Ireland, Slea Head and the Dingle Peninsula will become one of your favourites.
Starting in the town of Dingle, Slea Head drive is a loop that covers the Dingle Peninsula. That's why its alternatively called the Dingle Peninsula Loop or just driving the Dingle Peninsula.
Highlights of Slea Head/ Dingle Peninsula include
Some of the best highlights of Slea Head Drive include:
- the historic stone Beehive Huts
- views across to the Blasket Islands
- Gallus Oratory
There are a few places closer to the town that you'll also want to visit. Some people include a visit to the Dingle Distillery as part of their Slea Head drive time. However, I think it's better saved for another afternoon so you can do the full distillery tour without worrying about trying to finish the drive at a specific time.
There are many other fun things to do in Dingle in the evening when you've completed the drive, like go to a traditional music performance or look for the Dingle Dolphin.
How long does a Slea Head, Ireland road trip take?
To complete Slea Head Drive, most tourists will base themselves in the town of Dingle and then spend half a day to a full day enjoying the drive. The time you take depends on how often you stop to take pictures, but if you set aside half a day you will be able to see the whole drive and take the time for 3-4 stops.
When is the best time of year for a Dingle Peninsula road trip?
The best time to drive in Ireland is in the late spring or early autumn when it's not too crowded but the weather is still lovely.
Central Ireland road trip- Comeragh Mountain
Recommended by Maria & Ciaran- Maptrekking.com
The often overlooked area of central Ireland is a less touristy region filled with undiscovered gems for road trips in the wilderness. Since so many visitors are drawn to the Wild Atlantic Way, a one-day road trip through the secluded Comeragh mountains would be a great alternative to explore in the summer.
Base yourself in the coastal town of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford- it has beaches, a castle, a coastal bike trail, and a Gaeltacht village.
Highlights of a central Ireland road trip
Some of the best places to visit on this road trip include:
- The Magic road (get pulled uphill by nature… seriously)
- Mahon Falls
- Lough Mohra
- Rath Beag walk
- Carey's Castle
Comeragh Mountain Road Trip itinerary- (including the magic road!)
Starting from Dungarvan, drive 20 mins north-west to the Magic Road. Look for a fairy tree with items hanging off the branches. Put the car into neutral and be amazed as you are pulled up the hill towards the rock saying ‘Magic Road’.
Drive a little farther to spend time at Mahon Falls. Continue another 15 mins to the Kilclooney Wood Car Park. There are walking trails here; the most popular being to Counshingaun Lough. It is the largest lake in the area and offers beautiful views if you can make the effort to reach it.
Continue for another 15 mins to the Lough Mohra & Rath Beag Loop Walk. Here are more great views and the less well-known Lake Mohra. There is also a sandstone hill and historical ring forts called ‘raths’ to explore.
Take the 30 min scenic drive through the Nire Valley to Carey’s Castle. Far off the beaten tourist path, it is a peaceful park with a hidden castle to explore.
Drive to the last stop, Holy Year Cross about 10 mins away. With a wonderful view of Clonmel, it is a great place for sunset after the long day of adventuring. For a well-deserved pint and dinner, drive 5 mins into Clonmel to eat at Mulcahy’s.
Southern Ireland road trip- historical tour
Recommended by Cath | Travel around Ireland
Enjoy history? One of the best Irish road trip ideas is an itinerary which explores the many historical sites of the region.
Highlights of a Southern Ireland road trip
Some of the best places to visit in Southern Ireland include:
- Bunratty Castle
- Folk Park
- King John's Castle
- Blackrock castle
- Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone
- Cahir Castle
- Rock of Cashel
- Kilkenny Castle
7 day Southern Ireland historical road trip itinerary
The route includes some of the best castles in Ireland, plus other historical sites in counties including Tipperary, Clare, Cork and Waterford, and would take at least 7 days to complete the trip.
First on your stop would be Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare. This beautiful 15th century castle is located in County Clare and hosts a medieval banquet every evening which is worth booking. The Folk Park is a step-back-in-time and shows life in a 19th century Irish village.
From Bunratty, continue to Limerick City and visit King John’s Castle on the banks of the River Shannon. From Limerick, head south to Cork where you can visit Blackrock Castle, now an observatory on the banks of the River Lee, before heading to Blarney to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney stone. Legend has it that those who kiss the stone are bestowed with the gift of the gab.
From Cork, you can head to Tipperary to visit Cahir Castle and the Rock of Cashel, a historic abbey sitting on a rock and dating from as far back as the 12th century. It was originally the seat of the High Kings of Munster and is an impressive site to visit. Get there early to avoid the tour buses.
From Tipperary, you can visit Waterford and immerse yourself in its Viking history before stopping at Kilkenny Castle to complete your tour, one of the most popular castles in Ireland.
When is the best time of year for this Irish road trip?
There is no bad time of year to visit these sites, although late spring or early summer would be best to avoid too many crowds and in the hopes of good weather, something you cannot guarantee in Ireland.
No matter what time of year you visit, this tour will let you discover the history of the Emerald Isle in the best way possible.
Northern Ireland road trip- Causeway Coastal Route
Recommend by Dave | Show them the Globe
The incredible Causeway Coastal Route is located on the north coast of Northern Ireland. This road trip is a great way to explore Northern Ireland and is packed with awesome sights and things to do.
Highlights of driving the Causeway Coastal route
- Giants Causeway
- Carrick-a-rede rope bridge
- Dunluce Castle
- Dark Hedges (you can actually drive down this road)
Northern Ireland road trip itinerary
Start in Belfast and head north. We recommend heading straight to the Giants causeway if you can and get there at opening time. It's about a 90 minute drive if you go the direct route.
The Giants Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Irish mythology says that the unique rock formations were created when an Irish giant called Finn MacCool was challenged to a fight by a Scottish giant. Finn built the causeway to get to Scotland. (It's unclear who won…)
The nearby Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bride connects the mainland to the tiny Carrickarede island and crossing on foot is an exhilarating experience. Expect to queue for a while to get across, but it's worth the wait.
Another unique stop on the route is the clifftop ruins of Dunluce Castle which hang precariously above the sea below.
Don't miss the Dark Hedges. This road of arching 18th Century beech trees features in the HBO Series Game of Thrones and is one of the most beautiful roads in Ireland. It can be easy to drive right past it, but be prepared for a LOT of tourists and people milling around.
We actually drove right down the road, which was fun.
How long does it take to drive the Causeway coastal route?
One of the best aspects of the Causeway Coastal Route is that it is a relatively short route to drive. At less than 200 miles long you can comfortably explore the whole route in one weekend. All of the main sights are located close to each other so there are no long drives and the route is stunning and interesting.
When is the best time of year for a Northern Ireland road trip?
We recommend exploring the Causeway Coastal route in September when the weather is most likely to be fair and visitors can avoid the summer crowds.
Inspired to plan an Ireland road trip now? Where will you go first? Don't forget to grab your free road trip checklist and get started!
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