Introduction To Ireland & The Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland has to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The waves are strong and the grass is green, making for a beautifully rugged landscape. I recommend making the most of your Ireland trip by traveling up the Wild Atlantic Way, a best road trip in Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way is 1,600 mile scenic road trip stretching from County Donegal to County Cork. Ideally, you would travel across the fourteen different sections over three weeks. Since that is not possible for everyone, I recommend this shorter 7 day Wild Atlantic Way Itinerary!
I will preface this by saying the Wild Atlantic Way can be broken down in many ways. Since this Ireland itinerary is only for 7 days, before starting your journey it would be best to outline the parts of Ireland that you want to see and activities you will want to do.
Day 1 - Arrive In Dublin & Drive to Cork
Your journey will begin as soon as you land in Dublin Airport!
Dublin airport has rental cars available in Terminal Two. Car rentals start at $54. Choose a car that you feel comfortable in as you will be spending a lot of time in it.
To start the journey, drive from Dublin to Cork. It is 2 hours and 46 minutes so a coffee might help you stay awake.
Once you arrive in Cork, you can really relax. After you check-in to your Airbnb or Hotel, try not to fall asleep and instead walk around Cork to beat your jetlag.
If you are feeling ready to go, the world famous Blarney Castle is a 20-minute drive away from Cork!
Day 2 - Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry wraps around the Iveragh Peninsula. For the most part, it overlaps the Wild Atlantic Way. The big difference is the Ring of Kerry will pass through Killarney National Park while Wild Atlantic Way does not.
Which path you choose is up to you. If you want to drive, stop, and take pictures, staying on the Wild Atlantic Way will be best for you. If you are adventurous take the Ring of Kerry to Killarney National Park.
Visiting Killarney National Park will is great way to stretch your legs. The Torc waterfall loop is one of Killarney National Park’s most popular hikes. Starting and finishing at Muckross House, the Torc waterfall loop is three hours long.
If you plan to do this hike, remember to bring a raincoat. Even on a sunny day, Irish weather can always turn to rain.
Day 3 - Dingle
Dingle has a special place in my heart. While visiting, I was lucky enough to stay with a Dingle native.
If you are starting your day in Dingle, I recommend popping into Murphy’s ice cream shop before hitting the road. They have a flavor called Brown bread. It sounds unusual but is well worth it.
As you eat your ice cream, shout for Fungi the dolphin over Dingle Bay. Fungi is a local celebrity, known around Dingle as oldest living dolphin.
When you hit the road follow the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s impossible to stop too much on this passage. The Dingle Peninsula (like most parts of the Wild Atlantic Way) is filled with beautiful beaches and walks. Do not be afraid to just park the car and walk through a field.
Stop for lunch at Louis Mulcahy. Louis Mulcahy is one of Ireland’s most famous potters. This studio/cafe uses a combination of fresh and local ingredients which allows you to taste the quality.
Day 4 - Cliffs of Moher & Galway
As the Cliffs of Moher have become a must-see destination the parking lot is full of buses with loads of tourists. Many of the bus tours only stay at the Cliffs for 2 hours. Letting the tourists only wander so far.
Use this to your advantage and walk further than all the tourists. You will be able to get an undisputed view. Once you feel as if you have captured the beauty of the Cliffs. You are on your way to your next stop.
Spending the evening in Galway is the perfect way to get the Irish Culture. There is a bit of fun for everyone over 18!
Bars like Barr an Chaladh play popular songs like Grace that are the Irish equivalent of Sweet Caroline. If you are looking for real trad music visit the Crane bar. If you want see Irish first-year students in their element check out Electric.
Feel free to walk into any bar and walk right out if it doesn’t suit your vibe. You do not have to drink at any of the bars though it is recommended that you at least have a glass of water.
Day 5 - Connemara & Kylemore Abbey
Restock any supplies you may need in Galway (i.g doughnuts) before heading to Connemara.
Kylemore Abbey is well worth the trip. This Abbey was once home to Benedictine Nuns. It will make you feel very fancy with its restored period rooms and exquisite gardens.
Plan to dedicate two hours to Kylemore Abbey before heading on.
Day 6 - Surfing In Donegal
Many people don’t know this about Ireland but It has great surfing. In the most northern county, Donegal, there are plenty of hostels that allow guests to rent surfboards.
The Bundoran Surf Co offers a great deal with everything you need. For 100 euros you will get surf gear, lessons, breakfast, and a two-night stay. The water may be freezing but that is half the fun!
If surfing is not your speed, have a picnic on the beach. Head to the closest grocery store to grab the Irish snacks. I highly recommend Cadbury Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bar.
Day 7 - Slieve League & Killybegs
Just over an hour from the Bundoran Surf Co is the highest cliffs in Europe. Parts stand at over 600 meters tall. Wild cliffs at Slieve League will not be nearly as busy as Cliffs of Moher.
A walk at Slieve League followed by lunch at Ahoy Cafe is a great way to start the day. Try Ahoy Cafe’s seafood which you just know is freshly caught.
After your cup of tea head from Killybegs to Dublin. This leg of the journey may not be as pretty as the wild Atlantic way, but there will be sheep. One of the pros of visiting Ireland in March is that March is lambing season. If you are lucky the drive from Killybegs to Dublin will be filled with lambs!
When you head back to Dublin you have few options for where to stay. You can drop the car off and stay in an airport hotel. Staying by the airport is best if you are someone who worries about missing their flight. If you do not mind staying in the city, drop the car and head into Dublin! Staying in the city will allow you to have a lot of flexibility on your day in Dublin. S
Day 8 - Explore Dublin
My first recommendation to anyone visiting Dublin is a free walking tour!
While they may not be actually free it is a great way to see a lot of Dublin fast. The Yellow Umbrella walking tours offer tours on the south side of Dublin at 11 am & 2.00 pm every day.
Tours allow you to learn about the city in a way you might not have on your own. You are a tourist so do not be afraid to act like one.
I would recommend skipping the temple bar area. It is crazy busy and even more expensive. There are plenty of other bars in Dublin to see. Try the Hairy Lemon! Or skip going out to wake up refreshed for your flight home.
Additional Resources For Planning Your Ireland Itinerary
For more information check out these helpful links!
If you have traveled to Ireland share your favorite place in the comments below!