How to See the Best of Ireland 10 Day Road Trip

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A close up of a pint of Guinness dark beer
There is much more to Ireland than Guinness, but starting with a pint is good.

Are you a fan of stunning scenery or a love of new places?

Can you picture yourself sitting in a cosy pub tasting your first Guinness poured in Dublin?

You may be listening to Irish music, thinking it’s a special event. But no, this is life in Ireland.

Or have you been “digging” through Ancestry Ireland, reconnecting with long-lost or newly-found family heritage?

Then, a visit to see the best of Ireland needs to be at the top of your bucket list. And the best place to start your 10-day road trip is a visit to Dublin.

To plan your itinerary on how to see the best of Ireland, what are the best places to visit in Ireland and how long to spend in each place.


How much time do you have?

View over farmland towards the coast
The West Coast is near Dunquin. Some of the scenery in Ireland is stunning

Ireland is a geographically small country, making it easy to see the iconic places.

While the roads of Ireland aren’t the easiest to drive. Think narrow roads, a lick of paint down the middle and hedges or stone walls on either side.

Hiring a car is your best option.

You’ll stop for photos along the Wild Atlantic Way and Ring of Kerry. And taking detours to Dingle’s small towns or the impressive Moher Cliffs.

One thing is for sure: your 10-day Ireland itinerary will require you to book a flight back to see more.

Let’s get started …


Booking a Rental Car in Ireland

You have a few options

EN - 728x90 offers you plenty of rental options to search for the best deals.

Once you are ready to make a booking, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Collect the car at the Arrivals Terminal of Dublin Airport. Your car will probably be in offsite rental parking, so be prepared for a short minivan ride.
  2. If you don’t need the rental car in Dublin for the first few days, you can collect it from a city depot.
  3. Take the airport bus into Dublin city for a few nights. This way, you can save on parking and the tunnel toll into Dublin City.
  4. Remember to pay your M50 tolls online as soon as you can
  5. You will be charged extra insurance if you want to drive through Northern Ireland
  6. Toll Plazas are manual; you can deposit the correct change and drive through.


15 Places for the Best of Ireland 10-Day Road Trip

Road Trip Map Ireland
Road Trip Ireland

Here’s a sample 10-day road trip to Ireland with suggestions for side trips. If you are short on time, head to Galway from Dublin.

1. Start your Ireland Adventure in Dublin

Two storey white building with green dome
Custom House Dublin

Dublin is perfect as a weekend break and a starting point to visit Ireland.

When booking your accommodation, plan to stay at least three nights to ensure you visit Dublin’s iconic and interesting places.

To see the Best of Dublin city, here are some of the highlights ⇒ Dublin.

Download DUBLIN Self-Guided City Walk to plan your way around the iconic places of Dublin City.

Time to hit the road …

2. Morning Tea at Carlingford

Colourful shops
Small medieval street in Carlingford, Ireland

Carlingford is a small seaside town on the Cooley Peninsula north of Dublin, with the ruins of King John’s Castle looking out over Carlingford Lough.

Great for walking trails, time on the water or enjoying a coffee along the small medieval streets makes Carlingford appealing.

3. Driving to  Sligo

Colourful houses next to the river bridge
Sligo, Ireland

You will find the enormous Keelogyboy Bogs as you drive east to west. This might not excite you, but seeing hectares of dark peat soil is incredible.

Peat is an ingredient for potting mix and is no longer used for heating. Today, these bogs provide an ecosystem for plants, birds, and insects.

And when in Sligo, you can still enjoy a coal fire in a local Sligo pub.  Always relaxing after a day of driving.

Where to Stay: The Red Cottage, Sligo


4. Wild Atlantic Way in Keats Country

Tall green mountain against blue sky
Benbulben Mountain, Sligo

Day trips from Sligo will expose you to the picturesque and stunning coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Benbulben Mountain, WB Yeats and the sinking of three Spanish Armada ships are some highlights in County Sligo.

Driving the coastline takes time—side roads to points of interest on the coast with a return to the main road.

Highlights of Country Sligo:

  • Benbulden Mountain Forest Walk
  • Graveyard of WB Yeats (Irish Poet) at Drumcliffe Church
  • Sheelagh Point – Sinking of three Spanish Armada ships
  • Grange – Armada Interpretive Centre
  • Classiebawn Castle near Mullaghmore Head
  • Irish Seaweed Walks and Talks – for a unique experience
  • Lissadell House and Gardens

5. Buzzy Galway Bay

Stonework inside a church
Inside Galway Cathedral

Galway’s old town is a vibrant centre where you can enjoy one of the many restaurants or traditional Irish pubs as you wander the narrow streets.

You can walk alongside the fast-flowing River Corrib, where locals fish for salmon before it meets the Atlantic Sea.

Or visit the impressive green-domed Galway Cathedral.

Parking: All-day parking for €5 at the Cathedral

6. Burren National Park

Rock formation
Burren National Park, Ireland

A day trip from Galway is Burren National Park to see a vast area of limestone surface rock.

A view across the Burren is likened to a lunar landscape where you can find deep crevices between the rocks and hazel scrub, still managing to survive.

The Visitor Information Centre at Corofin is the best place to start for directions on finding the best walking spots and trails.

The Burren is now part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.

7. Enjoy Irish music in Ennis

View down a street to a church steeple at sunset
Shopping in Ennis before a pint in a cosy pub listening to live music

Ennis is the largest town in County Clare, a beautiful medieval market town that will have you browsing the quaint little shops.

If you love Irish music, Ennis hosts the Fleadh Nua, a festival of Irish music, culture, and dance in late May.

Find a cosy pub, enjoy a Guinness and tap your foot to Irish tunes from local musicians.


8. Visit the Cliffs of Moher and St Brigid’s Well

Tall cliffs above the sea coast
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher is now part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.

Only 40 minutes from Ennis are the famous Cliffs of Moher and its spectacular views of the Aran Islands.

One of the most popular destinations in Ireland is Rising 120-214 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, along 14 km of coastline.

Remember to bring a warm jacket and book your ticket online.

Or you can book a tour travelling from Dublin or Galway with Viator.


St Brigid’s Well is indicated on the left of the road as you approach the Cliffs of Moher. Here, you can visit one of the oldest wells in St Brigid, which is believed to have healing powers.

9. Spanish Point, Country Clare

A hatched Cottage
Thatched Cottage at Spanish Point

Before returning to Ennis, you can also visit Spanish Point, named after the 1588 shipwrecks of the Armada.  It is said those who made it to shore were executed.

So why are there so many dark-haired Colleens about?

And if you are up for a 9-hole round, the 110-year golf course will test your skill level.

Surfing is also popular along the coastline for the more hardy types.

And if you are Irish …

Then reconnecting with cousins and your family history makes visiting Ireland even more special.

We visited the old McKenna Homestead in Ogonnelloe, where Terry’s great-grandfather left for New Zealand. Approaching the old family farm with its fantastic views across Lake Derg was only a short drive to the Shannon River at Killaloe.

And thanks, Collette and Noel, for hosting a family luncheon for us to meet with 16 of the extended family.


10. Make a Stop in County Limerick

A stone castle next to a river
King John’s Castle, Limerick

Limerick is worth a stop to visit one of Ireland’s best-preserved castles.

King John’s Castle on the River Shannon looks cold and foreboding, especially when the wind sweeps through the city.

However, Limerick also has beautiful Georgian architecture along St John’s Square. And make sure to wander through the undercover Milk Market on Cornmarket Road.

Quaint Village of Adare

Known as the prettiest village in Ireland, the heritage village of Adare is busy with tourists and locals.

Desmond Castle and the Adare Manor are also famous for events and weddings.


11. Exploring County Kerry

1. Booklovers of Listowel

Statue of a man near shops
Statue of John B Keane, Listowel

An unexpected highlight was an invitation to Listowel by Instagram friend Marlyn. Yes, these people are real.

Listowel town has a special place for writers and book lovers. Since its inception in 1970, Listowel Writers’ Week has been Ireland’s longest-running literary festival.

While in town, visit the Kerry Writers Museum to learn about Listowel’s famous playwright and novelist, writer John B Keane.

We spent a wonderful night in his pub, which was left to his son Billy, a writer. Arriving at about 9 pm, the pub becomes the magnet for a drink after the final night of a local play.

Where to Stay: John R’s

Where to Eat: John R’s Food Hall

While in Listowel, drive to the seaside town of Ballybunion, which has a beautiful sandy beach. You can stroll there or play golf at the Ballybunion golf course.

2. Rose of Tralee

The annual Rose of Tralee festival is well known amongst Irish families worldwide.

You can stop at the Tralee rose garden, where a bronze statue of the original Rose of Tralee, Mary O’Connor, stands with the ballad author William Pembroke Mulchinock.

3. Conor Pass

View across valley with lake and cloud
Conor Pass, Ring of Kerry

From Dingle to Brandon Bay, Ireland’s highest mountain pass will reward you with dramatic and spectacular views.

The winding, narrow road with its rocky vista and lakes below is a memorable drive, even on a wet day.

4. Dingle Seaside Town

Colourful houses all in a row
Pretty houses of Dingle, Ireland

Stopping in the pretty seaside town of Dingle is the starting and ending points of the Slea Head Drive. The Dingle Peninsula is a part of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Make sure to look for the beehive huts built of stone.


12. Killarney, now or later

When driving the Ring of Kerry, Killarney is one of the stops on the journey.

Killarney, on the shores of Lough Leane, is also the starting and finishing point of the 200-km Kerry Walking Trail.

The beauty of Killarney is best experienced within the Killarney National Park for:

  • Muckross House
  • Torc Waterfall
  • Ladies View
  • Molls Gap
  • Ross Castle

You can visit St Mary’s Cathedral in the city, take a Jaunting Car (carriage ride) through Killarney House and Gardens or learn more about the Scarlet Pimpernel of Rome.

Download the KILKENNY Self-Guided City Walk to plan your route around Kilkenny City’s iconic places.

13. Driving the Ring of Kerry

Coastal sea and mountains
Ring of Kerry

Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, the 179km drive known as the Ring of Kerry has an unspoiled coastline with rugged scenery and white sandy beaches.

Take your time and often stop to take in the beauty of southwestern Ireland.

It’s one of the reasons we love slow travel.

Places to stop awhile:

  • Glenbeigh – Dip your toes in the North Atlantic Sea
  • Cahersiveen – the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell
  • Knight’s Town – take the car ferry
  • Sneem
  • Kenmare

Suggested Places to Stay: Glenbeigh and Kenmare


14. Cork and Picturesque Cobh

Colourful houses across the river
City of Cork, Ireland

Cork is a busy city with access to the motorway to Dublin. While there are a few attractions in the city, most people head to Cobh or Blarney Castle.

Cobh is s small town on an island in Cork Harbour. From here, thousands of Irish left on their journeys to other countries.

Colourful house lined up in front of a church
St. Colman’s Cathedral, towering over the Deck of Cards houses, Cobh

Make sure to visit the Cobh Heritage Centre to learn more interesting stories about emigration from Ireland.

Tip: Cobh has a one-way road system. Parking is FREE at the Cathedral car park.

Blarney Castle is also a short drive from Cork, where you can still kiss the Blarney stone.

Kinsale is the southern end of the 2,600km Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. It is a beautiful small town with brightly coloured houses.

Suggested Places to Stay: Cobh and Kinsale


15. Spend the Day in Medieval Kilkenny

A large castle on a cloudy day
Kilkenny Castle and grounds

Kilkenny is easy to reach from the motorway. It’s a city you want to plan to spend at least half a day or even your final night in Ireland.

The Castle of Kilkenny, built-in 1195 on the shores of the River Nore, was originally under Norman occupation. The castle grounds are FREE, but to see inside, you will need to pay €8.00 per adult.

Across from the castle is the Castle Yard. The open entrance leads you into the National Craft Gallery, where you can browse the various artisan works of art.

But you will probably enjoy the Butler House and Garden for tea and scones.

Parking Tips: Download MapsMe for Kilkenny. Make sure to have plenty of coins in your pocket and avoid the inner city streets unless you want to sit in traffic.

Kilkenny is also the city of the Hurling Champions, the national sport of Ireland. Seeing how the game is played will have you in awe of the skill needed. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Make sure not to miss these popular sites of Kilkenny

  • Walk the Medieval Mile
  • See inside The Black Abbey
  • View Kilkenny from St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower
  • Try a Smithwick’s Ale

Kilkenny is an unexpected gem with many picturesque towns and villages nearby.

A statue of a group of hurling players
Kilkenny Hurling Champions

Download the KILKENNY Self-Guided City Walk to plan your route around Kilkenny City’s iconic places.

Getting to Ireland

The wing of an airplane flying above the clouds with blue sky
Ryanair has been great for budget travellers

Ryanair always has great deals on flights to Ireland from London Gatwick, Luton and Stansted (but not Heathrow) to Dublin, Shannon or Cork.

For London Heathrow, use British Airways.

Irish Ferries provide a service for foot passengers, cars and motorhomes from the UK and France.

Grab these tips for the best-ever trip to Ireland.

Finding the Best Accommodation in Ireland


Check out the suggestions above, and when ready, you can book through: often have a lot of specials. Yes, it’s worth it., where after your 10th night is booked, your next night is free based on your average stay rate. How cool is this?

Airbnb for kitchens, car parking and more room when staying longer in one place.

Best of Ireland in 10 Days

Stone Celtic Cross
Ireland Ring of Kerry

We have a saying, “you can see anything you want, but you can’t see everything.”

And when planning your itinerary for an Ireland road trip, allow plenty of time.

You will find yourself:

  • often stopping for photos
  • chatting to locals for the best places to visit
  • getting lost even with Google Maps and
  • finding your way to incredible places

Make sure to relax and enjoy the journey.