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The Ideal Irish Itinerary

Updated: May 9

Full of connection, comfort, and old-world charm

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Bonnie and Bryant contacted me a few months ago wanting to go to Ireland and Scotland. They gave me their dates, said they’d love a self-drive vacation (who doesn’t want to try driving on the left-hand side of the road?), and wanted to see a combination of the main sites and also have some out-of-the way experiences. They were interested in connecting with the destination, the people, and each other!

After looking at my initial itinerary including all of the things they asked about, Bryant and Bonnie decided that rather than visiting both countries, they preferred to do a deeper dive into just Ireland itself. So I came up with an itinerary which includes a food tour, sightseeing, and even staying in a castle: the ideal 8-night Irish itinerary.

Dublin castle

Day 1:

Arrive in Dublin – pick up a small SUV rental car

Stay at The Davenport for 1 night. I love the Davenport because it’s located in Georgian Dublin, and offers old-world Irish charm combined with ultra-comfortable beds, super-fast WiFi, rainfall showers, and a wonderful breakfast. A perfect way to start their vacation.

Day 2:

Mid-morning, take the Delicious Dublin food tour, visiting local shops, restaurants, and pubs, and sampling small bites in a variety of locations. This is a great tour, all about the history of Irish food and drink, and also the modern foodie scene.

Following the tour, they drive by the Wicklow Mountains and through Kilkenny. See its 12th-century castle, secret lanes, cobbled streets, and medieval buildings. About 2 ½ hours outside Dublin is the town of Waterford, home of the Waterford crystal.

Tonight, Bryce & Bonnie stay at the Faithlegg House Hotel, a restored 18th-century mansion located on 200 acres. They have a golf course on-site, as well as an award-winning spa, indoor pool, and restaurant. It’s a beautiful property.

Day 3:

Today, they have another 2 ½ hour drive from Waterford to Killarney. They’ll definitely want to stop by the 15th-century castle and the village of Blarney. Blarney is one of the last estate villages that remain standing in Ireland.

They stay in Killarney at the Arbutus Hotel for 2 nights. The hotel was built in 1926 and is perfectly situated among the shops, pubs and restaurants of Killarney town center. The hotel provides a traditional cooked-to-order Irish breakfast, with brown bread and scones always on the table. Each of the 25 rooms is uniquely decorated with old-world elegance, antique furniture, and comfortable beds.

Day 4:

A perfect day for the Ring of Kerry tour! This tour highlights the history, geography, myth and legends of the Ring of Kerry. They traverse the banks of the River Laune and make stops in Kells, Caherciveen, Glenbeigh, and Molls Gap, where the friendly guide will reveal mystic secrets of the land.

Day 5:

This morning, Bonnie & Bryant check out from the hotel, and then stop at the Cliffs of Moher on their way to Galway. They can spend as much time as they’d like at this natural masterpiece. The cliffs are set against the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and are best experienced by walking across the clifftop.

The Cliffs are open from 8 am to 9 pm throughout the summer: plenty of time to see the Tower viewpoint, the Aran Islands, and the Hags Head.

Their drive from Killarney to Galway takes about 3 hours.

For the next two nights, they’ll stay at The Hardiman Hotel Galway. The Hardiman Hotel is known as the Grand Old Lady, and is located right in the heart of Galway city. It’s a flawless combination of Victorian grace and modern luxury, boasting 24-hour room service, sound-insulated walls, and complimentary WiFi.


Day 6:

A day at leisure to explore Galway. Some of the ideas I’ve given them to do are: drive or bike the Sky Road, hike the Diamond Hill; visit Kylemore Abbey, the Galway Cathedral, or Menlo Castle; or relax at the beach.


Day 7:

They have about a 45-minute drive to the castle today: Ashford Castle, in Cong. The Ashford Castle is a Forbes 5-star hotel, with only 83 rooms available for guests. Dining options are plentiful: the grand George V Dining Room, or more casual dining at Cullen’s at the Cottage or the Dungeon. Activities include going hawking, horseback riding, or archery, among others. Their spa was awarded “Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa” last year for the 8th consecutive year.

I’ve booked Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle for them. They will enjoy spectacular views from the comfort of the castle’s elegant interior, taking time to savor every delicious moment of their afternoon tea experience.

Day 8:

Today Bonnie & Bryant drive to Athlone (about 1 ½ hours). Here, they’ll stay one night at the Sheraton Athlone, located close to St. Peter and Paul's Church and Athlone Castle. The hotel boats a shopping mall and spa onsite, plus an onsite restaurant.

In Athlone, they’ll be free to explore on their own. They may want to visit the Athlone Castle, the Church of St. Peter & Paul, or Baysports, the largest floating waterpark in Ireland.

Day 9:

Drive from Athlone back to Dublin, about 1 ½ hours. They stay at The Mont Dublin, which is close to the airport for their departure the following day. Many landmarks, restaurants, pubs, and entertainment venues are within walking distance of the hotel for their final night.

Day 10:

Say farewell to Ireland. Their flight arrives home the same day.


I’m excited for Bryant and Bonnie to experience Ireland this way! I agree with their decision to spend a longer period of time exploring just one of the countries, rather than both. This trip is still busy, but it gives them time to really soak up the country and make connections with the experiences and locations there. They are going in the summer, so they should have beautiful weather and a fantastic time. Let me know if you’d like help with creating your own customized itinerary!


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