We left for Ireland with one goal in mind: see as much of the country in one week as possible, and do so via a self-guided tour. Neither Jared nor I had ever been to Ireland. The trip had been on our minds for a few years before we finally decided to book our plane tickets, AirBNBs, and a rental car that would be driven on the left side of the roads. The roads, by the way, were typically not any wider than 20 feet or so. (Although, after reading this post, Jared said 20 feet sounded generous.) The fellow drivers were, however, very friendly.
We flew into Dublin where we spent the first two days of our trip. We then drove three hours west (and to the opposite side of Ireland) to Galway before heading to Dingle, Killarney, and Kildare. We did not make it to Northern Ireland this time around, but County Antrim specifically was highly recommended and looks as dreamy as could be.
Our first morning in Dublin begged for a large cup of coffee and a walk through through St. Stephen’s Green and Trinity College.
While at Trinity College, we saw The Long Hall and Book of Kells.
Our view from Guinness Storehouse
We spent several hours walking through the city each day. Temple Bar is an incredibly lively area, full of colorful streets and rowdy pubs. We had our favorite meal in Dublin at The Winding Stair. (Thank you, Ashlae!) We also very much enjoyed Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, and The Brazen Head.
We took a train to Howth our last evening in Dublin. This was unplanned and spontaneously recommended by our dear friend, Lindsay. It took less than hour to buy our train tickets and arrive in the quaint and coastal town. It was so worth the hike up the seaside cliffs for the sunset views, as well.
Galway was our second stop on our tour through Ireland. The town center is a maze of great pubs, restaurants, and shops. My favorite meals in Galway were at Loam and Ard Bia at Nimmos, two restaurants in the heart of the city.
The Cliffs of Moher are about 1.5-hour drive from Galway. They are over 700 feet tall (these photos don’t do them justice!). We could walk right up to the edge of the cliffs; there was no railing or patrol. Leaning out to snap these shots nearly gave Jared a heart attack.
Ashford Castle is a beautiful property with one of the most well maintained castles in Ireland. It is a full service hotel and spa with a beautiful golf course and grounds that are open to the public. Similar to Cliffs of Moher, it was an easy drive from Galway and so worth the visit.
A vignette of Coffeewerk and Press
Connemara National Park
Conor Pass, en route to Dingle
From Galway we headed to Dingle, my favorite stop on our entire trip. It is the first place we’ll return to when we visit Ireland next. We stayed in an AirBNB on the street shown above and spent our time, from dawn until dusk, exploring the sites below.
A pitstop on the Dingle Peninsula
Hello, fairytale forest.
Gap of Dunloe and Killarney National Park
We traveled from Dingle to Killarney where we visited the Muckross House and Killarney National Park. In fact, we got lost for about two hours in Killarney National Park, and despite being “hangry“, it provided some of the most stunning views in all of Ireland.
We spent the last portion of our trip in County Kerry. We spent an entire day driving the Ring of Kerry. We played JOHNNYSWIM’s Live at Rockwood Music Hall while winding through the tiny scenic roads, and at one point, I was so elated by the scenery that accompanied our soundtrack that I started whistling and clapping in the car; I couldn’t control euphoric myself.
Our view atop Blarney Castle
Rock of Cashel
We spent our last full day in Ireland visiting Blarney Castle and the Rock of Cashel. We were tempted to spend it back in Dingle, but we kept our one goal in mind: see as much of the country in one week as possible. We were excited to feel like we were living in a Game of Thrones episode for a few hours, too.
We cannot wait for our next trip to Ireland. Northern Ireland, Kinsale, and Dingle will no doubt be on our itinerary.