10 Day Ireland Itinerary: A Perfect Self-Guided Road Trip

The Emerald Isle. A lush, green country that most travelers aim to visit at some point in time. Ireland’s local culture, traditions, history, and nature certainly draw you in… or is it the pubs?

Reminiscent of our Scotland road trip, this journey is filled with scenic stops as you go. After some trial and error, here is my 10 day Ireland itinerary- perfect for a self guided and independent road trip!

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Day 1: Fly in to the Shannon Airport. Pick up your rental car, and make a quick stop in the thatch-roof village of Adare. Stay the night in Killarney- my favorite Irish town- and céad míle fáilte (welcome) to Ireland!
Adare, Ireland, Thatch Roof
The small town of Adare
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Killarney (I stayed at the Lake Hotel)

Day 2: Today, drive out to the historic bog town of Killorglin (County Kerry). Here in the curated village and museum, you can get a quick insight as to how the Irish poor (a.k.a. my ancestors!) lived in the 17th-18th centuries.
Bog Village Killorglin Ireland
A traditional “bog village”
Next, make some quick stops in Glenbeigh, and Aghadoe. These are two picturesque farm towns that give a good insight into the rural Irish life.
The town of Kells is next. It’s home to the Kells Abbey, which the famed “Book of Kells” is named for.
Stop next in Kenmare to watch a sheep-dog herding demonstration. It may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done, but it is part of Ireland’s heritage, and worthwhile to see!
Now it’s time to drive the insanely beautiful Ring of Kerry“, a scenic loop around the Iveragh Peninsula and its uniquely rugged coastal landscapes.Ring of Kerry
Once you’ve had your fill, head back to Killarney. Here, I’d recommend taking a “jaunting car” (horse and carriage) out to the 15th century Ross Castle in Killarney National Park.
There you can explore the castle, and even climb around on it. It overlooks a lake and forest, and just gives you a vibe of going back in time. Nobody else was there when we went, and it was such a great experience!
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OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Killarney (I stayed at the Lake Hotel)

Day 3: Leave Killarney and drive 40 minutes to the village of Macroom. After a quick visit, head to the port town of Cobh. This is infamously known as the last port the Titanic stopped at before heading out into the Atlantic.
However, it’s also where millions of Irish immigrants departed from during the Great Potato Famine era. If you’re American with Irish ancestry, it’s extremely likely this is where your ancestors said goodbye to their homeland.
cobh, ireland
The Port Town of Cobh (pronounced “Cove”)
After Cobh, drive around scenic County Cork. Eventually you’ll stop at the famed 15th century Blarney Castle. Here, legend has it, that if you lean over backwards on top of the castle tower and kiss the Blarney stone, you will be gifted forever with the “gift of gab”.
After exploring, head back to Killarney for the evening.
Blarney Castle, Blarney Stone, Ireland
The stone is at the top left of the upper castle rim
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Killarney (I stayed at the Lake Hotel)

Day 4: Say goodbye to charming Killarney, and make the 2.5 hour drive to the town of Kilkenny . On the way, stop at the ancient “Rock of Cashel“, A 12th century archaeological site.
This rock and nearby structures are some of Ireland’s most important historical sites. Paying a visit to the town and museum is a good idea too.
Once in Kilkenny, explore the 12th century Kilkenny Castle (I recommend the Medieval Mile pass). Other options are to visit St. Canice’s Cathedral, the Black Abbey, or even the Dunmore Cave.
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Kilkenny (I stayed at the Hotel Kilkenny)

Day 5: Today is the day you visit Ireland’s capital- Dublin! I personally wasn’t a huge fan of Dublin compared to the slower-paced more scenic towns all over Ireland, but it is of course a “must see”.
I loved visiting Trinity College, it has so much history and also houses the Book of Kells. If you’re not sick of castles by this point, the 13th century Dublin Castle is great for a quick tour.
Dublin, Trinity College, Book of Kells
The Trinity College Library
I’d also highly recommend a Dublin walking tour  if you want to get familiar with the city quickly.
That evening, you have a few options: A Literary Pub Crawl, or a Traditional Irish Music Pub Crawl!
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Dublin (I stayed at the Motel One Dublin)
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Day 6: Try a classic tour at the Guinness Storehouse. Afterwards, enjoy a free pint at their rooftop bar. If you want to learn even more about Irish spirits, the Jameson Distillery is also an option.
Another “can’t miss” site is the 13th century Cathedral of St. Patrick. Explore Dublin however you prefer, but make sure in the evening to partake in a fun and creepy ghost tour!
Afterwards, squelch your fears by visiting the touristy yet fun Temple Bar– one of Ireland’s most iconic pubs.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Dublin (I stayed at the Motel One Dublin)

Day 7: Say goodbye to Dublin, and make the 2.5 hour drive towards the waterfront town of Sligo. Your first stop should be the ancient site of Newgrange (in County Meath).
At first, this site seems to be nothing more than a grassy knoll- but it actually consists of a Stone-Age era passage tomb.
Constructed in 3,200 BC, they are older than the Pyramids of Egypt– and they also align with the solstice.
newgrange mounds, ireland
A 5,000 year old tomb / temple
Continue on to Drumcliffe for a brief visit, and spend your evening in Sligo. Walk along the scenic Sligo Bay, or visit the megalithic cemetery of Carrowmore.
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Sligo (I stayed at The Glasshouse)

Day 8: Depart Sligo, and head for Carrick-on-Shannon. After a quick look there, you may be interested in stopping at the Catholic religious site of the Shrine of Knock.
Views along the road
From there, drive 1 hour to the town of Galway (yes, like that one very popular song!). Sitting on the harbor, this town is a very lively place filled with traditional pubs and shops. It’s also a great place to find an Irish dancing or folk show as well!
Also be sure to visit Quay Street and the Latin Quarter, and maybe even Connemara National Park.
Connemara National Park, Ireland
Connemara National Park
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Galway (I stayed at The Victoria Hotel

Day 9: Once you’re ready to leave Galway, drive on to the Rossaveal ferry port that will take you to the misty Aran Islands. I recommend Inishmore, the largest of the islands.
Visiting the Aran Islands is such a unique experience, they feel so isolated and are strikingly pretty. They’re also one of just a few places in Ireland where Gaelic is still an active and spoken language.
Rent a bike on Aran for the day, and you can basically circle the whole island. Life is slower paced here- relax and enjoy! Then, back to Galway for the night.
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Galway (I stayed at The Victoria Hotel

Day 10: Depart Galway, and drive to Ireland’s most visited tourist site (and for good reason): the crazy beautiful Cliffs of Moher. You can spend hours walking around and taking in the natural beauty.
Not only are the cliffs absolutely stunning, but the surrounding countryside is as well. This is quintessential Ireland, the one you’ve pictured in your head.cliffs of moher, 10 day ireland itinerary
When you’re ready, drive about 1 hour back to Shannon.  If you’re into a cheesy medieval themed dinner show, a visit to Bunratty Castle could be fun.
If not, explore the town of Shannon and hit up your last Irish pub!
OVERNIGHT: Find a hotel in Shannon (I stayed at the Radisson: Shannon Airport)

Day 11: Fly out of Shannon Airport, and say goodbye to the Emerald Isle. Slán, and I hope you had a lot of craic on your Ireland road trip!

ireland, irish country

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10 day Ireland itinerary. Self guided road trip, perfect for first timers!


  • Reply Megan Jerrard September 10, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    I loved my time in Ireland – I was 18 so chose to join a bus tour, but now that I’m a lot more experienced traveler I would love to get back and rent a car for an independent trip as you have suggested. The ring of Kerry is obviously on the list, one of the most beautiful road trips in the world! Fantastic itinerary suggestions, and thankyou for the embedded map, really great resource which helps!

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