After much deliberation, my family decided on Ireland as our holiday destination for the summer of 2017. Being the unemployed member with too much time on hand, I was given the responsibility of drafting an itinerary for the seven day visit. A responsibility which I gladly accepted. If you are as indecisive as me, however, planning a trip to a country as enticing and beautiful as Ireland can be a mammoth task. Despite its comparatively small size, Ireland is a treasure of majestic monuments, scenery, and warm and hospitable people. Thanks to this blog by the Earth Trekkers, I managed to succeed in my endeavour.
As is the case with most journeys, things seldom go exactly according to plan. But with a base of research, we were able to save time and accomplish more in a smaller time frame. It was also a good decision to travel in summer, as we had longer days which meant sunlight for an extended period of time.
A strong recommendation would be if you are eligible to drive, you should definitely rent a car. It opens up a lot of options and gives you the freedom to explore alluring Irish towns which you wouldn’t usually notice if you were reliant on public transport.
The following is an itinerary that we followed (and you can follow) while traveling through Ireland, with little trinkets of the wisdom thrown in. I have also added a couple of links that might help you out in your research.
Hopefully this will help you the way other blogs on the internet helped me!
Find your accommodation and try to get as much jet lag out of the system as possible. Traveling to a different time zone leaves most disoriented, and it’s best to capitalise on some rest before starting things off the next days. We found a cosy, well-positioned apartment right opposite the Grand Canal Hotel in South Dublin where we spent the next two nights.
Dublin is a beautiful city sprinkled with pubs, medieval buildings, and large parks. A trend observed not just in Dublin, but throughout Ireland, was that old and new structures seemed to effortlessly co-exist in one picture frame. Based on what you like, you can choose to spend proportions of time in pubs, or seeing buildings or walking around the city.
We walked to St. Stephens Green and started our Vikings Splash Tour (link), which is aboard a unique amphibian machine which runs on roads and water! The tour is conducted by the driver of the car/ferry, who is dressed as a Viking and is hilarious. Tickets have to be booked in advance, and I recommend it to everyone wanting an early experience of some good old Irish humour.
The second half of the day involved visits to St. Patricks Cathedral, Dublin Castle, City Hall, Temple Bar Area, and Grofton Street – which is an all pedestrian shopping street. The Old Storehouse is another dainty pub in which we had our first taste of Guinness Beer, the signature Irish brew.
Dublin is littered with perpetually crowded pubs, and is a city that truly comes alive in the night.
Drive to Killarney
It was time to explore the Irish countryside! We rented our car from Europcar and set off on our 4 hour journey to Killarney – our next destination city, where we would be spending the next three nights.
Not far into the drive, we started getting glimpses of the beautiful Irish countryside. As I mentioned earlier, having a car gave us the invaluable advantage of being able to stop and refresh ourselves as per our convenience.
Our first stop was the adorable town of Kilkenny. This town is so delightful you would feel like hugging it. This was the first time we had seen an authentic tiny town in Ireland and we couldn’t get enough of it. After a brief visit to Kilkenny castle and a quick bite at Café 22, we headed towards Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel overlooks a scenery like no other, and has some fascinating history behind it.
The two-hour drive from here to Killarney entails a meandering road through lush green forest with mysterious huts spotted among the landscape and towering mountains in the background. Our B&B in Killarney was Cill Ide B&B. Too restless on arrival from the journey, we decided to pay a short visit to Ross Castle.
Ring of Kerry
A scenic drive around the peninsula, the Ring is peppered with viewpoints all around. Despite being a five hour drive, we ended up spending eight hours on the road as we stopped at too many viewpoints and even got lost on the way thanks to a confused Google Maps. Nevertheless, the Ring of Kerry boasts of stunning views and extremely narrow roads- so make sure the driver is experienced, especially in uphill terrain.
One seemingly obvious yet surprisingly confusing piece of advice that we got from our hostess was to go around the Ring anti-clockwise, so that you would be on the right side of the scenery (the Irish drive on the left). Turns out this vital piece of information proved to be useful indeed. Nothing like some early morning advice from the locals!
We were extremely lucky to have a bright and clear day. Each of these drives had their own charm, and it was bewildering to see that despite the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry not being separated by much, the landscape was drastically different. While the Ring of Kerry has island-studded panoramas, the Dingle Peninsula is characterized by craggy cliffs and sandy beaches. Don’t miss out on three super attractions in the peninsula; Inch Beach, Conor Pass, and the Slea Head Drive. Another observation was that the landscape looked dramatically different depending on the clarity of the sky.
Before leaving for Doolin, we received another useful piece of advice from our hostess. Instead of driving around the coast, we could go to the small town of Tarbert, where we would get a car ferry to Kilmur. This was vital as we saved atleast two hours of travel time, which we utilized by taking a stroll around Killarney National Park.
Our most memorable experience awaited us at Doolin- The Cliffs of Moher. A vast expanse of endless coastline with the waves of the North Atlantic ferociously slapping the cliffs, carving potholes in their wake. A coastline which you can walk along (The Moher walk) and be blown away by – in quite the literal sense as the unrelenting wind is capable of physically blowing you away. The walk along the Cliffs is a truly transcendent experience.
For those looking for live Irish country music, check out O Connor’s pub in Doolin.
Follow this link for information regarding our B&B in Doolin.
Pit stop at Galway
Our last day involved a drive from the east coast to the west coast of Ireland. It also involved upset faces, thanks to the nearing of the conclusion of this surreal adventure. We decided to make a pit stop in Galway on the way. Galway is a charming city characterized by narrow streets bustling with activity and artists of all talents performing for the visitors’ entertainment. It would seem as if the singers and musicians are within perfect proximity to each other since while walking, as soon as the music of one performer fades away, new music would start to play from another. It was as if the universe is being a DJ in the world’s most peaceful party.
Ireland is a stunning country with hospitable people, who, above all, have a great sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously. For fairytale/fantasy lovers and adventure junkies alike, it is a must-visit.