How long was your stay?
How did you travel?
As a couple
Tell us why you traveled to this destination.
My fiancé and I chose Ireland because we wanted a more outdoors oriented trip. We bought our tickets at the beginning of 2020, though that didn’t work out in our favor. When we finally could go on our trip 2 years later, we were more than ready to explore all the country had to offer.
What was your itinerary?
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin, Train to Belfast
Day 2: Went to Game of Thrones Tour through Northern Ireland
Day 3: Travelled to Dublin, Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse
Day 4: Explored St. Stephen’s Green, MoLI, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library
Day 5: Visited Cork, Cobh
Day 6: Went to Blarney Castle
Day 7: Explored Cork
Day 8: Travelled to Kinsale, Dingle Peninsula
Day 9: Visited Killarney, Ring of Kerry
Day 10: Explored Cliffs of Moher, Galway
Day 11: Went to Galway, Falconry at Ashford Castle
Give us all the details! Tell us where you went and what you did on your trip.
Day 1: The first morning we arrived in Dublin and needed to catch a train to Belfast. A bus took us from the airport to the city center where we left for Belfast. Ireland, or Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, are two separate countries, but have an agreement that travelers can cross the border without showing a passport. We set out to our Airbnb in downtown Belfast, where unfortunately jet lag got the better of me. After a much too long nap, it was dinner time, so we popped over to the Chubby Cherub, a pizza spot. We strolled around the downtown area, appreciating the murals and elaborate municipal buildings.
Day 2: Rather than renting a car this early in the trip, we booked a tour across Northern Ireland that visited several Game of Thrones shooting locations. We visited Cushendun Cave where Melisandre births the shadow assassin – there’s even a plush chair with fake swords glued to the back! We drove to Giant’s Causeway, a unique natural structure where basalt columns form hexagonal shapes jutting into the ocean. Following a scenic hike, you can explore the area and view the structure from multiple angles. My favorite stop was the Dark Hedges, King’s Road in the show, a pathway of beech trees. Though the trees were bare at this time of year, it was still a striking, haunting sight.
Day 3: We hopped the train back to Dublin. After dropping our luggage at our hotel, we headed to a delicious breakfast at ALMA – the avocado toast will exceed your expectations. Refueled, we headed to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells, a manuscript of the Gospel from the 9th century. Before viewing the book, there is an extremely interesting informational exhibit. We next headed to Trinity’s library, which is popularly compared to Hogwarts, to see thousands of beautifully bound centuries-old texts.
We next visited the Guinness Storehouse. I personally hardly ever drink, yet I had an excellent time. There are plenty of interactive exhibits and photo ops throughout the tour, mostly focused on manufacturing and marketing. You can receive a free sample in an adorable mini-Guinness glass, have another drink from their scenic view barroom, and even have a beer with a photograph printed in the foam.
Day 4: We started our second day in Dublin with a delicious breakfast at Brother Hubbard. We took the opportunity to pass through St. Stephen’s Green, a gorgeous park that was in full bloom when we visited in spring. Next to the park was the Museum of Literature Ireland, which included exhibits on James Joyce, one of Ireland’s foremost writers.
Then we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1191. You can take a self-guided tour of the church in several languages and learn about its significance throughout Irish history. Right next door, or rather in the cathedral’s close, is Marsh’s Library, Ireland’s first public library since 1707. Many great Irish minds studied and wrote in this library. We finished our night at Cornucopia, a vegan restaurant recommended to us by the locals, since my fiancé and I are both vegetarian.
Day 5: Our next itinerary stop was Cork, in Southern Ireland. We checked into our hotel, the Metropole, where they recommended breakfast at Tara’s Tea Room, where we enjoyed coffee and crepes. Cork is situated in a great location for day trips, so we took a bus to Cobh. This charming seaside town is brimming with candy-colored houses and a Gothic church piercing the skyline. We caught a day of perfect weather, so we sat out in the town square and listened to an outdoor concert.
Day 6: Our next daytrip led us to Blarney Castle, famous for the Blarney Stone. Folklore says that a certain piece of the castle, the Blarney Stone, gives the gift of the gab to those who kiss it. Once you trek up narrow staircases, you queue on the rooftop to kiss the stone. You lay down, hold onto bars on the wall, are physically supported by a staff member, and bend over backwards to do so. After that feat, I was keen to set my feet on the ground. Lush, green landscapes filled the grounds and gardens. We wandered between looming ancient trees, caves said to have housed witches, and a poison garden.
We returned to the Metropole, where we had scheduled an afternoon tea. This is one of my favorite meals to take, and the hotel surpassed our expectations. We stuffed ourselves with pots of tea, champagne, tea sandwiches (which they were more than happy to adapt to vegetarian versions for us), scones, pastries, and cakes.
Day 7: Our visit synced up with Easter, so we planned for a slower day with many businesses closed. This also happened to be the first day of our visit with a large amount of rain. We took the opportunity to relax for the morning. Once the rain cleared, we visited a rolling park nearby and enjoyed exploring downtown Cork.
Day 8: We started the day by picking up the car used for the rest of our trip. Since Cork begins the Wild Atlantic Way, the rest of our trip followed Ireland’s western coast. First we stopped in Kinsale, a brightly rainbow-colored town. We arrived early in the morning, so we picked up a coffee and strolled around the charming streets. From there, we drove through the Dingle Peninsula, comprised of rugged cliffs over the Atlantic Ocean, pristine beaches, and rolling farmlands. We stopped along the main drag at a spot where you could hold a baby lamb and visit beehive huts. My fiancé successfully picked up a lamb in one attempt, whereas two different lambs kicked me and jumped out of my arms. While in the town of Dingle, I picked up an authentic Aran sweater. On our drive back to our Airbnb in Killarney, a rainbow stretched across the landscape.
Day 9: After a quick breakfast in Killarney, we started my fiancé’s favorite part of our trip: driving the Ring of Kerry. This drive is best done as a full-day experience. Driven fully, the drive is 129 miles, but it can be modified depending on which spots you choose to visit. We visited Killarney National Park, the Muckross House, the Muckross Abbey, the Gap of Dunloe, Lady’s View, and Staigue ring forts and had a satisfying lunch in Kenmare, a charming smalltown.
Day 10: We had a final breakfast at Manna Café & Bistro in Killarney, which was my favorite meal of the whole trip (fried potatoes covered in poached eggs and hollandaise sauce). We headed north along the Wild Atlantic Way and stopped in Adare, a small village known for its thatched roof cottages. This was a bucket-list item for me, and I was completely charmed by these houses. Continuing up the coast, we drove to the famed Cliffs of Moher. The day we visited was cloudy, yet despite that it was still difficult to take a picture in front of the Cliffs without squinting. In the grand scheme of our trip, we had seen so many natural wonders that the Cliffs did not have as much of an earth-shattering impact that I had imagined.
From there, we headed to Galway, where we had a spacious Airbnb above a teashop. A plentitude of shops, restaurants, and endless entertainment line the streets of this charming city. We chose Osteria, an Italian restaurant for bruschetta and pasta.
Day 11: On our final day we visited Ashford Castle, an estate that I had a special interest in visiting. When my grandmother traveled to Ireland, she always stayed at Ashford Castle. Though staying for a night didn’t fit our budget, the estate offers plenty of activities on their grounds. We decided falconry would prove an undeniably unique experience. Lead by a falconry school expert, we both had our own falcons, Wookie and Yoda, who followed us during our hour-long walk of the grounds and landed on our gloved arms when we raised them in the air.
We headed back to Galway where my fiancé headed to a pub, and I took in a bit more shopping. I met him at the pub and a live band played traditional music. After taking advantage of the warm weather that day by dining al fresco, we headed to bed early since we had an early flight back in Dublin the next morning.
Would you recommend this trip to a friend?
What was the highlight of your trip?
Ireland has so much to offer. In the grand scheme of our trip, my favorite spots were Dublin and the Dingle Peninsula. Another great find on the trip was Murphy’s Ice Cream, which has locations all over the country. We stopped for a scoop in several of these shops.
If you were to take this trip again, is there anything you would add or do differently?
We easily could have spent a whole month (if not longer) in Ireland and not have been bored for a moment. I would advise anyone visiting to schedule more time than they would expect to take everything in.
Liz from Ireland
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