You’ve got five days—120 hours—to take in the Emerald Isle. Time is of the essence. Where do you start? What do you do? Maximize every minute with our guide to hit the high points.
Ha’penny Bridge, a pedestrian bridge constructed in the 1800s in Dublin.
DAY 1 // Do Dublin
No matter your city of departure, chances are you’ll be arriving in Dublin on a flight. Make the most of your time here by stopping at a few of the city’s highlights. Start with a trip to the National Gallery of Ireland, a free art museum with numerous exhibitions and permanent collections. From there, stop in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the National Cathedral of Ireland, and a breathtaking structure for viewing and worship. If it’s a nice day, we also suggest a visit tot St. Stephen’s Green, a 22-acre Victorian-style park. If you came for good drink, visit the Guinness Storehouse where you can learn about the brewing history of Ireland’s most popular beer. In addition, there are numerous Irish whiskey houses to see.
If you want a fast and friendly tour of the city, tourist companies operate buses where you can get the scoop from a guide and hop on and off as you please. Rent a car for the next four days of your journey and find a hotel in the area. You’ll want a good night’s sleep to prepare you for the fast-paced days ahead.
Waterford Museum of Treasures at Bishop’s Palace
DAY 2 // Head South
Drive south from Dublin to the towns of Kilkenny and Waterford. These areas will give you a sense of the Irish countryside while also allowing you to mark some attractions off your bucket list. Coming first to Kilkenny, you can tour Kilkenny Castle, a restored 12th century castle. The town is also home to several cathedrals, including the historic St. Canice’s, which was built in the 13th century and also has a round tower and St. Mary’s, which was built in the 1800s. From there, head on to Waterford where you can go on a factory tour and shop at the House of Waterford Crystal and also visit the Waterford Museum of Treasures, a trio of museums telling the city’s history over time. Waterford is also a good spot to spend the night as well as to enjoy local fare and drink for dinner.
A hiker along the Cliffs of Moher
DAY 3 // Drive West
Cliffs of Moher
If you spent the night in Waterford, you have about a three-hour drive ahead of you to get to the next destination. If you’re an early bird, get up and at ‘em and stop for breakfast along your route. This will give you more time to take in one of Ireland’s most breathtaking and popular sites, the Cliffs of Moher. Over 350 million years old, these iconic cliffs are what many think of when Ireland comes to mind. Note that you should check the Cliffs website for weather updates. If there is a weather warning, you may not be allowed to access the Cliffs. When your adventure here is finished, you may choose to spend the night in County Clare or drive north and find a place to stop on your way to day four’s excursion.
Sunset in Galway
DAY 4 // Go Slightly North
Just an hour and a half from the Cliffs of Moher lies Galway, another city deep with Irish history and local flair. This town thrived during medieval days and still has some of the marks to prove it, such as its stone city walls, along with numerous present-day attractions. Visit Quay Street for a bevy of local restaurants, pub, and shops. You’ll enjoy strolling the streets and unwinding among locals and tourists, alike. Since the city is located on the banks of the Atlantic, you can also enjoy a walk along the shore after dinner.
Wind Your Way Back to Dublin
You’ve been running at break-neck speed for the past few days. Now is your chance to slow down and take in a few final sites, including some countryside and any local eateries and attractions you stumble across on your way back to Dublin. The drive back to Dublin should take you approximately four hours. If there’s anything you missed in the capital city on day one, take this opportunity to view those sites as well before turning in your car and heading home.
Of course we didn’t make every stop along the way. What are some of your favorite cities and sites not included in this trip?