All families will take a road trip that will either be the best or worst road trip of all time. Here’s why Ireland is one of the Best Road Trip Ideas.
Famous for Guinness beer, the green Shamrock, Leprechauns, and the Celtic cross, Ireland provides a great opportunity to test the waters of a road trip for first-timers. The journey begins at Dublin and we head to Cork, passing through Wexford & Waterford. From there we go west to Killarney and then north-east to Limerick. Head up north to Galway where we then cut through the center and reach Dundalk. From there we take a short trip south along the east coast to Drogheda and finally back to Dublin.
This road trip is over 10 days as there are lots to see and do at each overnight stop. If you like castles or history you going to love this trip.
Dublin – Wexford (2 hours)
The drive from Dublin to Wexfor is close to 2 hours. Long enough to enjoy the drive and more importantly short enough, not to be asked multiple times “Are we there yet?”. The drive along the coast should provide us with a scenic view of the countryside as well as the beach. Wexford is known for its’ medieval lanes and is located at the mouth of River Slaney.
First stop, visit Irish National Heritage Park is an open-air museum that recreates the key stages in Ireland’s cultural evolution. (A great educational learning opportunity for the kids). The park contains 35 acres covering prehistoric through Norman periods and features various buildings and structures stereotypical of each period. It is open from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm all seven days of the week.
Depending on the weather, we then head off to Rosslare Beach. Rosslare Beach is a long sandy beach & rolling dunes providing the backdrop to this scenic, wind-swept locale. If not possible, we hang around the town center and do some shopping or take a walk around town.
The overnight could be at one of these fine local establishments – Jim Mcgee’s, St. George Guesthouse or Killurin Lodge.
The next morning after breakfast, we take a tour of Selskar Abbey. In these ruins of a 12th-century monks’ residence is where the first Anglo-Irish treaty was signed.
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Wexford – Waterford (1 hour)
We head to Waterford to check out the Waterford Viking Triangle and Tramore Amusement Park which is seasonal. If the park is closed, the alternative is People’s Park which is the largest public park in the city. It contains a Victorian-era bandstand, the Goff cycle track, a children’s playground, a spherical monument, and a water feature and an old painted iron bridge connecting the park to the grounds of the Court House.
If your children are old enough, the Waterford Museum of Treasures is a must-visit and is located in the Viking Triangle.
Waterford – Cork (1h 50 mins)
Try to get to Cork by 3 pm and spend 2 days here as there is a lot to see.
Now Cork is situated on the River Lee which splits into two channels at the western end and divides the city center into islands. They re-converge at the eastern end where the quays and docks along the river banks lead outwards towards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, which is one of the largest natural harbors in the world by navigational area.
So, first up is Blarney Castle & Stone. The castle isn’t really a castle but a tower that is left and in summer the queue to go up can go up to 2 hours. The Blarney Stone is something I really want to see as according to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab.
Blackrock Castle, the first castle on this trip is a late 16th-century castle trading as an educational center for science, engineering, and technology.
Pick up some food from the English Market and head over to St Patrick’s Street to do some customary tourist shopping. Spend half a day Fitzgerald’s Park and maybe visit Elizabeth Fort a 17th-century-star fort that offers views of the city & guided tours.
Lodging options are Belvedere Lodge, Gabriel House Guesthouse and The Kingsley Hotel
Cork – Killarney (1h 20 mins)
We head west to the town of Killarney, on the shores of Lough Leane. It is a stop on the Ring of Kerry scenic drive, and the start and finishing point of the 200km Kerry Way walking trail.
The Lakes of Killarney are a scenic attraction located in Killarney National Park near Killarney. They consist of three lakes – Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake.
Ross Castle is a 15th-century tower house and keeps on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. It is the ancestral home of the O’Donoghue clan, later associated with the Brownes of Killarney. A tour is available which is informative and not too long. The castle provides a good view of the lake so definitely an Instagram opportunity there.
Killarney – Limerick (1h 40 mins)
Limerick is one of the major cities in Ireland and we definitely want to spend a few days here. A couple of things I want to see are (in no particular order)
- The Milk Market is a food market located on Mungret Street and is one of the oldest in Ireland. Despite its” name, the market has diversified over the years from its’ initial purpose and now sells a wide variety of foodstuffs, much of which is produced locally. (I like trying new food)
- Treaty Stone is a monument with a stone said to be used in the signing of the 1691 Treaty of Limerick which ended the Williamite War between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange and concluded the Siege of Limerick. Ireland is so full of history it is unbelievable!!
- People’s Park is a peaceful park in the middle of the city and right next to the art gallery. This a park for kids and great spots to sit down and read a book (if the kids let you)
- King John’s Castle a 13th-century castle located on King’s Island, next to the River Shannon. Although the site dates back to 922 when the Vikings lived on the Island, the castle itself was built on the orders of King John in 1200 Did you know: King John was the brother of Richard the Lionheart, associated with legends such as Robin Hood and the Knights’ of the Round Table.
- Parnell Plaza a casino complex featuring slot & poker machines, a bingo hall, a traditional-style pub & a cafe.
My choices for overnight lodging would be The Boutique, Woodfield House Hotel and The Pier Hotel, all 3-star hotels but great for families.
Limerick – Galway (1h 20 mins)
We leave Limerick and head north to Galway, fleetingly passing through Ennis a small town lying mid-way. Obviously, as we enter Galway we will have to play Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl 🙂
Galway, a harbor city on Ireland?s west coast, sits where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. Galway has a thriving arts scene, with the Galway International Arts Festival in July, and places such as the Galway Arts Centre and Druid Theatre Company presenting exhibitions and performances year-round. Day trips to the Aran Islands often take in the D?n Aonghasa prehistoric fort on the Inishmore. To the south around Galway Bay is Dunguaire Castle, a 16th-century fortress.
My pit-stops here, have to be;
Eyre Square also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is an inner-city public park because the kids some space to spread their legs after a “long” drive. Shop street is close by and is the main shopping street (the clue was in the name), so head there for lunch and some souvenirs.
From there, head off to Lynch’s Castle which is the only complete non-religious medieval building still standing in Galway features stone gargoyles. Hopefully get some good pics to share on Instagram.
My younger one is into fish so off to Galway Atlantaquaria we go (high ho, high ho – she also into snow white). It is the National Aquarium of Ireland and features native Irish sealife, popular fish feeding sessions & touch pools.
If we have time head off to Barna Woods which is a public parkland with walking paths & archaeological features, plus wildlife, plants & mushrooms.
Hotel options are The Connacht Hotel, Nox Hotel Galway and Flannery’s Hotel.
Galway – Dundalk (3 hours)
Now from Galway, we cut through the countryside heading northeast to Dundalk, the closest town to the N.Ireland border. It is halfway between Dublin & Belfast. There isn’t much to see here other than Castle Roche a remote, storied 13th-century ruin with a triangular layout & panoramic pastoral views. #instatime and Dundalk Bay, a large, exposed estuary on the east coast. The inner bay is shallow, sandy and intertidal, though it slopes into a deeper area 2 km from the transitional water boundary.
Maybe after spending 90 mins at Dundalk, we leave for Drogheda which is 30 mins away.
Dundalk – Drogheda (30mins)
Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and is known for its’ tourism and as a center of industry and medical care.
After the tranquility of Dundalk, the bustle of Drogheda may be welcomed by the kids especially if we hit Funtasia Drogheda a leisure complex with waterpark, bowling, roller-skating, crazy golf and rock-climbing.
What I am really keen on seeing while at Drogheda is Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Newgrange is a prehistoric monument located 8 kilometers west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne. It was built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. #timetravel people.
Knowth & Dowth are Neolithic passage graves and an ancient monument of the World Heritage Site of Br? na B?inne located 8.4 km west of Drogheda. Knowth is the largest passage grave of the Br? na B?inne complex. It consists of a large mound and 17 smaller satellite tombs.
My choices for overnight lodging would be Westcourt Hotel, The Glenside Hotel, and Roseville Lodge B&B.
Drogheda – Dublin (50 mins)
Now on to our final leg of the road trip and back to where we began – Dublin!
First stop – Dublin Castle a historic site, dating from 1204, with 2 museums, cafes, and gardens, plus staterooms and a library. It will take an hour to go through the castle and longer if you want to visit the library as well. Did you know: As a symbol of English reign, Dublin Castle was a key target during the Easter Rising of 1916, which marked the first step towards the end of British rule in Ireland.
Now the next stop is a choice between Phoenix Park and St Stephen’s Green. Phoenix Park is an urban park lying 2.4 km west of the city and deer roam forested areas filled with mature trees within this area which is affectionately known as ‘Dublin’s playground’.
St Stephen’s Green is the city center park with an ornamental lake, waterfall, sculptures, and a children’s playground.
If we feel the need to go see another castle there is Malahide Castle, a towered stone bulwark holding antique furnishings and portraits, plus a huge garden and restaurant.
I would like to end the trip on a high for the kids, so it’s going to be a day Dublin Zoo which is open from 9.30 am to 4 pm. it is the largest zoo in Ireland has African Plain, Fringes of the Arctic and Asian Forests exhibits.
Since this the end of the journey, everyone would like some pampering so hotels would be Dublin Skylon Hotel, RIU Plaza The Gresham Dublin and Maldron Hotel Smithfield.
10 days, 964 kilometers, and 9 stops later…
Hopefully, we would have seen some of the best views Ireland can offer, traveled back in time multiple times and introduced the kids to the joys of a road trip.
Some key points to remember to ensure the drive is enjoyable;
- Make sure to pack drinks, lunches, snacks, and activities for the
- When on the road keep them busy with a Kid’s Travel Journal
- Have your playlist ready and varied because eventually there is going to be a point where it’s on repeat and your gonna hate Ed Sheeran or Peppa Pig
- Lastly, take pics – TONS of them
Additional Reading: Have you ever taken a road trip around Switzerland or the US? If not you are missing out!
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17 thoughts on “Best Road Trip Ideas – The Republic of Ireland”
I live in the UK so it always feels like Ireland is just next door to me. I really want to visit sooner or later; it looks like there are some absolutely beautiful spots that are relatively undisturbed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from the map picture you provided, it looks like you chose to mainly focus on the lower half of Ireland. Is it the case that the lower half is prettier or is that just your personal preferences?
Thanks for sharing!
You are right I did focus on the lower half mainly because of Visa constraints. I require 2 separate visas to go to the Republic of Ireland and N.Ireland as N.Ireland is part of the UK.
For those who dont need have these restrictions can instead of going to Dundalk from Galway, can go up north to Sligo – Donegal – London Derry – Belfast and then Dundalk. You will have to add in 2-4 more days in that case.
Wow that sounds like an amazing road trip! Living in the UK, Ireland has always been one of those places that I’ve wanted to visit but honestly, I had no idea there’s so much to do there! I’m looking forward to reading how it goes.
Travelling with kids is tough, my mother in law lives in Belgium so we go drive there every few months, it takes minimum 5 hours including the shuttle. All I can say is bring with lots of activities and food for the kids to keep themselves busy with! If you’re well prepared it can be smooth sailing;)
This was a absolute pleasure to read. I have always wanted to venture Ireland, but what held me and my wife back was direction…you give this a real meaning to go. It actually gave me goosebumps visualizing this. I will be bookmarking this right after I send your awesome post to my wife.
I would love to actually hang out with you (not creepy at all) haha. This would be a great venture and I can’t wait to start planning, thanks to this great post.
Would you say Dublin is all it is cracked up to be? Or to you prefer the smaller gems?
I haven’t gone yet! the plan is to go next summer but whenever I go somewhere I try to go without (high) expectations and just let the place surprise me. Sometimes things can be overhyped and may lead to disappointment.
Wow! I absolutely loved this post! Ireland is one place on my wish list of places to visit:) Being an American, I wasn’t all that familiar with the different sites to see, until I read your content. You really laid it out in such a way that I actually felt like I was in Ireland! I think the first place I would like to visit is Blarney Castle and Stone. Although, I don’t think I’ll be kissing the stone, because I already too much of the gift of gab! I think this post would want to make everyone visit Ireland at least once in their lifetime! Thank you for such an informative post!
Lol good luck! Road trip with someone either your family or not is the ultimate test! I have just saved your post on my favorites. Very elaborated and neatly panned out of things you need to go. Looks amazing. I am happy that I cane across this post or else I will just be stopping at random places that I think looks nice and drink Guinnesss and the Irish whiskeys all trip long, I’ll make my husband drive lol Will present the post to my hubby.
lol..that is 1 option…or you both could take turns per day, so at least 1 of you is sober any given day 🙂
Hi Tarun. Thanks for sharing all this information. You paint a really fantastic picture of Ireland. I think you and your family will have a fantastic trip and memories to last a lifetime. I have never been but both of my step children were there in their late teens. I think at least one of them had their first beer there!
You have your route planned out really well. I would say the Blarney Stone is a definite must.
Overall, would you say it is an expensive trip, taking into consideration all your meals and accommodations?
Hi Mary Ann,
The definition of expensive varies from 1 person to another based on multiple factors. For us – a family of 4 it is within our budget but closer to the end 🙂
It may be expensive as staying only 1 or 2 nights tends to be more expensive as compared to when you opt for a longer stay. Given that we staying in 6 hotels over 10 days it will be more expensive.
I personally use Booking.com to book my rooms and they tend to have the best rates across most booking sites and if you become a regular user they also provide a further discount on each booking.
With regards to food, I try to find hotel that include breakfast with the room so you get a good feed to support your for the rest of the day. Lunch tends to be sandwiches or some finger food. Dinner, depending on how tired the children are may be in the room or at a decent restaurant.
This sounds really fun! There’s a chunk of our family on my cousin’s side that’s Irish and they’ve all vacationed there and told me how amazing it was seeing the countryside and historic places like the castles, beaches and cathedrals. I’d love to take a nice 10-day vacation there when I eventually have the time and money for an adventure like this!
Hello Tarun. Good to read through your post sharing best road trip ideas – Ireland.
Ireland is a beautiful country. I love road trips because they are sort of fun to journey through. The surroundings around Blarney Castlelook so beautiful.
I wish you good luck on your next road trip. Thanks for sharing these tips.
I am planning a two week vacation to Ireland next fall 2019. We plan on renting a car when we get there and doing sightseeing around the country. I was doing a search on google for best road trip ideas for ireland and found this article. This is exactly what I have been looking for! I have been wanting to organize a road trip that takes me around Ireland but had no idea which way to drive or where to stop at. Ireland is not a super big country but big enough to get lost in!
So. the best way to start this trip you suggest is from Dubin to Wexford and onward towards a clockwise direction.
The english market in Cork, what kind of food do they serve there? I am a big foodie myself and am curious to do some research on the cuisine but I just want to know what to expect.
I think my son will really enjoy going to Atlantaquaria in Galway. My son has always loved watching water documentries with fish and animals, this is a place he will really appreciate.
Then after that I think we as a family will really have a blast at Funtasia when we stop in Drogheda.
Most of all I am really looking forward to seeing Dubin Castle just for the sake of its history and the story behind it. I know my son won’t be so thirlled, but then again maybe he will be.
Question; how purse dog friendly are the Westcourt Hotel, The Glenside Hotel, and the Roseville Lodge B&B? We will be bringing my teacup poodle with us on this trip. She doesn’t shed but I would like to know if these lodgings would be okay if I had her with me and my son?
Unfortunately I wouldnt know about the pet policy as we do not have pets and I never looked into that aspect.
I have hyper-linked the hotel’s names, so if you click on it, it will take you to their page and on that it will be mentioned their pet policies.
Sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve never really considered a trip to Ireland but after reading your post I’m reconsidering. So much history and fascinating things to see. The castles in particular would be worth the trip alone I think. I’ve often tried to imagine what life was like when people actually lived in those and electricity was not even imagined yet. It would be such a treat. And I’m sure the drive itself is spectacular. You should have some amazing memories when you’re done. And yes, your last point was the most important. Take LOTS and LOTS of pictures! lol Enjoy. We’ll expect a full report when you return.
I will definitely I update this post once the trip is done with pics and any further tidbits that can help other parents.
I cannot wait for the drive…the view will just be mind blowing!
This is an amazing trip i gotta do.