Welcome to Ireland! (Dublin)
Welcome to Ireland and the capital city of Dublin! Pick up your rental car at the airport and head to your hotel for check-in. With over 1000 watering holes in the city, Dublin is a great place to soak in the Irish pub culture. Here, you will find traditional pubs that are over a hundred years old as well as modern cocktail bars. Settle into the comfort of your hotel and later step out to explore the city at your own pace. You can try the city’s famous EPIC Ireland attraction, which captures the remarkable stories of Irish emigration. Over the centuries, some 10 million people have left the island of Ireland and EPIC explores how these people have spread around the globe, and how they changed the world. For the evening, we recommend the Temple Bar area, which boasts a dazzling array of restaurants, cafes and bars to suit all tastes and pockets, including live music venues, traditional Irish shows, as well as local designers and galleries.
Learn all about Guinness' rich history as you walk through each floor of the Guinness Storehouse and see what goes into making a perfect pint of the iconic beer. The experience ends at Gravity, the sky bar, with a complimentary pint of Guinness and an astonishing view of Dublin. Spend the evening at the city centre, where Grafton Street makes for the hub of Dublin’s social life and great shopping. And stop at a nearby pub for a taste of Dublin’s popular craft beers, accompanied with some Irish music. We recommend grabbing a high stool to sit right at the bar for a more authentic experience and to mingle with the locals.
Historic Detours (Dublin – Galway)
Drive down to your next destination, Galway. For an interesting stopover, try the megalithic tombs of Newgrange, just north of Dublin and Ireland’s most visited attraction. One of the great wonders of the ancient world, Newgrange is older than even the Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Egypt. Close by is the Hill of Tara, once the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland. And Trim castle, popular for being a filming location for the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Braveheart’.
Alternatively, you can drive straight to the city of Galway, about two hours away on the M6 Motorway. On route, a slight detour from Moate just before the town of Athlone brings you to the ancient monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise. Dating to the 6th century, this historic site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches, two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. Arrive at Galway by evening and check in to your hotel.
Connemara Country (Galway – Connemara – Galway)
Take a day trip to the largely untouched Connemara region in the west of Galway. Here, you will find the unspoilt greenery of the Connemara National Park; the intriguing Kylemore Abbey on the shores of Connemara lake; and the glacial lake, Lough Inagh. Take a drive down one of Ireland’s most stunning and Instagram-friendly routes, the Sky Road. Drive to the nearby fishing village of Roundstone to see how a ‘Bodhran’ (traditional Irish Drum) is made. Come evening, the city of Galway offers one of the most vibrant nightlife in the country. Its cobblestone streets are home to an amazing array of pubs and bars, some over 400 years old, which are open till early hours of the morning. We recommend the Quay area, known for its live music and street entertainers.
Coastal Rides (Galway – Doolin)
Our next destination is the small fishing village of Doolin, popular as a hub for Irish music. On route, you can stop by Dunguaire castle on the south-eastern shore of Galway bay. Then travel through the lunar landscape of The Burren, one of the most peculiar sights in Ireland, scattered with pale grey stones creating a unique yet rich ecosystem. Next, see the ancient megalithic tombs at Poulnabrone and end at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, before reaching Doolin. The Cliffs lay claim to one of the most astonishing views in Ireland, with the Aran Islands and Connemara region visible on clear days. By evening, you can check in at Doolin, a place that is achieving global fame for its trendy music scene.
Take the day to explore Doolin at your own pace. You can find some unique experiences here, including music gigs inside local homes, accompanied with the traditional Irish hospitality; folk festivals that bring alive Irish traditions and more versatile performances inside Doolin’s thriving pub culture. Alternatively, take a ferry to the Aran Islands, a place that will take you back to an Ireland of Celts and Early Christians. And enjoy a guided exploration of the island, walking from the pier to the stone fort of Dun Aengus, located on top of a 300-feet high sea cliff and one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Western Europe.
For the Love of Whiskey (Killarney)
Depending on the route you wish to take today, the major attractions along the road to Killarney include Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in County Clare, Limerick City of ‘Angela’s Ashes’ fame and the pretty village of Adare in County Limerick. If you take the more direct ferry route, which crosses the Shannon Estuary, you will have time to explore Killarney and the surrounding areas. If you want to explore more of the Cliffs of Moher, now is the chance as they come on route.
At Killarney, delve into your love for the spirit at the Irish Whiskey Experience, developed by whiskey lovers for both enthusiasts and novices a like. The interactive experience guides visitors through the history of Ireland’s native spirit, the distilling process and a comparative tasting of the best regional whiskeys. You can choose from a variety of masterclasses, tastings, pairings and even cocktail making.
The Ring of Kerry (Killarney)
Head out for a day trip on one of the most scenic drives in Ireland on the Ring of Kerry. The route offers both stunning views and interesting stopovers that go to the heart of Irish life. The town of Killorglin is famous for the Puck Fair festival, which dates back 3000 years and features a wild mountain goat that is crowned as a king for three days! Go over the mountains to join the N70, catching a great view of Dingle bay on the way – a good spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the view. As you cross Caherciveen, you will see Valentia Island where the first Transatlantic Cable was laid all the way to America in 1857. From Valentia, drive back to the main road and head across the headland to Waterville. The final leg of the route takes you through some of the most stunning scenery, including Parknasilla and Tahilla to Kenmare and then up the mountain road to the infamous Moll’s Gap and Ladies View. You will pass through the Killarney National Park, the Upper Lake and the Middle Lake before reaching Torc Waterfall. End your day at Muckross House and Gardens, a 19th century mansion set in the woodlands, where you can stretch your legs and relax after the long drive, before returning to your hotel for the night.
Iconic Spirits (Killarney – Kilkenny)
Leave Killarney for Waterford via the Cork towns of Blarney, Cobh, Midleton and Youghal. You can stop at the Blarney Castle to climb the ramparts and ‘Kiss the Blarney Stone’, which is said to bestow the gift of eloquence! From here, branch south towards the village of Cobh. Situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbours, Cobh was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic in 1912.
Not far from here is the town of Midleton, home to The Old Midleton Distillery where the famous Irish whiskeys, Jameson, Paddy and Powers, are distilled. Trace the history of Irish Whiskey at this 19th-century distillery, ending at the Jameson Bar, where visitors can sample some of the “Uisce Beatha”, the Irish word for whiskey, meaning water of life. End your day at the city of Kilkenny, characterised by its beautifully restored old buildings and full of fascinating, historical buildings, and contemporary shops, design galleries, cafés and restaurants.
Farewell Ireland (Kilkenny – Dublin)
In just under two hours, you can return to Dublin city. If you wish to make a side trip on route to the capital, visit the National Stud & Japanese Gardens just outside Kildare Town. Or head straight to the airport, where you can drop off your car and board your flight back home.