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My Ideal Ireland Itinerary 7 Days Road Trip (+ Map)

Are you itching to visit the Emerald Isle but only have a week to explore? It’s a relatively small country, so it’s doable. This Ireland itinerary for 7 days will show you how to enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside and lively Irish culture in a one-week Ireland road trip.


For most travelers, starting and ending your Irish road trip at Dublin Airport makes logical (and financial) sense. But for those who can start their trip in Dublin and end it at Shannon Airport, there are other destinations in this beautiful country you can squeeze into your 7-day Ireland itinerary.

My detailed guide below suggests two different routes for both options. Either way, you’ll have an epic and memorable time in Ireland! It’s one of my favorite countries! Keep in mind, this itinerary does not take into account travel time, most flights from the US will depart in the evening and arrive the next morning.

Ireland Itinerary 7 Days: Option 1 (Dublin to Dublin)

map of my 7 day ireland itinerary

This 7-day Ireland itinerary is based on my actual road trip around Ireland and Northern Ireland with my teen daughter. We had a wonderful time, so I’m sharing many of our lessons and stops to help you make the most of your visit.

Day 1: Dublin to Belfast
Day 2: Belfast to Derry
Day 3: Derry to Westport (or Galway)
Day 4: Westport to Galway
Day 5: Galway to Dublin
Day 6: Dublin
Day 7: Leave Dublin

Alternative Route Thoughts:

If you’re willing to drive and tour at a faster pace, you could try to combine parts of the Northern Ireland itinerary in order to allow you to visit the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland if you’re set on flying in and out of Dublin.

The Dingle Peninsula Slea Head Drive is considered one of the highlights of the area and the star of the Wild Atlantic Way region. But it is on the opposite end of the island from Northern Ireland, so with only 7 days, adjustments are needed. My route includes some of the Wild Atlantic Way between Westport and Galway, and is more accessible. However, some feel strongly about visiting the Dingle Peninsula.

Look at my list of things to do and see and decide which are your priorities if the Dingle Peninsula (pretty drive that will take about 3 hours) is a priority, AND you have to fly in and out of Dublin. If you want to prioritize Northern Ireland and the southwest area of Republic of Ireland, you might look at a route like this: Dublin – Derry – Galway – Dingle/Killarney (2 nights) – Dublin (2 nights)

I wouldn’t choose this fast pace, but it is an option if you’re trying to make the most of a limited week. The better option in my opinion would be to try to add on a day or two. Ideally, you’d plan a 10 day Ireland itinerary if you want to see most of the highlights. Or just plan to come back again!

My recommendation if you only have 7 days and want to see most of the popular regions is to fly into Dublin and out of Shannon Airport, which I list that alternate itinerary farther down in my post.

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin Airport and Explore Belfast

flying into dublin

Waste no time at Dublin Airport by renting a car and driving north to Northern Ireland. Many flights from North America are red eye so you can start your 7 day Ireland itinerary in the morning. Don’t worry, you’ll end your trip in Dublin.

Renting a Car in Ireland

Take note that, unless you specify, your rental car will have a manual transmission. Request an automatic if you don’t want to tackle switching gears and driving on the left side of the road! Trust me, this isn’t the time to learn to drive standard or to try and remember that time in your childhood when you borrowed your buddy’s stick shift car.

You will need to have full coverage auto insurance for accidents or damage. Many times I rely on my credit card for car rental insurance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve both have primary rental car coverage. But, confirm that Ireland and Northern Ireland aren’t excluded from your coverage.

Also, be prepared to show proof of the coverage at the rental counter. This can typically be printed from your benefits page but consider calling or chatting with customer care to ask for written proof of rental coverage. Otherwise, you’ll need to add collision coverage to your rental.

You can use Google Maps to navigate Ireland’s narrow roads, but it will often take you the fastest way which isn’t always the best way for tourists. We had a GPS device added to our rental and found it would sometimes route us differently than Google Maps.

Most of the time Google Maps was great but twice we should have listened to the GPS, one of which was driving back to Dublin from Cliffs of Moher when Google Maps took us back roads that were very tight and slow going and the GPS would have gotten us onto a highway much faster.

On your first day, head to Northern Ireland. The total drive time from Dublin to Belfast is just under two hours covering 162 km/100 miles, so you should have plenty of time to explore Killeavy before traveling to Belfast and staying there one night.

Note: The Republic of Ireland measures speed in kilometers/hr while Northern Ireland measures in miles/hr. Money is also different as Northern Ireland uses the British Pound Sterling (£) and Ireland uses the Euro (€).

Malahide or Killeavy

You’ll hop in your car and start heading to Northern Ireland but I recommend at least one stop along the way to help get outdoors and help your body adjust to the time change. There are two stops I’d recommend as you make your way to Belfast, either Malahide or Killeavy. Both will help you get outdoors and have a castle.


Malahide is what I’d consider a Dublin suburb. It’s home to the popular Malahide Castle and Gardens, which is a more touristy operated castle with decor and extensive gardens. Malahide is also on the coast and there is a popular 4 km Malahide to Portmarnock Coastal Walk to get an outdoor fix on your first day. The town itself has a large number of cute restaurants and shops for a great afternoon break on your first day.


killeavy castle

If you’re looking to get out of the city on your first day, plan for a stop in Killeavy instead. Located just over the Northern Irish border, Killeavy is a small town and a great place to stop for a break in an official area of natural beauty.

Check out Killeavy Castle Estate (there’s a hotel there now but you can still check out the castle grounds) or the Slieve Gullion Forest Park. This area of woodland has links to Celtic mythology! If you’re in Killeavy around lunchtime, stop at Johnny Murphy’s Bar and Restaurant for a bite to eat.

And if you’re not in a rush and have an extra night beyond this 7-day itinerary, consider booking a stay at the Killeavy Castle Estate. It’s absolutely beautiful and a great way to unwind after a busy travel day. We overnighted in Killeavy and even visited their spa to help us relax after traveling. The extra day helps you relax and start to acclimate to the time change.

If you’re not staying overnight in Killeavy and following my 7 day itinerary, hop back in your car and head to Belfast next.

Political Mural Black Cab Tour

When you arrive in Belfast, park your rental car and let a tour guide drive you around for a change! From the 1970s to the 1990s, Belfast was at the center of a pivotal moment in Irish history called ‘the Troubles’. 

A great way to learn more about it is to book a Black Cab Tour around all the neighborhoods and dozens of political murals that document the era. Driving is much faster than a walking tour which is ideal because there are lots of things to do in Belfast!

Shopping in Belfast

Need souvenirs or just have lots of room in your suitcase to fill? St. George’s Market is a 19th-century covered weekend market selling everything from street food to antiques. Born in Belfast is a great place to shop for local, artisanal gifts. Note that it’s only open on the weekend.

Note: Ireland’s currency is the Euro but Northern Ireland uses Great British Pounds. Bring a good travel credit card with no foreign exchange fees so you can pay in both currencies with no problems. We didn’t need cash at all during our trip as everywhere we visited accepted credit cards.

Ride Hydrobikes on the River Lagan

Dublin has the River Liffey, but Belfast has the River Lagan. Take a fun, self-guided tour down this river on hydro bikes and see landmarks like the Prince Albert Clock, the yellow Harland & Wolf cranes, and the Big Fish. Check out Lagan Adventures to learn more about booking this fun water activity!

This is a fun activity that is unique, but can be skipped if you’re running low on time or would rather have more time at the Titanic museum.

Titanic Belfast Experience

titanic belfast sign in belfast northern ireland

While riding the hydro bikes you’ll sail past the Titanic Quarter, home of Belfast’s docks and where the infamous ship was built in the early 1910s. Titanic Belfast is a state-of-the-art experience that opened in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic on its first voyage.

You can learn more about the ship’s design, the people who built it, and everything else there is to know about the Titanic. You can even find violins and deckchairs found on the Titanic’s wreckage among the exhibits. It can be an emotional experience for some, but is a must-do for anyone who is fascinated by the Titanic story.

Evening in Belfast

Belfast has tons of fantastic restaurants in its Cathedral Quarter. Check out The Dirty Onion and Yardbird for a more relaxed meal or The Muddlers Club for fine dining. Don’t forget to check out the cool neon signs down Commercial Court which look best on a dark, rainy evening.

Overnight in Belfast

You’ll spend your first night in Belfast and I have two great hotel recommendations for you. Ten Square Hotel was where I stayed most recently and is in a central location with a view of the beautiful City Hall building.

And the Maldron Hotel Belfast City is also centrally located, upscale, and has amazing reviews. I also love that both these hotels have restaurants in case you’re too tired to go out after arriving and just want to grab dinner, or breakfast, at your hotel.

Day 2: Drive the Scenic Causeway Coast

On the first full day of your Ireland itinerary for 7 days, you could drive straight to Derry from Belfast along the motorway (the name for highways in Ireland). But then you’d miss the scenic drive along the Causeway Coast. This drive was possibly our favorite part of the entire trip!

This coastline stretches across the top of Northern Ireland and features otherworldly landforms, medieval castles, rope bridges, and more. You can even see out to Scotland on this scenic route (on a clear day).

Driving from Belfast to Derry via the coast is approximately 114 miles in distance and will take three hours without stops. Set off early so you have as much time to make stops as possible, trust me, the views are amazing and you’ll want plenty of time to enjoy the trip.

Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

mom and daughter at carrick a rede rope bridge on causeway coast of northern ireland

With a history dating back 250 years, fishermen used to cross this rope bridge (an older version of the one installed in 2008!) to catch salmon on a small island. Carrick-A-Rede is a 66 ft-long rope bridge suspended 100 ft above the Antrim coast and offers an exciting experience as well as incredible sea and coastal views. The water around the coast here is so blue, you’ll think you’re in the Caribbean.

The hike is about 1.8 miles and will take you about an hour to an hour and a half to explore. I would consider it a simple walk for people used to physical activity, but does require effort and stamina. I highly recommend pre-booking your visit as they do limit access and you don’t want to show up and have access sold out for that time frame.

If you’re craving a snack or drink, stop by Carrick-A-Rede Bar & Restaurant before or after your bridge walk. It’s located past the rope bridge if you’re driving from Belfast, so works well as a stop after your walk on your way to the next stop, Giant’s Causeway.

Giant’s Causeway

giant's causeway rocks and overlook in northern ireland

Your next stop is one of the best things to do on the entire island of Ireland, hands down. The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a four-mile-long stretch of coastline comprising thousands of basalt columns that interlock in an otherworldly form.

You can walk over these columns as much as you want for as long as you want, it’s completely free to visit! You just need to pay for the parking lot and visitor center.

I’ve walked town below on the rocks on a trip and most recently we did the cliff hike above the coastline and it offers a completely different view of the landscape. A great activity for active visitors, although there is a shuttle you can pay for to help drive you from the visitors center down to the main rock formations if you have mobility issues.

Afterwards, head into the nearby town of Bushmills for lunch where you can eat at Lorna’s Kitchen or Flash in the Pan fish and chip shop.

Dunluce Castle

dunluce castle

Just a few minutes along the coast from the Giant’s Causeway is a beautiful ruined castle overlooking the coastline, Dunluce Castle. This 16th-century castle was once the main stronghold of Clan MacDonnell. Of all the castles to visit in Northern Ireland, this one is convenient and offers some amazing coastal lookout views!

Overnight in Derry

Derry (aka Londonderry) is Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, so you’ll have no trouble finding places to eat for dinner or things to do. If you arrive in Derry early, make sure you see the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle, Free Derry Corner, and The Derry Walls. These are 17th-century defensive walls that circle the city and offer the best views.

One of my daughter’s absolute favorite stops on our trip was our overnight in Derry. While many itineraries will have you skip this city so that you can immediately get to the west coast of Ireland, I’m chiming in to say it’s worth stopping here.

We arrived in Derry in the evening and walked the entire circle of the walls. The walls encircle the central part of the city and it’s about a mile walk. There are multiple access points on and off the walls, so it’s a convenient and fun way to get around the city.

For dinner, Castle Street Social is a cool, laidback bistro and The Bentley Bar is better for live Irish music and grills. We loved our upscale pub dinner at the Wig Champagne Bar in Bishops Gate Hotel. I’ve stayed at this hotel twice and have loved it every time. It is a luxury property, but the price is not as crazy as you might expect.

Day 3: Explore Derry and Drive to Westport (or Galway)

Derry is Northern Ireland’s second city, so spend enough time visiting the main sites. But don’t linger too long, because on the third day of your Ireland itinerary for 7 days, you’ll be driving back into the Republic of Ireland and along the west coast.

Driving from Derry to Westport in County Mayo will take approximately three hours to cover 149 miles/240 km. It will take a little longer to make a stop well worth visiting en route! Spend one night in Westport or the surrounding area. If you don’t spend too long in Derry, you could overnight in Galway instead of Westport.


walls around Derry/Londonderry Northern Ireland

If you like visiting eclectic museums, you’ll spoiled for choice in Derry. Museum of Free Derry covers the region’s local civil rights history, The Siege Museum specifically covers a specific historical moment in 1689, and the Foyle Valley Railway Museum with lots of old-timey trains.

If you haven’t already, watch the hilarious Netflix sitcom Derry Girls which is set in this city. There’s a mural of the main characters on Orchard Street, as well as lots of other murals you’ll see as you walk around.


Make the first stop on this part of your road trip to the city of Sligo, a place known for its literary heritage (W.B. Yeats was born here). Make a stop for lunch at the traditional Walker 1781 pub which serves a mix of light, European fare.

Ashford Castle

Continue driving towards Westport but make a slight detour south to Ashford Castle. This 13th-century estate is now a hotel, but you’re free to wander its lavish interiors and well-manicured gardens.

If you have the bank balance, you could always stay overnight here instead of Westport. Keep in mind that this five-star hotel could set you back around $1,000 a night!

Overnight in Westport (or Galway)

Since Westport is a large town on Ireland’s west coast, you have plenty of dinner options. Cobbler’s Bar & Courtyard is a relaxed grill or check out Friends Bistro which is a good all-rounder for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For overnighting, consider staying at The Wyatt Hotel in the heart of town or the Westport Coast Hotel on the water.

If you have time, take a stroll along the Carrowbeg River. There are lots of cute medieval bridges like the Doris Brothers Bridge.

Alternative option: if you’re willing to leave Derry early and drive farther, you can try to combine parts of days 3 and 4 and overnight in Galway. This will allow you to use day 5 to drive the Dingle Peninsula and possibly see Cork on your way back to Dublin.

This will not be a relaxed road trip and will require early starts, but it will give you the chance to see one of the other most popular tourist regions of Ireland during your 7 days. If you choose to overnight in Galway, consider staying in the main central city area at the well-rated Park House Hotel or The Huntsman Inn.

We stayed at the g Hotel and Spa and found the location out of the way and not ideal for strolling the streets of Galway. But the property does have nice rooms and restaurants, plus a spa. It reminded me of a US casino hotel experience.

Day 4: Explore Connemara National Park and Galway

Ireland has six national parks, and you’ll be able to visit at least one by following this Ireland itinerary for 7 days. Visiting during the summer months is a great time to visit Ireland as you can take advantage of the long days and good weather (well, better weather) for outdoor activities.

Westport is only 78.5 km/49 miles north of Galway City (which will take just over one hour to drive without stopping) but there are some great things to do on your journey along the west coast.

Ireland’s entire stretch of coast along the Atlantic Ocean is called the Wild Atlantic Way. It stretches 2,600 km/1600 miles from Malin Head in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. You won’t have time to drive the entire scenic route during your week in Ireland, but you will see some of it on Days 4 and 5. Stay in overnight in Galway.

Kylemore Abbey & Gardens

While there are tons of beautiful stately homes across the country, none are as special as Kylemore Abbey. This 19th-century mansion has been occupied by Benedictine nuns since the 1920s and they’re still there today. You can tour the house and walk around the gardens as well as visit the nearby Kylemore Church.

One of the best things about this abbey is its stunning location. It’s surrounded by woodland and sits on the banks of the Pollacapall Lough on the edge of Connemara National Park.

Connemara National Park

connamara national park viewpoint

Speaking of the national park, it’s also worth a stop on your drive. Poke your head into the Visitor Center and if you have the time, tackle the nearby Lower Diamond Hill Trail. It’s only a 1.8-mile loop walk and you can continue onto the Upper Diamond Hill Trail if that trail is too easy. 


Just a stone’s throw further than Connemara National Park is Clifden, a cute, small town on the coast. Off The Square Restaurant is the perfect stone-walled café to stop for lunch, and there are some interesting memorials dotted around the hills outside the town.

Walk along the coast to the John D’Arcy Monument, dedicated to the founder of Clifden, or drive to the Alcock and Brown Memorial. These British pilots completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight in 1919 which landed right outside of Clifden.


galway ireland

As the home of traditional Irish music and other Celtic legends, Galway is an essential stop on any Ireland itinerary for 7 days. Head to the colorful Latin Quarter where there are dozens of colorful pubs. Many licensed pubs allow accompanied children to enter until 9 pm, so check for notices around the door before entering.

Galway’s main street, Quay Street, stretches through the Latin Quarter and this is where you can find stores selling the famous Claddaugh jewelry. These Celtic pieces have a unique symbol with two hands to represent friendship, a heart to represent love and a crown for loyalty. They are the perfect souvenir!

Head under the Spanish Arch to the harbor and check out the Galway City Museum if you want to learn more about the city’s local and maritime history. Check out the Róisín Dubh for the best live music performances in the city. 

For dinner, The Dough Bros is budget and kid-friendly. Tigh Neachtain Pub & Restaurant has the best of both local Irish cuisine and traditional folk performances.

Day 5: Witness the Cliffs of Moher and Drive to Dublin

It’s time to get back to Dublin so you can explore Ireland’s capital city before hopping on your flight back home. Not before swinging by one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, of course.

Driving from Galway to Dublin via the famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and Limerick will take approximately five hours as you’ll need to cover 356 km/226 miles. Stay overnight in Dublin for the last two nights of your 7-day itinerary in Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk and Visitor Center

cliffs of moher on a bright day

Drive from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center and learn more about the formation of these incredible sea cliffs. They climb 702 feet tall at their highest point and stretch 14km/nine miles along the coast.

Then, walk out to the coastal path and explore different vantage points. On a clear day, you should be able to see out to the Aran Islands. Many companies run day tours to the Aran Islands from Galway, but you might not have time on your 7-day Ireland itinerary.

Lunch in Limerick

Stop for lunch in Limerick, the fourth-largest city on the island. You have lots of options but Story Café is perfect if you want to eat something light while The Locke Bar Gastro Pub is perfect for a filling sit-down meal.

Hang around before continuing to Dublin as there are lots of things to do in Limerick. Visit the 19th-century Milk Market where you can pick up souvenirs or snacks for your ride. King John’s Castle is an imposing medieval fortress that sits right on the River Shannon that you can visit too. 

Evening in Dublin

Since you have a pretty long drive, you probably won’t reach Dublin until the evening. Walk to the historic Temple Bar neighborhood for dinner. It’s named after an actual 19th-century, bright red pub in the area that you can’t miss.

If you’re traveling with kids and you’ve struggled to find pubs that will admit those under 18 (the drinking age in Ireland) then head to Temple Bar before 9 pm to listen to music. If you’re not visiting with kids, walk a few minutes west along the River Liffey to Brazen Head, Dublin’s oldest pub. 

Old Storehouse Bar or Cobblestone Pub are perfect places to enjoy dinner in Temple Bar. They both boast life music too.

Overnight in Dublin

You’ll have plenty of places to choose from if you want to stay in Dublin. My experiences have been with The Davenport and Trinity City Hotel, both are gorgeous upscale properties in convenient locations to walk to many of the popular sights. If you don’t want to deal with city driving and parking and can stay a bit outside of the city center; I’ve stayed at Clontarf Castle, which is a unique property and near a bus route with easy access into Dublin.

Day 6: Explore Dublin

Dublin is the perfect place to spend the last day of your trip. If it’s your first time in Ireland, you can’t miss it! But it’s a big city and there are many options for spending your final full day. Book two nights’ accommodation in the city.

One great option is to find a parking lot for your rental car and check out the top tourist attractions in Dublin’s city center. Or, if you’re not keen on visiting a city or checking out day tours, you can drive out to County Dublin’s picturesque coastal towns like Skerries, Malahide, and Howe. 

If you want to stay in the capital, this itinerary will show you the best way to enjoy the city. I have a two day Dublin itinerary that might be useful, but find some of the highlights below.

Trinity College Library & Book of Kells

socrates bust in trinity library long room

Start in the southeast part of the city at Trinity College Dublin. This is the most prestigious university in Ireland, and where you’ll find Trinity College Library. It’s famous for its 16th-century Long Room which features two stories of stacked bookshelves (it looks like something out of Harry Potter!).

It’s also famous for the Book of Kells. This is one of the oldest books in the world which was handpainted in the 9th century. They just launched a brand new experience that has made seeing the book a little more exciting than the previous old plaque style exhibit.

Something important to note is that almost all of the books have been removed from the Long Room as part of a redevelopment project. However, the new tour experience uses projections to help you still appreciate the history of the space.

St. Stephen’s Green

Dublin has lots of adorable parks so you have to see at least one during your trip. Merrion Square is a great choice, but St. Stephen’s Green is more central. It’s small but has a small pond, statues dedicated to some of Ireland’s literary greats, and is surrounded by rows of Georgian townhouses with colored doors.

Grafton Street

Walk underneath the Fusiliers’ Arch in the northwest corner of St. Stephen’s Green and you’ll be standing at the top of Grafton Street. This is a pedestrianized shopping street that is always lined with musicians playing for money (aka buskers). If you’re not a fan of pubs then this is the best spot to listen to local music.

Grafton Street also has a number of great shops for souvenir shopping. A couple of my favorites are the Aran Sweater Market for authentic wool sweaters and clothing, Claddagh Jewellers for Irish jewelry, and Seasons of Ireland for cheesy tourist gifts.

Dublin Castle

Continue walking west to Dublin Castle. This is a well-preserved castle dating back to the 13th century with museums, libraries, and state apartments. There’s also a small garden that you can explore and an onsite café which is perfect for lunch. 

Christ Church Cathedral

Just across the road from Dublin Castle is Christ Church Cathedral. St. Patrick’s Cathedral (named after the country’s famous patron saint) is arguably a more important building as it’s Ireland’s national cathedral, but it’s a little further away.

Christ Church Cathedral started as a Viking church almost 1,000 years ago although the current building dates back to the 13th century. Inside, you’ll find a mummified rat and cat (they both got stuck in the organ) and a ‘homeless Jesus’ statue on the bench outside.

Guinness Storehouse

One of the most popular attractions in Ireland, you have to check out the Guinness Storehouse during your first visit. In 1749, Arthur Guinness signed a legendary 9,000-year lease on a disused brewery at St. James’s Gate. Today, the famous dark ale is brewed elsewhere but the original location is now a visitor center.

The Guinness Storehouse covers the brewing process, the history of the company, and fun advertising displays. It’s surprisingly family-friendly and everyone either gets a pint of Guinness or a soft drink in the Gravity Bar at the end of the tour. It offers 360-degree views across the whole city of Dublin!

You can make reservations for one of the restaurants at Guinness Storehouse, or head back towards your hotel and check out the Temple Bar area for food and drinks.

Temple Bar Neighborhood

Return to Temple Bar for your last night in Ireland. There are lots of restaurants serving a range of cuisines if you’ve had more than enough savory pies, potatoes, and root vegetables during your seven-day trip!

Day 7: Depart from Dublin Airport

It’s time to head back to Dublin Airport and finish up your seven days in Ireland. Depending on the time of your flight back, you may have a little time to see parts of Dublin you missed the day before.

Leave plenty of time to travel to Dublin Airport as you will have to return your rental car too.

Ireland Itinerary 7 Days: Option 2 (Dublin to Shannon)

Day 1: Arrive in Dublin and Explore

The first day of this alternative 7-day Ireland itinerary starts in Dublin. Instead of traveling to Northern Ireland immediately, explore Ireland’s capital city first. You’ll spend one night in Dublin. This part is almost identical to Day 6 of the first itinerary.

You can either travel into Dublin by bus or taxi and pick up a rental car in the city center the next day, or pick up a car at the airport and find a parking lot near your hotel. You won’t need a car to get around Dublin! It’s super walkable and traffic is a nightmare.

Note: It may be more expensive to pick up a rental car at Dublin Airport and drop it off at Shannon Airport. Since traveling around Ireland using public transport is difficult to impossible, factor this extra cost into your budget.

Day 2: Travel from Dublin to Belfast

The next stop on this alternative Ireland itinerary for 7 days is Belfast. It’s similar to day 1 of the first itinerary, except you might not have time to stop in Malahide or Killeavy. You may also have to visit a Dublin attraction or two in the morning before you set off, like Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral.

Spend a couple of hours in Dublin wrapping up the top attractions before driving north and exploring the Northern Irish capital. Driving this 105-mile/166 km journey will take around one hour and 45 minutes. Spend one night in Belfast.

Day 3: Drive the Scenic Causeway Coast 

This day of this alternate itinerary is pretty much exactly the same as Day 2 on the first itinerary. Drive from Belfast to Derry via the coast which is approximately 114 miles in distance and will take three hours without stops. 

But you will absolutely want to stop as many times as possible on this stunning scenic drive! Check out all the best places to stop under Day 2 before staying overnight in Derry.

Day 4: Explore Derry and Drive to Galway

In this itinerary, you’re essentially combining Days 3 and 4 of the first itinerary and driving from Derry to Galway, returning to the Republic of Ireland. This will be your longest driving day at over three and a half hours, covering 172 miles/277 km. 

You will most likely have to compromise on road trip stops. This will probably include skipping Westport and Clifden. 

If you want to see Connemara National Park, you’ll have to head in a different direction to Ashford Castle. And if you want to see more of Galway, spend less time in Derry.

Day 5: View the Cliffs of Moher and Drive to Killarney

The biggest change from the first itinerary to this one is that you get to visit Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Many people who visit Ireland say that County Kerry is one of the best places in the country, so it’s well worth visiting!

Driving south from Galway to Killarney takes around two and a half hours, but you will want to extend that drive for another 90 minutes to make a special road trip stop. Follow the Wild Atlantic Way from Galway so you can check out the Cliffs of Moher. This will make your whole drive take around four hours, covering 263 km/163 miles.

If you have any time left at the end of the day, take that time to explore Killarney National Park. Spend the next two nights in Killarney, using it as your home base.

Killarney National Park

Although Connemara National Park is beautiful, everyone who visits Ireland gushes about Killarney. It boasts such natural diversity including huge lakes, rolling green hills, waterfalls, and historic sites.

If you have time, hire a kayak or canoe and sail on Lough Leane. You can visit the ruined structures of Ross Castle and Innisfallen Abbey.

Head to Muckross House, a 19th-century mansion in the park where Queen Victoria once stayed. Torc Waterfall is nearby which is an impressive site only a short walk into the woods from the parking lot.

Evening in Killarney

Killarney has lots of pub restaurants serving traditional Irish food and some even have live music playing every night. Murphys Bar & Restaurant and John M. Reidy are both great options.

Day 6: Drive the Scenic Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula

The Ring of Kerry is a 179 km/111-mile coastal loop drive around the Iveragh Peninsula. If you were to drive without stopping, it would take around three and a half hours. Along with the Dingle Peninsula drive, they are two of the most beautiful coastal drives in the country.

Unfortunately, you won’t have time to drive around both routes. But no matter which one you pick, you’re guaranteed to have the best time exploring the Kerry countryside and you can head back to Killarney for dinner.

Option 1: Ring of Kerry

Due to the narrow roads, drive in a counter-clockwise direction so you can lessen the chance of having to reverse for local traffic.

Some of the highlights of the Ring of Kerry drive are Rossbeigh Beach and Kells for views across the sea to the Dingle Peninsula. Cahergal Stone Fort in Cahersiveen dates back to the 7th century and there are lots of other cool ruined castles and forts in the area.

Stop in Portmagee for a fish and chips lunch from Fisherman’s Bar. It’s a cute little colorful port town with ferries to the Skellig Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the Kerry coast.

Kenmare is another essential stop on the Ring of Kerry Route. You can check out Kenmare Stone Circle (over 4,000 years old!) and Ladies View at the end of Killarney National Park. It’s one of the best vantage points in the park.

Option 2: Dingle Peninsula

If you choose to drive around the Dingle Peninsula instead, drive clockwise to follow the most popular direction of traffic. Head first to Inch Beach, a 5 km-long sandy beach that juts out into the sea and is widely regarded as one of the best beaches in Ireland.

Continue along the coast to Dingle Town, the start and finish of the 30-mile-long scenic Slea Head Drive around the tip of the peninsula. You can stop for lunch before or after completing this part of the drive where you can have your pick of fish and chip shops like The Fish Box. 

After Dingle, stop by the Beehive Huts which are the well-preserved former homes of early Christian monks. They’re over 1,400 years old! Stop at Dunmore Head for the best views of the Blasket Islands before continuing to the unique Dunquin Pier.

Back at Dingle, take the N86/N70 road back to Killarney which is much wider and more pleasant to drive on.

Day 7: Depart from Shannon Airport

On the last day of your Ireland itinerary for 7 days, drive back up north from Killarney to Shannon Airport. This will take just under two hours covering a distance of around 175 km/84 miles. 

If you have a late flight, you can check out parts of the Ring of Kerry or Killarney National Park that you might have missed over the previous two days. Leave in plenty of time in case you have any unforeseen delays! You’ll need to return your rental car as well as go through security. 

Use This Ireland Itinerary for 7 Days as Your Guide

No matter your flight plans, you can use one of my Ireland itinerary for 7 days to navigate your entire trip! Both include all the major cities like Dublin and Belfast and beautiful scenery like the Giant’s Causeway and Cliffs of Moher. You can’t go wrong!

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