Around Ireland in 21 days

This post is inspired and dedicated to Edyta and Dwayne, a pair of globetrotters who are planning to visit Ireland next year. They asked me for a few suggestions and somehow the whole post came about. I put together a collection of my favourite places in Ireland, the experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed and the pictures that I took on the way. Sure,  it is subjective and selective. Sure, I am aware that there are many more places worth visiting and I solemnly intend to explore them in the next few years. But for sure it shows you Ireland that I love.

What’s below is an around-the-clock, twenty-one day tour of Ireland starting in Dublin and assuming you will be driving and staying in B&Bs of your own choice. All opinions, insights and pictures are mine own. While all featured attractions are well tried and tested, they are loose suggestions and by all means feel free to add, skip, take detours and take your time. Use the printable Things to do in Ireland bucket list . Try it and tweak it. Enjoy and have craic.  Welcome to Ireland my way.

Co. Dublin
Day 1
Start in the heart of Dublin and go to see a deer or two or fifty in the Phoenix Park.  It is the biggest park in Europe and the home to hundreds of deer as well as the residency of the Irish President and the US Ambassador. The best idea is to cycle around the park on a bike that you can hire here. You might bring your own picnic – there’s space galore – or you can get a quick lunch or tea at Phoenix Cafe. (If you have an extra day make sure to go to the ZOO as their animals are always happy to see some foreign human beings.)
Deer in Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park, Dublin
In the afternoon see the home of the black stuff at the Guinness Storehouse. Get a photo in front of the famous black gate. Enjoy the journey through the complicated and fascinating process and history of stout making and make your way to the very top for the most rewarding pint of Guinness and the most spectacular views of Dublin.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
Day 2

Spend a day in Dublin fair city. Walk along the Grafton Street. Make sure to have a close look at the buskers – this is where The Script or Ed Sheeran performed back in the days and they still mention the street in their songs. You might as well see the next big things. Have a coffee at Bewleys Cafe – my favourite Irish coffee brand.

Walk around St Stephens Green.  Go shopping or window shopping to St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre and enjoy the impressive architecture of the place. Afterwards, relax in the park.  Feed the ducks or seagulls or any birds at the park. If you have a little time pop into Little Museum of Dublin for the modern history of Dublin and a great collection of artifacts and memorabilia.
St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre
St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin
Walk through the usually crowded Temple Bar just to get the vibrant international feeling until you reach the River Liffey. Cross the Ha’penny Bridge – the most romantic of the Dublin bridges. Did you know that 100 years ago you would still have to pay half-a-penny to the toll man to cross the cast-iron bridge joining Dublin South and Dublin North?
Temple Bar in Dublin
Temple Bar, Dublin
Keep to the quays and head east. Pass the O’Connell Bridge – the only bridge that is wider than longer. See the Spire – one of Dublin landmarks. Keep walking along the docklands. This is where the state-of-art and high tech European HQ are located.  You might notice Googlers and Facebookers passing by. See the Samuel Becket Bridge just off the DCC – Dublin Conference Centre – this is the modern uber and agile Dublin.
Dublin Quays
Dublin Quays
Have  a coffee or  a pint on the way – depending on the time of day. If you’re not in a rush and have 2 or 3 hours to spare visit interactive and innovative EPIC Museum which tells an intriguing story of the Irish emigration and heritage and is located in beautiful historical dungeons where Michel Collins was filmed.
a pint of Guinness
 Day 3

Go to Howth. Walk around the harbour on a busy day (and every day seems to be busy there) .Visit the fish shops. See the resident seal. Have an Irish coffee at the pub. Definitely go on a cliff walk. You can see the map here. There are shorter and longer loops to please everyone.  Enjoy the astonishing views and keep looking for the seals. Make sure to see the lighthouse (and tick that off your bucket list).

Howth, Co. Dublin
Howth, Co. Dublin

After the walk drive to Clontarf for the best fish and chips take-away from Beshof Bros (and cross off another item on your bucket list). Then, trying not to have to many sneaky chips on the way, drive through the old wooden bridge to the Dollymount Strand Beach, park in the sand in front of the sea and have one of the best meals ever. And. I. Mean. It.

Dollymount Strand
Dollymount Strand , Co. Dublin
Day 4

Start your day in Dun Laoghaire. But actually first you might want to learn how it’s pronounced here in my favourite scene of PS I love you. I tell you I can totally relate as it took me three months to figure out how it is pronounced, but then again, I did not have a handsome Gerard Butler to fill me in on that.

Now back to Dun Laoghaire, shall we? Have a brunch at Harry’s Cafe Bar. I will never forget the amazing eggs Benedict I had there. Check one of many charity shops – you never know what books, bric-a-brac or accessories you might find. You can end up with a copy of a cookbook signed by Jamie Oliver or a pair of designer high heels or a vintage jewelry box. Just keep looking. Also, if you like good design – visit Meadows and Byrne for quality and inspiration. Then get to the see front and walk along the pier. Watch the ferries sailing in and out. Head south, pass the People’s Park and have the famous Teddy’s Ice Cream while looking at this James Joyce’s quote.

Dun Laoghaire Ulysses quote
Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
Take the dart to Killiney Beach. See the secret gate to Bono’s seaside mansion. Have a stroll. Have a picnic. Have a dip in the sea. And if you have some time to spare climb the Killiney Hill.
Killiney Beach
Killiney Beach, Co Dublin

At the end of the day drive up to the Dublin mountains to the Johnny Fox’s Pub. You will find it sign posted on the way. It is said to be the highest pub in Dublin. It is famous and packed with tourists but cosy pleasant and heart warming. If only you’re not allergic to seafood, definitely try mussels – amazing and well priced. Make sure to see the weather stone in front of the pub. To me this is the essence of weather forecasting in Ireland. Never fails.

Johnnie Fox's Pub
Johnnie Fox’s Pub
 Co. Wicklow
 Day 5

Go on a walk from Bray to Greystones. It is a winding route along the cliffs with the sea just a twenty meters down away. See the old and existing dart line. See where the smugglers used to store their contraband. Breathe the sea breeze.

When arriving in Greystones you might be peckish so head for a bite to eat to Happy Pear – a little cafe run by two brothers famous for their vegetarian dishes. Don’t be discouraged by the queue, those people know what they are doing and it is worth it.

Take the dart back from Greystones to Bray. The views are thrilling  and you will get one of your bucket list items ticked too.

I strongly recommend a dinner at Platform Pizza Bar. It is an amazing place with amazing food – you might want to book that in advance.

Bray to Greystones track
Bray to Greystones trail
Day 6

Drive through the Sally Gap – the most famous crossing in the middle of nowhere. Feel the wilderness and the majesty of the Wicklow Mountains. My favourite route is from Dublin through Minor Kilbride. Take time to take breaks and stop for a picture and a short walk. The scenery is stunning and one of a kind.

Sally Gap
Co. Wicklow
Wicklow  is the county where a lot of famous films and series have been shot. The whole Vikings Village was built here at Lough Tay on the way to Glendalough. In fairness if you see the scenery you will understand why so many film makers pick it.
Glendalough
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Visit the Monastic City with the cemetery and the Round Tower. If you enjoy hiking go for the walk along the white route. Climb  over 600 wooden steps to experience some of the most breathtaking views of the Wicklow Mountains. If you are in luck you might even see a herd of deer on the way.
Glendalough Walk
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Glendalough Walk
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Day  7

Climb the hill that looks like a huge pile of sugar and hence it’s called Sugarloaf. It only takes 45 minutes to get to the top and yet the view at its peak is most impressive and most rewarding. Have a little picnic at the top while enjoying the views and breathing in the breeze.

Sugarloaf-drone-photo
Sugarloaf, Co. Wicklow
sheep at Sugarloaf
Sugarloaf, Co. Wicklow
Sugarloaf
Sugarloaf, Co. Wicklow

Have a lunch or afternoon tea at Avoca – the home for great Irish design and dining.

Go to one of the most beautiful, and popular, beaches in the South – Brittas Bay. You could easily spend a relaxing day there or just go for a walk or have a BBQ. Soft sand and stretched dunes make it the seaside destination for many Dubliners especially on one of those summery sunny days. The beach is so big that even on a bright hot day you can easily find a spot for yourself.

Co. Cork
Day 8

See how Jameson whiskey is made at the Midleton Whiskey Museum. Walk around the grounds, follow the journey of crafting the perfect blend and find for yourself the difference between the double and triple distillation.

Afterwards dine at Bramley Lodge – a great place with a great balance between homely and sophisticated food.
Midleton Whiskey Museum
Midleton Whiskey Museum, Co. Cork
Day 9

Be amused, amazed and astonished and finally understand why the Irish are so good at making conversations. Visit the beautiful and intriguing Blarney Castle, kiss the stone and get the gift of ‘blarney’.

If you do not know what blarney is just see this simple example:

The difference between
‘blarney’ and ‘baloney’ is this:
Baloney is when you
tell a 50-year old woman
that she looks 18.
Blarney is when you
ask a woman how old she is
because you want to know
at what age women are
the most beautiful.
Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle, Co. Cork
Make sure to walk around the impressive estate and definitely see the poison garden where plants are grown behind the bars and labelled toxic.
Take the coastal way south. Enjoy the sheer beauty of the landscape. Stop at one of the little beaches and feel as if you owned the place. See how many lighthouses you can spot on the way.Co Cork Lighthouse
 Co Kerry
Day 10
Drive around the Ring of Kerry. Enjoy the views and take as many stops as you need to capture the natural beauty.
Killarney Co Kerry
Killarney, Co Kerry
Ring of Kerry
Ring of Kerry
 Day 11

Drive around Dingle. See where the Star Wars were filmed. See the famous Dún Chaoin pier also known as the sheep highway. Go to the Slea Head Beach and for a 1€ donation climb the nearby top and take photos of the Devil Horns.

Dingle
Dunmore Head, Dingle, Co. Kerry
While in Dingle – visit the local shops, including their local Garvey’s Super Value – an award winning shop that takes the shopping experience to the next level. While there, make sure to grab the one and only Superquinn sausages. They are perfect for the full Irish breakfast, sausage pasta or BBQ. When you walk around the town of Dingle, treat yourself and have handmade ice-cream at Murphy’s – their sea salt or caramel honeycomb goes extremely well with a pint of Guinness afterwords. At the end of the day watch the sunset at the Inch Beach.
Inch Strand Beach Dingle
Day 12
The next morning drive through the breathtaking Conor’s Pass. On the way up to Galway dine in one of the thatched cottages in the old and lovely town of Adare.
Co. Clare

Visit the Cliffs of Moher – one of the most famous Irish landmarks and apparently also the location for a scene of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie.

Cliffs of Moher
Spend the evening in Galway and figure out what is the story with the Galway Girl. Let the city guide you. Be spontanous. Be brave. Explore and follow your whims.
Day 13
Follow the Wild Altantic Way to Clifden and if planning on camping stay at the most beautiful camping I have ever been.
Clifden
Clifden Eco Beach Camping and Caravan Park
If feeling adventurous check the tides schedule and drive through a beach to Omey Island. Make sure to be in time to come back before the tide is in or you will get stuck there for the night.
While in the Western part of Ireland be prepared to see and hear more Irish. This is just the perfect chance to pick up some Irish, starting with the basic ones on your way to the bathroom (the bare necessities, that is).  What would you do if you, under a considerable pressure, faced two doors – FIR and MNA? Which door would you choose? Which is the right one? Will you dare to enter? I learnt it the hard way that fir is gents and mná is ladies. So just remember those now and save yourself the awkwardness and gender confusion.
MNA / Ladies
Fir
Day 14
Spend a day in Connemara National Park. See all the nature trails that you can take on the website. Make your pick, pack your backpack, pop in the camera and the rain gear and go exploring.
Connemara, Co. Galway
Connemara National Park, Co. Galway
Connemara
Connemara, Co. Galway
Co. Mayo
Day 15
Feel like one of the pilgrims and climb Croagh Patrick – you will not be disappointed with the views.
Croagh Patrick
Stop at Westport. Romantic, picturesque and yet buzzing little town. Walk around the town and you will find plenty of cosy and casual places to eat with a delicious menu and vibrant atmosphere.
Day 16
If you like cycling definitely check the Great Western Green Way to spend  a day on the bike.
Westport
Co. Mayo
Drive (or cycle) towards Newport and around the Achill Island. See the fifty shades of blue of the sea. Stop at the beaches for a quick break and spot the seals.
Achill Island Mayo
Achill Island, Co. Mayo
Co. Sligo
Day 17
Enjoy one, or some of the many long wide sandy beaches. Spend a day at the seaside. See the kitesurfers jumping in the air. Fly a kite. Have a BBQ.
Strandhill Beach in Sligo
Enniscrone Beach, Co. Sligo
Co. Donegal
Day 18
sheep in Donegal
Co. Donegal
Drive pass the magnificent Errigal. Or even climb it if you venture.
Mount Errigal in Donegal
Mount Errigal Co. Donegal

Stop at some of the breathtaking beaches. Have a picnic.

Inishowen Beach in Donegal
Buncrana Beach, Co. Donegal
Go all the way up to Malin Head – the most northerly point on the island. See yet another Star Wars location and visit the pub Luke Skywalker went for a pint.
Donegal
Co. Donegal
Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
 Day 19

Go for a stroll at White Rocks beach.

White Rocks Beach, Co. Antrim
White Rocks Beach, Co. Antrim

Visit the Dunluce Castle learn about the Spanish Armada and find out how the part of the castle suddenly collapsed into the sea one day.

Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim
Visit Bushmills – the home of another great Irish whiskey. If you have already been on a whiskey distillery tour you might skip this one but only on the condition that you will try the Bushmills blend itself. My husband swears by it and it is the one not to miss or underestimate.
Bushmills
From Bushmills you can take a vintage steam train right up to the Giant Causeway. Enjoy the back-in-the-days experience and meet the jolly coal-smeared train driver. Once you arrive at Giant Causeway indulge yourself with the spectacular views and make sure you hear the stories behind it as well. Which one will convince you the most? Try the loop walk and see if you are fit enough to climb 162 steps of the Shepard’s Path to the top of the cliff.
Giant Causeway
Giant Causeway, Co. Antrim
Stop at the White Park Bay that we always call ‘Cow Beach’ as when we arrived here for the first time we saw cows wandering peacefully on the beach on a bright mild morning. A view that you will never forget.
White Park Bay
White Park Bay, Co. Antrim
Cross the rope bridge 30 metres above the sea level at Carrick-a-Rede if you are hungry for more adventure and more breathtaking views.
Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Day 20
Drive to Belfast through the mystic and might Dark Hedges that was one of the location for Game of Thrones.
The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges. Co. Antrim
 Belfast

You might not be as big fan of the movie as I am (I watch it each year on the 14 of April), or a tech buff or a history expert but you still need to get on board the Titanic Museum as there’s something for everyone. Book in advance to secure the suitable spot. Allow at least 2.5 hour for the tour, yet, if you ask me I could easily spend 4 hours in there as well. It is one of my favourite museums – interactive, involving and integrated – planned with every single detail as Titanic itself, it gives you a very tangible impression what a vast enterprise it was from the design and construction stage through the unfortunate voyage to the aftermath follow-up stories.

Titanic Museum Belfast
Co. Meath
Day 21
Go back in times to the stone age at Newgrange – a passing tomb in Boyne Valley built with the precision that will leave you speechless. Experience the magic of the winter solstice sunrise and see how religion pays tribute to nature.
Newgrange
Newgrange, Co. Meath
Enjoying travelling back in time? Then definitely visit the Trim Castle – a Norman castle where Braveheart  was shot. Imagine the life back in the Middle Ages, see the tricks of architecture and learn how the toilets worked these days. Being the princess will never seem the same again.
Trim Castle
Trim Caste, Co. Meath
 Finish your trip with a proper pint of Guinness at a local pub.
Slainte
Guinness pints
Last but not list
Finally to make your exploring easier – here’s the bucket list of things to do while in Ireland. Print it. Bring it along. Tick the things off. Have  a great time.
 See you in Ireland.
Sonia-signature
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10 thoughts on “Around Ireland in 21 days

  1. Thank you so much for doing this for us! It’s amazing…You have given us so many suggestions…and such beautiful pictures…Dwayne is truly in awe!!!! I don’t even know how we can repay your kindness…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not at all. You’re most welcome. Very happy you like it and hope it comes in handy. Any more tips you need just let me know. Can’t wait to meet you here in Ireland and show you everything. X

      Like

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