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Ireland, or the Emerald Isle, as it’s often called because of its gloriously green landscapes and bountiful shamrocks, is also known as one of the most welcoming and friendly countries in the world, making it a truly remarkable destination that never fails to captivate travelers with its unique charm.
While many people have heard of the Cliffs of Moher, the Blarney Stone and the bustling pubs of Temple Bar, these are just a few of the natural, historical and cultural wonders that Ireland has to offer. Any drive through the countryside or along the coast provides breathtaking scenery, while the ancient ruins and medieval castles that dot the landscape offer a window into Ireland’s storied history. And wherever you travel throughout Ireland, you’ll find a culinary scene that has evolved way beyond the stereotypical “meat and potatoes” dishes of the past, along with, of course, friendly locals who are genuinely happy to share tales of Irish folklore and traditions over a pint (or two).
From the centuries-old city streets of Dublin to the quaint countryside where houses still have thatched roofs and fluffy white sheep stand out in the sea of green, Ireland enchants visitors with its lively traditional music, with its rich history and legendary magical folk tales, with its dramatic landscapes, and always, with the warmth of its people.
Truly, there is no off season in Ireland, since any time of year makes for a wonderful visit, but if you’ve been keeping up with some of the recent blogs, you’ll know that now is the perfect time to book a Spring Break Vacation, and it’s no secret that March is one of the most popular times to visit Ireland because of (you guessed it) St. Patrick’s Day!
Whether you want to visit the Emerald Isle for the mid-March celebrations, or you prefer a quieter visit during another time of the year, now is the perfect time to plan your Irish Adventure!
The nickname “Emerald Isle” will make total sense to you as you fly over the patchwork of multiple shades of green that make up the landscape below; Ireland is just as beautiful from the sky as it is when you’re on the ground! And speaking of being on the ground, there are a multitude of ways to explore Ireland, from group tours to private tours to self-drive adventures; for this Inspiring Itinerary, we’ll be going with the self-drive Road Trip Adventure (and yes it really is an adventure, since they drive on the other side of the road in Ireland, just like in the rest of the UK, but don’t worry, this itinerary can also be taken as a tour with a driver, too).
After picking up your car at Dublin Airport, your journey will begin at your Castle Hotel, just north of the city center, where you’ll stop before exploring Dublin via Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour. The Hop-On, Hop-Off style tour is an excellent choice for discovering any new city, since it gives you the freedom to take more time at any location of interest. You can choose to take a tour of the famous Guinness Storehouse, the Teeling Distillery, the Irish Emigration Museum, or the GPO Museum, which details the fascinating history of the 1916 Rising, or any combination of these attractions! After you’ve taken in as much of Dublin as you can fit in one day, you’ll enjoy your first dinner back at your hotel.
Your first true day on the road will take you Northwest across the country. You’ll stop in the town of Roscommon to take in some Irish history by touring the National Famine Museum and Strokestown House. You can also visit the grand Georgian mansion, which depicts the distinct separation of classes during its time, and then stop by the Blakes of the Hollow Pub, which was founded in 1887 and described by a famous Irish author as “one of the happiest and most beautiful bars in the whole of Ireland.” If you’re a fan, you’ll recognize the official “Game of Thrones” door, which highlights the sixth season.
Continue your drive North to the legendary town of Donegal, known for its wools and tweeds, thanks to the sheep that thrive on the windswept hills of the area. After your day on the road, enjoy dinner at your hotel in Donegal before turning in for some rest.
After a traditional Irish breakfast, you’ll hit the open road again, heading toward the dramatic coastline. Stop in Teelin for the best views of the Slieve League Sea Cliffs, the tallest sea cliffs in Europe, with unparalleled ocean vistas.
As you head back toward Donegal, you’ll stop for some tweed and wool shopping in Ardara, where you’ll get to see weavers and spinners at work on their crafts. Once you make it back to Donegal, you’ll have time to explore the small town that was once a Viking Port, and be sure to converse with some locals for dinner recommendations for the evening!
Irish breakfasts are famous for a reason, so you’ll enjoy another at your hotel in Donegal before setting out on your journey for the day. First, you’ll drive to Fermanagh for a tour of world famous Belleek Pottery, where you’ll get to see, not only how the pottery is made, but also how Belleek Pottery became one of the most enduring success stories of Irish craftsmanship (and of course, do some shopping while you’re there).
And speaking of shopping, once your pottery tour is over, you’ll continue your drive to Galway, the bustling artistic town with charming shops and cafes along its medieval streetscape. In Galway, you’ll be treated to a walking tour with a local guide before heading to your hotel in town for dinner (and maybe checking out the nightlife about town afterwards, too).
As usual, you’ll start your day with Irish breakfast at your hotel to fuel you up for your day of exploration. Your drive today will take you in a loop toward the coast through the breathtaking landscape of Connemara, where the ever changing weather and cloud formations give the granite hills, twinkling lakes and peat bogs added dimension and beauty with their shadows.
Along your drive, you’ll stop at a Crystal factory in Moycullen to observe the fine glass-cutting techniques of highly skilled artisans (and perhaps pick up some crystals for yourself; after all, Ireland is well known for its mystic and magical elements as much as it is for its green landscapes and dark beers). Once you’ve completed your coastal loop, you’ll return to Galway for the evening, where you can take in the town at your leisure and seek out the favorite pub among locals.
Today is one you’ve surely been waiting for throughout your Irish adventure: after your Irish breakfast, you’ll set out on your drive through County Clare to the iconic Cliffs of Moher! These world renowned cliffs soar 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean along the West Coast of Ireland and attract visitors from across the globe. Walking (carefully) along the cliffs, you’ll see breathtaking views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands, in addition to miles upon miles of rugged cliffside.
After you’ve enjoyed the spectacular scenery along the coast, you’ll drive South down to Killarney, a traditionally quaint Irish town, where you can tuck into this evening’s dinner at your hotel for the night.
Today you’re in for another famous expedition: a scenic drive along the Ring of Kerry. After your traditional Irish breakfast, as always, you’ll set out on the day’s journey, stopping at the gorgeous Gap of Dunloe and Moll’s Gap with its panoramic mountain views. You’ll continue along the Dingle Peninsula, where you will find remarkable seascapes and charming villages steeped with character.
Once you’ve made your way around the Ring of Kerry, you’ll head back into Killarney for the evening, enjoying the charm of traditional pubs, and the hospitality of friendly locals around the small town.
I bet you know how today will begin: with a traditional Irish breakfast, of course! And today also holds yet another big name attraction: Blarney Castle. Legend says that if you climb to the top of the castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, you’ll be gifted with eloquence throughout your life. While many people have heard of the Blarney Stone, not many know that Blarney Castle was built almost 600 years ago by a great Irish chieftain, and that the castle sits among 60 acres of parkland filled with extensive gardens.
After taking some time to explore around the castle and gardens, you’ll head back into Dublin and have some time to walk around the city before dinner at the Abbey Tavern, where you’ll be treated to lively entertainment as you enjoy your Irish cuisine.
With one full day left on the Emerald Isle, you won’t want to miss your Irish breakfast before choosing what to do to cap off your Irish adventure. You can spend your last day in Dublin, exploring historic O’Connell Street, pub hopping through Temple Bar, having a look at the Book of Kells at Trinity College, or any number of other pastimes around Dublin. Or you can venture out to one of the charming seaside suburbs, such as Dalkey, or drive out a bit farther into the Wicklow Mountains to see Glendalough, the dreamy ruins of a sixth-century monastery, complete with several churches and high stone crosses, too.
Whatever you choose for your last day in Ireland, you won’t be disappointed, except when you think about having to leave in the morning, sadly. But before that, be sure to indulge in a fantastic farewell dinner in Dublin to celebrate your time on the Emerald Isle!
Unfortunately, when you’re on a vacation, there will be a goodbye to your chosen destination, but as always, if you have a home you love to go back to, that definitely helps take the sting out of the last day of vacation. And, you get one more Irish breakfast this morning before heading out to the airport to return your car and bid farewell from the air to the gorgeous greens below!
Ready to Plan?
If you are ready to experience the Emerald Isle for yourself, and would like to plan your Perfect Cross-Country Adventure in Ireland, contact your Love of the Magic Travel Agent today, or email hello@LOTMV.com. And of course, whether you want to journey to Ireland, or plan your next adventure somewhere totally different, your LOTMV Travel Advisor will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for.
Looking for more of our Inspiring Itinerary series?
You can find links to all of 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries in this Blog: A Year of Inspired Travel: 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries, Month by Month.
Just like last year, a new Inspiring Itinerary will come out each month!
So far, we have:
And don’t forget to check out our Friday Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! You can find links to all of Jamie’s 2022 Travel Tips at this Blog: Jamie’s 2022 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: A Recap.
Ready to plan The Perfect Cross Country Adventure in Irealnd? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com