WHAT TO SEE ON A 3-WEEK TOUR OF IRELAND
Spend 3 weeks in Ireland to visit the stunning scenery and ancient landmarks of this beautiful Celtic island. The ideal holiday is to take some time to explore the cities as well as the countryside. With 3 weeks it is possible to travel leisurely across the Emerald Isle.
Starting from Dublin, you’ll have time to discover Northern Ireland and journey along the Wild Atlantic Way route on the west coast. Three weeks gives you plenty of time to stop at the highlights of Ireland as well as off-the-beaten-path gems with flexibility.
If you haven’t visited Ireland before, you’ll be astonished by how much you can see in three weeks.
Imagine yourself wandering through ancient Celtic monuments, going for a walk on the green hills, and learning about Gaelic culture. You could sit in a typical pub tasting the local brew and listening to live Irish music. Immerse yourself in the culture, history and beauty of Ireland.
Read our recommended itinerary below for more inspiration and ideas.
Here’s our suggestion for a 3-week Ireland trip:
Day 1 - Arrival in Ireland
After touching down at Dublin Airport, a private driver will take you to your hotel in the capital, largest city and international hub of Ireland. If you arrive earlier in the day, you can spend the afternoon at your leisure, exploring the city and its many attractions.
Dublin is a heady combination of heritage sites, fun museums, green parks, historic pubs and lively entertainment. To immerse yourself fully into this buzzing city, we recommend taking a stroll along the cobbled streets of the Temple Bar district or along the characterful O’Connell Street.
Fans of history, books and collegiate atmosphere will want to visit the historic Trinity College and see the ancient Book of Kells.
Spend the night in the Dublin area.
Day 2 - Explore the capital
You have the full day to get acquainted with Dublin even more. On a sunny day you may enjoy a stroll in Phoenix Park, located west of the city centre. You could visit Dublin Castle and stop to admire St Patrick’s Cathedral, which dates back to 1220.
There are plenty of fun activities and day tours you could also add to your itinerary should you have the time. Enjoy an afternoon tea in a double decker vintage bus as you sightsee around the city. Or you could grab a pint at the Guinness Storehouse for a taste of their world-famous beer.
Spend another night in the Dublin area.
Day 3 - Discover the midlands
For a full tour of Ireland, we recommend going for a day trip from Dublin to the midlands. This region is usually used as a passage for people driving directly to Galway on the west coast, but there are gems that are worth exploring.
You can immerse yourself in local history at Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Make a pit stop at Kilbeggan Distillery to see how the local whiskey is made. Finally, enjoy a stroll at the atmospheric ruins of Clonmacnoise, founded in the mid-6th century by Saint Ciarán.
To discover Gaelic culture and spend a leisurely seaside day, opt for the boat trip to the windswept Aran Islands.
Spend another night in the Dublin area.
Day 4 - Historical sites en route to Northern Ireland
Today you drive north from Dublin and head to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.
Along the way you could make stops at some fascinating historical sites. Visit the 12th-century Malahide Castle, home to gorgeous gardens. Continue to the megalithic passage tombs of Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s thought to be older than the Egyptian pyramids.
You’ll also have time to see the high crosses of Monasterboice before you cross the border into Northern Ireland.
Spend the night in the Belfast area.
Day 5 & 6 - At leisure in Belfast
You have two days to discover all that the capital of Northern Ireland has to offer. Belfast is an exciting city which you can easily explore on foot. We recommend you to pop into some cafés or restaurants to experience the flourishing food scene.
Visit the Titanic Belfast museum to learn all about the famous “unsinkable” ship, which was built here in 1909. Take a walk to see the murals splayed on the Peace Walls, which once divided the Protestant and Catholic communities during “The Troubles”.
You could also admire the impressive City Hall building in the heart of Belfast. Or travel just outside the city to visit the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
Spend both nights in the Belfast area.
Day 7 - The Antrim Coast and Giant’s Causeway
Leave the city behind and make for the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. If you loved Game of Thrones, you’ll want to stop at the Dark Hedges. This striking avenue is lined with twisting beech trees and served as a backdrop in the hit TV series.
Take a stroll along the coast at Carrick-a-Rede and enjoy views of the craggy cliffs. Then continue to the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s most unmissable attraction. Admire the basalt columns of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, lapped by the Atlantic Ocean’s waters.
Cross back into Ireland to reach County Donegal, stopping at the Bushmills Distillery and Dunluce Castle on the way.
Spend the night in the Donegal area.
Day 8 - The Wild Atlantic Way
Prepare to witness more breathtaking Irish scenery today as you begin the Wild Atlantic Way driving route.
Marvel at the mountains, lakes and forests of Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal. Drive over the Glengesh Pass and enjoy sweeping valley views. Make a stop at Glencolumbkille Folk Village, a living-history museum that shows you what life was like in rural Ireland over the centuries.
You can end the day looking out over Slieve League, huge cliffs that rise up to 600 metres (nearly 2,000 feet) from the Atlantic Ocean.
Spend another night in the Donegal area.
Day 9 - Highlights of the Sligo coast
Continue your journey by heading south to County Sligo. You’ll see the unmistakable shape of the flat-topped Ben Bulben mountain ahead of you. Make a stop at Mullaghmore to explore the village and sandy beaches, with the table mountain in the background.
Next you could visit the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery to encounter 5,000 years of history. We also recommend a stop at Downpatrick Head for a stroll atop the sea cliffs, providing you with stunning views of the coast.
Spend the night in the Westport area.
Day 10 - Along the Achill Island
Spend your morning wandering around the charming town of Westport, dotted with delightful shops, cafés and pubs.
You’ll then drive over to the remote and beautiful Achill Island. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, you can follow the Wild Atlantic Way around the island.
There are many worthwhile stops along the way. Take in the view from the top of Minaun Heights and breathe in the fresh sea air at the beautiful bays of Keel and Keem. We also recommend stopping by Slievemore, an abandoned village with the ruins of traditional stone cottages.
Spend another night in the Westport area.
Day 11 - Connemara National Park
Make your way through the striking Connemara National Park. Here you’ll find a mixture of landscapes from mountains to white sand beaches, tranquil lakes and heathlands. You could spend some time exploring the fjord of Killary harbour before visiting Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian Walled Garden.
Then, arrive in Galway city and find out why it is famous for being a cultural hub in Europe. Taste delicious seafood from the Atlantic Ocean and perhaps check out the lively pub scene.
Spend the night in the Galway area.
Day 12 - Galway and the Aran Islands
This morning, you can enjoy wandering around Galway at your leisure. We then recommend taking a ferry to the Aran Islands. These three windswept islands are one of the few places where the Gaelic language, culture and music still truly thrive.
You’ll arrive on Inis Mór where you can opt for a traditional horse and carriage tour, the most popular way to get around. You won’t want to miss the prehistoric fort Dun Aengus overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Spend another night in the Galway area.
Day 13 - The Cliffs of Moher
Today you’ll see some of Ireland’s most famous landscapes. But first, start the day at Dunguaire Castle. It is one of Ireland’s best castles to visit thanks to its location along the Galway Bay. You’ll then cross into County Clare which is home to the spectacular and lunar-like Burren National Park.
In the afternoon, take in the majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s top tourist attraction.
Spend the night in the Doolin area.
Day 14 & 15 - Explore the Killarney National Park
Begin the day with a visit to Bunratty Castle, thought to have originated as a Viking trading post in 970 A.D. Then, if time allows, take a look around Bunratty Folk Park, adjacent to the castle. Here you can see what life was like in rural Ireland 100 years ago, with its reconstruction of a typical Irish village.
You’ll then drive south to the Killarney National Park. You have two days to explore all the highlights of this superb area. Spend some time in the town of Killarney. You could also visit the lakeside Ross Castle and Muckross House and Abbey.
Don’t miss the picturesque Torc Waterfall where you could go for a stroll. You could enjoy an optional boat tour on Lough Leane, or a ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage in the national park.
Spend both nights in the Killarney area.
Day 16 - Around the Ring of Kerry
You have all day to explore the scenic Ring of Kerry, a magical drive through the Irish countryside and along the coast of the Iveragh peninsula. It is part of the larger Wild Atlantic Way and is a must-do for most visitors.
We recommend going counter-clockwise and stopping at the Kells Bay House and its gardens as your first visit of the day. You could then stop by the ancient stone forts of Caherdaniel and Staigue as well as stroll along Derrynane Bay.
From the end of the peninsula, you could take an optional boat tour to see the remote Skellig Islands from up close. These otherworldly islands were recently featured in the Star Wars movies.
Spend another night in the Killarney area.
Day 17 - Dingle Peninsula
Today you take on a different but no less spectacular peninsula. You can start by visiting the charming town of Dingle with its colourful port. You’ll then join Slea Head Drive, one of the most spectacular routes in Ireland.
Along the way, you could stop at the picturesque Dunquin harbour and the Blasket Centre, which tells the story of the Blasket Islanders. Admire and learn all about the myths surrounding the unique Gallarus Oratory. Finally, drive over the Conor Pass, Ireland’s highest road, offering expansive views across the peninsula.
Spend another night in the Killarney area.
Day 18 - A taste of the south coast
Drive south from Killarney, over the winding Caha Pass, to reach the charming little village of Glengarriff on the Beara Peninsula. Here you could spot a local seal colony on a boat trip to Garnish Island.
Continue directly to the city of Cork or stop at the most southerly point in Ireland, Mizen Head, on the way. You could make a quick detour to Kinsale, a small town on the south coast. With its pretty harbour, 18th-century houses and leafy hills, it’s certainly worth a visit.
Take the rest of the day to explore Cork, Ireland’s “second city”. Soak up the buzzing vibe in cafés and restaurants, explore the River Lee’s waterways, and wander through 17th-century alleys.
Spend the night in the Cork area.
Day 19 - Medieval castles
Today you’ll head east to Kilkenny, but we suggest you break up the journey by stopping at some top Irish attractions.
One of them is the famous Blarney Castle. It is legendary in fact as the castle and its history is surrounded in myths and tales. Don’t miss out on kissing the Blarney Stone, which supposedly gives you the gift of eloquence.
Later, discover the spectacular Rock of Cashel, which is home to an important collection of medieval buildings that span over 1,000 years of history.
You’ll also have time to check out the castle and other landmarks in Kilkenny town.
Spend the night in the Kilkenny area.
Day 20 - Through the Wicklow Mountains
Today you head back to Dublin. You could drive directly there, but to take advantage of your last full day in Ireland, we highly recommend passing through the Wicklow Mountains.
A natural haven awaits you here in this beautiful national park. You’ll see glacial valleys, glassy lakes and soaring mountains, with the chance to spot local wildlife too. Visit Glendalough – “the valley of the two lakes” – to discover a round tower, stone churches and ancient crosses that date back centuries.
Spend your last night in Dublin, where you can top up your Irish adventure with one last delicious dinner.
Day 21 - Departure
Today you fly home from your Irish holiday. If you have time, visit some of Dublin’s museums. Or take a final stroll along the River Liffey or in one of the beautiful parks of the city.
You can then make your way to Dublin Airport via the convenient public transportation or by taxi. You could also book a convenient private transfer from your hotel with Nordic Visitor.
Want to go on an Ireland road trip?
The journey is just as important as the destination when you’re on a road trip. In Ireland you can expect scenic drives and plenty of attractions to stop at along the way.
With 3 weeks driving around Ireland, you’ll have the freedom to pull the car over at any attractions or breathtaking views.
The best part? You won’t have to worry about where you’re going or sleeping, because your Nordic Visitor travel consultant will plan your trip and sort all the details before you arrive.
We reserve your accommodation, rent a car for your trip, and can book activities to fill your days with more adventures. You’ll also have access to our 24/7 emergency helpline should you need to call us at any point.
Good to know: Our tours aren't set in stone. We can modify the itinerary! Would you prefer to spend more or less time in one location? Add another town to your trip? Just ask your Nordic Visitor travel consultant for advice.
When is the best time to visit Ireland?
Ireland is a beautiful country all year long. This means you can’t go wrong when you book your 3-week driving tour of Ireland. That said, we recommend the summertime or its shoulder months for the best experience.
The summer, consisting of the months of June, July and August, is the high season. It is marked by long daylight hours and the best (and most stable) weather of the year. Attractions also operate under longer hours and more availability than in winter.
All of this means you can discover Ireland to your heart’s content.
However, you may find that top attractions are very popular at this time. Indeed, Ireland attracts visitors from around the world especially in summer.
If you would rather have a quieter holiday, visit during the spring or autumn. These shoulder months include April, May, September and October. During this time, you’ll find the best of both worlds: quieter attractions but plenty of good weather and daylight to explore.
Are you interested in exploring Scotland too?
You could combine a tour of Ireland with a road trip around Scotland for an epic Celtic itinerary. With 3 weeks, you’ll have plenty of time to dive into the cultures of both countries.
Spend the first 10 days of your tour in Scotland. Here, you’ll drive from Edinburgh, the capital, into the famous Highlands and to the Isle of Skye. You’ll then fly to Ireland to follow that up with another road trip. Prepare yourself for jaw-dropping coastal landscapes and historic landmarks galore.
Scotland is a great destination to complement a tour to Ireland. Their cultures and history are so closely linked and you’ll be able to meet the locals and get immersed in both.
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