WHAT TO SEE ON AN 8-DAY TOUR OF IRELAND
There is so much you can see and do on an 8-day Ireland road trip. In just over a week you could immerse yourself in the landscapes and historical landmarks of this Celtic country. Explore lively Irish cities and charming countryside as you take in the culture, history and beauty of the Emerald Isle.
With 8 days you have plenty of time to go from Dublin to the west coast by car. As well as getting to know the capital, you could visit the towns of Galway, Killarney and Kilkenny as part of your tour.
Of course, 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.
If you’ve never visited Ireland before, prepare to be delighted at every turn. 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.
Read our recommended itinerary below for more inspiration and ideas.
Here’s our suggestion for an 8-day Ireland tour:
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.
There are plenty of fun activities 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 the night in the Dublin area.
Day 2 - Drive to the west coast
This morning you start your road trip around Ireland. You’ll cross the country to make your way toward the west coast. Through the midlands there are a few worthwhile stops to make on your journey.
You can immerse yourself in local history at Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. You could make a pit stop at Kilbeggan Distillery to see how the local whiskey is made. You’ll also come across the atmospheric ruins of Clonmacnoise where you could go for a stroll.
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 3 - Explore Connemara or the Aran Islands
Today you have a choice between visiting Connemara National Park or the Aran Islands on a day trip.
For the first option, you could drive through the striking region where 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.
To discover Gaelic culture and soak up coastal views, spend the day touring the windswept Aran Islands by boat.
Spend another night in the Galway area.
Day 4 - 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 the best castles in Ireland to visit thanks to its location along the Galway Bay. You’ll then drive through the spectacular and lunar-like Burren.
In the afternoon, take in the majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s top tourist attraction. You can’t help but marvel at these dramatic coastal cliffs, towering 214 metres (702 feet) above the sea.
Spend the night in the Killarney area.
Day 5 - 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.
Along the way you could also take an optional boat tour from the coast to see the Skellig Islands from up close. These otherworldly islands were recently featured in the Star Wars movies.
If time allows, you could finish the day by visiting some highlights of Killarney National Park. This includes the picturesque Torc Waterfall and the lakeside Ross Castle and Muckross House.
Spend another night in the Killarney area.
Day 6 - Castles and cities of the south
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.
You’ll also have time 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.
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.
Spend the night in the Kilkenny area.
Day 7 - Experience more of Ireland’s rich history
Be sure to check out the castle and other landmarks in Kilkenny town before you start your journey back to Dublin. You could drive directly there, but to take advantage of your last full day in Ireland, we 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 8 - Departure
Today you fly home from your Irish holiday. If you have time, you could spend the earlier part of the day visiting another of Dublin’s museums. Or take a final stroll along the River Liffey or in one of the beautiful parks of the city.
Want to go on an Ireland road trip?
With 8 days 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 led by tour guides 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 time in one city than another? Add another town to your trip? Or even stay in a special accommodation like a castle hotel? Just ask your Nordic Visitor travel consultant for advice.
Want to stay longer?
If you want to slow down the pace and take in more Irish attractions, we highly recommend extending your self-drive tour to 10 days or more.
All of Nordic Visitor’s Ireland self-drive tour packages can be tailored by our regional experts. They can add extra nights at select locations or modify the driving routes if you have any particular attractions in mind. Just ask!
For example, if you add two more days to your itinerary, you could follow the Wild Atlantic Way route to reach Ireland’s northernmost county, Donegal. And with 14 days or more, you could visit the island in greater depth and travel at a more leisurely pace.
The possibilities are endless. You could dive deeper into the Ring of Kerry, visit Achill Island, or explore the Dingle Peninsula and admire views of the Blasket Islands. You might also like to pop into Northern Ireland, home to the famous Giant’s Causeway, Belfast, and the Antrim Coast.
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 8-day Irish getaway. 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. We recommend a minimum of 10 days for this, however, so you can have plenty of time to dive into the cultures of both countries.
Spend the first 4 to 10 days driving around the rugged Highlands and islands of Scotland. Then follow that up with another road trip around Ireland to take in all the jaw-dropping coastal landscapes and historic landmarks.
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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