7 Days in Ireland

Ireland Itinerary | A Foolproof 7 Day Road Trip [2021]

Trying to craft that perfect Ireland itinerary? I’ve got you covered with a foolproof, “all-done-for-you” 7 days in Ireland itinerary which will satisfy even the most picky traveler!

Why a week? Well, it’s enough time to cover the highlights of Ireland and get a good taste for the Emerald Isle.

Why visit Ireland? Though I’m famously not a fan of popular travel destinations, I’ll confess I’ve fallen in love with Ireland. And I want to help you fall in love too!

What’s in this post:

Let’s get planning:

7 Day Ireland Itinerary

The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, a must stop on any Ireland itinerary
Me trying to look cool at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

7 days in Ireland gives you time to comfortably see a good amount of the country. My 7 day Ireland itinerary takes you to three strategically-situated bases (Galway, Killarney, Dublin) for exploring the country.

I personally followed this itinerary when I visited Ireland, which I carefully crafted from recommendations from my Irish social media followers. And, wow, it was just the perfect route for exploring Ireland! Of course, I always encourage travelers to forge their own path. So at the end I’ll give you suggestions for other road trip stops to consider.

πŸš— Note: this itinerary can be done as an Ireland road trip or using public transportation (see the trip planning section below for practical info).

Day 1 – Galway

Boats in dock in Galway Ireland
Galway harbour

You probably thought you were going to start in Dublin right?

Relax, you’ll get there!

But I think Galway is the better introduction to Ireland because its strategic position means it’s a great base for day trips to two of Ireland’s stunning national parks, plus you’ll save time by avoiding going in and out of Dublin traffic upon landing!

If you arrive in time, take a drive to visit Connemara National Park. Admission into this stunning national park is free and it is filled with trails that take you through mountains, forests, bogs, coastline, and more. Alternatively, wander the city streets and soak in the festive atmosphere of Galway. Meander down Quay Street, around the Latin Quarter, and take a walk towards the Spanish Arch. If you need more activities to keep you busy in Galway, check out this helpful article.

In the evening, have a traditional Irish dinner at The Quay Street Kitchen and then grab a pint at O Connel’s Bar.

How to Get to Galway

  • πŸš— Rent a Car at Dublin Airport – If you are up for a road trip, Ireland is perfect for it! The drive is stunning and car rentals can be really cheap if you compare prices through Discover Car Hire, which is an awesome site for comparing prices and customer reviews from dozens of different local rental agencies.
  • 🚌 Take the Airport Bus – A 3-hour direct bus runs straight from Dublin Airport to Galway. If the timing of your flight is right, you can use it to head straight west upon landing in Ireland.

Best Places To Stay in Galway

Pro tip: hotels in Ireland fill up fast, but you can take advantage of Booking.com‘s generous cancellation policies to lock in a great hotel now even if you’re not 100% sure of your exact itinerary.

Day 2 – Cliffs of Moher

What to See in Ireland in 7 Days: The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher, accessible via day trip from Galway

On day 2, let’s take a day trip to the Cliff of Moher! These enormous cliffs are Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction. And, despite the growing crowds, they are truly incredible. You can visit on your own if you have a rental car, or otherwise the best way to do it is as part of an organized day tour.

If going by tour, this is definitely the best one to choose as it is pretty affordable and it will break up the journey to the Cliffs of Moher by stopping at the incredible 500 year old Dunguaire Castle, the gorgeous rolling hills of The Burren, and the Celtic Crosses at Kilfenora.

After your tour, return to Galway and dine at the Michelin-starred Aniar Restaurant or, if you’re in the mood for pub grub, at The Front Door on Cross Street. Alternatively, if you rented a car, you can save a bit of travel time by continuing on directly from the Cliffs of Moher to our next stop …

Day 3 – Killarney National Park, Ballybunion

What to See in Ireland in 7 Days: Ross Castle in Killarney
Ross Castle in Killarney National Park

From Galway, drive or hop the 3 hour bus to Killarney (via a change in Limerick), where you’ll be greeted by a charming town whose main street is lined with pubs, restaurants, and an assortment of uniquely Irish shops.

The first thing you should do is visit Killarney National Park, a gorgeous park that is free and accessible simply by walking from the Old Town (you could also go cycling and hiking in Killarney National Park). The highlight of the park is definitely the gorgeous Ross Castle on the southern end.

πŸ‘‰ Suggested Day Trip: If you have time on Day 3 of your Ireland itinerary, consider a side trip to the quaint seaside town of Ballybunion. An hour or so away from Killarney lies this charming outpost on the Wild Atlantic Way, where you can spend the day hiking along stunning cliff walks. If the weather is right, you might even be able to catch some rays on the dramatically-situated beach. And when you tire yourself out, you can simply walk into town, grab a seat at a pub, and order up a pint or shepherds pie.

🍽️ Back in Killarney for the evening, grab a table at local favorite Treyvaud’s Restaurant.

🍺 If you still have energy afterwards, saddle up to a bar stool for a pint at The Laurels Pub.

Best Places To Stay in Killarney

Day 4 – Ring of Kerry

Signs in Kenmare Ireland on the Ring of Kerry
Kenmare is a popular stop of the Ring of Kerry

The iconic 179 kilometer long Ring of Kerry loop takes you through green fields, panoramic lookouts, coastal cliffs, villages, and tons of ancient history. Even if you didn’t rent a car for your entire Ireland 7 day itinerary (you really should – here’s a great Irish road trip route), this is definitely the one day that it’s worth taking a road trip!

πŸ‘‰ Need a rental car? Be sure to search Discover Car Hire, my favorite rental car search engine, now to make sure you lock in your vehicle for the epic Ireland road trip.

🚌 Hate driving? You can still do the Ring of Kerry via this group tour.

Popular stops along the Ring of Kerry include:

  • Skellig Rocks – a UNESCO protected monastery ruin on some dramatic jagged-rock islands.
  • Portmagee – a seaside village with bright and gorgeous buildings.
  • Torc Waterfall – one of the many popular waterfalls along the route.
  • Kenmare – an adorably picturesque town with bright colored buildings.
  • Staigue Fort – a very old stone fort where the rocks have managed to lock together for ages without mortar or any kind of binding.

See this article for a full listing of what to see along the Ring of Kerry.

πŸ‘‰ Pro tip: If driving the Ring of Kerry, go counterclockwise to avoid the tour buses along the road.

🍽️ 🍺 In the evening, return to Killarney and go out and enjoy the antique dining room at BricΓ­n Restaurant before checking out Murphy’s Bar Killarney.

Day 5 – The Dingle Peninsula

Road leading to Slea Head coast
The drive in Slea Head is gorgeous

On your fifth day in Ireland, you’re going to it’s westernmost part – the Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula is one of the more stunning spots along the Wild Atlantic Way, where gorgeous green fields top jagged cliffs guarding wild beaches.

🚌 From Killarney, Dingle is about an hour drive.

🚌 Prefer a tour? join this highly-rated tour from Killarney. The tour will take you to Inch Beach, a stretch of golden sand made famous in several movies, including Playboy of the Western World. You’ll also tour Slea Head, arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of Ireland’s coast line, before ending in the fishing town of Dingle.

🐬 Fun Fact: Dingle is the home port for a dolphin named Fungi who is known to actively seek out human friends. Maybe if you luck out, you’ll be Fungi’s latest friend!

🍽️ 🍺 You can return to Killarney or overnight in Dingle. If the latter, grab dinner at Out of the Blue or The Global Village Restaurant.

Best Places to Stay in Dingle

Day 6 – Dublin

Book s at the Trinity College Library
The interior of the Trinity College Library

On Day 6, drive or take the train to Dublin. If driving, along the way see the Rock of Cashel on your way to see a historic 12th century tower and fortress.

Settle into your Dublin hotel (πŸ‘‰ reserve asap, by the way, as the good Dublin hotels fill up fast), then join a Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour to quickly take in the top sites of Dublin.

Don’t miss the Trinity College Library. Nestled in the middle of the city, Trinity College is a retreat from the bustle of Dublin proper, and the iconic Trinity College library is a popular spot to snap those Instagram photos.

🍺 In the evening, grab a drink at The Temple Bar. This popular bar is undeniably a bit of a tourist trap. But it’s so popular that the entire surrounding nightlife district bears its name. So join the other travel lemmings for a pint or four and see where the night takes you.

πŸ‘‰ Pro tip: If you like group tours, this is a good listing of the most popular ones in Dublin.

Best Places To Stay in Dublin

Day 7 – Dublin

Pints of Guinness Beer
Thirsty yet?

End your Ireland 7 day itinerary with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse. Probably the most popular thing to do in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse is a multi-level exhibition dedicated to the dark stout which is so heavily ingrained in Ireland’s culture. The self-guided tour concludes with the chance to learn to pour a perfect pint of Guinness at the Guinness Academy.

🎫 Tickets cost 26 euros for an adult and can be bought online in advance if you want to skip the line.

In the evening, take this excellent and affordable walking tour that explores the spooky and haunted side of Dublin.

🍽️ For your last dinner in town, book a table for a night of fine dining at the posh Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.

Options to Extend Your Ireland Itinerary from 7 to 10 Days

Pink house in Doolin Ireland
A pink house in Doolin

While I think that the above 7 day Ireland itinerary is perfect for a good sampling of what Ireland has to offer, you certainly don’t have to do what I did and there is a lot more to explore on your Ireland road trip if you want to craft your own adventure.

If you have a little more time for a 10 day Ireland itinerary, other popular destinations in Ireland include:

  • Doolin and The Aran Islands – A tiny village near the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin was one of my favorite places in Ireland. You can hike the cliffs from here, or use it as a base for visiting the Aran Islands, windswept islands off the coast where you can get around by pony cart.
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland – Take a detour up to Northern Ireland. Known as the home of the Titanic (an odd distinction, but one the city claims nonetheless), Belfast can be used as a base to visit many Game of Thrones filming locations, as well as the beautiful Giant’s Causeway. Foodies will also love the many excellent Belfast restaurants to choose from.
  • Cork – A relatively large city by Irish standards, Cork sits along a gorgeous waterfront. From here, you can take a day trip to kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle.

Things to See in Ireland in a Week

What to See in Ireland in 7 Days: A Coastal Walk in Ballybunion
A coastal walk near Ballybunion, Ireland

However you exactly structure your Irish 7 day itinerary, you’re going to want to make sure that you take in the following essential Ireland experiences one way or another:

Lush Greenery in the Irish Countryside

They don’t call it the Emerald Island for nothing. The entire island is covered is dozens of shades of green, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a corner of Ireland that’s not Instagram-ready — it’s just that pretty of a country!

If you’re wondering what to see in Ireland in 7 days, look no further than out your window!

Castles and History

Ireland has been inhabited for thousands of years, and has the history to prove it. History buffs will be spoiled in Ireland’s Ancient East, while those who dream of past lives as princes or princesses will feel at home in Ireland’s many majestic castles.

Pub Culture and Hospitality

The Irish people are famed for their warmth, their cheer, and their joviality (you’ve probably heard of a little holiday called St Patrick’s Day). You’ll feel right at home in Ireland’s welcoming culture, whether it’s watching a traditional dance to Irish music, listening to a storyteller regale an audience with centuries-old fables, or just saddling up to a bar stool for that perfect pint of Guinness (or Ireland’s other stout – Murphy’s!).

Incredible Coastal Walks and Hikes

Ireland is surrounded by three thousand kilometers of jagged coastline, giving visitors access to gorgeous and often empty beaches, popular surfing spots, and plenty of walking trails above and around dramatic cliffs.

Ireland Road Trip Planning

Narrow roads in Ireland
Driving in Ireland be like ….

Transportation is Ireland is plentiful and relatively affordable. Let’s talk about the three main ways to explore Ireland:

  1. πŸš— Rent a car – Renting a car in Ireland is shockingly cheap, and perfect for making an Ireland road trip itinerary. It’s a great way to give you the freedom to explore the gorgeous countryside by yourself.
    • πŸ‘‰ Pro tip: Check out the Discover Car Hire search engine to compare various Irish rental agencies and get the best price.
  2. πŸš† Train – Ireland’s trains are really excellent in quality, but the network unfortunately doesn’t go quite everywhere you might need. A train from Killarney to Dublin ran me 33 euros.
  3. 🚌 Bus – For routes where the train doesn’t run, this is the only option for those without a car. There are decent buses between most destinations, however. I paid 20 euros to go from the Dublin Airport direct to Galway, and 19 euros to go from Galway to Killarney (with a change in Limerick).

Driving in Ireland

  • Ireland drives on the left side of the road.
  • Get the smallest car possible as country roads can be very narrow.
  • Roads are safe, but make sure you have travel insurance for Ireland.
  • Rentals are often cheaper away from Dublin (another reason this Ireland road trip itinerary starts in Galway!).

Tips for Your Ireland Trip

A boat in front of Ross Castle in Killarney
A boat in front of Ross Castle in Killarney
  • πŸ’° Money: Ireland uses the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted, though some places operate on a cash-only basis.
  • πŸ—¨οΈ Language: English is the dominant language, though Irish (or Gaelic) is sometimes used as a written language — though it will almost always be paired with English writing as well.
  • β˜” Weather: All that green grass has to come from somewhere. So you should always have a raincoat or an umbrella handy (read our review of the best travel umbrellas for recommendations!). And if visiting the Wild Atlantic Way, be prepared for high winds along the cliffs (they don’t call it “Wild” for nothing!). Still, if you can handle some rain and a little chill, Ireland is one of those European destinations that can be visited year round.
  • ✈️ Getting to Ireland: Dublin and Shannon airport have frequent flights to Europe and North America. Irish budget carrier Aer Lingus has recently begun heavily expanding it’s direct routes to the United States, meaning that round trip flights can often be found for $500 USD or less.
  • πŸ“š Ireland Guidebooks: If you want more detailed information on other options for what to see in Ireland in 7 days, use this trick to get a free copy of Lonely Planet’s Ireland guide.
  • πŸ“± Communication: Wifi is ubiquitous in Ireland. If you have an unlocked cell phone, you can purchase a local SIM card to get cellular data.
  • 🍻 “Enjoy the Craic!”: You’ll hear the Irish use the word “craic” frequently, often saying something like “enjoy the craic.” For the un-initiated, the word roughly means “fun,” “party,” or “atmosphere.”

How Much Does Ireland Cost?

People walking past Temple Bar in Dublin Ireland
The streets of Dublin, Ireland

As with any destination, how much you spend in Ireland depends a lot on your travel style. You could splash out drop hundreds of euros a night on a super posh castle hotel like this one, or you could get away with spending 12 euros a night on a hostel dorm bed.

With that said, here are some rough guidelines for how much it costs to travel Ireland:

🏘️ Housing Costs

  • πŸ›οΈ Bed in hostel dorm room: 15-20 euros/night (more in Dublin on a weekend)
  • πŸ›ŽοΈ Private room, shared AirBnB, or budget hotel: 40-60 euros/night
  • 🏘️ Airbnb (entire house): 80-200 euros/night
  • ✨ Luxury hotel: 200+ euros/night

🍽️ Food and Dining

Figure 15-20 euros/day if eating at supermarkets, fast food places (try SuperMacs – the Irish version of McDonald’s) and street vendors, 30 euros or more if eating at restaurants.

🍺 Drinks

4-6 euros for a pint of Guinness, 6+ euros for a cocktail at a bar

Fanad Lighthouse in Donegle Ireland 7 day itinerary
The Fanad Lighthouse in Donegle, Ireland

πŸš— Transportation

20-30 euros for bus or train ticket between cities, though with prices starting at just 30 euros per day, renting a car may be competitive economically (πŸ‘‰ pro tip: use Discover Car Hire to compare costs at various rental agencies).

🀸 Entertainment

There are many free or affordable options, including coastal walks, public performances, and more. Entrances fees for castles and sites typically range from 2 to 15 euros.

⚠️ Travel Insurance for Ireland

One place you definitely don’t want to skimp on is travel insurance. I used World Nomads, though you can also use this site to compare hundreds of companies and find the best travel insurance provider for you.

πŸ‘‰ Pro tip for saving money: The first thing you need to realize when planning to tour Ireland on a budget is that Dublin is significantly more expensive than the rest of the country.

While hardly any traveler is going to want to skip Dublin altogether, you can save money by limiting your time there. So be sure to save your euros and end your trip with a bang by exploring this exciting city.

***

That’s it for this mega Ireland road trip itinerary guide!

Didn’t get to absorb everything here? Be sure to bookmark this perfect Ireland itinerary for later.

Enjoy your trip to Ireland! And if you have other ideas for what to see in Ireland in 7 days, just let me know in the comments!

A guide to what to see in Ireland in 7 days on a budget,. This itinerary for the budget traveler will take you through Galway, Killarney, and Dublin, taking in the top sights in Ireland along the way.
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Looking for a perfect itinerary for your trip to Ireland on a budget? We’ve got you covered. Take a day trip to the #CliffOfMoher from #Galway. Be amazed by #Ireland’s beautiful castles and bask in its rich history. Why not visit the gorgeous beaches and check out some of the best spots for surfing? As a bonus, this guide also includes practical tips for traveling the Emerald Island.
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8 thoughts on “Ireland Itinerary | A Foolproof 7 Day Road Trip [2021]”

  1. Where did you rent a car from? I’ve been looking and haven’t found anything remotely as cheap as what you describe.

    1. Hey Alex! Check out Auto Europe (which I just found through Kayak). I just doubled checked and to rent one for tomorrow from Dublin Airport for a couple days is running 8-12 USD from either Dollar or Hertz. Admittedly that’s for a super compact car but sedans aren’t much more anyway (15 usd or so).

  2. I appreciate your sharing. I really like to share your all these images which looking very nice and cool. I also enjoyed myself while I was visiting this kind of places. I am sure your shared information would be useful for all visitors which who have a plan to go there in coming up days.

    1. I think Ireland is better explored by car if you don’t mind driving! The trains are a good option too, but a car let’s you get out and see more of the countryside, which in my opinion is the best part of Ireland.

      Enjoy your trip Richard!! You’ll love Ireland.

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