Ireland runs in my veins – quite literally, considering that my ancestry is 25% Irish. I’ve been to the country a handful of times and even celebrated a birthday once in Dublin. But, up until this summer, one major item on my Ireland bucket list remained unchecked: going on an Irish road trip.
Along with believing that Ireland is the perfect destination for a family vacation, I also think that Ireland is a great destination for a road trip. It’s a relatively small country with short driving times, and there are interesting things to see and do around every bend.
I finally got the chance to take my dream Ireland road trip this summer with my mom and sister. And, while the tiny roads did make me nervous at times, I absolutely loved the overall experience and highly recommend it as the best way to explore Ireland.
If you’re thinking that you might want to plan an Ireland road trip of your own, here’s a great 10-day itinerary you can feel free to steal!
This itinerary hits up a lot of the highlights on the Emerald Isle, but also includes some cool spots that you may not have heard of before.
(Traveling to Ireland with kids? Here’s a kid-friendly Ireland road trip itinerary, too.)
A 10-day Ireland road trip itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin
The best place to start your Ireland adventure is in Dublin, the country’s capital and largest city. Dublin is a fascinating city, with tons of history sitting right alongside modern buildings and a university atmosphere.
Even though this is a road trip itinerary, I actually suggest that you DON’T pick up your rental car until Day 3 of this trip, right before you leave Dublin. You don’t really need a car in order to get around Dublin, and waiting to get your rental will save you some money AND the stress of driving and trying to find parking in Dublin city.
When you arrive, you can hop on the Airlink bus (€6 per adult) to get from Dublin Airport to the city center. From there, you can actually walk to many places, use the Dublin Bus, or use rideshare companies like Hailo or Uber.
When traveling with my family in a new big city, I always look into getting tickets for a hop-on-hop-off bus, which can act as both city tour and transport. In Dublin, definitely go for the green DoDublin hop-on hop-off bus. This is the original bus tour company in Dublin, and all their buses have guides onboard doing live commentary.
If you arrive in Dublin early enough, you might want to do a loop on the bus to get a feel for the city, and for what you might want to check out in more detail on Day 2.
You’ll probably be jetlagged after an overnight flight, so plan for an early night tonight. If you’re looking for an interesting place to have dinner, consider checking out The Church near the Jervis Shopping Center, or The Bank on College Green. Both are converted restaurants (one in an old church, one in an old bank), and serve classic Irish food in a cool pub atmosphere.
Total driving time: 0 hours
Where to stay in Dublin: On my last trip to Dublin, I stayed at the relatively new Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre, which is very central and walkable to a lot of things. (Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here)