See 1K Years of Irish History in a 5-Day Road Trip (Legendary Pubs Included)

There are as many reasons to see Ireland as there are people who travel to the Emerald Isle. History, geology, pub culture, folklore, and breathtaking views are all par for the course for travelers to the island.

If you have a few days to spare, you can soak up nearly all that Ireland has to offer while rolling through the southwestern half of the country. Here’s a road trip itinerary guaranteed to make you “ooh,” “ahh,” and promise to come back.

Day 1: Dublin to Kilkenny

After flying into Dublin and spending the night in Ireland’s capital city, prepare for a cross-country adventure full of historical sites and breathtaking views. Rent a car and set off on a short drive (approximately two hours) to the artsy town of Kilkenny.

Check in at the quaint Kilkenny House Hotel before heading to Kilkenny Castle, which was built in the 1100s. Then venture on to Dunmore Cave, which features some of the finest calcite formations in Ireland. Once you’ve had your fill of history and geology, return to Kilkenny to explore its many arts and crafts shops and downtown restaurants.

Day 2: Kilkenny to Killarney

Buckle up for a day of striking scenery. There are so many sights to choose from on this leg of the journey that you can’t go wrong. If you aren’t off-put by crowds, then don’t miss visiting the popular Blarney Castle or driving part of the gorgeous Ring of Kerry. For a (slightly) less traveled path, stop by King John’s Castle, the historic Swiss Cottage, or the Muckross Friary and traditional grounds.

Arrive in Killarney and check into the quirky and contemporary Ross Hotel. Since you’ll no doubt be tired from the long day’s drive, enjoy food and drink at the hotel’s restaurant before tumbling into bed.

Day 3: Killarney to Ennis

Explore Irish history on the way to the small town of Ennis by stopping by Bunratty Castle, the geologically marvelous Burren, and/or Craggaunowen – The Living Past, where you’ll learn how the Celts lived, farmed, and hunted in Ireland. Enjoy dinner in Ennis before retiring to the upscale Ashford Court Boutique Hotel.

Day 4: Ennis to Galway

Travel to the western edge of the country in order to take in one of the most gorgeous views around at the stunning and popular Cliffs of Moher (Fun fact: These are the so-called “Cliffs of Insanity” from the film The Princess Bride). If you’re still in an adventurous spirit after visiting the cliffs, head to Aillwee Cave, which was formed by glacial melt waters and is situated close to Galway.

Finish the drive to Galway and check in at the luxurious Jury’s Inn, located near the historic Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum, and Eyre Square (If you’re feeling budget-conscious, consider staying in the friendly Galway City Guesthouseinstead). After dumping your luggage, enjoy dinner and drinks at any of Galway’s many restaurants and pubs.

Day 5: Galway to Dublin

Spend the morning exploring the sites of Galway before hopping back in the car for the three-to-four-hour ride to Dublin. If you fancy some detours on the way back to the capital city, stop at medieval Athenry Castle, the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise, or Trim Castle, where Braveheart was filmed.

Upon returning to Dublin, settle in at the supremely well located Blooms Hotelbefore enjoying dinner and drinks out on the town. Whether you retire early or partake of the Temple Bar neighborhood’s pubs all night, be sure to contemplate what a wonderful trip it’s been.

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on August 25, 2015

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Dublin Like A Local

I’ve been to Ireland 3 times (so far). I have the good fortune to have some great Irish friends so going to Dublin is not a typical tourist experience. I get picked up at the airport and get driven around town. The trip is largely planned out with pub nights (almost every night), dinners and visits to worthwhile venues. It’s great fun and gives a very local perspective.

As a local, you DON’T go to Temple Bar (“it’s too damn expensive”); you don’t go to the Guinness Storehouse Tour (“I already worship Guinness- every night”); you don’t limit your shopping to Grafton Street (“stay north of the Liffey with fewer tourists”).

As a local, you DO go to your “local” (the pub in your neighborhood where you know almost everyone who walks in the door); you do have your regular shops (like the Bretzel bakery where they know you and your order as you walk in); you do order multiple drinks at last call (because the barman can’t leave or kick you out before you are done).

As a tourist, you might not notice the extent of Ireland’s economic problems. There is job fear at every level. Employers take advantage of workers. Taxes continue to increase on almost everything. You might notice a lot of taxis – there are in fact more taxis in Dublin than in New York City! As a tourist, you should go and see the Book of Kells, Christchurch Cathedral (the basement is spooky), and the Kilmainham Gaol Tour (Old Dublin Jail from the 1800s). Entrance to all museums, including the National Gallery, the National Museum of Ireland and Trinity’s Douglas Hyde Gallery, is free. Dublin is a great town with lots to see and with lots of great people.

Whatever you do, don’t call an Irishman “British” (the Republic of Ireland is not part of the U.K.). And don’t stop for the weather, i.e. rain. It’s either about to rain or will rain later in the day. Bring rain gear and enjoy. It’s all part of Ireland.