A week in Ireland is both enough time to see a bunch of places, and not enough time at all. The good news is Ireland is pretty small (compared to the US anyway) but I still struggled a bit with deciding exactly what to include in our stay and what to skip, so I’ll give y’all a quick itinerary in case you’re in the same boat. Ultimately, we decided to pass up Northern Ireland and ended up going to Dublin, Cork and Galway. Belfast and Giant’s Causeway will have to be next time.
Day 1: Dublin
We had a red eye flight and landed at 7:30am so I was s t r u g g l i n g this whole day due to my inability to sleep on airplanes. So we went straight to it — breakfast, Trinity College, Guinness Storehouse, check in to our Airbnb, back out for dinner.
Trinity College / Book of Kells / Long Room
Gotta be honest, I could have skipped the Book of Kells part but it was included in the cost of the ticket. The Long Room, on the other hand, is SO COOL. In terms of libraries it’s probably the prettiest one I’ve seen. A worth it touristy thing.
Another toursity thing I was first meh about but I ended up enjoying despite the fact that I was so tired by this time the beer was making me hallucinate. A short self-guided tour where you learn about how the beer is made, and at the end they teach you how to pour, and then get a pint for yourself! It is true what the people say, Guinness tastes different in Ireland (in a good way). I drank it all week and now I can resume never drinking it again at home where it’s bad.
We figured out the bus system and I am really proud of us! You can buy a leap card at any Spar convenience store and add however much money you want to it, then use it on the bus or the train! Hooray! Less walking!
Day 2: Dublin and Howth
Howth is a cute lil seaside town just outside Dublin so we spent the daytime exploring there. It’s about 30 or 40 minute train ride from city center. Do the cliff walk, eat fish and chips, drink some beer.
That night we headed back to Dublin for all the bars. All y’all party people beware, bars close kind of early in Ireland? We’re talkin like 12:30 which is fine by me, an old, but it’s no New York. That doesn’t stop people from getting p wasted though. If anything people just start drinking earlier which is more my cup o’ jo anyhow.
I’ll link all the food and bar suggestions at the end of the post, btw.
Day 3: Cork
We picked up our rental car this morning and headed off to Cork, about 2 hours away. We only stayed here for one night and I took zero pictures which is typical of me because it was home to one of my favorite bars we went to and also a very good restaurant. Cork is really small, and one day here was enough to get a little taste of it imo.
Day 4: Killarney National Park & The Burren
We left Cork and basically spent the entire day taking our time driving over to the farmhouse we booked for one night. Killarney was nice, but driving through the Burren is also an activity in itself. This is where the roads get realllll narrow (like, you might need to backup to find a place to pull over if somebody comes the opposite way narrow). Which is exactly my kinda shit because I always say it’s not vacation unless you get kinda scared while driving at least once.
Day 5: Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands and Galway
Y’all, I want to go back to Ireland and do only this day, over and over again for a week straight. Cliffs of Moher are a given, but I am so glad we ended up seeing them by boat rather that from the top. We took a ferry that brings you to the Aran Islands, drops you off to explore for a while, then drives you under the cliffs. Guys, the island we went to, Inis Orr, was COOL AS HECK. There were old graveyards, super old castle tower things, a shipwreck (!!!) and exactly one pub. It was great.
If you want to do this boat tour, you can pretty much just go to the Doolin pier and there’s bunch of companies that do the same thing you can purchase a ticket from there.
Day 7: Galway
Galway is about an hour from the Cliffs of Moher. You could easily do the cliffs as a daytrip from Galway also, we chose to see the cliffs before heading to Galway for the night. The next day (day 7) we spent the whole day in Galway. This was my favorite city we went to, and it felt the most Irish in that it most matched the stereotypical picture of an Irish city in my mind. It’s REALLY small, you can probably walk the whole thing in 15 minutes, but there’s a million pubs/shops/restaurants. Maybe it’s just because we were here on a Saturday, but I also found it absolutely wild. Guys, people were knocking them back and going NUTS but in like, a fun non-threatening, I just want to chant a soccer cheer in the middle of this pub kind of way.
Day 8: Back to Dublin
We spent one last night in Dublin before a really early flight home.
Transportation tip #2
We picked up and dropped off our rental car at the airport, but didn’t have it while we were in Dublin. None of us had driven on the opposite side before, and we ended up having no trouble (just repeat “tight left,” “wide right” every single time you make a turn, you’ll be ok.) I think I would have been nervous had I needed to drive through Dublin, though. There’s just a lot of one ways and traffic and it just seemed like a lot.
Lastly, Where to Eat and Drink
Brother Hubbard - Very good breakfast/brunch/coffee/pastries
The Fumbally - This place was so good we went twice. Small breakfast menu but their eggs were so amazing. Honestly this place looked like you plucked it straight out of Williamsburg except it was less busy and I liked it better because it was Dublin and not New York.
The Brazen Head - Apparently Dublin’s oldest bar? They had a nice beer garden, and a good selection of traditional Irish food which I thought was actually very good.
The Long Hall - And Irish pub-y kind of Irish pub
The Bar With No Name - Basically just a big living room with couches and tables. I loved this place. It felt like being at a chill house party where you don’t know anybody so then you just sit on the couch with the four people you came with for a few hours.
Murphy’s Ice Cream - Ice cream is the only dessert that matters and this place has very innovative flavors which is an important ranking factor in my ice cream approval. My suggestion is the brown bread. There is also a Murphy’s in Galway and also maybe a few other places?
Abbey Tavern - Real good for a midday pint in a dark, stone-walled pub.
Mutton Lane - One of my favorite bars we went to. You will definitely miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s in a very small alley with christmas lights, which is always a plus for me.
Gallagher’s Gastro Pub - Fancier versions of Irish dishes plus we got a very good and reasonably priced cheese board.
Funny enough, we only ended up in this town because the only pub in the town we were staying in ended up being closed for the season, but the restaurant and pub we went to here were both amazing.
Monks - So good! A lot of seafood but you’re on the ocean so this is the place to get it.
O’Lochlainns Bar - A whiskey bar where I learned I like Green Spot whiskey, which is then what I ended up drinking for the remainder of the trip.
Tig Coili - A real good pub. It was packed both nights but everyone was fun, there’s traditional irish music, a good time.
O Connell’s Bar - This place was wild. Upon walking in it looks small, but there is a HUGE beer garden out back, a bunch of bars within. And, oh no, I just realized this bar is the one that’s “home to Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl” which …. ruins it and makes sense all at once.
Coffeewerk + Press - The only coffee shop from this trip worth recommending. Extremely cute, good coffee, and lots of little gifts and locally made things for sale.
Ard Bia at Nimmos - If you eat anything in Galway go here. We had brunch which was amazing, but their dinner looks to die for also.