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A 14-Night Fly-Drive Itinerary visiting Dublin, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Kenmare, Dingle, Doolin, Galway and Malahide.
This could be altered to a 12-night duration by reducing time in Kenmare, Doolin and/or Galway.
All distances and drive times are taken from the aa routeplanner website. Please note: drive times are the minimum it will take to complete a journey; please factor in extra time to allow for possible traffic delays. Please also factor in adequate time to visit sites en-route, lunch break and rest stops.
Days 1-2 - Dublin
Arrive Dublin airport and take public transport (or taxi) to City Centre.
Do check out the Dublin forum - particularly the box on the right featuring "frequently asked questions", where you'll find a wealth of information.
This is also a useful site:
Popular places of interest: Guinness Storehouse; Trinity College; Christ Church Cathedral; St Stephen's Green; Grafton Street; Temple Bar.
You can either explore further places of interest in the City, or you might like to take a guided tour to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains, or Newgrange and the Hill of Tara, which lie north of the City.
Day 3 - Dublin - Kilkenny (approx. 125km, 2hrs drive)
Collect rental car and head for the medieval city of Kilkenny, which has several buildings of historical interest: Kilkenny Castle; St Canice's Cathedral; the Tholsel; Shee Alms House.
The Kilkenny Design Centre is also worth visiting for quality made items designed and crafted in Ireland.
The surrounding countryside is very beautiful and worth exploring if you have a day to spare: Jerpoint Abbey; Kells Priory; Bennetsbridge (craft shops); Inistioge Village and Woodstock Gardens.
Day 4 - Kilkenny - Rock of Cashel - Kinsale (approx. 185km, 3hrs drive).
Leave Kilkenny early and head for the awe-inspiring Rock of Cashel, which lies just over an hour's drive away from Kilkenny. An early arrival will get you there before the crowds and tour buses.
Allow min. 90 minutes to explore this significant historic site before driving to Kinsale, a popular and bustling town on the coast of co. Cork.
This pretty harbour town has built up a reputation for fine cuisine over the years. You might like to research some restaurants and make a dinner reservation, particularly if staying at a weekend or during Peak Season (July/August) or holiday time.
Many of Kinsale's narrow streets are one-way, and finding a parking place during busy times can be a challenge. Recommend you book accommodation with parking, leave the car and explore Kinsale on foot.
Day 5 - Kinsale to Kenmare via the south coast of Cork, Bantry and the Caha Pass. (approx. 145km - min. 3hrs, nonstop)
Although this route can be driven in just over 3hrs, do not rush through this glorious landscape. Spend a day leisurely driving along the coast, through pretty villages and towns with their interesting sites:
Timoleague: Ancient Friary
Clonakilty: Model Railway Village
Glandore: Drombeg Stone Circle
Skibbereen: Heritage Centre and Famine Museum
Bantry: Bantry House
Glengarriff: Garnish Island (allow several hours)
Arrive in Kenmare late afternoon. You will find an excellent range of accommodation, restaurants and pubs in this little town.
Overnight Kenmare for 3 nights.
Days 6 - 7
Kenmare is a super base from which to explore the Beara Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, or pop over Moll's Gap to Killarney to visit Muckross House and Gardens, Torc Waterfall and Killarney National Park.
Day 8 - Kenmare - Dingle (approx. 100km, min. 2hrs)
Either drive non-stop to Dingle, 'tho you might want to stretch your legs at Inch Strand on the way. Another opportunity to see places in/near Killarney if you haven't had time. Your route will take you over Moll's Gap, past Ladies View, Muckross House, Killarney Town and near the fabulous Gap of Dunloe.
Dingle is another town with an excellent range of accommodation, restaurants and pubs. Check the reviews on Tripadvisor for ideas.
Recommend reservations at restaurants if staying at weekends, or during peak holiday season.
Overnight Dingle for 2 nights.
Day 9 - Slea Head Drive
Spend a full day exploring the breathtaking beauty of the Dingle Peninsula. The above link will give you details of places of interest along the route.
Day 10 - Dingle to Doolin via Shannon Ferries and Loop Head (approx. 250km, min 5.5hrs)
Time to say farewell to Dingle. For a final stunning view, drive over the Connor Pass to the northern side of the Peninsula, and on via Tralee and Listowel to the ferry at Tarbert.
Click on the above link which will give you full details of the journey.
Overnight in Doolin for 2 nights.
Doolin was once a tiny fishing village on the coast of Clare, facing the Aran Islands.
Today it is a very popular destination for those travellers keen to hear traditional music in the pubs. During the height of the season, most pubs ensure that there is live music every night.
Accommodation in Doolin (mostly guest houses and b&bs with a couple of hotels) is spread out along a couple of country lanes (unlit at night). Pubs are within walking distance of most: recommend you bring a torch to light your way home.
Note: Doolin is a very popular destination and can be very crowded during the height of the season and over holiday weekends and weekends. You may find at weekends that hen and stag parties descend on the pubs for a good night out: with the result that you can't hear the music!
If you feel this is not what you're looking for, then consider staying in the pretty village of Ballyvaughan on the north coast of Clare - approx. 40 minutes drive beyond Doolin.
Day 11 - Burren Highlights
The Burren is a fascinating limestone landscape scattered with historic remains.
Click on the above link to discover more about this area and plan your day.
Overnight Doolin (or Ballyvaughan).
Day 12 - Doolin - Galway (approx. 80km, min 2hrs)
Today, drive north along the coast and around Black Head. Opportunities to park the car on the roadside and admire views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay.
On through Ballyvaughan to Kinvarra and just beyond Kinvarra, Dunguaire Castle on its rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. The Castle is only open certain months, so check if you wish to look around.
Arrive Galway around lunchtime; afternoon to explore the city on foot.
Overnight Galway for 2 nights.
Day 13 - Connemara
Head out of Galway into beautiful Connemara; you could easily spend several days in this area alone, but if you're pushed for time, take in some of the highlights: Killary Harbour, Kylemore Abbey, and little towns and villages: Oughterard, Clifden and Roundstone.
Day 14 - Galway - Clonmacnoise - Malahide (approx. 140km, min 4hrs)
Your last full day in Ireland, and time to head east towards Dublin airport.
En-route you might like to visit Clonmacnoise: a peaceful monastic settlement with several interesting building and High Crosses, overlooking the River Shannon.
Allow approx. 1hr to explore.
Malahide is a pretty seaside town within short driving distance of Dublin Airport, and a popular location for a final night's sleep in Ireland.
Check the reviews for restaurants and make sure your last night in Ireland is celebrated (or mourned!!) in style!