DISCOVER MY 9 DAY ITINERARY
In September 2018, I went all around Ireland with my entire family. Here's my itinerary with my recommendations:
Day 1 - Dublin
Dublin Castle Tour
After arriving in Dublin, we made our way to the city center and stored our luggage before heading to the Dublin Castle. Except, it's not much of a castle.
Recommendation: Skip it. This tour was underwhelming.
There are other museums I would have preferred to check
This place was great! Conveniently located right by the meeting spot of our walking tour. I had a super classy cheese toastie. =)
Recommendation: Go for it! Ambience was great. Food was good. Location was perfect for site-seeing.
Free Walking Tour
I ALWAYS recommend a good walking tour any time I'm in a new city. New Sandman's once again did not disappoint. This is a must do! They offer a range of tours. If you only have time for one, I would go with the Free Tour of Dublin.
Recommendation: Go for it! Our tour guide, Hennessy, was passionate, energetic, and knowledgable. Learned a lot about Irish Famine (or as they call it, "The Great Hunger") and so much else.
Beer at Teac na céiBé
After a little down time, we grabbed a beer at this bar near our Airbnb. This place had live music and a surprising amount of locals which was great. I ordered a local Irish beer: Rock Shore Lager.
Recommendation: Go for it! Good spot, but nothing exceptional. This place was super crowded which I love, but many do not.
Show at Abbey Theater
This is Ireland's version of a Broadway theater, but it's not quite the same. The show was called "Jimmy's Hall," a musical based on true events in Irish history.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. That being said, I loved it! I'm a huge musical nerd, so I enjoyed every second, but... you don't go to Ireland for the theater, ya know? So if you're limited on time and/or don't care about musicals, I would skip.
This is a pub near the Molly Malone statue. It was recommended by our walking tour guide. It was quite touristy, but they had traditional Irish music and Irish dancers which was cool.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. Not the best bar, but not the worst either.
37 Dawson Street
After O'Neals, we headed to a club to meet up with a friend. This place, 37 Dawson Street, is just north of St. Stephen's Green: antique furniture everywhere, multiple levels, a separate Whiskey bar.
Recommendation: Go for it! If you like dance clubs, this place is great. The location was a little inconvenient from our apartment in Temple Bar, but it was filled with locals and you won't get bored in this giant club.
Day 2 - Dublin
Buy a ticket online to get in to see the Book of Kells and the incredibly famous Old Library, also known as the Long Room. The Book of Kells are an incredible piece of history from the 9th century. It's bucket list worthy!
Recommendation: Go for it! Taking pictures in the library is worth the price of a ticket alone. It's gorgeous!
This small, cozy place was right by our apartment in Temple Bar... and it was incredible! Best scone I've ever had in my life: I ordered the sun-dried tomato and feta...
I would fly back just for this scone.
Recommendation: Go for it! You will not be
Breakfast at the Queen of Tarts
After walking around Trinity's campus, we took a quick stroll through the park before lunch.
Recommendation: Skip it. There are much better and more beautiful parks in Ireland--the whole country is gorgeous country side!
St. Stephen's Park
We took a long walk from St. Stephen's Park on our way to the Guinness Storehouse and stopped at the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral on the way. We didn't go inside for a tour, so if you don't have time. Do what we did! Just hang out in the park for a bit and enjoy the view.
Recommendation: Go for it! Gorgeous, famous, super old, what more could you ask for?
St. Patrick's Cathedral
We stopped for lunch at 1837 Bar and Brasserie which is inside the Guinness Storehouse. This had great views of the city and good food too!
Recommendation: Go for it. I was surprised by how good the food was. The Guinness Storehouse is huge and kind of in the middle of nowhere. This is a great place to take a food break.
Lunch at 1837 Bar and Brasserie
This is the #1 tourist spot in Dublin. We definitely got lost in here for a few hours. So many levels and interactive booths, drinking and food and Irish dancing and a rooftop bar with a killer view.
Recommendation: Go for it! The Irish love their Guinness and this is the place to learn all about it.
After a little nap and some refreshing, we headed to our Irish Music Pub Crawl. We met at the Oliver St. John Gogarty's, the promptly went to the Ha Penny's Bridge Inn and ended at Brannigan's Pub.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. Don't let the title fool you, this is a calm tour of quiet pubs where tour Irish musicians teach you about the history of music in Ireland.
Bar Hopping in Temple Bar
Merchant's Arch: We followed the music and ended up in Merchant's
Arch. The alley way in the back had some major Diagon Alley vibes. Possibly the most memorable part of the bar.
Recommendation: Go for it! We liked this place so much we returned on the last day of our trip.
The Fitzgerald: Walking toward our apartment in Temple Bar, we stopped inside The Fitzgerald. This was filled with young travelers screaming Wonderwall at the top of their lungs. It was so entertaining, we danced the night away.
Recommendation: Go for it! If you're feeling youthful.
Garage Bar: Our last stop of the night was at Garage Bar. This was only steps from our apartment. This was quite a disapointment though. The outside seemed like it would be really cool inside, but it was just really divey.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. If dive bars are your scene, this is perfect for you.
Day 3 - Dublin to Waterford
Quick Stop at Spar
In Enniskerry, we stopped for gas and snacks. Like a lot of European places, the had the best homemade treats! We stocked up on water and Irish candies and had to try one of the delicious looking pastries. It was delicious.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. If you're in the area and you need to stop for gas then definitely make sure to pick up one of these pastries. I wish we had bought a dozen!
Tea at the Powerscourt Estate
This is a beautiful place famous for it's waterfall and estate
gardens. We didn't buy the pass, but optioned for the free
version of tea on the terrace. This place was gorgeous! It was
a lot of fun sitting outside in the sun having proper tea time
with the family. The view is great. We didn't have time to tour the gardens, but we could see them from the terrace where we sat (which I think is the better end of the deal).
Recommendation: Go for it! This is a very relaxing stop, perfect for a break up in your road trip. The estate was lovely and you can't really go wrong with tea time.
The Waterfall is a part of the estate grounds. It's another lovely place, but after going to Iceland... it's not a super impressive waterfall. Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. I would not go out of your way to make it to the Powerscourt Estate, but if you are in the area, it's a great stop for a little bit of nature.
Donaghmore Cemetery and Beach
Cemetary? Wait... what? Ha, that's right. On my
family trip to Ireland, we had to visit our Doyle
relatives! I guess it sounds weird, but honestly...
it was one of the highlights of our trip. There were so
many Doyles in the village! It was pretty tough to find,
but we eventually found our closest relatvies Paddy &
Cecily Doyle. The plot overlooks the beach and everything was green and blue for miles. There was
an abandoned church on the plot as well, overgrown with plants and vines. We took quite a photo op. Recommendation: Go for it! If you have close family ties in Ireland where you can trace back to a
specific village and relatives like we did, you should definitely go there. Like many Americans, the
Doyles emigrated from Ireland during the famine. Honestly, this was crazy cool.
Dinner at the Upton Court Hotel - Sean Og's Bar
This was a recommendation given to us from a local we met at the cemetery and it did not disappoint! All of their beef is raised literally in the backyard. I ordered the roast sirloin and a local Wexford craft beer--twas good.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. Not a lot of people travel to Wexford, but if by chance you're in the area, I would definitely stop here! One of my best meals in Ireland.
Quick stop at the Castle at Enniscorthy
Not much to see here except a cute town and a small castle. We waved hello and grabbed some ice cream nearby and we were back on our way.
Recommendation: Skip it.
Music and card playing at the Granville Hotel
We arrived at our hotel in Waterford. Very nice, antique place. We sat at a table in the bar area and listened to subpar live music while we played cards and finally got some wifi. Recommendation: Go for it! If you are traveling in Waterford, I would definitely stay at this hotel. Good location and nice rooms.
Day 4 - Waterford to Killarney
Breakfast at The Granville Hotel
A lovely spread to start the day! The breakfast was complimentary with our stay, not only including the breakfast bar but also hot options to order off the menu with table service.
Recommendation: Go for it! Once again, a great hotel I would stay at again.
King of the Vikings
We explored Waterford after breakfast and split up the gang. My mom and two sisters went to see the famous Waterford crystal factory, while my dad went to the Waterford Museum. My brother in law Spencer and I did the #1 rated activity in Waterford: King of the Vikings VR experience. So cool! You really get to experience the Viking history of the east coast of Ireland.
Recommendation: Go for it! VR is crazy cool and when you match it with a sweet history lesson where you feel like you’re in a Viking raid... I’m there.
Coffee at the Waterford Cycle Center
We had to wait a beat for our other family members and we saw a sign that said coffee. I had to do a double take because... it’s a bike garage. But Lo and behold, they had a coffee maker and made me a pretty decent cappuccino.
Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. This garage had nice people that we chatted with for a while. As far as coffee goes, it was the closest one to the VR place, so it worked out just fine!
Lunch in Cobv at Coffee Cobv
We got on the road headin to Killarney and stopped at the charming town of Cobv for some much needed lunch and water. This town was the last stop the Titanic made before heading out to sea. It’s cute and on the sea and I regret my going to the Titanic museum.
Recommendation: Skip it. This lunch spot was fine. Nothing crazy. If you’re looking to save money, it’s a good spot. But I have a feeling there are better places in Cobv.
Arrive in Killarney - Scott's Hotel
Killarney! Ah, what else can I say... this place is a MUST VISIT on a trip to Ireland. My parents almost didn’t put it on the itinerary, but I made them. ;) It’s got small town vibes but it’s far from sleepy. Our hotel was okay; good location though.
Recommendation: Go for it! Killarney’s great... and the hotel was fine.
Killarney National Park - Ross Castle
After checking in, we swiftly made our way to Killarney National Park. We walked it—which took a long time and I don’t recommend. But I also don’t condone the use of horse drawn carriages. I would suggest renting a bike! Make your way around the park and make sure to check out Ross Castle. An old castle from the 14th century that overlooks a small lake. This was one of my highlights from my trip when I was 18. Eight years later... I still loved it!
Recommendation: Go for it! Going back, I wish we had more time dedicated to Killarney. So much to see, you gotta check it out.
We stumbled upon this place because it had Courtney's name on it! It was really cool inside and super fun that you could purchase flights of beer. We taste-tested all Kerry-local beers and had our cheese and onions chips to go with it! (Yum!) Not the heartiest of dinners, but it's my favorite food--beer and chips.
Recommendation: Go for it! This place had live music too. It was packed with tourists and locals a like. I would definitely go back here.
Bar Hopping: Failte Bar, Social 15, and The Grand
Failte Bar and Restaurant: We said good night to the parents (and the pregnant sister) and found a bar with some live music. We drank a beer and played some cards. This seemed like a real locals place.
Recommendation: Skip it. It was fine, but nothing special.
Social 15: We wandered the streets a while looking for a fun place to go and were given some free passes to a couple clubs, one of which was Social 15. It was renovated from a church into a club and was really cool. We would have stayed longer, but it was a Tuesday... in Killarney. It was quite dead.
Recommendation: Go for it! (On a weeknight.)
The Grand: We swiftly hopped next door to the other place that gave us free admission, and thissssss was where everyone was on a Tuesday night! A live band was playing with a huge crowd! Possibly one of my funniest memories from the trip was screaming Wonderwall with everyone else. Boy... they really like that song, it's like the 90s never left Ireland. =)
Recommendation: Go for it! This place is cool and big and renovated from the other half of the church. Would definitely go again!
Day 5 - Ring of Kerry to Doolin
Breakfast at Scott's Hotel
Complimentary breakfast felt complimentary, if ya know what I mean.
Recommendation: Skip it. There's gotta be a better hotel in Killarney.
Driving the Ring of Kerry
After breakfast, we hopped on the road and around the Ring of Kerry. We didn't get to go around the whole thing, but looking back I wish we had carved out and entire day of driving around and another night in Killarney. Ah, hindsight. But with limited time, we drove part of the way and went onto one of my favorite activities of the trip: Sheepdog Demonstration! I'd like to point out that if we had time, I would have also wanted to do the Kerry Bog Village, which is a look into the past of how people lived and survived in county Kerry.
Recommendation: Go for it! This is a must do in Ireland. The countryside is gorgeous and you get to see a lot more of the non-English-ized Ireland.
Caitin's Pub for Sheepdog Demonstration
My favorite activity! If you're like me (and my entire family) and you're obsessed with animals to a ridiculous degree, this is MUST DO. This was the most memorable part of my Ireland trip back in 2010 when I was just an 18-year-old baby and I told my parents that this HAD to make it on the itinerary for our family trip. Everyone loved this too. You get to watch an old Irish shepherd speak about all the different types of sheep in Ireland and then show you how his dogs herd them. The dogs are incredible. The sheep are hilarious. The shepherd is so cool.
Recommendation: Go for it! It's only 5 euros and it's a wonderful break from driving around.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
I love this place! Personally, I'm a fan of this type of activity. The castle is restored and you get to wander around inside and see how tiny all the rooms were! The kitchen, the master bedroom, the bathroom, even the secret hiding place the children would spy on the adults during townhall type meetings. Real Game of Thrones vibes. The rest of the park is lovely too: tons of animals and fun little activities.
Recommendation: Go for it! This is fun and it breaks up the drive to Galway/The Cliffs of Moher depending on your location.
Lunch at Mac's Pub in Bunratty
Recommendation: Skip it. Not much else to say except don't eat at the park.
Drive to Liscannor - Adventure to Find our AirBnB
Oh lordy. Winding roads. Setting sun. No internet. Unprepared senile father trying to find his way through the cliffs of Moher. My dad--and if you know my dad this will make sense to you--literally walked inside another man's home while he was watching TV and goes, "is this Claire's cottage?!" I swear he must have scared the crap out of that old Irish farmer. Luckily, and magically, the old man knew where we were trying to go. We arrived to find a primitive cottage--no heating, no wifi--but it turned out to be kinda awesome. It was, however, a bit like a horror movie. Caitlyn and I opted to sleep together, sardine style, on the couch in the living room instead of going up some rickety stairs into an attic. I swear we would have been haunted by the ghost of the Cliffs of Moher or something. A coal fire place ended up heating the entire cottage no problem--it was cool to see old technologies in action.
Recommendation: Really. Depends. I'm not sure this was worth the trouble for one night. If you're looking for a couple nights of no phones, no outside world--just you and some nature--this is great. But it was really out of the way for a quick 10 hours and we were woefully underprepared and brought no food.
Dinner at Joseph McHugh's
We had to drive out into the nearby town. Dinner was nice, but nothing exceptional. Liscannor is a very sleepy town and this was our only food option. However, I had the best rhubarb tart of my life. So much so, that it is now my favorite dessert. Recommendation: Eh, if you have time. If you're stuck in the small town with no where else to go, this is your place!
Day 6 - Doolin to Aran Islands to Galway
Cliffs of Moher
After scrounging the cabin for breakfast (we found some toast), we walked along a cold, windy path and made it to the Cliffs of Moher. This short walk might have been worth the trouble of finding the place and the lack of heat and food. We had our own private few of the gorgeous cliffs that are the most photographed attraction in Ireland. The lush green hills in juxtaposition to the wild atlantic… no wonder people love the Cliffs of Moher. They are fantastic—even when it’s so windy and cold you are reminded of the gorgeous natural world we live in and the shivers don’t seem so bad.
Recommendation: Go for it! You can’t leave Ireland without hanging out with these beauties… it’s just a requirement.
Tour of Inis Mean - Aran Islands
We got off the ferry without a plan and LUCKILY was greeted by a taxi driver named Michael. My dad almost said no thank you, but thank goodness he didn’t! There were no cars or buildings for miles! Michael offered us a tour of the Island from his taxi van and we were swift to accept. Michael ended
up being the saving grace of our day
trip. An otherwise boring island was
made tolerable and even somewhat
interesting by his guidance.
Recommendation: Go for it! If you
find yourself forced to go to Inis
Mean for whatever reason, make sure
you get a tour by Michael. He’s one of
two taxi drivers on the island, so
chances are… you’ll find him!
Coffee and Lunch at Teac Otsa
Michael dropped us off at one of the only restaurants on the island for some coffee and lunch. We had a jolly time playing cards and hanging out.
Recommendation: It’s the only restaurant on the island… so you don’t really have any other choice. Lol.
Tour of Teach Synge
Back in the van with Michael! We stopped at the house where the semi famous playwright, James Synge, stayed while he wrote and lived on Inis Mean. The woman who gives the tours was wonderfully passionate—the house had been in her family for generations, and she could literally tell you anything you ever wanted to know about the island and James Synge.
Shopping at the Knit Factory
Our last stop of the day because catching the ferry
back to Doolin was the Knit Factory where exquisitely crafted woolen sweaters are made and sold and
shipped all over the world. We all got a few sale items.
Recommendation: Go for it! I love getting authentic souvenirs when I travel and buying a wool sweater
from the Aran Islands definitely qualifies.
Ferry Back to Doolin, then Drive to Galway
The return trip to Doolin was much calmer than the initial voyage, and we got a great view of the gorgeous Cliffs of Moher. Then we were off to Galway!
Dinner at Kasbah Wine Bar
After checking into our apartment in Galway, we hungrily walked to Quays Street – the famous street in Galway which houses many bars and restaurants. I’m happy to say we stumbled upon this restaurant. It might be the best meal we had in Ireland! We ordered so much food I lost count—I feel like we got everything on the menu. Wine and beer was flowing too. Recommendation: Go for it! This place was truly amazing. It’s a wonderful break from all the Irish meat and potatoes and to top it off, it’s got a really cool atmosphere. I would definitely head right back to this restaurant next time I’m in Galway.
Music at Tig Coili
After dinner, my sister, brother-in-law and I headed to Tig Coili for live music. This was recommended to us by the woman who worked at the Knit Factory on Inis Mean who is a musician. It was a great place full of locals and tourists alike.
Recommendation: Go for it! Grab a pint and watch the pros jam out some Irish tunes.
Day 7 - Galway
Breakfast at Revive Cafe
We said goodbye to my pregnant sister and brother-in-law and started our day at the Revive Café for some brekky. I had some stellar nutella crepes (but they called them pancakes). Recommendation: Go for it! This place was good, cute, and had free wifi: the perfect trifecta.
Free Walking Tour of Galway
Once again, I love walking tours! I chose the Tribes Free Walking Tour of Galway. Michael was our tour guide and he was fantastic. I truly feel like these tours are always the highlights of my trip. Learned a lot about Galway funny history and strange connection to Ed Sheeran. Recommendation: Go for it! I have yet to be disappointed by a free walking tour.
Lunch at The Pie Maker
This pie. Was. So. Good. Recommendation: Go for it!
The Pie Maker is conveniently
located and the food was great.
I got the Irish beef stew pie and
the only thing I’m mad about is
that I split it with Caitlyn and
didn’t eat it all myself.
Shopping around Quays Street
We just kinda faffed around the city; popping into shops and watching street musicians and artists. Both Caitlyn and I purchased art from Senan O’Connor. They are hanging in my house now. Really great drawings and a really nice guy. Recommendation: Go for it! Galway was my favorite city when I visited in 2010 and it once again proved to be my favorite in 2018. It’s a young, funky town with tons of musicians and artists. Reminded me of New Orleans—an energy on the streets you can’t find everywhere!
Coffee at Butler's Chocolate Cafe
Popped in for an afternoon cappuccino.
Found out you get free chocolate with your
Recommendation: Go for it! Grab some chocolate for yourself and then by some for your friends and family back home.
Blow Out at Zenith Hairdressing
My sister and mom went
shopping at T.K. Maxx
(the Irish version of T.J. Maxx)
and I opted to find a hair salon.
I love me a good blow out, especially while traveling. Wash my hair for me and make it look baller? Yes please!
Recommendation: Go for it! It was like 20 euro and I got a free glass of wine and a nice chat with Jade, my hair stylist. The Irish really are the friendliest people.
Dinner at Cooke's
Typical Irish fair at a slightly upscale restaurant in Galway. Enjoyed more Irish beef and wine before saying goodbye to my parents and going on a pub crawl with Caitlyn.
Recommendation: Go for it! The food was good and the atmosphere was very nice. If you’re looking for Irish fair, this is a great place.
Tribes Pub Crawl
Our walking tour from the morning also did a pub crawl, and per usual… Caitlyn and I were the first ones to sign up. Hey, after spending every waking moment with your parents for the last seven days… you know, you just need a little time apart. We were pleased to meet our guide Fergus at The Skeff. This place was huge! Recommend checking it out. Turns out we didn’t have enough people to go on the tour, so instead we went on an unofficial Galway pub crawl lead by friendly stranger Fergus (and I definitely took the lead a couple times, cuz you know… I’m no stranger to blindly leading pub crawls). We started at Darcy’s which was a little quiet, but swiftly went over to O’Connell’s. Super cool! The outside section is made to look like an old-timey street. Cool place. After, we headed to a couple places that most tourists don’t know about. We crossed the river and went to The Salt House—a super cool dive bar. After that, we went dancing at a crazy cool club called Roisin Dubh.
Recommendation: Go for it! Not just the pub crawl, but all these places were so interesting and different. We had a blast meeting people from all over the world and getting to chat with a ton of locals. Always a blast!
Yet another breakfast of nutella pancakes (although this particular morning, Caitlyn and I were slower on our feet). Then we headed out on the road back to Dublin!
Breakfast at Revive Cafe
This place was really cool. There is so much history tied to the Easter Uprisings and so much of Irish history is dependent on the events that transpired at the jail. There was a story of one of the jailed rebels marrying his childhood love at the prison… they only got to see each other for those 20 minutes and he was swiftly taken to be executed shortly after. The chapel remains.
Recommendation: Go for it! The old jail is quite out of the way, but if you have time in Dublin, this was a very cool attraction and very important in Irish history. It’s truly amazing how many children were arrested during the famine for stealing food. A real Jean Valjean predicament they were in.
Snack at The Patriot's Inn
This was right next door to the jail. We were crazy hungry, so we grabbed some chips (French fries). They were excellent.
Stop at The Woolen Mill
As we waited on our apartment to be available, Caitlyn and I stopped at a nearby restaurant. I ordered a freshly squeezed juice—still needing to be a bit revived from the night before in Galway. It was great! I highly recommend this neighborhood for where you stay in Dublin. We were just north of the Ha-Penny Bridge… super cool shops/restaurants/bars; lots of thrift shops and it felt really young and cool. Coming back to Dublin, I will definitely try to find a spot in this neighborhood.
Recommendation: Go for it! We didn’t have any food at the Woolen Mill, but it was a cool spot.
Stop at The Woolen Mill
Dinner and a Show at Celtic Nights at the Arlington Hotel
We got ready at the apartment and walked a couple doors down to the Arlington Hotel. This was a great show! Live music and storytellers and Irish dancers while you eat and drink. The singers were incredibly interesting and had the perfect balance of anecdotes and songs. The Irish dancing is always fun to watch too!
Recommendation: Go for it! If you’ve never been to Ireland and you’d like a dinner and a show, I think this is a great choice. They even sang a song about the rebel married in jail—very beautiful, emotional song.
Live Music at The Merchant's Arch
After our show, we met up with our family friends since childhood, The Messonniers! Just a hoard of Louisiana folks taking over the city. We randomly had one night where our trips overlapped and we had a great time chatting on the upper level of The Merchant’s Arch visiting and listening to live music. The perfect way to end our trip.
Recommendation: Go for it! This place had a great mix of traditional Irish music and contemporary covers. The bar is crowded on the first floor and the upper level is great for sitting and chatting with friends.
Day 8 - Galway to Dublin
Day 9 - Flight Home
Fly Out of Dublin
Took the early flight back to New York and slept the whole way. Ah, what a great trip. Goodbye Ireland!