Ireland is a country that inspires many and more international tourists each year and it’s not hard to see why. However, many tourists tend only to stick to the south of the country and completely ignore the pastoral charm of central Ireland or the rugged beauty of its Atlantic coast. If you only have one week to spend but still want to get off the beaten path follow this fantastic 7 day Ireland road trip itinerary.
How to Get Around Ireland
One of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself before you take off on an Ireland itinerary is how you plan to get around the country. If you only plan to visit a couple of Irish cities — going from Dublin to Galway to Cork, for instance — you could easily get between them using them by bus or train and then rely on your own two feet or public transport when you’re in the cities themselves.
However, if you would like to visit more rural areas or venture slightly off the beaten path while on a trip to Ireland, then renting a car is an excellent option.
Renting a car in Ireland is a really simple process, with many places to pick up and drop off your vehicle. Dublin airport is probably the best place to hire a car, as most major brands have hubs here.
If you’re looking to find the best rates for a rental car in Ireland, we recommend using Rentalcars.com. This site allows you to compare every brand and find the best car for you!
Another thing to keep in mind is that most rental car companies have quite inflated rates for excess insurance. If you want to have full excess coverage at a much better price while on your 7 day Ireland road trip, be sure to take out a policy from iCarHireInsurance.
If renting a car isn’t an option for you for whatever reason but you would still like to experience the best of an Ireland road trip itinerary, then you could opt for some day tours from various cities or going on a completely organised tour altogether.
Ireland Road Trip Itinerary: 7 Days
While Ireland’s diminutive size might make it seem like you can cover a lot of ground and see almost everything the country has to offer in just one week, I assure you this is not the case. I am always a massive advocate for slow travel and my stance on travelling in Ireland is no different.
This is why I would suggest finding a couple of places where you would want to base yourself during your seven days in Ireland and then exploring the region from there. Travelling this way is also exceptionally easy when you have your own form of transportation because you’re not going to be at the mercy of a tour operator or irregular bus timetables.
Days 1 – 2: Dublin
More likely than not, you’re going to be beginning your 7 day Ireland road trip itinerary in Dublin, the country’s capital city. While many people think very differently from me, I wasn’t all that taken with Dublin and don’t think it’s a city that’s worth spending all that much time in. It is also quite small and easy to get around, so spending two nights and one full day here is generally enough.
Depending on what time you arrive in Dublin, spend your first few hours in the city just getting the lay of the land. Maybe pop in for a pint or a bite to eat at the local pub or take a stroll along the river.
On your first full day, I would recommend taking Dublin Free Walking Tour’s South Side tour. This tour is great to get a local’s perspective on all of the main sites of Ireland’s capital including Trinity College, the Temple Bar district, and the Dublin Castle.
After the tour, why not head to Ireland’s most famous tourist attraction: The Guinness Storehouse. It is recommended that you book your tour of this iconic brewery ahead of time in order to ensure you get the best price. Tickets purchased online start at €17.50 while tickets purchased at the door are €25. Both include a properly poured pint of Guinness after the tour.
After the brewery tour, have an early dinner at one of Dublin’s best restaurants: The Woolen Mills. I recommend going to this popular spot for dinner before 6:30 PM in order to take advantage of their great prix fixe menu deal, which is a lot more affordable than their typical dinner menu.
After dinner, either head to a pub to have yet another pint of Guinness and listen to some live music or head back to your room and rest up for what the next day of your Ireland road trip itinerary has to offer!
Where to Stay in Dublin
There are seemingly endless options for places to stay in Dublin that it can seem overwhelming to choose the best place for you. To help make the decision a bit easier, here are some of our top suggestions:
Sky Backpackers — This hostel is a great option for budget and solo travellers. Extremely centrally located near all of the top attractions in the city, it is also one of the best-rated hostels in Dublin. They have numerous dorms and private rooms on offer (all with en-suite bathrooms) and they also organise social events. Click here to check their availability
Amberly House — This small guesthouse is conveniently located in Dublin’s North Side. They have a myriad of clean and comfortable rooms on offer, a friendly staff, and breakfast available for a small extra fee. Click here to check their availability
Kilronan House — This cosy B&B in Dublin’s Georgian quarter is an excellent place to stay in the city. They have a number of highly-rated rooms available, a hearty breakfast included in the room rate, and are located within walking distance of all of the city’s top attractions. Click here to check their availability
Airbnb — Another great option in Dublin is Airbnb. There are numerous properties available on the platform ranging from whole apartments (such as this great city-centre flat!) to private rooms in someone’s home. Click here to see the best Airbnbs in Dublin.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Dublin
Days 3 – 4: Connemara Peninsula
On the morning of the third day of your seven days in Ireland, it’s time to hit the road and drive to the stunning and biodiverse Connemara Peninsula on the west coast of the country. If you plan to drive there directly and not make any stops, it should take about three and a half hours all in. However, road trips are always more fun if you take the time to explore what is around you, so I would suggest you plan to spend the whole day driving to Connemara.
About halfway through your drive from Dublin to Connemara, a great place for a detour is the lovely town on Roscommon. Regan’s Gastro Pub is a nice place to stop for lunch and the town itself is very picturesque to stroll around for a bit and stretch your legs. There are also a few ruins that are worth exploring.
While making a detour in Roscommon will put you on a definitively more rural route than the traditional way along the M6, the drive from here also gets infinitely more picturesque because of this. Enjoy the changing landscapes and the pastoral beauty of this sparsely populated area of Ireland.
If you’re looking for one more place to stop along your Dublin to Galway drive, a great option is the charming village of Cong. Largely known as the filming location for the 1952 film The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, this town is still banking on that. There is a lot of memorabilia about from film, but the town itself is very nice a beautiful and can be worth a stop. It is about an hour’s drive outside of Roundstone.
Once you’ve made it to the lovely fishing village of Roundstone, head to dinner at the wonderful seafood restaurant O’Dowds and enjoy the end of the third day of your 7 day Ireland road trip itinerary.
On the second day, it’s time to explore everything that the stunning Connemara region has to offer! Begin your day by heading to the beautiful Dog’s Bay beach, which is perfect for a short, seaside stroll. From the beach, drive to nearby Ballyconneely, where you can sample some truly fantastic smoked Atlantic salmon and other fishes (including mackerel and tuna) at the Connemara Smokehouse.
From Ballyconneely, drive north to the largest town and unofficial capital of Connemara: Clifden. Clifden is a lovely seaside town and it’s worth strolling around and exploring it. Stop for lunch at Mitchell’s, which is a fantastic restaurant serving delicious fresh, local seafood.
The main attraction of Clifden, however, is the beautiful Sky Road loop. Follow the sings in order to drive this beautiful 11 km circular scenic route which has some of the best views in Connemara. It is also possible to walk this route, just be careful of cars along the way.
End your day back in Roundstone at the Shamrock Inn, which is a cosy pub that serves good traditional pub food and has some good beers on tap.
Where to Stay in Connemara
The Connemara region is quite large and there are numerous places to stay there. We would recommend finding accommodation in either Clifden, the largest town in the region, or quaint Roundstone, which is conveniently located and has many amenities. There are our top suggestions:
Island View B&B — Located in the small seaside village of Roundstone, this B&B is the perfect base to explore all that Connemara has to offer. They offer a tasty and filling breakfast and the rooms were clean and comfortable. This is absolutely one of the best places to stay in Connemara. Click here to check their availability
Sharamore House B&B — This chic B&B located in a great Clifden neighbourhood is an excellent option for a place to stay in Connemara. They have a number of cosy rooms on offer and they have a great breakfast available in the mornings. Click here to check their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Connemara!
Days 5 – 7: Galway
The fifth day of this Ireland road trip itinerary, it’s time to get away from nature and head to the vibrant seaside city of Galway. The drive from the Connemara region to Galway isn’t a long one, so take the time to enjoy the beautiful, boggy scenery or maybe take a stroll by Ireland’s largest lake, Lough Corrib.
Spend your first few hours in Galway exploring it’s charming Old Town, including bustling Quay Street and the Spanish Arch. If you’re keen for a drink or want to know a little bit more about Irish whiskey, then I would suggest getting a tasting platter at Garavan’s Pub. I have been a Scotch drinker for some time but knew very little about Irish whiskey. This pub has one of the largest whiskey selections in Ireland and, needless to say, I came home with a couple of bottles from the duty-free shop.
End your day with dinner at one of Galway’s best restaurants, Ard Bia at Nimmo’s. This restaurant takes a modern twist on traditional Irish cuisine and uses only locally sourced ingredients. It’s located just behind the Spanish Arch.
Take the next day to explore more of Galway. It is a wonderful city just to stroll around and get lost in, with many cute winding alleys leading to interesting areas. If it’s chilly outside and you want to warm up, consider having tea at the cute tea room Cupán Tae.
If the weather isn’t all that great to be outside, heading to the Galway City Museum is a really great option. It is completely free and will give you a more broad understanding of the history and culture of the city of Galway.
End your day by listening to some of the best live Irish traditional music The Crane Bar. They also serve food here so it can be a good option for dinner as well.
On the last day of your 7 day Ireland road trip itinerary, it’s time to visit one of the most iconic sites the Irish west coast has to offer: the Cliffs of Moher.
While the drive to the cliffs from Galway only takes about an hour and a half without stopping, I would recommend taking your time during this drive and enjoying all of the beautiful scenery of The Burren.
A great place to stop is Hazel Mountain Chocolates, which is on the main route from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher and unmissable. The delicious chocolate produced by Hazel Mountain is very much worth the stop. There is also a cafe on site that serves a killer hot cocoa and some pretty good cakes.
I would recommend trying to get to the Cliffs of Moher earlier rather than later, as it is an extremely popular tourist attraction and can get very busy. Nevertheless, they are absolutely stunning and very much worth the visit. Take your time to walk along the edge of the Cliffs, the view won’t disappoint.
After visiting the cliffs, it’s time to make the long trip back to Dublin, where your 7 days Ireland road trip itinerary comes to an end.
Where to Stay in Galway
Galway is a popular place to visit in Ireland and, therefore, there are lots of accommodation options to choose from. If you’re trying to find the best place to stay in Galway, why not have a look at our top suggestions:
Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel — Located conveniently near Galway’s Eyre Square, this hostel is an excellent option for budget and solo travellers alike. As one of the top-rated hostels in Galway City, they have both dorm and private rooms on offer and also include breakfast in their nightly rate. Click here to check their availability
The Stop B&B — This is a great bed and breakfast located in the Claddagh neighbourhood of Galway. Though the location is more quiet and residential, it was only about a ten-minute walk to the city centre and even closer to Galway’s vibrant west end. They also have a fantastic breakfast in the morning, included in the room rate. Click here to check their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Galway hotels!
Touring Ireland by car is one of the best ways to see the country and get off the beaten path. This alternative 7 day Ireland road trip itinerary allows you some of the highlights of the country and undoubtedly have you planning a return trip soon!
Before setting off on your 7 day Ireland road trip itinerary make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy. We personally used World Nomads for our Ireland trip as we do for all our trips. Click here to get a quote from World Nomads!
Are you planning an Ireland road trip itinerary? Have you been to Ireland already? Let us know in the comments!