Planning a trip to Ireland in the near future? Here’s how we spent our two weeks there.
Apologizes for my lack of posting, but I have exiting news…I am now officially a Mrs! I had to put blogging aside so I could focus my efforts on the wedding, but seeing as it’s over I am keen to share with you all again!
We got married on Saturday July 2 (wedding post in the near future!) and then flew out for our honeymoon the following Monday July 4. We spent two weeks touring Ireland and Northern Ireland and it was amazing. I have had a few friends and acquaintances ask several questions about our trip and the itinerary we followed. Flights for Ireland have been at a low this past year, so there seem to be a few people planning a trip there soon! We loved our trip so much so we decided to address some of the questions we’ve been asked and share a detailed itinerary of our trip.
The Planning Stages
Originally Bobby and I had looked at spending our honeymoon in Jordan, Japan, Russia, Italy or Indonesia. After much deliberation we decided to set a budget for flights of $1000 Canadian. We checked on prices every couple of days and then about three weeks before the wedding a deal came up for flights to Ireland. Seeing as neither of us had been we decided to book our flights! I spent the next three weeks tying up all the loose ends for the wedding and the week before the wedding I set aside a couple hours to draw up an itinerary for our trip for us to loosely follow. I used Route Perfect to plan out a quick itinerary and came up with the following plan. Route Perfect is the most helpful trip planning tool ever!
What we packed
I hate to burst your bubble, but Ireland won’t be a sunny beach holiday! When packing you must keep in mind the weather. A raincoat is a must have! The weather is quite temperamental. It will often start out sunny and then you’ll find yourself caught it a torrential downpour. We had rain everyday, but ironically the last two days of our trip were scorching hot! You really don’t need to pack a lot. We each just brought a carry on and a backpack for our personal item. Below is my packing list:
I highly recommend renting a car in Ireland! If you are planning on visiting the entirety of Ireland and Northern Ireland a car is almost a necessity. We were able to check out so many different things we would have other wised missed by having a rental car. A few tips to keep in mind:
- Book a car online ahead of time, cheaper than paying there (we booked with Avis using travel reward points)
- Keep in mind that most cars here are manual and you will be driving on the left side of the road (my husband drove ha ha)
- Most cars also run off of diesel, making your fuel fare a bit cheaper
- The speed limits are much higher and the roads are much narrower, prepare for a few screams and close calls (well if I’m your passenger ha ha)
There are two main bus lines. Bookings can be made ahead of time online:
- Bus Éireann: The Republic
- Translink: Northern Ireland
Given its relatively small size, train travel is often a convenient way of getting around. Keep in mind that many of the Republics most beautiful areas, including parts of the Wild Atlantic Way are not served via rail. The two main train services include:
- Irish Rail: The Republic
- Translink NI Railways: Northern Ireland
We saw loads of people biking during our trip. Irelands scenic views make it an ideal cycling destination. Cycling tours are fairly common and I would have loved to have gone…but considering I am still recovering from a brain injury caused by a biking accident, Bobby was not keen on the idea.
- Most towns you can easily walk around
- Dublin, Belfast and some of the larger towns have fairly comprehensive local bus networks
- Taxis are available in most centers, but vary in prices
- Not the best option as hitch hiking is illegal on motorways here
- Euro: The Republic
- Pound: Northern Ireland
Where we stayed and what we did
We flew into Dublin around 1:30 pm and picked up our rental car. When we decided to go to Ireland my number one thing I wanted to do was stay in a castle. Staying at Ashford Castle wasn’t in the budget, so instead we travelled from the airport to Cabra Castle Hotel in Cavan, Ireland (near Kingscourt). We loved our stay here! It was beautiful and I felt like a total princess! We went for dinner at a pub in Kingscourt and I quickly learned being veggie in the Irish countryside might not be the easiest ha ha.
After a delicious breakfast at the Castle we headed towards Belfast. We then just spent some time touring around Belfast. There are several museums, a busy city center and it happens to be the birthplace of the RMS Titanic. We arranged to spend the night at a place a few minutes away from city center using Airbnb.
Today was spent driving the Causeway Coastal Route around the coast of Northern Ireland. This drive goes from Belfast to Londonderry and includes views of the coast, mountaintops, bustling cities to sleepy hamlets, and dreamy coastal towns and beaches. During our drive we saw the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Giants Causeway, Bushmills Distillery, Dunluce Castle, the Dark Hedges, and the Mussenden Temple. We also took a hike and roamed among the sheep, looking for four leaf clovers. We then took a shortcut back to Belfast and spent another night with our Airbnb host.
Spent the day travelling from Belfast to Donegal. We stopped at any abandoned castles along the way. When we reached Donegal we explored city center, visited Donegal Castle, and saw the Slieve League Cliffs and Glengesh Pass. We didn’t like the overall feel of Donegal. We found it fairly touristy and instead decided to drive until we found a place we liked. We ended up spending the night in a bed and breakfast in Ballyshannon. We loved this town! It is the oldest town in Ireland, but is relatively quiet. We spent the night walking around and checking out the old and abandoned buildings and the cemetery. We then finished the night with a stop at a local pub.
From Ballyshannon we made our way to Galway. During this drive we made several stops. We saw Mulaghmore, Sligo, Castlebar, Westport and Cong, drove the Connemara Coast Road Drive, and saw a handful of castles and beaches along the way!! There are castles everywhere in Ireland, make sure you stop and explore them! We reached Galway and were exhausted, so retired early in our hotel room there.
We went and drove by the Salthill Pier (it was pouring rain so we didn’t go explore too far). From there we drove towards Doolin to see the Cliffs of Moher. The drive along the coast is beautiful, lots to see along the way! Doolin was a really fun town and we enjoyed a pint at the busy Gus O’Connors before heading to a bed and breakfast outside of Gort.
We had a long driving day from Gort towards Dingle. We saw much along the way and made a quick stop in Limerick, went for a hike, explored an abandoned castle and drove the Dingle Peninsula. We then spent the night in Dingle in a room above a restaurant on the main street (found on Airbnb). When I look back on our honeymoon I will always remember our night here! We had so much fun. We had a delicious dinner and went to a pub for drinks. Bobby tried some McGargles Knock Knock Ned’s IPA beer and I had some Trader Tommy’s Wild Berry Cider! We had a fun night and made a few friends.
Despite our drink choices from the night before we woke up feeling great! We then ventured from Dingle towards Killarney. We loved exploring the city center in Killarney. It was such a well-maintained city! We had a great dinner and found lots to see and do (Muckross, Torc Waterfall, and National Park). We finished the night with a pint and spent the night at a boutique hotel a few minutes away fro city center.
Shortly after breakfast Bobby and I decided to drive the Ring of Kerry and I must say the views were beyond spectacular. This drive should be on everyone’s bucket list! Plan to spend a full day doing this drive, as there is so much to see, from Killonecaha, Skellig Rocks, to Derrynane Beach! We spent the night at a bed and breakfast in the delightful town of Kenmare.
After a yummy breakfast we decided to drive toward Cork. We went and saw Blarney Castle, the English Markets, Black Rock Castle, and city center. We spent the night at a bed and breakfast in Blarney. As a wedding gift to Bobby I had arranged for us to go see a football game, while in Cork. However, the game ended up being postponed so we had to miss out! If you can go see a sporting event and have some Guinness with the locals!
That morning we woke up and drove to the picturesque town of Cobh (pronounced Cove). Bobby said his favorite town was either here or Ballyshannon, but mine was for sure Cobh!! I loved it here. We simply parked the car and spent the day walking around. And of all the museums we went to we both agreed the Titanic museum here was the most interesting. Cobh was the last stop for the RMS Titanic, so the town is rich in history. After exploring Cobh for the better part of the day we made our way to Waterford and spent the night in a hotel.
The morning was spent enjoying breakfast and touring Waterford. We then decide to drive to Kilkenny. After some time exploring Kilkenny we made our way towards Wicklow, where we hiked around Avondale Forest Park. We struggled to find a place to stay in Wicklow, so we decided to drive a bit further and spend the night at a hotel in Dublin.
Despite there being so much to do, Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainham Goal, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park and more, Dublin was not really our cup of tea. We found it to modernized and didn’t really enjoy the crowds. After a couple of hours we realized how much we truly loved the sleepy hamlets we found during our two week adventure. If you are looking for fun nightlife Dublin is great, but if you like the more picturesque Irish countryside it won’t fit the bill. We spent the night in an apartment rental we found on booking.com across from Croke Park.
To see the updated version of our trip on Route Perfect see here.
* Marriage is a big deal in Ireland and everywhere we went there were tons of bridal stores, venues, photographers, etc.! Plus, anytime we mentioned we were on our honeymoon we were showered with affection! We received discounts, cards and small gifts from many of the BnB owners. They love honeymooners, it is the cutest!