The Republic of Ireland, Europe: medieval architecture, rolling hills and lush landscapes aplenty.
After all, they don’t call it the “Emerald Isle” for nothing.
Alongside captivating countryside, Ireland also has the quaintest towns and backstreets.
In other words, it’s a country that oozes charm, from the places to the people.
And what better way to experience it than on a 7 day Ireland road trip?
Before you can begin your epic car journey, you need to get to the Republic of Ireland.
The good news is that there are many direct flight options to Dublin from the following cities:
If you didn’t want to start your 7 day Ireland road trip in the capital, you could fly to Shannon instead for easy access to Galway or Limerick. There are direct flights available from London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester.
Alternatively, you could fly to the second-largest city in Ireland, which is Cork, from the following airports:
Either way, you can expect a short and straightforward flight, usually with Aer Lingus or Ryanair.
One of the best things about Ireland is the public transportation links. There are a variety of buses and trains that can get you around the country easily.
You could also use the DART in Dublin that runs from Malahide (to the north of the city) as far south as Greystones in County Wicklow. Its route takes you through the city centre where you can conveniently hop off and see the sights.
Pro tip: Apply for a Leap Card for cheaper fares and which will include the DART and some commuter trains.
In terms of the other cities, most of them are very walkable.
That said, it would be ideal to have a car for the freedom and flexibility of being able to go wherever you like, whenever you like.
For me, there’s nothing like getting off the beaten track, which is impossible to do if you don’t drive. Right?
The truth is, you can’t do a 7 day Ireland road trip without visiting Dublin city centre.
When my fiancé and I did this road trip, we started in Dublin and circled back to Dublin. This was because we could only get a direct flight from Leeds-Bradford airport to Ireland via Dublin.
However, I’d certainly recommend this route. Because there’s so much going for Dublin, it starts your trip off on a high.
There’s so much to see and Dublin that I could write a 2,000-word blog post on the city alone. Therefore, I’ll just stick with the most popular attractions.
There’s just such a good vibe in Dublin, you’re sure to enjoy it as much as we did (even with COVID restrictions!).
To be honest, Dublin and its surrounding suburbs are so well-connected that you’ll still be able to get to the city centre even if staying central is too expensive (which is what we found).
Pro tip: Keep in mind that Airbnbs in Dublin are just as expensive as hotels. However, staying in an Airbnb would end up being cheaper because you can buy cheaper food at the supermarket and cook for yourself instead of eating out every day.
Kilkenny is a gorgeous medieval city in southeast Ireland with windy lanes, pretty canals and busy backstreets. It’s a must-do on your 7 day Ireland road trip, even if you just drive through it to check out the castle!
You don’t need to spend too long in Kilkenny to see what it has to offer. In fact, one night would suffice.
To be honest, I’m gutted that we didn’t get to sample the latter!
Staying somewhere central would be the best idea when you’re in Kilkenny.
After all, most of your time will be spent exploring the city.
There are plenty of fine hotels, B&Bs and Airbnbs to choose from. Having said that, our biggest issue was finding a spot with free car parking.
Another stop on your 7 day Ireland road trip should be Cork, even if you only venture there for one night.
Located in the south-west, the county of Cork is home to Blarney Castle and the charming village of Cobh.
I’d recommend spending the morning in Cork City Centre before moving on to seeing what the county has to offer.
Here are the must-sees and -dos:
Pro tip: If you’re as much of a coffee addict as I am, you’re going to love the coffee in Cobh. You can also use Squaremeal to find out where the best restaurants and chefs in Ireland are located.
You have a couple of options when it comes to where to stay in Cork.
We stayed in the centre but I think I would have been quite happy with any of these options.
Killarney is a town in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry that’s home to the entrancing Killarney National Park.
And spoiler alert: it was my favourite stop on our 7 day Ireland road trip. Wink-wink.
The truth is, you’re going to need a couple of nights in Killarney to be able to soak up its stunning scenery.
Check out the following:
In fact, I’m doing the heart-eyed emoji just looking back on our time there.
Not going to lie, Killarney accommodation is pretty pricey.
There are tons of options for hotels, B&Bs and Airbnbs in the city. We stayed in a central Airbnb which was really convenient, but it’d be cheaper to stay more towards the National Park.
Either way, Killarney is a great base for the Ring of Kerry and I wouldn’t recommend staying elsewhere on this route. Loved it!
A harbour city on Ireland’s west coast, Galway is situated where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean.
And there’s just something about it that is very special.
You probably need a couple of nights on your 7 day Ireland road trip to experience Galway properly, especially if you want to take the trip to the Connemara National Park like we did.
Because there’s so much to do around Galway, I’d personally recommend splitting your time between Galway City Centre and then the last three suggestions.
The best place to stay in Galway is the city centre, without a doubt.
I mean, you’d be at the heart of everything with anything you could ask for just beyond your doorstep!
That said, if central accommodation is too expensive for you, opt for Salthill instead. It’s just south of the city and a 30-minute walk to the centre with the sea air on your face. Bliss.
Truth be told, there are some other stops you could make on your 7 day Ireland road trip.
My fiancé and I also stayed overnight in the following cities, but I think you could just drive through them or spend a couple of hours there to allow you to prioritise the other stops.
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city overflowing with Viking history.
These elements are definitely worth seeing:
I was in awe of the latter!
Limerick is a cool little city that has the River Shannon flowing through it.
The centre is quite compact but full of medieval history, including the below:
The nightlife also seems like it would be great in Limerick (even though we couldn’t sample it because of lockdown restrictions). Sigh.
Admittedly, my fiancé and I didn’t visit Wexford on our 7 day Ireland road trip due to lack of time.
However, when we were researching beforehand, Wexford was a place that kept popping up.
Founded by the Vikings at the start of the 9th century, this town in southeast Ireland sits at the mouth of River Slaney.
These are the supposed must-dos:
Even so, you’d have to visit the above for yourself to see whether they’re worth doing!
It goes without saying that there’s a lot you could cram into your 7 day Ireland road trip.
In my experience, I like to be as busy as possible so that the money spent on renting a car and accommodation stretches further.
That said, you might prefer to take these places at a slower pace — and that’s totally fine!
Either way, you’re bound to have a trip to remember on the enchanting Emerald Isle.
Have you been on a 7 day Ireland road trip before? Which stops do you like the sound of? Comment below!