In just a few days, Colin and I are off to Ireland. We’ve been looking forward to this trip ever since we booked it way back in August 2017. We’ve only got 10 days, so we’ve really crammed a lot into our Ireland itinerary. Here’s what’s on the schedule:
In my ideal world, we’d be heading off to the Emerald Isle with a month long Ireland itinerary. I’d love to rent a car and drive around the whole island. Of course, we’d see the highlights. But we’d also get to explore some off the beaten path areas. I love the romantic notion of wandering into little seaside towns and finding cute pubs and delicious seafood dinners.
Unfortunately, this trip isn’t going to be that. We’ve only got 10 days. So this is our Ireland sampler. We’re hitting the main spots and cramming 4 cities into 10 days. It’s going to be a very busy trip! But it’s going to be loads of fun. I’m really excited for it. And hopefully one day we will make it back and be able to go on an Ireland road trip to explore more deeply at a slower pace.
We arrive in Dublin on the night of April 10th after a long day of flying. Since we’ll be jet lagged, the only thing on our Ireland itinerary for that night is to drop our bags off at the hostel, and find a pub for dinner. If we’re feeling up to it, I’d also love to head over to Temple Bar and explore that area. I know it’s super touristy and overpriced but would still be fun to see.
The next day, we get to spend most of it in Dublin. The plan is to hit two Dublin highlights: the Guinness Brewery Tour and exploring Trinity College and the Book of Kells. In doing some research on Ireland, these seem to be the two big things to do. If we have extra time, I’d love to do some exploring in Dublin, checking out St. Stephen’s Green, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral.
And then we catch a train to Belfast (I told you, we’re moving quick!).
We get to Belfast around 7:00pm on the 11th. I’ve heard the Cathedral Quarter is a cool area to check out, so maybe that’s where we will head. Belfast City Hall is also supposed to look pretty at night, so hopefully we make it there.
On the 12th, we’re off on our first tour: Game of Thrones and Giants Causeway! Yes, this is super nerdy. But it’s also going to be a ton of fun. Colin and I are big GoT fans. And with such little time to check out Northern Ireland and no car of our own, this is the best way to see the sights. I’m really excited to see Giants Causeway, the rope bridge and the dark forest.
That night, we’re back in Belfast and I’m hoping we visit the Crown Saloon, an old Victorian pub in Belfast. I also want to see some of Belfast’s legendary street art, like the murals and umbrella canopy at Commercial Court.
And then on the 13th, we’ve got a half day in Belfast. So, just like Dublin, we’re going to try and cram in a lot. Here’s our Northern Ireland itinerary for the day: wake up early and have breakfast at St. George’s Market, which is only open Friday – Sunday. Head to the Titanic Museum. I’m not a huge museum person but apparently this one is excellent. Have lunch at OX, a Michelin-star restaurant in Belfast that actually has a very affordable lunch menu. And then be on our train by 2:00pm!
To get to Galway, we first have to take a train from Belfast to Dublin, switch stations, and then from Dublin to Galway. So even though we’ll leave Northern Ireland at 2:00pm, we won’t arrive in Galway until past 8:00pm. On that first night, the only thing I’m putting on our Ireland itinerary is to find dinner and find our AirBnB (PS: First time AirBnB-er? Click here to get $45 travel credit!). We’ll be pooped after all the sight seeing in Belfast and train hopping. If we happen to find that dinner at McDonaugh’s, where they’re said to have the best fish and chips, I know Colin will be a happy camper.
On the 14th, we’re off on our next tour. This time, we’re checking out the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. All the pictures of the Cliffs of Moher look absolutely stunning. I’m praying for good weather and small crowds, but I’m not going to hold my breath. We’ll be back in Galway for dinner, and will try to find a pub with some live music.
The 15th: the only full day free in our entire Ireland itinerary! That’s right – every other day we either have a tour booked or we’re busy taking a train, bus or plane somewhere. April 15th is our only completely free day. But of course, I’ve got a line up of cool things for us to check out in Galway. My list includes brunch at Ard Bia, walking the Salthill Promenade, visiting Galway Market, checking out St. Nicholas and Galway Cathedral, getting touristy on Quay Street and seeing the cute houses on the Long Walk. It’s a long list of things, but they’re all pretty central. Basically, we’re just going to spend the day exploring the city.
On the 16th, we’ll grab some breakfast and then catch our bus to the final city on our Ireland itinerary: Cork!
We arrive in Cork around 2:00pm on the 16th. The 16th is actually Colin and my 3rd anniversary. So if we’re feeling ambitious, I’d love if we took the bus to Kinsale, about an hour outside of Cork. It’s supposed to be a really cute town to walk around with some of the most delicious seafood. There’s also a view point out at Old Head. So my dream would be walking the town, taking in the views, and then feasting on seafood for our anniversary dinner, all before heading back to Cork.
But in case we’re not feeling up for more travel, we could spend the rest of the 16th just exploring Cork. There’s St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, Oliver Plunkett Street and probably a great restaurant for us to have our anniversary dinner.
The next day, we’re on another tour. This time, we’re checking out the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. I know it’s pretty touristy to be going on all of these bus tours but when you are short on time and without a car, it just makes sense. We’ll be back in Cork by dinner and will probably hit up a local pub.
On the 18th, we spend the first half of the day in Cork. I’m planning for us to do a quick visit to the English Market with breakfast at Farmgate Cafe. And then, we’re headed out to Blarney Castle. Apparently, it’s just 10 minutes outside Cork City Centre. So how could we pass up a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone and walk around the beautiful gardens?
And then we’re on a train back to Dublin! For our final night in Dublin, I’m planning for us to enjoy Celtic Nights at the Arlington Hotel on Helene In Between’s recommendation. It sounds like it should be a night of Irish music, dancing and food – aka the perfect thing to end our Ireland itinerary. The next morning, we’re off to the airport on our way back to Vancouver.
So, that’s our whirlwind Ireland trip. What do you think? Are we seeing the best spots? Are we missing anything crucial? Like I said, this is just a sampler trip, so I know there’s a lot more to see. But we’re really excited to be catching these highlights! Once I’m back, I’ll be writing up some more posts on our time in Ireland. Let’s see if we end up sticking to the itinerary!
Have you been to Ireland? What’s on your dream Ireland itinerary?