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  • Amanda Perkins

Top 7 Things To Do In Ireland | Europe Travel

Updated: Nov 7

Find out all we did in Ireland and be inspired to take your own trip to over the pond!


Ireland has been on my husband's bucket list since I've known him. He's got quite a bit of Irish ancestry and he wanted to visit to learn more about his heritage. At first I wasn't super excited about traveling to Ireland. I figured Ireland in the summer probably didn't look all that much different than New England does. However, as the trip grew closer and I began to research and plan our itinerary I became more and more excited. I love exploring nature, hiking, and taking in landscapes and we also enjoy having different cultural experiences (while tasting local cuisine!). So we planned our trip with these things in mind.


Killarney National Park


We flew into Shannon airport on a red eye and rented a car. It was quite the experience driving on the left side of the road with very little sleep. It took a few hours to get to Killarney from the airport so we stopped at a petrol (gas) station and grabbed a coffee and some breakfast. As soon as we arrived in the town of Killarney (Klarnee) we noticed the beautiful gothic style architecture of St. Mary's Cathedral and stopped to take some photos.


Our Bed & Breakfast wouldn't be ready for several hours so we decided to check out Killarney National Park, which was what I was most excited about. It did not disappoint! We parked at the Muckross House (McRuss) and immediately noticed that nobody was there yet. We quickly learned that early morning is how to avoid the crowds! We got out of our tiny Toyota Yaris and walked down the trails. We were blown away by the beauty of the estate as well as the lakes and mountains that were near by. The trail we were on takes you down to the Torc Waterfall. This was a fairly easy walk. The waterfall was just breathtaking!

We decided to go back to the car and start the drive around the Ring of Kerry. After driving a little ways we parked on the side of the road and took a random little unmarked trail to a spectacular view. A little ways down from there we can across Ladies View which is just an epic landscape to take in. Thankfully there is a cafe there and we ate lunch while staring at the picturesque mountain scape. After eating we headed down to Moll's Gap. This is outside of the National Park and on privately owned land so we weren't able to explore much. From there we drove some more, admiring the cows and spray painted sheep. When we realized that the Ring of Kerry wouldn't loop back for another 4 hours we decided we were just too tired and headed back into town.


On our last morning in Killarney we also checked out the Gap of Dunloe. We parked at Kate Kearney's Cottage parking lot and walked down the road. It was quite the wind tunnel but the view was incredible!


Downtown Killarney


We loved downtown Killarney! It wasn't too big for a country mouse like myself and they had amazing food. Luckily we were there on a Friday night and heard lots of local live bands. Some of the pubs had two bands playing at the same time! One inside and one outside on the back patio. I don't know about you, but I've never seen anybody play the accordion along with an electric guitar and a drumset. It was such an incredible cultural experience.


Dingle Peninsula


We had heard from multiple people stateside and local Irish say the Dingle Peninsula was their favorite spot on the Emerald Island. It was about an hour drive from our Bed & Breakfast and went down the smallest roads I have ever been on. The views at Dingle were quintessential Irish hills covered with sleep and cliffs that dropped off into the ocean. We loved it! Once on the tip of the peninsula there were several museum type stops of structures that dated back 2000 - 4000 years! Each stop was about 2-3 Euros per person if you wanted to take a look. Every structure blew my mind.


This Dingle loop was much quicker than the Ring of Kerry. We also stopped right at the tip of the peninsula where we overlooked a cliff and watched the ocean lap onto a beautiful beach. I was surprised at how turquoise the water was. When we were visiting Ireland was experiencing a heat wave (not hot at all to us!) and we were lucky to have sunshine every day we were there.


Atlantic Coast Highway


After our time in the Killarney area we headed north. Our first stop was the Cliffs of Moher. We grabbed the ferry at Tarbert to save us from going around through Limerick. Our host told us it would save us a couple of hours. Unfortunately there was no way to get to the cliffs early in the morning for us so it was incredibly crowded. The cliffs were beautiful and it was a great experience to have but it was one of those sites where you just look and then move on. I think maybe seeing it from the ocean would have been a better experience.


My husband and I had a preconceived notion about what Galway would be like and we were wrong. We didn't expect a big bustling city, but that is what it is. Lots and lots of people! Our Bed & Breakfast was just west of Galway in Barna and our host had suggested visiting the Aran Islands (islands across from the Cliffs of Moher). We decided that we would enjoy a day on an island better than wondering around Galway so we drove 1/2 hour west to Rossaveel to catch a ferry to the islands. We chose the smallest island, Inis Oirr (Ear) because it looked like a great place to walk and bike. Plus the island has a shipwreck on one of its beaches which we found fascinating.


Inis Oirr


The Ferry was about 45 minutes and we saw the most jellyfish I have ever seen in my entire life! I couldn't believe it. We also saw dolphins and a seal! As soon as we arrived to the port we ate lunch and grabbed some bikes. Each bike was 10 Euros and they only took cash. Our first stop on our bikes was the shipwreck. Riding through the labyrinth of stone walls was one of my favorite moments of the trip! The ship was washed ashore in the 1960s. It is said no lives were lost on the cargo ship. It was quite a sight! We then head up a lot of hills to get to O'Brien's castle. We were able to go inside and explore a bit, even though the castle wasn't in the best of shape. Afterward we just rode around looking at the scenery. We also noticed a campground on the island that had tents as well as teepees that you can rent and stay the night in.


Downtown Galway


We did go into town for dinner and walked through Quay (key) Street. It was lively and there were live bands and plenty of pubs to stop into. It was very city-esque. Very crowded.


Dublin


The next morning we headed across the country to Dublin! We were pleasantly surprised at how big this highway was compared to the rest of the roads we had traveled on. We made it across the country in less time than we thought it would be. We dropped our bags at our hotel, dropped off the rental car, and started walking. Our final destination was the Guinness Storehouse but we took our time taking in the city. It reminded of Boston just without the skyscrapers. We did tours at Guinness and Jameson and had a great time at both. My husband was a bit disappointed that we didn't see any of the actual brewing/distilling though.



The next morning we headed home! We had an amazing trip. The weather was sunny and warm everyday and the people were incredibly friendly. I am so glad we got the chance to visit this beautiful country and culture. For me, traveling to Ireland was one of the most fun and interesting places I have traveled to outside of the US. The countryside was gorgeous and the color green was everywhere. There is so much to do and see! I highly recommend a trip to Ireland!





More Resources:

5 Things Americans Must Know Before Traveling to Ireland

What To Do In Dingle Ireland

 

Click below for some must have packing tips you can use for your next travel adventure!



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