Whirlwind Ireland Itinerary – 7 Days (Self-Driving)

Are you planning a trip to Ireland and looking for ideas to build your 7 day Ireland itinerary?  Even if you only have a week to spend in Ireland, you can still pack in a lot into your visit.  We absolutely loved our self-drive Ireland road trip, and we hope that this Ireland 1 week itinerary will help give you some ideas that will make your trip to the Emerald Isle a memorable one.  

Here’s a quick glimpse at this 7 Day Ireland Itinerary:

  • Day 1 – Arrive in Dublin & Explore!
  • Day 2 – Dublin to Cashel, Cork and Blarney Castle (Kiss the Stone!)
  • Day 3 – Drive the Ring of Kerry (optional)
  • Day 4 – Enjoy Killarney & Surrounding Area
  • Day 5 – Drive the Dingle Peninsula (optional)
  • Day 6 – Visit the Cliffs of Moher, Nearby Caves and Towns
  • Day 7 – Drive Back to Dublin for Flight Home

map of 7 day ireland itinerary

Modify this Ireland 7 Day Itinerary to Suit Your Needs

This itinerary is built around the assumption that you have 7 days to visit Ireland…and that you are okay with traveling at a fast pace!  However, this itinerary is easily adjustable.  If you have more than 7 days to explore Ireland — GREAT!  10 days would really be more ideal, giving some extra days here and there to rest and relax, or just have more time to explore some of these popular Irish towns at a more leisurely pace.

If you really only have 7 days to visit Ireland but you don’t want to travel this fast, then no worries!  You can eliminate some of the towns or activities we mention below and choose to spend more time in some in other towns.  We wanted to provide you with the options so that you can pick and choose for yourselves. 

Everyone travels at different speeds.  So keep in mind your speed and how you like to travel. Don’t pack in this much if you won’t enjoy it, just take these as ideas to help you plan the best itinerary for you.

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Let’s Get To It – A Whirlwind Week in Ireland!

Many of you will choose to start off your week-long trip to Ireland in Dublin. Located on the east coast of the country, flights into Dublin airport are pretty regular from major international cities, but if you want to get the most out of your time off work, we suggest to look for overnight flights getting you in Dublin in the morning of Day 1.  Taking a red-eye flight may not be the most enjoyable, but if you are traveling from the USA to Ireland it will give you that much more time during your trip, so check out these tips on surviving red-eye flight.  

Flights into Different Ireland Cities

However, if you find a better deal flying into another city (such as Shannon) then you could just adjust the starting and ending points of the itinerary accordingly.  The good thing is that Ireland is a fairly small island…and you are basically going in a circle and could start / end wherever.

** Note:  You don’t need to drive in Dublin.  If you pick up your car first, that will save you time later.  However, you won’t be needing it much in Dublin and paying to park is expensive.  As an alternative, you could book a Dublin airport express bus in advance and get your car at the airport before you leave Dublin (that’s what we did).  Then we could return it straight to the airport before we took off at the end of the trip.

Packing for the Weather in Ireland

Something else to think about when it comes to this 7 day Ireland trip itinerary is to pack lightly.  This is a very active itinerary and you will be moving accommodations nearly every day! Also, keep in mind that Ireland may have some rough streets, old buildings possibly without an elevator, and narrow or steep staircases.  Trust me, having convenient luggage is key!

Lastly, the weather in Ireland is constantly changing – no matter what time of the year you visit.  Most of the year the weather is cool, misty or rainy and windy (especially along the coastal areas).  The key to visiting Ireland comfortable is to wear layers.  Bring a jacket, sweaters scarf, and definitely a compact rain coat.  It can feel like multiple seasons in one day (or even 10 minutes) so you want items that go well together and are easy to add and remove as needed.  Also, don’t forget that umbrella!

Renting a Car in Ireland

To get the most out of your week trip to Ireland, you may want to rent a car.  Renting a car in Ireland is not as hard as some might think.  However, there are a few things to know before you make a reservation.  Sure, it’s possible to not rent a car and take public transportation or do a tour of Ireland with a group.  However, we found that tour groups lack the freedom we enjoy and public transportation can suck up some of your time.  So for just a one week trip to Ireland, renting a car would be the most efficient and convenient for you to see and do what you wish.

Also make sure to see you check out our Driving in Ireland Tips!


Day 1:  Explore Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, and with over 500,000 residences is the biggest city on Emerald Isle.  Dublin is full of history but yet has all of the modern conveniences.  When we visited Dublin, it was my first time exploring a European city.  And I just could not get over how old everything was!   Everywhere you go around Dublin, you are stepping in and on history.  

There are some definite can’t miss sights while visiting Dublin, some of which are iconic.  There is the Molly Malone Statue, Dublin Castle, Trinity College which houses the famous Book of Kells. Our recommendation if you want to visit a few of these major sites, is to get yourself the Dublin Pass.  With this card you can gain entrance to 30+ museums and attractions. 

You may also enjoy the Dublin Hop-on Hop-off bus tour (like we did) because it’s a fast and convenient way to get around Dublin to see all the major sites.  If you want a more personalized experience and enjoy walking around, then there are also a few different walking tours of Dublin which can be quite inexpensive and informative.  

Finally, it would be a shame for you to leave Dublin and not go to the Guinness Storehouse.  This is an iconic site in Dublin and it’s more than just a brewery, it’s a multi-floor interactive experience!  After you finish exploring you can go to the top floor to the Gravity Bar for a pint of Guinness and a 360 degree view out over Dublin city. 

Now that you may have that Irish blood flow going on after a full day in Dublin, take a stroll around the Temple Bar Area in the evening.  Follow the music toward this popular night area, do a bit of bar hopping, have dinner, and enjoy some of the street performers as well.  There’s a lot going on around here, so it’s even better if you have a hotel nearby for a good night’s sleep after a very busy day!

Read More:  Sightseeing in Dublin – What We Did During Our Visit!

Other Activities in Dublin You May Enjoy Include:

Walking Food Tour

Fast Track Access to the Book of Kells and Dublin Castle

Viking Splash 75-Minute City Tour by Land and Water


Jet-Lag – If Possible…Add Another Day to Dublin!

As you can see, there’s a lot you could do in Dublin.  And given the fact that you may actually arrive the morning of day 1, you could be a bit jet-lagged.  That’s going to make it difficult for you to pack in everything this city has to offer.  For this reason, we actually recommend if possible to arrive a day earlier or add another day to your Dublin visit.  That will give you much more time to relax, recover from the flight…and enjoy more of what Dublin has to offer!


Day 2: Rock of Cashel, Hore Abbey, Kissing the Blarney Stone (Cork, Ireland)

As you head off on Day 2 of your 7 day Ireland trip, you will want to make sure to start your day early so you can stop off at the Rock of Cashel.  Rock of Cashel is located in County Tipperary, where St. Patrick himself visited and baptized kings.  There is a small fee to enter and check out the Rock of Cashel, but it does include a tour. 
Across the street from the Rock of Cashel, you will find the Hore Abbey.  You can easily add this to your day, depending on how early you got out of Dublin and how much time you want to spend in the area. If you get a late start, then you can simply bypass Rock of Cashel and go straight towards Cork.
While you are making your way to Cork from Dublin, many tourists want to make a stop at at the Blarney Castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone!  Luckily, it’s not far from Cork.   
Upon arrival in Cork, there are plenty of things to do.  If you are a big fan of Irish whiskey then you may want to to check out the Jameson Experience in Cork.  Or you could do a nice self-guided audio tour around town.  Finally, wrap up your day with a brew from one of the old pubs in town or have a chat with some other guests if you choose to stay at a local B&B in Cork.


Day 3:  Drive the Ring of Kerry Area

Another early start is recommended for this day, and another reason it’s nice to have a car so you can go at your speed.  Driving the Ring of Kerry is an extremely popular activity for tourists visiting Ireland.  Making your way a couple hours down the road to Glengarriff, you will be at the head of the peninsula. 
Driving the Ring of Kerry is extremely scenic — it’s the iconic image of Ireland that many people think of!  You can drive your way clock-wise around and back up to Kenmare (such a charming town!).  Warning, this route can be pretty busy!  That’s why you will want to get an early start so you have time to stop and explore, and take in the views along the way.  Staying in Kenmare will give you more time to relax and enjoy the evening, or you can make your way to stay in Killarney — but it will add a bit of rush to your day.
view of charming downtown kenmare ireland streets before sunset
Beautiful Kenmare, Ireland


This is where have a bit of flexibility in this 7 day itinerary.  If you would prefer to spend more time in Cork (or even add a day to Dublin at the beginning) then you could skip the Ring of Kerry and just do the Dingle Peninsula drive (mentioned on Day 5 below).  

Day 4:  Explore Killarney Ireland and All It Has to Offer

Killarney is a very popular place for visitors in Ireland.  It has a charming downtown area which you can ride on a horse and carriage around on a little tour.  The town is also nearby Killarney National Park for a bit of outdoor exploring and hiking, and there is also Ross Castle perched on the shores of a lovely lake – which you can also go kayaking on!  

Another activity that we thoroughly enjoyed was visiting the Muckross house.  It was a fascinating tour of this beautiful old home, but what we really enjoyed more than anything was strolling their large farm! It was built up as an attraction where you could see rural life in Ireland throughout time – even stopping into an old home where hosts are making authentic soda bread over the fire that we could taste (with homemade jam of course!). 

Having 2 nights in Killarney is ideal, especially because this is a fast-paced itinerary. So it will give you time to relax a bit and soak up the culture of this part of Ireland.  While there are some hotels in Killarney, we still prefer some of the charming B&B’s in Killarney.

Ross Castle, Killarney

Day 5:  Driving the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland

Here is a part of the itinerary that is also flexible.  You could drive both the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry, or you could opt out of one for the other.  Really either way you do it, it can give you a bit more time in Killarney or even at the beginning of your trip in Dublin.  

Read More:  Our Experience Driving Around the Dingle Peninsula

The great thing about driving the Dingle Peninsula is that it’s far less busy than the Ring of Kerry.  Less traffic means less people crowding the view points, and a much more enjoyable ride.  We had a blast just meandering our way around the peninsula – stopping off for some sightseeing and short hikes (and even a beach stop).  

Staying on the Dingle peninsula will give you more time to explore the area at a leisurely pace.  The town of Dingle is quiet, but it has a few pubs and quaint places to stay in this traditional fishing village.

Driving around the Dingle Peninsula

Day 6:  Check Out the Famous Cliffs of Moher

You absolutely can’t miss visiting the famous Cliffs of Moher! iconic cliffs are located on the rugged west Ireland coastline, and they are a famous spot for visitors!  They are a few hours drive from the Dingle area, so getting up fairly early will ensure you arrive and get your tickets for the Cliffs of Moher around lunch time – giving you plenty of time to explore the area and take in the views!  If you have some time, you could also explore the nearby caves as well.

Tonight, you could stay in the small town of Doolin, or start to make you way back to Dublin (depending on if your flight leaves from Dublin and at what time).  But if you are up for it you could go all the way to Galway.  Galway is a bigger city and is known for it’s music!  If you have an extra day, then definitely check out Galway.

Tickets:  Cliffs of Moher and Ailwee Caves Tour

Enjoying the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Enjoying the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Day 7:  Ride Back to Dublin & Catch Your Flight

If you book a round-trip flight to Dublin, then you will need to make your way back in time to fly out.  Give yourself plenty of time, as traffic can move slower than expected (anywhere in Ireland, really).  However, you could opt to fly “open-jaw” which essentially means flying into one city and out of another.  So it would be possible for you to fly out of another town nearby, such as Shannon.  Keep in mind if you rented a car in Dublin that you may have extra drop off fees if leaving out of another airport.  

Final Quick Tips for your 7 Day Ireland Itinerary 

For visitors coming from the US, there’s no need to worry about a visa or anything.  Just be sure that you have a valid passport with a blank page left.  If you don’t have one yet, check out our post about how to get a passport.  

You should also be sure that you notify your banks that you will be traveling, as well as getting some currency before you arrive in Ireland.  Currency conversions are the most expensive at the airport!  The cheapest way is to buy currency from your bank before you travel (give yourself a couple weeks to receive it) or you can use your ATM card abroad to pull cash out directly. 

Personally, I find ATM’s to be the cheapest and most convenient.  But you do need to check beforehand with your bank to make sure that your ATM card will work overseas (most major banks will) and put a “travel notice” on your bank and credit cards so they don’t flag your charges or put a hold on your card while you are traveling.  For more details, check out our full post about money travel tips you need to know before traveling.

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