Map of Ireland – Our Road Trip Route

An Ireland road trip is on the bucket list of many travelers. The idea of driving through the idyllic countryside, filled with rolling hills of green, dotted with sheep and age old castles seems like a wonderful escape.  We were fortunate to spend a solid week driving around Ireland.  And while we wish we would have had even more time, we truly loved every moment of it.  So if you are planning a trip to Ireland, check out the route we took with this map of our Ireland road trip!

Our Driving Map of Ireland – Round Trip from Dublin

Like many travelers, we decided to fly in and out of Dublin because of the better flight options and prices.  However, there are sometimes great deals to other airports around Ireland – such as Shannon or Galway.  So definitely check out other cities in case there are deals to be had!

Dublin was amazing!  We were able to visit all the major sites around town, including the famous Guinness Storehouse.  And we even had time to fit in a bit of Geocaching in Dublin! Since we weren’t driving in Dublin, we did NOT rent a car until we were ready to head out of town.  There’s simply no need to have a car in Dublin – plus parking is difficult and expensive.

The map below is interactive – so click and zoom as you wish!

After spending a weekend sightseeing in Dublin, we were ready to set off on our adventure road trip in Ireland. Renting a car in Ireland is not quite as straightforward as we would have liked. We did a LOT of research, and the process was still a bit painful. But we got the car and were ready to head out!

We took roughly one week to explore, so our road trip route map of Ireland took us southwest from Dublin into the countryside.  From there, we would take time to drive one of the famous peninsula’s of Ireland, then go up north toward Galway Ireland, then back east to Dublin.

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Temple Bar in Dublin Ireland, map of ireland, driving in ireland
Exploring the famous temple bar area of Dublin

The Wicklow Mountains – Just Couldn’t Fit it In

We heard really great things about driving through the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin.  With amazing views and lots of places to stop for short hikes and sightseeing, this is a highly recommended place to road trip in Ireland.  So when planning our Ireland road trip map, our initial plan included a drive through the beautiful Wicklow Mountains.

Wicklow Mountains 2, map of ireland, driving in ireland
What a scene – driving in Ireland!

Unfortunately for us, when it came time to take the trip we realized that we just couldn’t fit it into our schedule because we were meeting up family in Killarney.  We knew that we’d want to spend some time exploring the scenic spots in the Wicklow area, and it would take too much of our time before we had to meet up with people.

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So at the last minute, we decided to cut across Ireland in a more direct west route.  We did make a stop at Kilkenny to see the famous castle, and then toward the famous Rock of Cashel – perched on top of the hill.  This is also where we were lucky enough to run into the family members we were meeting up with, as they were stopping to see these places too.

Sadly for us, the Kilkenny Castle & Rock of Cashel were closed during our visit.   So we grabbed a some food at a local gas station deli counter  (surprisingly good food by the way) and headed out again.

Read also How to get an International Drivers License 

Driving in the Irish Countryside

This is where we ventured off the main highway and into the famous Irish countryside.  This was by far one of our favorite parts of the trip because it was the first time we felt like we were experiencing that quintessential Ireland drive.

Driving in Ireland small roads, map of ireland, narrow roads in ireland
Gotta love these narrow country roads in Ireland!

We loved seeing the rolling hills of green, endless fields, and of course…the sheep!  However, this is also the first time we experienced the thrill (or terror) of the narrow roads in Ireland.  Not that narrow roads are bad, but they can be scary when there is an oversized tractor coming toward you and a stone wall butting up to the side of your car!  Poor Josh has a few scares in the passenger seat.

Map of Ireland Road Trip Route
Photo by Nicholas Raymond

Another thing to know about driving in Ireland is that Ireland drives on the opposite side of the road from the States, as well as the opposite side of the car.  While it’s really not that hard to get used to, you should take extra care — because it feels a bit strange at first!  Turning corners is especially easy to forget (and take out a curb – ahem, Josh).

Killarney Ireland – a Charming Yet Bustling Tourist Town!

When we entered the town, we were surprised at how many things there were to do in Killarney and by how touristy it was.  There were quite a few tour buses lining the streets, and people riding in horse drawn carriages through town.  However, I wouldn’t say it felt terribly crowded if you just went a bit away from the city center.  But since it’s a popular place, we were happy to see so many shops and restaurants to explore.

For our stay, we wanted to be outside the noisy town and more in the quiet countryside.  And since we were with other family members, we opted to rent a little place at Old Killarney Cottages.  It was a charming thatched-roof house to spend a holiday, with 4 bedrooms and a full kitchen and living area. Although, there are so many charming and cozy bed and breakfasts in Killarney where you could choose to stay as well.

After those busy days in Dublin, we were happy to go shopping at the local grocery store (always fun) and do a bit of cooking and play games in the cottage with family.

Things to Do in Killarney Ireland

While in Killarney, we took some time to explore the beautiful Ross Castle, as well as the Muckross House.  This beautiful old mansion is full of history and art, as well as having magnificent gardens surrounding it.

Kilarney National Park, driving in ireland, map of ireland, view of muckross house killarney
Exploring the Muckross House near Kilarney, Ireland

But the most fun we had was actually exploring the working farms nearby Muckross House.  Walking around the grounds, we felt like we were transported back in time – visiting old cottages with workers dressed in period clothes.  We were able to sample freshly made soda bread that was freshly cooked over the fire, along with fresh butter and jam.

muckross house farms in killarney, things to do in killarney
Living history of rural life in Ireland – at the Muckross House farm

The traditional farms around Muckross House were a great way to see the history and culture of Ireland preserved, and shared with visitors.  We really felt like we were experiencing what life was once like in this area.  We also enjoyed walking through the countryside gazing out at the fields and admiring the different animals.  It really was a great way to spend the day, and it felt like we were in the real Ireland.

Gorgeous Killarney National Park and Kenmare, Ireland

One late afternoon we ventured out for a drive through Killarney National Park.  What a beautiful drive it was, winding up and down the mountains, passing by quite lakes and old castle ruins.  We had a blast making a few photo stops here and there, and just wandering around.

Kilarney national park, driving in ireland, lake and boat in ireland
Making a stop while driving through Killarney National Park in Ireland

Then we popped into the town of Kenmare for a look around.  This is a popular town for tourists, and oh so charming!  I imagine that the town can be busy in the day with day-trippers, but we arrived in the early evening and the town was incredibly quiet.

Cowleys Bar in Ireland, things to do in ireland, bar in kenmare ireland
Visiting a local pub in Kenmare, Ireland

We ventured out to see an old stone circle, then headed back into town for a pint at Crowleys Bar.  That stop actually became one of the highlights of our trip, as we met Sheila, the animated bartender who told us the most hilarious story about her visit to the US Grand Canyon, and those “Fecking Squirrels!”

Driving the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula

One of the most popular routes to take while exploring Ireland is driving the Ring of Kerry.  However, it is also the most crowded.  We heard stories over and over about lots of traffic, too many tour buses, and an overall lackluster experience.  So we opted for something different.

Driving in Dingle Peninsula, road on the dingle peninsula in ireland
Driving around the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Per the advice of one of our favorite travel ambassadors, Rick Steves, we chose to drive the more quiet Dingle peninsula instead.  Our drive toward Dingle Ireland became one of the highlights of our trip.

This route was so quiet, with hardly any cars, and we were able to stop so many more places to explore without the crowds of people.  We loved being able to take our time, or speed up if we wanted to.

Dingle Peninsula Drive, views of the ireland coast, dingle peninsula beach view
Exploring the remote Dingle Peninsula in Ireland

IMPORTANT!  When you are creating your Ireland travel itinerary with a Dingle drive, be sure to add quite a lot more time to your journey than what your route planner or GPS might say.  The roads are slow going, and you will definitely want to make a number of stops along the way.

North to the Famous Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, views of cliffs in ireland
The famous Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast

After finishing the Dingle Peninsula drive, we headed north.  To save some time, we actually took a car ferry across the water just north of Tarbert (N67) and continued along the other side up to Ennis Ireland.  We really loved this small town, and were lucky enough to spend a few days there visiting friends and family while attending a wedding.  Those Irish weddings are things memories are made of…that’s for sure!

A few days later, we made our way up to perhaps the most famous site on the west coast of Ireland…the Cliffs of Moher!  These natural wonders are quite the site to see, but not if you are afraid of heights.

** Read Our Entire Cliffs of Moher post HERE!

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, lay on the cliff in ireland
Do you dare???

When we visited, it was the end of May and the cold and rainy weather wasn’t the only inconvenience…it was the crazy strong wind!  It felt like we were going to get blown off those cliffs.  Still, it didn’t stop us from venturing into the restricted area (hey, it seemed everyone was doing it) and doing the infamous laying and dangling your head over the side.  It was only after we did this that we saw the warning signs.  Ooops.

Driving North to Galway Ireland

After the Cliffs of Moher, we continued to drive north toward Galway Ireland.  This area seemed quite barren, with lots of rocks and caves to explore.  If you have time, we definitely recommend checking out some of the cave tours.  Unfortunately, we just didn’t have time to explore the caves (we were a little hungover after the wedding…).

Related Posts:  Tips on International Driving

When we arrived in Galway, we were pleasantly surprised by the big promenade and beach in the popular Salthill area, where we were staying.  It’s easy to see that this is a popular holiday destination for families; however, it seemed that we were there a bit too early in the year.

It was definitely cold during our visit to Galway, so we didn’t spend much time at the beach.  We did check out an arcade to play some games, but mostly we just relaxed at a super cute B&B where we were staying.  There are many wonderful and charming B&B’s in this area!  The rooms were spacious and just what we needed after some rowdy nights at the wedding in Ennis.  Plus, the traditional Irish breakfast was fantastic in the morning and the hosts were so wonderfully friendly.

East from Galway to Trim Ireland

We left Galway the next morning after wandering around the old district of town, doing a bit of shopping and of course finding some geocaches!  Our route map of Ireland took us east toward the small town of Trim.  We stayed mostly on the highway this time, to make good time, then ventured back onto the country roads before getting into town.

Trim Castle, castles in ireland, castle where they filmed braveheart
Trim castle in Ireland

While in Trim, we visited Trim Castle – famous for being in the Braveheart movie.  The area is also known for the famous Hill of Tara.  This area is full of archaeological artifacts, including burial mounts dating back to 3000 BC!  The area is also home to Ireland’s own “Stonehenge.”

Completing Our Ireland Road Trip in Dublin

We returned to Dublin the next morning, and prepared to head home to the States.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time driving around Ireland, but certainly wished we had more time.

Dingle Peninsula road - Coast, driving the ireland coast, roads in ireland
Narrow roads in Ireland be careful of that wall!

More Time Would Always be Better!

With another week, we could have explore the Wicklow Mountains, perhaps made a stop in famous Cork Ireland, as well as venturing north of Galway in to some truly scenic countryside, and maybe popping into Northern Ireland for a visit to the famous Giant’s Causeway.

Still, we felt that our Ireland road trip route map showed us some of the best that this country has to offer.  When you are planning a trip to Ireland, we hope that this information from our journey, including the details, photos and tips will help you decide where you want to go and how you want to spend your time exploring in Ireland.

Editors Note:  This post was originally published in February 2016, but has been revamped and updated in 2019.


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Photo Credit: All photo under CC 2.0Unsplash, Christian_Birkholtz, SupportlTNl, Nicholas Raymond

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14 thoughts on “Map of Ireland – Our Road Trip Route”

  1. Enjoyed reading your post! We will be going to Killarney next month sans rental car. Is there quite a bit of public transportation if we want to venture out to Muckross House and Ross Castle?

    1. Thanks Haley for reading, and for the comment!

      From what I recall, there isn’t a whole lot of public transportation around Killarney. But there is specifically a hop on / hop off bus tour that goes around Killarney to the main attractions — including Ross Castle and the Muckross House. It’s a good value, and will give you transportation. Here is a link to view it and even purchase in advance, if you want:

      It’s a beautiful area and so much fun. Enjoy planning your trip and let us know if you have any other questions.

      Happy travels!
      – Liz

  2. Not a very original road trip More like an AARP guide road trip I am afraid.
    obviously no research was undertaken or you would know that there aren’t airports at Shannon and Limerick,just Shannon !
    Some of the nicest and less crowded places in Wexford Waterford and West Cork were missed as well as charming Co Roscommon .
    Rick Steves might seem good on TV but in reality I wonder does he ever go out and find new places to visit instead of slavishly following the well trodden path of others.

    1. Sheila – Thanks for reading.

      As the title suggests, this was not an exhaustive guide or “original” road trip around Ireland, but rather a journal my own personal route that I took — hence, I didn’t include destinations in Ireland which I didn’t visit. Like stated in the post, we were meeting up with family in Killarney as well as a large group of friends in Ennis for a wedding – so we had less time to explore because we were participating in festivities. But I do appreciate you letting myself and our readers about other popular places to visit so they can plan their trips in the future.

      Further, thank you for pointing out my typo. I know that the Shannon airport actually serves the Limerick area, I actually meant to type Galway (not Limerick – I must have been looking at the map when I typed it) since we also spent time in Galway during our time driving around Ireland.

      Happy Travels to you!

    2. Sheila,
      Your comment is pretty old, but I can’t resist asking. What is your problem? Liz is kind enough to share her experience with us and she is not making you read it. If you are not capable to share your input and suggestions respectfully then just don’t do it.

      Thank you very much. I really enjoy reading your travel experience and suggestions. It helps me very much with my research and planing:)

      1. Thank you so much Sofi for the kind comments. I’m very happy that you have found it helpful!

        Happy travel planning to you!
        – Liz

  3. Trees Rotteveel

    A great post! I have seen many things you mentioned. I love the castles like Kilkenny castle and Rock of Cashel.

    1. Thanks for reading, and for the comment. They are really beautiful – gotta love the castles around Ireland!


  4. A fascinating trip you have made, which are yet to undertake. This is our goal to do within the next 18 months with the intention to take 3 weeks to do so. So yes, we will be spending time in Killarney, but also hope to do the Wild Atlantic Way road trip or most of it. Your roadmap is a useful alternative. Thanks

  5. Thanks for all the tips on renting a car & driving in Ireland. We are planning two weeks in Scotland and England, hope to go to Ireland for 2 or 3 days. The major portion of our trip will be with family in Hawick, Scotland. I realize that is not enough time to really see Ireland but at least we will have been on Irish soil and been able to eat there & see a couple of things. What is the best way to get there? We were thinking taking the Holyhead Dublin route ferry across (about 2 hours) to Dublin. Any ideas of something not too far from Dublin to see, places to eat? I love the old Ireland- thatched roof homes, castles, beautiful nature scapes and authentic cuisine. I prefer less hustle and bustle, off the beaten path places.

    1. Hi Betty – thanks so much for reading. That sounds like a lovely trip!

      Dublin city center is quite wonderful, with lots of history, charm, and some fantastic food and local music at the pubs every night! If you want to get out of the city and maybe go for a drive, then the Wicklow mountains are not far (just south of the city). I believe you could do a pretty short trip out there for a day of driving, and exploring the area – where you can also see some of the local villages and nature too.

      That would be my bet, as other places may be too far for a short journey. Here’s the local website for Wicklow if you want to review their resources to plan a visit 🙂 .

      Enjoy your trip!

  6. Hi there

    This just came up on Pinterest and I had a look. There are some great places on the route you took. I love Kilkenny and Galway, and no trip is complete without a gander at the Dingle.

    But to anyone thinking that they might emulate your trip, I’d think also of West Cork, of Kinsale (gourmet capital of Ireland), and the wild rebel south west. To me if you haven’t kissed the Blarney Stone (just north of Cork), eaten local seafood and cheeses along the Cork Coast, and seen the Teardrop of Ireland (Fastnet) then you haven’t seen Ireland.

    The ultimate road trip is of course the Wild Atlantic Way, which takes in the Atlantic coast from North to South or South to North. It needs time but is the longest and most spectacular tourist road in Europe.

    Glad you liked the country


    1. Thanks for checking it out and adding your advice. Can’t wait to get back to Ireland for an even longer trip to explore more areas 🙂

      – Liz

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