Tried and tested itineraries for 7 days in Ireland, by a local! Find insider tips and recommended itineraries for one week in the Emerald Isle.
If you are planning a one week trip to Ireland let me tell you: you are in for a real treat!
7 days may not seem much for a country as rich in culture and experiences as Ireland however, you might be surprised to discover how much you can see here even with just one week on Ireland’s green shores.
Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher and even the Ring of Kerry are all within a manageable distance and why you will have to prioritize what you want to see, I am confident you can make your week in Ireland truly worthwhile!
The one thing you need is a plan, and a well thought out one too: one that takes into account what you want to see but also the peculiarity of Irish roads and Ireland driving conditions.
A plan is what I want to help you with today.
I have been living in Ireland for 14 years and, over this time, I have traveled around the country extensively.
Today, I am sharing my favorite itineraries for 7 days in Ireland and some suggestions on how to plan a great trip.
Wondering what to see in Ireland in 7 days? Let’s go!
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7 days in Ireland: know before you go
How much or how little you can see in Ireland in a week depends on a few factors.
Season – Ireland in winter and Ireland in summer are almost two different countries.
While both seasons have their advantages, if you come to Ireland in the winter you will have to deal with shorter days, bad weather and occasional road closures (on the mountains).
These factors will impact on how much you can see and may even affect the sites you can or cannot see: the Aran islands or Skellig Michaels, for instance, are harder to access in winter.
Mean of transport – how much you can visit in Ireland depends also on the transport of choice.
The best way to travel around Ireland is by car but many locations are also connected by bus and train.
Especially the train system, however, is not overly developed so, without a car, you can again expect a slower pace or more limited option
Your interests – your itinerary will look very different if you are interested in experiencing Ireland’s city life and museums, if you want to enjoy its stunning scenery, visit an ancestry home or do a bit of everything.
Below, I have drafted several possible itineraries that I hope will be a good inspiration, whatever your expectations.
The best way to spend 7 days in Ireland: a recommended itinerary overview
|What you will see||Best for|
|Cities, castles, cliffs- see it all!||First-time visitors|
|Ring of Kerry and the West||Colorful villages, scenery|
|Dublin, Galway, Cliffs of Moher||Non-drivers|
|Ireland and Northern Ireland||Remote scenery, recent history|
7 days in Ireland Itinerary 1: Ireland must see
If you are coming to Ireland for the first time and want to see some of Ireland’s most famous sites, this itinerary is a good start.
Over the course of 7 days, you will have seen the Irish capital, its Western counterpart, the lovely University town of Galway, the world-famous Cliffs of Moher and two of the most popular attractions in Ireland: Kilkenny and the Blarney castle.
This itinerary is ideal for people who enjoy exploring local towns and atmospheric castle and includes some lovely scenery.
It is not particularly suited for lovers of the outdoors who may find more satisfaction with less driving and longer time in the Wicklow area, famous for its hiking opportunities.
Over 7 days, you can get organized as follows:
Day 1-2: Dublin
The first two days of this week in Ireland bring to Dublin, the Irish capital and one of the most popular entry points to the country both by air and sea.
With two days in Dublin, you can rest after your flight taking it easy in the city center, see some of the city’s most famous museums such as the National Gallery and the Guinness Storehouse and you can spend an evening listening to Irish music in one of Dublin’s famous pubs.
To make the most of the city I recommend you choose accommodation in the city center but away from Temple Bar.
The Hilton Charlemont Hotel is a good place to stay in Dublin for location and service.
Day 3: Glendalough with a night in Kilkenny
Glendalough and Kilkenny are two of the most popular sites in Ireland and with good reason.
Glendalough is an ancient monastic site located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
It is a place of great natural beauty and with immense atmosphere: it has a round tower, an ancient cemetery and beautiful lakes and it is a wonderful way to get acquainted with the most mystical and romantic side of Ireland.
Kilkenny is very different yet equally worth visiting. A medieval city with a stunning castle and churches, Kilkenny is small but vibrant and a great place for sightseeing, shopping and a good night out!
A good hotel in Kilkenny is the Ormonde Hotel, in the city center.
Day 4: Cork and Blarney castle
Cork city and surrounding area are where you find the famous Blarney castle and ‘Blarney stone’.
The castle is one of the most famous attractions in the whole of Ireland but it deserves its fame.
The castle itself is a beautiful, atmospheric ruin and the grounds around it have beautiful wooded areas and gardens: my favorite is the ‘garden of poisons’, which is exactly what the name suggests!
If you want, you can face the crowds and kiss the Blarney stone but if you are not so inclined, you don’t have to: the place is wonderful regardless.
After the castle, I recommend you spend some time in Cork city. Small and lively, this is a lovely stop for the night: the Montenotte hotel here is beautiful.
Day 5: Cliffs of Moher and Galway area
The drive from Cork to Galway brings you through amazing scenery.
Here you find the Burren, a peculiar landscape with a distinct otherworldly feel, beautiful County Clare and the famous Cliffs of Moher, maybe the most visited place in the whole of Ireland.
The cliffs are busy during the day but stunning and surprisingly accessible even with kids or if you are afraid of heights (you can find our guide to the Cliffs of Moher with family here)
I recommend yo spend the night in Galway as this will give you the chance to experience the lovely evening of this University town.
The Maldron Galway is a good accommodation choice.
Day 6: Connemara
If you still have energy, you can spend this day exploring Connemara, the region to the North of Galway famous for stunning scenery, old cottages and Kylemore Abbey.
You can visit by car or take a break from driving getting onto one of the many tours of Connemara departing from Galway.
Should you prefer to stay put, Galway is a good place to relax and slow down. Either way, two nights in the city are your best option.
Day 7: Return to Dublin via Clonmacnoise
Day 7 sees you returning to Dublin but there is one more stop I recommend before heading back to the city: Clonmacnoise.
Clonmacnoise is an ancient monastic site on the river Shannon and it beautiful and interesting.
Much bigger than Glendalough and very different in style, it is a great place to learn about monastic times and a wonderful last stop before heading back to Dublin and home.
The ring fo Kerry and the West
If you are coming to Ireland hoping to see colorful villages, beautiful coastlines and remote scenery, then you should opt to spend a week in the West.
The best way to visit this area is arriving in Shannon rather than Dublin and then make your way to the Irish capital at the end of the week.
This itinerary is suited mostly to people who feel comfortable driving and it particularly pleasant if you can arrive in Shannon and depart from Dublin.
Should this not be possible, you can also visit coming and going from the same airport but the drive Dublin – Kerry takes over 4 hours so this needs to be factored in.
Day 1-2 Killarney and the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry and its getaway town, Killarney, are among the most visited places in the whole of Ireland and a truly wonderful destination for all types of visitors, except those who want to get away from crowds (in summer, this area is packed!).
The Ring of Kerry is famous for its incredible coastal and mountain scenery while Killarney is a lovely town of colorful houses and cozy pubs.
The Killarney National Park, Muckrock house and the Dingle peninsula are all easily accessible from here.
While I allocated only a couple of days to this corner of Ireland, if you don’t mind skipping other locations, this is a place worth visiting for longer.
You will need two nights to see them all and a good base for your time here is the Hotel Killarney.
Day 3-5 The Burren, the cliffs of Moher, Galway, Connemara
Heading North from Killarney you enter beautiful County Clare and the County Galway.
This is a wonderful area and one that deserves at least two nights, if not more.
Here you will drive across the interesting and beautiful landscape of the Burren, see the famous Cliffs of Moher and you have the option of visiting Connemara or even spend a day visiting the Aran Islands.
Day 6-7 Dublin
If flying back from Dublin, I recommend planning 2 days for the trip.
The drive from Galway to Dublin is easy and quick, however, after a week in Ireland driving, I do feel it is a good idea to regain Dublin fast, drop the car and explore the city on foot.
With one day in Dublin, you can visit the city center, the Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College and some of the city’s famous museums such as the National Gallery.
The Hilton Charlemont here is a good base for a couple of nights in the city
One week in Ireland without a car
Visiting Ireland without a car takes some planning but it is possible.
In this, case, what I recommend you to do is to pick a limited number of places to use as a base and explore with day trips.
To give you an idea of what you can reach from its place, consider this:
Dublin is a good base for day trips and you can easily spend a whole week here and just use the bus and train.
Galway is best located for visiting the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and Connemara.
Cork is a good base for the Blarney Castle and the fantastic Rock of Cashel.
A good way to plan your week in Ireland without a car can be to plan half the time in Dublin and half in Galway or you can even add a trip to Cork, well connected to Dublin by train.
One week in Ireland and Northern Ireland
All the itineraries above are for one week in the Republic of Ireland but Northern Ireland (part of the UK) is stunning and well worth a visit.
This itinerary is particularly suited to visitors interested in remote scenery, recent history and the famous Giants Causeway.
Day 1 Dublin
I recommend spending the first day in Dublin to see the city but also regain your energy after a long flight.
This itinerary brings you to pretty remote Donegal locations and it is, therefore, more important than ever to only drive when rested.
Dublin city center is a great place to discover on foot so you can spend an easy and relaxing day here.
Settle down in the Hilton Charlemont for a great base in Dublin
Day 2- 4 Derry and Donegal
Derry/Londonderry is a lovely walled city and a great place to explore for one day as well as a good base for visiting Donegal.
Donegal is an area of wonderful windswept beaches and remote landscapes and really, you can’t go wrong here wherever you decide to go.
I am fond of the Fanad Peninsula but Malin Head, the northernmost point in Ireland is also worth a visit.
This is a stunning area of Ireland, maybe the most beautiful of all, and sees a fraction of the tourism other areas receive, making is exceptionally pleasant
Day 5- Antrim coast
The Antrim coast is a wonderful stretch of coastline at the very North of Northern Ireland.
Here is where you have the Giants causeway and the carrick-a-rede rope bridge and also the incredible Dublice castle.
This is a wonderful area and while busy, one I highly recommend visiting for visual impact and sheer beauty.
in the area, we stayed at the excellent Hilton Templepatrick which I recommend.
Day 6 Belfast and Dublin
These last two days I recommend spending in Belfast and Dublin, two cities very different from each other but both worth visiting.
In Belfast, I highly recommend taking a tour to learn about the recent and dramatic history of the troubles, but in Dublin, I suggest you visit the museums you have inevitably missed on the first day.
IMMA (the Irish Museum of Modern Art) along with the Chester Beatty Library, which is wonderful and located within Dublin castle, also worth seeing.
I hope you enjoyed these suggestions on how to spend 7 days in Ireland in Ireland and I gave you good ideas for your Ireland itinerary.