We got back from Ireland a few weeks ago, and Im still dreaming about the food & stunning views. Truly one of the most beautiful places, I have yet to see anything like it! If you ever get the chance to take a trip, don’t hesitate, GO! I’ve shared details about our trip below: where we stayed, ate, and what a 7 day itinerary looked like for us!
I have to preface, that this entire trip, we weren’t in a rush, we had nothing planned, no hotels booked until the day of-wherever we were, no necessity to be anywhere. It was very go with the flow! We knew we had the whole week, and I know a lot of people say you can’t see it all in a week, but we weren’t trying to see it ALL, just some important spots, and places that interested us along the way. Plus we DO feel like we saw and did A LOT! We were doing this with three young kids, and its their school break, so we wanted it to be fun and easy going for them too. Not just days and days spent in a car sightseeing (we did that for sure!) but we did it in a slow, non-rushed, relaxing kind of way-which in my experience, is the best way to enjoy EVERY vacation!
I will say, my best recommendation is to rent a car! It is the BEST way to see and feel Ireland, and then you can be on your own schedule, and switch things up or do as you please!
We flew in Saturday evening, rented a car from the Hertz right at the airport, and made our way to our Hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Dublin (Charlemont Place). It was perfect for a family of five, and only a €10 cab ride downtown! Since it was late, and we were all starving, we walked right next door to The Barge for dinner. It was a cool place, three floors, live music, the food wasn’t our favorite of the trip, but it was my first fish & chips in eight months, so I was happy! My husband got the burger, which was ginormous, and a Guinness of course! After dinner, we went back to the hotel and called it a night. Its hard in Europe in general to find rooms that have both a bedroom and living room, which we usually book when traveling with the boys, so we have to kind of go to bed when they do! haha I would just read in bed for a couple hours which is fine, but my hubs was asleep by 930 with them both nights.
Sunday, we spent in Dublin! (We had a few people tell us to skip the city and drive straight out to the west coast. Dang Im glad we didn’t! We absolutely and completely loved Dublin, and cannot wait to go back to that city!) We woke up and had breakfast, another plus staying at the Hilton, the breakfast is included in your room rate and its a pretty amazing spread. Croissants, meats, cheeses, pancakes, fruits, parfaits, traditional irish breakfasts bits, lattes, cappucinos, so many different options, it was wonderful. We headed off right after to the Starbucks around the corner, its only a 5 minute walk, and momma was desperate for a cup! (I haven’t had one in eight months, give me a break!)
We hopped in a cab from there to the Guinness Storehouse, only a €10 ride, totally worth it when hopping around the city with kids all day! I had bought tickets online in advance for the 11am tour, and we were finished about two hours later. The Gravity Bar at the end was a highlight, so cool to sit above Dublin with my first glass of Guinness! I want to note that it was super kid friendly, so if you’re a parent and interested in it, my kids loved it, it was really interactive!
From there, we grabbed another cab, (for another €10) over to The Hairy Lemon for lunch. Hands down, best meal we had the entire trip. This place was cool, so much old memorabilia all over the walls, cozy, and lively! You could hear all the locals at lunch time screaming hard for the soccer match going on, which was pretty fun! We ordered the Guinness Pie and Bangers & Mash, and both were equally phenomenal! My kids loved the fish & chips and chicken goujons…which is pretty much what they ordered everywhere the entire trip! lol Since we went at lunch, there was no wait and it wasn’t overly busy, but I have read that if you go for dinner to make reservations because it can get busy. If we make it back to Dublin, this will 100% be my first stop!
After lunch, we walked about 10 minutes towards Temple Bar. (I want to interject here and add that we had planned on doing The Book of Kells after lunch, but I had a friend there trying to get in and mentioned that since they didn’t buy their tickets in advance, the line to buy them was really long. So we opted to skip it for now. But if you’re reading this, and planning a trip, buy your tickets and go over there afterwards, its all walking distance and the one thing that I am bummed we missed out on.) However we did love the Temple Bar Neighborhood! Live music everywhere and a fun atmosphere! We walked up Grafton Street after which was pretty cool. Its loaded with some of the best shopping, but they also had ice cream shops for the kids, street entertainment, (I have some great videos of my kids dancing!), and we stopped along the way for a pint of cider and Guinness!
I had to buy an extra sweater at the Zara right there because it was SO windy that day, and I was starting to not feel well. (I ended up losing my voice completely for about 5 days and got sick enough that it was making me so tired, (that wind is no joke, dress warm!) It kind of sucked during a vaca, but I pushed on and went to bed with the boys for a few nights to get some extra sleep! Seriously, we got SO lucky with out weather, zero rain, mostly sunny days, but the wind can be brutal and knocked me out. Dress warmmmm!)
We grabbed another cab back to our hotel and hung out in the restaurant there for a couple hours. We were really cold, and the fire was nice. The kids watched a movie on the iPad, we had a couple glasses of wine and we all ate dinner there. It was actually a pretty great, relaxing way to end the day!
Monday morning we got up and had another great breakfast, and took our time getting moving. The entire day was pretty much slow moving, no major sights, I was really sick, I found a starbucks and ordered what they could make of a ‘medicine ball’. We got on the road though, and headed towards Galway. We stopped about an hour in Alheone for some shopping, mostly to find swimsuits for the boys because we were looking into hotels with pools, which is their favorite thing ever! We found a TK Maxx (which is the equivalent of a TJ Maxx back in the states) and a Marks & Spencers, and got them some suits! There was also a River Island at the mall there, so I went kind of ham HA, one of my favorite UK shops, and I had never been into a physical store before, but they’re everywhere there obviously.
When we left Alheone, we headed to Galway, walked into The Connacht, and made reservations for the night. (This was the only hotel our whole trip that had the option of a suite (separate bedrooms) so we were able to stay up later than the kids and watched Schitts Creek all night! haha) Definitely recommend this place though! They have an indoor pool, and my husband took the kids swimming for over three hours while I sat in the restaurant by the little fire place, reading my book and nursing my vino. We ate at the restaurant on site afterwards, Reubens, and it was so YUM! The Beef Bourginon was to die for!
Tuesday we got up and had breakfast at the hotel, a traditional irish breakfast was offered, and we took advantage! We headed out afterwards and parked downtown, which was only about a five minute drive from the hotel. We spent all day exploring Galway. Our first stop was The Kings Head for a pint, which was a really cool spot, over 800 years old, so historical, and neat inside. We got the kids a Fanta while we all hung out sipping, before moving on!
We walked all over the Latin Quarter, we stopped at Sonny Malloys which is part of The Front Door, which houses five bars, its really cool how its all laid out! I got a cider, the boys all had ice cream sundaes and we stared in awe at the seriously impressive whiskey selection..if you did one shot of all of them, you’d spend over €1100..insane.
Up next, we walked towards Thomas Dillons, I was thinking about getting a Claddagh ring as a little souvenir, and this spot was where the ring was first made, but they’re wayyyy over priced HA, so check out the mini museum in the back, and head out to find one somewhere else!
For lunch, we headed over to The Dail. Another sweet spot, I got the Fish & Chips, so delish. Bulmers was my favorite cider the entire trip, as well as Orchard Thieves!
We walked towards Eyre Square Park and let the kids run around and play in the playground for a bit to burn off some steam which was great! Right across the street was O’Connels, definitely not kid appropriate, but we weren’t going in, we just wanted the #liftyouup wings picture! 😛
When we were all wiped out, we popped into a grocery store to grab some snacks for the kids, hopped in the car, and headed towards Doolin! We took the Wild Atlantic Way, and drove along the coast the entire drive down, which was only about 1 1/2 hours, and I highly recommend that route. It was beautiful, quiet, we saw some sweet old cars, old straw roof houses straight out of The Hobbit, and coastline the whole way.
When we got to Doolin we drove straight down to the pier to watch the surfers and to see the waves hit the rocks, which is pretty insane and cool to see. (If you want to see the Cliffs of Moher from the water, this is where the ferries take off too.) We drove over to Hotel Doolin, walked in and got a room for the night. Its new, clean, and has a great breakfast, definitely recommend! For dinner, we walked right next door to Fitzpatricks, another tasty Bulmers was had, live music was heard, and there was some incredible Seafood Chowder! It was such a cute little town for a night!
Wednesday we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel, (first eggs benedict in almost a year, and it was heaven!), then we checked out and headed right over to the Cliffs of Moher. It was only a 10 minute drive to the visitor center. Of course, this was a highlight and really cool to see, but if Im honest, I did stress a bit with the kids once we walked further than the stone wall, but its totally doable, just keep a close eye on the little ones..those cliffs are RIGHT there, and they’re a straight drop. HA Totally stunning though, and a cool experience to see them.
We spent about two hours at the Cliffs walking around, then headed south towards Dingle. We stopped at Bunratty Castle after reading about it, but truthfully it was a bit to hokey for us, more of a field trip if you live local type place. We did have lunch at The Creamery across the street though which was tasty, another great seafood chowder!
We made it down to Dingle and checked into the Dingle Bay Hotel for two nights. As I mentioned I had been really sick all week, so I was wiped out, and pretty much crashed as soon as we checked in around dinner time. My husband went to the restaurant attached to the hotel and grabbed some dinner for the boys, and it was a perfect early night for us. My hubs went out to the pubs for the night to listen to some music and chat with some locals, which he said was really cool and a lot of fun!
Thursday morning after breakfast, we jumped right into the car to explore Slea Head Drive. If Im being honest, this was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most, all of the Dingle Peninsula was actually, this was my favorite day! If you stop anywhere and grab a map, there are tons and tons of stops along the way, you could spend the entire day exploring this loop. Star wars sights, holding baby lambs, the famous postcard photo spot! We spent three hours from start to finish driving and stopping. We hit up Ceann Tra Beach, the Beehive Huts, Holding a baby lamb, Dunquin Pier (the famous photo spot!), and quite a few photo ops along the way. We went to Murphys for lunch that we came across along the drive, the ravioli was killer! We headed back to Dingle and went to Murphys Ice Cream, which is a MUST when in Ireland! Then walked around the town shopping and pub hopping until dinner. Ironically enough, we went to a Murphys for dinner in Dingle too! lol (All three were totally different, but it was pretty funny we got them all in one day!) Best day!
Friday morning as we left Dingle, we headed out over the Conor Pass route, which I highly recommend if its a nice day. We had blue skies, so even though it was insanely windy, it was also crazy beautiful!
From here we drove to Killarney for lunch. We ate at Cronins, which is a small little family run spot, but had the BEST shepards pie, seriously amazing! We walked down the road and stopped in an old fashioned candy shop and got the kids a few things for dessert afterwards! We drove around the town a bit after, debating gong further into Killarney National Park and over to the Gap of Dunloe, but ultimately decided we just wanted to move along, but you could totally add that to your trip here!
We were driving towards Cork for the night, but found a nice hotel, The Blarney, up in Blarney and chose to stay up there instead. So glad we did, such a nice place, and the kids got another opportunity to go swimming for a couple hours, which of course they loved! The restaurant on site was really great too, which was awesome, we got to just eat dinner and relax for the night. (Just a note, we didn’t go out of the hotel for dinner, but I did have a follower on Instagram recommend ‘Blairs Inn’ for dinner! She mentioned they went twice on their trip, it was that good. So if you’re in the area, its worth looking into!)
Saturday morning we headed out straight away, drove an hour up to Cashel to a Starbucks where we got breakfast and some good coffee! We went to the Rock of Cashel afterwards which was SO cool. They closed the top because the winds were SO strong. Seriously, we had to hold our kids SO tight in some areas because they were getting blown over! But we walked all around the entire place, saw Hore Abbey, lots of sheep, and some incredibly gorgeous views. Totally worth going, plus if you look it up, it has a really cool legend about the Devil dropping a bite of rock, look it up, very interesting!
We left the Rock of Cashel and drove straight up to Dublin. We parked downtown and went back to the Temple Bar Neighborhood. We had a late lunch/early dinner at The Old Storehouse. This place was really fun with live music all day, and was so packed-always a good sign! We grabbed a table upstairs and hung out for a couple hours listening to the music, chatting, and people watching out the window! lol When we finally left, I did a little shopping, (like I said, seriously amazing shopping here!) then headed over to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton by the airport since we had to be up at 3am for our flight.
We actually had all of Sunday available too, where we had finally bought tickets to see the Book of Kells, and were planning on going to lunch at Quays after hearing tasty things about it, but when we woke up Sunday we chose differently. We had an incredible breakfast, my husband went and dropped off the rental car, got ready, and were going to take a cab downtown, (FYI, its about €25-30 from this area), but it was pouring rain and sooooo windy, again. HA After being sick and going nonstop all week, we just wanted to hang out and relax on our last day of vaca, especially since the moment we got back the kids were back in school, my husband was back at work, sports practices…we were wiped! So we hunkered down in some couches in the bar/retaurant area, watched some Schitts Creek while the kids played games, had my last few Bulmers, ate some dinner and called it a night. It was truly the best way to end a really busy week!
Ireland was everything I envisioned, thought it would be, and MORE. No photo will ever do it justice compared to the human eye, and if you ever get a chance to go, I highly, highly recommend you take it. It is such a beautiful country with some really delicious food, lively pubs, and incredibly kind people.