A Guide to Visiting Ireland for the First Time: Our 7-Day Itinerary

Ireland is a country with a rich history, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant culture. Planning a trip to this beautiful country can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time visiting Ireland. Our Founder Alia recently took her family on a week-long trip and we’re breaking down their itinerary for you. From exploring the bustling cities to wandering through the rolling green hills, we cover all the must-see destinations and hidden gems. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Emerald Isle!

And now we hand the mic over to Alia…

Day 1

We arrived at the Dublin airport and met our driver. We booked a private tour company for the week and splurged on a branded tour van, how cute! A private tour isn’t necessary, but it allowed us to sit back and enjoy the scenic drive to Offaly, Galway.

We stopped to see the Clonmacnoise, a ruined monastery founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. 

After a long day of travel, we were ready to check in to our hotel for the next two days. We stayed at The Galmont Hotel & Spa. The hotel overlooks Galway Bay and is a short walk to Eyre Square, which has an open green space and shopping.

Day 2

We woke up and started our day with breakfast at the hotel.

Today we took a full-day tour of Connemara, a region of County Galway known for its breathtaking hills and bogs and Connemara ponies. Oscar Wilde has described this region as “a savage beauty” and “in every way magnificent” and we couldn’t agree more. We toured the loop of Connemara via Oughterard & Maam Cross before traveling up the Inagh valley. As we drove back to Galway through Clifden, the scenery changes to a view of the beautiful coastline.

We stopped to visit Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian Walled Garden. The castle tells a story of tragedy and romance and is only an introduction to the country’s twisted tales. To get a guided tour, you’ll need to book ahead when visiting Ireland.

Day 3

We started our day by checking out and driving over to Killarney. 

On the way, we traveled through the Burren, a unique area that looks like the surface of the moon and has over 20 species of Orchids that grow there.

Next, we stopped for one of the most iconic attractions in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. It was definitely one of our favorite experiences. You’ll need to plan for ample time exploring the walkways and taking in the incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park were next on our list. If you’re looking for a castle experience, this is a great option when visiting Ireland. It has a complicated history dating back to the 13th century. 

We ended the day by checking into the next hotel Killarney Plaza Hotel And Spa.

Day 4

Today we took a full-day tour of the Ring of Kerry, a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. We drove through Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Cahersiveen, Waterville, and Coomakesta Pass. Many of the roads are either two-lane or one, and in windy conditions can be difficult to maneuver, so having the tour guide was convenient. 

We stopped for an Irish sheepdog demonstration at The Kells Sheep Centre. The kids absolutely loved this and it was a great way to immerse ourselves in the more rural Ireland community. The Kells Sheep Centre trains Border Collies in the art of sheepherding. We got to watch a demonstration and ask a few questions after.

Day 5

We started our day by checking out and driving back to Dublin.

On the way, we stopped to visit Blarney Castle. The castle was built in 1446 as a defensive fortress. According to a famous poem, you can “kiss it” to be gifted with flattery and persuasiveness. It’s definitely touristy, but who couldn’t use a bit more of those two traits?

Next, we stopped to see the Rock of Cashel. This is one of the most fascinating medieval sites in Ireland. It was the seat of kings and medieval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century.

We ended our day checking into the last hotel Trinity City Hotel.

Day 6

On our last full day, we set out to explore the impressive city of Dublin. It’s a very walkable city and easy to cover lots of ground. 

Trinity College is in the center of the city and home to one of the most famous artifacts in the world, the Book of Kells. It’s worth stopping into the beautiful Old Library to see when visiting Ireland.

While we weren’t able to explore them all, a few more attractions worth seeing are St Stephen’s Green, the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Guinness Storehouse.

The next day, we were up for breakfast and headed back to Dublin Airport. It was truly a family vacation to remember filled with so much interesting history and incredible views. We only touched the surface of what Ireland has to offer and we hope to make it back to see the rest.

Don’t forget– the best itinerary is a flexible itinerary. Not everything will always go smoothly and that’s okay. The kids might not remember every detail, but they will remember the joy of seeing the world. 

Now is the perfect time to start planning your own trip to Ireland. From custom itineraries, to flight and airport transfers, to 24/7 destination support, we can plan a stress-free vacation. Get in touch to set up a free consultation.