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Not sure what to do in Ireland for a week? You guys, I absolutely adore Ireland. It’s an amazing place. Actually, I recently had a layover at Dublin Airport and then was so depressed that I couldn’t head out for another adventure on the Emerald Isle. Perhaps next time.
Anyway, Ireland is a very popular destination for many travelers. First of all, Ireland is a quick (relatively) and easy flight for visitors coming from the east coast of the United States and Canada. Flights to Ireland are often cheaper than those to mainland Europe – which makes it more popular among travelers looking for a bargain. It’s a “time and money” win.
Furthermore, Ireland is an easy and low stress place to visit even for brand new solo travelers, who might not have left their home countries once. It’s safe and beautiful with great infrastructure and friendly people. I never felt nervous in Ireland.
Lastly Ireland is also a fairly small island so it’s not too hard to plan a trip for a shorter period of time and still see a lot of cool stuff. Hence this post about spending seven days in Ireland. And Northern Ireland. Can’t skip there either.
My 7 Day Ireland Itinerary Will Help You Plan.
I’m super excited for your upcoming adventure to Ireland. I promise you’re going to love it! This itinerary will work for both groups and solo travel to Ireland.
However, with one week in Ireland, you want to carefully budget your time. Sure, Ireland doesn’t look like a big country on a map, but driving times will make a big dent into your day and you don’t want to be stuck behind the wheel of a car for the majority of your vacation. I’m sure you do enough of that nonsense on your morning commutes.
Regardless, a week is a perfect amount of time to spend in Ireland. A week is very doable for most people with full time jobs, and you can make it work in such a way that your budget won’t take toooooo much of a hit. After all, Ireland has several lovely guesthouses, Bed and Breakfasts, and hostels available for affordable prices. Read reviews ahead of time (as always).
Plus, with 7 days in Ireland, you’ll have a chance to experience a solid “overview” of the country so you know what places to spend more time in when you visit again. ‘Cause let’s be real. I always say I’m going to visit a place again, haha.
7 Days in Ireland: A Step-By-Step Guide.
Time for the nuts and bolts of this post.
For my 7 day Ireland itinerary, I’ve tried to split your visit between cities and smaller towns with a healthy dose of countryside thrown into the mix. You don’t want to limit yourself too much to Dublin and Belfast. While they are amazing cities, only see those two places doesn’t give you a fully balanced view of Ireland. In my opinion, the magic of Ireland lies in its ancient castles, massive cliffs, and prehistoric landmarks. Nature is where it’s at!
Off we go!
Day #1: Dublin.
With your first morning in Dublin, I’d recommend taking a free walking tour, such as this one offered by SANDEMANs New Europe, to learn all about this lively and fascinating city.
After the tour, make sure to explore the campus at Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, which is a stunning manuscript of the four Gospels. Keep in mind that you can’t take pictures of the Book of Kells, so please demonstrate respect and follow the rules. Once you see the Book of Kells, take a walk to Dublin’s most popular park, St. Stephen’s Green.
At night, try to track down a pub playing Irish music. Clap your hands and stamp your feet with the colorful locals as you enjoy a cold pint of beer. There’s no better way to end the day.
Day #2: Blarney Castle & Killarney National Park.
Are you ready to head into Ireland’s glorious countryside? Start early in the morning to avoid the traffic around Dublin.
First it’s time to get blessed with the Gift of Gab at Blarney Castle! This castle, which was built over 600 years ago, is one of Ireland’s most popular attractions. Sure, kissing the stone is a bit silly, but I still had a great time and think you need to give the stone a good smooch on your week in Ireland.
Blarney Castle has more to offer than just the famous stone, though. For example, I thought the poison garden was fascinating (don’t judge me, please). Poisonous plants include Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin, and Opium. Take your time to walk around Blarney Castle’s grounds if it’s a sunny day.
Once you kiss the stone, it’s time to make the drive to Killarney National Park – which is Ireland’s oldest national park and well worth a visit with your week in Ireland. This park sits at the foot of Macgillycuddy Reeks and has plenty of lovely hikes and walks for all fitness levels.
Spend the night in a cute guesthouse or bed and breakfast not too far away from the Park. The nearby town of Killarney has some great choices for you.
Day #3: Galway & The Cliffs of Moher.
In the morning, make the drive to western Ireland to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs have appeared in several films such as The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
While at the Cliffs of Moher, be careful of the winds and don’t go too close to the cliffs’ edge. The gusts here are insane. Don’t underestimate them. For a different vantage point, reserve a boat ride at the bottom of the cliffs and see their massive size from below. Don’t crane your neck too hard.
On your way to Galway, don’t miss Poulnabrone Dolmen, which is a Stone Age Tomb marking a mass grave (ohhh, spooky). Poulnabrone Dolmen is roughly a 35-40 minute drive away from the Cliffs of Moher.
After seeing plenty of gorgeous nature, your final destination is Galway which is a university city and the largest metro in western Ireland. Check out the Galway Cathedral which was built on the site of a former prison. And don’t forget to enjoy the youthful nightlife in this city. You’ll feel like a university student all over again.
Day #4: Trip to the Aran Islands.
Wake up early to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands. Ferries operate year round from Rossaveal in County Galway, connected by a bus service from Galway. Keep a close eye on the schedules.
So why should you visit the Aran Islands with your week in Ireland? First of all, these islands are famous among visitors, because the locals speak fluent Irish, as well as English. It’s pretty awesome hearing Irish openly spoken in the streets. The Aran Islands also feel truly removed from the world. You’ll feel as if you’ve gone way back in time to a simpler era.
The majority of day trippers will spend their time on Innis Mór – which is the larges of the three islands. Sites are scattered all over the island and aren’t necessarily accessible by walking alone. The easiest way to navigate the island is to rent a bike. A word of warning. If you’re not a fan of riding bikes, choose the easier coastal path rather than the interior one. Otherwise you might be like me and fall off the bike, haha. Don’t do that.
The highlight of my trip to Innis Mór is Dún Aonghasa, which is a prehistoric fort with several gorgeous views of the sea. Don’t miss it.
Day #5: Connemara National Park & (London)Derry
Are you ready for more spectacular Irish natural wonders? I hope so, because your fifth day takes you to Connemara National Park. Diamond Hill, a cone-shaped mountain, dominates this park. This national park is also home to Kylemore Abbey, which houses Benedictine Nuns. This gorgeous abbey, which reminds me of a castle, overlooks a pristine lake and shouldn’t be missed.
Keep in mind the ride from Connemara to (London)Derry is a long one. So I’d recommend that you make a pit stop at Drumcliff Cemetery in County Sligo to see the final resting place of poet W. B. Yeats. Drumcliff is very quiet and small, and the peace will make you reflect on the themes in Yeats’s poetry (if you’ve ever read anything by him).
Finally, spend the night in (London)Derry in Northern Ireland. Yup, you’re officially in the United Kingdom, my friend. Personally, I loved Northern Ireland and think everyone should visit. In particular, (London)Derry is a fascinating city which gained infamy during the Bloody Sunday massacres in January of 1972. Things have changed a great deal, though. Take a walk across the Derry Peace Bridge which represents a handshake across the River Foyle. It serves as a symbol of hope.
Day #6: Antrim Coast to Belfast.
Prior to leaving (London)Derry, try to take Martin McCrossan’s award winning City Tours, which takes you to all the major attractions in the City. You’ll go to Bogside, see all the murals, and walk along the city’s walls. Furthermore, you’ll learn a lot about the Troubles and develop a deeper appreciation for peace. Seriously, this tour made me bawl my eyes out. It changes the way you think about war.
After your morning in (London)Derry, it’s time to enjoy some more nature. In particular, the Antrim Coast is absolutely gorgeous with its sweeping cliffs, epic rock formations, and seaside views. There are two sites that stand out in my mind: Dunluce Castle and Giant’s Causeway.
Giant’s Causeway consists of 40,000 interlocking rock columns and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Irish legend claims that Giant’s Causeway was built by … giants, of course! Even though that’s probably not true, it’s still fun to think about. Bring quality footwear to Giant’s Causeway. The rocks are very slippery if you’re not careful on your feet.
Stay in Belfast after you’ve explored Antrim Coast.
Day #7: Back to Dublin.
We’re now at the end of the 7 day Ireland itinerary. I hope you still have some energy left for your final day!
Firstly, before you leave Belfast, you’ll want to take a trip to the Titanic Museum or go on a Black Cab tour. Tailor your stay to your personal interests.
Once you’re back in Dublin, I’d select one major tourist attraction to focus on so you don’t feel too burnt out. Some of my favorite things to do in Dublin include …
- Chester Beatty Library. A wonderful collection of old books. You can’t take pictures here, but literature lovers should still go and appreciate a lovely library.
- The Guinness Factory. You can’t go to Ireland and not drink Guinness! That’s such a ridiculous idea! See how Guinness is made and then enjoy a drink on the very top floor. The views of Dublin are spectacular.
- Kilmainham Gaol Museum. This prison showcases Ireland’s many struggles. You can only see the inside of this gaol with a guided tour. Several Irish revolutionaries, such as the Easter Uprising leaders, were execution here, and you can see the place where they took their last steps. A somber visit, but a fascinating one.
If you need a break from big attractions (I don’t blame you), then I’d recommend taking a walk to check out the city’s many landmarks such as the Oscar Wilde statue and Ha’penny Bridge.
Read More: What to Wear in Ireland in April
Other Tips for 7 Days in Ireland.
- This itinerary is best done with a rental car. Unlike other European countries, Ireland’s train system mostly goes to the major cities. Ireland’s spectacular nature and tiny towns are big parts of its charm. However, a lot of these places are only reachable by car. Remember to drive on the left in Ireland. Furthermore, road conditions might be different than your home country. Once you’re off the highway, Ireland has a lot of tiny twisting roads that are challenging to navigate. Take your time.
- Show respect in Northern Ireland. The Troubles ended not that long ago. Don’t ask politically charged questions to strangers (I mean, you wouldn’t do this at home, I hope…). Additionally, keep in mind Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, meaning you’ll use the Pound rather than the Euro for purchases.
- In Ireland, tip roughly 10% of your meal. Unlike the States, you tip much less in Ireland. 10% is plenty to show appreciation for service staff.
- Smile! The Irish are known for being very outgoing and friendly. Most of the time, I found this stereotype to be true. The Irish are awesome!
Need more? Buy your Lonely Planet Guidebook to Ireland
I hope you enjoyed my 7 day Ireland itinerary. For those of you who have been to Ireland, what advice would you give new travelers? Leave all your thoughts in the comments.