The entire island of Ireland is full of delightful and spectacular places. There are historic locations, tourist attractions, and natural wonders everywhere. If you are not in Ireland for long enough to explore it all, then you need to pare down your itinerary to just the best trips. Read on to discover PassSmart.com’s top five Irish road trips, to help you get the most out of your adventure in Ireland.
1) County Clare
Drive through County Clare for a road trip that combines natural splendor with many points of historical interest. Drive along the Cliffs of Moher, towering an awe-inspiring 700 feet above the ocean. Stop at the standing stones of Burren and explore the Aillwee Caves underneath the stones. See Bunratty Castle, with its evening period dinners, and King John’s Castle, to learn about their long and checkered histories. Explore a pre-Celtic settlement from 5,000 years ago, at Lough Gur. County Clare offers one of the most unforgettable road trips that you will ever take.
2) Cross Country Castles
Travel across the country from Dublin to Galway and see the route’s many historical fortresses. Start at the Martello Tower in Dun Laoghaire, in Dublin, which was a former home of James Joyce and was built by the British as a defense against Napoleon. In Celbridge, stop at Castletown House, the largest Palladian style dwelling in the country. In Trim, look for Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, dating from the 13th century. A few kilometers outside of Athlone sits Clonmacnoise, which has the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches, and two towers. Just before Galway sits Athenry Castle, a notable medieval fortified town.
3) Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland, provides a beautiful backdrop for an Irish road trip. With stunning views of lakes, coastline and mountains, this varied route will leave you truly awe-struck. You’ll be advised to drive anti-clockwise, to keep the narrow roads flowing, and if you start off your journey in the town of Killarney, be sure to get out and explore. Drive from Killarney to Killorglin, and pay a visit to St Mary’s Cathedral. If you time your trip carefully, you could pay a visit to Killorglin’s three day Puck Fair in August, where you’ll see street entertainers, a horse fair, the King Puck ceremony, and more.
The drive to Glendalough itself is worth the trip. Beautiful valleys and tranquil lakes make for a very picturesque journey. Glendalough itself is a historically important Christian site, as well as being full of points of architectural interest. To see the very best of Glendalough, park up and set off on foot. There are several walking routes to take, ranging from forrest strolls and more intensive hill walks.
5) The Blarney Stone and Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle is the ancestral stronghold of the McCarthy clan, from which they ruled the land of Muskerry. The castle is a must see for people interested in history and archaeology. The Blarney Stone, at the castle, is said to give the gift of gab to any who kiss it. Driving up to it from anywhere in County Kerry will lead you through majestic mountains and along rugged coastline, particularly if you come up through Cork; Ireland’s second largest city, to the south of the castle.
Before booking your Irish road trip, consult a map and a guidebook, plan out exactly how long each stage will be and where you will stay each night. Book accommodations in your chosen places before setting off. Most importantly of all, don’t forget your camera!