Our Ireland Trip

Okay, so I honestly have no idea where even to begin with posting about our trip to Ireland. After trying to figure it all out, I think the best thing to do is to start with an overarching travel itinerary. It’s so fun to hear about a bunch of readers’ upcoming trips to Ireland, so I hope this is helpful if you’re planning your trip. (And if you’re not– you must!)

Jet Set Candy charms (c/o) to add to my travel charm bracelet!

I definitely had expectations about Ireland, but it ended up being so different in the best way possible. The four of us were in awe in how new and distinct every stop along our path was. Every day brought a different landscape, a different history. For such a small island (it’s only about the size of Indiana!), the vast number of things to see make it an incredible, bucket list trip. 
My only issue with our trip is that I wish we were there for longer. I think a slower paced two (even three) week trip would be fantastic in an ideal world. We had some scheduling conflicts with work and tried to fit in as much as we can in just about a week. The pace was fast; I felt like we were constantly on the move. Packing suitcases, packing the car. Point A, Point B, Point C. Check into a new hotel, unpack, sleep. Repeat.
Our goal was to see as much as we can, and we definitely accomplished that, but again… I wish we could have been there longer to take our time traveling around the entire island. Also, I have never been more exhausted in my life. When we finished the last leg of our trip and prepped for the flight home, I genuinely looked forward to being on a plane and not moving for six hours! But I would, without a doubt, do it again in a heartbeat.
Again, this is just going to be an overview of how the trip went with some top-level points and my personal notes. I’ll go back through and link to my future posts that will go into more detail about each day and location! We decided to start and end in Dublin, working our way clockwise around the island, including Northern Ireland.
DAY ONE // Dublin to Kilkenny
Hotel: Mount Juliet
Gar and I flew into Dublin and Julia and Thomas picked us up from the airport, and we immediately hit the road. We stayed at Mount Juliet, a stunning estate with plenty of land to explore. After lunch, we wandered around the property and took everything in. We drove into Kilkenny to check out the town, see Kilkenny Castle, and eat dinner.
I found this to be the best way to ease into the trip as we adjusted to the new time zone.

DAY TWO // Kilkenny to Kerry

Hotel: Sheen Falls

After a leisurely morning at Mount Juliet, we packed up and headed to Cobh for lunch. I don’t think this was originally on the itinerary, but I’m glad we stopped. It felt like the New England of Ireland! Very coastal and colorful. It was also the last stop that Titanic made.

We got back into the car and headed straight to Blarney Castle. This was a highlight for me. We put on our tourist hats and kissed that Blarney Stone like there was no tomorrow. It was also the most perfect weather ever and the grounds felt downright majestic.

We headed to the hotel to check in and change for dinner. We rented a cottage at Sheen Falls, and it was really more like a house. I was happy that we had the extra space and to be under the same roof for two nights. Every night, the boys would light a fire, and we’d all find a spot to cozy up and work from.

DAY THREE // Kerry

We were very ambitious about getting a lot in on Day 3. My advice is to factor in a lot of extra time for stopping and to not try to fit in too much. Julia and Thomas were constantly tempted by views (rightfully so), but it made the Ring of Kerry extra tough to squeeze into a day.

The first stop was a small beach that we had followed signs for. This was a chillier day but definitely still a “beach day” for the Irish. The locals were bundled up, picnicking and practicing their hurling game; only the bravest dipped into the water.

We then continued along the Ring of Kerry, eventually stopping at the Kerry Cliffs. 100% a tourist trap (“MOST SPECTACULAR” the signs all read), but I think we all believe that it was still worth the stop and cash entry fee.

Before heading back to Sheen Falls for the night, we stopped at Ballycarbery Castle. I think this was one of the coolest ruins we saw. You could actually climb a few stories up!

Trench Coat (on sale!) + Plaid Dress (on sale) + Hunter Boots

DAY FOUR // Kerry to Ballyvaughan

Hotel: Gregans Castle Hotel

I had proposed that we do the Gap of Dunloe on our way to Dingle. I’m so glad we did. This was hands down my favorite landscape of the entire trip. If I close my eyes and picture “Ireland,” Gap of Dunloe is exactly what I picture. Lambs and sheep dotting the plots of land, windy roads that twist unexpectedly, and rocky hills as far as the eye can see. We didn’t have enough time to enjoy it. (At one point, we had to set a timer on our phones to keep J&T on schedule; I think they could have stayed there all day, and I don’t blame them one bit.)

We popped over to Dingle for lunch and ice cream (Murphy’s!) and a tiny bit of exploring. Dingle was a spot that a bunch of people had recommended, and I don’t think we had enough time to truly enjoy the town.

Then we were back on the road and made the long journey to Gregans Castle Hotel in Ballyvaughan. This was my favorite hotel. It’s family and pet-friendly and just stunning. Also, the fastest wifi of the entire trip, just saying. It was a hotel I wish we could have stayed at for more than just one night.

DAY FIVE // Ballyvaughan to Cong

Hotel: The Lodge at Ashford Castle

Our first stop of the morning was one that we were all looking forward to: The Cliffs of Moher. Despite some fog, it was an absolutely breathtaking view. (I would recommend getting there as early to the opening time as you can… when we were leaving, droves of tour buses were pulling in.) I spent the whole time trying not to throw up from fear, to be honest. It’s so high, and there’s very little stopping you from falling over the edge. Sadly, it’s a popular suicide spot, and I genuinely had a pit in my stomach the whole time we were out there.

On our way to the next hotel, we stopped in Galway for lunch and shopping. We had read about a great place to buy authentic hand-knit Irish sweaters. We were not disappointed by Ó’Máille’s selection.

We drove to Ashford Castle in Cong for a slower paced afternoon and evening. It was a welcomed reprieve from long drives and constant movement. The actual castle was unfortunately booked up, so we stayed at The Lodge. Let me just say, unless you’re really trying to save money if you can avoid the Lodge, avoid it. It was strange. The only benefit was having access to the castle grounds (although they wouldn’t let you inside, even though they assured us we would be able to over the phone when booking). It was worth it in the end, but I think we all would agree that we would have preferred to stay in the actual castle.

We toured the grounds by bike and explored the gardens. It’s a spectacular castle. (You can rent the whole thing out for a wedding!) We ultimately ate outside around dusk, pulling sweaters tighter as the temperature dropped while still enjoying the taste of an Irish summer night.

DAY SIX // Cong to Bushmills (Northern Ireland)

Hotel: Bushmills Inn

Ashford Castle offers a ton of activities and we opted for a quick one-hour horseback riding tour. I suggested it and ended up being the most terrified out of all of us once I got on the horse. I had never ridden “English” style but got the hang of it and eventually– sort of– relaxed. (“Relax your shoulders!!!” they kept reminding me, haha.)

Then we were back in the car on our way to Northern Ireland. We stopped in Donegal for a few tweed pieces from Magee’s and a quick, easy lunch.

We eventually made our way to Giant’s Causeway. This is a natural formation of rocks from volcanic activity millions of years ago. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it as you walk around. The formations look manmade with perfectly hexagonal tubes stacked like a child’s playground.

It was insanely foggy the evening we went. I’m sure the views would be better without the fog, but it ended up setting a creepy scene for us. It also ensured that it was pretty empty, so it felt like we had a private tour.

We popped over to the inn for dinner and then wandered over to the pub for a few drinks and live music before heading to bed.

DAY SEVEN // Bushmills to Magheralin

(Still with me here??)

Hotel: New Forge House

We went to Carrick-a-Rede first thing in the morning. It was one of my favorite spots throughout the whole trip. I wasn’t looking forward to the actual bridge crossing part, but it ended up being totally fine. (Apparently it’s extra scary when it’s windy!) The water here was crystal clear and seriously looked like we should have been somewhere in the Carribean!

Julia’s sister and boyfriend live in Ireland and would be nearby for a wedding. I’m so glad we had the chance to have lunch with them in Belfast. We had such a good time that they caravaned with us to New Forge House for afternoon tea and coffees.

We had dinner downtown in Magheralin and basically crawled home to bed we were so tired!

DAY EIGHT // Magheralin to Dublin

Hotel: The Merrion Hotel

We packed up the car early and left for Dublin. I wish we had more time to explore Dublin. I LOVED it. Really, really loved it. Unfortunately, not only were we exhausted, we got poured on which kind of put a damper on the day. We still managed to go to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, do a touch of shopping, and take a tour of Guinness Factory. Trinity College’s library was unreal; think Harry Potter in real life…. times 100. Guinness tour, although not something I’d personally do on my own, ended up being quite a fun afternoon!

DAY NINE // Fly Home 🙁

I hope I didn’t forget about anything and, again, I’ll be posting more details about individual days coming up. This was just the outline of our trip and the big general things we did. Happy to answer questions via email if you have any specifics. Here are a few extra notes:

Rental Cars– We heard the horror stories of driving in Ireland, but actually fared pretty well. The boys took turns driving. We rented a minivan since there would be four of us plus luggage and made sure it was automatic transmission! There were only a handful of times when the driving was a challenge. Off the top of my head, there were a few roundabouts that freaked us out; we only had to reverse out of someone else’s way I think twice, and driving down the Gap of Dunloe was more a nuisance than anything with quite a few horse-drawn carriage tours.

Bugs– There were a lot more bugs than I was expecting. I think because it was so warm while we were there, all the critters had come out of hibernation. Every hotel room had at least one spider…. We slept with the windows closed despite the suffocating heat at times just to avoid extra spiders! And Thomas came home with a tick one night. Just something to keep in mind!

Hotels– I think it goes without saying, but many of the hotels, inns, and estates in Ireland are old, so I wouldn’t expect modern, completely perfect buildings. It’s part of the charm for sure.

Food– I didn’t love the food. I’d been warned that the food options would be limited, and we lived off of fish and chips. (The chicken was almost always amazing, though!) Dublin did have some wonderful, delicious spots, though.

Weather– The weather is crazy. I think it was between 60 and 70 degrees every single day… but it felt vastly different depending on where you were. Some places (like the Cliffs of Moher) felt like a balmy 85 degrees, and some felt like a cold 50 with an ocean breeze. I’m doing an additional “what to pack” post, but the short story is that you should pack for and expect everything.

10/10 would go again 🙂

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I'm so glad you had a great time and I think you were really lucky with the weather because blue sky for a few days is quite rare. I'm German and my boyfriend is Irish (from Kilkenny 🙂 ) and currently we live in a long distance. Now after three months of not seeing each other, I finally flew over last weekend and he had the sweetest surprise for me. From Kilkenny we drove up to Trim which has the largest Cambro-Norman castle in Ireland, visited, stayed for a night and just enjoyed to be finally reunited. Trim should be definitely on your list for your next trip back to the emerald island. Sharing some love!

Hope Woodhouse

After following along on Instagram and Snapchat I was so excited for this post! Everything looks amazing! I love these posts that describe what is good and what wasn't worth it – it makes it easier for the rest of us who would love to go someday 🙂 Can't wait to see more!


We did Ireland two summers ago, and I can confirm the Carrick-a-Rede Brige is very scary when windy!! After reading this it looks like I need to plan a return trip!

Jessie Johns

I'm leaving to spend 6 weeks in Ireland for study abroad tomorrow, and this just made me even more excited! I can't wait to see everything with my own eyes!


I'm from Ireland and haven't been to anywhere you went to! I'll have to get on that. It's funny you found Ireland buggy, I find it less so than most places I've been. With the hotels it really depends where you pick. It's entirely possible to stay in all new perfect hotels if that's what your after. I'm surprised that you were disappointed by the food. I think the food here is on-par with most of Europe if you go to the right places.

Lauren Scorzafava

When I saw your Snapchat I was wondering if you stayed at Gregans Castle! I stayed there a few years ago and actually got my foot stuck in one of those Hunter boots. It took 3 people to pull it off my leg! ???? Sounds like you guys had a really good time!

Lauren Elizabeth
Petite in Pearls

Elle Johnston

As a foodie from Belfast I am so sad you didn't like the food. I wish I had more time to go into depth and recommend great places for you when I read you were coming over here. I've ate my way through Ireland at this point and I am always pleased by what I get. And I say this as a now veggie but for years I was a meat eater (no fish though – allergic)!

Carly A. Heitlinger

We actually did have a GREAT meal in Belfast. We went to Mourne Seafood Bar, have you been? I'm allergic to oysters so I skipped that but everything we ate (including the desserts) was SOOOOOO good!


Agreed, even as a vegetarian! My husband and I spent two weeks in Ireland and found the food absolutely wonderful! Ard Bia in Galway was a favorite, as well as the Distiller's Arms in Bushmills.

Audrey Lin

You covered so much! At least now you know which specific places you can go back to and spend a little more time at next time you find yourself in Ireland 🙂 I think I would have been more scared of the bridge than the cliff! Also omg how magical would it be to get married in a castle? -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's


It was so fun following along on IG. Seriously, I'm not into traveling as a hobby but I've always thought about Ireland and now feel strongly that I want to go for sure. Your extra notes at the end are interesting though, things I would not have expected.

Jen | The Emerald Girl

Julie Choi

I wrote down every single steps and am planning a trip for next year. thanks so much for sharing!!