After spending 2 weeks in Ireland, some places definitely stuck out in my mind. My favorite place(s) in Ireland center around its beautiful landscapes and nature in general.
2. Cork (City)
5. Killarney, Killarney National Park
8. Cliffs of Moher
Best Time to Go
April/May/Summer is the best time to go, at least in my opinion. I don’t like super cold weather (or cold weather at all), so going in the winter was definitely not an option. I went in early May and it was pretty perfect; it was still a bit chilly (but it doesn’t get much warmer than ‘a bit chilly’), and it wasn’t constantly raining. I think this is ideal for hiking and exploring nature because you can do so without freezing OR sweating your butt off.
Pro tip: bring a water-resistant jacket; you will definitely need it!
Odds are, you’ll be starting your trip in Dublin. Settle in, get rid of your jetlag, and get ready for some delicious beer, friendly people, and gorgeous scenery… because you are officially in Ireland.
I made a full guide to Dublin by itself. I recommend 2 nights here, maybe 3 if you’re really struggling with jetlag and know there are certain things you want to explore. Remember: how much time you spend in a certain place is totally up to you. I won’t include the guide to Dublin here, so if you want to read it, check it out!
Catching a bus out of Dublin is pretty easy. If you’re driving yourself, even better. I always use Rome2Rio to map things out and to see different modes of transportation between places – it even gives you bus schedules.
Here is my guide to Ireland; you can go in any direction, but this is what I recommend/what I did!
Quick Note on Pricing
Ireland is not the cheapest country in the world. If you’ve been to England, it’s similar in cost, but Ireland uses the Euro as currency. A Guinness will run you about $7, and hostels are about $30 per night. Ireland hasn’t really figured out the whole “good accommodation” thing like other countries in Europe; it’s generally all super basic and leaves a lot to be desired. I’d say the average cost of a meal is about $15, depending on what you’re getting. Busses range from $20-$35, and trains are WAY more expensive and not much faster. Take a bus!
To save money, take advantage of the hostel breakfasts
If you start in Dublin, my guide for Dublin is here.
From Dublin, venture down to County Cork.
My favorite town in County Cork was Kinsale.
I stayed in the city of Cork, though. I took a bus from the city of Cork and spent the day in Kinsale and was happy that I did! It is a super quaint town with friendly people, and it’s easily walkable. I made friends with a few other girls on the bus who were staying at my hostel.
I started my day with lunch from Fishy Fishy, a very popular restaurant in Kinsale.
Afterward, I hiked over to Charles Fort; the walk itself was really nice, and the fort was very pretty and had great views. The admission fee was pretty cheap, and I was lucky to get there on a beautiful day!
Pro Tip: BRING YOUR STUDENT ID IF YOU HAVE ONE! You can get discounts in so many different places.
One city I missed but would recommend going to is Cobh; I have heard great things from other travelers and it’s a great place for some photo opportunities. It looks super cute, and I regret missing it!
The city of Cork itself was more of a hub for me than anything else; I wandered around and stopped into some cute pubs, but I didn’t really do too much there. Tara’s Tea Room was lovely and relaxing if you’re looking for a bite to eat. It was right down the road from my hostel.
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One of my favorite shots from Ireland: the perfect amount of mist, blue skies, mountains, and greenery. I wish I could have slowed down, taken more time to take my time in Killarney. That’s the downside to planning: you don’t have time to extend your stay in places you love. The upside is forcing yourself to explore more, to see more, to keep pushing outside of your comfort zone.
From Cork, I went to my absolute favorite place in all of Ireland: Killarney.
Killarney is home to Killarney National Park and Torc Waterfall. Killarney National Park was the highlight of my trip to Ireland; renting a bike is the best way to get around the park, but you can also walk a good bit.
I biked up to the area where you can start your hike to Torc Waterfall. You can rent a bike for pretty cheap and ride all throughout the park. There are tons of people making the same hike, so it’s not that hard to find others to ask for directions if you get lost or are looking for something specific. Ask your hotel or hostel for a specific route!
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Ireland was my first country out of a long list of 16 places. I regret being eager to leave, to move on, to not fully appreciate and embrace what was around me. I was excited to move on, to experience another culture. It’s hard to appreciate where you are, sometimes. I think that goes for just about everything in life.
From Killarney, I paid for a day tour from Killarney that goes throughout the Dingle Peninsula and stops in the town of Dingle. Then the bus takes us back to Killarney.
This was another highlight of my trip. Apparently, one of the most recent Star Wars movies was filmed here along the coast. The bus driver drove us all around the peninsula, explained where we were, and stopped at some photo-worthy areas (totally worth it). We stopped in Dingle for a break and for lunch. The town was small and cute, and I ate a monster-sized portion of Fish n Chips from a food truck.
The tour itself was only about 20 euro and highly recommended; you should be able to book one through your hostel or hotel!
If you’re a nature lover like me, allot a good chunk of time for Killarney. It’s a very relaxing place. It’s worth it, in my opinion, to wander around the park for a few days and to truly take your time! I stayed for 3 nights and wished I stayed for more. Seriously.
Once you’re done with Killarney, another place I missed out on but would highly recommend based off of other travelers’ recommendations is Galway. It’s another quaint town with lots of photo opportunities and things to do. Check out the awesome blogger “Where Goes Rose” for a Backpacker’s Guide to Galway – you won’t regret it! She is awesome!
From Galway, you can take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher; you’re most likely familiar with it, so I don’t need to explain it too much. If you want to know about getting there from Galway, “Where Goes Rose” has you covered: How to Take the Perfect Cliffs of Moher Trip from Galway. Seriously, check her out. She has a pretty name, too, am I right?!
Follow her Instagram!
If you’re flying out of Dublin, you can just head right back from Galway; if not, head to Northern Ireland if you have the time. I never made it up there, but I’m sure it’s worth it. Ireland is a seriously gorgeous country.
I’m going to be working on a post specifically on Killarney because it was so worth the trip and was my favorite place in Ireland. Be on the look out for that!
Have you been to Ireland? What’s your favorite place in the country? Leave me a comment!
Until next time,