Top road trip destinations: Ireland

Thinking of travelling to Ireland? We've put a list of the best destinations!

Ireland is an incredibly picturesque, diverse destination that’s perfect for a well-rounded campervan road trip. Pack up your belongings and your friends and get away from it all for a while in a country as beautiful as it is interesting.

But with so much to see and do in Ireland, how can you narrow down the top road trip destinations? That’s where this list comes in. What follows are some of the must-see road trip destinations you should visit on your Ireland road trip with friends.

Dublin

As you’ve probably flown in here, why not stay for a bit and see what the largest city in the Republic of Ireland has to offer? We recommend one or two nights to get the feel of the big city before embarking on and seeing other road trip destinations.

You can’t miss the Temple Bar area. One of the most popular neighbourhoods in Dublin, it’s the perfect place to dive in and experience your first Irish pub. Though a bit touristy, it’s still a sight to be seen. 

If you’re not a fan of nightlife (or want to wind down after a night out) then a walkthrough of St. Stephens Green is a great way to get back to nature. Often compared to New York’s Central Park, St. Stephens Green is just as iconic, with plenty of walking paths and greenery to get you out of the city hustle.

Round out your Dublin stop with a trip to Dublin Castle. An authentic castle situated in the heart of Dublin, it’s a great introduction to the many you’re likely to see on your trip.

Dublin

Tollymore Forest Park

Established on the 2nd of June, 1955,  this road trip destination was the first established state forest park in Northern Ireland. As such, it’s not just renowned for its natural beauty, but also its man-made touches. Ancient bridges, follies, and other structures are scattered throughout the park, making for an adventurous exploration for you and your friends.

The park covers an area of 1,600 acres at the foot of the Mourne Mountains with views of the sea at nearby Newcastle as well as the surrounding mountainous area. Four walking trails are signposted with the longest being “the long haul trail” at 13 km long.

For those scientifically minded among you, the Shimna River will be an interesting road trip destination. The spawning ground for trout and salmon, it’s an official area of scientific interest due to its flora, fauna, and geology. You can view the river from one of 16 bridges, the earliest of which dates back to 1726.

Tollymore Park is jam-packed with secluded park-ups and stunning forestry locations, all the best to spread out a picnic blanket and eat a packed lunch with friends. As road trip destinations in Ireland go, this is one of the best.

Tollymore Forest Park

Rock of Cashel

The perfect day stop, the Rock of Cashel is massively touristy but for good reason. It’s an epic, ancient ruin splashed out across the top of a rolling hill surrounded by grazing sheep. It just doesn’t get more Irish than that!

While there’s an entrance fee to see the inside of this road trip destination, exploring the ruins from the outside is completely free and epically photogenic. You can get some great group shots against the classically Irish backdrop with your friends.

Rock of Cashel

Hore Abbey

If you’re looking to explore off the beaten path, make your way to the Hore Abbey. You can see it from the Rock of Cashel, making for a quick trip over to a much less crowded attraction. 

The Abbey ruins are absolutely magnificent, inside and out. As a bonus, the view of Rock of Cashel and the rolling fields beside it makes for an epic photo in itself.

Hore Abbey

Cobh

Cobh is just a 30-minute drive from Cork and is a must-see for those of you who enjoy picturesque small towns. 

Home to the Titanic Museum experience, it was the last stop the Titanic made before its disastrous crossing of the Atlantic. Today, it’s one of the prettiest towns in Ireland, with its clusters of brightly coloured houses all watched over by one of the most majestic churches in Ireland.

While the town is small, it’s got a surprising amount of road trip destinations to explore. You can book a walking tour, go on a photography adventure, or enjoy the sea views from Kennedy park. Come nightfall, there are plenty of small-town pubs for you and your friends to quench your thirst.

Cobh

The Ring of Kerry

No Irish road trip is complete without braving the famed Ring of Kerry. Though it can be a harrowing drive—the roads are extremely narrow—it’s nevertheless worth it for the experience and the views.

Pro tip: if you see a car coming down the road, try pulling over if you’re able and waiting for them to pass. This will ensure you don’t have too much of a heart attack on your trip!

Located in the middle of the Ring of Kerry along the Skellig Ring is the Kerry Cliffs. Now, this is what you came out for! Basically a miniature version of the Cliffs of Moher, the cliffs are home to many seabirds and make for a wonderful pit stop to stretch your legs.

If the weather’s right, you’ll even be able to see the Skellig Islands where Star Wars was filmed!

The Ring of Kerry

Killarney

The city of Killarney is welcoming and vibrant with some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Ireland.

To get the most out of your trip, make a pit stop at Muckross House and Killarney House – both fascinating places to visit, with stunning grounds and beautiful decor. Muckross House is located a little way out of the city and can get quite busy so it’s best to go on a weekday. Killarney House is situated in the middle of downtown Killarney and is free to visit anytime.

If you want to get back to nature after your more urban road trip destinations, check out Torc waterfall. Located right off the main road, it’s a quick and easy walk to visit. This unique waterfall appears on many of the best easy hikes lists online.

Ross Castle shouldn’t be missed and, indeed, is particularly hard to as it’s located in the heart of Killarney. Butting up against a beautiful lake, it’s free to visit and view from the outside but there is a slight fee to get inside.

Last but not least, there’s the Killarney National Park. The town is located right on top of it and it boasts so much to see and do. For a scenic drive, try out the Gap of Dunloe to witness the Ladies View.

Killarney

Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is set to meet and beat all your grandest expectations. Start with a bang with a trip on the Slea Head Drive. This loop starts and ends in the town of Dingle and offers it all:

  • Star Wars film locations
  • Stunning cliff views
  • Quaint towns
  • Mountains
  • Breathtaking views

Along the way, stop at the Dunquin Pier for an iconic “postcard” road trip destination. What looks like an ordinary ferry pier is actually an excellent photo location to grab that coveted group shot with friends. The best time of day to visit is sunset, with stunning views and a great little walk down to the water.

For something a little more nerve-wracking, dry driving Connor’s Pass. It’s the highest of its kind in Ireland, with excessively narrow roads that dictate supremely careful driving. Nevertheless, the views and the experience are worth it.

The town of Dingle itself is excessively cute and very centrally located. Enjoy a slow meander around the shops and grab an ice cream while you enjoy the waterfront views.

Dingle Peninsula

Cliffs of Moher

The ultimate Irish icon, the Cliffs of Moher are a must on any Ireland road trip. Even if you’re not a touristy-tourist, these cliffs have to be seen to be believed.

It’s recommended you budget at least two hours to experience the cliffs, though parking for lunch and having a gentle stroll is also very rewarding. Seeing these cliffs in person is sure to blow all your expectations out of the water.

The Cliffs of Moher have a visitor centre that can give you information on the history of the location and advice on how to navigate the area. You have the option of experiencing the cliffs from the visitor centre, or you can venture out to the top of the cliffs themselves.

Cliffs of Moher

Road tripping around Ireland is one of the best ways to see this gorgeous country. From epic cliffs to picturesque small towns to bustling bars, Ireland has it all. Check out other interesting road trip destinations around Ireland here. 

About the Author

Laia Cerdán

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