With the current COVID-19 pandemic, borders are slowly beginning to open again and many are turning towards road trips over flying. If you are looking for the perfect Ireland road Trip read on to discover where to go and what to do in Ireland with part 2.
As you will be aware from reading Ireland Road Trip Part 1 after a day exploring Irish myths and folk lore, we left the castle and Cork behind and our thoughts turned to dinner. Where would we eat? There was a lake we wanted to see on our journey to Dingle, but we needed to eat first before “hanger” (that mix of hunger and anger you get when you need to eat) set in, and we soon found out though that our unexpected detour would lead us to discover an unexpected moment of beauty that we would otherwise have missed.
Waze (the navigation system we use) diverted us to a large five star hotel complex which had obviously been built after our sat nav had last updated. Not wanting to pay five star prices however (as we were travelling on a budget) we carried on and instead found ourselves in the grounds of Killarney Golf & Fishing Club. Which it just so happens, has had the honour of hosting four Irish Opens throughout the years.
We had gone from five star hotel complex to a private golf course and clubhouse so hardly Mc Donald’s or budget I hear you cry. After a few minutes debating whether to go in or not – I was dressed head to toe in denim and my partner dressed casually in jeans and a hoodie (we were hardly the usual cliental you would expect to see hanging out in a golf clubhouse). But we walked in anticipating stares and took a seat by the window, instead we were greeted with smiles and delicious reasonably priced pub style food. And better still, the views were magical – it gives me goosebumps just reminiscing about it, so I’d highly recommend taking a little detour here if you get the chance.
Ireland road trip – Stop 3 Dingle
Officially stop 3 (accommodation wise) on this Ireland Road Trip itinerary is Dingle. After doing some research and googling images of Ireland I’d suggested the Dingle peninsula for its rugged scenery and colourful buildings. My partner was sold… not by the photos or the things to do… but more by the name Dingle itself!
Quaint and colourful in equal measure, Dingle is a magical village that will leave a special mark on your heart.
Where to stay: Again, I would recommend checking AirBnB or considering a local hotel in the main part of the town. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t feel comfortable suggesting for you to stay at the AirBnB we stayed at in Dingle because it was quite smoky and outdated. We went for it as it was described as a ‘eco retreat’ needless to say on the first night we slept with my suitcase against the bedroom door because we didn’t necessarily feel safe there.
Elle’s top tip – When you are planning your Ireland Road Trip be sure to book up your accommodation in advance, especially over peak holidays like Easter and Summer or bank holidays.
Dingle Food Hotspots & Watering holes:
We decided to spend the majority of our evenings, making the most of the self-catering facilities at our AirBnB and making pack lunches to save some money.
However, I would recommend visiting Murphy’s ice cream parlour during your visit. The friendly staff are happy to give you samples of the flavours whilst you wait – a handy way to make your decision making process a little easier! We opted for salted caramel and raspberry sorbet respectively, but imaginative flavours include chocolate whiskey and pink champagne, if you can imagine it, Murphy’s will probably have it!
One of the key reasons I love being a travel blogger is it opens my eyes to the fact that one of the greatest sources of information we have now is via travel blogs. Whilst I am in a place, I tend to use the normal search platforms of TripAdvisor and my guide books of course, but a quick a google search tends to deliver helpful blog posts full of inspiration (which is of course why you are here).
As many will tell you, Dingle is a pub crawl paradise, home to over 30 pubs the opportunity of finding a decent watering hole here is incredible given the size of this quaint village . Bucket list journey highlights some of the best places to visit on your pub crawl, but our favourite one – you must try without a shadow of a doubt is Foxy Johns.
Admittedly a little hard to find at first, and if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past the ‘hardware store’. But as you are well informed, you’ll know well before your Ireland Road Trip that Foxy Johns is half-hardware store half-pub – giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘getting hammered’.
How to spend your time in Dingle:
After wondering around the numerous souvenir shops and enjoying a pub crawl, there is one famous resident you won’t want to finish your Ireland Road Trip without seeing – Fungie the friendly resident Dolphin. Fungie a bottlenose dolphin has been spotted around Dingle since 1984 escorting fishing fleets into and out of port. Now many local companies run hour long boat tours in the harbour providing the magical experience of an up close encounter with this lovable creature. If you are especially lucky – as we were then Fungie, will show clear favouritism towards your boat and jump in and out of the water right next to you.
Getting out and exploring nature is exactly what an Ireland Road Trip is all about, those walking boots you packed will come in handy when you visit Dingle. One of my favourite spots in Dingle is Eask Tower located on Carhoo Hill. A solid stone tower, Eask Tower was built in 1847 and designed to guide ships and boats into Dingle Harbour, known as a blind mouth. This beacon told sailors to let their sails down and slow down so as to enter the harbour safely. It’s well worth the walk (and the steep climb) for the rewarding views of Dingle Harbour, Slea Head and Irelands two highest mountains – Carrauntoohill and Mount Brandon.
Elle’s top tip: Have some cash ready as the car park at the bottom is owned by a local farm.
Next stop was Limmerick, which we stopped at on our way to the Cliffs of Moher. Tucking into another pack lunch here, we wandered through the streets (which in their grid system layout feel very like downtown Manhattan or Toronto in vibe) stopping for a pint at a pub and then heading on with our road trip. Many of you might be aware of the five-line verse limericks but it’s not widely known why it was named after this Irish city because nothing rhymes with Limerick!
Cliffs of Moher
No trip to Southern Ireland would be complete without admiring the Cliffs of Moher. Rising to 702 feet over 5 miles, the cliffs majestically tower over the Atlantic Ocean. Formed over 320 million years ago they have a fascinating history and geology linked to glaciers and coastal erosion.
Elle’s top tip: To get the best view drive down the road past the visitor centre. It’s then just a short walk to a viewing point, where you can admire the cliffs without the crowds.
This magical landscape of grey limestone stones is almost lunar-like. Formed millions of years ago the Burren holds a strong history of symbolism with over 80 tombs scattered across this serene area. We wouldn’t have even known about its existence if it hadn’t been for our incredible Marco Polo Ireland travel guide – definitely one you should purchase before your Ireland road trip (it’s full of great restaurant, pubs and attraction suggestions, along with a variety of Ireland road trip itinerary ideas).
Ireland road trip – stop 4 Galway
Full of culture, cobbled streets and colourful shops Galway is a friendly and welcoming seaside destination. It’s also very close to the outstanding natural beauty of Southern Ireland, staying near Galway offers the perfect blend of nightlife and outdoor adventure. If you choose to visit Galway you only really need a day or so to enjoy its charms before you move onto other things to do near Galway.
Things to do near Galway
Connemara National Park
With over 2,000 hectares of mountains, grasslands and forests, Connemara National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Driving through here as part of your Ireland Road Trip is a must, in fact any time you spent here will never seem enough as each view will quite frankly leave you breathless…
The largest of the three Aran Islands, Inis Mor stretches across 7,635 acres and features impressive ancient stone forts, fields filled with horses and charming locals.
Take the ferry over and rent a bike to cycle around the 8 mile route of the island stopping at the ancient Dún Aonghasa fort and the wormhole along the way. Just be prepared for typical Irish weather whilst you’re on the island and wrap up warm – because when a storm hits Inis Mor the rain, wind and hail is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
Elle’s top tip: Bring cash with you when you visit the Island, there is only one cashpoint at the small supermarket and some pubs and the bike rental store don’t accept card.
Where to eat in Galway
The Twelve Hotel: Boutique decor, gourmet pizzas and a dazzling array of gins – what’s not to love about the Twelve?
O’grady’s on the Pier : Sitting on the shores of Galway bay, this Award-winning and stylish restaurant is one of the best in Barna if not the region of Galway. Absolutely wonderful selection of dishes here from freshly caught seafood to locally farmed meat – a meal at O’grady’s is always a treat for the senses!
*Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a gifted collaboration for the Marco Polo Ireland travel guide*
Where would you go on your Ireland road trip? Let me know in the comments below.