11 Days in Ireland

September 1, 2017

It's been a year since we were in Ireland, and I still think about it all. the. time. I don't know if it's the fact that there's live music everywhere you go, a pub on practically every street corner serving the best pint of Guinness you've ever tasted, the gorgeous landscape, the country's enchanting history, or the fact that the Irish are some of the friendliest, happiest, most fun people I've ever come across in my life, but case in point: I fell in love with this country. So much so, in fact, that I got sentimental while boarding my plane to leave after my 11-day stay. Truly, it's the kind of place you miss, even while you're there.

At the tail-end of last July, we were on our way to Ireland after a three-and-a-half day stay in London (which you can read about here) and I couldn't have been more excited. Usually, when my expectations for a trip are set as high as they were for this one, I'm let down, but that wasn't the case here. Our visit kicked off with us walking out of the airport in Cork and hopping into a rental car, which my dad drove effortlessly for the entire duration of the trip, adjusting to the opposite sides of the car and road like a total pro. And from that moment, our adventure began: iconic landmarks, bustling cities, traditional Irish food, a lot of Guinness and nights spent out with friends who helped keep our stay from feeling overly touristy. Here's a glimpse into a trip I'll never forget in a country that stole my heart.

A few notes:

  • There are a lot of photos in this post (and they still don't cover everything we saw and did!) but I promise they're worth scrolling through. Not-so-fun fact: I forgot the charger for my professional camera on this trip, so the photos were mostly taken on my phone. I can assure you everything pictured below is way more beautiful in person.
  • You don't see many photos of the nightlife and pubs, but trust me when I say there were a ton. We went out every night ... I just didn't take many photos to prove it. 
  • Check out the list below for an overview of our trip. 

Day 1

Drive through Kenmare

Having a "the hills are alive" moment in Killarney National Park 

The Killarney Plaza Hotel, our first hotel stay in Ireland. It was right next door to several pubs, and they had a delicious Irish breakfast spread (as did every hotel and B&B we stayed at during our trip)

The prettiest church on our walk. If you look closely, you can see a wedding party. :)

Day 2

Ross Castle

Preparing to horseback ride through mountains for the first time ever (fun? yes. painful? also yes.)

My favorite #SnapandSave: laughing my nerves away while horseback riding
through the gorgeous Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry

The cutest little cafe

Kate Kearney's Cottage, where I had one of the best mangers 'n mash I've ever tasted.

Day 3

Tea and delicious scones (I had three) at the Skellig Mist Cafe 
View from the cafe

Chilly, beautiful day in Valentia Island

The locals were swimming; we were wearing sweaters

The sweetest reminder on our walk

The beautiful Kerry Cliffs, which give the Cliffs of Moher a run for their money

Skellig Cliffs in the background (Star Wars fans might recognize these

Pictured below: walking through Killarney (such a cute town!)

Ended the day at Murphy's for some Gin (yes, gin) and Lavender flavored ice cream. So. Good.

Day 4

After a pretty lengthy drive from Killarney to Bunratty, we met up with friends at Bunratty Castle for a Medieval-style dinner (AKA eat with your hands) 
Post-dinner drinks at Durty Nelly's (est. 1620!), one of the handful of pubs we popped into while in Bunratty 

Hotel #2: Bunratty Manor

Day 5 

Met up with our Irish friends for another day of exploring
Ready for our walk through Folklore Park

This local was preparing an incredible apple pie right below us that smelled like heaven

Rumored home of Irish fairies

Our third hotel, The Aran View, which had a distant view of the Cliffs of Moher

Day 6
A rainy, cold and windy day at the Cliffs of Moher, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the view, which these photos really don't do justice

Pictured here: one of my worst nightmares (to be clear, this is no one in my family)

Castle on the Cliff

After climbing down the cliffs, we made our way to Aillwee Cave, which was eerie but really cool (and not for anyone with a fear of dark spaces or heights)

Our first stop in Galway: Checking in at The House Hotel, which was beautiful with a vibrant modern interior, lively scene and delicious breakfast. I highly recommend it if you're staying in the area!

Ending the day with an evening stroll through Galway's Latin Quarter before getting ready for some pub-hopping (Dail Bar isn't pictured here, but was my favorite pub)

Day 7

Enjoying the colorful alleys and streets of Galway

A drive to Sky Road, which is apparently one of the most dangerous drives in the world

One of the handful of beaches we stopped at on our drive down (with a beautiful view of me reaching in my back pocket for my phone ... thanks, dad)

Day 8

Morning walk through Galway (don't go to Ireland without visiting. It was such a fun city with a lively pub scene and great shopping).  

After another long drive, we arrived at the gorgeous Highfield House - the absolute cutest bed and breakfast - in Trim, where our friends live

The hostess (who was so friendly and hospitable) had tea and scones ready for us by the time we arrived

A walk through Trim to Lenihan's/James Griffin Pub

Day 9 

Feeding the donkeys outside of the Highfield House is a must - they're so sweet

Trim Castle, where Braveheart was filmed

After another long drive (it's the best way to see the country!) we arrived at The Morgan Hotel in Dublin, which had a glamorous feel to it and is right on the corner of the popular pub-filled Temple Bar area

Gorgeous view (and pint) from The Guinness Storehouse. Seriously, visit for the panoramic views from The Gravity Bar. Totally worth it.

Reaaallly intense flash, but the memory was too fun not to share: behind the bar at The Old Storehouse (ask for Rory - he was awesome) where I learned how to pour a pint of Guinness the right way.

Day 10

Walking around the city

Trinity College. We missed the library where they filmed a scene in Harry Potter (still bummed about that) but plan to stop by next time we visit.

Coolest shopping center

A "Central Park" right in the heart of Dublin
Early dinner at The Bank on College Green (stop by even if you're just grabbing a drink; it's a beautiful spot)
Image via

Temple Bar, already filling up for the evening 

Day 11

Another day spent happily walking through Dublin 
A #SnapAndSave of our breakfast at Queen of Tarts. Their french toast is out of this world. 

On our way to see Riverdance at The Geity Theatre (much better than I anticipated - it's a must-see!)

Our last dinner of the trip: bangers n' mash and Guiness at Bruxelles

Stay beautiful, Dublin.

Trip overview 

Day 1 (7/28)
Drove through Kenmare, southern portion of Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park
Lunch in Kenmare
Checked in at Killarney Plaza Hotel & Spa
Late dinner at Allegro near hotel, then Sheehan's Pub/The Grand a few doors down for late night entertainment

Day 2 (7/29)
Jaunting car ride to Ross Castle
Horseback riding through Gap of Dunloe 
Tea and coffee at The Coffee Pot, bangers 'n mash and Guinness at Kate Kearney's Cottage 
Day 3 (7/30)
Tea and desserts at Skellig Mist Cafe in Portmaghee (amazing scones!)
Lunch at The Royal Valentia Hotel on Valentia Island in Knightstown 
Climbed the Kerry Cliffs. We missed the Skellig Chocolate Factory but heard it’s great.
Dinner at Milano's pizza in Killarney next to the hotel
Dessert at Murphy’s Ice Cream, which is handmade in Dingle (Gin + Lavender = best combo) 
Day 4 (7/31)
Checked in to Bunratty Manor
Bunratty Medieval Banquet
Drinks at The Creamery Pub, Durty Nellie’s and Bunratty Manor
Day 5 (8/1)
Tour of Bunratty Castle & Folklore Park: tea, coffee & dessert there
Lunch at Durty Nellie's (good mushroom soup, soda bread & minute steak; fair fish 'n chips)
Arrived in Doolin at Aran View Hotel, close to Cliffs of Moher
McGann's Pub (larger pub) - delicious baked salmon, veggie soup and salads
McDermotts Pub (smaller) - good music & later hours on the Monday Bank Holiday
Day 6 (8/2)
Cliffs of Moher, Brian's Tower, Ailwee Cave and partial drive through The Burren and pretty town where Dunguaire Castle stands
Arrived in Galway; checked in to The House Hotel Galway
Dinner and drinks at Dail Bar
Day 7 (8/3)
Trip into Connemara, to Clifden and Sky Road with beautiful high views; drove through Ballyconneely and Roundstone
Lunch at Odowd's Pub - oceanfront views, good salmon, veggie soup, seafood chowder and shepherd’s pie
Drinks at The Quays Pub and Dail Bar back in Galway
Day 8 (8/4)
Walked & shopped in Galway; Eire Square, Spanish Arch, Latin Quarter, etc.
Drove to Trim; stayed at The Highfield House, Trim -- beautiful! Geraldine was an amazing hostess
Dinner at Franzini, drinks at Lenihan’s Pub
Day 9 (8/5)
Fed the donkeys down the street from The Highfield House
Tour of Trim Castle (Braveheart)
Drove to The Morgan Temple Bar Dublin
Guinness Storehouse 
Old Storehouse Pub on Crown Street 
Day 10 (8/6)
Walked around the city
Walked around Trinity College
Lunch at The Bank
Old Storehouse Pub in Temple Bar again

Day 11 (8/7)
Walked around the city
Brunch and tea at Queen of Tarts
Saw Riverdance – amazing!
Spent last night in Temple Bar area


- The Irish really know how to make a delicious veggie soup; I had one at practically every restaurant we went to. Don't go without ordering one (same goes for bangers n' mash and Guiness!) I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the food here.
- Most hotels and B&B's offer a full Irish breakfast. They're delicious and will fill you up for the first half of the day.
- There are actually a ton of gluten-free options, which really surprised my family (my dad has celiac's disease and is a picky eater, so we were worried about the options of food for him). We were pleasantly surprised!
- The hosts/hostesses at the smaller hotels and B&B's are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. Be sure to get to know them so they can give you their best kept secrets and recommendations (same goes for the locals). 
- It required a lot of driving, but I'd highly recommend making the trip from Killarney to Galway to Dublin. It was perfect, and as I mentioned earlier, you see so much driving through the country that you'd normally miss. 

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