7 days in Ireland: the ultimate one week Ireland itinerary

Ireland’s compact size means you can drive across the entire country in half a day so you’ll easily be able to explore the island in a week. So, if you have seven days to spare, check out the ultimate one week Ireland itinerary.

When planning a trip around most countries, seeing everything in one week would be an impossible task.

But thanks to the compact size of the Emerald Isle, proper planning and a willingness to be on the go for seven days straight will make it perfectly manageable to see all of Ireland’s highlights.

From kissing the Blarney Stone to exploring Galway’s Salthill, wandering the streets of Dublin to living like giants on the Causeway Coast, here is our ultimate one week Ireland itinerary.

Day one – Dublin

Start off your seven days in Ireland in Dublin.
Credit: Dublin Regional Tourism Authority

There is no better place to kick off your whistle-stop tour of Ireland than the country’s capital city, Dublin.

Where convenience is concerned, it just makes sense as most flights fly into Dublin, making it the natural first stop on your one week Ireland itinerary. Plus, the dynamism of this bustling city means you’ll want to make sure you have enough energy to fully enjoy it.

From historic buildings like Trinity College, Dublin Castle, and Kilmainham Gaol to vibrant shopping streets and quirky independent cafes, as well as eclectic nightlife, there is so much to see and do in Dublin.

There are also lots of museums to explore including the National Museum of Ireland and the Guinness Storehouse.

Where to eat:

Dublin is a haven for delicious breakfast spots. Head to Grand Canal Dock where you’ll be spoilt for choice including spots such as herbstreet and HQ Gastrobar. Or head city centre and try Metro Café, Póg, Tang, or Balfes.

For dinner, Dublin offers up anything you’re in the mood for whether that be traditional Irish cuisine or something from further afield. Some of our recommendations include Sophie’s, Pi Pizza, Brother Hubbard, or NoLita.

Where to stay:

For a decadent stay, we recommend resting your head in the high-end Marker Hotel in Dublin’s Grand Canal Quay (£200/€220 per night).

For a mid-range stay, check out The Dean Hotel on Harcourt Street (£140/€159 per night), and for something more affordable, try out The Hendrick in Smithfield (£70/€80 per night).

Day two – Dublin to Cork

Next up on your one week Ireland itinerary is Cork.
Credit: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland

On day two of your one week Ireland itinerary, you’ll be heading south. From Dublin, make the two-and-a-half-hour drive south-west to Cork.

If you fancy a quick pit-stop on the way, we recommend stopping off in Kilkenny, which sits about half-way between the two.

One of the main draws for many tourists visiting the Emerald Isle is its abundance of castles, so checking out the historic Kilkenny Castle is a must!

Now it’s time to finish your journey to Cork. Cork is Ireland’s second-largest city, so you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do.

Some of the highlights include Blarney Castle, where visitors can kiss the famous Blarney Stone for good luck; Mizen Head, Ireland’s most south-westerly point; a tour of Jameson’s Distillery for a taste of Irish whiskey; and the colourful fishing village of Kinsale.

Where to eat:

Start your day off with some breakfast at Brick Lane, which offers everything from a traditional Full Irish Breakfast to a Breakfast Pizza; or Idaho Café for everything from Danish pastries to hot waffles and porridge.

We would also recommend Tara’s Tea Room, which will make you feel like you’ve popped over to your gran’s house for a chat and a cup of tea; or Liberty Grill, for a New-England inspired brunch.

When you’re ready for dinner, try Café Paradiso for innovative veggie cuisine; Electric for delicious food in a decadent art-deco setting; or Ristorante Rossini for authentic Italian food.

Where to stay:

For the ultimate luxurious stay, book into the 800-year-old Castlemartyr Resort Hotel (£220/€240 per night).

For something more mid-range, try the stylish Montenotte Hotel (£140/€170 per night), and for something more budget-friendly, check out The Imperial Hotel (£100/€120 per night).

Day three – Cork to Killarney and The Ring of Kerry

The next stop on your seven days in Ireland is the Ring of Kerry.
Credit: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland

Start your day off early and head to Killarney, where you can set off on a drive of the scenic Ring of Kerry.

Without stopping, the entire route takes around three to four hours to complete. So, to fully enjoy the experience, snap some beautiful pictures, and visit all the important landmarks, we advise leaving a full day aside for this.

Starting in Killarney National Park, you can take in some of the most spectacular scenery Ireland has to offer from the incredible Torc Waterfall to the breath-taking lakes of Killarney, the grand Muckross Estate, and historic Ross Castle. Killarney National Park is sure to start your road trip on a high.

Some of the other must-sees on this scenic drive include Moll’s Gap and the Gap of Dunloe for scenic views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, as well as quaint towns such as Kenmare and Portmagee.

End your day in Dingle, where you can enjoy the scenery of the Dingle Peninsula, Dunquin Harbour, and Dunmore Head, Ireland’s most westerly point, grab a scoop of ice-cream at Murphy’s, or enjoy the traditional Irish pub culture on offer here.

Where to eat:

Start day three of your one week Ireland itinerary off with a hearty breakfast at Mug & Bean, The Shire Bar & Café, or Dyne in Killarney.

Where to stay:

For a luxury stay in beautiful surroundings, try The Europe Hotel and Resort in Killarney (£240/€265 per night), check out the Dingle Bay Hotel for something more mid-range (£130/€145 per night), and for something a bit cheaper, book a night in Dingle Harbour Lodge (£73/€80 per night).

Day four – Dingle to Galway

You can't miss Galway in your one week Ireland itinerary.
Credit: Fennell Photography for Failte Ireland

From Dingle, it is time to really embrace the Wild Atlantic Way as you venture north towards Galway.

Break up this three-and-a-half-hour drive with some lunch in Limerick and a stop off at the incredible Cliffs of Moher, which stand 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean below. After you’ve snapped a few pictures, it’s time to head on to your final destination of the day: Galway.

Galway is one of those places that you just can’t miss out on during your trip to Ireland. Brimming with an eclectic mix of modern and traditional Irish culture, there is plenty to do in this incredible city.

Take a stroll along the Salthill Promenade for a typical Irish seaside experience into the city centre, which is full of great places to eat, drink, shop, and more.

Check out the colourful Latin Quarter where you can enjoy the music of Galway’s buskers, window shop at the various local businesses, and soak up the history at sights such as the Spanish Arch.

Or head to the modern Eyre Square, which is filled with high-street shops and bronze figures of prominent Irish writers.

End your day in the most traditionally Irish way possible with a pint and some traditional music at one of Galway’s famous pubs such as O’Connell’s Bar, The Quays, or The Front Door.

Where to eat:

Grab some breakfast at the Scandinavian inspired Dela Café, Biteclub for the ultimate hungover brunch spot, or Caprice for fluffy pancakes and tasty egg-based breakfasts in an open, vibrant, and modern setting.

For dinner, grab a tasty stone-baked pizza at Dough Bro’s, The Front Door for delicious Irish pub grub, or the Michelin-starred Aniar Restaurant.

Where to stay:

For a unique and luxurious stay, book a room at The g Hotel (£200/€220 per night).

For a great stay in a central location, book yourself into The Hardiman Hotel in Eyre Square (£130/€145 per night).

For something more affordable, stay at the cute and cosy Nest Boutique Hostel (£70/€80 per night).

Day five – Galway to Donegal

Seven days in Ireland isn't complete without a trip to Donegal.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Get up early and head north to Donegal along Ireland’s famous Wild Atlantic Way. There are plenty of great stops along the way, so make sure you leave enough time to take them all in.

From Galway, head north-west to Connemara National Park where you take in the scenery, visit the sites including Kylemore Abbey, and even witness Killary Fjord, the only fjord in Ireland.

After your quick visit to Connemara, continue north through Westport towards Sligo, where you can stop for lunch and marvel at the distinctive Benbulbin Mountain.

After refuelling in Sligo, head to Donegal, your final stop of the day.

Donegal has plenty to offer visitors from the stunning Donegal Town to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches such as Murder Hole Beach – don’t let the name put you off – and Portsalon Beach.

You can also enjoy the scenery at Ireland’s second-largest park, Glenveagh National Park, marvel at the stunning Mount Errigal, or be amazed by the Slieve League Cliffs, which are amongst the highest sea cliffs in Europe.

Check out Fanad Head for one of the world’s most beautiful lighthouses and end your day by watching the sun go down over Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head. Plus, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll be delighted to know that Malin Head was featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Where to eat:

Start your day off with some delicious breakfast at Blas in Donegal town where they serve everything from nutritious açai bowls to hearty Irish breakfasts and Belgian waffles. Or head to the tasty Starfish Café and Bistro in Dunfanaghy.

For dinner, grab some fish and chips at Killybegs Seafood Shack, or try a pizza and beers from the popular Rusty Oven.

Where to stay:

For a luxurious stay in Donegal, check out the five-star Lough Eske Castle (£250/€275 per night).

For something more mid-range, try the Sandhouse Hotel and Marine Spa (£115/€127 per night).

Or for something more budget-friendly, try The Gateway Lodge (£70/€80 per night).

Day six – Donegal to the Causeway Coast

The Causeway Coast is a must visit on your one week Ireland itinerary.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Day six of your one week Ireland itinerary brings you into Northern Ireland as you explore the Causeway Coast, which has gained popularity over recent years as it is home to many of the filming locations of HBO’s hit show, Game of Thrones.

Stretching from Derry to Belfast, there is lots to see and do along this scenic coastal route from quaint seaside towns such as Portrush, Portstewart, Bushmills, and Ballymoney to beautiful beaches including Benone Beach, which stretches for seven miles, National Trust Portstewart Strand, and Whiterocks Beach.

Some of the most famous must-see attractions along this route include Mussenden Temple, the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges, Kinbane Castle, Dunluce Castle, and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

Driving this beautiful coastal route and witnessing the sun setting over the Glens of Antrim is the perfect way to conclude your penultimate day on the Emerald Isle.

Where to eat:

Grab a delicious breakfast at the minimalist coffee shop Lost and Found, which serves a range of innovative dishes. Or for breakfast with a view try Bothy at White Park Bay.

The Causeway Coast is home to some great places to stop for dinner.

Ramore Restaurants in Portrush is a great complex with a variety of options to suit everyone from the Asian-inspired Neptune and Prawn to the traditional Harbour Bar or the classy Basalt, which offers panoramic views of Ramore Head.

Where to stay:

For a luxurious stay on the coast, visit the Ballygally Castle Hotel (£180/€200 per night).

For something more mid-range, try the Golflinks Hotel in Portrush (£100/€115 per night).

Or for a more affordable option, try the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle (£80/€90 per night).

Day seven – conclude your visit in Belfast

Conclude your one week Ireland itinerary in Belfast.
Credit: Chris Heaney for Tourism Northern Ireland

The Causeway Coast ends in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, and there is no better place to complete your ultimate seven day Ireland itinerary.

There is plenty to see and do in this bustling city from the iconic Titanic Belfast Museum to the historic Crumlin Road Gaol, a fun-filled beer bike tour of the city to a challenging hike up Cave Hill.

For a taste of the local Belfast cuisine, head to the fantastic St George’s Market, which is home to over 300 traders offering everything from local food to handmade crafts and art, as well as live music and cooking demonstrations.

After a busy day in Belfast, you’ll be glad to hear that you don’t need to drive all the way to Dublin to fly home as Belfast is home to both the International Airport and the George Best City Airport, making it a convenient last stop on your one week Ireland itinerary.

Where to eat:

For a healthy start to your day, head to the Juice Jar for a smoothie or an açai bowl. For an extremely affordable and traditional Ulster Fry, head to Maggie Mays. Or for delicious red velvet pancakes among many other options, check out Harlem Café.

Head to St. Anne’s Square for a vast range of dinner options including the Asian-inspired Zen, the Italian Coppi, Topblade Steakhouse, or the Mediterranean Buba. For a unique dining experience, try out Holohan’s at the Barge.

Where to stay:

If you’re spending the night in Belfast, here are our top picks of places to stay. For ultimate extravagance, stay in Belfast’s tallest hotel, Grand Central Hotel (£180/€200 per night).

For something more mid-range, head to Ten Square Hotel (£110/€125 per night).

Or for something more budget-friendly, check out the stylist 1852 Hotel (£50/€55 per night).

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