Ireland is renowned for hosting some of the most beautiful natural spots in the whole world. Partner its natural beauty and its bustling cities and it’s no wonder that Ireland attracts so many eager road trippers.
If you’re preparing for a road trip, you’ll want to start planning your ideal path across the Emerald Isle before making way. So check your tyre pressure, make sure your dashboard lights are off, and decide for yourself which part of the Isle you’re going to head towards first.
The Hills of Old
What’s better than a road trip with the kids? A road trip with a story. That’s the kind of on-the-road experience that Ireland’s Ancient East offers you. The seventeen counties that make up the Ancient East will unravel the whole of the island’s history to you.
Look in the right places, and this path will show you medieval castles and ancient tombs along with sweeping, unbeatable views of the sea.
Over the course of seven days, this road trip will take you through the following counties:
With different points of interest in each county, from treasure coves and sunken ships to lush gardens, there’s something for everyone on the Ancient East stretch. So long as you do roughly two hours of driving on a daily basis, you’ll be able to make it from one interesting spot to another with ease. That shorter drive time makes driving with the kids and car maintenance all the easier.
Ring of Kerry
If you’re looking for a trip that’s a little less demanding, why not take your car on a trip to the Ring of Kerry. Pass through Sneem, Waterville, and Derrynane along with other quintessential towns in Kerry to find spots that look as though they’ve been yanked straight off a postcard.
For passengers with a more medieval craving, Bog Village offers you the opportunity to explore an authentic thatched village on this road trip. Overall, though, you’ll have the best chance to explore some of the most intimate and beautiful parts of Killarney National Park when you take this trip.
At 193 km long, this is one of Ireland’s most popular road trips. Complete the whole route in a day or take your time. The Kerry Cliffs and other unbeatable natural sites will work with your schedule – even if the weather won’t.
Causeway Coastal Route
For an equally beautiful drive, you can head onto the Causeway Coastal Route. This route surpasses its peers and is now known as one of the world’s greatest road trips. Follow this trek around the north-eastern coast of Ireland, following the Belfast Lough to Londonderry.
While not as deliberately historic as the Ancient East stretch, you’re more than likely to run into a few castles along this gorgeous route. You’ll be more likely to encourage the Giant’s Causeway, though. This natural wonder – 40,000 basalt columns made of lava – is said to have served as the sight of an ancient, mythic battle. It’s enough to enthrall the imagination, no matter how old you are.
As just under 250 km, it’s recommended that you take a few days to enjoy the views on this trip. If you opt to rush through, you’ll still get to see all of the gorgeous scenery this route has to offer, but not in nearly as much detail as it deserves.
Also, keep in mind your safety on the road. This route is one of the most popular routes for a road trip in Ireland, and when passing a number of hefty cliffs you’ll probably want to take this jaunt a little slower than you normally would.
The Game of Thrones Tour
Finally, what would a list of road trips in Ireland be if it neglected the nefarious and renown spots that the HBO series, Games of Thrones, shot at over the past ten years?
A trip to Cushendun, along the Causeway Coastal Route, will take you past the notorious spot where Melisandre bore her shadow-baby. If you’re more into fire and blood, you can find Dragonstone – Dany’s port of call – at the Mussendun Temple in Downhill Beach. Those ambitious enough to face down White Walkers (or who have Arya Stark at their back – spoilers) can even trek through the forests beyond the wall in Tollymore Forest.
While this road trip is going to require some deliberate navigation across the Emerald Isle, it’s more than worth it for the fans of Games of Thrones. With the series now at an end, what could be a better way to celebrate the story than a trip to some of the show’s most iconic sets?
If you feel ready for a great Irish road trip, start getting yourself and your car ready. Ireland will welcome you with open arms and an abundance of places to see. Just make sure you're not losing tyre pressure, fill up your tank, and prepare to set off towards some of the most beautiful spots you’ve ever seen.