First, if you want to read all about how and why we chose Ireland as our first huge trip out of the country to go on, click here.
Oh Ireland… where do I even start? This place was everything we could have ever hoped for and was just as beautiful as you would imagine, if not more. It’s just as breath taking as it looks in all of the movies and post cards and every single place we went to was just as incredible as the last. We weren’t sure if we would ever get the chance to come back to this amazing place, so we decided to make the most of it and stay in different towns all over the country instead of just staying in one area. We rented a car (which I could write a whole other blog post on about how scary, and also comical it was for my husband and I to have to drive on the other side of the road AND on the other side of the vehicle!). We ended up staying in 4 different cities over the course of 9 nights. Ireland is much smaller than the United States, so to travel to the other side of the country only took us a few hours. We would make a ton of stops along the way though to each new city, to explore and see castles, and other touristy things along the way. With all of the stops, our 3 hour trip would turn into an all day 7/8 hour travel day. We didn’t mind at all though. In fact, our random stops along the road ended up being our favorite parts of the whole trip! Some days we would have our exact itinerary planned out, then others we would just start driving and stop whenever we saw something interesting. We ended up coming across so many amazing gems!
The Start of Our Trip: Dublin
We flew into Dublin and stayed there for 1 night. Dublin is definitely more of just a huge city and not the beautiful green rolling hills you picture when you typically think of Ireland. We got to our hotel, after an insanely long travel day (about 10 hours of flying, not including the layovers), changed, and hit the city to explore! Most sane people might have tried taking a nap since we hadn’t slept in about 24 hours, but we were way too excited and didn’t want to waste any time! We had so much fun wandering around Dublin, going into tons of the fun pubs, watching street performers, and listening to all of the live music. That was definitely one of the best parts of Ireland- almost every pub/ bar had live Trad (traditional Irish music) every single night!!
** Also let me preface this by saying, some of these images throughout this blog are edited, some are not. Many of them were taken with our cell phones, and some with my big DSLR camera. I did take a LOT of pictures, but I wasn’t focused on getting them 100% perfect, because I also just wanted to enjoy the moment!
At the airport! Then after flying almost 13 hours- we made it!
Checked into our first hotel, changed, and ready to check out Dublin!
St Stephens Green in downtown Dublin- such a beautiful park!
Having our first Guinness at a real pub in Ireland!! Honestly a bucket-list moment. And it tastes so much better here, trust me.
Next Up: Killarney
Next we drove a few hours to Killarney. We stayed here for a couple nights and while we were here we drove the Ring of Kerry. This was the BEST part of the trip and I highly recommend you drive it. It’s a huge loop you drive around with tons of things to see along the way and you get to go right along the coast. We went to the Killarney National Park and spent a few hours here. We took a tour here of the Muckross House (a giant mansion Queen Elizabeth had even stayed at), got to see the Torc Waterfall, and the Ladies View- a beautiful historic viewpoint. The most incredible part on the Ring of Kerry were the Kerry Cliffs. They were BREATHTAKING. I was so torn between wanting to just be in the moment and take it all in with my eyes, but also wanting to take a million pictures because it was so insanely beautiful!
Picking up our rental car- where you drive on the LEFT side of the car and then on the left side of the road! Pro Tip: Most of the rental car options here are manual, just pay the extra fee for an automatic (if that’s your thing) because for us, dealing with this new way of driving and the CRAZY Ireland drivers (it’s true- they even said they think Americans drive way too slow) we didn’t want to worry about having to drive stick-shift too. So it was beyond worth it to us.
Stopped and got some famous donuts along the way! Then checked into our hotel in Killarney.
One of our favorite parts of this trip- the huge breakfasts we got at every hotel! We learned that breakfast is their biggest meal here by far. We tried to embrace the culture and try things like blood sausage and black pudding, but we really just ended up sticking with omelets and pancakes haha.
Muckross House that we went inside and toured
On the beautiful grounds of the Muckross house
The famous view point- Ladies View
The Kerry Cliffs
Our Favorite Castle and Town we Visited
We headed off to our next destination a few hours away. We were driving and saw a sign for the Bunratty Castle so decided to get off the highway and check it out. We were SO glad we did! Out of all of the castles we saw, this was hands down our favorite. We got to go inside and explore the entire castle and learn all about its history. The area around the castle was amazing too and had an old village you got to walk around in and even a “fairy trail” which was so insanely beautiful and fun to walk through. What we thought would be just a short little pit stop, actually turned into us spending hours at this place because it had so much to see!
After that, we made it to the town of Galway which ended up being our favorite city to hang out in!! It was a bigger city, and had such a fun, lively downtown area and we just walked around for hours taking it all in. We went into more really cool pubs and even got to go into the one where they filmed the music video for Ed Sheran’s “Galway Girl”! We definitely could have stayed in this town longer. Where we stayed (The G Hotel) in this town was also SO COOL. The decor was just incredible and so crazy different. I included some pictures here down below, because I wanted everyone to see how cool this place was! Compared to our super tiny, very old hotels we stayed at in all of the other towns, this was sooo different. We used Costco actually to book the whole trip, and they set up all of the hotels for us beforehand, so we had no idea what to expect with all of them before we got to each one! So this one was a cool surprise!
Just a couple of the rooms at the G Hotel- pictures don’t even do it justice!
Cliffs of Moher- a Bucket List Moment
We tried going to the Cliffs of Moher (probably the most famous place to see in Ireland-for good reason), but when we got there the weather was AWFUL. It was freezing, pouring down rain, and windy, but we had just spent 3 hours driving to get to it though, so we were determined to see it through. Unfortunately after all this, it was just too foggy to where we couldn’t even see the cliffs!! This was the number one thing we wanted to see here in Ireland, so to say we were bummed was an understatement. The next morning we decided to drive back hours again, because we figured this might be the only time in our lives we’ll get to see this! We were so glad we did, because the weather ended up being beautiful and we had a perfect view of the cliffs this time!! It was completely worth it to try again, because this was the most unforgettable part of the entire trip and we knew we would have regretted not giving it another try to see them. It almost made us emotional once we finally got to see the cliffs, because this had been on our bucket lists and we were right there seeing it. Definitely a surreal, dream come true moment.
Our first attempt to see the cliffs… so soaked, sad, and miserable, but still trying to laugh at the situation haha
Attempt #2: MUCH better!
County Cork and The Blarney Castle
After a couple nights in Galway, we left to go to County Cork. We specifically stayed in a town called Castlemartyr, but it was so small we spent most of our time here exploring Cork (the second largest city in Ireland). We got to go into the amazing Blarney Castle and kiss the ever so famous Blarney Stone for good luck! The grounds around the castle were also so beautiful, with waterfalls, and lush forests and gardens all around it. On this same day we also stopped in the coolest little town right on the water called Cobh (fun fact: it’s pronounced like cove), which happened to be the last town the Titanic stopped at before sinking. The actual pier is still there that they call Heartbreak Pier and it was so eerie, yet also incredible to see. They have a whole Titanic tour there which we really wanted to do, but the wait was hours long, so unfortunately we didn’t get to. One of the coolest parts of this day was that we ended up parking our car by St Colman’s Cathedral and it was truly remarkable to see. They even let you go inside and walk around and it was by far the most beautiful structure I have ever seen in my life. The pictures we took in here seriously do not do this place any justice.
View from the top of the Blarney Castle
The Blarney Mansion (another huge structure on the property)
St. Coleman’s Cathedral
City of Cobh
Heartbreak Pier: The Titanic’s last stop where they picked up its final passengers before sinking
Another fun part about Castlemartyr was that our gorgeous hotel was RIGHT on the beach. We had a view of it right from the balcony off our room. Being in Ireland was my first time actually ever getting to see the Atlantic Ocean! So our first morning there we went and walked along the beach and I got to touch the water, so now I can officially say I’ve walked on an Atlantic Ocean beach *and touched it*. 🙂
Our Last Adventure
Our last big ‘touristy’ stop was to see The Rock of Cashel and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The tour was outside and it was freezing and raining, but still SO worth it. I will spare you the details, but if you have time, look up the history of this place. Let’s just say, hundreds of people were killed many years ago, right where we were standing, so it was a really eerie feeling… but we still loved getting to learn all of the history that happened here. It was way up on a giant hill with a breath taking view and we were so glad we made the time to stop here for one last tourist adventure.
After all of these amazing adventures we went on, it was time to head back to Dublin for one last night and then to the airport in the morning. We were so sad this was the end of our trip and to be leaving Ireland. We could have definitely stayed longer than 9 nights. We fit everything in that we wanted to, so it was a good amount of time for us, but we could have easily stayed there for at least 2 weeks just because we loved it so much! We are SO happy with our decision of having Ireland be the destination for our first huge trip together after over 5 years of marriage. There is absolutely nothing that we did or saw that I wouldn’t recommend, and we loved every single second of it. We have zero regrets and would go back in a heart beat if we could! Hopefully one day later down the road, we will be able to bring our future children here and share with them just how special this place is to us.
I would love to know, who else has been to Ireland? Did you see any of the same things as us? Anything we missed? Or have you always wanted to go to Ireland too like us? And where should our next vacation destination be?! We’re already trying to think of awesome places to go next, but would LOVE some suggestions!!