Originally this post was only going to be one part in total, but I quickly realized I had way too many places and way too many pictures to do them all justice. To be honest, Ireland has a million beautiful and amazing things to see. Between the quaint fishing villages, the beautiful country towns, the castles, monasteries, breweries, and distilleries, making an itinerary and sticking to it can be quite a challenge. We left Dublin with no actual plan and only a vague notion of what we wanted to see. We came back with a greater love for cliffs and forests, ocean air and open roads, and the intense desire to do it all over again, smelly van and all.
Below you’ll find the sites and places in Ireland that we absolutely loved, and feel that no road trip is complete without. A few things to keep in mind before beginning: 1. There will be no cities or towns on this list – I absolutely loved the quaint villages and small towns of Ireland, but didn’t take many pictures and thus won’t be writing about them. 2. We missed quite a lot of stuff. There are a few national parks we completely missed and one or two that we drove through, but didn’t spend much time in (i.e. Glendalough), so they will not be on this list. They are definitely worth the visit though. 3. Pretty much everything on this list is nature, camping or hiking related.
Lamb’s Head Peninsula
I’ve already talked about Lamb’s Head Peninsula a bit in my first post about Ireland, but I didn’t really go into a whole lot of depth with it. This peninsula had this forest that became one of my absolute favorite places of our whole Ireland road trip. But there is a ton more that the Lamb’s Head Peninsula has to offer too.
It’s got beaches and piers, quaint villages and ocean views that are to die for.
I’ll be honest that this peninsula wasn’t necessarily my favorite (despite the forest), but it’s worth a visit and I’m definitely glad we took the time to check it out.
Gap of Dunloe
No road trip through Ireland is complete without a drive through the Gap of Dunloe. It’s right next to Killarney National Park so if you’re looking to spend some time there, the Gap is any easy jaunt.
The road is literally called Gap of Dunloe and it will take you through stunning valleys surrounded by towering mountains. There will be beautiful lakes and streams set against a backdrop of gorgeous, vibrant colors.
We were there in the middle of December and the reds, oranges, and yellows of late autumn and the minimal pops of green were so beautiful against a bright blue sky.
It was also cold enough for there to be ice on some of the ponds, which we were told by a friendly cashier was unusual for Ireland for this time of year.
Killarney National Park
Killarney was a super quick trip for us. I think we were still adjusting to the idea that during late fall/early winter in Ireland you only have eight or nine hours of sunlight, and when you’re trying to cover a good chunk of ground as well as see as much as possible, time sometimes gets away from you.
Killarney was beautiful though and totally worth stopping for. It gives you mountains and valleys, with magnificent view points from which you can see for miles. And just imagine what this looks like in spring when everything is green.
Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head
This whole peninsula is just stunning. You could probably spend your whole Irish vacation here and not feel like you missed anything. It’s absolutely beautiful with rolling green hills, cliffs, amazing beaches, winding roads, more hiking trails than you’d know what to do with, and view points that will make your heart sing.
The town of Dingle is also super cute with plenty of restaurants offering amazing seafood dishes and tons of places to stay.
We drove the whole peninsula in an afternoon which, in the winter, is only a few hours. I could have gladly stayed here for several days just soaking in the views, exploring the hiking trails and checking out the villages.
That’s it for part one. There are definitely hundreds of other things that didn’t make either part of this list that are worth checking out in Ireland, but these were some of our favorites. Keep an eye out for Part Two of our Road Trip through Ireland and don’t forget to check out our Cliffs of Moher adventure here!