The Perfect 10-Day Itinerary for First Timers Visiting Ireland

Never Been to Ireland? Hike, dine, and play your way through a land of vibrant culture and wild beauty on this tour through Dublin, Northern Ireland, the Lakelands, and the Wild Atlantic Way.

The sun setting over the patterned rock formations of Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway

Courtesy of Tourism Ireland

No matter your interests, Ireland has something magnificent on offer—particularly if you’re a fan of the outdoors. From iconic cliff hikes and charming village strolls to Dublin sightseeing and visits to ancient settlements, the island is awash in rich experiences. This 10-day itinerary for first timers introduces you to the island through an epic exploration of culture and natural wonder. Whether seeking a rush or relaxation, you’re sure to build life-long memories and fill your heart with Ireland.

Three people higing Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland

Trip Highlight:

Hiking the Cliffs of Moher

Take to the coastal trails at the Cliffs of Moher and marvel at the layered shale and sandstone rock towering over the Atlantic Ocean. logo, green text with a shamrock

Trip Designer:

Tourism Ireland

From Ireland’s energetic cities to the island’s awe-inspiring landscapes, has everything you need for planning a life-changing journey. Discover scenic train journeys, immersive road trips, culture-rich towns and villages, outdoor adventures, and more for the ultimate travel experience.
A globe of earth hangs in the wooden hallways of the Gaia exhibit at Trinity College’s library

The Gaia exhibit at Trinity College’s library

Courtesy of Tourism Ireland/Barry McCall Photographer

Day 1:Diving into Culture in Dublin

Upon landing in Dublin, your adventure begins with a stroll through the city’s cultural heart. Immerse yourself in the scholarly wonder of Trinity College’s library with an illuminating experience through the immersive art exhibition, Gaia, which features NASA images of the earth’s surface in the Long Room Library. (Be sure to come back when the 200,000-plus ancient texts, including the famous Book of Kells return following a preservation project.) Stroll through the Victorian flower beds of St. Stephen’s Green or meander the cobbled Temple Bar district for souvenir shopping.

If visiting between spring and fall, enjoy Gaelic football—the most popular sport on the island, combining soccer, rugby, basketball, and American football—either by catching a match or by playing in one yourself with Experience Gaelic Games. During the offseason, Croke Park still allows you to live the magic of the Gaelic Games through tours extolling the history of Ireland’s national sports. Wrap your first day with a meal at The Garden Room at The Merrion Hotel, where you’ll be staying for the next two nights.
A birds-eye perspective of the monastic city of Glendalough

A birds-eye perspective of the monastic city of Glendalough

Courtesy Failte Ireland

Day 2:Exploring History in Ireland’s Ancient East

Begin day two with rental car pickup and a one-hour drive into Ireland’s Ancient East to experience the monastic settlement of Glendalough in County Wicklow. Nestled in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough, which means “valley of two lakes” in the Irish language, is renowned for its stunning scenery and 6th-century city ruins. Structures include churches, a cathedral, and more, representing the architectural styles and spiritual life of the early Christian period in Ireland. After your return to Dublin, close out the day with traditional music at O’Donoghue’s Bar.
The geometric building of the Titanic Belfast museum in Ireland

Titanic Belfast

Courtesy of K. Mitch Hodge/Unsplash

Day 3:Road Trip to Belfast

Hop in the car for a road trip to Northern Ireland, beginning with a stop in Belfast to experience the capital’s rich culture and history. Meander through Belfast City Centre for a view of historic buildings such as the Old Town Hall and the imposing Gothic revival architecture of Belfast Cathedral. If you’re visiting between Friday and Sunday, stop by St. George’s Market for a bite to eat and a gift or two from the Victorian-era covered market.

If you’re in a museum mood, continue your day with a visit to Titanic Belfast, an attraction that recounts the tale of the RMS Titanic from the ship’s conception to its ill-fated maiden voyage. If you’d rather hit the outdoors, head to Cave Hill to hike the park’s scenic trails and enjoy the view from the 1,200-foot peak. Quench your thirst with a cold drink at one of Belfast’s famed Cathedral Quarter Pubs, then hang your hat at the famed Merchant Hotel for the night.
Dunluce Castle sits buffeted by the Atlantic Ocean.

Dunluce Castle sits buffeted by the Atlantic Ocean.

Courtesy of Chris Hill/Tourism Ireland

Day 4:Sightseeing on the Causeway Coastal Route and Delighting in Derry-Londonderry

Next up is a day trip along the Causeway Coastal Route, filled with plenty of stops to fuel your imagination. First up is Dunluce Castle, dramatic ruins from the 14th-15th centuries that now stand perched atop a rocky outcrop above the Atlantic Ocean. From there, head toward Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of thousands of hexagonal basalt columns that resemble giant stepping stones, followed by Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Originally built by salmon fishermen, this thrilling bridge suspended nearly 100 feet above the Atlantic offers panoramic views of the coast. Finally, Old Bushmills Distillery—the oldest licensed distillery in the world, dating back to 1608—offers guided tours on whiskey-making, plus tastings and souvenirs for the whiskey lovers in your life.

After a scenery-filled day, make your way to the walled city of Derry, Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, known for its beautifully preserved 17th-century city walls, thriving street art scene, and scenic River Foyle, best enjoyed from the strikingly modern Peace Bridge. Check into Shipquay Hotel, where you’ll stay for two nights, and dine at Michelin-recognized Browns Bonds Hill, enjoying specialties like fine Irish cheeses and local grass-fed beef from Inishowen.
A dock over the water of Lough Erne, Ireland

Lough Erne

Courtesy of Tourism Ireland

Day 5:Kayaking the Lakelands of Ireland

Continue your journey south for 1.5 hours through County Fermanagh, known as the Lakelands of Ireland. Take a break from driving for a morning kayak trip on sparkling Lough Erne or lace up your shoes for a walk along the Lough Erne Loop. Breathe in the beauty of the fourth-largest lake system in Ireland, which includes the two connected lakes of Upper Lough Erne and Lower Lough Erne.

Pop into The Horseshoe & Saddlers Bistro in Enniskillen for a more formal meal upstairs or a casual bite at the classic main-floor pub. Drive on to nearby Enniskillen Castle Museum, and (if you’re visiting Monday–Saturday) opt for a guided tour of the 15th-century stronghold that’s strategically situated alongside the river Erne. Then, head down the road and check into Belle Isle Estate, Castle & Cottages for a night.
View of the green hills and water around Sky Road in Connemara, Ireland

Sky Road in Connemara

Courtesy of Kevin Bosc/Unsplash

Days 6–7:The Scenic Route Through the Wild Atlantic Way and Connemara National Park

Take a gorgeous drive south along the Wild Atlantic Way, pausing for plenty of photo ops. Stretch your legs in the charming town of Westport, known for its colorful buildings, picturesque setting, and convenient location alongside The Great Western Greenway, a 30-mile walking and cycling trail through County Mayo.

Follow the coastal road south along Clew Bay and marvel at the holy peak of Croagh Patrick standing sentinel to your left. Continue onward to County Galway and explore Kylemore Abbey, an 1860s manse-turned-Benedictine monastery. Tour to see its intricate mosaic flooring, velvet furniture, and vast art collection, and make time for the Victorian walled garden.

Head to the town of Clifden to dine at Off the Square Restaurant, a local favorite for its fresh seafood and full Irish breakfast. Wrap your day by checking into Fernwood for a modern farm stay.

The next morning, head into Connemara National Park to explore an incredible expanse of mountains, lakes, bogs, and Atlantic coastline. Hike the well-marked trails around Diamond Hill, Connemara’s most iconic peak, for panoramic views of the earth and ocean below. Look for Connemara ponies, red deer, hares, and bird species such as eagles, falcons, and puffins. For a well-earned bite, stop into Ballynahinch Castle Hotel and enjoy a meal at their onsite Owenmore Restaurant.
View of the tall, jagged Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Cliffs of Moher

Courtesy of Christopher Hill Photographic 2014/Tourism Ireland

Days 8–9:Seaside Village Life and Hiking the Cliffs of Moher

Drive 2.5 hours south until you reach the quaint village of Doolin in County Clare. Grab a casual lunch at The Doolin Café (open March through October) or McDermott’s pub. Get your bearings at The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, which offers informative exhibits about the famed cliffs’ geology, history, and wildlife, and hit the observation deck for expansive views.

Then, head out onto the trails for a different perspective of the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, opting for the Cliff Walk for a nearly one-mile trip or the Coastal Walk for an almost five-mile hike. If you’re a seafaring sort, witness the dramatic coast on a boat tour, keeping an eye out for marine life such as dolphins and seals. If you need to refuel or decide on a late lunch, The Frantic Chef in Liscannor is a good spot. To get your beauty sleep, check into Fiddle + Bow for a two-night stay.

Emerge from your hotel in the heart of Doolin for a day of coastal life in an Irish village. Get your blood moving with a walk to admire the village’s colorful façades, then hop in the car for a short drive to Doolin Cave.

Go on an underground adventure to witness limestone caverns surrounding the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere, measuring at 23 feet in length and weighing a staggering 10 tons. Afterward, bring home a piece of Doolin Cave Pottery, made from glacial cave clay that’s hand-dug from the caverns. Then, return to Doolin, where you’ll dip into McGann’s Pub for live music and traditional fare.
Colorful pink and yellow houses in the green hills of Doolin, Ireland


Courtesy of Magdalena Smolnicka/Unsplash

Day 10:Shop Doolin

Grab any last-minute souvenirs from Irish Crafts (plus a warm beverage from their in-store coffee van Cupán) before making tracks back toward either Dublin or Shannon airport for your departing flight.

If timing allows, pay a visit to The Burren Perfumery to delight in cosmetics and perfumes inspired by the local landscape and made onsite. Or hit nearby Caherconnel Fort & Sheepdog Experience for daily collie demonstrations alongside a 1,000-year-old fort in the heart of the Burren, filling your heart with more of Ireland’s expansive vistas before heading home.

Once you reach the airport, if you’re headed back to the U.S. you’ll undergo U.S. Preclearance, completing all immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections before departure, and streamlining your arrival when you land stateside.
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