One Week in Ireland
On a weeklong road trip through Ireland heading west from Dublin to County Mayo and south through Galway to County Clare and on to Killarney National Park, it is clear the Emerald Isle is as enchanting as it is verdant. Follow our route in spring or fall to make the most of the country’s temperate climate and sparse crowds.
Days 1–2: County Dublin
Described by Dubliners as “the smallest Manhattan” (roughly seven concentrated blocks), Dublin’s downtown is a pedestrian-friendly haven for bespoke shopping, historical attractions, and a thriving food scene that reaches far beyond its pub-and-pint reputation.
- Visit Trinity College to peek at the famous illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, and the institution’s fantastic archival library
- Shop in the Creative Quarter, where a crop of local, independent stores draw visitors and locals alike with their original designs and bespoke treasures. Pick up a handwoven wool blanket at Stable, custom colognes and perfumes at ParfumMarija, handmade leather gloves at Paula Rowan, and standout jewelry at Loulerie (including Oscar de la Renta designs)
- Tour the Guinness Storehouse, where one of the world’s most beloved beers has never tasted better
- Dive into the 450-bottle whiskey collection and live Irish music at Temple Bar, one of Dublin’s most famous pubs, established in 1840
Check in for two nights at The Westbury and live like Gatsby. A gilded 1930s setting sets a celebratory tone at cocktail lounge Sidecar, where the namesake drink is just the thing after an afternoon of sightseeing. Don’t leave without taking in the exceptional private art collection lining the aptly named Gallery Lounge or the botanical touches and conservatory-style of the foodie-approved Wilde Restaurant.
Days 3–4: County Mayo and County Galway
Just under three hours from Dublin are Ashford Castle’s sprawling grounds. Situated in both County Mayo and County Galway, the property covers more than 350 acres and offers a weeks’ worth of activities alone. From here, it’s just under 5 hours by car to see the Cliffs of Moher and carry on to Killarney National Park.
- Take your pick of ways to explore the castle grounds: a bike rental, horseback trail ride, or lake cruise
- Tackle a formidable nine holes on the parkland golf course designed by Irish golf architect Eddie Hackett (originally the castle’s deer park)
- Relax into the Elemis Deep Tissue Massage at the award-winning spa
- Take a 45-minute day trip to Galway to walk the lively streets in search of the shop with the “first-ever” Claddagh ring
Stay in good company with two nights at Ashford Castle, visited by the likes of Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Robin Wright and select royalty. Among the nooks and crannies of the castle, you’ll find the billiard room, cinema, art gallery, cigar terrace, gift shop, and hall of famous visitors’ portraits. Have supper at the George V Dining Room, where your own dedicated waitstaff will carve roast meat or fresh fish tableside. Grab a smoky Gunpowder Blush cocktail, which comes nestled under a translucent cloche, at the Prince of Wales Bar before retiring.
Days 5–6: County Clare and County Kerry
A two-hour drive from Ashford Castle, the Cliffs of Moher are the tourist stop along Ireland’s Atlantic coast (and its most-visited natural attraction). Killarney National Park in County Kerry offers a softer, albeit still rugged portrait of the Irish landscape, where hiking routes will tempt even the pickiest alpinists. From here it’s a final three and a half hour drive back to Dublin.
- Brave the pain of parking at the Cliffs to stroll the walking path for unmatched views and the charged crash of waves below
- Stop in Lahinch on your way to Killarney National Park, where low tide offers a spectacular beach walk
- Drive into the park to the Gap of Dunloe, where you can take a horse drawn carriage ride or hike a moderate 13km round trip to the top of a winding road where you’ll have views of the Gap on one side, and the majesty of the Black Valley on the other
- Hike the park to see Torc Waterfall or the Muckross Lake Loop
- Play the links at resort-adjacent Killarney Golf & Fishing Club
Get a lake and mountain view room at The Europe Hotel and Resort. From the dual balconies of your suite or the generous glass walls of the Panorama dining room, you’ll find the view evolves from shrouded in cloud and fog to painterly and sun-soaked. The property’s spa is vast and accommodating, and romantics should be sure to book the couples’ treatment room, complete with a double-wide soaker tub offering mountain views.
Day 7: Dublin
Back in Dublin, discover the greener side of the capital. The city is home to fantastic green spaces and botanical gardens quite at home amidst the urban buzz.
- Stop and smell the roses at the Dublin Botanical Gardens, where the blooms are especially beautiful in the spring
- Take a walk through Iveagh Gardens to find its fountain-like waterfall
- Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral during lunchtime to be serenaded by one of the city’s best choirs
Take in Georgian architecture and classic-contemporary décor with a night’s stay at The Merrion. Dine in the Garden Room for lovely courtyard views, or indulge in some now-or-never fine dining at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland’s only two star Michelin restaurant.