A 72-hour electric road trip through Ireland's Ancient East
If you really want to discover what Ireland's Ancient East has to offer, you have to take to the road. And with an electric car, you can do it simply and sustainably
So, charge up and set off to discover some of the best spots – and hidden gems – that Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer!
Kick off your trip with some sunkissed east coast views, sandy beaches and stunning mountain getaways.Explore Day 1
Plug in, charge up, and set off
If you’re heading on an electrically powered road trip in Ireland, the first thing you’ll want to do is sort your electric car.
If you’re coming in via Dublin Airport you’ll be able to rent a car from Budget, Avis, Newway and UFODRIVE. Make sure to book well in advance to secure your electric vehicle, especially if you are visiting in the summer months. Coming by ferry to Dublin Port? Check your ferry company's website for information about renting an electric vehicle.
A single electric vehicle charge covers between 100km and 500km depending on your vehicle, so you should be well covered as you move from town to town as each place will have several charging stations available.
You will be driving down long roads and motorways, so be mindful of your remaining power. If you are planning to get a charge, there are some handy apps that you can download to locate your nearest charging station and even book a spot to avoid wait times – try ESB ecars, ChargePoint or Go Charge.
Once you’ve sorted your transport, it’s time to hit the road. So hop in your electric car, pop your seatbelt on, and head on down the M50 towards your first port of call!
A seaside snack
Shake off the travel in the beautiful seaside town of Bray. You can stretch your legs with a walk along the promenade – with a coffee or ice cream in hand – or if you fancy something a little more challenging, give the Bray Head Walk a go.
The walk is just under 10km, so it’ll eat up a big chunk of your day, but it’s worth it for the panoramic views of the County Dublin coastline you’ll see along the way.
If your vehicle needs a charge, you'll find seven charging stations around the town of Bray. Make sure to note the plug type of your vehicle, and the options on offer at each station. You'll find a wider range at larger stations near shopping centres like Bray's Tesco Superstore.
Another top spot is Killruddery House and Gardens. This 324-hectare estate features lush woodland, a bio-diverse farm and pristine formal gardens. They also run tours of the 400-year-old house – but make sure to check ahead as it can be closed if an event is scheduled.
Since you’re there, you might as well grab a bite to eat. If you’re a fan of fresh, locally sourced cuisine, you won’t do better than the Grain Store Restaurant. Its varied and inviting menu boasts rustic fare like the Killruddery pork sandwich or summery flavours like their vegetarian parmesan agnolotti. All vegetables used in the dishes are sourced from Killruddery’s expansive gardens, so your tastebuds will have just as good a visit as you!
Next off, continue down the M11 into County Wicklow. You have a few options from here to fill out your afternoon. There are also plenty of charging stations dotted around the town, so you'll have plenty of chances to get a decent charge in your vehicle.
You could pay a visit to Wicklow Historic Gaol, a notoriously harsh prison, now turned into an intriguing visitor attraction. The story of the gaol and its inhabitants is linked to key events in Ireland's history, including the 19th century potato famine and various rebellions against British rule. You can take the standard day tour – but the Gates of Hell tour is highly recommended. This immersive, virtual-reality experience transports you through three unique stories in the gaol’s history. Give it a go if you have the nerve.
Maybe refreshing sea air is more your thing. If so, head on down to Brittas Bay. Walking its 5km stretch of powdery sand, framed by the cool blue Wicklow waters is the perfect way to unwind and chill as the afternoon slips into early evening.
A fitting finish
Next up, drive inland towards the famous monastic site of Glendalough, situated in the Wicklow Mountains National Park – you'll be making a stop in the picturesque village of Laragh, at the Wicklow Heather Restaurant and House. This homely and comfortable establishment boasts food as classy as its location. The restaurant has a simple, hearty offering, with fresh fish, steaks or nourishing roasts on offer. If you want to stay the night, you'll find luxury guesthouses with spacious rooms and kingsize beds.
Alternatively, head to the Wicklow Escape mountain lodge, tucked away in the Glen of Imaal in the Wicklow Mountains. This is a perfect secluded getaway – each one of their seven garden rooms has a private entrance and features luxurious handmade furniture. After your night’s rest, you can expect a gorgeous continental breakfast waiting for you, made from locally sourced produce.
As you make your way further into Ireland’s Ancient East, you’ll see some gorgeous castles and untamed nature.Explore Day 2
An early stroll
Hop in the car and take the hour-long drive down to Gorey in County Wexford. This lively market town is a perfect hub to take in some of Wexford’s best sights. Once you arrive, have a little stroll around the town, take in a bit of shopping and stop for a tea or coffee – the Book Café is a great spot to refuel. If you need to top up your car's charge, you'll find five charging points around the town.
If you want a proper walk, drive on to Courtown Woods and follow one of the walking trails. The routes are gentle and relaxing and take in the lush Wexford countryside. Some routes skirt Courtown Beach too, if you want another seaside visit.
17th century decadence
Drive on to Wells House and Gardens and take in the sprawling 182 hectares of gardens and woodlands. There are walking routes such as the Fairy’s Walk and Mogue’s Enchanted Walk, as well as a craft courtyard for shopping and an animal farm where you can meet some of the cuter residents – including rabbits, hens, and meerkats! The 17th century house is also open for tours, but only on Saturday and Sunday. Grab lunch in Brambles Restaurant here before setting out again – their open smoked ham or salmon sandwiches will fortify you for the journey ahead!
On the road between Wexford and Kilkenny, you'll find one of the great gardens of Ireland – Altamont Gardens in County Carlow. Don't miss the chance to stop here for a stroll through the Ice Age Glen and Bog Garden, or simply to enjoy the scent of summertime roses. It will be the perfect way to break up your journey. If your charge is running low at any point, you'll find charging stations along the way at Enniscorthy and Bunclody.
A historic haven
Next up is the gorgeous medieval city of Kilkenny. This is a place that’s loaded with historical sites, so set some time aside and get exploring.
The first, and most obvious, is the city’s towering landmark – Kilkenny Castle. The castle itself is a historical marvel dating back to the 12th century and its 800-year story is a fascinating one, so book a guided tour if you have time.
In the rest of the city, you’ll have plenty of options. The Smithwick’s Experience is an enjoyable brewery tour, taking in the story of Ireland’s much-loved red ale, detailing how it’s created and what makes it so special.
If ale isn’t your thing, pop into the Medieval Mile Museum and discover some fascinating archaeological treasures. Or try a walking tour of the city, and get a deeper understanding of Kilkenny’s history with a knowledgeable guide at your side. There are five charging stations in the city, so charge up if needed, and make your way to the next destination!
A spot of fine dining
After all that travel and exploration, you will have worked up an appetite – so some hearty Italian food is your best option. Ristorante Rinuccini is a gorgeous fine-dining location in the heart of the city. The calamari starter is particularly good, and for the main course, try one of the freshly made pasta dishes – you’ll leave satisfied!
The Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel started life as a Georgian bank and has been transformed into a boutique hotel. It manages to balance its classy 18th-century look, with all the comforts of modern living. It’s just around the corner, so grab a cocktail or two in the Brasserie bar, then head to your plush bedroom, stretch out those weary limbs, and enjoy your hard-earned rest. You'll also find five charging stations in the city, so you can charge up if needed, and be all set for your final day!
As your trip winds down, find rest and relaxation in a peaceful garden, spend the afternoon in the shadow of a Georgian country house, and visit one of Ireland’s shopping hot spots!Explore Day 3
Unlock your senses
Hop on the M9 and make your way to County Carlow for another day of fun. Delta Sensory Gardens near Carlow town hosts over a dozen unique themed gardens, and is the perfect place for a mindful morning.
The gardens’ differing colours, scents and textures provide a refuge from the hustle and bustle of travel. If you have time, make sure to try a delicious homemade cake from Café Thyme before you leave!
Next, make your way to Duckett’s Grove, an impressive but sadly ruined Georgian country house. The crenellations, turrets and octagonal viewing tower make it one of the most striking structures on the island of Ireland and if you’re a keen photographer, its Gothic silhouette will be hard to resist. While you’re here, don’t miss the walled gardens, which have been carefully restored and feature many historical varieties of roses and peonies.
As you head northward to Kildare, pop into Burtown House near Athy (you'll find a few charging stations there if needed), an 18th century house boasting almost 5 hectares of gardens and meadow walks. You’ll find a range of gardens to explore – including a rock garden, a yew walk and an old orchard. The house itself is the only original Quaker house on the island and guided tours are available. While you’re there, make sure to check out the Green Barn for a bit of lunch. Their range of fresh, delicious, locally sourced fare is the perfect pick-me-up after some time on the road.
That sweet village life
If you're a fan of shopping, your final stop will be a real treat. Kildare Village is Ireland’s premier luxury outlet shopping experience and boasts dozens of top-tier brands from Ireland and around the world. You'll also find three charging stations here (and another three in nearby Newbridge) if you need to charge up for the last portion of your journey.
Having worked up an appetite on your shopping excursion, you get to enjoy dinner at Hartes in Kildare town. This award-winning gastropub offers cutting-edge Irish dishes with a focus on local, sustainable ingredients. Pop into the bar first for a perfectly poured pint of Guinness or sample one of their unique artisan beers.
Wrap up the day, and the trip, in the lap of luxury at Firecastle, an artisan grocery and bakery that also offers boutique accommodation. Expect views of St Brigid’s Cathedral from your spacious and relaxing guest room. It's the perfect place to wind down after your journey.
If you have time the next morning, grab one of the breakfast baps from the Firecastle café and head on back to Dublin airport. You’ll be heading home after three days of beautiful coastal views and the rich heritage of Ireland’s Ancient East – all in a sustainable electric car. And once you get home, it’s time to plan the next road trip!