3 week trip: the island of Ireland by caravan

Starting and finishing in Dublin, this recommended tour for caravans, motorhomes and campervans begins in the Emerald Isle's Ancient East. A thrilling journey back through the centuries awaits you.


Discover the whole island by caravan

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Week 1

Our first leg takes you north from Dublin into Ireland's Ancient East, along the Causeway Coastal Route, into Donegal and along the Wild Atlantic Way and back into Northern Ireland's Fermanagh Lakelands.

A driving 80 km
caravan and camping
Newgrange

Day 1

Back to the Stone Age: Newgrange

Our 21-day tour of the island begins by heading north from Dublin on the M1 towards Drogheda. The first leg of this tour introduces you right away to the magic of Ireland's great historic sites: to the megalithic sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth – and even takes you to the middle of the Stone Age in the park-owned bus! (It is more convenient to park caravans in the back section of the narrow car park at the Brú Na Boinne Visitor Centre – straight on from the entrance.) A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site is an impressive experience. The monumental graves are over 5,000 years old. Parts of them date back to periods before the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. However, in Boyne Valley the early Modern Age is also present. The Battle of the Boyne in 1690 determined Irish history for over 300 years, resulting in the subsequent division of the island which is still in force today.

B driving 105 km
caravan and camping
Dundonald Touring Caravan Park

Celtic Spirituality: Monasterboice

On the way to Northern Ireland, it is worth making a detour to Monasterboice. The car park is situated right opposite the splendid old cemetery. The monastery ruins from the 6th century have preserved their wonderful round tower. Three famous high crosses from the 9th century bear witness to the Celtic spirituality of the religious art of that time.

It is nearly 40 km to the open border to Northern Ireland, where miles and the British pound are used. The first overnight destination is Dundonald, so close to Belfast that it is often mistaken for a suburb of Northern Ireland's capital. Those who like to take their time can leave the A1 and meander there from Newry via Newcastle along the A24. The roads lead us through the beautiful landscapes of County Down. In the evening, the city of Belfast can be quickly reached from the campsite by bus, train or taxi.

C walking Rest day
caravan and camping
Belfast

Day 2

Visit Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland

Rest day in Dundonald: Belfast is on the itinerary, as a cosmopolitan, dynamic metropolis. There are bus and tram stops on Kilmarnock Road, a short walk from the campsite. We particularly recommend the historic Black Taxis for travelling to the nearby capital, and the black cabs also pick guests up directly from the campsite for entertaining city tours. Or you can take a bike tour around the city. Belfast City Bike Tours brings you on a tour to the heart of Belfast – explore the fantastic St George's Market (Fri-Sat), and the city's historical quarters, stopping at Belfast Cathedral and City Hall in the buzzing Cathedral Quarter, where friendly tour guides entertain with local stories and fascinating historical facts about the city. 

 

Unforgotten: at the docks of the Titanic

Belfast dates back to the time of the Normans, who founded it, and besides the modern city, the Titanic Belfast is a must-see on everyone's itinerary. Located at the former Belfast Docks, the futuristic experience is dramatically staged as a multi-dimensional show, following the tragic liner's tale from construction to fateful journey of the luxury liner. In the evening, the campsite can be reached by bus, train or taxi from Belfast. 

 

D driving 55 km
caravan and camping
The Gobbins

Day 3

The Causeway Coastal Route: Northern Ireland's dream road 

Head into town towards Belfast, then take motorways M2 and M5 from Dundonald to the southern entrance to the Causeway Coastal Route. The signposts succinctly indicate the way: The North. From Carrickfergus and its mighty castle, this magnificent route in Northern Ireland winds along the magnificent Antrim coast in a northwesterly direction, with the open sea to your right. From now on, the brown signposts for The Causeway Coastal Route will direct you along the coast. Today's destination is Bushmills. The nicest route there is via Larne and Ballycastle. Several attractions are to be found along the route: Gobbins Cliff Path perhaps, or Glenarm Castle and Gardens.

 

E driving 85 km
Glens of Antrim

Antrim's coast and glens

Amazing views open up beyond almost every bend. Now and then, you will come across coastal parking places with height barriers and thus not accessible for caravans, so try the next one. Before Cushendall, it is worth taking a detour to Glenariff Forest Park and the wonderful Glens of Antrim. Meanwhile, the coast has amazing views of the North Channel, and, on the horizon, the Scottish coast can be seen in the distance: straight to the north is the island of Islay, while on the right and further north-east lies the Mull of Kintyre. This is how the Ulster Scots arrived on the Emerald Isle. Scotland and Ireland are close to each other in so many ways: As we know, from Campbeltown in Scotland you can see the lights of the Antrim Coast on a clear night. In the summer, there is even small passenger ferry that crosses to the Scottish village of Southend: there and back. 

 

If you have more time

Take the turn towards Bushmills along the coastal route from Ballycastle to Ballintoy, past the ruins of Kinbane Castle, and enjoy the view out to Rathlin Island. Incidentally, Ballycastle is also said to have one of the best fish and chips kiosks in Northern Ireland – just before the ferry terminal.

F Rest day
Giant's Causeway

Day 4

Hiking at the Giant's Causeway

A rest day in Bushmills offers so many options: above all the basalt coastline of the Giant’s Causeway, the UNESCO world heritage site, and Carrick-a-Rede, the rope bridge to the salmon fishing island (book tickets in advance). Hiking is a must around here. The nearby coastal trails are fantastic, and the panorama is immense. And it is easy to leave your own vehicle behind. The Causeway Rambler, a local bus service, stops at the entrance to the campsite and takes you to all the attractions along this wonderful coast from May to September – via Dunluce Castle and as far as Portrush. You can buy day tickets at the reception. Climb aboard and, for very little cost, allow yourself to be driven to great adventures. Or go by bike – a rented one or your own. The cycle paths open up wonderful routes. Ireland's oldest distillery, Old Bushmills, is situated on the way, and those wishing to take part in a guided tour with a tasting of the famous Irish whiskey should book online early.

G
Dark Hedges

From Fionn mac Cumhaill to the Game of Thrones

Fantasy fans will find film locations used for Game of Thrones® on the coast around Ballintoy, the fictitious port of Iron Islands, but not only there. Inland, the fabled land of the Irish giant Finn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) switches to become The Seven Kingdoms. Here you will find the Dark Hedges, which line the Kingsroad. In the bloodthirsty fantasy saga it leads from the north to the court of King's Landing. Park near the hotel and stride – like thousands of avid fans before you – along the knotted beech tree avenue, via which Lord Stark's daughter, Arya, escaped undetected from her pursuers and into the land of the heroes of Westeros.

H driving 70 km
caravan and camping
Derry~Londonderry

Day 5

A city tour of Derry~Londonderry on the River Foyle

Onwards to Derry~Londonderry. The drive takes you via Coleraine on the A2 and across the large bridge over the River Foyle. Northern Ireland's second largest city was founded in 1613. Today the Walled City greets its guests as a modern, vibrant city full of history. In 1968, the Walled City was a hotspot in the Northern Irish conflict. A guided tour from the Visitor Information Centre takes you around the 400-year-old city walls, to the 'Free Derry' wall murals that explore the legacy of its turbulent past, and through a city whose people have come together with a strong sense of community. 

I driving 70 km
Malin Head

From Northern Ireland to Donegal

After a morning stroll around the town, you go from Northern Ireland back into the Republic in the direction of Letterkenny and Downings. You have reached the northeastern starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way. Today's destination is the far north of Ireland, the headland of Melmore Head in County Donegal. Off the route, near Malin Head, the northernmost point of the island, is the setting for a completely different world: a filming location for the Star Wars movie The Last Jedi. However, if you prefer to devote your time to the real beauty of the present day, take a detour to the magnificent Glenveagh National Park. Hikes (including short hikes) set off from the Visitor Centre and take in the melancholic lake scenery of Donegal. There is a pitch for the night at Melmore Head.

J driving 115 km
Slieve League

Day 6

South or north of Glenveagh National Park 

Melmore Head delights visitors at its tip, with two blissful beaches: Trá Na Rosann Beach in the west faces the sunset and Mulroy Bay in the east is perfect for a morning dip. Then you will have to tear yourself away to set off again. From Rosguill the Wild Atlantic Way heads further and further west. If you didn't have time during the outward journey for a trip to Glenveagh National Park, you can make up for it at the start of the onward journey by taking the southbound route towards Gweedore (N56 – R251 – N56). It's worth it. Otherwise, the north loop of the Wild Atlantic Way takes you on the N56 up to the solitary coast of Donegal

From dream beaches to beach daydreaming

Both scenic routes meet again at Gweedore. From here you drive to the pleasant little town of Dungloe, which is known for its lively Mary of Dungloe Festival in the summer. Maghery Beach, a white sandy beach, is situated 5 km to the west. After a picnic, the tour winds southwards to an overnight pitch in Killybegs. If you wish, you can venture on narrow roads for a side trip to Slieve League. The highest cliffs in Donegal offer a fantastic view of the Atlantic. The top car park is indeed accessible for caravans, however, it fills up quickly and could pose problems for larger vehicles when turning. In any case, it is healthier and more invigorating to go on foot. An ice cream van at the top next to the cliff edge promises an extra reward.

K
caravan and camping
Fermanagh

Day 7

Donegal back to Fermanagh

Today we go back for the day to Northern Ireland. If you would still like to take a detour to the Slieve League Cliffs, you will have to add on an extra 20 km to go there and back, and factor in an additional 3 hours. A nice alternative is a circuit of the small peninsula on narrow roads heading towards Malin More Head. You will go past the beautiful beach of Glencolumbkille. The local history museum, with its nice café, is a good spot to stop for lunch. It is located in the thatched houses of the old fishing village.

The tour will briefly leave the Wild Atlantic Way when it goes over the open border to Northern Ireland near Belleek. The destination is the old fortress town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, with its imposing castle on Lough Erne. Boat tours start here, crossing the upper lake to Devenish Island. The monks' island is famous for its magnificent round tower. There is a wonderful place to spend the night at Lough MacNean, with magnificent views of the tranquil lake.

 

 

caravan and camping

Week 2

After enjoying the Fermanagh Lakelands you leave Northern Ireland again and follow the Wild Atlantic Way south for your second week. From the Surf Coast to the Bay Coast, over the cliffs of County Clare to the Southern Peninsulas. A dramatic coastal landscape awaits you.

L driving 70 km
caravan and camping
Sligo

Day 8

From Northern Ireland to County Sligo

Today's route goes back over the border into the Republic of Ireland. Here km/h and euros are valid, as can be seen right away from the signposts and petrol station signs. Beforehand, we strongly encourage you to visit Marble Arch Caves in the nearby Global Geopark: it is situated just under 15 km and approximately 15 minutes away from the campsite in Belcoo. A guided walk through the magical caves and a subterranean boat trip are the perfect prelude to the onward journey. Imperceptibly the route crosses the internal border, but very soon vast forests, tranquil lakes and mighty green table mountains are revealed: this is Yeats Country, the land of the great poet, William Butler Yeats.

Through Yeats Country to the Surf Coast

As the home county of poet Yeats, Sligo has erected a statue in his memory. You will find his grave at Drumcliffe next to the renowned Table Mountain, Ben Bulben, where the Irish winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature grew up. A visit here is well worthwhile. Near the idyllically situated church in the small cemetery, there is a wonderful high cross, not far away from the ruins of an abbey from the end of the 6th century, which is attributed to Saint Columcille. At Drumcliffe Visitor Centre you can enjoy an excellent lunch, before Sligo invites you for a walk. The capital of County Sligo is tranquilly situated on the Garavogue River. You can find a good spot for the night on the Surf Coast. At the feet of the Knocknarea Mountains lies Strandhill beach, a meeting point for surfers from all over the world.

M driving 150 km
Céide Fields

Day 9

See Sligo, experience Mayo

From Sligo and William Butler Yeats to the lands adored by German writer Heinrich Böll. It is a wonderful but longer driving route through Mayo that leads to Achill Island. The main route goes from Sligo southwest through the melancholic moorlands of lonely County Mayo. As an alternative to the N59 from Ballina, you can wind northwards along a small road, the R314, on the WAW (South), which leads to the megalithic site of Céide Fields, the largest Neolithic field systems in the world. Then return to the N59 via Bangor Ellis. In both cases, this leg of the tour allows you to experience amazing scenery. 

Ballycroy National Park

Right on the N59 after Bangor, Ballycroy National Park is home to one of the largest moorlands in Ireland, and indeed in Europe. A stop here after such a long drive is certainly welcome: the Visitor Centre's exhibition? Worth seeing! Coffee and cakes? Delicious! A small circular trail offers a stunning view of the hills of these extensive moorlands. A good opportunity to stretch your legs comes just a few kilometres further on, right on the N59: the Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail follows a coastal bay boardwalk route shortly before Mallaranny/An Mhala. From there you turn right on the R319 and over the toll-free bridge to Achill Island. There is only another small stretch to cover before you reach dramatic Keel beach and the open water of the Atlantic

N Rest day
caravan and camping
Achill Island

Day 10

On Achill Island

After a long drive, a rest day in Keel at the surfers' beach is great fun. The bay, with its gorgeous sandy beach and the huge shingle dunes, absolutely requires a long walk. If you're feeling brave, join the surfers and jump into the cool water for a swim, or kayak along the along the Blueway, which is the watery trail beneath Achill's seacliffs. If you don't want to rest for long and are eager to look around, take the Achill Drive. It has become part of the Wild Atlantic Way and leads to the spectacular spots on this uniquely beautiful island: to Dugort Beach perhaps or to Keem Bay, where Croaghaun Mountain (688m), the highest mountain on Achill, rises to form some of Ireland's highest cliffs. From the divine beach a steep trail leads through the solitary moors uphill to a ridge.

O driving 115 km
caravan and camping
Westport

Day 11

The vastness of Mayo

All routes from the island lead back to the 'mainland' over the Achill Sound bridge. Today's leg stays on the N59, a large coastal route, which passes south through the town of Newport, directly next to the Great Western Greenway. The old railway line is now a beautiful car-free cycle path. Not far beyond that, you reach Westport, and an opportunity to enjoy a stroll through this picturesque town or visit Westport House. Children particularly love it for the adventure park on the scenic campsite. From Westport, the N59 continues southbound. A detour to Croagh Patrick is a must. Turn off the R335 briefly and, after admiring the view of the "mountain of mountains", go back onto the N59. The destination for today's leg is Renvyle Peninsula.

The silence of Connemara

Instead of following the N59, those who don't mind driving along narrow roads can take the Wild Atlantic Way (South) to begin with (always via the R335 along the coast) and then leave it for a while after Louisburgh and continue on the R335: over the Dhulough Pass. This stretch is fantastic. At all times barely two lanes wide, in some parts the road is very narrow, particularly along the lake. Therefore, be careful, particularly at the end, where there are potholes at the edge of the road. Back on the N59 towards Clifden, it is approximately another 80 km to Renvyle through the magnificent scenery of Connemara and past Renvyle Peninsula to Kylemore Abbey. A lovely spot to spend the night is at the idyllic sandy beach of Tully.

P 10 km
caravan and camping
Connemara

Day 12

On Renvyle Peninsula

With its own sandy beach on its doorstep, this site on the Bay Coast is a particular treat for a rest day. And Renvyle Peninsula is the perfect place to appreciate the allure of this oceanic cosmos. The view of the sea, the shoreline scenery of the islands and peninsulas, and the Connemara Mountains, which in this coastal stretch seem to want to come closer to the water, is full of grandeur. In the distance Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain, can be seen. And when the sun is low in the west, the white chapel on its summit glows.

Hiking in Connemara National Park

This site is also one of the best starting places for heading to the nearby Connemara National Park, for a short walk or a longer hike. Moors and heathlands and special vegetation characterise the National Park, which was founded in 1980 on the farmland of Kylemore Abbey. On the summit of Diamond Hill – 400 metres above sea level – the spectacular view of the magnificent coast and the Twelve Pins mountain range can best of all be compared with the magnificent sea view from Renvyle. The journey there costs only a few euros by taxi or bus. There is no need at all to take your caravan. It is barely 20 kilometres away.

Q driving 85 km
caravan and camping
Galway

Day 13

Through tranquil Connemara

Starting at Renvyle Peninsula, passing the entrance to the Visitor Centre of Connemara National Park in Letterfrack, today's leg leads to Galway – preferably on the N59. If you had to miss out Kylemore Abbey on the journey two days ago, you may wish to take a detour there now. Kylemore Abbey, the oldest Irish Benedictine Abbey in Ireland, founded in 1665, is well worth a visit. From the barren moorlands of Mayo and Connemara, the beautifully scenic route leads to the capital of the county of the same name, County Galway. The journey is the reward, at least during the driving day. Spend the night at Salthill, with your bumper practically touching Galway Bay. Ashford Castle in Cong on Lough Corrib makes for a nice detour along the way.

Lively Galway Bay

An afternoon or evening visit to the bustling university town on the River Corrib is a must. By bus, you can reach the city from Salthill in half an hour. However, the walk past the city-owned lido and along the seafront promenade into town has definite appeal. What do people eat in Galway? Seafood, of course. The maritime cuisine in the Irish Latin Quarter is famous; the oysters are all the rage. The last bus back is at 10.30 pm; but you can find taxis all through the night.

R
caravan and camping
Cliffs of Moher

Day 14

From Galway to the moon

At Galway Bay, take the Wild Atlantic Way and its increasingly narrow roads from the N61 to the R477 and then continue to Doolin in County Clare. There you will find the Cliffs of Moher and its most astounding rock formations in the karst area of the Burren. The Burren is a geological rarity and its moonscape a curiosity. It dips down into the waters of Galway Bay and then rises up again on the offshore Aran Islands. We highly recommend a longer stop at the coastal road viewpoints and a walk along the eroded limestone terraces up to the waterfront of the bay. A drive into the Burren National Park is even more beautiful. This is under the patronage of UNESCO.

Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark

Take some time to discover the unusual beauty of the Burren. Because when will you next get a chance to go to the moon? It will be an unforgettable experience. The Information Point at the Clare Heritage Centre in Corofin is the best entry point. It is run by the National Park and Wildlife Service and visitors are provided with a map. Then, just round the corner, you can visit Caherconnell, a Celtic ringfort. Here there are attractions galore: perhaps the magical Poulnabrone Dolmen, which was probably built in the midst of this barren, grey lunar landscape sometime during the Neolithic period, between 3800 and 3000 BC. The evening belongs to Doolin, an Irish folk music hub, where you can visit the pubs famous for Irish singing close to the beautiful campsite at Doolin Pier, just opposite the magnificent Cliffs of Moher.

Week 3

From the Cliff Coast, the Wild Atlantic Way leads to the Southern Peninsulas. During the third and final week of this tour, you travel from County Clare to County Kerry and County Cork, before heading inland and back to Ireland's Ancient East. A splendid history awaits you, along with pure nature.

S driving 165 km
Dingle

Day 15

From the Cliff Coast to the Southern Peninsulas

A long drive takes you from Doolin over the Shannon to the Dingle Peninsula. You have a choice: leave the Wild Atlantic Way and travel overland towards Limerick for a visit to the city (N85 – M18/N18 – N69 approx. 70 km more and partly subject to tolls) or take the small ferryboat over to Tarbert (2 hours plus ferry journey). Both routes have their own appeal and meet again near Tralee. From there, it is another 100 km on to the Dingle Peninsula. On the way to the Killimer ferry, after Doolin (R479 to R478) the first essential stop is immediately signposted: the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, part of the Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. Continue through the peaceful Shannon region on the N67. Those who wish to avoid narrow roads, should follow this road through Kilrush and then the ferryboat signs to Killimer ferry terminal.

From County Clare to County Kerry

The passage across the Shannon Estuary is stunning and, with a bit of luck, you will see some dolphins. When you reach Tarbert you have arrived in County Kerry. From here the N69 takes you through Listowel to Tralee. We recommend stopping for coffee in this beautiful town. For the onward journey to Dingle you MUST follow the N86. Warning: the Conor Pass (R560) is closed to vehicles over 2 tonnes so it is impassable for caravans and motorhomes. Stop in Dingle to take a stroll through this bohemian, small Irish town. The Tourist Information Office at the harbour provides information and maps of the Ring of Dingle and the direction of travel of buses there: clockwise. A nice spot to spend the night is at the famous Gallarus Oratory on the western tip. To get there, you simply follow the Ring of Dingle, with its beautiful viewpoints over the coastline – in a clockwise direction!

Useful Information

Drivers of motorhomes and caravans should generally observe the direction of traffic of the coaches on the Ring of Dingle: they drive in a clockwise direction! Follow them! If one of the many tour buses meets a wide vehicle on a narrow to single-lane road, this can quickly lead to gridlock – not only during peak season. Stay calm behind them and take it easy along this dream road, which often runs close to the coast, while soaking in the natural beauty of this wonderful peninsula. On the Ring of Kerry, incidentally, the route goes in exactly the opposite direction: anti-clockwise!

T driving 150 km
Killarney

Day 16

Clockwise to Dingle and Inch

A visit to the Gallarus Oratory chapel in the morning makes a good prelude to the onward journey. The Ring of Dingle drive takes you – in a clockwise direction – along this peninsula's dream road back to the Wild Atlantic Way (South), passing many spectacular sights. This morning you take the Wild Atlantic Way – passing Inch Beach – to Killarney National Park. In the evening you will need about another hour of driving before you can relax at the coastal campsite on the shore of the Iveragh Peninsula. Overnight stays in the National Park are not permitted. At Muckross House, at the centre of the Park, there is a large visitor car park that can accommodate camping vehicles. However a word of warning: it closes in the evening and unlocking it is expensive. Don't let it come to this, please pay attention to the closing times. This is a question of protecting one of the last large nature reserves in Ireland.

Killarney National Park's idyllic forests and lakes

With its lake and forest landscapes, the Killarney National Park is an exceptionally beautiful nature reserve that is probably unlike any other in Europe. Waterfalls and wonderful ancient trees, including mighty redwoods, are only some of its many special features. The Park is home to the last oak forests in Ireland. Hikes from Muckross House to the nearby Abbey (1.5 km) and short walks along the shore of the lakes are wonderful excursions and easy to do on foot. Alternatively, you can hire carriages or bikes for the afternoon, to spend a few hours doing a circuit of the lakes. In the evening, it is then time to set off for the sea. The preferred routes there are the N71 to Killarney, then the N72 to Killorglin and from there the N70 to Cahersiveen WAW (South). The roads are mostly wide and quick to drive. A lovely pitch on the mild Gulf Stream coast of south-west Kerry awaits you in Cahersiveen, right on the shore of the Iveragh Peninsula.

U driving 35 km
caravan and camping
Ring of Kerry

Day 17

Iveragh Peninsula and Cahersiveen

A rest day in pleasant Cahersiveen, on the Ring of Kerry, right by the sea; a place where you need to weigh up your options before deciding what to do next. There are more than enough sightseeing options: nearby Staigue Fort, one of the most beautiful ringforts in Ireland, and O'Connor's birthplace are both easy to reach by bicycle or even on foot. Or simply enjoy the view of the sea. When evening comes, you might like to visit one of the many pleasant restaurants and pubs. If you have a thirst for action and want to explore the region, you may like to visit Valentia Island – taking the ferry there (€7.50) and returning via the toll-free bridge in the picturesque port town of Portmagee, or the other way round. At the shuttle ferry jetty you can buy freshly caught fish and lobsters. The roads are sometimes narrow and single-lane, but with a degree of caution they are driveable. It is only the road to the lighthouse that it is steep and narrow and NOT recommended for caravans.

Ring of Skelligs coastal route  

The circuit of Valentia Island is rewarded by a magnificent view of the monks' island, Skellig Michael, to the west. If you would like to visit this world cultural site by boat from Portmagee and climb up to the cliff monastery, you should book this day trip well in advance, as early as possible – and the journey is always weather dependent. Otherwise you can visit the Skellig Experience exhibition or grab a seat on the popular boats that sail around the island. Since Star Wars: Episode VII and VIII, Skellig Michael has become famous among science fiction fans. Many film locations can be found on the Wild Atlantic Way, several of them here on the Skellig Ring, which is highly recommended for exploring the beautiful sights of Kerry by road. This ring is much calmer than the busy Ring of Kerry, which, by the way, is driven in an anti-clockwise direction by the tour buses, just like yesterday evening on the drive to Iveragh.

V driving 140 km
caravan and camping
Blarney Castle

Day 18

Anti-clockwise: plenty of time for Kerry and Cork

From Cahersiveen, today the road takes you to Blarney. This is the next planned stop for an overnight stay and a rest day. The much-travelled Ring of Kerry lies right on the doorstep, so to speak. This route is loved by tour buses and traffic (mostly) circulates in an anti-clockwise direction. The (many) motorhomes and caravans get in line and follow them leisurely in this direction southwards along a spectacular tourist route: right ahead, then on the right hand side, there is an amazing view over the sea with a number of panorama viewpoints. The signposts on the Wild Atlantic Way keep you on track: on the N70 from Waterville to Kenmare. A stop to visit this pretty little town is worthwhile.

To Blarney Castle and Gardens

If you arrive early enough at Blarney in County Cork, there are two wonderful places to visit, otherwise you will have to choose: the Blarney Woollen Mills or Blarney Castle. At the  famous castle and its beautiful gardens there is a large car park. Legend has it if you kiss the Blarney Stone you'll be rewarded by the gift of eloquence, or punished, depending on how your family see it! It is also worth visiting the Blarney Woollen Mills for knitted goods, regional products and souvenirs (open until 6pm). Above Blarney in the peaceful countryside, a family-friendly campsite awaits you, ideally situated for a morning visit to the Irish Riviera: above all the capital of the south, Cork, and the port of Cobh.

W Rest day
Cork City

Day 19

In Cork, Ireland's secret capital

For some, a rest day in Blarney means visiting the delightful little town and one of its pubs. For others, it means getting on a bus, tram or taxi to visit Ireland's secret capital, the university city of Cork. Ring the bells at St Ann's Church and visit the butter museum. After a guided tour or sightseeing at your own pace, a delicious lunch in the English Market is the order of the day: a culinary and aesthetic experience to savour. Once you have got your strength back, in the early afternoon, Cork's revitalised old sea port is worth a visit: Cobh is situated only a few kilometres from the city.

The emigration port of Cobh

Cobh took its place in Ireland's history not only because it was an emigration port, but also because it was from here that the Titanic set sail on its fateful journey. Those who have visited Titanic Belfast, will want to see the exhibition's Southern Irish counterpart, which is right on the harbour: for the Titanic Experience you take on the role of one of the passengers. This vivacious small town is nowadays an appealing summer resort. If you would like to take your own vehicle for a discovery tour of County Cork, you should drive to Cobh right away and park on the promenade. Or aim for the Old Head of Kinsale in the south. The idyllic town is the southern entry and exit point of the Wild Atlantic Way. Here this tour turns inland again tomorrow and to Ireland's Ancient East. However, this evening belongs to Blarney and its cosy pubs.

X driving 160 km
caravan and camping
Kilkenny

Day 20

To the Rock of Cashel, the seat of the Irish High Kings

From Blarney there is a fast road inland: the N8 to motorway 8 towards Dublin. At exit 9 the sign indicates the nearby destination: the Early Middle Ages and the Rock of Cashel. The royal castle is the centrepiece of a historic journey through Ireland, a real gem, both culturally and architecturally. At its foot you'll find Brú Ború, the cultural centre for traditional music and Irish dancing. Ask whether there is an event on: the performances are thrilling. Take an easy walk round to the other side of the castle, enjoying the spectacular views over the vast countryside of County Tipperary, and you will find the ruins of the magnificent old Hore Abbey. Step into Ireland's Ancient East, before sitting behind the wheel once more, to travel into the vibrant High Middle Ages of Kilkenny.

From the Early to the High and Late Middle Ages

After lunch, a drive to Kilkenny is on the itinerary: for the city tours, park in the centre of Kilkenny at the large fee-paying city car park, not least because it offers you good shopping opportunities. Begin your stroll through the city here, walking along the Medieval Mile to Kilkenny Castle and back to the early Gothic St. Canice's Cathedral and the Round Tower. However, Kilkenny is not known for its delicious red ale for nothing. The brewery can be visited on a very entertaining tour: Smithwick's Experience. The drive to the campsite takes you to a quiet area of the outskirts. If you want to visit one of the pubs in the lively town, you can take a bus or a taxi.

Y driving 150 km
caravan and camping
Wexford

Day 21

Return: via Wexford to Rosslare

The last day of this tour means you are on the return leg: back to our starting point of Dublin or back to the UK via the ferry terminal at Rosslare. From Kilkenny both routes should be completed in a short time – even taking into account the ferry departure times. To the east coast towards Wexford takes about 1.25 hours directly along the small roads R700, N30 and N25. Taking the M9 South and the N25 at the bend via New Ross, it will still take you 1.5 hours to drive the 100 km to Wexford. Then it is still about another 20 km to Rosslare ferry terminal. If you do not have to get the ferry until the morning, stay in lovely Wexford on the Irish Sea. On the way there, you will find the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, an open-air museum that wonderfully depicts 9,000 years of Irish history and offers a fantastic retrospective on your journey through time.

 

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Glendalough

Return: via Glendalough to Dublin

The M9 north provides a fast northern connection to Dublin. However, on the way, the major attractions of this last leg, indeed of this tour, are beckoning you. Try to visit one of them, if not both. Firstly, there are the amazing, old monastic ruins of Glendalough in the valley of two lakes, a symbol of Ireland's religion and spirituality. Further on is Wicklow National Park, one of the largest solitary landscapes on the east coast. Our recommendation is to take the M9 and exit it at Stonehouse on the R747 to Glendalough. From there, drive through the Wicklow Mountains on the Military Road back to Dublin. If you are in a hurry, switch over to the M1 coastal route and take the motorway to Dublin.

However you choose your route, Ireland will certainly not leave you. Because for most people who leave the Emerald Isle it is not a case of farewell forever. Particularly as you now know where you want to spend longer next time. Céad míle fáilte: you are a hundred thousand times welcome!

 

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