Where to go & What to see on an Ireland Driving Tour
Ireland is a small island located on the westernmost fringes of Europe. Often called the Emerald Isle, once you are driving through the countryside it is easy to see why. Ireland has a long and rich history just waiting for you to discover.
Ireland is the 3rd largest island in Europe and it is a neighbour of Great Britain. One of Irelands greatest assets is it Diaspora, with Irish people having settled all over the world, in fact people of Irish descent are one of the largest demographic groups in the USA! A popular activity for visitors is to trace their Irish roots.
The biggest city in Ireland is Dublin, located about half way up the eastern coastline. This city was originally founded by the Vikings on the River Liffey, but today it is a vibrant, multicultural metropolis and is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. While there you should try to make time to visit such sights as the National Museum, National Library and National Gallery which are all close by to each other. Other must see attractions include the Christ Church Cathedral, oldest surviving building in the city dating back to the 11th century; Trinity College, with the Long Room and the Book of Kells; and Kilmainham Gaol, where the leaders of the 1916 revolution were executed.
Ireland Driving Tip: When in Ireland you will be driving on the left. When at a roundabout you will need to give way to the right.
Heading south you will pass through county Wicklow, this is known as the Garden County and a visit to Glendalough is an excellent demonstration as to why. Other sights include Powerscourt Waterfall and the Sally Gap. Continuing south you will come to Wexford which has a well earned reputation as the sunny southeast. If the weather is fine then a stop at Ireland’s longest beach (at 27kms long!) is definitely worthwhile.
Turning west you will start travelling along the southern coast. One of the first stops along the way you will find Waterford City, Ireland’s oldest city. It is also home to Waterford Crystal which is famous throughout the world and there is also the city walls which are still fairly well intact.
Continuing west you will come to Cork City which is Ireland’s second city and it has a number of fine buildings worth checking out such as the Cork City Hall, Shandon Steeple, and Saint Finbarre’s Cathedral. Located just a short distance from the city you can find the famous Blarney Castle and gardens within the village of Blarney. No visit to this part of the country is complete without a trip up to kiss the Blarney Stone.
Ireland Driving Tip: Sign-posts are usually bilingual with both Gaelic and English text. When in the Gaeltacht (native Irish speaking majority) the signs are only in Irish, so this can be confusing, for example if you are looking for Dingle you would need to follow the signs for An Daingean’.
From here you can continue west to Killarney, in County Kerry. This is renowned as one of the most scenic areas of the country. A visit to Killarney National Park is a must as are the Muckross gardens and Ross Castle. Doing the Ring of Kerry is also especially rewarding. A visit to Dingle is also definitely worth your time.
Turning north you will find yourself coming into Limerick City. While here you might visit Saint John’s Castle, Saint Mary’s Cathedral or perhaps you could do an Angela’s Ashes tour and visit the locations from the movie.
Before heading north into Clare don’t forget to head inland to County Tipperary, and take a look at the Rock of Cashel. This fortress was the seat of power for the kings of Munster and is home to one of the famous Round Towers.
The neighbouring county of Clare has so much to see and do, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and the unique landscape of the Burren are all places that you should visit if possible.
Just north of County Clare is Galway City, and this city is one of the most exciting in the country. Sometimes called the cultural capital of Ireland, you will not be disappointed. Galway is a most enjoyable city in which to go out at night in. It is also a great place to go shopping in with the Eyre Square Shopping Centre which incorporates part of the old city walls into its structure.
Ireland Driving Tip: The alcohol level in Ireland has historically been 0.8 milligrams but (at time of writing) there are proposals to reduce this to 0.5 milligrams, either way it is easiest to abstain as 0 is an easier number to count.
Located just off the coast of Galway and Clare are the Aran Islands. These islands are an especially laid back part of the country and when you are there you won’t have any trouble relaxing. While there don’t forget to visit Dun Aengus, a stone fort that is ever so slowly falling into the see and the cliff it is built on is gradually eroded.
Continuing north you will be passing through County Mayo and you may find Croagh Patrick which is a site of pilgrimage. This is the site where Saint Patrick is reputed to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland.
Moving on towards Sligo, you may find yourself in Yeats Country, the lands that frequently is featured in his poetry. William Butler Yeats is one of Ireland’s most famous literary sons who won a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Next is Ireland’s most northerly county, County Donegal which is another very scenic place to visit. Donegal benefits from its more remote location in that it is less commercialised than other popular tourist counties like Galway and Kerry. The whole county is truly beautiful but one point of interest would be to visit Mount Errigal.
Ireland Driving Tip: When in Ireland, the driving speed limits are 50 km/h in Urban Areas; 80 km/h on Regional roads; 100 km/h on National Roads; and 120 km/h on Motorways.
Turning back south towards Dublin, you will be passing through County Cavan, if you have any interest in fishing then you will have found your new home. Cavan is home to some of the finest fishing lakes and rivers in the country.
When heading back to Dublin, you will be passing through County Meath and while here you simply can’t miss would be to visit Newgrange. This prehistoric passage tomb that is older than the pyramids and Stonehenge! The tomb is built in such a way that the inside is only illuminated one day a year, the winter solstice!
That concludes your trip around Ireland, so if you are looking for more tips about what to do and see in Ireland have a look through our other car hire Ireland blogs. As always the best way to see Ireland for yourself is through the freedom of a car so for the best Car Rental Ireland options give us a go.
Just remember to enjoy your trip to Ireland and if you have any tips or questions of your own, why not post a comment below?