10-Night Southern Ireland Itinerary (7-Night Itinerary, Too!)

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Ireland is a fascinating and lively country, full of culture, history and renowned nightlife. The rolling hills, lush foliage and rocky coastline is breathtaking, and Irish villages are full of happy-go-lucky locals looking to show visitors a great time. From the Cliffs of Moher to the Blarney Stone, a trip to Ireland is a tremendous adventure. The best way to explore the country is by creating a self-driving Ireland itinerary. Follow this guide to pack as much as possible into a 10-night (or seven-night) southern Ireland itinerary.

10-Night Itinerary

Night 1 – Dublin

10 day Ireland Itinerary - Trinity College in Dublin
Trinity College

Arrive in Ireland’s capital city and take some time to unload and unwind in your chosen accommodations. While not usually famed for its magical beauty, Dublin is widely regarded for its fascinating cultural and literary history, and the city could easily warrant a whole trip to itself. Dublin is located on Ireland’s east coast and provides a great starting point for any Ireland travel itinerary.

Start your day by touring Trinity College. Founded in 1592, it’s the oldest university in Ireland and one of the most prestigious in Europe. It is conveniently located in the center of Dublin and features many architecturally impressive buildings. The library is the largest research library in the country and houses the Book of Kells. The library’s most-famous and most-prized book, the Book of Kells, contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. It is believed to have been created in Ireland in approximately 800 AD. College students give guided tours of Trinity College, and the tour price includes admission to the library.

End your day by visiting Temple Bar. The area is known as Dublin’s cultural quarter and is a popular nightlife spot. While Temple Bar is touristy, it is still a great place to experience Ireland’s pub culture, listen to traditional Irish music, and check out local shops. Drink a pint in one of the many pubs lining the streets, and let the locals show you a good time.

Night 2 – Dublin

Visit the Dublin Castle in Ireland
Dublin Castle

On the second day of your stay in Dublin, visit Dublin Castle. Also located in the heart of the city, Dublin Castle was originally built in the 1200s, but there are many newer surrounding buildings currently used as important government offices. The castle complex includes State Apartments, gardens, and towers. The area is a major tourist attraction, the location of state dinners, and where the presidents of Ireland are inaugurated.

Next, tour the Guinness Storehouse. Arguably Ireland’s most famous international export, Guinness beer’s 250-year-old history is celebrated in this brewery. The price of admission even includes a pint, and tickets are discounted a small amount, if you book them online. The Gravity Bar offers panoramic views of Dublin.

Drive to Waterford – 7-night itinerary: Skip Waterford and head straight to Cork.

Night 3 – Waterford

10 Day Southern Ireland Itinerary - Waterford, IrelandAfter two nights in Dublin, pick up a rental car, and drive to Waterford. The drive from Dublin to Waterford should take just over two hours and will allow for your first glances of the famous Irish countryside. Waterford is situated in southeast Ireland and borders a large harbor. The city is most famously known for Waterford Crystal, which was made in Waterford until less than 10 years ago.

During your day in Waterford, visit Reginald’s Tower. It was first built in the 11th century and represents an early example of medieval urban defenses. Today, the tower houses the Waterford Viking Museum, and a replica Viking ship sits adjacent to the museum.

Like many cities in Ireland, Waterford has an impressive emerging foodie scene, so take your time to explore your options. The choices range from traditional pubs to notable French restaurants, such as L’Atmosphere.

Drive to Cork

Night 4 – Cork

10 Day Southern Ireland Self Drive Vacation - Cork, Ireland city center
Cork, Ireland

After one night in Waterford, drive to Cork. This drive will take about two and a half hours and winds along the scenic coastline. You can either drive directly to Cork, or you can enjoy some stops along the route. Cork Distilleries is located in the smaller town of Midleton and distills a large percentage of Irish whiskey, including world-famous Jameson.

Once in Cork, visit the English Market. This covered market is housed in a 19th-century building and is known for its locally sourced and produced artisan food. The market supplies many of the city’s best restaurants and offers local specialties, such as fresh fish, buttered eggs and spiced beef. Next, take a walking tour of the city. Cork is known for its cultural and music scene, and there is plenty to see in the lively city. Walk along St. Patrick’s Street for superb shopping and sightseeing.

Night 5 – Cork

Blarney Castle - A must visit attraction in Southern IrelandDrive approximately five miles to Blarney Castle from Cork. This castle dates to the mid-1400s, but it is now in partial ruins. However, the castle is famously home to the Blarney Stone. It’s difficult to make the journey to Ireland, without stopping to hang upside-down and kiss the illustrious limestone rock. Doing so is said to bequeath the kisser with the “gift of gab”. While the stone is the main attraction, the spectacular gardens equally awe visitors to Blarney Castle.

7-night itinerary: Spend one night in Cork, instead of two. Pick whatever day’s itinerary appeals to you the most!

Drive to Killarney

Night 6 – Killarney

Killarney National Park - 10 Day Southern Ireland TourOn the next leg of your Ireland itinerary, drive to the southwestern town of Killarney for one night. The journey from Cork to Killarney takes just under one and a half hours. Killarney is an extremely popular tourist destination, especially in the summer months. It is home to many hotels and shops dedicated to the tourism industry. Spend the day at Killarney National Park — the first national park in the country. It features lakes, forests and mountains. It also has the only red deer herd in Ireland. Not surprisingly, it is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

After getting in touch with nature, take a ride on one of Killarney’s famous jaunting cars. These horse-drawn carriages are driven by “jarvies” and are located throughout the city. If you’re up for a late night, Killarney has one of Ireland’s most active nightlife scenes. The local pubs are often packed seven nights a week.

Drive to Limerick – 7-night itinerary: Drive directly from Killarney to Galway. This drive takes approximately three hours.

Night 7 – Limerick

Limerick, Ireland - 10-day Southern Ireland VacationAfter an active full day (and possibly night) in Killarney, pack up your things again and head to Limerick. The drive from Killarney to Limerick takes just under two hours. Once in Limerick, visit King John’s Castle. Originally built in 1210, the impressive structure was recently modernized. It now features interactive exhibits, actors in full costume, and of course, the original medieval castle. King John’s Castle also affords great views of the city.

The casual food and drink scene in Limerick is legendary. If you are looking for white tablecloths in a stuffy setting, this is not the city for you! From large breakfasts (try Canteen) to thorough whiskey tastings (try Michael Flannery’s Pub), Limerick has it all. This is a great place to restaurant hop and try out the local offerings on a budget.

Drive to Galway

Night 8 – Galway

Visit the Cliffs of Moher in IrelandAfter a full night — and a full belly — in Limerick, drive approximately an hour and a half to Galway. Located on Ireland’s west coast, Galway boasts loads of historic buildings and a thriving pub culture. Wander the Salthill Promenade for views of the sea and quaint shops and restaurants, and visit St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church for a beautiful example of 14th-century architecture.

For another option, drive from Limerick to the Cliffs of Moher, before ending up in Galway. The trip from Limerick to the famous cliffs takes about an hour and 15 minutes, and the cliffs to Galway is another hour and 40 minutes. Depending on the weather, this detour is definitely worth the time! At their highest, the Cliffs of Moher rise 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, and on a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible from the imposing landmarks.

Night 9 – Galway

10 days self drive Southern Ireland Vacation - GalwayDuring your second day in Galway, take a ferry to the aforementioned Aran Islands. The area is comprised of three islands in Galway Bay. Rent a bike and explore the historic landmarks. The islands boast an incredible, relaxed atmosphere. The ferry does take three hours each way, so plan your time accordingly.

If you skip the Aran Islands, there is plenty to do in Galway (the Galway City Museum is free). Or, for some incredible history, tour the Kilmacduagh Monastery. Located in a small village outside of the city, the ruins of this seventh century monastery are fascinating. Try asking for keys to see inside some of the buildings.

Night 10 – Dublin

Irish Countryside - 10 day Southern Ireland ItineraryFollowing two nights in Galway or the surrounding areas, return to Dublin. The drive from Galway to the capital city takes about three hours and bisects the country. Once back in Dublin, shop for some souvenirs at the Powerscourt Center. Located just off Grafton Street, this premier shopping destination is housed in a spectacular Georgian home that was once home to the 3rd Viscount Powerscourt and his wife. Some of the shops do get expensive, but there are definitely deals to be found. Finally, enjoy one final night in Dublin, and gear up for the journey home.

10-Night Quick Recap:

Night 1 & 2 – Dublin

10 Night Southern Ireland Self Drive Vacation

Drive Time: 2.5 hours

Night 3 – Waterford

Drive Time: 2 hours

Night 4 & 5 – Cork

Drive Time: 1.5 hours

Night 6 – Killarney

Drive Time: 2 hours

Night 7 – Limerick

Drive Time: 1.5 hours

Night 8 & 9 – Galway

Drive Time: 2.5 hours

Night 10 – Dublin

Only have 7 nights in Ireland? No problem! You can still see the gems of southern Ireland.

Here’s our 7-night suggested itinerary:

Night 1 & 2 – Dublin

7-night Self Drive Southern Ireland Itinerary

Drive Time: 3.5 hours

Night 3 – Cork

Drive Time: 2 hours

Night 4 – Killarney

Drive Time: 3 hours

Night 5 & 6 – Galway

Drive Time: 2.5 hours

Night 7 – Dublin

This self-driving Ireland itinerary packs a lifetime of memories into a 10-night package. The time spent in cities is remarkable, but the drive time between destinations is also full of breathtaking views. From castles to untouched nature, Ireland is a phenomenal country you won’t regret visiting.

Ready to plan your Southern Ireland vacation? Let the experts at go-today help! Start planning your Ireland vacation now.

Learn more about Ireland with these blogs:

Insider’s Guide to Ireland

Explore Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way

Planning for St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

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