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A Fabulous 14 days Ireland Self Drive Itinerary

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The Best Ireland Road Trip Itinerary

Ireland is growing as a popular destination and understandably so. On top of the stunning landscapes and bountiful historical sites and heritage, it has to offer, the nicest people welcome you everywhere you go. The Emerald Isle offers amazing sightseeing opportunities, scenic drives and cultural experiences to boot. 

Day by Day 2-week Ireland Itinerary 

With this epic 14 days Ireland road trip you’ll see the Cliffs of Mohervisite passage tombs older than the pyramids of Giza, have a Guinness right from the source at the Guinness Storehouse and drink whiskey with local folks. Loads of beautiful medieval castles along the way and this includes driving the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerrykissing the Blarney Stone. You’ll also get a chance to dig into Belfast’s complex political past with a Black Cab Tour, learn all about the Titanic Construction and its tragic end and explored a bit of Northern Ireland where you can walk the Giant’s Causeway.

Here’s what you’ll get from this post

  • Interactive Itinerary Map 

  • Day by Day Route

  • City Highlights

  • Our honest opinion 

  • Tips & advice

  • Recommendations

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INTERACTIVE MAP – ROAD TRIP OVERVIEW

Click on   or the letters to get details 

This 2 week Ireland road trip itinerary is planned as a self-drive starting in Dublin in a counterclockwise route. 

Day 1 Arrive in Dublin / 2 nights
Day 2 Explore Dublin’s Highlights
Day 3 Drive to Belfast / 2 nights
Day 4 Explore Northern Ireland
Day 5 Visit NewGrange – Drive to midland Mullingar / 1 night
Day 6 Drive to Galway / 2 nights
Day 7 Explore Connemara’s Park
Day 8  Drive to the Cliffs of Mohers-Miltown Malbay / 1 night
Day 9 Drive the Dingle Peninsula to Killarney / 3 nights
Day 10- 11 Enjoy Killarney and explore the Ring of Kerry
Day 12 Drive to Blarney Castle – Cork / 1 night 
Day 13- 14 Drive to Rock of Cashel – Kilkenny / 2 nights
Day 15 Return to Dublin/ 1 final night

You’ll need to rent a car in order to do this tour of the island.

Up to 35% off car hire

Since the roads are so narrow in Ireland consider renting a small car and packing carry-on only. Need some help on how-to? 

Note: Plan ahead if you want to drive in Ireland, especially in Northern Ireland. Rental Car Insurance coverage can be quite expensive and most credit cards don’t cover CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) in Ireland (read about the ugly truth about renting a car in Ireland from Peanuts or Pretzels here.) Even though our credit card did cover CDW (we had checked prior to our reservation), when we picked up our car at Europcar in Dublin, we had to get the Canadian TD Visa office to email a proof of coverage and sign the template form on the premises. You can avoid this delay be getting them to email it before your arrival.

Day 1 Arrive in Dublin / 2 nights

Brazen Head / Temple Bar

This 2-week itinerary of Ireland begins in Dublin, Ireland’s largest city. Check into your accommodation and rest up. Why not head over to the Temple Bar area, for dinner and drinks in one of the many pubs. It’s a perfect introduction to the famous Irish hospitality and joie de vivre. Make sure to stop at the Brazen Head during your stay in Dublin, it’s the oldest pub in Ireland! Enjoy a mix of locals and tourists with good pub food at reasonable prices in an authentic traditional decor.

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Day 2 Explore Dublin’s Highlights 

Walk the city / Trinity College & the Book of Kells / Jameson Distillery Tour / Guinness Tour

Dublin is very compact and easy to walk around in – read: flat city. Spend the day touring on foot, we did so with no effort. You should be able to cover the must-see highlights such as Dublin Castle, Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and Saint-Patrick’s Cathedral. We experienced an afternoon of downpour, so we opted to end this exploration day with a dram at the Jameson Distillery  which we praise for their newly renovated exhibits and interactive tour, we then squeezed in a last minute visit at the Guinness Storehouse  and got to enjoy a freshly poured pint at their Gravity Bar and its panoramic 360° view of the city.

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Trinity College Library

Day 3 Drive to Belfast / 2 nights

Black Cab Tour / Titanic Experience Museum

After some fun times in Dublin, it’s was time to dive deeper into Ireland’s complex political past. To do so, the Black Cab Tour in Belfast came highly recommended in order to better understand the Troubles’ period that divided (and still does in many respect) the population. You can organize the tour online with many available companies to choose from on TripAdvisor. We choose Belfast Famous Black Taxi Tours and requested a pickup at Titanic Experience Museum right after lunch. This provided us with safe underground parking, knowing that all of our luggage and gear was in the car, and this also gave us time to pre-purchase our time-allocated tickets to avoid queues for the Titanic exhibit visit we planned to do later that afternoon. 

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One of the many murals during our Black Cab Political Tour

Day 4 Explore Northern Ireland 

North Coastal Route / Giant’s Causeway  / Dark Hedges (GoT)

After a good nights rest, it was time to explore Northern Ireland’s coast and visit the Giant’s Causeway.  Try to get there early, like any major attraction and sought after site, before 10h00 am, basically before all the Paddy Wagons (tourists buses) start arriving. The Geopark is classified as a Unesco World Heritage site and although a bit crowded, is beautiful to visit. A good tip given to us by a local coach driver is that unless you plan to use audio guides or the shuttles, you can avoid the entry fee by skipping the visitor centre and walk straight into the park through the arched “viaduct. They only check the vouchers when you use the shuttles. 🙂 

After a good fish & chip lunch in the village of Bushmills, you can opt to visit the distillery, or as we did, the Dark Hedges on the way back. This natural phenomenon is one of the most popular Games of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland. The unpretentious country road, known as the Kingsroad for GoT fans, is fabulous, featuring mature beech trees that are all lined up. Tip: The coordinates are in most GPS units, just enter “Dark Hedges”.

If time allows, you can visit the Bushmills distillery which is close by, before heading back to Belfast.

Other options in Northern Ireland
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. This rope bridge spans the gap between two rocky coastal cliffs. Get there early or later in the day to miss the crowds. Unfortunately, the wait was over 90 minutes when we got there at 10h00 am, so we skipped it 🙁 It takes about 20 minutes to hike to the bridge, and the views are said to be stunning in each direction. 

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Day 5  Visit NewGrange then Mullingar / 1 night

Newgrange / Monasterboice 

After reading this article about Newgrange, I knew we had to visit this Unesco World Heritage Neolithic site. As mentioned in the article, it’s surprisingly impressive as a whole. At first glance, this grass mound can seem very “Oh-um” but don’t be fooled by it. The beauty of this 5000-year-old structure lies within, in its planning and architecture. An incredible number of stones, some weighing a few tons were transported from 40+ km away. Plus its sun entrance lets in a perfectly aligned sun ray deep inside the ritual chamber as the sun rises on the Winter Solstice. During the tour, which is mostly held out and around the mound, you do get a chance to visit the inside of the chamber and see a re-enactment of the sun ray. I really enjoyed the visit here.

The nearby Monasterboice is also a very lovely venue to explore and worth the detour. You’ll get to see the largest Celtic cross in Ireland, standing at 21 ft with two Gaelic inscribed gravestones and an ancient sundial. Entrance is free and donations are welcomed. Sleeping in Mullingar was the perfect spot for a layover before our next stop: Galway.

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Want more Ireland itineraries?
Get 
Ireland’s Best Trips on Lonely Planet

Day 6 Drive to Galway / 2 nights

Ashford Castle / Cong / O’Connors Pub

Visit the luxurious Ashford Castle Hotel & Country Estate, walk the grounds and grab lunch in the charming neighbouring village of Cong before settling into your accommodations, in our case, we found a private Airbnb room in Salthill, Galway. The Salthill neighbourhood is slightly out of the tourist area but has many restaurants and the famous O’ Connors Pub/ it says so on the door / which is where Galway Girl, Ed Sheeran’s video was filmed in part. (view it here)

• Open a new Airbnb account and get a 45$Cdn coupon by using this link right here. A great way to start saving money!

If you have the time, go visit Achill Island, many travellers raved about their visit as if stepping back in time. A truly unique place.

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Day 7 Explore Connemara’s Park

Kylemore Abbey / Connemara Park Peninsula / Galway

The Connemara Park is a great scenic drive and getting to the Kylemore Abbey Estate was enjoyable despite the rainy conditions. You can visit the Abbey and its garden or just stop by to take some exterior pictures of the property. It wasn’t that impressive as a whole, blame the rain? The whole peninsula’s drive back is magnificent with stunning vistas and quaint coastal villages along the way. If you’re trying to be thrifty and save some money on dining, back in Galway’s Old Town, the High Cafe (trip advisor) is a great option. This cute BYOB second floor cafe has Middle Eastern and European choices on the menu, delivers great value and the food was delicious. Reservations are probably a wise decision as the place was packed, always a great indication as to the quality of the food.

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Day 8 Cliffs of Moher – Miltown Malbay / 1 night

Kinvarra / Burren / Spanish Point / Miltown Malbay

From Galway, heading South, we drove through Burren region before getting to the Cliffs of Moher. We strongly suggest getting there early to beat the crowds as this is the most popular attraction in Ireland. The site offers a staggering view of 700 ft cliffs plunging into the ocean. Stunning indeed but slightly unnerving if you have vertigo and witness many careless tourists trying to capture the most daring selfies. Seriously troubling and stupid…

Pushing forward, down the Southern coast, Lahinch was a fun town bustling with pubs and restaurants. We grabbed a picnic which we enjoyed on some neat ocean cliffs in Spanish Point. We slept in the Miltown Malbay area.

Other things to see:
Dungaire Castle / Kinvarra: open April- mid-October 10am – 4:30 pm
Burren Smokehouse & Brewer  : open daily

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Day 9 Dingle Peninsula then Killarney / 3 nights 

Ferry across River Shannon/ Connors Pass / Dingle Peninsula / Inch Beach

Following a local’s recommendations, which are always the best, we headed straight down to Killmer to catch the ferry across the famous river Shannon to Tarbet. The ferry runs every 30 minutes and takes about 20 minutes to cross. We’d heard about the amazing beauty of both peninsulas and couldn’t choose between driving Dingle or the Ring of Kerry during our time in Kerry County, so we opted to do both. We drove the Dingle Peninsula on our way to Killarney. This took us right through one of the highest Irish mountain passes, Connor’s Pass which we braved through heavy pea-soup fog.

This single lane extremely narrow passage, for 2-way traffic, is not for the faint of hearts. Might actually have been better if we could have seen something instead of imagining the worst! Dingle town is a charming fishing village, well worth visiting. Sadly, our drive around the tip of the peninsula was in thick fog again. On the way out, Inch beach is absolutely amazing and deserves some time to be enjoyed, a brisk walk on its endless sandy beach overlooks the Northern coast of the Iverag Peninsula aka the Ring of Kerry.

Other things to see:
Clock Tower & Old Cable Station in Knightstown

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Day 10- 11  Explore the Ring of Kerry 

Killarney / Killarney National Park / Ring of Kerry / Skellig Ring / Valentia Island 

The town of Killarney is a great base to enjoy the most popular drive in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry and explore the Killarney National Park. Take note that because of the narrow streets and many one-way lanes, traffic in town can often be horrendous and almost at a stand still. Plan lodging close to town or below New Street putting everything at walking distance and also close to the National park entrance. Catch up on some well-deserved rest during your stay and enjoy the free tour of the Killarney House and gardens while you’re there.

For whiskey lovers, don’t miss the outstanding Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder  in town which has an amazing selection of 1400 bottles of local whiskey’s, single malts and bourbons from just about everywhere to choose from! The staff is very knowledgable and can advise you on your selection. We enjoyed a tasty supper here with a couple flights of whiskey, many offerings from brands which were unavailable to us back home, what a delightful evening!

Our AirBnB host wisely advised us to drive the Ring of Kerry counterclockwise via Muckross, Moll’s Gap and Sneer, therefore avoiding the buses that start clockwise at the other end, early morning. Make sure to explore the Skellig Ring, which was in our opinion, the highlight of this route (no coaches can make it there) which included Valentia Island. From Knightstown, at the tip of the island, catch the ferry back to the mainland and save yourself the 20 km return to the bridge at Portmagee. The ferry runs continuously every 10 minutes from mid-March to the end of September.

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Day 12 Drive to Blarney Castle – Cork / 1 night 

Blarney Castle & Gardens / English Market

Just 8 km outside of Cork, the historic Blarney Castle is most famous for its stone, which claims to have the traditional power of conferring the gift of the gab to all that kiss it. Because the stone is set below the battlements, in order to kiss it, one has to lean backwards grasping an iron railing to do so. For us, it was a bit of a “might-as-well” thing to do while in the vicinity but in retrospect, it could have easily skipped it. In all honesty, the gardens are more spectacular than this “ho-hum” castle, plus the queues to kiss the stone are quite long, even as I experienced in low season. Note that you wait outside exposed to the weather, thankfully it wasn’t raining for us that day.

Cork is a fairly big city with tiny twisty streets. Park on the outskirts and walk around the pubs and cafés and enjoy lunch at the Oyster Tavern, right beside the 18th-century English Market, the most famous covered food market in Ireland which sells many organic and locally produced foods. All the ingredients at the tavern were sourced directly from the market. 

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Day 13- 14  Rock of Cashel then Kilkenny / 2 nights

Rock of Cashel/ St-Canice’s Cathedral/ Medieval Mile/ Kilkenny Castle/ Rothe’s House 

This site is not to be missed. Overlooking the glorious Plains of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most historic sights. This is where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in 450 AD. Here’s a great tip from the article from XYU and beyond, have lunch or breakfast in the Village of Cashel and if you spend more than $15 euros, you can get a coupon to enter The Rock at no charge. Free guided tours are included with the entrance and run about every 30 minutes.

Make sure to visit the Cashel Folk Museum in the village to get insights, authentic memorabilia and very detailed information about the Irish history from the friendly and extremely knowledgeable proprietor Bernard. We simply fell in love with Kilkenny. This adorable medieval town is very quaint with its colourful houses lining the streets and arched bridges crossing the river. The “must do’s” in town are the Medieval Mile, the Kilkenny Castle, which is furnished with posh interiors, the St-Canice’s Cathedral where you can climb the tower to view the city from atop and the Rothe’s house & rooftop garden.

The weather was cooperating with us again that day, so we enjoyed a riverfront lunch on a terrasse at the Rivercourt with the castle in view. Note: Looking for a romantic setting for a special dinner during your trip? Left Bank/Rive Gauche is the place to go. Boudoir like atmosphere serving award-winning French food, a divine experience! 

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Day 15 Return to Dublin/ 1 final night

Epic the Irish Emigration Museum 

The final day, time to return the rental car and enjoy Dublin one last time. We took this opportunity to visit some attractions that we didn’t get to enjoy the first days we were here. In our case, we chose to see the Epic the Irish Emigration Museum.  Some of you might already know that this journey was inspired by our desire to dive deeper into our Irish & Scottish heritage.

As a matter of fact, we nicknamed this trip our Ancestor’s Route. Phil, a “Ryan” is from Irish roots and wanted to better understand the emigration movement of the Irish people, so this museum was a great choice in which to do so. The exhibition is clearly targeted to an adult market and the immersive and interactive galleries make this attraction unique and enjoyable. Also available on site is an Irish Family History Center to help you retrace your family tree.

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This was a fabulous trip indeed and 15 days flew right by. With a bit more time we would have added Derry/Londonderry to our Northern Ireland discovery and we also wished we would have had some extra time to visit the Aran Islands. Next time!

We know a thing or two about road trips, find our best driving tips from 20 countries on the road.

Here’s another great 2-week itinerary in Europe.

Have you been to Ireland? 
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…

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39 Comments

  1. Sandrina Ferreira October 2, 2017 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    This was a great post! Easy to read, thoughtful tips. A self-road trip to Ireland seems like a lot of fun. Ireland is on my bucket list without a doubt.

    • marquestra October 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      Thank you Sandrina,hope this helps when you are ready to do this great road trip.

  2. Alexander Popkov October 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    I love that there are always people on your pictures. It brings life. Visiting castles isn’t really my dream holiday, but I did pick up few things for myself. Thanks for the post

    • marquestra October 3, 2017 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      The people in our pics are not intentional but I do agree they had a human dimension…isn’t it the whole point of travel 🙂 Happy you could find some useful tips in there. Cheers

  3. Paula Morgan October 4, 2017 at 1:21 am - Reply

    This is brilliant – it looks so easy to follow. Ireland is on my bucket list – at this stage I think it will be 2019! I really want to walk along the Dingle Penisular and also spend lots of time in old Irish pubs enjoying the music (and the drinks)

    • marquestra October 4, 2017 at 7:22 am - Reply

      The old pubs are the best! Glad you find this easy to follow, this was the intent. Slainte!

  4. Nicole October 4, 2017 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Wow, Ireland would make the best road trip ever. These photos are stunning. I’ve always wanted to go to Newgrange.

    • marquestra October 4, 2017 at 7:21 am - Reply

      Newgrange was phenomenal. Walking inside a 5000 year old the passage tomb makes you feel very small in the universe.

  5. wendy October 4, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Looks like a fantastic trip to Ireland. Love the interactive map. What did you use to insert that and have it be interactive?

  6. stephanie Frias October 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    That first photo is just amazing! And I had a huge smile on face reading about you road tripping through Ireland! EEEK! So Awesome! Love it when it come across other international overlanders 🙂 Are you an ambassador with Skyscanner? I love it that you shared there link for car rentals…so many people have no idea that they offer worldwide car rentals!

    • marquestra October 6, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Stephanie, thank you for the pic comment. No on the < > with Skyscanner but part of the Elite Club and love using the tool.

  7. Lydia Smith October 7, 2017 at 12:34 am - Reply

    I like the way you structured the post, easy to read. There is so much to do in Ireland that without a post such as this one night feel too overwhelmed and end up regretting ones visit. I had to check that Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl, one of my best artists 😊😊

  8. Diana October 7, 2017 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    I’m currently in Killarney and tomorrow will be driving through the Dingle Peninsula. Have taken loads of great tips from your guide! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • marquestra October 8, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Diane, Happy this could be helpful. Slainte!

  9. Paula - Gone with the Wine October 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    I would like to visit Ireland soon! Looks amazing there. I also love all the old historical buildings and castles there. This had some good tips of what o do and see on our trip. Great post!

  10. Bruce Schinkel October 7, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Wow, this looks like an amazing road trip! Thank you so much for including a map … i love being able to reference that as i read through your experiences 🙂

  11. Eve Kay October 8, 2017 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Ireland was previously not on my bucket list but now it is! Your road trip sounds amazing. I did not know Ireland offers something older than the Pyramids of Giza! Would be super interested in seeing that, as well as the complex political past and of course, the famous giant causeway. Thanks for showing us Ireland!

    • marquestra October 8, 2017 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      Ireland was a great country to visit on a self drive. So many sites, it could make your head spin 🙂

  12. Holidiaries October 12, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Amazing…superb detail..We will definitely check out your blog again when we plan a trip to Ireland!

    • marquestra October 12, 2017 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Thank you so much, happy to be of futur help

  13. Agness of aTukTuk October 14, 2017 at 7:30 am - Reply

    We’ve been to Ireland only recently and the country is outstanding and truly picturesque. Too bad, I haven’t read your itinerary earlier. However, I have to say that this is an awesome guide and I’ll make sure to share with my friends who plan to travel to Ireland, Nathalie!

    • marquestra October 14, 2017 at 7:38 am - Reply

      Hi Agnes, thank you so much, I am glad you find this itinerary awesome ;-). Ireland is a marvellous country to visit, we truly enjoyed it. Cheers

  14. Dublin Different Do's October 29, 2017 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    […] than Dublin why not check out my fellow blogger Nathalie’s post on her site Marquestra: Best Ireland 2 week itinerary it will give you an awesome tour itinerary of both N. Ireland and the […]

  15. What to See in Ireland: My Highlights November 7, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    […] to Ireland? This 2-week itinerary by a fellow travel blogger may help with your […]

  16. tour lago titicaca February 15, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

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  17. Sarah Shumate April 13, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    What an awesome itinerary! We’ve been to Ireland twice and it never disappoints. Haven’t seen many of the places you visited on your road trip, though, so I’m thinking a return visit is due! 🙂

    • marquestra April 13, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much Sarah. It’s so true that Ireland doesn’t disappoint. Glad we could offer you new ideas and options for your next visit. Slainte!

  18. Christina April 13, 2018 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    We just returned from Ireland on our 7 day road trip! I wish we had as much time as you. Your post was brilliant, wish we had before our trip 🙂 It also makes me miss Ireland so much.

    • marquestra April 13, 2018 at 11:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Christina, Indeed we were lucky to have 2 weeks at our disposal to discover Ireland. We miss the Emerald Isle also …:-)

  19. Taru Aalto April 14, 2018 at 12:33 am - Reply

    This is excellent info! It’s been way too long since my last trip to Ireland and would love to follow your route!

  20. Mona April 14, 2018 at 2:04 am - Reply

    This was so informative, and it really looks like you hit all the highlights! I’ll definitely keep this in mind when planning my own future Irish road trip 🙂

    • marquestra April 14, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Great Mona, happy you find this information useful. Safe Travels!

  21. sue May 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Great post and loved the tips on which places to be early to avoid the crowds. I am interested in know what time of the year you went. Haven’t been there yet but this definitely entices me. Very helpful. You mentioned being there for low season and the fog.

    • marquestra May 12, 2018 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Sue, We travelled to Ireland in September which was ideal for the lower number of visitors.

  22. Michelle November 24, 2018 at 4:41 am - Reply

    I live in Ireland and I have a couple of suggestions. Bunratty Castle is an hour detour from the Cliffs and is highly worth the detour. It’s always the highlight of every friends visit. Also if you aren’t into murals I’d skip Belfast. Dark hedges and the rope bridge are ok, but if you have limited time there are much more awesome things to see. There’s a castle on a cliff that has a cool sea tunnel only a very short drive from the Giants Causeway. That’s a much better use of your time 😊

    • marquestra November 24, 2018 at 4:44 am - Reply

      Hello Michelle and thank you for the wonderful insights. Nothing beats local knowledge, thank you very much for sharing them.

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About the Author:

Nature Lover who can't resist a glass of red wine. Now recycled as an "almost" location independent digital nomad. Filled with a quest for travel and to truly connect with people along the way. ~Carpe Diem!