Ireland Road Trip

Sometimes you just have to say “let’s have a random adventure.”

After a travel conference in London this past November, I had a few days to spare before I needed to catch a flight back to New York. With that time, I could have easily stayed put and wandered around London, but that relentless voice inside my head conjured up other plans.

He wanted to go explore a new place, and have a random adventure – despite only having five days to do it.

I gave in and caught a flight to Dublin to quickly put together the most epic Ireland Road Trip I could.

Luckily,  a local friend in Dublin provided insight on how to maximize the experience, and the rest I left up to chance.

This is how it all played out…

DAY 1 – Dublin & Belfast

Ireland Road Trip - View of Dublin

I spent the morning in Dublin, doing the touristy things, like sneaking into office buildings to get this first shot, and then walking through the beautiful Long Room at Trinity College.

Things to do in Ireland - Long Room of Trinity College in Dublin

That afternoon, I rented a car in Dublin and made my way north to Belfast.

My biggest challenge over the first few days of driving was figuring out the left-handed shifter and making sure I stayed on the correct side of the road. In the end, I only went into oncoming traffic twice (once on the highway).

As soon as I got through Dublin traffic, the highway was easy and I arrived in Belfast in less than two hours.

The city center was pretty quiet and everything seemed to be closing up early, so after getting some shots of the Belfast City Hall and a few other spots, I called it a night.

Ireland Road Trip - Belfast City Hall

DAY 2 – Northern Ireland

Still not too confident with my driving, I wanted to get out of city traffic as quickly as possible. So I left Belfast early on day two to head towards the Northern Coast of Northern Ireland.

My first stop of the day was at a place called the Dark Hedges in Antrim County. A cool and majestic row of Beech trees that curve and bend over the road.

Things to do in Ireland - The Dark Hedges

The best part about the Dark Hedges is its roll on Game of Thrones, as “the King’s Road.”  Luckily, nobody was beheaded while I was there.

Ireland Road Trip - Game of Thrones Kingsroad Scene - Dark Hedges

From there, it was up through the Irish countryside to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Things to do in Ireland - Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

That was my first view of the Irish coastline and it was beautiful. The bridge on the other hand was pretty sketchy.

Things to do in Ireland - Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

After the rope bridge, I made the short drive over to The Giant’s Causeway.

Things to do in Ireland - The Giants Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking rock columns that formed perfect as a result of a volcanic eruption.

Things to do in Ireland - The Giants Causeway

The crazy coastline of symmetric rock formations is incredibly interesting and unique. 

Things to do in Ireland - The Giants Causeway

The sun stayed out just in time to make another quick stop at the Dunluce Castle just down the road from Giant’s Causeway.

I climbed through a fence and down a path to get this shot. This castle probably had some sweet views when it was operational. 

Things to do in Ireland - Dunluce Castle

I was supposed to start heading inland after that but I got sidetracked when I spotted a large white sand beach off the road. Even in the cold and rainy weather, the Whiterocks Beach was occupied by surfers catching waves in the rough water and a rainbow that stretched over them. 

Things to do in Ireland - Whiterocks Beach

As you can see from the Ireland Road Trip video, this was only the beginning of the rainbow. 

Ireland Road Trip - Whiterocks Beach Rainbow

As the sun set, I made the long drive down to Sligo. 

Ireland Road Trip - Downtown Sligo

Sligo was a quiet little city with good food and a laid back atmosphere. I strolled around town and then got a room at the Yeats Country Hotel in Rosses Point.

DAY 3 – Sligo & Galway

Day Three started with a swim in the hotel pool and a traditional Irish breakfast.

Things to do in Ireland - Traditional Irish Breakfast

Because I had arrived in the dark the night before, it was great to wake up and discover my surroundings. The hotel was right next to the “Waiting on Shore”monument and Sligo Yacht Club.

The area was truly beautiful, but I can imagine it really shines in the summertime.

Things to do in Ireland - Waiting on Shore Statue in Sligo

The rain and wind rolled into Sligo so I jumped back in the car and headed south to Galway. 

Ireland Road Trip - Galway

I have heard many great things about Galway, so it was great to finally experience it all first hand.

I wandered around the city, had a big kebab lunch and then climbed a hill to oversee the city. 

From there, it was time for a beer and some live music. 

Things to do in Ireland - Live Music

DAY 4 – Wild Atlantic Way & Cliffs of Moher

Thanks to the guy snoring like a bear in the hostel, I got up early and continued on down the Wild Atlantic Way.

It was a beautiful drive through the Irish countryside, over the rolling green hills and past old castles… 

Ireland Road Trip - Ireland Castles

Until I arrived at the iconic Cliffs of Moher.Things to do in Ireland - Cliffs of Moher

I stared at the incredibly dramatic Cliffs of Moher until I got too close for comfort, and then moved on down the Dingle Peninsula.

Day 5 – Dingle & Slea Head Drive

I woke up on day five to the coolest little fishing village known as Dingle. After a stroll through town and some delicious fish and chips, I set out to explore Slea Head Drive.

Despite the weather, the scenery was everything I imagined Ireland to be.

Ireland Road Trip - Slea Head Drive

I came back to Dingle just in time for a tasty roast and aged whiskey at a local pub.

It was Saturday night, and the receptionist at my hotel said I needed to experience Dingle nightlife. I had no idea what that meant, but I wasn’t prepared for what it turned out to be. 

As I sat at the pub, drinking whiskey and minding my own business, in walked a hen party (bachelorette), immediately followed by a (separate) bachelor party and the pub filled up quickly. 

I got to talking to the bachelor (left) and was invited to join in on the shenanigans.  

Ireland Road Trip - Dingle Stag Party

We crawled to four different bars and ended up at a place that was hardware store by day and raging bar by night. Although that sounds like a terribly dangerous combination, nobody was beheaded while I was there. It was a great night. 

Day 6 – Back to Dublin

The next morning came way too soon and I made the long, hungover drive back to Dublin. 

I returned my car, dropped my stuff off at a hotel and then ended the trip with a beer on the rooftop bar of the Guinness Storehouse. Cheers to you Ireland!

Things to do in Ireland - Guinness Storehouse

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My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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