Spending one week in Ireland is ample time to discover the beauty and charm that the Emerald Isle has to offer. When it comes to breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, Ireland never disappoints.
From the vibrant city life of Dublin to the fascinating cultural scene of Galway, this week-long itinerary promises an unforgettable journey through two of Ireland’s most captivating cities.
Get ready to explore ancient castles, revel in traditional music, and savor the finest Irish cuisine.
2 Days in Dublin
Two days in Dublin is just about the right length to explore the capital of Ireland. It’s a culturally rich city with numerous museums and tourist attractions to visit. And of course, it’s absolutely packed with countless bars and restaurants.
Dublin Day 1 Itinerary
Take in the magnificence of Trinity College
A visit to Trinity College, Ireland’s most prestigious University is a great way to begin your trip to Dublin. Here you can go on a tour of the ‘Book of Kells’. This is a medieval religious manuscript considered to be one of the oldest books in the world.
It is believed to have been crafted by Celtic monks back in a monastery on the Isle of Iona circa 800. The tour is a huge tourist attraction where you can learn all about the creation of the book in fine detail.
And this tour also allows you access to the main chamber of the College’s Old Library, known as the: ‘Long Room’. This incredible 65-foot-long chamber is one of the most impressive libraries in the world and is simply a magnificent sight to behold.
Although at the time of writing the Long Room is going through an expensive restoration process, so nearly all of the countless shelves are empty. But there are some books on display on the ground floor, along with the oldest harp in existence.
Visit Oscar Wilde’s home
Not too far from Trinity College is another cultural and historical point of interest; Oscar Wilde’s childhood home. It’s possible to visit the interior of one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets and literary darlings of the 1800s for the price of 12 Euros. There’s also the option of a full guided tour that lasts 90 minutes and costs 20 Euros per person.
This is a fascinating opportunity to gain insight into Oscar Wilde’s upbringing firsthand. The house is of Georgian architecture and still features period furnishings from his time there. And directly opposite the house, you have Merrion Square Gardens.
This is a lovely park to stroll around and you also have a famous sculpture of Oscar Wilde which is well worth seeing as well.
By the way, if you’re fascinated by architecture and planning to visit Dublin, you won’t want to miss this complete Dublin Architecture Guide.
Visit some Dublin museums
There are over 40 museums to discover in Dublin, which is a huge amount and it’s impossible to discover all of these in just two days of course. Many of these museums are free of charge as well.
Continuing with our day one itinerary of Dublin, let’s explore two of the most popular free museums within the city:
National Gallery of Ireland
Based just across the road from Merrion Square Gardens is the National Gallery of Ireland, which is well worth a visit if you like your art. The permanent collection is totally free to enter and features an extensive number of Irish and European paintings dating back to the Middle Ages.
The building itself is a pleasure to walk around and the gallery is considered one of the best in all of Europe. It’s highly recommended to spend at least 1-2 hours here to appreciate all the great artwork on show.
National Museum of Ireland-Decorative Arts & History
Next on our list is the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, located at Collins Barracks, a former military barracks. This is another totally free museum to enter, which focuses on historical and contemporary collections and gives a deeper insight into Ireland’s cultural heritage, military history, and more.
There are numerous collections housed here which are really fascinating and you can easily spend a couple of hours appreciating the many antiques, costumes, and decorative items from Ireland’s past and present.
Experience the many pubs of Dublin
After a busy first day experiencing the cultural highlights of Dublin, it’s time to end it with visiting one (or several) pubs that can be found in the city.
Of course, no trip to Dublin is complete without savoring a pint of Guinness in one of Dublin’s many pubs. The idea of providing hospitality with a drink and a place of rest is deeply ingrained into Irish history.
Drinking establishments really became fashionable in Dublin back in the 17th and 18th centuries and they’re still just as popular to this day. The city’s Temple Bar district is the liveliest place you could wish to discover, located on the south bank of the River Liffey.
This area is full of traditional Irish pubs, most of which feature live Irish traditional music. The most famous of these pubs is of course Temple Bar, which always appears full and crammed with tourists enjoying a rather costly pint of the black stuff (around 9-10 Euros here!).
But there are a whole host of bars that are just as lively and entertaining and have cheaper Guinness (typically around 6 Euros). Getting some typical Irish food such as Irish stew and a drink in this district is a must!
Dublin Day 2 Itinerary
Day two in Dublin begins with a visit to Dublin Castle, a historic site with remarkable architecture and beautiful gardens. The castle is the highest point in all of Dublin and is based handily in the city center.
It’s one of the most important sites in the city with a long, complex history dating all the way back to 1204. You can learn all about the castle on a self-guided tour here and tickets cost 12 Euros for adults.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
After Dublin Castle, the next stop is a visit to the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Based in the historical Liberties District of Dublin, the Cathedral was founded in 1191 and is famous for its daily choir and its stunning interior.
There are daily, free guided tours of the Cathedral which you can request in advance via the Cathedral’s website, and entry is free if you have a Dublin Pass which you can purchase in advance as well. Otherwise, it costs 9 Euros to enter for adults, and around an hour should suffice to take in all of its glory.
Guinness Storehouse Factory Tour
Following lunch, it’s time to enjoy a tipple or two of the black stuff at the famous Guinness Factory or Storehouse as it’s called these days. This place is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Dublin, as of course, Guinness is its most famous product that it’s given to the world.
The storehouse consists of several floors full of history about the famous Irish beer, all within the factory that has been producing it for over 250 years. On the top floor is what’s called the Gravity Bar, which features amazing 360 views of Dublin.
Tickets cost around 29 Euros which is a bit steep, but you do get a complimentary pint of Guinness upon reaching the Gravity Bar.
Jameson Whisky Distillery Tour
And having experienced the Guinness Factory, you can follow that up with a tour of Dublin’s other favorite drink at the Jameson Distillery Whisky Factory. Founded in 1780, here you can learn all about this famous Irish spirit. Plus, you can learn how to make your own whisky and get to taste some of it as well!
Tickets cost 25 Euros per adult, which similar to the Guinness Factory price is certainly not cheap, but an enjoyable and fun experience nevertheless.
Traveling from Dublin to Galway
After two days in Dublin sampling all of its many delights (and probably recovering from those delights too!), it’s time to head over to the west coast of Ireland, to the beautiful city of Galway.
Traveling from Dublin to Galway is relatively straightforward. The best option, if relying on public transport, is to catch a train from Heuston Station, which is situated just outside of the city center and certainly within walking distance.
The train ride to Galway takes around three hours and is a pleasant journey, passing through a lot of Ireland’s glorious countryside and stopping off at several small towns. Tickets cost around 30 Euros and the train itself has comfortable seating with plenty of space.
You can catch a bus to Galway which is cheaper but takes longer and the views are quite as aesthetically pleasing.
3 Days in Galway
So how does Galway compare to Dublin? It’s a much smaller city but still has a lot to offer. It reminded me a little bit of what Brighton is to London in England; it’s a different vibe, quirky yet historical as well. It feels more like traditional Ireland compared to Dublin, which of course is a major European city.
3 days in Galway is a good length of time to discover all of the city’s many attractions. Let’s have a look at some of the many things that there are to do and see in this lively, coastal city.
Galway Day 1 Itinerary
Galway City Museum
The best way to start your itinerary in any city in my opinion is to learn a bit about its history, and there’s no better way to do that in Galway than a visit to the Galway City Museum. This is a really good museum that has three floors of interesting exhibitions.
These exhibitions delve into Galway’s past, with lots of fascinating artifacts and historical items. The exhibitions explain what life was like for the Gaelic people several hundred years ago, up to the past century, and the political revolutions that the city has experienced.
It also features Galway’s proud musical history and the many famous rock bands that have played here over the years. It’s free entry into the museum and you can easily spend 1-2 hours here educating yourself.
Visit the Magnificent Galway Cathedral
Galway Cathedral is probably the city’s most impressive building to visit. It’s a Roman Catholic Cathedral that used to be the city’s prison until it was converted in 1958.
The interior of the Cathedral is truly a place of wonder. It’s a huge space inside with amazing brickwork and stained glass windows. Entry to the Cathedral is free, though donations are appreciated.
Enjoy the Atmosphere of the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is undoubtedly the beating heart of Galway City. It is known for its vibrant, colorful streets, boutiques, and traditional Irish pubs, most of which have live music most nights.
This can be a surprisingly busy place, in the middle of August all the bars and restaurants were packed to capacity, with a lot of people queuing outside waiting for a table. I would go so far as to say it was busier than Dublin, with tourists from all over the world enjoying the Latin Quarter.
It’s a lively old place with great nightlife, making for an enjoyable end to your first day in Galway.
Galway Day 2 Itinerary
Go on the Long Walk of Galway
Moving on to day two of our Galway itinerary, and we’re starting it with some exercise on what’s known as the ‘long walk’ of Galway. You can begin the long walk by passing under the Spanish Arch; which was built in 1584 where goods were transferred from ships to the quays.
After passing through the arch you can continue down the Lough Corrib, where you’ll pass by a row of traditional colourfully painted houses, with views of Galway’s harbour where you’ll see several fishing boats.
If you’re still feeling energetic then you can continue across the harbour all the way to Mutton Island Causeway. Although you can’t actually enter Mutton Island, the causeway offers beautiful ocean views, with Salthill visible in the distance.
Bask in the sun at Salthill Promenade
Good weather is not necessarily the first thing you think of when planning to visit Ireland, but you may be in for a surprise! If you visit Galway during the height of summer then it’s possible you may enjoy some good sunshine and beautiful blue skies if the weather Gods are kind to you.
Visiting Ireland in Winter? Check this out
Don’t expect super high temperatures, but you may experience some nice days around 20-25 degrees Celsius. And if this is the case, then there’s no better place to soak up the rays than Salthill Promenade, located just outside of Galway.
There are a few sandy beaches along the promenade, as well as shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Go on a Nature Hike to Menlo Castle
To finish off a full day of exercise, you can walk (or maybe bike) a nature trail that leads to Menlo Castle. This is a lovely, peaceful nature walk alongside the River Corrib and also passes several University campuses.
After around 30 minutes of walking, you’ll see opposite the river the remains of Menlo Castle. Although it’s not possible to enter the castle as it’s just ruins, it’s still an impressive sight even from across the river.
The castle dates back to the 16th Century and is a reminder of Galway’s rich history. It’s the perfect place to take in Galway’s lovely countryside as well, especially on a nice sunny day.
Galway Day 3 Itinerary
A Day Tour to the Cliffs of Moher
The cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most famous natural attraction, and a visit there is the perfect ending on your last day in Galway.
It is possible to travel there by public bus, but I’d highly recommend booking a day tour in advance. There are many tours to choose from and a lot of them include various tourist spots that you’ll visit on your way to the cliffs of Moher.
My tour was an eight-hour round trip that left Galway at 10 a.m. The tour guide (who was also the bus driver) was very informative throughout the journey, giving info on the numerous villages that you drive through and the history behind them.
Let’s look at some of the stops you can expect to make on your way to the cliffs:
This was the first stop on the tour and we were given around 20 minutes to explore the castle. Dunguaire Castle is one of the most famous castles in all of Ireland. It overlooks the shores of Galway Bay and dates back to 1520.
There are a couple of gift shops inside the castle and you can pay to go up to the top level of the castle to have a better view of the shoreline.
Poulnabrone (Portal Tomb)
The second stop on the tour was Poulnabrone, a portal tomb that is the oldest megalithic monument in all of Ireland. It dates back to the dawn of man and is a fascinating site when you consider that’s it older than the Egyptian Pyramids!
What exactly is a portal tomb I hear you ask? Well, it’s a prehistoric stone chamber consisting of two upright slabs and a vertical slab on top, which resembles a table, kind of. They were used for several different reasons, with Poulnabrone being a burial site.
That may not sound very interesting, but when you consider the ancient history of these portal tombs then it is quite an astonishing thing to behold. There are around 180 portal tombs scattered around Ireland as well and they are a unique glimpse into the country’s ancestral past.
Lunch at a Traditional Irish Pub
After visiting Poulnabrone, it will be time for lunch. Included in my tour was a quick stop at a traditional Irish pub. Considering there were around 60 people on the tour, the staff at the pub we visited was extremely efficient and the food (and the Guinness) was very good too. The price of the lunch wasn’t included in the tour price however, which is worth keeping in mind.
Cliffs of Moher
After lunch it is time for the main attraction; the iconic cliffs themselves. Expect dramatic and panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, which really are breathtaking. There are two routes you can take at the cliffs; towards the right, you can head towards O’Brien Castle which has an observation tower if you really want the most spectacular views of the cliffs.
I visited the cliffs in the middle of August and there were a lot of tourists there, which meant a long queue to access O’Brien Castle. The other route is over the main cliffs and stretches for several kilometers.
It is possible to do this but bear in mind how much time you have to spend at Moher; our tour had two hours so not enough time to complete the hike over the cliffs. There’s also a cafe, gift shops, an information center, and even a small cinema that has been built into the cliffs.
They really are awe-inspiring and spending a whole day to see them is totally worth doing and a strong recommendation.
This one-week itinerary for exploring both Dublin and Galway provides a balanced blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and local experiences.
Ireland’s charm is truly captivating, and whether you’re wandering through the bustling streets of Dublin or embracing the artistic spirit of Galway, each day promises a new adventure and a deeper connection with this enchanting land.
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Mark Jeavons runs Solo Travel Man