Magic itinerary of the Irish coast
Do you dream of visiting Ireland? We agree without any hesitation. We had heard a lot of good things about Ireland and confirmed! If the weather is good, landscapes are beautiful, people very welcoming and the pubs live up to their reputation!
As we spent more than 1 month in Ireland, we decided to make 1 article on the Republic of Ireland and 1 article on Northern Ireland on our travel blog.
Here is our van route in the Republic of Ireland
Cliffs, ruins, castles, sheep, Guinness and kindness … from Rosslare to Dublin by the Irish coasts, a country full of color. And especially in shade of green!
Just to know, here we use the euro, unlike Northern Ireland which belongs to the United Kingdom and therefore uses the pound sterling.
Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland
Dublin is a lively and cozy city that is worth a visit. Visiting the city on foot is very good and getting lost in the streets has been a great way to discover the Irish capital for us.
- Discover the murals paintings in Temple Bar (a lively district and touristic area full of pubs).
- Check the buildings facades looking for plaques illustrating the book “Ulysses”, written by James Joyce, one of the Irish pride.
- Find the Oscar Wilde statue at the Georgian Garden of Merrion Square.
- Drink a Guinness at the Guinness Brewery in the Liberties district…
- Stop at the mythical O’Donoghue’s pub which saw the birth of the famous Irish music group, The Dubliners.
- Have a break with a good Irish Coffee in the neighborhood of vintage and antique shops!
- There are also many museums, including the one that tells the story of Dublin, that are worth it.
In short, even without spending all his budget, hard hard to get bored in Dublin.
Mahon falls, a typical Irish landscape
Just arrived from the Cherbourg ferry, we discover this superb spot at the foot of the Mahon Falls in county Waterford. Small cemented car park lost in the middle of nature and surrounded by sheeps living peacefully (even if we were wondering how they walk on the cliff side while they look as agile as a broom).
At 15, 20 mins on foot, we get at the foot of a small waterfall that can be climbed up a little. We met Jenny and Edward, a couple of Irish people of our age also traveling by van during holidays. They gave us several great places to visit in Ireland, including our next spot.
Coumshingaum lake, a wonderful place in the middle of nowhere
Not far from the Mahon Falls, this lake is not accessible by car, but by a 1h / 1h30 walk. You have to park on the small car park of Kilclooney Woods. Be careful, a barrier limits the entry of vehicles higher than 1m90. After checking the time and preparing our bags (tent, slepping bags, picnic …) we start the walk that is fortunately well indicated on another blog (find the lake Coumshingaum).
After a good climb (up to the famous stone in the shape of mouse / frog), the landscape is hilly (it looks like “Kerval” for people from Reunion Island). Sheeps in all directions, a little pond, and finally the great and beautiful lake of Coumshingaum. Totally alone, we bath in the icy water and spend a superb night here. Just for info, this is a lake that was created by melting glaciers, class isn’t it?
Cork and its “English Market”
After a stop in Midleton, we arrive in Cork, our 1st big city of Ireland. We stayed only a short time, but one thing is certain, it’s a beautiful town. Lively, with beautiful buildings, pubs and shops in every corner and a superb covered market, the English Market.
You can find everything but especially good products (local producers) that will make you want to taste everything! We chose the typical black pudding sausages and the delicious pastries of “Heaven’s cake” … a real delight.
Crookhaven, a little corner of paradise
We were looking for a dream place to celebrate my … birthday! And it was done. Still in the county of Cork, in Crookhaven, under the Lamb’s Head Peninsula. A wonderful place, a cliff facing the sea, with a small natural pool and the opportunity to fish. It’s even very close to a domain that is possible to visit (we asked the owners if we could spend the night there, as normally a sign prohibits it).
Killarney National Park, a real Jurassic Park
Do not miss the wonderful Killarney Park in the county of Kerry. Very close to the highest peak in Ireland – the Carrauntoohil and its 1000m altitude – its landscapes are breathtaking. Sometimes you think you’re out of Jurassic Park. Wild lakes, small islands covered with trees. The viewpoints are multiple and if the weather is fine, you’ll never be bored. In short, we loved it. Crossing wild red deers (last in Ireland), picnic by the water, see the sunset on the lakes. Be careful, during summer, horrible little mosquitoes appear at the end of the day.
We also opted for a 12km walk around Muckross Lake (middle lake) – including a walk to the Torc Falls. The ballad is superb (about 3h without breaks, so count 5h with the picnic). It starts at the Muckross House which houses a very beautiful garden (possibility to go horse-drawn carriage rides, visit the domain for about 10 € / pers).
Dingle, its pubs and Fungie the dolphin
While we were visiting the Dingle Peninsula, still in county Kerry, we stop in Dingle to experience the atmosphere of Irish pubs. And we were not disappointed. We start with the Foxy John’s, rather original, it’s the least we can say. Half part pub, half part shop of anything and everything (sports clothes, fishing equipment …).
We decided to test the Dick Mack’s – recommended by our Irish friends. It is the weekend and we are lucky to be here for THE good night. 2 bachelor parties, 1 girl birthday… in short, there are people and it’s the perfect night to party. Guinness and whiskey flow. Behind the bar, the wall is a shelf full of whiskey that you pay by the glass … from 4 to 104 € the glass (yes we said per glass). In short, we meet young people of the least young, the married, their brothers, father, friends … nothing like to realize the superb Irish atmosphere.
Fungie the Dolphin: in the city you will certainly spot a dolphin statue. Its history is quite unusual and touching. A dolphin loyal to the Dingle peninsula and its fishermen permited them to bring back tourism in this small town by organizing boat tours to meet the famous Fungie.
On our way back we took the road which passes through the very narrow Connor Pass (forbidden for buses, motor homes or other long vehicles). If the weather is nice, the view of the glacier lakes is superb and by continuing the road, falls on the left make you want to have a break!
Cliffs of moher, the perfect Irish cliffs
It’s hard to visit Ireland without goingto the Cliffs of Moher in the county of Clare. The highest cliffs of Ireland (203 meters) go abruptly into the sea. We arrive by the Visitor Center passing the souvenir shops. It is possible to walk to the right or the left to go from viewpoints to another. In total, a 12 km path exists between Liscannor and Doolin.
You can also do a boat trip to enjoy the view of the cliffs from the sea (from Doolin). The best thing is to go in the late afternoon to get the best light.
Tip: Normally it is 6€ per person when you get to the Cliffs by car (for parking). But you can park for free if you arrive after 7pm the day before your visit (but it means sleeping in your vehicle… useful when traveling by van)!
The Burren region: ruin, dolmens and abbeys
Unlike the rest of Ireland, the Burren area is far from being green. It is rather rocky but not less interesting. Going to Galway from the Cliffs of Moher, we make several stops in this region. Indeed, towards Carron and around, we find castles, ruins, tombs, dolmens, abbeys … Some stops are worth it, others not really, especially if you are going to visit other ruins or castles in Ireland.
Galway, a lively irish city
Galway is the largest city in the Galway region. Set at Nimmo’s Harbor, 10 minutes’ walk from Galway city center, we felt good quickly enough. A huge park (the South Park) for our little dog and even a small beach. And within 10 mins walk we can get in front of the Latin District of Galway, the Spanish Arch and the Galway Museum.
Here begins a busy main street, lined with Irish pubs (often with live music as at Tig Colli). Fish and chips (you will find what you need at McDonagh’s) and international restaurants (do not miss the Dough Bros pizzeria). Musical instruments stores or clothing made from local wool. Musicians and dancers make the show in the street, we were glad to see a group of a dozen very gifted boys and a lovely tap dancer …
We also fall for a superb second hand book shop, Charlie Byrne’s. Outside, there are immense sections all around the shop, and inside, you have the impression to be in the wonderful world of books.
In short, the city is not very big, but we find there what we were looking for in Ireland. A beautiful stop before the beautiful area of Connemara.
The Connemara Lakes …
Thanks to our parents for feeding us with Michel Sardou songs when we were young. Because after hearing so much his famous song about Connemara, we simply could not avoid this area. On the way to the coast, we drove by small roads that slalom between many lakes.
If you like fishing, we advise you the road R341. Many of these lakes do not require a fishing license, which is quite rare in Ireland. We stop near a lake where Romain fishes his first trouts. Be careful, you can keep them if they are less than 33 cm.
Skyroad, breathtaking views
A little higher up just above Clifden and below the Connemara National Park, we walk a part of the 12km loop of the Sky Road (not everything because part is done on the road and we do not want to put our dog on a leash). It is possible to do it all by car and stop at several breathtaking views (again, if the weather is fine).
The pictures speak better than the words … We slept on the beach halfway up the Sky Road, white sand and turquoise water!
Lake nafooey, a beautiful place
Going to the North, but still in the region of Connemara, we discover a small paradise. We settled on the shore of Lake Nafooey. Beautiful landscape, a lake as far as we can see surrounded by 3 mountains. It is the weekend, there are still a few families that leave before dark. The next day, some fishermen and kayakers came … but still very calm. An ideal spot for a jogging session, yoga!
You want to visit the Nothern Ireland?
==> Discover our article dedicated to the Nothern’s coasts.
You want to feel the Irish atmosphere? Listen to our 100% irish playlist on our Youtube channel.
You want some more, you’ll find here all our trips in Europe!