How Much Touring Can You Do in One Day in Ireland?

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One of my favorite things to do is work directly with people in a vacation coaching session. In these 30 minute meetings we parse through the Ireland vacation plans that have already been made and I help to personalize the plans for the group traveling, as well as make sure the day is laid out with enough time to include all the ‘must do' activities while still leaving flexibility to enjoy something unplanned.

More often than not I find myself saying the same thing… “you can't do it all,” and helping to declutter a very busy itinerary to make it something that still ticks all the boxes while not running them ragged.

Deck of Cards houses in Cobh

So How Much Can You Do in One Day in Ireland?

Before I launch into the answer, let me give you a few reference materials that will help as you begin planning your Ireland vacation.

Follow these 4 tips to create your perfect Ireland itinerary.

If you need inspiration grab a couple of my free itineraries.

And if you are starting at the very beginning be sure to follow my step-by-step guide to planning your Ireland vacation.

Murrisk Abbey near Croagh Patrick, County Mayo. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com
Murrisk Abbey near Croagh Patrick, County Mayo.

How Much You Can See & Do in Ireland Depends on Where You Are

The number of attractions you can visit is directly impacted by where in Ireland you are.

If you are in Dublin the attractions you wish to visit are usually within walking distance, so you may be able to visit more places.

If you are staying in a single location and making day trips your day will be impacted by the amount of driving you need to do.

And if you are hopping from place to place you have both the amount of time spent at an attraction as well as driving to figure into your calculations.

The Temple Bar in Temple Bar, Dublin
The Temple Bar in Dublin

Recommended Amount of Time to Spend in Popular Irish Locations

You can definitely spend more time in each of these locations. I am sharing the minimum amount of time I recommend for each.

Dublin

I think a day and a half (2 nights) is perfect for Dublin; either the day you arrive and an additional day, or arriving mid-day two days prior to your departure and then spending the full day prior to departure in the city. This gives you plenty of time to explore the city centre thoroughly and visit the top 3-4 attractions on your list.

Add additional days to your Dublin stay if you plan to use it as a base for touring to Wicklow (1 day), Kilkenny (1 day), the Boyne Valley (1 day), or Malahide and Howth (1/2 day each).

Galway City

The highlights of Galway city are in one small area and can be explored in less than a day.

Add additional days to your Galway stay if you plan to use it as a base for touring the Burren/ Cliffs of Moher (1 day), the Aran Islands (1 day), or Connemara (1 day).

Doolin/ the Burren

If you plan to stay in the Doolin/ Burren area for local explorations plan 2 days for exploring, arriving on day 1, spending at least one night, and digging in more thoroughly on day 2 as some activities may take a good chunk of the day.

Add an additional day each if you plan to visit the Aran Islands or Bunratty Castle & Folk Park from Doolin.

Grab the free Burren itinerary
to learn more about how to base your vacation in this incredible area!

O'Brien's Tower atop the Cliffs of Moher. Ireland travel tips
O'Brien's Tower at the Cliffs of Moher

Killarney

The absolute minimum amount of time I recommend in Killarney is 2 days & 2 nights. This area is packed full of activities and attractions.

In the immediate area you have the bustling town, filled with terrific pubs, restaurants, and shops; Killarney National Park, 25,000 acres of mountains, moors, lakes, and waterfalls as well as Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, and Ross Castle; and the Gap of Dunloe, a spectacular mountain pass perfect for a day-long hike or a cycling adventure for experienced riders.

If you plan to drive the Ring of Kerry allow a full day for that. The Dingle Peninsula is another day trip from Killarney.

If the Skellig Islands are on your itinerary you'll need to add another full day for that, either returning to Killarney or staying along the Ring of Kerry.

Kilkenny

Kilkenny deserves a full day of exploration, so plan to stay one night.

This is also a great base for touring the sites in Tipperary if your itinerary doesn't have you visiting the Rock of Cashel or Cahir Castle in route to other locations, so add another day for that.

Northern Ireland

To fully enjoy the North plan at least 2 days, though 3 is better. One day for Belfast, one day for the stretch from Belfast to Bushmills, and a third day for Bushmills to Derry.

Add in one more day if you wish to explore the Inishowen Peninsula from Derry.

Northwest Ireland

Many people will lump Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal into one ‘drive thru' area between Galway and Derry. Allow yourself at least one overnight stay along this route – it's a very long drive on the motorway (and you won't see much).

To really enjoy the area follow the coast a bit and give yourself 3 days if possible.

Southeast Ireland

Another area that is often treated as a ‘pass thru' are the southeastern counties of Wexford and Waterford. If you can, take your time and allow for an overnight in this area. I promise you won't regret it!

These suggestions are based on over 20 years' experience traveling to and through Ireland. And while I understand that you aren't likely to devote your entire life to exploring the country thoroughly, I also know that a vacation is meant to be enjoyed and not run you ragged.

I've done it both ways and, if you trust no other advice I offer, trust this: you won't miss the places you didn't visit, but you may always regret cutting short an amazing experience because you have to stick to a rigid schedule.

Traveling in Ireland podcast episode 211

Jody Halsted
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